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Home Based Income as an Electronics Hobbyist

hevans1944

Hop - AC8NS
Jun 21, 2012
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What's Morse code?
I just recently found out that there are TWO Morse codes still commonly in use. One is known, perhaps colloquially, as "railroad Morse" and the other is the familiar International Morse used by amateur radio operators or hams.

I used to love sending and receiving International Morse Code as a Novice amateur radio operator (call sign WN8UTJ) in the mid to late 1960s. Of course as a Novice operator on the HF amateur radio bands, Morse Code was the ONLY radio modulation permitted by my license. That was the whole point of obtaining a Novice license. Learn Morse Code, upgrade to a higher grade license (requiring faster code speed), and work the world with voice instead of a brass telegraph key. Back then you had just one year to accomplish your mission because the Novice "ticket" was not renewable. I let my license expire but tested again in 2013 to obtain the Amateur Extra Class operator license (call sign AC8NS) I have today.

Having once learned to send and receive Morse Code, at a speed sufficient to qualify for a General Class amateur radio operator license, I should now be able to jump right back into CW (Morse Code) operation. Because you never forget Morse, right? Wrong. I do intend to "jump right back into CW" but it will require a LOT of on-the-air listening to other hams, such as myself, trying to re-enter the hobby using CW, especially with low-power, portable, CW-only transceivers. It's become a source of pride for "old timers" to continue to communicate with Morse Code. Of course there are the W1AW code transmissions to listen to also, but I never found them to be as "interesting" as QSOs with other hams.
 

kellys_eye

Jun 25, 2010
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Because you never forget Morse, right? Wrong.
Must be down to the individual.

After not using code for nearly 30 years I rekindled my interest and after checking with those W1AW broadcasts (and from downloaded audio files) I found the 20wpm to be very easy indeed and can still read 35wpm 'in my head'.

I did think I was going to be 'slow' given the time span but was pleasantly surprise to find this not to be the case. Often wonder just how fast I could go if I was still doing it professionally/commercially???
 

Martaine2005

May 12, 2015
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Must be down to the individual.
Absolutely. As Hop says “your mileage may vary “.

I honestly cannot remember many things about my electronics night school (city and guilds). Apart from wasting 6 months on how to wire a plug properly!.
The ‘professor’ shouldn’t have been teaching night school, he should have stayed in the primary school where he belonged!.
 

kellys_eye

Jun 25, 2010
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I honestly cannot remember many things about my electronics night school
Sheeit.... I actually TAUGHT electronics to degree level for seven years and I can barely recall most of the theory!

That said, I've always understood that in order to fully understand 'any'subject you have to be confident in being able to teach it to others. (not that you actually HAVE to, just have the 'ability').
 

shrtrnd

Jan 15, 2010
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I just recently found out that there are TWO Morse codes still commonly in use. One is known, perhaps colloquially, as "railroad Morse" and the other is the familiar International Morse used by amateur radio operators or hams.

I used to love sending and receiving International Morse Code as a Novice amateur radio operator (call sign WN8UTJ) in the mid to late 1960s. Of course as a Novice operator on the HF amateur radio bands, Morse Code was the ONLY radio modulation permitted by my license. That was the whole point of obtaining a Novice license. Learn Morse Code, upgrade to a higher grade license (requiring faster code speed), and work the world with voice instead of a brass telegraph key. Back then you had just one year to accomplish your mission because the Novice "ticket" was not renewable. I let my license expire but tested again in 2013 to obtain the Amateur Extra Class operator license (call sign AC8NS) I have today.

Having once learned to send and receive Morse Code, at a speed sufficient to qualify for a General Class amateur radio operator license, I should now be able to jump right back into CW (Morse Code) operation. Because you never forget Morse, right? Wrong. I do intend to "jump right back into CW" but it will require a LOT of on-the-air listening to other hams, such as myself, trying to re-enter the hobby using CW, especially with low-power, portable, CW-only transceivers. It's become a source of pride for "old timers" to continue to communicate with Morse Code. Of course there are the W1AW code transmissions to listen to also, but I never found them to be as "interesting" as QSOs with other hams.
hevans1944,
I still think you didn't forget the code, our 'senior' bodies just don't respond to outside stimuli as quickly now.
Since there was a little interest in my post about Morse, he's a story I'll share:
The US military in the 60's & 70's trained some of us 'ditty-chashers' to copy code using electronic 'typewriters', because
the copy could be instantly re-transmitted to other interested parties, and it was hard as hell to physically write fast code down on paper.
One night I was listening to a civilian Russian operator I'd heard before, who was very fast on his key.
The other guys around me were impressed, and timed me copying his transmission.
That guy, and I copied him precisely, was doing 37wpm.
For those of you who are skeptical, let me tell you there are some people who grew-up, and spent their whole lives as
Morse operators for a living, .... and they were hellishly fast transmitters.
 

kellys_eye

Jun 25, 2010
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For those of you who are skeptical, let me tell you there are some people who grew-up, and spent their whole lives as
Morse operators for a living, .... and they were hellishly fast transmitters.
Yep - I could do 48wpm+ in my day. Never managed to touch-type but I could write like the paper was burning!
 

Minder

Apr 24, 2015
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We used to practice our morse using the Russian news agency TASS, they transmitted 20wpm in English, non-human tape transmission..
I remember picking up the news of the Launch of Sputnik-2. :cool:
 

Delta Prime

Jul 29, 2020
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I read somewhere that the dots and dashes of Morse code are in demanded in fashion and jewelry so you can hide secret messages stylishly.And composers use it to spell out words in the rhythmic patterns
of musical notes to create a hidden message in a piece of music.
I hope I'm not being paranoid , because of you guy's ; I find myself looking for visual representation of dots and dashes everywhere I Go .
I thought Morse code was like the first universal language?
 

kellys_eye

Jun 25, 2010
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And composers use it to spell out words in the rhythmic patterns
Famously - well, in the UK anyway - there's a detective series called 'Morse' (the main characters name) and the theme tune to the program actually spells out 'm-o-r-s-e' as it plays.

 

kellys_eye

Jun 25, 2010
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What 'gets' me though are those places in movies when they claim they are sending/receiving morse code - obviously I can read it and they very, very rarely make sense. Sometime there are fake characters sent!

Or the good guys receive 'some' morse code (about three characters) and they make a paragraph out of it!
 

mineymoe

Nov 14, 2023
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That's really cool you taught it at a university level too. And yeah, movies never seem to get the code details right! It's funny when you can spot the inaccuracies.
 

poormystic

Jul 23, 2023
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I am retired considering a supplemental income, home based, with electronics being the source of income. Reason being, that I've always enjoyed electronics as far back as a teenager and feel at home around electronics gear. I do come from the older analog days, although I have taken some courses in digital, even in basic microprocessors. I am talking about being an electronics hobbyist, either constructing devices, fixing devices or designing devices of an electronic nature. TV or home electronics repair would have been possible back in the day but now that is a dead path, with the new electronics technology and throw away economy. Ham radio or RF is fascinating to me, but that also
is not really a way to make money, in factI don't think it is permitted to make money with HAM.
Electronics was not my career in my life, although I have taken college level electronics courses.
It's not only about making money, but it is the "Science" of electronics that is enjoyable.
Other than getting a job at some company as a 9 to 5 employee, does anyone know how to make at least a nominal income (supplemental) working in the realm of electronics hobbyist / tinkerer?

Appreciate your thoughts on this subject.
Hi :)
I tried this in the 1980's.
Rather than chasing dollars I tried to provide service, and made some friends thereby.

I found a niche market in a power supply I designed for bone carvers, who produce a lot of jewellery in my native Aotearoa - New Zealand. I only ever actually sold 2 (which have never worn out) but the satisfaction of producing top quality goods and the friends I made, made it all worthwhile.
I was also able to do TV aerials and doorbells and suchlike at people's houses, at a much lower cost than commercial services.
 

hevans1944

Hop - AC8NS
Jun 21, 2012
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spent their whole lives as
Morse operators for a living, .... and they were hellishly fast transmitters.
It is easy to transmit Morse Code faster than you can reliably receive it. Among radio amateurs this is considered to be bad practice, and may earn you the moniker of being a "lid," which is ham-speak referring to an incompetent operator. One should adjust their sending speed to whatever speed they are receiving code. Otherwise, the person on the other end might interpret your fast sending as a request for them to send faster, even though they are not comfortable or capable of copying code at your elevated speed. This is not a good way to begin a QSO.

If I send "CQ de AC8NS K" this means I am listening (that's the CQ) for anyone responding to me (that's the de) whose call-sign is AC8NS, and am inviting them to respond (that's the purpose of the K, which is an invitation to transmit), I expect to receive a reply at the same speed as my original transmission. If not, I will call CQ again, possibly on a slightly different frequency, and wait for a response at the speed I am transmitting. I will not acknowledge a reply sent at a faster speed than I can copy reliably.

Some hams get very good at copying code "in their head" at high speeds. I am told they actually hear complete words instead of individual characters. I never got that far, but if I get back "on-the-air" and practice every chance I get, perhaps someday I too will be able to copy umpteeen words per minute in my head. That would appear to be a useful skill for rag chewing, which is ham-speak for extended QSOs lasting several minutes to several hours, usually between two hams who know each other very well. Of course there are also hams, like me, who can carry on for hours, days, or weeks at a time, given the opportunity to do so.

OTOH, it may turn out that the person you are transmitting to got tired of listening to whatever prattle they were receiving and decided to move on to something else... it is very humbling to end a transmission and not hear a reply. Did propagation change? Is the band you are using now closed? Did the person on the other end suddenly die or get called away? This is why full break-in keying (where the receiver is active between dits and dahs) is important. If your QSO partner hears your signal fading, perhaps they can break-in to your monologue long enough to advise you of that.
 
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