Now Get a Practice Set!
by Ron Chester ★ Monday, November 23, 2020

I started thinking about what Don Wallace had called "the practice set" in 1936. 

The practice set is indispensible, but use it yourself. Send to yourself . . .  

I really love this idea that you can learn the code on your own, and in fact that might be the very best way to do it.

Nobody need help you. In fact, you can actually do it better by yourself.  

But does everyone who is now thinking of learning the code have access to a practice set? So I looked around and was pleased to discover that there are a LOT of code practice oscillators out there! The ARRL sells one, another by Ameco, an ancient name in ham radio, a nice one from the UK by Kent, a manufacturer of nice keys, a very affordable kit from Nightfire Electronics, or buy that same one already built from Walmart, of all places. They're all over the place! 

I started to worry that this could send folks off in all directions considering a million choices. But then I discovered the best two choices for anyone getting started. First the Cadillac option, from the QRP Guys, for twenty bucks plus shipping.  This is an easy kit (one hour to build) designed by a top radio designer in the QRP community and it does everything! You can practice sending with a straight key, a bug or paddles. You can use it to practice receiving by having it send you randomly generated code at 5 to 30 wpm. This guy designs great kits, so I can certainly recommend it.  BUT what if you don't yet have a key, bug or paddles? Well then you can start learning to send code for ten bucks plus shipping by getting the easy kit from my friends at Pacific Antenna, as it has the key built right in to the kit! Please tell them I sent you. We have been friends for many years. If you have a ham band receiver, you can use it to practice receiving the code, just like Don Wallace suggested. Or you can listen to the code files from the ARRL, as mentioned in my previous posting.

Okay, get started. There's a lot to learn, but it will be fun!