Why Morse code is Still Relevant: Learning Morse Code for Survival

Morse Code Keyer

In 2007, the geniuses at the FCC decided to dumb down the requirements for getting an Amateur Radio License and removed the Morse code requirement from the tests. While this did make it a little easier for some people to become licensed Ham Radio Operators, I think it actually did a huge disservice to the newer hams who are just getting started — especially those who got into it for the preparedness aspects of the hobby.

What is Morse Code?

Developed by Samuel Morse in the middle of the nineteenth Century, Morse code is an extremely efficient method of transmitting text over the radio. With a series of short and long tones, represented by dots and dashes, letters and numbers can be sent via a telegraph key over the radio.

The main benefit of knowing Morse code is the ability to send messages over long distances (hundreds or thousands of miles) on a relatively low amount of power. In fact, CW (Morse code) signals can be sent over much longer distances, and at much lower power than typical voice messages require.

With little more than a wire antenna, a couple of dollars in parts, and a couple AA batteries a crude radio can be built that can communicate with people around the world.

Preparedness Benefits of using Morse Code:

Why Morse code is Still Relevant to Preppers & Hams!

  • Signals can be sent with very little power, and simple ham radio transmitters can be built at a fraction of the cost of traditional voice radios.
  • Morse code requires less signal bandwidth than voice communication.
  • It is much easier to filter out background noise and hear even weak CW signals, making it an ideal platform for high noise / low signal environments.
  • When nothing else works, CW works

Why all Ham Radio Operators Should Learn Morse Code – Especially Preppers

  • Repeaters use Morse Code to identify themselves, they also use it to transmit their CTCSS (Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System) code which will allow you to access that repeater.
  • It allows you to construct extremely cheap and efficient radios that can transmit with little more than a wire antenna and a couple small batteries..
  • Navigation Beacons still use Code to identify themselves.
  • The ability to send messages that the general public will not understand.
Morse Code Decipher sheet

Recommended Prepper Resources for Learning  Morse Code

Morse Code Teacher by Gordon West

Gordon West is probably one of the best, and most well-known ham instructors in the world. His study guides have helped tens of thousands of people become Ham Radio Operators, and I’ve used his materials since I was a kid studying for my exam. Morse Code Teacher is a two-CD audio course recorded by Gordon West that will teach you the fundamentals of Morse code.

Morse Code Speed Builder Course for 5-16 WPM

For those looking to up their game, Gordon’s speed course will help you copy code at a solid 13 to 15 words per minute.

For more information on Ham Radio and Emergency Communication, check out these articles:

Shirts of Liberty

OFFGRID Survival book



  1. I spend many hours behind the wheel, hours I’d like to spend learning and practicing Morse Code. If anyone out there knows of a CD I can pop into the dash that can help me do this. It doesn’t have to be free!

    • Was a Navy radioman during the Korean war. There was considerable radio jamming by the North Koreans, the Chinese and the Russians. We could continue communicating with Morse code during the jamming while it was almost impossible with phone or teletype communication. The same is true of emergency communication. When conditions are bad Morse code will work when phone communications will not.

      • A few years ago they were going to have an emergency disaster drill in Idaho. Conditions were so bad that they had to call it off. One participant suggested that they use CW. The answer was “we cant do that”. If they had used cw they may have been able to communicate successfully. If it was a real emergency it would have been disastrous to call it off. They should have planned to use cw as a backup.

    • Code Quick.. a cd set uses word ,phrase association, it may seem a little silly, but i used it , retention is very good , the course is been out since the 80’s. Try a sample on line that offered. Its the rosesetta stone of morse code courses..very good.

  2. It is helpful to think of dits and dahs rather than dots and dashes, because morse is auditory — almost musical — in nature.

    Considered obsolete, morse still requires only the tiniest of radios, and can punch a signal further, through the worst conditions, using only a fraction of the power.

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