5 wpm is easy to learn and better than nothing in emergency. Speed Morse Coding is fine for "sport competition"

I am trying to find out which is the typical speed for what I call "conversation" and define it with the following questions:

  • Are there statistics about the speed distribution?
  • Which is the most common speed in wpm for contacts over words in exchange?
  • Which is the most common speed in wpm for communication with duration over 5 min?
  • Which is the average speed in wpm used for morse coding?
  • Which is the median of the speed in wpm for mose coding?
  • Which are the terciles or quartiles of the speed for morse coding?
  • Is there a standard speed used by NATO, UN or any national military?
  • Which is the standard speed for messages sent by machine?
  • At which speed starts "speed coding"?

The reason for this question: Using the Koch method you train with the "letter speed" farnsworth compression in wpm which you want to achieve at the end, while step by step decreasing spacing and errors. If you choose a too high speed you may never reach the standard spacing by an acceptable number of errors, if you choose a too low speed, it is difficult to increase your speed later. Therefore one should know which speed is mostly used for longer communication between people who are experienced in sending morse code.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ hi! nice having you here, but please realize that you're really just asking for opinions, which is off-topic here. Obviously, everyone in here will have a different opinion on this topic. $\endgroup$ Jun 8, 2019 at 12:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I sort of admire your question, and hopefully either you or someone else will come along and edit your question so that it can be opened again. I am sure that there is a way; sorry that I can't think of one right now. $\endgroup$ Jun 8, 2019 at 20:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I agree with Mike! If we can get something that someone else can factually answer, that would be cool! $\endgroup$ Jun 8, 2019 at 21:52
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @MarcusMüller (et al) How about something along the lines of "What CW speed range are the majority of CW ops using?" If a change something like that (or better) is made, then I would be more than happy to reopen it! :-) $\endgroup$ Jun 8, 2019 at 22:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Oh! That sounds nice. But: is there such data? At this point, we could basically change OP's question without OP's input without doing any more damage, but if we do that, I'd rather change it to something that has a chance of getting answered. $\endgroup$ Jun 8, 2019 at 22:29

1 Answer 1


Data from the Reverse Beacon Network provides an answer. RBN receivers and computers decode CW (and other "digital" modes) to identify stations calling CQ and posts information about signal strength and operating speed. I think it's reasonable to assume that QSOs are conducted at the same speed as the op sends "CQ."

Click on "DX Spots" followed by "Download Raw Data" to access files of "comma separated values" (.csv) for specific dates. For example, I downloaded 20190210.csv, a Saturday, from which I calculated an average CW speed of 24.6WPM. Performing the same analysis for 20181124 - the first day of the annual CQ WW CW contest - results in an average CW speed of 31.7WPM, a nearly 30% increase that reflects on the nature of contests and contesters.

Other possible analyses are limited only by the imagination of the questioner.

  • $\begingroup$ Looks like a good, if depressing result. Depressing to one whose Morse is a little shaky at 5 wpm... $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jun 11, 2019 at 15:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ZeissIkon My advice is to pick up any text and start sending it. I've Elmered several hams who quickly increased their CW receiving speed this way. $\endgroup$
    – Brian K1LI
    Jun 11, 2019 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ Working on that. At present, the only oscillator I have has an electronic version of a bug key, and the key itself is too light to use easily. I've got a straight key, but I need to get it wired and the "bug" circuits out of the oscillator. It's a weekend's work, probably. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jun 11, 2019 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeissIkon Shaky at 5 WPM? Been there, done that! Go to w0btu.com/links.html and download The Art & Skill of Radio Telegraphy. I can personally testify that it is a must-read for anyone who wants to enjoy CW! Also, check out those paid apps at the top. I have a free coupon from the app developer to download those at no charge; email me if you want it. $\endgroup$ Jun 11, 2019 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeWaters There's a bad case of "too much help" out there re: learning Morse. If I had time to read all the "help" I get referred to, I'd have time to practice my Morse an hour a day -- and I don't. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jun 12, 2019 at 11:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .