I am practicing receiving Morse Code with Koch's Method and Farnsworth Timing. As I increase speed, the places where I am running into trouble are distinguishing B from 6 (both are a dah followed by a few dits) and distinguishing V from 4 (both a few dits followed by a dah). I think I don't have a similar problem with 1 vs. J, for example, because the series of dahs results in more time for my brain to process the character. And since there is no dit-dit-dah-dah character (at least I don't think there is in the software I am using), it is easier for me to recognize "2" as two dits followed by lots of dahs.

I realize that 99.999% of learning the code is just practice and repetition. I just wanted to see if anyone had any tips for B/6 and V/4. Someone taught me mnemonic devices for "?" and "L" which I found very helpful. I was curious if there are any tips for the characters mentioned above.


1 Answer 1


I'm not aware of any mnemonic tricks to distinguish B from 6 or V from 4. I think everyone has more trouble with some characters than others, and you've hit on perhaps the most common one. There's also H/5 and S/H of course. This problem is somewhat mitigated in the real world, when one often knows if the next character will be a number or a letter. For instance, if one is copying a call sign that starts with "KD", one knows that the next character must be a number.

I know these problems are universal because my call sign is W7GH, and when I participate in contests with Morse code I get "W7GS" back a lot. If contesters are having trouble, then everyone is having trouble.

As you guessed, the fix seems to be practice and repetition. Software can help. There are lots of programs that people use to learn and practice Morse code. My favorite is Morse Runner by Alex Shovkoplyas, VE3NEA. It simulates participating in Morse code contests. It's an excellent way to practice copying call signs and numbers in simulated real-world conditions, with noise, fading, static, and multiple stations on the same frequency. (The difficulty is adjustable, so don't be intimidated; one can start with very easy, and work one's way up gradually to incredibly difficult.)

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ As @rdocher3 mentioned, context helps a lot, especially as you get faster. By the time you get into the 30+ wpm, word patterns become vital, so when you hear "THE", you hear "THE" and not T-Something that can be mistaken for a 5-E. $\endgroup$
    – Duston
    Aug 20, 2021 at 13:17

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