Learn Morse Code in One Hour (or even 10 minutes)!


Amateur Radio


Excerpts from "Morse Code Made Memorable" by William J. Bahr,  KB4WIT, Copyright 1987-2021.

This work hopes to end the problems of learning and remembering Morse Code.  Its primary contribution is a mnemonic scheme whereby a student
can learn the code in as little as an hour or even less.  The Bahr Method has applications in amateur, commercial, and military radio, and is a 
generally useful survival skill.  Because it employs a memory technique of a level higher than nonsense syllables, it guarantees far longer retention
rates.  Methods for obtaining code speeds equal to or better than conventional methods are also addressed.  To save a student's valuable time, 
explanations are made as succinct as possible. 

The Bahr Method is a mnemonic technique which employs a special, easily memorized table to allow a student to change the 
letters of the alphabet into words, similar in form to the "A" is for "Apple" (or "Ax") list learned in gradeschool.  These specially 
designed words are representations of Dots and Dashes.  The words are then associated with one another in story form through 
the commonly used "link" memory method.  As the words are thus burned into memory, they allow a person to easily convert 
letters into Morse Code.  The Bahr Method further focuses on our theory that receiving speed is a highly correlated multiple 
of sending speed.  Students are provided methods of increasing their sending speeds so as to efficiently multiply receiving 

The following table converts the letters of the alphabet to words on a first letter basis; e.g. "A" becomes "Ax" (NB: in the original
McGuffy Readers, "A" was for "Ax"*), "B" becomes "Bear,"... and "X" becomes "Xray" ....  The words are then formed into two 
columns depending upon whether the Morse Code equivalent of the first letter starts with a Dot/Dit (.) or a Dash/Dah (-).  
A letter always retains its Dit/Dah column identity (refer to table).  For example, an "A" will always be a Dit, a "B" will always 
be a Dash,... and an "X" will always be a Dash....  A word can be translated into Dits and Dahs by spelling it and substituting 
Dits and Dahs for its component letters (e.g. A = A"x" = Dit "Dah";  B = Be"a"r = Dah Dit "Dit" Dit; and X = "X"ray = "Dah" Dit Dit Dah).  
Memorizing Morse Code letters then means memorizing these words and the columns to which they belong.  An easy way of doing 
this follows the table.


DOTS (Dits)                           DASHES (Dahs)

. -                                           - . . .
A x                                           B e a r

.                                             - . - .
E                                             C r o w

. . - .                                       - . .
F a c e                                      D i p

. . . .                                       - - .
H e a p                                     G n u   (African antelope) 

. .                                           - . -
I V  (IntraVenous)                      K i d

. - - -                                       - -
J o c k   (Athlete)                       M D  (Medical Doctor)

. - . .                                       - .
L o v e                                      N E  (NorthEastern)   

. - - .                                       - - -
P o t s                                       O d d

. - .                                         - - . -
R o w                                        Q t a m   (Electronics term)

. . .                                         -
S e a                                         T

. . -                                         - . . -
U F O  (See story)                      X r a y

. . . -                                       - . - -
V e s t                                        Y a n k    (Yankee)

. - -                                         - - . . 
W o k   (Oriental frypan)              Z o e a    (Crab larva)

Word and column memorization is easy using the "link" memory method, which uses an associative technique, demonstrated 

For Dits, picture clearly in your mind, exaggerating as much as possible, the following story or sequence of events:

An Ax smashes a large letter "E" into smithereens of little letter "E's" which fly and hit someone in the Face.  The person falls 
in a Heap, is given an IV, a Jock visits, and Love develops.  Once well, they climb into large Pots and Row out to Sea.  
There, they see a UFO (round and metallic Unidentified Flying Object).  They catch it and use it first as an armored Vest and 
later as a Wok.

For Dahs, picture clearly in your mind the following events:

A Bear takes a Crow in his paws and eats it with Dip.  Trotting by is a Gnu being ridden by a Kid who just got his MD from 
NorthEastern.  "Odd," shouts the kid to the bear about the fare.  "Why with a QTAM T, I could Xray that crow and see 
Yank Zoea inside."

Remembering Morse Code letters then means remembering words and to which of two possible stories they belong.  Numbers 
and punctuation are relatively easy to learn (tricks are available in the full edition of "Morse Code Made Memorable," available 
from BahrNo Products at $10 ppd).  By the way and quite coincidentally, McGuffy's Readers' first lesson in the First Reader noted 
"A is for Ax."   : )  

The Desperate Person's Way to Pass the 5 wpm Technician Code Test:

Here's one tip on how to legally pass only the Technical level code test with minimal study, if you're really desperate.  
First, spend 10 minutes to an hour learning the code from "Morse Code Made Memorable" (see BahrNo Products catalog).  
Then use the following idea from G. Harold Love (KA0NTK(SK)), as mentioned in 73 Amateur Radio, July  88:
During the exam, don't copy the characters represented by the dits and dahs (dots and dashes), but copy the dits and dahs 
themselves.  Before the test, draw a grid on unlined paper with seven vertical and thirteen horizontal lines, resulting in fourteen 
rows of eight squares or 112 squares altogether.  Each time you hear a character transmitted, write down the dits and dahs 
as you hear them, moving on to the next square when you hear a space, which separates characters.  For a dit, make a period 
or short vertical stroke.  For a dah, make a long vertical strong (vertical strokes are easier than horizontal).  Don't convert the 
characters into letters and numbers, even if you know them, until after the code sending stops.  Again, make sure you write 
down exactly what you hear.  If you think it's necessary, at the end of the code sending, construct a table on another sheet of 
scrap paper provided which relates alpha-numerics to dits and dahs, beginning, for example with A = dit dah.   This should be 
easy if you've purchased "Morse Code Made Memorable."  All that's needed then is to go back to the grid and convert the 
dits and dahs to letters and numbers.  Normally, examiners give you all the time you want within reason to hand in your 
translation of the copy sent.  Naturally, this method won't give you natural code receiving speed, but in nine times out of ten, 
it will help you pass your 5 word per minute code exam so you can get your Technician license.  Note:  please use this 
technique discreetly, as a few examiners don't care for it.  While we believe it meets the letter of the legal requirements, a 
few doubt it meets the spirit.  We'll leave that up to you, given your degree of desperation to pass the code requirements.  
We believe the positive aspects overcome the negative.  In any case, good luck!

Copyright 1987-2020
William J. Bahr
K B 4 W I T

Superfast Morse Code Supereasy
Check out our other links on our cover page to additional Amateur and Ham Radio products 
to dramatically increase your Morse Code speed.

Bahr No Products
150 Greenfield Drive
Bloomingdale, IL 60108-3016  USA
T:  630 307-3634

THE MORSE CODE :   When you rearrange the letters:   HERE COME DOTS     : )  
1.    . - - - -          6.    - . . . . 
2.    . . - - -          7.    - - . . .
3.    . . . - -          8.    - - - . .
4.    . . . . -          9.    - - - - .
5.    . . . . .          0.    - - - - -
Period                . - . - . -
Comma              - - . . - -
Question mark   . . - - . . 
73 = Best regards
Helpful Links:  CW Abbreviations  Morse Code Converter/Translator  
For quality Quora comments


* Why did the McGuffey Reader surpass all other textbooks? The answer lies in the first lesson – “A is for Ax.” While children learned the alphabet, the ax was ringing in every clearing, it was hewing logs for cabins and schoolhouses, and it was changing the mid-continent. After ax came box, cat, and dog; ox, and pig; vine, wren, and yoke – these were all familiar things. The lessons were alive with children at work, at play, at school; girls with dolls, sleds, and jumping ropes. Reading became fun.
In 1932 Henry Ford moved McGuffey’s log cabin birthplace from Claysville, Washington County, Pennsylvania to his museum at Dearborn, Michigan. By that time McGuffey meant the horse and buggy days, the Saturday night bath, the creak of the kitchen pump and the wood box behind the stove, the lost American innocence and piety. He had become a myth as American as Uncle Sam. However, memory lingers. From West Virginia to California McGuffey clubs sprang up, groups of old students held McGuffey reunions and retired schoolmaster formed McGuffey societies. They recalled the lessons of long ago – The Boy Who Cried Wolf! Wolf! ; Mr. Toil and Hugh Idle; Try, Try Again; Henry and the Guide Post; the Honest Boy and the Thief. They wrote odes to the great educator “whose classroom was a nation” and sang hymns to his memory.



Mor(se) about Samuel F. B. Morse, co-inventor of the Morse Code

Did you know that, in 1825 while in Washington, DC, Samuel Morse, a talented miniaturist portrait painter, was painting a large portrait of Lafayette when Morse and received a letter that his wife was ill and the next day a letter that she had died?  Morse left the painting unfinished and travelled home to New Haven, CT.  (The painting was actually a sketch or study he used to later complete a full length portrait of Lafayette.)  Morse wished that there would have been some way for more rapid communications to have learned about his wife and devoted his life to finding it.  Teaming up with Alfred Vail, in 1838 he gave the first public demonstration of his telegraph device in "Morristown" ("Morris" County), New Jersey, hometown of Alfred Vail, who helped Morse develop both his telegraph and the accompanying Morse Code.  BTW, Morristown was the town in which Washington had his army briefly encamp in 1777 after the battles of Trenton (26 December 1776) and Princeton (3 Jan 1777).  Washington then took his troops to Middlebrook, where the "First Flag" was flown for the rest of that winter.  For the winter of 1777-8, Washington encamped at Valley Forge.  For the winter of 1778-1779, Washington had his troops encamp again at Middlebrook.  For the 1779-80 winter encampment, Washington brought his troops back back again to Morristown, where the American army spent its worst winter, worse than Valley Forge two years before.  It was at Morristown in 1779 that Lafayette brought Washington news of the French formally supporting the American cause.  1779 Morristown was also where Hamilton first met his wife and where Benedict Arnold was court-martialed "with a slap on the wrist" for using his post in Philadelphia for his financial benefit.  Yet the "slap on the wrist" was one of the things that turned Arnold from hero to traitor in later in 1780. 



In 1843, Congress appropriated $30,000 (today about $7.7 million today), to fund an experimental 38-mile telegraph line between Washington and Baltimore, which was strung on poles along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad right-of-way.   On 24 May 1844, Samuel Morse successfully demonstrated the telegraph system for the first time to members of Congress and other dignitaries.  He sent a telegram from the old Supreme Court chamber in the U.S. Capitol to what is now the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore. His message, “What hath God wrought!” came from the Bible (Matthew 23:23).

Morse and John Trumbull, George Washington's former aide and painter and who painted the famous Revolutionary War paintings (Declaration of IndependenceSurrender of General BurgoyneSurrender of Lord Cornwallis, and General George Washington Resigning His Commission to Congress) , installed in 1826 in the US Capitol Building Rotunda, were rival painters who came to appreciate each other's talents.   

 The "Apotheosis of Washington," a fresco (a painting done quickly in watercolor on wet plaster on a wall or ceiling, so that the colors penetrate the plaster and become fixed as it dries) painted in 1865 by Constantino Brumidi, in the top of the U.S. Capitol Building's Rotunda, shows Washington rising to the heavens in glory, flanked by female figures representing Liberty and Victory/Fame and surrounded by six groups of figures. Six groups of figures line the perimeter of the canopy.  The second group is Science (see below at 7-8 pm in picture, with Minerva (Athena, goddes of wisdom) teaching (R-L) Benjamin Franklin, Samuel F. B. Morse, and Robert Fulton (steamship inventor)).  The fresco is suspended 180 feet above the Rotunda floor and covers an area of 4,664 square feet. 


Wrote Samuel Morse of Lafayette:  "My feelings were almost too powerful for me...This is the man...who spent his youth, his fortune, and his time, to bring about (under Providence) our happy Revolution; the friend and companion of [George] Washington, terror of tyrants, the firm and consistent supporter of liberty, the man whose beloved name has rung from one end of the continent to the other, whom all flock to see, whom all delight to honor."

Learn Mor(s)e about the creative power of George Washington's and Lafayette's ideas for liberty by reading GWLK below!     


George Washington’s Liberty Key:  
Mount Vernon's Bastille Key – the Mystery and Magic of Its Body, Mind, and Soul

Now available at the Shops at Mount Vernon




New Book! 

   Strategy Pure and Simple:  
Essential Moves for Winning in Competition and Cooperation



William J. Bahr   Author:  Amazon and Mount Vernon 
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