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#CW Morse Chat Channel

IRC #CW Morse Chat Channel

recommended by
European CW association United States Military Telegraph

What is it ?

#cw is an IRC channel dedicated to chatting in Morse code, for telegraphy lovers worldwide (hams or not).

Note that it's chatting in Morse, not chatting about Morse. How is this possible you ask? with a special program that converts Morse code to and from text messages that can be sent over IRC.

What you need to chat on #cw

- A Linux, FreeBSD or NetBSD system with the sound configured
- The X-Chat IRC client
- The CWirc X-Chat plugin

Optionally, you need:

  • A Morse key or paddles, and an old serial cable to connect it to your computer
  • A CW oscillator or a CW sounder

    How to configure CWirc

    Please refer to the CWirc manual to configure your CWirc. By default, it uses the mouse as a straight Morse key, and the /dev/dsp sound device to output Morse beeps, which should be fine for most users.

    If you want to use a real Morse key or paddles with CWirc, use this wiring diagram to connect it to your computer.

    If you want to build an external CW oscillator to use in lieu of the soundcard with CWirc, you can use this schematic. Feel free to create your own oscillator or sounder if that circuit doesn't suit you. If you have any problem, ask on the channel and someone will help you.

    Joining #cw

    #cw is a normal IRC channel : launch X-Chat, connect to irc.freenode.net and join the #cw channel. Once there, start CWirc with the "/cw" command, or by clicking the "CWirc" button on the X-Chat panel. The CWirc panel should appear :

    What to do on #cw

    - Chatting with people on the channel : CWirc offers 4000 virtual Morse "channels", and you can chat in CW on any of them. By convention, the CQ channel is 1000. Select 1000 on the "Channel" dial in CWirc and call CQ like you would on the air. If someone answers, you can QSY to another channel.

    - Chatting with people in private : on the IRC channel, anybody tuned to your CW channel can overhear what you say, just like on the air. Also, all messages you send and receive go through the IRC server, with the lag that can result if the server is busy. If you want to send CW to someone in private, or if the CW sound breaks up due to server lag, open a DCC CHAT connection to the other party and chat on a pre-arranged CW channel.

    - If you don't feel like doing Morse, don't : it's perfectly okay to chat normally on #cw, it doesn't interfere with the Morse traffic, and there should be people to talk to in clear most of the time, like on regular IRC channels. However, if your CWirc isn't loaded in X-Chat, be aware that people or bots who do send Morse code will appear to you as flooders sending a lot of dense text garbage that looks like this :

    If you installed CWirc normally, or with a package, it should auto-load in X-Chat upon starting the IRC client, so you shouldn't ever see the text garbage. If you do see it however, you may have to restart X-Chat to load the plugin.

    Hellschreiber on CWirc (new!)

    As of CWirc version 1.7.0, it's now possible to do more than just Morse on #cw, you can do Hellschreiber too. To do that, you need gMFSK and a patch that lets it talk to CWirc. All the software pieces needed, as well as more information about the Hellschreiber mode, can be found here:


    Here's what it looks like:

    The world news channel bots

    Several bots (aptly called "worldnews_??wpm") are on the IRC channel and periodically broadcast hot world news items live in Morse, at different speeds. Currently, you can get news at 5, 8, 12 and 20 words per minute. They use CW channel 900 + the speed they broadcast at (i.e. worldnews_8wpm broadcasts on channel 908, worldnews_12wpm on channel 912, worldnews_20wpm on channel 920 ...).

    To receive the news, tune CWirc to the corresponding channel and wait for a fresh news item to arrive. If you don't want to wait, you can request a re-run of the latest news item by sending a dit on the channel.

    Note : if you'd like news at other speeds, use the CW_services bot (see below).

    The geeknews channel bot

    The geeknews_12wpm bot broadcasts newsbriefs from GeekStreet (http://www.geekstreet.ca/) at 12 WPM, on channel 812. It sends briefs of new stories from the site, followed by the http links to the full stories. If you want to use the links, type them in your favorite web browser, or copy-paste them from the CWirc decoder line, all in lowercase characters.

    Like with the world news bots, you can request a rerun of the latest story by sending a dit on the bot's channel.

    The feldhell_news channel bot

    The feldhell_news bot broadcasts world news briefs in Hellschreiber on channel 900. To receive them, you need the HELLoIP CWirc Hellschreiber extension.

    Like with the world news bots, you can request a rerun of the latest story by sending a dit on the bot's channel.

    The CWCom repeater

    CWCom is a Windows Morse-over-IP client and specialized server from MRX Software, that performs more or less the same function as CWirc, with a different implementation and protocol (more details about CWCom can be found at the CWCom homepage).

    The CWCom CQ channel is 1000, and most traffic tends to happen on that channel. On #cw, a repeater links CWCom's channel 1000 to CWirc channel 1100. That way, CWirc users who go to channel 1100 can call CQ and QSO with regular CWCom users that are on "their" channel 1000.

    On the CWCom network, just like on CWirc, callsigns are exchanged as part of the protocol, which means that CWCom users can see who's currently sending CW in the main CWCom window. However, due to the lack of technical information about the CWCom protocol, the repeater is only able to carry the CW signal across, not callsigns. As a result, CWCom users will only see signal coming from "CWIRC REPEATER", regardless of your actual callsign. Similarly, you'll only see traffic coming from "CWCOM/REPEATER" on the CWirc side. Unfortunately, because many CWCom users take the displaying of callsigns for granted, they often don't bother exchanging callsigns properly, and therefore you may have trouble knowing who's talking to whom while listening on the CWirc side.

    Finally, note that there is a 4 or 5 second delay between the moment you send something and the moment CWCom users can hear you, and vice-versa, and also that the link is simplex, i.e. only one person can send something at any given time on CWCom. In practice, this means that if you respond to a CQ, your signal may well arrive on the CWCom side after a local CWCom user has started to respond, and your signal may be blocked by that local operator's.

    You can find out who's currently logged on the CWCom network by consulting the CWCom server page.

    The CW_services bot

    Because IRC servers limit the amount of data each IRC client can send, it is not possible for a single bot to provide more than one service at a time. To overcome this problem, the CW_services bot provides additional services through DCC CHAT.

    The services currently offered by the bot are :

    - World newsbriefs at variable speed and Farnsworth spacing

    - RAC ham news repeater : the RAC news-in-morse files are located at http://www.rac.ca/news/cwnews.htm. This function allows you to listen to them with CWirc.

    - MorseMail/MorseServe repeater : MorseMail and its dedicated server, MorseServe, is an older, popular Windows-only Morse-over-IP client and server system. This function allows you to access the MorseServe server with CWirc and interact with MorseMail users.

    - CW tutor : if you need to perfect your copying skills, use the CW tutor to send you character groups or words at the speed and Farnsworth spacing you want to train at, and correct what you copied.

    - Fortune cookies : sends you a bit of silliness in Morse :-)

    To access the bot's services, initiate a DCC CHAT connection with it by typing "/dcc chat CW_services", or selecting its nick in the list at the right of the X-Chat panel, right-clicking and selecting "Direct client-to-client -> Offer Chat". If you're not behind a firewall, or if you have already configured your firewall to do DCC on IRC, you should get a connection almost immediately, and the bot should display its main menu :

    However, if you don't get a connection within 5 to 10 seconds, it's likely you are behind a firewall and you can't receive incoming TCP connections. The way the DCC protocol works, it's the DCC connection initiator's machine that waits for an incoming connection from the machine that has been offered the connection (i.e. you request a DCC CHAT connection, your X-Chat client opens a socket and waits for the CW_services bot to connect to it). So in a sense, your machine momentarily turns into a server and must be able to accept incoming connections.

    To correct the problem, if you have access to the firewall, open several ports in the upper range (for example from port 30000 to 30020) to let incoming TCP packets through, and instruct X-Chat to use these ports for DCC connections in the "Settings -> Preferences -> File transfers" menu. If you are behind a NAT box as well, you may need to check "Get my IP from IRC server" or set your real IP address manually in the "DCC IP address" field, in the same menu.

    If you don't have access to the firewall, ask your network administrator to open these ports for you.

    Questions, problems, help, contributions

    If you have any question, don't hesitate to ask for help on the channel. Everybody is welcome, whether you're a ham or not, a die-hard telegraphy enthusiast or if you're simply curious.

    If you'd like to contribute to the network, by running a bot, contributing bot scripts or anything else, please let me know.

    See you soon on #cw!

    73 de Pierre F8EJF

    Hits since 13/10/03

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