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Review of CW Decoders

I’ve been looking for good CW decoding software to use with my PC sound card for decoding CW on HF bands.

So far, I’ve tried these four programs. Two were poor, one was great, and the other was fairly good, but not the right one for me.

CwGet: I had high hopes for this decoder because it was popular on QRZ. It has several panels to display CW signals and includes various filters. Unfortunately, it does a very poor job of decoding the CW. Most of the output is junk.

CW Decoder: This one is similar to CwGet, but did marginally better decoding, which isn’t saying much. The biggest problem for me was that it has no option to set the font color, so on my system it displays black text on a black background! That alone made it unusable.

Fldigi: This is a great program. Far superior to the above, and with a good number of other digital modes. It’s got a clean, modern display and many special features. I’m going to write a more detailed review of this one when we start looking at digital radio modes and software.

CW Skimmer: This program is pretty cool. It can decode multiple CW streams at the same time, and it does a fairly good job of decoding them, but not perfect. It shows the CW transmissions in a horizontal waterfall so you can see what signals are around and allows you to judge their relative qualities. You can select the one you want, and change the bandpass to tighten in on it. Here’s a photo:

CW Skimmer
Multiple CW signals

You can check out more about it, including other photos, at http://www.dxatlas.com/CwSkimmer. For a while, I thought this program was free… but now it wants me to register, and the price is $75.00. To high for my needs. I suppose if you do serious CW contesting, you might find it worth the price.

Categories: ham software, Reviews Tags: ,
  1. 2010/08/22 at 10:06 AM

    I have been using Fldigi for a long time, Linux of course, and found it to be very versatile and reliable.

    For some reason I always seem to have problems with sound card related decoders on windows, but have had no issues using Linux. go figure.

    – Cody

  2. 2010/08/22 at 10:23 AM

    Ham Radio Deluxe has the best computer interface that I’ve seen. A bunch of plug-ins for all modes, including CW.

    It’s Free!

  3. Steve
    2012/12/25 at 1:56 AM

    HRD may be free… but you have to pay the Windows “tax” and then live with its faults!

  4. Chuck Heath
    2014/05/19 at 12:55 PM

    I use a Morse decode program called “Morse-it” with my iPhone. Works well to help me with W1AW daily code practice. 73, Chuck

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