After seeing CWirc listed in the Freshmeat updates several times, I finally decided to give it a closer look. Having read the description on FM and perused the web site for awhile, I installed it: The install is fairly straightforward – the program is a plugin for XChat – and took all of three minutes.

After firing it up, you are presented with a very nice (separate) window which contains all of the controls and configuration options. Designed to be used with an actual key/paddle, it allows you to send actual (well, encoded) Morse Code (CW) to other users. The interface supports up to 4000 separate channels(pseudo channels, not IRC channels) for private QSO’s, and the author also has several bots running in #cw on the freenode IRC network.

Now if only I had a key, I could join in and actually chat (yes, the program allows you to use your mouse to send cw, but that somehow detracts from the coolness factor). I have been copying some of the news broadcasts and I’m amazed that I can still copy most of the text from the 12wpm broadcasts, despite the fact that I haven’t copied any code in well over 15 years.

Downsides? None really, but after some cursory usage, I find myself looking for a couple (10?) programmable channel buttons so that one could tune to the news broadcasts or other favorite channels without having to use the select box.

All in all this thing is awesome, and is a neat way of combining two hobbies: amateur radio and computers. Give it a try!