- Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Friends Remembered
Survey Question

DX Cluster Spots

Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement

[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Koch or Farnsworth?

Max Pilipis (KB1HAP) on July 31, 2004
View comments about this article!

Farnsworth or Koch?

What's the best method to learn CW for someone that wants to actually use the mode?

Let me start this by saying that I'm interested in learning CW. I'm also interested in passing my general class exam. What's the difference you'll say? Well, I'm interested in actually using CW after passing the exam, and not just getting a ticket to HF. I'm interested in learning CW in a way that will be useful to me at a higher speed than 5 WPM.

I think CW is a fascinating mode. Every ham I knew that has done CW got absolutely HOOKED with it and never abandoned it. That's got to tell you something! I have enjoyed doing PSK31 and RTTY in 6m and even 2m SSB, but I think the magic of CW is having the ability to communicate with low power and very poor conditions without the need of a computer. With CW, you are the digital interface. You can travel light, and transmit CW from almost anywhere you can imagine.

Now for the reason of this article… Farnsworth or Koch? That is the question… I have been doing a lot of reading of people both advocating and bashing either method. I guess I ended up more confused than before starting my research. On one hand, I find the concept of developing your reflexes (and not develop mental translation processes) fascinating, but I have tried the Koch method at its suggested speed (25WPM char/15WPM overall) and I CANNOT accurately copy for more than 30 seconds, not even 2 characters. On the other hand, if you start counting dots and dashes in your head, I agree that could become really hard to be able to improve your speed later.

I'm sure the comments to my article will be as varied and controversial as my recent web research, but I thought a lot of hams trying to get into CW might benefit from the comments.

73 DX de KB1HAP (Max)

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
Koch or Farnsworth?  
by AL2I on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I have struggled with this issue myself recently, and I decided just to relax about it.

I am not sure there is a "right way" for everyone. I wanted to get my daughter trained to hear code as a reflex, but she wanted to learn code -- she wanted to memorize the dots and dashes that make up the characters and decipher code the "secret decoder ring" way. I was just happy that she was interested and let her enjoy the hobby in the way she desired, and she is nearing the 5 wpm mark.

Maybe it will be harder for her to get really fast in the future, but the important thing is she has learned Morse code and enjoys her new skill. I learned the same way she did, but over time, the "look-up table" in my head has become more of a reflex. I am still dog slow compared to most guys, but I notice I improve a little over time, and I really enjoy the heck out of CW.

I have worked with G4FON and other software to attempt to increase my speed, but I honestly think that just getting on the air and earnestly trying to keep copying my rare-DX station as it drops into the mud is the best practice and training of all.

Koch or Farnsworth?  
by AL2I on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
BTW, I know some hams who learned code to get a ticket, and then dropped it. It is not for everyone, and that is fine by me. To each his modes.
Koch or Farnsworth?  
by W4TYU on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Frankly I believe that you have the speeds set to high for your level of competence at the moment. Try Setting the character speed slower, just a bit above what you can now copy. Perhaps 8 or 10 WPM with the word speed at 5 wpm. When you come close to solid copy speed things up a bit. Above all use a lot of paper and write every thing down.

Also listen to W1AW slow speed practice on the air. You may surprise yourself.

Ole man JEAN
Koch or Farnsworth?  
by M0AFJ on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Well obviously the first thing to do is to learn the alphabet so well that you can recite it in your sleep. I used the Farnsworth method and in 3 months was up to solid copy at 15wpm. A handy hint, I do not know if they are available your side of the pond but I bought a pocket CW trainer which sent random letters and numbers, also when you are copying the random stuff OK, it then sent QSO's in standard format. The nice thing about having a small pocket tutor is that you can do your practice at the work desk during lunch, you do need a minimum of 30 mins a day!.
When you are driving or walking the dog translate street signs into code in your head, it becomes a musical rhythm.
Best of luck and keep at it. I'm sure your post will attract vitriol from the anti-cw rednecks but it is great fun.
RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by KT3K on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I wouldn't worry about which method to use to start with. For learning the code I used the Gordon West code practice tapes and listened to W1AW's slow code practice transmissions. I passed the test first time doing it this way. My Elmer recommended the Farnsworth method, which I still use today. I believe this method helps you increase your speed at the rate you are mentally capable of handling. Increasing speed just takes practice, and getting used to the way whole word groups sound in lieu of just letters. As you remember more word groups your code speed will increase dramatically. Also as you send faster and decrease the spacing between letters and words. Another hurdle is getting to the point where you can copy in your head instead of writing. This also takes practice. Eventually you may copy faster than you can write, and writing begins to hold you back. These challenges are FUN and you do it at your own pace. No pressure.
I hardly ever use a Microphone anymore except for on 2 meters. CW is great and lots of fun.
So first things whatever it takes to pass the code test, then the real fun begins.

Looking forward to our QSO in code on HF

RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by AC5E on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Well, first the "Farnsworth method" is to send the characters at a fairly fast speed but at a slow rate. 13 WPM characters SENT at an 8 WPM rate works very well for both passing the CW test and for those first few hours on the air when key fright is at its worst.

Second, the "Koch method" is to learn a few characters at a time - I start my students with a group of six characters, the A,N,S,O,1, and the period - sent 13/8 WPM. When the students can recognize and copy A ANN SON. 1 ANSON and so on and so forth better than 95 percent by ear we go to the next group of six characters.

Remember - the object is to hear a character as a character. It's not dahdidahdit is er, uh, ah, that's a C. Practice until you hear the sound and recognize the character. Trying to speed that process up will slow down your learning. Your brain WILL soon learn the knack of hearing a new sound and putting that sound together with a new character. It only SEEMS like it takes forever!

Generally speaking, it takes MOST students two to four hours of practice to really learn each group of characters. The first hour of actual practice is with groups of random letters, 75 percent the new letters and 25 percent letters from previous groups. The second and if needed subsequent hours of practice are words, punctuation, and numbers; picking up with short sentences wherever possible.

How does this scheme work? Considering there's no easy way to learn either geometry or Morse code, reasonably well. Most students practice two to three hours a week and are ready for air time in six to eight weeks. I have had a couple of students who picked the code up well enough to pass the VE test in less than two weeks, and were ready for air time in less than four weeks. And one severely handicapped student took more than 70 hours to pass the test.

How well you do depends on your capabilities and how diligently you practice. The real killers are trying to learn all the characters in one sitting, and failing to practice every day. After you get on the air the most discouraging thing is to send faster than you can copy.

If you are typical you can copy eight and send at twenty. If you do that the other ham will either be lost or come back to you at twenty. So you are lost, can't copy the %^&*()_ code and are ready to give it up after the first QSO.

Just take it easy, send a little SLOWER than you can copy, and keep on practicing. Speed isn't important, accuracy is.

Oh yes - when you get on the air the cold sweats, the butterflies behind the navel, and all the other symptoms of key fright will go away pretty quickly.

73 Pete Allen AC5E

Koch or Farnsworth?  
by N3ZKP on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

With all due respect ...

Steve Katx, WB2WIK/6, just did an extensive article on tlearning code two weeks ago. Did you read it, and the dozens and dozens of replies?

Koch or Farnsworth?  
by K5PA on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
For some indepth reading on this subject check out the excellent book, available free by downloading, from the link below. Excellent discussions about learning the code from historical perspectives.

The Art & Skill of Radio Telegraphy, William G. Pierpont N0HFF, 3rd edition.

Download free at:


RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by K0RFD on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I think the best method to learn code is any method a person actually uses. A lot of people spend time agonizing over which method, which software, etc. I know I certainly did. It wasn't until I sat down and started doing it that I actually started learning code.
Koch or Farnsworth?  
by N9SC on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with N3ZKP......Take a look at Steve's (WB2WIK/6) article of a week or so ago. GOOD STUFF!
RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by KE4MOB on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
"I have tried the Koch method at its suggested speed (25WPM char/15WPM overall) and I CANNOT accurately copy for more than 30 seconds, not even 2 characters."

But you CAN copy for less than 30 seconds!! Slow it down to 20/15 and try that.
RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by KB1LKR on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Ive been using either 15WPM character speed (same as standard Element 1 test) or 20 WPM character, at 7 or 10 WPM (mostly 7) speed, (slightly faster than 5 WPM word spacing of Ele 1). I find 20WPM character maybe a little easier than 15 as the dits and dats begin to blur together as a rhythm (though faster than 25 is too fast for me right now). 7 WPM is slow enough I can still pencil copy easily, I get tense at 10, but a fair bit faster than the 5 WPM of the test, so when I'm ready the test should seem slow/relaxed in pace. I go back and forht on using 20WPM (sounds better) vs 15WPM (as it will sound on the test), and find 13 or less to be P O N D E R O U S, and, as I said, > 25 unreadable. YMMV.

I too though would like to learn to be come fast at it someday, maybe do QRP, maybe weak signal VHF w/ it, and am facinated that one can get so it is as reading a book, hearing words, not just letters, at high speeds, just as we hear/comprehend spoken language.

What is hard for me right now (I'm in the early stages, using G4FON, on random strings of a few characters (3 to 6), is mixing K & R etc., (figures my call would end w/ ...KR think I'll keep it!) but that will go away with time.

It should be noted too, for testing (unless you have a very good memory for the fill in the blanks) you need to write the letters, whereas in real use you'd only scribble notes such as name and call -- much as you would w/ phone, so that limits the word speed to your writing speed.
by ADAM12 on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I've been where you are now and tried both Koch and Farnsworth methods using free software downloaded from the internet.

I didn't get very far with either and, to be honest, I was losing interest as it was getting boring and becoming harder to make progress.

I then came across Code Quick 2000 software which made learning the code fun and easy.

Anyway, using Code Quick 2000, I passed my 5, 13 and 20 word per minute tests (over time) and have never regretted paying the (admittedly not insignificant) price of Code Quick. URL is

Whatever method works for you, I would strongly encourage you to practice a little (15-20 minutes) every day until you reach your goal. Once learned, it's a skill you'll have for life.

If it weren't for CW, I would have given up amateur radio a long time ago. There is none of the stupidity and animosity one often encounters on 2 meter repeaters, and apart from the bottom 25 KHz of each CW band, none of the arrogance and pettiness one can find on SSB.

Being on 40 meters CW is like being part of a club and up on 20 meters, although they're a little more "serious" up there, there's a real thrill when contacting some far away place like Antarctica, Africa, the Far East, etc. especially if you can do it with just 5 watts (which you can under the right conditions; and without a fancy beam antenna).

Whatever... make it fun, and when it stops being fun, take a break.

With perseverance, you'll do just fine...

Koch or Farnsworth?  
by ADAM12 on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
One more word of advice I'd offer is that if you're going to write down the code as you hear it (as many do), I would strongly suggest that you write in lower-case. I found that you can reach a point where you can't write fast enough if you write in capital letters (as I did/do). If you learn to copy code by writing in capitals, it's very difficult (if not impossible) to switch to copying (writing) in lower case).

Yes, reading code in your head and writing down just notes is the ideal, however, I believe that is a skill which is automatically acquired over a long period of time and is not possible while learning/improving.
RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by AL2I on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Absolute dittos on ADAM12! I am transitioning to lower case now. I started by always writing in capital letters. DON'T make the same mistake! I am having difficulty making my letters fast enough and am going to lower case as well as using some shorthand techniques.

RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by NK9R on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I too had problems when I was trying to get to 13 wpm. I started using lower case script to get me other the hump. That seems kind of funny now, because when I worked on my 20 wpm goal, I somehow got back to block letters! Somewhere along 16 or 17 wpm I started examining how I wrote my blocked letters and started economizing my strokes. The hardest one, was the "E". They come by so fast, especially when there are two in a row. I started writing them as a backward "3". Also somewhere in that range, I started copying behind. Between copying a couple characters behind and economizing my stokes, I was able to get to 20 wpm to pass the test.

As far as learning the characters, I think that the sooner you start recognizing the characters as a complete sound, ( kind of like different, little drum beats ), the better off you will be. Looking back at it, I think, if you start too slow you will never recognize the beat, you'll be counting instead. I would think 15-18 wpm would be a good starting point for the character speed. You want it fast enough that it is difficult to revert to counting.

Good Luck
RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by WB2WIK on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Nice writeup.

But consider this: In days of old, the Farnsworth and Koch methods hadn't been invented, there was no software, there were no computers and there were no CDs, DVDs, cassette tapes -- and the tape recorder hadn't been invented, nor did anyone have electric power service. Oh, yeah, and radio hadn't been invented yet, either. And in those days of old, thousands and thousands of men and women learned the code and became expert telegraphers, sending messages quite rapidly and efficiently by wire for Western Union and similar telegraph services.

The method they used, and very effectively, was called "motivation." Telegraphy jobs paid very well, and was clean office work done while sitting in a chair at a desk; quite a bit nicer than digging ditches, bailing hay, laying railroad track or many other jobs that may have been the most likely alternatives. According to lots of written history, on average it took a novice telegraphy student about one week to learn to be proficient at Morse code and start using it, working for Western Union.

I wonder how they accomplished that, with no computers, software, oscillators or months of deliberating over which method is best?

RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by NK9R on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
One other suggestion:

Try writing down the alphabet as fast as you can while timing yourself. You can then see if you need to find a faster way to write.

For me writing speed was definately an issue.

RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by NN6EE on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
First and foremost you've gotta be MOTIVATED and really want to learn it. After saying that in our OWN opinion I'd say the Farensworth system is the only way to go. That system does'nt give the learner the time to COUNT individual characters making up each letter, as when I first started learning Code in 1962, that's how I started doing it and it hampered our ability to increase our speed, but after getting out of that BAD habit it was upwards and onwards as far as increasing our speed was concerned!!!

Koch or Farnsworth?  
by G0GQK on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I think the Farnsworth method is easier to learn because it makes the code "musical", but I found on taking the examination when the code was sent "flat", as sent by a computer, I was unable to read it. I had to take another examination after I'd taught myself to read the "flat" code. Its like the difference between Schoenberg and Beethoven
Koch or Farnsworth?  
by G0GQK on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Who the hell is Koch ?
Koch or Farnsworth?  
by K1ZF on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I confess to know nothing of either method. Thirty years ago, (when you REALLY had to know the code) it was a “lady dog” for me. I listened to W1AW twice a night. I tried to copy the bulletins. I even spent a lot of money on a paper tape sender that the military used. What got my speed up was to get on the air and operate. Sure, there were a lot of one way conversations. Took about a year to copy 25 wpm solid, after passing the 13 wpm for General. Now, I can cruse at 25 wpm and only write what I need to. But I can, if necessary, copy solid copy at 20 wpm with a pen, and 25 (or so) with a keyboard. In contests, where all you have to copy is a call sign and maybe some exchange, I do 45 (or so).

The point of this is that to communicate with Morse code, you must learn to concentrate on what you’re saying, or hearing rather than how you’re saying (or hearing) it. Remember your High School Spanish? (or French, or whatever…) Same thing.

One last comment: I think the code requirement of 5 wpm is just right for today’s ham. It’s not that hard to do. And if you want to forget it after the test, that’s okay too. Asking someone to copy solid at 20 wpm for extra is a bit out dated, as is 13 wpm for General. But 5 wpm? Piece of cake.

Gene K1ZF/AI1D

RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by N4QA on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Didn't he used to be a mayor or somethin' ?
RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by KE4MOB on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
"I wonder how they accomplished that, with no computers, software, oscillators or months of deliberating over which method is best?"

Good question. I suppose back in those days, with no TV, no radio, no internet, no movie theaters, and no automobiles there probably wasn't much else to do. A person just decided to learn the code, and five or so days later, they learned it. I guess that's a good testimony for the "total immersion" approach.

I just wonder if the newly minted operators were called "one dit wonders". (Sorry, I couldn't resist!!)

Steve, KE4MOB
RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by K7IHC on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Koch= Ludwig Koch, German psychologist. Developed *Koch* method of learning Morse code in the 1930's.
RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by K4ZMV on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Max, for the last six months I've been getting my commercial licenses so I can sail in the merchant marine as a radio electronics officer. I've had my extra class license now since 1982 and I was a Marine CT, so I know the code. I can comfortably copy about 45 WPM, plain text. I've also been licensed since 1959. What I observed of 11 men in my classes having to learn code to copy 16 WPM code groups and 20 WPM plain text to pass the Second Class CW elements is worth passing on.

Those 11 guys did not know the code when they started the classes for the FCC Second Class Radiotelegraph license. Yeah, the Coast Guard still requires Morse for the Radio Officers license. Most of them had, unfortunately, learned the code in terms of dots and dashs, on paper. I got them to stop their process of hearing the character, translating that to dots and dashs, then translating that to the actual character they wrote down. The way the Navy taught code was to HEAR, repeat, HEAR the character, then type that character. In your case, it would be write it. You need to eliminate the middle translation process of sounds to dots and dashs.

As far as speed goes, I'd recommend practicing at speeds slightly faster than you can copy 100%. And, character speed of, say, 20 WPM sent at a total speed of 15 WPM is fine. I'd also recommend that you finish your practice session by putting the pencil down and listen to code at approximately 10 WPM faster than you can comfortably copy for about 10 minutes.

Bottom line, though, is what works for you. If you know anything about music, you know that musicians have different approaches to making music. CW is much like music. Experiment and find what works best for you. The learning tool 'Code Quick' is a really good tool, as most of the guys I was in class with found out.

Good luck with your endeavor. CW is what amateur radio is all about, as far as I am concerned. I love it and hope you will, too.


RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by KB1KIX on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Farnsworth just wasn't working for me.

I switched over to Koch and it is doing better. I'll be using code on HF soon - lookout!!!

RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by X-WB1AUW on July 31, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Use script when you write down code--do not print.

For me, the key was to set aside 5 minutes every day, and copy random characters.

Have FUN
RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by N6AJR on August 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

he has a free koch method trainer for cw ( it does work well) and also a scoring program for your computer,

it sends 2 characters at 20 wpm and when you get 90 % you add a letter.. you learn at a usable speed, and you don't go with the hear it, translate it , write it down routine , you go to hear it, then type it.. it works well and it is free, check it out ,
Koch or Farnsworth?  
by VE4HAM on August 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Ah, Farnsworth all the way. Yes sir'ee, that 3? hmmmmmm old vinyl record set did the trick 25 yrs ago. Three weeks, each evening 3 hrs, 15 wpm perfect copy. But BEWARE, a myriad of budding ops quit when they hit a "plateau" where you think you will never get any better or any worse, or stumble. I just about scrapped my hopes, but always remembered the elders mentioning the "plateau." One fine day, just 2 days before the exam , and not caring if I'd pass or not, like magic....I was copying side 3 100 percent at 15 wpm. From there, code was like typing to me, once learned , never forgotten, rusty from lack of key presses, but never forgotten.
RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by N4MJG on August 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I think the koch is better for most people.some don't like it,to me i try it i got 75 to 80 % of words for 5 char.i didn't do too bad i sit my tone to 650 for my hearing.

RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by W9OY on August 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Farnsworth if you actually want to advance in the use of code after you learn it. About anything will work if all you want to do is pass a "test" not faster than 13wpm.

To "enjoy" code your first goal should be 18-20 wpm written or typed, and nothing less. Note I said goal, lessor speed will of course happen before you acheive your goal, but less than this speed makes code a chore and not a joy. Once you can do 20wpm teach yourself to "head" copy, and code will be your operating joy. Beyond that its all a mater of how far you want to take your skill. We welcome you.

RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by KB1HAP on August 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

With all due respect ...

Steve Katx, WB2WIK/6, just did an extensive article on tlearning code two weeks ago. Did you read it, and the dozens and dozens of replies?


Hey Lon (and others),

Eham takes about 20/30 days to review and publish articles. By the time WB2WIK article came to beign, my article had been already submited! Sorry about that, no intentions of beign repetitious.

On the other hand, THANK YOU VERY MUCH to everybody's for their sugestions. I specially like the one about not writing capital letters!! I've learned that my problem with Koch was indeed my writting speed, and not necesarily comprehension. I'm now doing almos 90% at the same speed.

RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by WB2WIK on August 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Good deal.

What will help you now is to toss away the pencil or pen and paper altogether, and neither print nor scribe what you copy.

I doubt that when you have a "phone" conversation with someone (or a telephone conversation, or one face-to-face) you write down what the other person says. Why do so when copying code? Makes no sense, and is absolutely, positively the limiting factor in the ability to go fast and really enjoy the mode.

Not writing anything down also frees your hands for lots of other stuff. One thing I often do, using my memory keyer, is start sending "replies" to the other station while he's still sending to me, so the material is very fresh. By interspersing my replies (into memory) with his transmission, when he's done, all I have to do is hit "send," and I can get up and get a drink or something while my keyer sends everything I thought of during his transmission.

But that's just one advantage....

Koch or Farnsworth?  
by AB8RU on August 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I downloaded Koch, but I also listened to old General tapes, played a CD audio disk and most of all a basic brass keyer and a CW oscillator. a sugguestion a book called Morse Code the Essential Language, has pratice letter groups, I drove people crazy who happened to walk by while on break studying the code, but you know what? I passed it, got my General at that time and now I am a Extra, besides that I am a VE.

I look foward to help people when I can by helping the Exam sessions, by the way if you flunked the code , I met a guy tried 20 times until he finally passed it. something to think about.

I'll give you a List of sugguestions...

Pratice Sending thats right send every Radio Brand out there..

Kenwood, Yeasu, Icom, Alinco, Heathkit, Collins, Azden, Midland, Motorola, Radio Shack, Atlas, National Radio

Antennas Yagi, Quagi, Quad, Beam, Long Wire, Center Fed, Zepp, Beverage, Omni Directional, Dummy Load.

Tower, Gin Pole, TV Mast, Tripod

WX Snow/sleet, Rainy/cold, Hot/ Muggy Warm/ Foggy Hurricane /Windy

Temps. 70 Degrees, 32 Degrees, 80 Degrees, 40 Degrees, 62 Degrees

so here you go reverse the words, know em back n forth Question whats the code for


Pound it on the key for yourself..

be ready to pass Element 1 & Good Luck !
Koch or Farnsworth?  
by VE1CUT on August 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I struggled with learning CW for several months. I think everyone has their own breakthrough - and that's when trying to learn the code becomes fun rather than just tedious.

What finally worked for me was copying real QSOs on the novice bands and Code Quick. I thought Code Quick was lunacy at first - learn a associated mnemonic for each character - but it was so ridiculous I think I began to relax and learn.

The important part is to keep trying - stick to a schedule - and soon those dots and dashes will magically begin to sound like letters.

RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by AB8TM on August 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Stick with Koch. You may have to full around with it a little bit but eventually you'll get there.
Koch or Farnsworth?  
by KA8VIT on August 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Seems to me you are confused...

Farnsworth is a method for SENDING code... by added space between characters to slow the overall WPM of the code.

KOCH is a method for LEARNING the code.

Apples and oranges!

You can use the Farnsworth method of sending code using the KOCH method to learn the code.



Koch or Farnsworth?  
by KC9GJC on August 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I am currently using the Koch trainer software from G4FON to learn the code; I expect that I will be able to take the exam in about two weeks (after working on it for about a week already). I like this method, because it uses the same basic method I use in my daily music practice for learning new stuff. Start with what you know, and progress to what you don't know, all the while speeding up/ improving what you have already learned.
RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by AC0H on August 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
If you don't know the code then the Koch method is the best way to learn it. If you know the code then the best way to get faster is to USE it on the air.
Koch or Farnsworth?  
by WK4RC on August 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
don't listen to the code ----- hear it
farnsworth is the way i liked to learn it
fast with decreasing delay to speed up
then ----- get on the air and use it
your speed will soar with confidence and experience
my first qso was with an old timer from CA
don't remember the call off the top of my head
he was patient and wanted a rag chew
was the best qso i ever had because after it was completed i felt great
the feeling of it being worth learning the code after working the OM was just the best thing i had done in the hobby up to that time
will never forget the feeling
love the mode and the hobby
RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by W5UX on August 3, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
K4ZMV has just told us the Coast Guard still requires morse for the radio officers. A well kept secret. Morse is not dead after all. About learning code. I carry a pocket tape recorder everywhere I go. (Almost). At work, On the way to work. While exercising etc. It works.
Koch or Farnsworth?  
by WN2A on August 3, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Personally, I used the Katz Method of copying code.

What the heck is the Katz Method??

Well, first I was just using CW with my
homebrew QRP stuff (back in the mid'80's)and only
using FM up on VHF/UHF. Then Steve sez, come
over, and I'll show you what VHF/UHF can really
do. So I go over there to nosebleed heights
(Alcrest Rd.) and he's in the shack digging out
signals well under the mud. Gee Whiz--pretty good
DX too on a ho-hum night! You could'nt have heard
them if they where on sideband, no way,no how!
So I sez to myself- cool that's the "Katz Method"
for copying CW- you get on the bands (HF too) and
you use that psycho-acousic DSP engine between yur

Bottom line: Whatever method works for you is fine,
people have different learning approaches. But just
like the Western Union operator motivated to keep a
good job, if you want DX you can't get anywhere else,
you will be plenty motivated!
Koch or Farnsworth?  
by KD5OZY on August 5, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
i struggled with cw for along time, and finally started sending it to myself and learnedit. as i wwas driving down the road i would read roadsigns and send them in cw to myself in my head. i would keep a copy of the code on the dash and would glance at it if i had a problem. i think sendig code is the best way to learn it. 73 james hope this helps somebody
Koch or Farnsworth?  
by N2EY on August 6, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
"Farnsworth or Koch? That is the question…"

Why not both?

Farnsworth is simply the concept of highspeed characters with exaggerated spacing between them.
Gives you time to recognize and write.

Koch is the concept of learning just two characters
until you know them perfectly, then adding a new
one until you know three perfectly, etc.

"I have tried the Koch method at its suggested speed (25WPM char/15WPM overall) and I CANNOT accurately copy for more than 30 seconds, not even 2 characters."

What seems to be the problem? Is it the writing, or
do you stop recognizing, or what?

Try having software send you something you already know, like "cat on a mat" or some such short sentence with only a few different characters, over and over. Can you copy that for more than 30 seconds?

I found that, for me, a #2 pencil, lined paper, block printing and a solid table with glare-free lighting made a BIG improvement in my copying skill, compared to a pen, longhand, scratch paper and trying to write on a clipboard or something hand-held.

"On the other hand, if you start counting dots and dashes in your head, I agree that could become really hard to be able to improve your speed later."

Counting is worse than useless.

Probably the biggest 'problem' with learning Morse is that you have to experiment to find what method works best for *you*.

73 es GL de Jim, N2EY
Koch or Farnsworth?  
by AF4XK on August 6, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
There are lots of ways to learn.

I tried several ways but CODE QUICK was BY FAR the best approach for me. It's fun, easy, and you will remember it. Get the 6 CD's for about $65. It works.

Best of luck.
Koch or Farnsworth?  
by KF3EG on August 6, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Well first off, don't write your copy down. This will be a hard habit to break later on.
I write call sign, QTH and ops name and the like. When you gain speed it becomes very hard to copy and write without a lag time and you miss some of what is sent. Many people do not increase speed due to this.
Write down for a test or emergency traffic. Most of what you copy after all the standard stuff is just chit chat, if you are asked a question make note of it.
My point is, save time, don't learn code putting it on paper just to have to reteach yourself not to write it down later on, this is like picking corn before you grown it, damn hard.
When I taught a code class for our club and 20 wpm was required back then, 75% of my classes passed 20wpm their first try, I didn't make them write down their copy, I asked questions about what was sent and the ones who missed it knew they missed the questions.
Lastly, its all about how bad you want it.
RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by AE6RB on August 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
The Koch method forces your brain to adapt to a "way too fast" speed so there's no alternative but to know the alphabet like a reflex w/o thinking. This is for people (like me) who need the skill of copying code force fed, crammed down your throat.

The Koch computer program is also good because after assimilating the alphabet it will send words and sentences. Right now I'm using it @20/15 WPM to delay writing words (from the Gettysburg Address) after having copied the next word completely in my head. I'm not there yet, but increase that delay to two, three, four words ahead and then you've arrived. At that point you can sit back, relax, copy in your head, and only have to jot notes directly into your log book. Must be nice to be able to do that!
Koch or Farnsworth?  
by K0KL on August 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
In 1956 when I got my Novice licese I operated s-l-o-w, as did almost every new ham. When my speed improved to say 10 wpm, I hit a "wall" that took a month or so to get over. My speed eventually got better and better.

The "wall" was caused by my mind being unable to lookup the letter based upon the sound of the letter. Call it using a look up table ...

The Farnsworth method is trying to get you to get used to the sound and by reflex action just write it down, no lookup table. You can only get higher speeds by reflex not "dit dah" is "a", etc.

I'm not sure which is best, but if you get on the air operating at say 8-10 wpm the entire letter will be at that speed, so it has been my opinion that Farnsworth is wrong as are any other method of learning code where the sound is unnatural.

Good Luck, it's lots of fun!


ed K0KL
RE: Koch or Farnsworth?  
by KD6NEM on January 26, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"Apples and oranges!"
"You can use the Farnsworth method of sending code using the KOCH method to learn the code."

Absolutely correct! Koch and Farnsworth are very compatible. Anyone bashing one at the expense of the other simply does not know enough to be talking. It is not an "either/or" situation. Farnsworth is a godsend to me, and Koch is icing on the cake. I only wish I had more time for studying. Will probably be summer before I get on HF. Kudos to those who have written study software flexible enough to be compatible with both.

Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to discussions on this article.

My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

Other Recent Articles
Propagation Forecast Bulletin #46 de K7RA:
MSU Club Fosters World-Wide Communication with Century Old Hobby:
Amateur Radio Association Seeking Broadcasters:
Hurricane-Battered Arecibo Telescope Will Keep Studying the Skies:
RadFxSat (Fox-1B) Launch Reset for November 18: