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Author Topic: Re-Learning CW ??  (Read 1492 times)
N1FDX
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Posts: 55




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« on: January 05, 2010, 06:57:04 PM »

Looking for advice from some of you seasoned CW users.
I learned CW many years ago but I don't think ever correctly. Memorized the letters etc and used tapes and W1AW. Was never able to break the 13-15 wpm barrier and really was quite a crapy CW operator.
I think the way I learned was to hear the dots and dashes and them assocoate them to the correct letter. Was told once that was wrong. So soon after abandon CW and went on to the many other areas of the hobby and love the hobby. I would like to take advantage ov CW, some QRP weak signal etc and as I try to get my speed up and am wasting time associating and missing as I go along.
Any advice on how to push the reset button and do it right ??
Any coments welcome.

Thanks, I envy you guys moving at 25++ wpm
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KB3HJK
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Posts: 97




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« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2010, 08:12:15 PM »

I learned via Code Quick, and even worse method.

I am convinced that the Koch Method is the very best. I am not a seasoned code guy, but I'll bet the old pros might agree.

Kevin
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WX7G
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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2010, 02:30:19 AM »

The Farnsworth method works well. With that method words might be sent at 5 WPM while letters are sent at 15 WPM. This teaches the sound of fast CW.

I have not used the Koch method to teach CW but it might be better than Farnsworth.

Once you get comfortable copying turn up the speed a bit higher than you can reliably copy and this will tend to push your speed up over time.

There are many free CW sending programs on the web.
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K2DC
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« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2010, 03:18:42 AM »

Jim,

I learned the code pretty much the same way starting by counting dots and dashes, associating the count with a letter and trying to remember the preceeding letters until it made a word. Most people hit a wall around 10 WPM using that method.

For me the break point was to continue to practice and to listen to slowly increasing speeds. The break comes when you stop the dot-dash counting and begin to associate rythm patterns directly with letter groups, syllables and short words.

I had my 20 WPM Extra in two years and with continuing practice I probably peaked at around 35 WPM, but that was almost 30 years ago. With age, changes in dexterity and varying CW activity I'm now most comfortable around 20 WPM or so.

I can't point you to the best method to begin to relearn the code. But to get beyond the 10-15 WPM range, I don't think there are any magic bullets - it's all practice, practice, practice. And everybody is different. I've known ops who couldn't blast their way through 20 WPM and others who fell asleep between words at 40. The point is, just keep at it!

--. .-.. . ... --... ...-- --..--

-.. --- -. --..-- -.- ..--- -.. -.-.
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N4NYY
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« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2010, 06:45:06 AM »

But what is the average speed practiced on the air? I too am interested in learning code. Something I had no desire in, until I saw it on Field Day, and thought it was the coolest thing.

My problem is, why learn 13-15wpm, when hams are typing 30wpm. My guess is, try to learn at least the minimum average speed that is most commomly use. What would that be?
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AE4RV
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« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2010, 11:07:21 AM »

N4NYY - "But what is the average speed practiced on the air? I too am interested in learning code. Something I had no desire in, until I saw it on Field Day, and thought it was the coolest thing.

My problem is, why learn 13-15wpm, when hams are typing 30wpm. My guess is, try to learn at least the minimum average speed that is most commomly use. What would that be?"


Well, speeds used on the air vary greatly but I'd say about 18 WPM is the average. Maybe 20. Contesters (and some DXers) often do 35-40 but with short exchanges you don't have to be conversational at those speeds to participate, and there are many casual contests that aren't that fast.

Sometimes I hear 50+ wpm and sometimes I hear 5, but around 15-20 is average. PLENTY of people to talk to at 10 or 15 wpm. You will have to learn to walk before you can run, so go ahead and learn slow for now  Smiley

My two favorite practice programs:

http://www.g4fon.net/CW%20Trainer.htm

The most famous free "Koch" method program has many features and built in word lists and QSOs to copy, even makes MP3 files for you. Good for beginners and pros.


http://www.rufzxp.net/

Sends callsigns one at a time, increasing speeds as you get them right and decreasing speed if you get it wrong. Use this program after you know letters and some numbers - it is like weight lifting for the brain! But, it is not intended to teach the basics, just make you stronger and faster. I try to use it for five minutes a day most weekdays.
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WB5JEO
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« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2010, 12:07:52 PM »

I like Koch. Of course, what I'd really like to be able to do is really make it a language, hear words, not letters. (It's kind of backwards the way we tend to learn code. What do you do when you don't want small children to know what you're saying? You spell it. Humans learn words first.) And what I'd REALLY like is to learn it as well as my father who could carry on a conversation with you in the room and simultaneously follow CW on the radio. (Yeah. Like that's going to happen.)
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AE4RV
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« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2010, 12:19:55 PM »

"Of course, what I'd really like to be able to do is really make it a language, hear words, not letters."

I'm really working on it. I once heard Jean Shepherd say that for an adult, learning to hear CW like language is like birthing a square egg. I'm trying to prove him wrong...not sure I can though! But if my typing speed ends up being my uppper code speed, getting to 30-40 wpm will be doable. Already understanding a lot of code at 30wpm. I just can't write it down much faster than 20.
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N1FDX
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Posts: 55




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« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2010, 02:31:06 PM »

Thanks for all the replies,

MAking it a language is what I was once told where in the higher speeds you begin to hear words.

I guess another thing to overcome is I can seem to send well reading text from a book etc. But sending from my head a thought I seem to rellay stumble pretty bad.

Keep plugging.
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N4NYY
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« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2010, 03:08:55 PM »

AE4RV,

I am going to take a shot at that Koch method. I checked it out, and think it is pretty good.

Funny, but I passed 5 wpm, and had no interest in it. The study was boring. Then I saw it at Field Day, and got a whole different perspective. In fact, I have told my radio club members that I would rather learn code than pass the extra. Passing th extra would not be that difficult to me. Learning code would be much more of a help and getting priviliges to a few extra frequencies.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2010, 06:52:32 PM »

If you learned enough code to do 13 wpm, that was a great start.

The difference between that and being a seasoned operator is practice and experience.

I always challenged my "code" students in class: Make 5 CW contacts a day, and log them all.  After 100 days, you'll have 500 contacts.  If you're not easily doing 30 wpm by then, you'll be the first one in history.

Nobody learned to be a championship anything (skier, tennis player, swimmer, etc, etc) by just getting good and then stopping.

If you're into sports at all, you've probably heard about "muscle memory," where after a while, the activity becomes so rote that you just do it without thinking.  That doesn't happen overnight, it usually takes years.  But once it's there, you're at the pinnacle of that activity.  Working code is just about the same.  After some time, you don't think about it, it's exactly the same as just talking to somebody except you don't have to move your lips.
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KE4ILG
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Posts: 151




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« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2010, 09:02:45 PM »

If you can copy 5 wpm get on the air. Practice sending so you send the very best code you can.  Each character should be as close to perfect you can make it. The spaces between the characters and words should be large enough so the receiving station understands you well. When you start copying ops who don't space well it makes it difficult to copy no matter the speed.  I know from experience if you send well even slowly many people will want to talk with you.  Once your are in the 12-15 wpm range conversations are a lot of fun.  Once you get comfortable with 18-20 wpm the world really opens up because you will be able to have QSO's from 3-20+ wpm ops and that is a large percentage on the air.  All it takes is on air experience.  You have to imagine that cw ops want more hams to come over to cw.  We WANT you.  

73 and hope to cu sn, Mike, ke4ilg.
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N3JJT
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Posts: 31




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« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2010, 10:36:00 PM »

Well, it is nice to hear you wanting to take it all in again!  Welcome, and I hope your relearning experience will be fun.  First of all, you are relearning, so forget where you thought you were.  Get the, "I have to go faster than 25 wpm" thoughts out of your head.(This will inhibit your learning, besides it will happen on its own).  It has been posted that the average speed out there is between 15 to 18, maybe 20wpm, and this is very true.  The last post said it right, practice sending good, and you will attract QSOs.  Once you are comfortable, put down the pencil.  Use the pencil to jot down the call,name rpt, etc that you want in the log.  Then put down the pencil.  Copy in your head, and the enjoyment will increase 10 fold.  You might have to slow down at first, but it will pay off later.  Your speed will come with time.  Once you get where you are having lots of fun, and you want to set that high speed goal, then you will be ready for the challenge.  I am a member of SKCC.  There is always someone wanting to chat.  Fists has lots of members too!  When you copy in ur head, u hear words, and you will hear them before they are spelled out.  Once that happens, you will be just "talking".  This is how I elmered my good friend, KD8BBK.  He operates in the 28wpm area.  Much faster than I ever go, and he copies in his head.  I do CW 99% of the time, and really enjoy the mode!

Good Luck!  de Scott..N3JJT
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W5ESE
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« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2010, 07:07:46 AM »

I agree with most of the advice offered by the others. Using 'Farnsworth' type character speed and
spacing is a good approach.

'Koch' and 'Farnsworth' aren't exclusive concepts.

'Koch' is a method of learning code that begins with 2 characters, and successively adds
an additional character after you master the first two. Then a fourth is added when those
three are mastered, and so forth.

'Farnsworth' is a system of character speed and spacing in which characters are sent at
a high speed, but a long space is left between characters to reach a desired slower speed.
The idea is to prevent counting dits or dahs, and emphasize learning the characters by
sound, and not as a counded sequence of dits and dahs.

It seems to me that there's a lot of emphasis on 'Morse Training' these days, using
various computer programs.

If you know the morse characters, spend some time getting on the air and having fun.

Look into the different groups for Morse enthusiasts like the FISTs and the Straight Key
Century Club (SKCC).

73
Scott W5ESE
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WY4J
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Posts: 115




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« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2010, 05:09:16 PM »

When I got back to ham radio after almost 25 year absence, I found this site very useful. I was still able to copy around 15 wpm and in less than 30 days I was back to comfortably copying 25 wpm.

http://www.omnicron.com/~ford/java/NMorse.html
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