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Author Topic: Help getting code quick out of my head  (Read 1075 times)

Posts: 165

« on: February 20, 2010, 10:14:12 PM »

Based on reviews and advice I used code quick about 4 years ago to pass the 5wpm test and also to learn the code for practical use. After these many years I find that I cannot get those little sayings out of my head and it is putting up a wall for me at 12wpm. Even 12wpm I can't do in my head I need paper. What is the best way to fix this. I have tried ordering the arrl's code program on cd. But that program is really for someone that does not know the code. Is there a program out there on cd that helps people increase their speed?

Posts: 22


« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2010, 02:30:37 AM »

Is the speed of 5wpm of your test, a real 5wpm speed, or are the letters and figures sent out at a highter speed (i.e. 10 or 12 wpm) but the rythm between letters and figures is lengthened, giving an overall speed of 5wpm ?

When I learned morse code, in 1997, I used the worst way there is : learning at 5, then 7, than 10 wpm, and counting all "dih" and "dah" of each character. After a slow speed increase in 3-4 months, I hardly reached the wall of 12/13wpm (enough for the French CW examen).

I never copied at more than 13wpm and so, I stopped CW right away after the test... The last year, and after 10 years, I came back to Hamradio and I decided to succeed where I failed some years ago. I started to re-learn CW from A to Z directly at more than 12wpm with the "Koch method" and it has been done very quickly. Less than 3 months later, I was able to copy mixed code at more than 20wpm and to copy single callsigns at 30-35wpm. It was unbelievable for me !

The only thing that has changed in 10 years is the method ! But I needed to totally restart from the begining with a new method to avoid counting all characters...

Posts: 2528

« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2010, 11:08:32 AM »

I hit speeds where it seemed as if I could never get a 100% copy.  The speed you are stuck on was around where I got stuck.  By that speed, I had to stop printing, and use script.  Someone suggested I go from 13 to 15, which I did.  Eventually I got very good at 15 and discovered that improved my problem areas at 13.

Copying in my head started higher than 20WPM for me.

It might be that we have enough individuality that one method isn't the best for every one; any method will have advantages and disadvantages.

You can down load free CW practice software and try them.  For me, it was a matter of setting aside the same 5-15 minutes each day to practice copying random characters from a tape.


Posts: 2354

« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2010, 11:33:22 PM »

You might try practice with "RufzXP", a practice program (and tester) for high-speed CW.

It sends callsigns, and speeds up until you make an error in reading (you get two tries for each callsign).

You'll very quickly find that you recognize _characters_ way, way faster than you can with Code Quick mnemonics.

I don't know if it will help improve your skills with normal QSO's.

RufzXP is free at:

Posts: 22


« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2010, 03:06:54 AM »

You can also try morserunner (

Maybe I have not totally understood the question but I think there might be 2 ways for "head-reading" CW :

- To copy in head a word letter by letter, that means you'd have to memorize all letters to understand the word (I personnaly hardly do it, even at 15-18wpm, for "clear" French sentences - but it is a little bit easier, even at 20-25wpm, for small CW words that I am used to listen)

- To copy in head entire words without consciously recognizing all letters. I.e. "73" is easy to read at slow or at very high speed because we can easily recognize the word sound in one time.

In the first case, I do not know what to do, but I would appreciate to learn how to improve it (maybe just... practice !) ! In the second case, with CW softwares, you can focus on the most used CW words to get them at different speeds, copying entire word sounds instead of a serie of letters.

Posts: 59

« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2010, 08:38:59 AM »

I also used Codequick to get me through the 5 wpm exam and experienced a similar problem 'shaking' the Codequick translator that fired in my head every time I heard a morse character.

My solution, crank up the speed of your keyer to 20 wpm (or more), listen to faster QSO's, and just practice and stop copying on paper. For two years I made CW my only mode and made an attempt to have at least one QSO a day, however short. I think all this helped me. Although I admit 'Y did I die' and 'dog dit it' still ring in my ears.

I've now plateaued at about 20 wpm. I blame my current plateau on not getting on the air enough.

Use of the free software pgms such as G4FON, Rzetc etc are all great. I've used them, but find they are nothing like a real QSO, especially now that there is a renewed interest in straight keys, and IMHO, there are more rythmically challenged hams out there than perhaps we'd all like to admit ;-). Codequick doesn't fit the straight key model and therefore you're brain is forced to rewire itself.

Good luck. Hopefully time, patience and onair time erodes the Codequick translator in your head. With that said, I still believe Codequick made it possible for me to now enjoy the code - it's the only mode I operate on HF.

Posts: 729


« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2010, 07:52:38 AM »

I agree totally with the use of G4FON software.  It can be set easily to many parameters.  The best choice is overall speed of 5 to 7 wpm, and character speed of 18-20 wpm.  It will take some time to relearn Morse, though.  Don't be impatient.

I have preached against 'crutch' methods of learning Morse for quite a while, and especially Code Quick, which relies upon an extra translattion step.  It is designed to keep you slow.  In fact, it is designed for one specific purpose only, to get you past the test, so you can forget all about Morse and get on 20 meters SSB.  That was it's sole purpose.

To actually USE CW, you have to learn it right and that is by the sound of the letters, not the sound of a crutch or learning aid.  Download the G4FON, set it up as mentioned, and start over.  If you find the crutch still hurting you, speed up the software to 12-13 wpm over all speed, keeping the character speed at 20 wpm.  You will catch on pretty quickly.  

Unlearning incorrect methods of anything are the first step in learning them correctly.  G4FON is one of the best (and it is free) methods on the computer.  

And copy on the air!  Get on 40 CW and copy the faster stuff.  You'll miss a lot, but get what you can.  At 12 wpm, put down the pencil and copy in your head.  Make notes about name, location, etc., but don't 'full copy.'  

Enjoy.  It's all about fun!


Posts: 96

« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2010, 05:21:11 PM »


My experience is similar to KC2MJT. I have also used CodeQuick.

I had attempted learning code initially at 19 yrs old and gave up and then again at about 30 and gave up (this was back using the old arrl cassettes from radio shack)

I tried again about 11 yrs ago (age 43 then) and
 managed to pass the 5wpm (with luck) and the 13wpm  (the 13 was a miracle by guessing at the answers). I still had not used code quick. My main problem was I'd practice code for a while and then quit and go months without it. Then I'd have to start over again. Plus I'd get confused on certain characters (was that a Y or a an L) and finally decided I'd never be good enough at code for on the air contacts. So basically I gave up.

THen I discovered code quick and it helped solidify code for me. Even recently I took a 6 month break (other hobbies) and came back and within a couple of days I was close to my operating speed before the break. I currently can copy solid at just over 20, can copy individual words in my head fairly easy at 25 and can easily follow contest exchanges at 30.
I still have a long way to go for my goal of 35 wpm ragchewing but I'm confident I can reach it with practice.

I don't think knowing or not knowing code quick has anything to do with head copy. Head copy can be difficult for some folks regardless of the method used to learn code. I see it as something that will take me LOTS of practice and years to master and will probably come in stages. As far "unlearning' code quick words/phrases I guess it depends how deep they're ingrained. I don't think its possible for me to unlearn and perhaps not for you. But who cares. As you get faster in the speed (in the 20s) it's like you use it on some characters and not on others and at 30 it's almost some sub-conscience thing going on with it.

So in my opinion the solution for you is to use the computer code programs (i like g4fon and justlearnmorsecode) and start practicing to increase you speed. Make the determination whether you can get codequick out of you mind... if you decide it's too ingrained then stop trying to 'unlearn it' and master it instead so as soon as you hear the word/phrase you IMMEDIATLY see the character in you mind.  The phrase/words have to become second nature/ no thinking about them or seeing the pictures used as memory aids.  PRACTICE PRACTICE and on air contacts as much as possible.

If you can't copy in your head well then practice that some but use the pencil and paper. Build you speed up to 20 using the pencil/paper and at that point you are forced to change over to head copy (unless you can type well).

Good luck.

Posts: 2029

« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2010, 09:05:14 PM »

Maybe frustrating advice but:

Just keep the radio on the CW segment. And listen. To code practice, sure. But to whatever QSO's are going on in your target speed range or a little faster. And relax. Don't try to copy. Just listen.

There's a lot more to CW than "copying" and you have to make the transition from going from individual symbols that you look up in your head-table to the morse letter, and get to the point where the letter is just the letter, then to the point where the word is the word and a call is call. It won't be instant. It's taken most of us years to decades to get as comfortable as we are. And although I'm comfortable, that doesn't mean I'm perfect or the best! Having CW on all the time is a great way for me to relax.

Posts: 5908

« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2010, 05:57:59 PM »

I recommend the MFJ Morse Tutor. I have an old MFJ-411. They now sell the MFJ-417. This item is handy for listening to CW in the car, at work while taking a break - that sort of thing. 10 minutes every few hours.

It will send simulated QSOs, 5 letter random groups of letters, numbers, or letters and numbers. And it will send random length groups of the same. It will send random english words. This is useful to break the habit of anticipating what is coming up and writing ahead. Force yourself to not copy ahead. And learn to copy behind. I'm able to copy 3 letters behind and am working to get more.

I find it useful for breaking old habits such as counting dits. I like to vary what it sends. If I have it send nothing but 5 letter random groups I become used to expecting 5 letters. So I then set it for random length groups. Get used to letters only? Have it send letters and numbers. That will break the habit.

It is not useful to me for copying prosigns because it sends some that we as hams don't use.  

I might set it for 30 wpm and copy on a keyboard. Then up it to 35 wpm. Latter on copy in my head at 40 wpm. Then have it run a QSO at 50 wpm. Amazing how the common ham terms (THE, ES, WX) jump out as word sounds. So copying in your head should be the goal for fast on-the-air QSOs.

Set if fast enough so you don't do the DOG DID IT thing.

Posts: 5908

« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2010, 06:10:51 PM »

And get on the air or at least listen during CW contests.

Field Day is fairly slow with 20 wpm being ok. The 160 meter contests tend to be slow (20 wpm) due to poor signal-to-noise ratios. The DX contests take at least 25 wpm and preferrably 35+ wpm ability. Of course the exchanges are pretty basic for all but the CW Sweepstakes contest.


WX7G 599 CA
599 UT


20 seconds and the QSO is finshed.

Setting personal goals might help. For example set a goal of 15 WPM by June and 25 WPM by December. Or set a goal of obtainng a W1AW 15 WPM code proficiency certificate by a particular 'official speed run.'

And get in some contests. The CW WPX is coming up in late May. Then field day in June. IARU in July, Sweep Stakes in November, CQ DX, ARRL 160 meter in December, Stew Perry 160 meter in December, CQ 160 meter in January, ARRL DX in February.

And get on the air and call CQ. Send at whatever speed you are comfortable with. The other station will come back at your speed. 40 meters is my favorite for this.
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