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Author Topic: Learning Code - Writing vs. typing  (Read 7455 times)
KD0OZZ
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« on: July 22, 2011, 08:18:57 PM »

I'm trying to learn code for the very first time and downloaded a copy of "Just Learn Morse Code". After learning about 13 letters I realized that I was training myself to type the letter (touch typing) and not learning what the actual letter was. When I tried to swap over to writing the letters instead of just typing them I realized that I don't actually know what the letter is, only what it feels like when I hit the keyboard.

Has anyone else had this problem? Any recommendations to address this?

I appreciate any help! Smiley

Michael
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PA0BLAH
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2011, 01:05:19 AM »

Because you started learning an unconscious reflective process, you have to realize what you want, because every goal has to be learned separately.

When you are proficient in some of the copy methods you fall back to 30% of your speed or even less when you try another one.

Reading by ear, by eye of by tactile sensing. Your choice will be by ear, I expect.

When you want to touch type code and at the same time realise what you are typing, what the meaning is, that is different from just typing and in the mean time talking with other people, or remembering to walk the dog,  because you type correct but don't realise the meaning.
For encrypted code that's no objection, for radio amateur communication it generally is.

When code was a requirement you had to learn it by writing, I remember that I did it successfull, only capitals and not knowing what I had written. Nowadays writing, realizing the meaning or not is still usefull. At hamfest are code proficiency runs, with handwriting to be handed in.

So for ham radio I expect hams find  usefull:  copy by head, writing with and without realizing the meaning, and as a third touch typing absorbing the meaning while typing.

Because computer learning programs have to check your progress, they all use touch typing.

Best thing to do hence, according to my opinion, is starting with typing until you master the complete alphabet, and than
going over to words, listen to the word, repeat it, when you copied it completely in your mind, type it out, or write it down, not earlier.

Keep exercising all the proficiencies you find usefull enough to learn.

Realise that from 100 hams starting to learn the code on the average only one arrives at a usefull level, that is about 15 to 20 wpm plain text. So when you think you will be one of the 99 that does not make it, you probably better use your time another way.

Make a schedule exercise every day 15 minutes, keep track with the schedule, NEVER delay it. When delay turns out to be inevitable: catch up the  next day as fast as you can.

gd luck, Bob
« Last Edit: July 23, 2011, 01:08:36 AM by PA0BLAH » Logged
KW9W
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« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2011, 09:43:24 AM »

Keep in mind that if someone is typing, and looking at the letters, one mistake could have the listener backspacing and correcting a letter.
This won't work-since you'll miss the code being given during the correction. If you're typing while listening, correct mistakes-later, at the end of the entire message.

I'm working on speed, and copying with pen in hand + all capital letters. It worked for Bob!  Smiley
« Last Edit: July 24, 2011, 09:46:31 AM by KD4TVG » Logged
PA0BLAH
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2011, 10:10:37 AM »

There were no computers and no tape recorders, only the local coastal station transmitting news bulletins with item separator STOP 2 times a day with 20 wpm, I remember.

Writing only capitals... Nice for 12 wpm.  When you copy 40 wpm by handwriting, I assure you that you have to write with an easy gliding pen, pretty small longhand and over a limited width, in order not to loose carriage return time hi.

For higher speeds such as with HST champions  people in the HST competing use a self developed shorthand. After copy time they get time to translate it in readable copy.

You can recognise the way people, typing on a mill copy code, by just typing and not realising what is typed, or by understanding the meaning of what is transmitted, when they start sentences with a capital and also the other words such as surnames, names of months  etc that ought to be written with capitals, they type out with a capital.

73 Bob
« Last Edit: July 24, 2011, 10:14:58 AM by PA0BLAH » Logged
KC9TNH
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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2011, 07:14:33 AM »

Writing only capitals... Nice for 12 wpm.  When you copy 40 wpm by handwriting, I assure you that you have to write with an easy gliding pen, pretty small longhand and over a limited width, in order not to loose carriage return time hi.
hihi I'll second that; not such an issue it seems at lower speeds but have found (personally) to agree with above (a case well-stated in KQ7O's material) to get a very fluid-writing roller-ball, med or fine point. Found one I liked alot, bought several & boatload of refills. Also, have stuck to lower-case cursive. Time permitting I'll sometimes go back & clarify a name, QTH. But the flow of hand-copy is important to me, not having a keyboard of any kind at home. Lower-case cursive, get the meat of it, continue driving. Most QSO's a simple ruled spiral steno-pad works for me.

Having started with small script & working up into the 14-16wpm now area I can't imagine wanting to block print. It's mechanically 'expensive' to me.
Wink
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73
Wes -KC9TNH
"Don't get treed by a chihuahua." - Pete
N2EY
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« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2011, 08:19:10 AM »

Having started with small script & working up into the 14-16wpm now area I can't imagine wanting to block print. It's mechanically 'expensive' to me.

I found the opposite; cursive writing was harder because the letters are connected.

The trick to block printing copy is to use the Signal Corps method of printing, which reduces the number of movements per letter. I can block-print in excess of 30 wpm that way.

---

Way back in 1968 I went to the FCC office in Philadelphia to upgrade from Novice to General.

In those days a passing grade on the 13 wpm code receiving test meant the examiner had to find at least 65 consecutive correct *legible* characters - without any corrections after the code stopped.

Although I had copied pretty well during the test, the examiner could not read my "Palmer Method" cursive well enough to find the required 65. So I failed. He did find 25, so I got credit for 5 wpm and, after passing the written, got a Technician license.

Back then you had to wait at least 30 days to retest. The Philly FCC office only gave exams on a few weekday mornings, so for a kid in school (as I was), the summer was about the only opportunity to take the test. (School holidays were usually Federal holidays, and no kid with any sense at all would dream of playing hooky to take an FCC exam).

I went home and taught myself to block-print with a #2 pencil. Practiced until I could copy a W1AW bulletin solid from start to finish - and they're sent at 18 wpm. Went back to FCC office and passed 13 wpm using block-print. 2 years later, passed 20 wpm for Extra.

YMMV

73 de Jim, N2EY

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KI4GTD
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« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2011, 08:30:02 AM »

Nice thread. I'm currently just starting using the LCWO web site. Having read the beginning of this discussion just after starting, I've been trying to copy by hand but find I can't coordinate my brain and hand to write quickly enough to keep up. I touch-type already but would like to copy on paper. I don't know which would be better, but transferring to keyboard later shouldn't be an issue. I'll have to look up the Signal Corps method as I hadn't heard of that.

73 Brian KI4GTD
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KC9TNH
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« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2011, 09:37:20 AM »

I found the opposite; cursive writing was harder because the letters are connected.

The trick to block printing copy is to use the Signal Corps method of printing, which reduces the number of movements per letter. I can block-print in excess of 30 wpm that way.
YMMV

73 de Jim, N2EY
Jim, I don't doubt that for a minute. I suppose I mis-used the term 'cursive'. Mea culpa - I'm speaking just of quickly made lower case letters that may not follow the instructions given in Mrs. Gartner's 1st grade class, vs. script as you say where things are all connected. My mistake.
Then again, I'm still busting out of the "run the translation table in your head first" mode (almost there), so I will explore your suggestion. In fact, that's how I used to write all the time, so maybe it's like riding a bike...
 Grin
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Wes -KC9TNH
"Don't get treed by a chihuahua." - Pete
K8AXW
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« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2011, 10:32:48 AM »

PA0BLAH is pretty well on the money!  By learning the code and typing the character you've leaned a action/reaction method.  Which is what you want for 5 letter code groups. 

However to ...... I hate to say "really learn the code"....words fail me here..... it's better to start off learning code by printing with block capital letters.  Then and only then, switch to a typewriter or computer keyboard.  If you prefer to stay with a pencil/pen, then at some some speed, depending on the condition of your hand, you might find it necessary switch to cursive writing.... connecting the letters as you did in grade school.  Cursive writing is faster and actually easier once you practice it a bit.

As one on this thread made the observation, any time you switch modes of tanscribing what you hear your speed will drop considerably and you should expect it. However, if you are able to master the transition, your speed will return and improve.
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PA0BLAH
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« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2011, 12:17:50 PM »

You guys can take a look here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-petiNdCIY

Get an idea of how to handle a straight key and write hi.

As a matter of fact I was employed for some time in the USA, at the time that computers were only batch processing from IBM punched cards, and you had to write your code (FORTRAN) on special forms.

Well it turned out that american people can only read one kind of handwriting, so I watched the pictures on the keys of a typewriter and wrote that way. That was OK.

The german way to write a z is different from the dutch way. Neighboring countries though. When I was on vacation in the States people warned me not to go to Canada because you couldn''t read the traffic signs overthere because they are French.
You guys must be very good in science when you don't have to spent an hour in highschool on learning other languages, hi. Thats for sure.


xyl arriving right now  so 73
Bob

« Last Edit: July 26, 2011, 02:44:36 PM by PA0BLAH » Logged
WB2WIK
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« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2011, 06:41:49 PM »

Code is an aural function, and anyone who learns code by writing it or typing it is just handicapping himself.

That's silly.

It is indeed the old "military way," which was horrible.

A better way is to just learn code by the way it sounds.  Unless you have to write down a lot of numbers or something, there's no reason to put any of it on paper.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2011, 08:59:04 PM »

A better way is to just learn code by the way it sounds.  Unless you have to write down a lot of numbers or something, there's no reason to put any of it on paper.

2WIK:  I can't agree with you on this.  Confining the discussion to clear text, not coded groups, it is next to impossible to teach CW or to learn CW by simply listening to it.  Copying in the head is a feat accomplished only by many hours of practice.  Of course I'm not speaking for you.  You might be an exception.

Whereas, copying on paper, a person can learn to copy code in a few days, sometimes hours.  Almost always, eventually.  Some people never learn to copy in their heads.

As for reasons to put what you hear on paper:

1 - Reason #1 above

2- Hard copy for others. (Emergency traffic - Health and Welfare messages, etc)

3 - Hard copy for your records (I haven't checked but it used to be an FCC reg. that all third party messages had to be kept for 1 year.)








« Last Edit: July 26, 2011, 09:22:24 PM by K8AXW » Logged
N2EY
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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2011, 02:54:20 AM »

Morse Code isn't one skill; it's a whole set of skills. Head copy is one skill, writing it down is another, typing it is still another. And there are many more. The truly skilled op has a large skill set.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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KC9TNH
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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2011, 05:49:28 AM »

Morse Code isn't one skill; it's a whole set of skills. Head copy is one skill, writing it down is another, typing it is still another. And there are many more. The truly skilled op has a large skill set.

73 de Jim, N2EY
The Code Warrior.  Grin
I knew a guy years ago who could headcopy cipher text and, while having the trigraph already in his head, transcribe plain-text onto the paper.
He wasn't weird; actually a pretty happy-go-lucky guy.  But the skillset was strong in that one.

FWIW, took your suggestion as old brain cells bubble to the surface and, having resurrected my copy of TM 11-459, printed everything on the pad last night during the SK sprint.  Hmmm.... I might be trainable after all.... again.  Maybe it was buried, but you're right - there are ways to make those letters less cumbersome to get on paper.

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Wes -KC9TNH
"Don't get treed by a chihuahua." - Pete
KU5Q
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2011, 06:46:01 AM »

A better way is to just learn code by the way it sounds....

Exactly the way I re-learned it, and exactly the way I taught my grandkids.

Of course the kids learned it quicker.

It's not hard. Learning it wrong is easy.  Tongue
« Last Edit: July 27, 2011, 07:23:09 AM by KU5Q » Logged
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