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Author Topic: CW- word spacing  (Read 1881 times)
KC0ODY
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Posts: 78




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« on: October 02, 2002, 11:40:18 AM »

Hi,

I just obtained my technician license and am curious about learning CW. I downloaded the G4FON program yesterday and learned the first few letters.

I am wondering if, when people are first starting to learn the code, it is difficult to consistently hear where the spaces are between words? I can catch some of them, but not nearly all of them, and though I think I will pick up the letters fairly quickly, I am not really able to consistently "hear" the spaces between words yet. Is this normal when you are first learning, or is this something that I'm apparently weak at and will need to focus on it more as this goes along?

Thanks all and 73.

Jackie
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20611




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« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2002, 05:36:17 PM »

Not familiar with the G4FON program, but usually the spacing between words is about 3x longer than the spacing between characters, and this difference is pretty easy to pick up.  Possibly that program doesn't leave typical, or sufficient, spacing.

If you have an HF receiver to listen to, the W1AW code practice and bulletins, broadcast Monday through Friday on HF and VHF bands simultaneously, and possible to copy using a receiver and random wire antenna just about anywhere in the U.S. (on some band or other) are excellent.  Their complete schedule is published in every issue of QST magazine, and on their website, http://www.arrl.org

Regardless of any difficulties copying code, practice listening to it, and reading it in your head.  Using a paper and pencil is one of the worst ways to become proficient at copying CW.

WB2WIK/6

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K1ZC
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Posts: 113




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« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2002, 05:41:51 PM »

No, you shouldn't have too much problem with that.  Farnsworth spacing increases the space between letters (and I think words) to give a little extra time to recognize the letters.  As you improve speed, they shrink the Farnsworth spaces.  

I would focus on learning the letters at 15WPM, I think you will find your spacing problem goes away naturally as you build speed and ability.
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KC0ODY
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Posts: 78




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« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2002, 06:51:10 PM »

This particular program uses the "Koch" method of teaching CW... as I'm very new to this, I don't know the difference between Farnsworth and Koch, or how each of them treat letter / word spacing.

73

Jackie
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KC8SBV
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Posts: 50




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« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2002, 11:33:40 AM »

Farnsworth and Koch are two methods attempting to help the cw student get past the somewhere around 13 wpm "speed barrier". Farnsworth speeds up the characters to the 18-25 wpm range, and spaces the characters to get the approiate word speed.

I was well along using the Farnsworth method when I came upon Koch, and stuck with Farnsworth. It really depends on your goal. Getting your General can be done with Farnsworth. I learned cw at 5 wpm, 18 cpm. The General cw test was at 5 wpm, 13 cpm, and to sounded slow, and was easy. If your goal is to be a high speed cw op, then Koch will be a better way to begin learing cw.

Keep playing with Koch, give it some time. You will be better for it when you get your General.  
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K1ZC
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« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2002, 05:37:45 PM »

I forgot that program uses only Koch.  The Koch method goes full speed from the very first letter.  When you have 90% proficiency, you add more letters and when you add the last of the letters, you are at 15 WPM.

The US tests does not work that way, it goes at 13 WPM characters with extra gaps (the Farnsworth spacing) to slow the overall rate down to 5 WPM.

It will take you longer to get your license if you learn with Koch, but you will be at 15 WPM when you do.  Most folks learn 5 WPM and then have to work at getting the speed up.  If you are not in a hurry, consider Koch.
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KC0IOX
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Posts: 28




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« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2002, 10:37:46 PM »

I think that you should listen to well sent code.  I have messed around with both the farnsworth method, and the Koch. If you just want to get your foot in the door and get your 5 wpm, the Farnsworth program works well.  I have the Koch program too, and it works for me very well and what I like about it is that CW ops at any level can use it to sharpen their skills.  Right now, I'm trying the characters at 35-40 wpm, and have noticed improvement.  Now as for spacing of letters, just about any program you use will create the right space of letters.  For your G4FON program, set the character speed at 15 and the word speed at 1/2 speed on the bottom of the display, and it will do a nice job for what you are trying to do.  Always listen to well sent code when you practice.  Spacing is a very important part of CW, and I find that ops with little or no space between words are the ones the most difficult to follow.  Very best of luck in learning CW, and keep at it!  Once you get your ticket, , use it.  CW ops are in my opinion some of the best operators on the band, and very friendly and most will slow down to help a newcomer.  Welcome aboard!  I hope to hear you on the air one of these days.  Vy 73
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KC0ODY
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Posts: 78




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« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2002, 11:08:16 AM »

Thanks to all for your helpful replies. I think I'll stick with this program I downloaded for the time being. I am in no big hurry to learn CW or get my General license (I can't be, since I don't have much spare time to study, anyway). I figure that it would be better for me to learn CW at the higher speed to start out, and if I'm going to invest the time and effort into learning it, I may as well use it.

I think the recognizance of word spacing and letter spacing will come eventually. Right now, it's easier for me to hear the spaces between words, but very difficult for me to hear the spaces between letters- I suppose if I listen long enough, this will become easier to decipher. Right now, all code sounds like a bunch of randomly-punched dits and dahs, with no real rhyme or reason to it at all. Then again, the only letters of code I know are K, M and R!

Thanks again all and 73,

Jackie
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K4LAG
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Posts: 1




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« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2002, 03:40:54 AM »

I have also tried many different methods to learn code.  My biggest problem with it is that the requirement for proficiency is 5 wpm. The ARRL seems to think that is still 13.  Using the farnsworth method, you MUST learn the characters at 13 wpm.  If you don't, you won't pass the test.

I am still trying to learn the code, as I easily passed the Element 3 exam.  I just hope that it comes to me some day.
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KC0ODY
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Posts: 78




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« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2002, 02:38:19 PM »

I guess I don't understand-- if the requirement for passing the Element 1 test is 5 WPM, but the ARRL "still thinks it's 13", does that mean that they still give the test at 13 WPM or what? I guess I don't know enough about CW to understand how the Element 1 test is given. I've never taken it.

Seems to me that if the requirement to pass Element 1 is 5 WPM, and you need to be able to copy at that speed, don't the VE's send the code at 5 WPM? Or do they send the code at the higher speed and check your copying later, and average out how much of it you copied correctly?

I don't know how the test is given other than the fact that you need to be able to copy at 5 WPM. How the VEs ascertain your ability to do that is unknown to me.

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KC0IOX
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Posts: 28




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« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2002, 01:44:25 AM »

They do indeed send the code at 5 wpm, but in that 5 wpm, the character speed is set at 13 wpm, so you hear characters i.e. the dits and dahs sent a little faster, but the spacing of the letters is at 5 wpm.  I thought it was easier to copy the characters at 13 wpm as listening to a character speed of 5 wpm is very tedious.  One piece of advice; don't "count" the dits and dahs, but listen for the sound that each character makes.  Each one will make a particular distinctive rhythm and some are pretty easily recognized.  Very best of luck to you!  73
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N5XM
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Posts: 242




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« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2002, 07:56:50 AM »

Whatever you do, pay attention to this stuff, because it IS important to doing good CW.  I worked a guy last night, and I tried to be as nice as I could about it, but he ran everything together so badly, not just the words, but the individual characters, it was literally impossible to copy him.  I'm not the best CW op on Mother Earth, but I can copy OK, and I NEVER got his call right, and I asked him at least three times to please give some space between letters. I guess it is like the fellow trying to play a musical instrument with a tin ear.  There should be a meter to good CW, a tempo, and if you practice sending off the air as well as just copying to improve your speed, you will, with time have a nice fist, one that other Hams will enjoy working. Remember that you will be judged by your fellow CW ops by your fist before you will be judged by your ear.
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KG4VBR
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Posts: 20




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« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2002, 08:15:24 PM »

Try to learn the code by the method you will be tested with.Use the farnsworth,You can start at 15 or 18 sent @ 5 or 7 wpm.The ARRL code cd works well as you can go to different tracks easily if you need more practice in a specific area.Practice copy on paper right away,if you miss a letter make a underscore and move on to the next letter.You will be able to fill in some letters after your done.You will be tested this way.Practice copy of the amateur qso as this will be your test.Practice every day,even if its only 10 minutes do it every day.If you can copy 80 to 90% at 7 wpm move up to 10 and copy as much as you can.Then go back it will seem slow and you'll move up.I used the arrl cd and the AA9PW web site.I Practiced for 14 days and passed the 5wpm first try.If I can do it so can you.Persistance and dedication will pay off.W1AW has all different speed code practice but its a whole new ballgame to copy on the air.But hey thats what  your shooting for.Good luck,you might even find you like it!

                J PATRICK
                KG4VBR
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KC0ODY
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Posts: 78




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« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2002, 01:06:24 PM »

"Try to learn the code by the method you will be tested with.Use the farnsworth,You can start at 15 or 18 sent @ 5 or 7 wpm.The ARRL code cd works well as you can go to different tracks easily if you need more practice in a specific area."

I checked the ARRL website and found three types of code tutor CD's: the ARRL "Your Introduction to Morse Code", the Morse Tutor Gold, and Ham University CD. Which of these would you prefer, or are they all pretty much the same?

Jackie
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K8AG
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Posts: 352




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« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2002, 03:52:59 PM »

If you are talking strictly about the download, I can't say.  I have, however, noticed that a high %age of cw senders are quite sloppy and variable when it comes to word and character spacing.  I'm not talking about rattling through the ID so the ragchew can continue.  Varying the speed of code within words when combined with the sloppy use of a bug can make cw impossible for the best operator.

I would agree with those who recommend the W1AW broadcasts.
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