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Author Topic: Need advice learning code.  (Read 10148 times)
VA7CPC
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Posts: 2393




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« Reply #15 on: September 07, 2011, 04:51:32 PM »

Just my experience as a very new ham trying to learn CW myself.
 . . . . .
OK so now for the strange thing.  It's like two different worlds with the 10 and 20 WPM.
In my mind it's like learning 2 different codes.  The main reason I slowed down to 10 WPM is I was listening to "slow"
code on 20/40/80 mtrs and couldn't copy it at all.  I had to learn the slow code because it was just so different
than the fast code.  But learning both fast and slow and been amazing in that they have a synergistic effect.
My learning with LCWO and JLMC has come much easier since I've been doing the "slow" code.

Hope that makes sense.
Planning on buying a Key and firing up next month.

Stan

Yes, it's a different world.  At 10 wpm, it's easy to "count dits".  At 20 wpm, you start to hear _whole characters_ as a single unit.

That's why "Farnsworth spacing" is advised for learning -- you learn the individual characters as complete units, not as sequences of dits and dahs.

It's easier to learn fast characters and then slow down.  Going the other way is really hard.

                 Charles
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AC2GW
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Posts: 6




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« Reply #16 on: September 07, 2011, 07:36:45 PM »

I've used LCWO a bit, and also have been practicing with an app on my phone.  I can spend more time on code practice now, I passed my exams tonight.

I passed all three elements in one session! Can't wait for my call sign!

Stephen
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W6UX
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Posts: 98


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« Reply #17 on: September 07, 2011, 11:28:49 PM »

I'm having good results using the free code course from K7QO (http://www.kkn.net/~k7qo/).  It's a set of over 100 MP3 files and a study manual and answer key.

I keep this course on my iPhone.

He recommends using a smooth gel tipped rolling pen and always use cursive writing as this is faster than printing.  The author is another accomplished CW champion.  First you copy with a pen.  After you become proficient, you repeat the course and copy by typing on your keyboard.  Finally you copy in your head.

You progress from hearing letters (not dits and dahs) to words then phrases.

73 de Jeff, W6UX
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VK2FAK
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Posts: 87




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« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2011, 06:51:45 AM »

Hi all...

Something I would like to know is.....when sending what are you thinking about...the code, the letter,spelling  or something else...

Do you build up a vocab. of words in CW as you would in English or any other language.?

Sending is never mentioned much and is very easy when done using the written words, but when its time to send from the head that is a different story..

John
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AC2GW
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Posts: 6




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« Reply #19 on: September 10, 2011, 07:09:59 AM »

Hi all...

Something I would like to know is.....when sending what are you thinking about...the code, the letter,spelling  or something else...

Do you build up a vocab. of words in CW as you would in English or any other language.?

Sending is never mentioned much and is very easy when done using the written words, but when its time to send from the head that is a different story..

John

I am sure someone with more experience will respond, but as I am learning to copy I am also learning to send on a practice app.   As I think of a letter to send, I think of its sound and send that. If I think of a word to send, I think, letters then sound and send that.   I assume that with time, I will go from word to sound...   But really I only have a handful of letters so far...
Stephen

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K8AXW
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Posts: 3902




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« Reply #20 on: September 10, 2011, 09:14:05 AM »

As a rule, learning to send code is easier than learning to copy it.  Reason being, once you learn the code.... learning characters, letter spacing and word spacing then you have something to emulate.

However, there is nothing wrong with learning to send while you're learning to copy. In fact, some find the 'sending' a welcome break to copying code which can become tedious.  The sending part should not be subtracted from the 20 to 30 minutes a day you dedicate to copying.

FAK is correct when he says that sending isn't mentioned very much.  I've learned down through the years that one of the biggest problems with learning to send is that the key isn't set up properly.  I'm a proponent of learning to send with a straight key at the beginning because a straight key is simple, easy to set up and provides more control over the hand reaction to what the brain is telling it to do.

Key operation is something that should be researched but briefly, the key knob is controlled by the thumb at 8 or 9 o'clock, the pointer finger at 10 o'clock and the middle finger at 2 or 3 o'clock. (Assuming right handed person) the fingers never leave the knob and the wrist is raised about 4 fingers high from the desk.  The forearm is flat on the desk.  The key action is the vertical 'bouncing' action of the wrist.  The arm, hand and key form a straight line. The forearm should be supported clear to the elbow.

It should be noted here that the next 50 responses to this description will provide 50 different methods.  What I quoted is the basic procedure as taught many years ago and what I personally found best.

I was taught to set the contact spacing on a straight key to the thickness of a piece of postcard.  The tension spring adjustment should be set light as possible.  Of course the side bearing adjustments should be set so there is no horizontal 'slop.'  (Moving the key lever left to right should produce very little if any movement)

After your proficiency increases the tension can be increased and spacing can be decreased.  Very fast CW ops with a straight key has contact spacing so close they can send with 'nerve jerks' of the arm.

As for the thinking and sending.... it's important to focus on the word you want to send and let your key make the characters, almost unconsciously. This part is difficult to describe.

This sending part of learning CW can become a new post.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2011, 09:22:40 AM by K8AXW » Logged
PA0BLAH
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Posts: 0




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« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2011, 10:04:09 AM »

Hi all...

Something I would like to know is.....when sending what are you thinking about...the code, the letter,spelling  or something else...

Do you build up a vocab. of words in CW as you would in English or any other language.?

Sending is never mentioned much and is very easy when done using the written words, but when its time to send from the head that is a different story..

John

When you want to know it: The answer is just the same on all questions when you are writing a note.
Advantage is that google is still not looking over your shoulder (?) and what you sent is volatile (?), so don't bother about exact spelling. Language is a method of communication, when you can't read Dutch, then I write English, not bothering about errors as long you understand what I mean.
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KG6IRW
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Posts: 40




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« Reply #22 on: September 10, 2011, 10:20:37 AM »

I started learning code last November   I've managed to keep up copying code in some way each and every day across that time with a couple of breaks due to business travel.  Since I haven't felt in a rush, I've taken the approach to the project that I want to enjoy the journey of learning as much as the actual use on the air.  This has proven to be the case and, as I reflect on the past 10 months, it has indeed been a lot of fun.  Here's where I am now:

- Can copy 10 wpm with a few errors due to fading from on-air QSOs.  Can send faster but do not.

- Every day, I try to copy faster speed code on the air.  That is, I'll push myself to see how much I can copy when there's 15-20 wpm code running on the air.  I don't care if I get confused or drop whole lengths of code.  It is all about seeing how much I can make sense of before I get overwhelmed.  

- Recognizing some of the more common words such as, '73, CQ, DE, The, Is, And, Will, RST' - the typical stuff you hear over and over in a QSO's banter.  This is at 10 wpm.  Those are the ones I recognize first at higher speeds, too.

- Can follow slow code (~5 wpm) in my head but still have to concentrate only on it to do so.  This from listening to code in the truck on the way to/from work - that's 2 hrs per day practice right there!

- Sending:  When I am sending, I find that I'm concentrating on 'talking' through my fingers.  That is, I find myself staring a single spot in the shack but am thinking only about the stream of words I need to send.  My problem is, though, that I tend to forget my line of thought due to focusing on sending each letter properly - still learning to properly space using a straight key.  I do find, though, that by copping the attitude that I'm 'talking' through my arm, things tend to flow better.  Hope that makes sense.

BTW, this 'talking' attitude is what was taught to me in music school.  That is, my sax professor pressed me to think that playing was like talking through my horn.  It helped my projection and presenting myself when playing.  Hope that my fist comes across the same way.

Cheers,

David
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N2EY
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Posts: 3895




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« Reply #23 on: September 10, 2011, 10:24:24 AM »

 The sending part should not be subtracted from the 20 to 30 minutes a day you dedicate to copying.

...

I've learned down through the years that one of the biggest problems with learning to send is that the key isn't set up properly.  I'm a proponent of learning to send with a straight key at the beginning because a straight key is simple, easy to set up and provides more control over the hand reaction to what the brain is telling it to do.

Key operation is something that should be researched but briefly, the key knob is controlled by the thumb at 8 or 9 o'clock, the pointer finger at 10 o'clock and the middle finger at 2 or 3 o'clock. (Assuming right handed person) the fingers never leave the knob and the wrist is raised about 4 fingers high from the desk.  The forearm is flat on the desk.  The key action is the vertical 'bouncing' action of the wrist.  The arm, hand and key form a straight line. The forearm should be supported clear to the elbow.

This is all excellent advice. Worth repeating.

One of the biggest mistakes folks make is trying to send with the fingers, with the wrist close to the table. Gives you "glass arm" aka carpal tunnel syndrome.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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K8AXW
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Posts: 3902




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« Reply #24 on: September 10, 2011, 11:34:56 AM »

I started learning code last November   I've managed to keep up copying code in some way each and every day across that time with a couple of breaks due to business travel.  Since I haven't felt in a rush, I've taken the approach to the project that I want to enjoy the journey of learning as much as the actual use on the air.  This has proven to be the case and, as I reflect on the past 10 months, it has indeed been a lot of fun.  Here's where I am now:

- Can copy 10 wpm with a few errors due to fading from on-air QSOs.  Can send faster but do not.

- Every day, I try to copy faster speed code on the air.  That is, I'll push myself to see how much I can copy when there's 15-20 wpm code running on the air.  I don't care if I get confused or drop whole lengths of code.  It is all about seeing how much I can make sense of before I get overwhelmed.  

- Recognizing some of the more common words such as, '73, CQ, DE, The, Is, And, Will, RST' - the typical stuff you hear over and over in a QSO's banter.  This is at 10 wpm.  Those are the ones I recognize first at higher speeds, too.

- Can follow slow code (~5 wpm) in my head but still have to concentrate only on it to do so.  This from listening to code in the truck on the way to/from work - that's 2 hrs per day practice right there!

- Sending:  When I am sending, I find that I'm concentrating on 'talking' through my fingers.  That is, I find myself staring a single spot in the shack but am thinking only about the stream of words I need to send.  My problem is, though, that I tend to forget my line of thought due to focusing on sending each letter properly - still learning to properly space using a straight key.  I do find, though, that by copping the attitude that I'm 'talking' through my arm, things tend to flow better.  Hope that makes sense.

BTW, this 'talking' attitude is what was taught to me in music school.  That is, my sax professor pressed me to think that playing was like talking through my horn.  It helped my projection and presenting myself when playing.  Hope that my fist comes across the same way.

Cheers,

David

Without a doubt the greatest reply or advice I've ever read in 55 years learning and using CW....ANYWHERE!

EY: Perfect 'reason why!'
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VK2FAK
Member

Posts: 87




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« Reply #25 on: September 10, 2011, 08:26:24 PM »

HI all..

Thanks for the reply, everyone  and David good to see your enjoying it.

I guess getting lost in what your sending when trying to get the code right, the spacing right, thinking off the next letter and word.......The sentence your trying to communicate gets lost in there somewhere...

It surprises me that there is not more on the net about methods to overcome all of this, as there is with copying the code.

John
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LB3KB
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Posts: 227


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« Reply #26 on: September 11, 2011, 09:42:36 AM »

One reason for losing track while sending is that you typically attempt "head sending".  While head sending may be easier than head copy, it is still a skill that takes time to learn.

Meanwhile, write down what you're going to send before you send it.  With practice, you don't have to write down every word and pretty soon you won't have to write down anything.


73
LB3KB Sigurd
justlearnmorsecode.com
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AG6EB
Member

Posts: 17




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« Reply #27 on: September 11, 2011, 10:35:19 AM »

an amusing note of warning. i've been working on learning CW since May. I don't get as much time to do it as i'd like but I feel like I'm making progress. Just to amuse myself I built a keyer interface to use a paddle as a keyboard input on my laptop, and have used it a lot. The morse->text translation in the keyer requires even speed and precise timing to avoid extra spaces between letters, etc. As a result i've gotten better at sending much faster than I have at copying... it's kind of automatic now, even at 25wpm - no concentration needed. The problem? When i talk to people on the air, they assume i'm much better at copying than I am yet... Of course I slow down my sending to the speed i feel like I can copy when on the air, but even then it seems to happen. Like everyone said, it's much easier to learn sending than receiving, I guess. They say most people can send twice as fast as they can copy. Does this mean I'll be able to copy 20wpm if I get my sending up to 40? Smiley

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K8AXW
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Posts: 3902




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« Reply #28 on: September 11, 2011, 12:15:30 PM »


Meanwhile, write down what you're going to send before you send it.  With practice, you don't have to write down every word and pretty soon you won't have to write down anything.


73
LB3KB Sigurd
justlearnmorsecode.com

That's an interesting concept.  I can't imagine writing down what you're hearing and then writing down what you want to send....before you send it... seems that the guy you're talking to will think you went QRT! 

Head copy is much more difficult to master than head sending.  Head sending is almost natural....very easy.... as long as you don't let your mind wander.  :-)
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LB3KB
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Posts: 227


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« Reply #29 on: September 11, 2011, 12:46:00 PM »

That's an interesting concept.  I can't imagine writing down what you're hearing and then writing down what you want to send....before you send it... seems that the guy you're talking to will think you went QRT!  

Head copy is much more difficult to master than head sending.  Head sending is almost natural....very easy.... as long as you don't let your mind wander.  :-)

If it was very easy, it wouldn't be described as a problem.  It may be easy to YOU, but that doesn't mean it's easy for somebody starting out.

I remember experiencing similar problems to what was described here and I found it very helpful to have a few "standard" sentences written down on a piece of paper laying in front of me.  It could be something as trivial as RIG HR IS FT-2000 ES ANT IS AV-640 - QTH IS WHEREVER ES OP IS WHOEVER - and so on.

This is something you quickly get used to, but it is still useful until you get there.  At least for those of us who don't automatically pick up head this and head that like you obviously did...


I also believe in practicing before you go on the air, so somebody thinking you went QRT shouldn't be too much of a problem even if you write very slowly.


73
LB3KB Sigurd
justlearnmorsecode.com
« Last Edit: September 11, 2011, 12:48:27 PM by LB3KB » Logged
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