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Author Topic: Learning speeds of CW  (Read 729 times)
KC9HXG
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Posts: 16




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« on: August 18, 2005, 09:54:23 AM »

I'm only a tech, but I'm very interested in code. Not sure why, it just holds that mystery. Anyway, I've been studying pretty hard. I hope to have my general by the end of the summer and a nice CW only rig for my base station. I think my 2m mobile will be sufficient to handle my phone cravings.

I'm using G4FON, which has been a godsend. However, I've been studying at 15wpm speed with 5wpm spacing. After some reading, everyone seems to hate this and recommends learning immediately at 20wpm with 15wpm spacing.

I have no problems with this and actually would prefer to learn at this speed. At the slower speeds, I'm not building up a .- lookup table (I have to sound out CW charts to figure out the letters), I find I am still building up a type of lookup table in my head (that's not an L, so its a P. or that's not an R so it's a K).

I'm only about 15 characters into it, so I don't mind starting over. However, will the exam be more difficult if I learn at this quicker pace? Some have said that the slower test becomes dits and dahs instead of letters because you're used to the faster speed. Any thoughts on this?
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2005, 01:59:39 PM »

I don't believe that, at all.

I've been teaching code classes on and off (mostly on) since about 1979, to hundreds of students in dozens of classes, but all the same way:

1.  Start right out at 13 wpm or faster, standard spacing;

2.  Students not allowed any paper, pencils, pens or anything to write on or with, at all; they learn by "hearing" the code;

3.  Learning is by receiving *and sending* the code, right from Day #1.  I teach them only a few letters they can remember quickly, e.g., E I S H T M O A N U G, just enough so we can start making words, and one student sends to another (they're grouped in pairs) for a minute or so, then the other one sends to the first one, and back and forth, until they're having little "QSOs;"

4.  Each session, add a few more letters; after about 4-5 sessions, we're through all 26 letters and on to punctuation and numbers;

5.  Always, always, always have students in pairs, one sending, one receiving, using code oscillators and hand keys;

6.  End of ten sessions, just about everybody can send and receive 13 wpm;

7.  They go take the 5 wpm test and slam-dunk it with zero errors.

-End-

WB2WIK/6
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AA4PB
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« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2005, 06:17:54 AM »

The benefit of the 5WPM with the characters keyed at 15WPM is that it forces you to learn the total sound of the character. Most people can't count dits and dahs at that speed. Leaving long spaces between characters so that the average speed is 5WPM gives you time to recall the characters. As you learn, you increase speed by reducing the space between characters, still keying them at 15WPM. At some point you have decreased the spacing to normal and you are copying code at 15WPM.
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K9FV
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« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2005, 12:24:08 PM »

Robert (Bob?) I agree G4FON is one great program.  How to learn all depends on what you plan to do with the code when you have your General - use code, then it is a good idea to set the speed at 20wpm and some slower speed to learn with - say 20/15wpm?  Just follow the directions with the G4FON program and I think you will be just fine.  

Even if you do learn at the 20/15 (or 20/17wpm) don't worry about copying at 15/5wpm on the test - it will be EASY!! copy for you.  Just don't to to sleep between the letters.

One that that help me a lot in learning code (still learning) is to practice sending using CWGet program.  Send with paddles (NOT a key) and allow your computer to copy your sending - When you have the spacing to where the computer can copy, you will have a "GOOD" fist and receive compliments on the air.  That type practice seems to help me in learning also.

73 - and see ya' on the air,

Ken H>
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W4YA
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« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2005, 04:58:58 AM »

If you are learning by yourself, G4FON is the way to do it. I would recommend either 15 WPM @ 10 WPM spacing, or 20 WPM @ 15 WPM spacing.

There is one big difference between learning from G4FON and learning with a buddy. G4FON sends perfect code. A buddy sends sloppy code, since he doesn't know what perfect code sounds like. When you send code, which would you rather imitate?

If you are learning by yourself, there is no reason to send code at all until after you can COPY the 15 or 20 WPM. When you finally do send code, you will tend to sound like G4FON. That is a good thing!!
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KC9HXG
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« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2005, 08:30:40 AM »

Thanks to everyone for the advice. Since my main goal is to use CW on the air, I have started over learning at 20/15. It's a little hard to keep up, but I'm getting better as I progress. One of the problems I have is that I'm used to a brief "think time" when I was learning at 15/5. I hope I'll overcome this after a few more characters.

I stalled out for a bit trying to learn faster. I'd get caught up on a character and miss a whole string of characters. I would get angry and start over. However, the other night, I decided just to keep going. When completed, I calculated the percentage. Even with missing a block of 7 characters, I still nailed the session at 96% out of 386 total characters. So perhaps I'm doing much better then I thought. And I doubt I'll be receiving a string of CW on the bands for much longer then 30 seconds.

Another problem I'm hitting is that I have "programmer's wrists". Not quite carpal tunnel, but it's definately difficult to hand right 20/15 for 5 mins straight without my forearms cramping up. I have to open a text editor and type along in order to keep up. Although this worries me a bit, I don't think it'll be a problem when testing at 15/5. And when on the air, I can always use my Palm Pilot's memo function and type along with the OM.

With my limited study time (study at work on my lunch hour, I do have a 16month old son I'm alone with for most of the evenings), I doubt I'll be able to pass element 1 before it's removed. This is troubling, but since my goal is to learn it instead of just remember it for an exam, I can live with that. I'm sure I'll catch some attitude for being a no-code general, but I'll still be able to send/receive cw @ 20wpm, which is what really counts.

One interesting thing I've noticed though. If you say R, I can quickly ramble off dit-dah-dit without much thought. However, if you say dit-dah-dit, I have to think about it for just a short delay.

Also, for some god awful reason, I cannot master the letter R. K, M, T, A, W, and even L and P are no problem at all. But R always throws me. I'm thinking about making an MP3 of just the letter R over and over at 20wpm. I have an MP3 capable stereo in my car and I hope 20mins on the drive home would be enough to hammer it into my brain.
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KC9HXG
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« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2005, 08:32:32 AM »

Oh, almost forgot. Please call me Rob. Bob was my grandfather.
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W5MJL
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« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2005, 09:26:51 AM »

Rob, even with limited study there is no reason in the world why you could not pass a 5wpm code test in 60 days or less.  Make it happen now, you will be glad you did.
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KC9HXG
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« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2005, 09:30:16 AM »

I absolutely agree. However, I'm not studying at 5wpm, I'm studying at 20wpm. If I were to switch back to studying slower, I could easily do it in about 3 weeks. However, it would be counter productive to my goal.

I'll get cracking and see what unfolds as the time draws near.
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W5MJL
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« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2005, 09:37:18 AM »

If you can get 50% copy at 20wpm you will get 100% copy at 5wpm without any problem.  Remember also that the test consistes of fill in the blank questions of a real qso.  They use the standard format of RST, QTH, name, antenna, rig, and weather.  Even if you miss letters you can figure out d_p_le is a dipole.  Good Luck!!!  You only need to get 7 out of 10 questions correct.
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AA4PB
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« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2005, 12:27:47 PM »

Once you get all the letters down you might also want to start copying some off the air - real QSOs and W1AW. You'll soon start to recognize whole words for the common words and prosigns. It won't be long until you find you don't need to write everything down - just a few notes as though you were having a voice conversation.

I don't know if code tests are still the same. They used to be a typical QSO followed by a multiple choice test. That meant that you could simply make notes for the test as well.
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KC9HXG
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« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2005, 12:42:44 PM »

The problem with that is there is a fallback if you fail the 10 questions. If you copy something like 20 characters in a row correctly, then you still pass.

I did find a zip file with 300 QSOs that can be imported into G4FON.
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KG6SJT
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« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2005, 09:48:39 PM »

Congratulations for wanting to learn CW. you might check out :K7QO's CW Code Course-<http://www.k7qo.net/>
it is a free download and startd with just two letters at a time., then starts adding letters and reviewing the previous letters.
AND they are mp3 files.. so toss them on a mp3 player and listen along.
Cheers,
greg
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KE4EHX
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« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2005, 07:33:11 PM »

Bob, I will second Greg's recommendation of the K7QO program, it has a good library of MP3 files of individual letters and also good combination sets.  After several years (about 12) of stop and go trying to learn the code, I came across that program in July.  It has a very good instruction book with the download to give you some additional pointers.  
  I would also recommend sitting for one of the local test before you think you are ready just to get the feel.  I went the first week of August just to see where I was.  I didn't pass but got a great experience out of it, and saw where my short falls were.  Fortunately there was one in the neighboring town the next weekend and with just an extra week of practice I was able to pass my second attempt.
  Good luck,
Todd
KE4EHX
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