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Author Topic: Need help with learning CW.  (Read 20124 times)
LB3KB
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« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2012, 04:17:34 PM »

I have no doubt that learning morse in a classroom with a tutor and other students would be a great deal better than trying to learn morse using the computer-based tools that are available.

I originally learned Morse code in a setting like that.  We spent well over 100 hours to pass the test at 8 WPM.

Not only did it take "forever", but 8 WPM is a highly counter-productive speed.  It seemed impossible to get beyond 12 WPM even with lots of airtime.

Koch's method is much better.  It doesn't require a computer, it could be used in a classroom setting, but I have yet to meet a classroom teacher willing to try it.  Classroom teachers tend to want to use the methods they have always used.

Also, software can do much more than a teacher could possibly do.  Software can throw in more of the characters you miss the most - in real time.  Software can rate your performance in real time, and you can see your results immediately after your session is over.  Software is available when you have the time to practice for five minutes - or an hour.  Software doesn't complain about other methods that it doesn't understand.


73
LB3KB Sigurd
justlearnmorsecode.com
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M0LEP
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« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2012, 11:05:16 AM »

I originally learned Morse code in a setting like that.  We spent well over 100 hours to pass the test at 8 WPM.

I figure your classroom experience and my computer-based learning experience are about equally bad...

Also, software can do much more than a teacher could possibly do.

Sufficiently complex software could do all the things you suggest, but none of the programs I've been able to try actually get anywhere close. They certainly work well for some people, but I know they don't work for everyone. I've hammered away at computer lessons (mostly, but not exclusively Koch-based) for nearly two years now, with a few enforced breaks when I didn't have both time and a suitable computer. I figure I've spent at least fifty hours (and quite possibly rather more) engaged in Morse training on a computer, one way or another. LCWO.net has a record of at least 20 hours I've spent listening to Koch lessons (not counting the time it takes to check results, nor all the failed attempts I didn't even try to check). I've got as far as lesson 12 of 40 in that time. I don't think computer-based training, whether Koch style or otherwise, is working at all well for me.

Likewise I can't "get on the air" with the characters I've learned so far either, because I inevitably end up hearing rubbish like the string of garbage I included in my earlier post. You wouldn't teach kids a dozen letters and then tell them to go read a book. You'd teach them the whole alphabet first, or you'd make sure the text they were presented only used the letters they knew. There's no point in telling someone to "get on the air" until they know the characters, either.

Somehow, any would-be morse operator needs to learn the characters. In these no-morse-test-required days classes teaching morse are hard to find. Computer-based training is what's available. It works for some folks, but for others it's not very effective. For some of those, a class would very probably work rather better.

73, Rick.
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PA0BLAH
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« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2012, 12:59:14 PM »

When you learn reading, you should have a bad time when your learning material was written text in longhand from your eldest aunt over 90 years old.

You have to learn it from printed matter, even so with Morse code. Machine generated text is perfect.
Advantage is that you learn how  the code has to sound. So when you start pounding yourself, you hear your own irregulatities and errors.

Two Guys at the kitchen table, may be they  need the social environment, but they learn Morse code by listening to each others extremely bad fists.

Suppose you have to learn reading and writing that way. Rediculous idea. Sorry. It is my opinion.
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LB3KB
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« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2012, 02:37:32 PM »

Also, software can do much more than a teacher could possibly do.

Sufficiently complex software could do all the things you suggest, but none of the programs I've been able to try actually get anywhere close.

Just Learn Morse Code does all of those things.  I'm surprised to hear that none of the other ones do, I would have thought they had caught up by now.

They certainly work well for some people, but I know they don't work for everyone. I've hammered away at computer lessons (mostly, but not exclusively Koch-based) for nearly two years now, with a few enforced breaks when I didn't have both time and a suitable computer. I figure I've spent at least fifty hours (and quite possibly rather more) engaged in Morse training on a computer, one way or another. LCWO.net has a record of at least 20 hours I've spent listening to Koch lessons (not counting the time it takes to check results, nor all the failed attempts I didn't even try to check). I've got as far as lesson 12 of 40 in that time. I don't think computer-based training, whether Koch style or otherwise, is working at all well for me.

It could be that Koch is not for you.  There is also a chance that you're not fully understanding how to best use Koch's method, possibly combined with Farnsworth timing.  What speed do you want to operate at ?  What speed are you learning at ?  Are you adding a character as soon as you score 90% or better ?  Does your software have a help file ?  Did you read it ?

73
LB3KB Sigurd
justlearnmorsecode.com
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AK7V
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« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2012, 04:31:30 PM »

Whatever method you use to learn the characters, once you have them reasonably well, get on the air.  I don't think anything beats actual QSOs for building Morse skills.
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VK2FAK
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« Reply #20 on: April 02, 2012, 08:42:45 PM »

Hi all..

Yeah I know where your coming from....I sat down the other day to do some practice and I just could not get past about 40 characters before the head drifted....I move the speed up a small amount and was going up to around 200 characters,  it just gave the mind no time to think...

I learned the Numbers using  CW_Player....it lets you pretty much change everything...number of characters, spacing between characters, spacing between words. I found it helped to learn, just have 2 characters coming at me at a time at full speed....then increase the gap between words, then increase the number of characters from 2 to 3 and so on......and I restricted the number of characters sent to about 15........just to start....so I was not getting frustrated at making errors over a 2- 5 min period.........which to be honest is really frustrating and tends to seem like a pointless exercise.....the frustration just puts pressure on the mind , so many short bursts of 15 characters in words of 2, then 3.then 4....after that you should be right at any length word.

John
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N5XM
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« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2012, 09:02:56 PM »

John, there is good advice in all of the above, but I want to mention a few things that helped me along the way.When you get the letters and mumbers down, don't forget to learn the Q signals as well.  They are a big part of what makes up the elements of a QSO.  You also need to learn the format of what a QSO consists of, a general order of things that makes up the basic QSO for someone just learning how to communicate via CW.

Firstly come callsigns
names, signal strenghts (RST)
locations (QTH)...when you hear RST, know that 3 numbers will be coming next
When you hear QTH, know that a city and state will appear next.  Each of these will be given twice so to give you a second chance to copy this info in case you miss part of it the first time.

At this point, turn it back to the other op via your call de his call, and then BK, or back to you.  On the next exchange you will send and receive weather (WX), such as conditions and temp.  There is no real specificied order to how these things get sent, just look for these specific things.  Give your age, how long you've been a Ham, mention your rig, power, and antenna and turn it back over to the other guy.  At this point if the QSO continues, you can start a little ragchewing, but that will come later after you get more experienced and more comfortable.  At the end of the QSO, thank the other Ham, wish them well, give his call de your call, and you're done.  At first I would write these items down on index cards so I wouldn't forget anything.  You're developing a method this way.  Rick
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KZ1X
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« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2012, 11:28:06 PM »

There's lots of people praising the method they used to learn Morse code, and some people praising the way they prefer to teach Morse code.

However, I've only seen one person praise WB2WIK, and that is WB2WIK.  He does it again and again, always complaining about the "competition".


LB3KB Sigurd
justlearnmorsecode.com

Well, now you have seen it:  WB2WIK is 100% correct.  I'm glad he posts here on eHam.

Noe everyone learns well from computer-aided training.  Indeed, for learning Morse, I agree wholeheartedly with Steve: computer-based training is not even a good substitute for many (I think, most) people.

It's wonderful to see how many skilled programmers have volunteered their talents and offered Morse training tools on line, the majority of them free of cost.  There is no telling how helpful these efforts have been to thousands, and I applaud those who've done that work.

By the way, I use some of these programs to help teach Morse when I hold classes.  The truth is, there's no real substitute, for many, for in-person training classes in any of a wide variety of subjects, and Morse is one of them.

If I can find 4 or 5 students who will come in for 45 minutes once or twice a week for six to eight weeks, I'll have them on the air in CW and enjoying themselves profusely.  And their effort will be FAR less stressful and frustrating than trying to teach themselves Morse, solo, with a computer.  That's a guarantee.



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LB3KB
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« Reply #23 on: April 03, 2012, 01:50:40 AM »

There's lots of people praising the method they used to learn Morse code, and some people praising the way they prefer to teach Morse code.

However, I've only seen one person praise WB2WIK, and that is WB2WIK.  He does it again and again, always complaining about the "competition".


LB3KB Sigurd
justlearnmorsecode.com
Well, now you have seen it:  WB2WIK is 100% correct.

No, I still haven't seen it.  You're just saying you are another classroom teacher that agrees with him.  Or did he teach you Morse code ?

I don't have a problem with people criticising software solutions.  My gripe with WB2WIK is that he simply complains about them without giving any reasons.  He does that pretty much every time he praises his own teaching methods.

He even points directly to specific solutions that have helped thousands of people, claiming not only that they have no value - but that they prevent people from learning. 

At one point he even demonstrated that he doesn't know the difference between Koch and Farnsworth.  Yet he keeps bashing Koch's method and everything else he sees as a threat to his good old way of doing things.
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AK7V
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« Reply #24 on: April 03, 2012, 08:31:07 AM »

There's lots of people praising the method they used to learn Morse code, and some people praising the way they prefer to teach Morse code.

However, I've only seen one person praise WB2WIK, and that is WB2WIK.  He does it again and again, always complaining about the "competition".


LB3KB Sigurd
justlearnmorsecode.com
Well, now you have seen it:  WB2WIK is 100% correct.

No, I still haven't seen it.  You're just saying you are another classroom teacher that agrees with him.  Or did he teach you Morse code ?

I don't have a problem with people criticising software solutions.  My gripe with WB2WIK is that he simply complains about them without giving any reasons.  He does that pretty much every time he praises his own teaching methods.

He even points directly to specific solutions that have helped thousands of people, claiming not only that they have no value - but that they prevent people from learning. 

At one point he even demonstrated that he doesn't know the difference between Koch and Farnsworth.  Yet he keeps bashing Koch's method and everything else he sees as a threat to his good old way of doing things.

He's said numerous times that the lack of sending practice is a problem.  His argument appears to be that practicing receiving and sending at the same time is better than just receiving, which is what most of the software focuses on, as far as I know.

For what it's worth, I learned the characters and the ability to copy up to around 13wpm using an older program called Super Morse and ARRL cassettes.  Then I got on the air and worked my way up from there.  My sending probably wasn't as good as it would have been had I trained with a partner, but fortunately, perhaps because I am a musician, my sending was respectable.  I recorded myself and listened back to confirm.

How difficult would it be to incorporate sending practice into a program?  Or is it already there, just not focused on in these forums?  Why not incorporate WIK's ideas into software?  A "virtual" code practice partner?  Couldn't hurt.
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M0LEP
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« Reply #25 on: April 03, 2012, 09:01:07 AM »

Just Learn Morse Code does all of those things.  I'm surprised to hear that none of the other ones do, I would have thought they had caught up by now.

It's Windows-only, and to get the full benefit you have to be able to type your copy directly back into the program. I don't have any Windows-capable machines, and my typing is sufficiently idiosyncratic that tutors which require me to type back at them don't work well for me.

There is also a chance that you're not fully understanding how to best use Koch's method

Entirely possible, but I've explored a fair spread of the possible ways of using it, and not found one which helped me learn morse at a less frustrating rate. For me:

* Farnsworth timing was unhelpful. It gave me enough time to de-construct each Morse character into its component dots and dashes and then translate it into a character on paper (or keyboard). Unfortunately this became a learned process before I realised how unhelpful it was. I'll never get that "instant recognition" thing using Farnsworth timing.

* "Morse Machine" (implemented in a number of programs and websites) contributed to the same problem. It waits for you to type a character before giving you the next. See previous point...

* My typing and writing speeds limit the speed at which I can train when the trainer wants to check what I've heard. 15 WPM is about my upper limit for writing random characters, and my typing is slower. In practice that means the fastest I can run Koch lessons at is about 13 WPM.

* Random characters may be a good way of testing character recognition, but they're not too good when it come to teaching new ones unless the distribution is skewed sufficiently to give the new character some exposure.

* With the Koch lessons I initially tried sticking with a lesson until I was consistently over 95%, but each lesson was taking three months or more to complete. Dropping the bar so that I moved on as soon as I got one good score (with enough of the new characters read correctly) over 90%, reduced that to about a month or so, but that's still frustratingly slow.

So yes, it's entirely possible Koch just is not going to work for me, at least not in any of the implementations to which I have access.

One other thing folks mention in the context of learning Morse is developing the ability to "read behind", having a buffer in the mind between the character you're hearing at this instant and the one you're presently typing or writing down. It's something some folk seem to develop as they progress. As far as I can tell it's something I'm not learning to do, yet...

73, Rick
« Last Edit: April 03, 2012, 09:23:48 AM by M0LEP » Logged
M0LEP
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« Reply #26 on: April 03, 2012, 09:11:10 AM »

Two Guys at the kitchen table, may be they  need the social environment, but they learn Morse code by listening to each others extremely bad fists.

One has to assume that a teacher who's teaching Morse would be someone with a good fist. I think the trouble with computer-based training is that, while it might teach you to read good Morse, it does absolutely nothing to check that you're learning to send good Morse.

73, Rick.
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PA0WV
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« Reply #27 on: April 03, 2012, 02:32:39 PM »

Formerly for sending there were counting methods. However when you build up speed you are not able to use it. For that purpose the teacher was sending and the students has to sent the same text synchronous.

In order to do that without teacher I designed the "Synchroseiner" a device sending some texts and you have to key synchronous, the time that you are late or early give a different pitch sidetone. Above that the error time is counted, and yields a final result that you can jot down and compare with later exercises.

I think that without that counting, it is possible to use JustLearnMorseCode with a text and you sending with your key and some sounder. Left earpiece LB3KB right earpiece the sounder.

 http://pa0wv.home.xs4all.nl/zelfbouw.html  

third link from top of page

PAoWV
« Last Edit: April 03, 2012, 02:35:34 PM by PA0WV » Logged

Using an appliance without CW is just CB
LB3KB
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« Reply #28 on: April 03, 2012, 04:19:08 PM »

He's said numerous times that the lack of sending practice is a problem.  His argument appears to be that practicing receiving and sending at the same time is better than just receiving, which is what most of the software focuses on, as far as I know.

He says that when people vent their troubles learning copy.  That's not helpful.  Sure, sending is important too, but the lack of sending practice in code training programs is not an argument against their usefulness in learning how to copy.  He is just adding more pain for those who struggle - he tells people in trouble that they have even bigger problems than they thought.  Not only do they not know how to copy, they haven't even tried to send yet.

It is quite common to learn copy first, then sending - regardless of what method is used for learning.  It is also a common experience that it doesn't take a long time to learn how to send, at least with paddles.  Some people make the mistake of going on the air before they have even touched the paddles, they learn their lesson quickly.  The bottom line is they get on the air, why should anybody complain about that ?  If you don't like the way they send, just turn that dial.

It may be a good idea to practice sending while learning how to copy, but it is not a necessity and the lack of it does not reduce the value of all other methods than the one WB2WIK uses.

How difficult would it be to incorporate sending practice into a program?  Or is it already there, just not focused on in these forums?  Why not incorporate WIK's ideas into software?  A "virtual" code practice partner?  Couldn't hurt.
Why don't you do it ?  Or WB2WIK ?  Sitting around complaining is easy.  Having invested hundreds of hours in free software to help other people only to hear whining and complaining from those who think they know better is not a big motivation.

I may add sending practice to Just Learn Morse Code at some point.  However, I have a long list of improvements that are more important than sending practice and I also have a life outside of creating free software for others to complain about.


73
LB3KB Sigurd
justlearnmorsecode.com
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LB3KB
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« Reply #29 on: April 03, 2012, 04:55:42 PM »

Just Learn Morse Code does all of those things.  I'm surprised to hear that none of the other ones do, I would have thought they had caught up by now.

It's Windows-only, and to get the full benefit you have to be able to type your copy directly back into the program. I don't have any Windows-capable machines, and my typing is sufficiently idiosyncratic that tutors which require me to type back at them don't work well for me.
It’s a Windows program but there are people running it on Linux and other OSes.  AFAIK, the help file does not display properly on those systems, though.

At any rate, nothing requires you to type.  If you want your performance evaluated, you do of course have to enter it into the computer.  If you don’t want to do that, you’ll have to evaluate it yourself – just like you would have to using any other method.

You don’t have to type to record your performance, though.  Voice recognition can do the typing for you, for instance.

* Farnsworth timing was unhelpful. It gave me enough time to de-construct each Morse character into its component dots and dashes and then translate it into a character on paper (or keyboard). Unfortunately this became a learned process before I realised how unhelpful it was. I'll never get that "instant recognition" thing using Farnsworth timing.
Sounds like you slowed it down too much.  First, find out which speed you want to operate at.  Let’s say you want to operate at 18 WPM.  If you can’t keep up with your preferred recording method (typing, voice recognition, pen&paper), use Farnsworth to slow it down just enough that you can keep up.  You may end up with 18/18 speed, 15/18, 12/18 or whatever works for you.

This should only be used to allow you to keep up with your recording.  If you have time to deconstruct the characters before recording each of them, you need to increase the speed.

You should consider finding the right speed and start over with just two characters.  Add one as soon as you score 90%.  If you add too many too quickly, you’ll be more frustrated and spend more time than necessary.

Experiment with the session length.  Five minutes may be too long, it could be that shorter sessions work better for you.

* Random characters may be a good way of testing character recognition, but they're not too good when it come to teaching new ones unless the distribution is skewed sufficiently to give the new character some exposure.
Any sensible software will add more of the characters you learned last.

* With the Koch lessons I initially tried sticking with a lesson until I was consistently over 95%, but each lesson was taking three months or more to complete.
That’s one mistake you made.  Stick to the prescribed method.  If you’re not good enough with some characters, you’ll spend more time on getting 90% later on anyway.

Dropping the bar so that I moved on as soon as I got one good score (with enough of the new characters read correctly) over 90%, reduced that to about a month or so, but that's still frustratingly slow.
How many sessions did you do each month ?  With how many letters ?

So yes, it's entirely possible Koch just is not going to work for me, at least not in any of the implementations to which I have access.
Could be.  You should notice that some software solutions don’t dictate which method you should use to learn.  Just Learn Morse Code can be used for a wide variety of methods.  Koch’s method, combined with Farnsworth, is just my recommendation.

For some reason, a lot of people make hasty decisions about what any feature means.  I see time and again that “JLMC requires you to type”.  That is not true.  It’s one possibility.  “JLMC makes you use Koch’s method”.  Not true, it’s just one possibility.  “JLMC doesn’t have callsign practice”.  Not true, you can practice using any material you want.

One other thing folks mention in the context of learning Morse is developing the ability to "read behind", having a buffer in the mind between the character you're hearing at this instant and the one you're presently typing or writing down. It's something some folk seem to develop as they progress. As far as I can tell it's something I'm not learning to do, yet...
That comes naturally with speed and experience.  Don’t worry, it’s not like you’re missing out.


73
LB3KB Sigurd
justlearnmorsecode.com
« Last Edit: April 03, 2012, 04:59:49 PM by LB3KB » Logged
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