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Author Topic: What is solid copy?  (Read 2194 times)

Posts: 244

« on: January 18, 2008, 11:21:32 AM »

In honor of Old School, I want to get the ARRL 20 wpm certificate to match my AE. I am so close and dealing with the QSB and QRM on the ARRL transmission keeps it "real".

The best I've been able to do was a string of 139 characters where I didn't put an "a" in "also" at character 68 and I didn't put an "o" in "for" at character 117 so that is not 100 perfect characters in a row. I wrote ARRL representatives and asked if their criteria "solid copy" meant 100% perfect and never got a response.

Of course if I keep at it, I will eventually reach 100 perfect characters in a row and there wouldn't be a question. But am I setting the bar higher than it normally sits. I'm guessing if I were taking the test at an FCC building I'd need that Perfect run (no fill-ins after the fact?)

The certification is an interesting paradox because everyone and their brother posts here that the way to speed is NOT perfect copy but just "notes". So I just want to get this 20 wpm "perfect" out of the way, then I can go on to higher speed.

Actually I am able to get quite a bit at 25 wpm now - just not "in a row". It's a mind exercise because I can copy any particular letter and most words. It's the "in a row" aspect. One little mis-though, one tiny mental celebration that I got a word, and the next letter is dropped and the count has to start over. Arrrgh.

So is solid copy, 100% or a little less? I suppose if I'm going to honor "old school" I need 100% but the TX signal quality is not the same as FCC's test.


Posts: 550


« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2008, 12:11:16 PM »

> But am I setting the bar higher than it normally
> sits.

I would say so.

> I'm guessing if I were taking the test at an
> FCC building I'd need that Perfect run (no
> fill-ins after the fact?)

No, you were able to fill in characters after the

At least, that's what I remember from 1976, when
I passed the 13 wpm test under the one minute/solid
copy regime. Had to pass a sending test at that
time, too.

It was not long after that, the FCC went with
multiple choice tests for the material sent.
That's how it was when I took the 20 wpm test
in 1978. They had also dropped the sending
test by then, too.

So I've considered myself an extra lite ever
since. Smiley


Posts: 700

« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2008, 12:29:09 PM »

Solid copy means I am copying everything you send. It's 100 percent copy.

It has nothing to do with copying in one's head. You can copy in your head and get it all -- or get very little.

Good luck in your quest for speed.

73, N4KZ

Posts: 281

« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2008, 12:36:03 PM »

I took all my ham tests in front of the FCC in Chicago.  In those days they sent us five-word coded groups for five mnutes.  We had to copy one minute perfectly in order to pass.  The groups we had to copy were, like,  GF?C,  VU874  .?PBM  X2676  P,WEQ  so there was no ability to go back and fill in anything, since the groups were meaningless characters.

Posts: 21764

« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2008, 02:21:46 PM »

>RE: What is solid copy?  Reply  
by KG9SF on January 18, 2008  Mail this to a friend!  
I took all my ham tests in front of the FCC in Chicago. In those days they sent us five-word coded groups for five mnutes. We had to copy one minute perfectly in order to pass. The groups we had to copy were, like, GF?C, VU874 .?PBM X2676 P,WEQ so there was no ability to go back and fill in anything, since the groups were meaningless characters.<

::My old tests in the mid-60s, taken before an FCC examiner in NYC, used a mish-mosh of characters and words and the opportunity to go back and fill in would have been pretty poor.  However for many years all it took to pass the code test was 100% copy for a minute *or* answering ten questions regarding the text of the message sent.  If you copied most of what was sent in your head and didn't write anything down at all, it was very possible to score 100% on this.  My nephew Rob did that for his Extra back in 1995.  He wrote his name on the paper, and nothing else; then just answered all ten questions correctly and passed.  I taught him to copy code without ever writing anything down, so he never did!


Posts: 5688

« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2008, 07:36:52 PM »

For copying with speed, use longhand and not printing.  Practice that way.

Since the ARRL test has nothing whatsoever to do with the old time FCC testing, use of a computer keyboard for copy is okay and can speed things up for touch typers.  Use it.  

Correcting copy a bit for sending to ARRL is okay, you must be the judge of the level of honesty in the thing anyway.  Unfortunately, I'm sure that there are some who hold the certificate by using subterfuge to get it anyway, but that should not deter the person who wants to do it on the upright path.  

Adding an 'o' between f and r for a word like 'for' afterwards, I wouldn't call that a kill really.  

Sounds like you can get all the way there with a bit more practice anyway.  So keep plugging away at it.



Posts: 18

« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2008, 07:55:46 AM »


I just sent off for my ARRL Morse Proficiency Certificate (20 WPM, pencil copy); copied the transmission on 17 JAN 2008 (1400z), my copy was in the mailbox that night.

I had a (telephone) dialogue with someone at the ARRL section that transmits and grades these; I called them both BEFORE the transmission (by a few days, so I could know what exactly was best for them in terms of processing my submission- pitfalls, mistakes *in submission*, etc), AND afterwords, when I had a question / comment.

I might be able to clear up a question or two.

What you need is "one minute of solid copy of the highest speed that you copied". They base this on five character groups, though the W1AW transmission is plain text (an excerpt from an article (not necessarily QST), or an encyclopedia, an article from the TV guide, whatever).

What you do is multiply the speed (that you are trying for) by five, and that is the number of 100%, perfect, uninterrupted characters that you need. If you managed to copy most of the 15 WPM segement, and 15 WPM is what you are trying for, then you need 15 x 5 = 75 perfect characters copied. For 20 WPM the character count would be 100 characters.

Afterwords, on your copy (whether by pencil or keyboard) underline your character count in red. Make a statement to the effect that you produced your copy without aid of any kind, and sign and date it. Be sure to indicate the date, time, and frequency of the W1AW transmission you copied.

In my case, I copied the transmission on a legal pad with pencil. I picked a portion of the 20 WPM segment, and I underlined 103 characters (I rounded it up to the closest word), *in my case* I did not count puncuation, but puncuation probably counts (so I submitted 103+ characters for my 'score', it spanned a couple of sentences).

My handwriting is pretty bad when I copy, so I ALSO submitted a typed transcript in addition to the raw pencil copy, and underlined the same characters in red ink. I ALSO put the required statement about producing the copy without aid of any kind on my transcribed copy, AND on my cover letter. The date time and freq(s) were listed on all three items (cover letter, raw copy, transcribed copy).

On 17 JAN (at least at my QTH) W1AW was jammed just after the QST callup and just after the CW bulletin occurred (before the test) on 20 meters, so I made a note on my raw copy, transcription, and cover letter that I changed from 14.047.5 to 18.097.5 due to (probable) jamming (this is why I called ARRL just after the transmission). Apparantly, some militant 'no-coders' (probably, or at least 'anti-ham') think that they are helping the ham radio community out by jamming the code proficiency run. They deserve to be in prison, and strictly speaking, they CAN go to prison for this.

Posts: 244

« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2008, 08:37:24 PM »

Thank you for outlining the submission process. I understand that 20 wpm at 5 letter groups is 100 characters regardless of the text sent (i.e. full words and sentences). Also,I believe numbers and punctuation count as two characters.

I could more easily "copy" on a keyboard if I wanted to re-train a little so I reflexively push the right key instead of write the correct letter. But I am doing this for skill in the field and I don't want to have to rely on a having a keyboard with me.

Once I pass this self-imposed hurdle, I'll drop the pencil and focus on words. I have interests in many facets of Ham radio so I don't want CW to take up too much time. And I am so close, If not the month of Feb., then March, or April, or May. It will happen.

But I have noticed an increase in jamming - seems mostly RTTY from my location in central Oregon. I can hear the W1AW transmissions either on 80M or 40M but not both. And the Qualifying test that is sent from California comes in Okay - 'cept it is just once a month.

I like your submission method. Underline original, transcribe to typed copy, statement of "no assist" and time/freq of qaulifying run. And of course some dollars.

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