Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net

   Home   Help Search  
Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: 20wpm Plateau  (Read 1100 times)
KQ6UP
Member

Posts: 136




Ignore
« on: February 11, 2008, 08:22:58 PM »

I have been working on my CW for almost a year.  I have used the Koch method to get up to around 18wpm very fast.  I have not used training programs for a while(about 9 months). I am just trying to get on the air experience as I have noticed real world contacts are a lot different than the simulation.  I can make comfortable head copy contacts at about 20 wpm if the sender is sticking to the regular contact "format."  I have been able to rag chew at 20 wpm if the sender has a _perfect_ fist.

This is a bit discouraging, as I have been stuck at this level of proficiency for a very long time.  I have noticed some slight gains.  I am better at copying call signs and names the first time, and I can copy call signs at 25 wpm if they are sent a couple of times.  However, I still can't pass the fill in the blank FCC practice test for the 20wpm code, and I miss about the same number of questions on the test as when I took it 9 months ago.  Is this normal?

I am having fun and working nice DX with a modest set up, and that was my original goal, but man I want to copy like those old timers.  It is hard to find a good high speed CW elmer because all of the guys in our club that are good at CW learned it decades before I was even thought of, and do not remember what they did to learn the code.  Many of them learned it in the military working long shifts sending/receiving traffic.

Sorry for the rant.  Just had to vent a little.

Any advice for a neophyte CW op?

Chris KQ6UP
Logged
N0IU
Member

Posts: 1269


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2008, 11:03:57 PM »

KQ6UP wrote, "...but man I want to copy like those old timers."

"Any advice for a neophyte CW op?"

Quit trying to judge yourself by other people's standards. As long as you are having fun, the speed will come in due time.

Scott N0IU
 
Logged
KB9CRY
Member

Posts: 4284


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2008, 03:33:29 AM »

Is this normal?

Yes
Logged
WQ3T
Member

Posts: 209




Ignore
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2008, 07:32:05 AM »

You can have a long, enjoyable CW career at 20WPM. I have found it takes much longer to increase copy speed as copy speed increases. It's a curve. 20WPM is speedy enough for you to enjoy radio without taking up too much time.
Logged
W8ZNX
Member

Posts: 1




Ignore
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2008, 10:10:39 AM »

first rule
don't worry

second rule
don't worry

third rule
have fun

yours truly
Mac
Logged
WB2WIK
Member

Posts: 20565




Ignore
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2008, 11:35:18 AM »

Mac's right.

I'd add this:

The challenge I make to all my code students over the years is this:

1.  Get on the air, make code contacts at any speed you wish.  
2.  Try to make contacts "above your head," i.e., at a speed faster than you can actually copy.  If you miss some stuff, good, you're supposed to.  Just get as much of it as you can and don't sweat the small stuff.  And it's all small stuff.
3.  Make 5 contacts a day for 100 days.
4.  At the end of those 500 contacts, you'll be doing 30 wpm and not thinking about it.  And you'll be getting "it all," assuming it's all sent properly.

Let me know if that doesn't work.

I've never heard back from anyone that they could not achieve this.

WB2WIK/6
Logged
VK3GDM
Member

Posts: 28




Ignore
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2008, 09:35:18 PM »

Chris,

I think I am progressing at about the same rate as you.

I try to ignore stories of other ops reaching high speeds in a few weeks. I'm in for the long haul!

I've been attempting WB2WIK's methods mentioned above and believe I am improving. Not sure what speed's I'm up to (not really measuring) but I usually call CQ with my keyer set to 20wpm and take whatever comes.

I imagine I would improve a lot faster if I followed WB2WIK's method properly.  I'm not getting 5 QSOs a day in. I do try, but I don't get on air everyday.

I usually don't get on air till late at night and miss most of the local VKs. So most of my QSOs are also DX and most tend to be short and often in poor condx.  Some nights I can get up around 10 QSOs in the log depending on condx.

Like you Chris, I am becoming quite comfortable working DX head copy, but struggle with rag chew type QSOs particularly if their spacing is too close.

There seems (to me) to be quite a lot of stations around that send with close spacing so I can't tell where words and even character end. I hear two local VKs doing this in a regular shed and they seem to copy each other ok. Maybe it's just me. But I also hear other good ops sending much faster and I can easily tell the difference between words.

I finally extracted the pen from my hand and threw it in the bin around November last year.  Since then I have been using a software logging program to log contacts. My QSO rate seems to be around 50 to 60 a month and climbing. I've worked 40 different countries in just over 2 months with a very basic system.


Having seen the need to do more rag chewing, I recently, have set up regular daily skeds with a VK friend at lunch times from my car at work.
Working CW from the car means I can't write or type anything and I have to remember callsigns etc. Which will be good for improving my head copy.

I am hoping that as the solar activity increases so will my QSO rate.  There are a few more things I could do, like improve my antenna system, more bands etc. Only got 40m, 20m, 15m and 10m at the moment.

I'm improving slowly (probably slower than you Chris), but I am having a great time working lots of DX.  50 dx QSOs a month is way more than I ever did on SSB.  

Now I just need to get that QSO rate up over 100 a month including more rag chews.

That's my CW progress report.

73
David VK3GDM

Logged
KQ6UP
Member

Posts: 136




Ignore
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2008, 09:44:23 PM »

VK3GDM, maybe we'll have to set a sched.  It would be fun to try to work you.  It is a bit of a challenge to get 5 in a day.  On days that I am on, I work 2 or 3.  I also have noticed I make many more contacts on CW.  I hear so many more CQ's on CW than I have ever heard on phone.  I hear a lot of sideband contacts of the same few guys having these long rag chews, but never calling CQ.  I have been pencil free for about nine months now, and I am usually getting the call the first time and the name the first time.  I still miss the QTH a lot.

Don't worry about those guys with the close spacing.  I can't stand that either.  I think as we do this longer, we won't need perfect CW.  I love those long rag chews with someone with a great fist.  I can get in the zone and copy almost all of it for an hour at 20wpm.  But that is a rare bird indeed.

Thanks,
Chris KQ6UP
Logged
WQ3T
Member

Posts: 209




Ignore
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2008, 08:18:57 AM »

It's a rare bird who knows how to touch type and sends CW using a computer keyboard. This makes for a pleasant CW copying experience for the guy on the other end, at any speed the sender dials it. No big Begali investment needed in US dollars or Euros. Simply an IBM PC and a soundcard/serial port/WinkeyUSB does the trick.
Logged
WB2WIK
Member

Posts: 20565




Ignore
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2008, 04:01:53 PM »

 
>RE: 20wpm Plateau  Reply  
by WQ3T on February 13, 2008  Mail this to a friend!  
It's a rare bird who knows how to touch type and sends CW using a computer keyboard.<

::Not rare at all!  I can touch type at 120-130 wpm, having learned in fifth grade (46 years ago now) and having typed every day since, and can thus send about that fast keyboard-to-keyboard on CW.  That's faster than I can copy, but as you imply, a computer can copy that.

Problem is: It's not fun!

And a keyboard has to be a good one to type that fast (there are good ones, and there are not-so-good ones -- the good ones cost a bit more), plus it takes up a lot of space.  As such, I almost never use a keyboard for CW, and never use a computer to copy at all.

I like to use a paddle and I operate in a darkened room with my eyes closed almost always, to relax after a long day of staring at multiple monitors.  If I had to look at another screen when I get home I think I'd go crazy.

The "fun" aspect for me is using the paddle and just listening to the code, having conversations.

Station automation is cool but I don't want to come home and ask my computer how much DX it worked that day.

WB2WIK/6  
Logged
VK3GDM
Member

Posts: 28




Ignore
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2008, 04:19:51 PM »

Chris (KQ6UP ),

Sounds like you are going very well, well ahead of me.

Yes a sched would be fun! You'd probably have to get up very early thou.

I try to get on 40m every week night, usually between 1100z and 1400z. I often catch some guys from the USA in their early morn before they head off to work.
I'm no expert on propagation, but I assume this occurs as the grey line passes over the USA.  This would mean that for us to make the contact (assuming you're on the east coast) it would be your very early morn and my very late night.

I'm not sure what happens here on 40m in mornings.
What times of the day do you hear VKs?

Hopefully when the condx improves on the higher frequencies the possibilities will increase.

73
David
Logged
AC2C
Member

Posts: 25




Ignore
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2008, 09:30:25 AM »

Way too many hams worry about speed and trying to do what others do.  This is a hobby meant as a way to pass time, relax, and enjoy.

The first goal should be accuracy in sending and comprehension in receiving.  You're not taking a test that requires perfect copy and you want the receiver to comprehend what you're sending.

I know that there are many who might disagree, but I believe that not all of us are capable of attaining high speed code proficiency.  If everyone could get to 35-50 wpm speed, then there'd be no need to have speed contests, give out awards, or write articles about those people who achieve those speeds.

I don't recall the exact numbers, but seem to recall reading that the old-tyme telegraphers considered a proficient telegrapher as one who operated at somewhere around 18-20 wpm.  These were people who made a living doing this stuff for 8+ hours per day.

I wasted way too much of my youth trying to get faster and catch up with the fast guys -- it was no fun.  Relax and enjoy the hobby.

Also...  Check out the SKCC (www.skccgroup.com) and FISTS (www.fists.org)

Ron, AC2C
Logged
N5XM
Member

Posts: 242




Ignore
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2008, 01:19:22 PM »

It's all tincture of time as far as I'm concerned.  Once you get the basic exchanges under control, you can start to ragchew.  Try to "speak" in CW just like you were talking to someone in real life.  If you do that, your innate abilities to decode the syntax of language will take over and everything gets easier. The key for me is to just relax and find the sweet spot between paying relaxed attention and paying so much attention that you freeze.  Don't even worry about 100% copy.  You can miss a few words here and there and do just fine.  As you get more comfortable your speed goes up naturally.  Just remember, it ain't no race.  Quality is the most important thing.  
Logged
WB2WIK
Member

Posts: 20565




Ignore
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2008, 09:52:07 AM »

N5XM's right.

I'd take it a step further and point out:

When you listen to someone speaking to you via the radio, to you really hang on every word?

Probably not.

If you "miss" 60-70% of what they say, either due to noise or interference, or interruption, or lack of attention -- or any reason at all -- you'll still get what they said and be able to reply, and continue the conversation.

Code is absolutely no different.

WB2WIK/6
Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!