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Author Topic: The WALL  (Read 17639 times)
AD7XN
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Posts: 35




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« on: October 03, 2012, 09:17:04 AM »

Hi everyone--I am sure that this has been discussed a million times, but I have hit the 15 WPM wall.  I got to 15/15 with 90's in my QSO training, when all of a sudden I cannot get half way through it without my brain flat not reconizing a lot of the characters.
I am doing word training at 25/18, and do well with that (up to 18 words ) at present.  It seemed to have started when I got into the word training phase. I am sending at 25/11 and was getting 90's in that, and that declined as well.
I am using three CW programs-one for the QSO's, one for sending, and one for word copy.

Ok I know I need to get on the air or at least the internet, BUT the military  school trains to 30 WPM before they let them go on the job, so why can't it be done that way ?

Matt AD7XN
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N5XM
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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2012, 09:30:57 AM »

You sound like the kind of overachiever bulldog I am.  I would suggest you take two or three days off, relax and get out in the fresh air a bit.  In a way, CW is like golf in that you need to be finely focused but still relaxed.  You will make it past this!
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PA0BLAH
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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2012, 10:30:15 AM »

In learning the code you can and have to start with individual characters.
You can listen and copy in your head, or writing them, or typing them out.

In amateur radio best thing to do is go over as fast as you can to words copy by head and writing, equally working up. While writing out try to understand what is sent.

That is because that is the way you are going to use the code.

When you start late with words, you will have a fall back. When you are proficient with words and you go back  to codegroups you also will have a fall back. Even in your word speed, due to kind of rewiring process of your brain, that yield a temporary loss of processing speed.

Probably due to the fact of the working of your brains.

Everything is difficult to measure, due to pretty strong daily fluctuations in the obtained proficiency.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2012, 05:51:40 PM »

Matt: 
Quote
Ok I know I need to get on the air or at least the internet, BUT the military  school trains to 30 WPM before they let them go on the job, so why can't it be done that way ?

It CAN be done that way (the military way) but you wouldn't like it even if you had the time!  Believe me.

The military training was 8 hours a day, 5 1/2 days a week; 10 minute smoke break per hour and 1 hour break for lunch. 

The best way to get over these 'humps' is to go to the next level and get what you can and stay there for a few days.  Then come back to your comfort level.  Doing this will help you break out.

Usually, for some reason or another, 13 and 18wpm are what was considered normal 'humps' that created the most problems for people learning code.  It might be the lack of rhythm that these speeds have ..... I don't know.  When we ran into these 'humps' the way we broke it was as I described.  Good luck......

.......and one more thing.... since you're not taking your code out on the job, learn to enjoy the learning experience.  Take your time.  Since you know the code, get on the air. That is the single one thing that will increase your speed.
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W7ASA
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« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2012, 06:22:00 PM »

Being relaxed is important.

At basic Morse code training at "Splinter City" (aka: "Ditty-City") Ft. Devens, when a student was very close to graduating his basic Morse code, but hit a mental block at final testing time, it was often seen as a simple case of 'nerves'. The time was probably running out, and the student was probably already qualified, but too wound-up, worried about failure to relax and simply DO what he was conditioned to do. The training sergeant would generally have one semi-private method left:

Angry   "Go to lunch, have TWO beers - not one, not three - TWO!  Then come back here and just copy the code, like it's any other day."

 Cry   "But Sergeant, I don't LIKE beer!"

 Angry  "Listen to me.  Decide NOW whether you want to pass this course or fail & be drummed out of this organization then sent to clean grease traps in Shemya, Alaska for the rest of your enlistment. TWO BEERS - It WORKS - MOVE!"

I saw it work more than once.  Relax, have a little fun learning the Morse code and it WILL flow.



73 de RadioRay ..._ ._


"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.".    ~Ben Franklin
>>> Which makes FAR more sense than anything those politicians in Washington spout... <<<
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K8AXW
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« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2012, 09:45:35 PM »

Ray:  When did you go to Devens?  I was there in '54.

Al
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W7ASA
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« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2012, 10:25:56 AM »

'74  - Then over to Berlin.

..._ ._

Ray
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N2EY
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« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2012, 10:34:36 AM »

You need to do something different. Get on the air and make some QSOs.

It's really that simple.

CW SS is the first weekend of November. You can get a real workout then. Get ready and go for it.


73 de Jim, N2EY
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AD7XN
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« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2012, 06:52:21 PM »

Thanks everyone, and I will try going up to 18 for a few days and not sneak back to 15 to see how I am doing, until the two days are up.  I have been doing that i.e. going up and down, but in one session.  I have the internet QSO program, but need to bite the bullet and get on it !!

I am interested to know, did any of the troops in the Army go berserk trying to do CW, and decided that cleaning latrines and grease traps didn't sound that bad after all ?  Some times I think I am !!

Matt
AD7XN   
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K8AXW
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« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2012, 09:53:02 PM »

Matt:  Actually, we had one guy hauled out of an adjoining company barracks one evening kicking and screaming by 3 MPs.  We never saw him again.  The guys in that barracks said he just flipped and started screaming that he couldn't take it anymore.  I always suspected the guy wasn't wired up right to start with.

We had several simply fail to make the speeds or decided on their own that this wasn't the job for them and applied for a transfer.

But, for the most part, it all went pretty well. 
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PA0BLAH
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« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2012, 03:17:18 AM »

'74  - Then over to Berlin.

..._ ._

Ray

Ray,

I order to obtain an estimate of learning the code I have a few questions, hoping you will answer:

1. How many hours were spent totally in the course, receiving code
2. How many hours were totally spent sending the code
3. What were the minimum pass terms ( speed allowed errors, sending and receiving)

Bob
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K8AG
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Posts: 345




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« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2012, 07:57:42 AM »

I remember studying code for my Extra way back in the 70s.  I really think the FCC chose 13 WPM because it was simply the worst place to copy code.  I had more trouble passing my Advanced CW test than I did the Extra.  I think the transition between characters and words is somewhere between 13 and 15 wpm.  I would struggle with 13.  But 16 was my favorite speed.

It's a brain thing. :-p

73, JP, K8AG
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KE4ILG
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« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2012, 06:53:33 AM »

I have to second what Jim N2EY suggested.  For me the key was enjoying the "practice" by getting on the air and talking with someone.  N0 matter what speed you currently operate there are others willing to work you.  The obsession to increase speed is common but the most impressive operators I have known were able to work comfortably at a wide range of speeds. 

Back when we had the Novice bands the experienced ops would give us newbees the experience we needed to pass the general exam.  There are many  ops who will gladly slow down to work you if you send well.  I hope you are spending as much time practicing your sending.  73 Mike KE4ILG
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W7ASA
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« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2012, 07:10:04 AM »

--- Sorry, I don't mean to hijack this fellow's post ---

Hi Bob,

About your questions, that was a VERY long time ago, so many things I simply cannot remember any longer, but let's try:

This was the basic Morse code selection course that a soldier had to pass to be accepted for additional training become a Morse intercept operator (basic level), not as a radioman. All totaled for this and the add-on training for intercept and other things, like in how to actually USE Morse, radio and our specilized aspects lasted one year.  Then specialized training once I arrived at my asignment.

1. How many hours were spent totally in the course, receiving code
>>> I think that the time limit was 16 weeks, 8 - 12 hours per day, 6 days per week.  If a soldier could not pass 18 GPM cipher in that time, he was sent to some other place with the Army. However, if a student was doing well, we were called "A.O.G." ("Ahead of the Game") and might have only 8 hour days 5 day weeks and the occasional 4 day week with a three day pass! I was fortunate because I was already a ham before I joined the Army and so I went from zero to 15 GPM my first day. I had a lot of three day weekends! However, I could not type, so I had to learn to copy code on a 'mill' (telegrapher's typewriter). 'Two Finger' typing was not allowed...  This was only the Basic Morse Code selection course.  The real training came later.


2. How many hours were totally spent sending the code
Usually, intercept operators had little or no training in sending at all.  If we were selected for special training, we would receive instruction in sending long after the basic Morse code training was completed.  I was one of those selected.  Most of the training -really- was in message generation , formatting and handling. By then, an operator had heard thousands of hours of code, so naturally would at least know what it sounded like - which is a good start.  So, a little coaching went a long way. The how-to-send training was basically skipped for me, so I don't know about some of the other guys.

3. What were the minimum pass terms ( speed allowed errors, sending and receiving)
>>> For the BASIC Morse code, a student had to be able to copy 18 cipher groups per minute all day long - at a minimum- to be allowed to go to intercept operator training. This was only the basic course and was part of the selection process to determine whether the soldier would be allowed further training. I do not remember the percentage of error allowed, but it was very, very low, they we needed 'practially' perfection. Even former RTO's (Radio Telegraph Operators) were sometimes irritated at the 'nit-picking' of their copy, but do understand, that we were tying to get perfect copy for cryptanalysis. EVERY GARBLE multiplied the problems in trying to analyze what was sent. For sending cipher traffic (in my case) our speed range was purposly limited to 18-25 GPM cipher text - I only ever used a hand (knee) key.  I never used a bug or autokey of any kind so that copy would be as easy as possible with paper & pencil systems.  'Speed Through Accuracy!'  You know how that works.  Any messages my guys would send were usually very short. Sending required 50 groups of perfect cipher text, but we had to do that continuously, not just once.

The Bad News: Some poor guys were assigned to places with languages that had extended Morse alphabets. I remember a few of the guys were assigned to a country with a basic alphabet of 46 (48?) Morse letters!   They were practically crying when they learned that an entirely NEW and different Morse school awaited them to learn the 'second half' of the new Morse alphabet.    Cry  Cry  Cry    Most Asian languages had their own, unique Morse systems. I wanted to go to Asia - naturally The Army knew that and sent me to Berlin...  that seems to be how they do business.  That's OK though, I learned a lot about real world politics and still love German coffee, apfelkuchen or kassekuchen and etc.  I'd trade almost anything for a real German konditorei instead of the swill we have as confections here in the U.S.

?? Why is it that a nation that put men on the moon, still cannot make a decent cheese cake??    Cheesy

Speed was relative & was always matched to the targets you were assigned to copy.  We didn't really time them or even really consider what actual speeds they sent at. New guys arrived to copy the slower (or worst) , least important skeds while the more experienced guys would move up to faster, more complex (and more fun) cases. I do remember some targets who were using bugs for looooooooong mesages and we put onto paper, while thinking nothing about it. We did not think about speed - which probably helped. Frankly, we did not think about much of anything, because it was conditioned copy: you hear it and you hit the key.  There is a story there, but I'll drop it for now.  Suffice it to say, that I patched into one WAC's (girl's) headphones and sent her some things that she reflexively copied onto her traffic log, thinking it was geniune - until I sent the last part, with her name in it...     Shocked

--- That was a very long time ago ---

The last time that I did a speed run of mixed letter/number cipher traffic (All Roman letters) was for a job in the early 1980's. The guy with the stop watch started me in the high teens   Grin   //Ywan!// I had one ear phone cocked forward & the other behind my head, drinking a Coke, copying with one hand (alternating) while we talked.  //OC:  Yeah, I was showing off - it was just too slow to NOT have some fun...// He stopped me and and asked what I had done for a living before - - - ha ha .  He decided to make me sweat and cranked it up in stages. Finally, as far as he could tell looking over my shoulder, I had zero errors at (40 or 45 GPM - I can't remember) after 5 lines of code (10 groups per line, 50 groups).   NOW   I was absolutely using both hands, no Cokes and both ears involved, but I was getting it. I never saw my actual score, but he & I spent the rest of my "test day" talking, drinking Cokes and getting snacks from the lunch room...   So, I guess it went pretty well.

I'm too many years down the road now for putting high speed onto paper, but I 'play' with G4FON software and copy to keyboard 35 words per minute cleartext pretty well for a few minutes at a time.  Listening is easy though.  Like you & I discussed before,  I copy in my head most of the time and I haven't done a speed test, but listening to 40+ in cleartext is not actually difficult, though about 50WPM I loose the ability to hear a tone and only hear clicks, so I loose most copy - I do not know why.  These days, I still cannot send as fast as I can copy. As you know from some of our previous discussion on other pages, I love sending with a bug, but when try faster than about 35 WPM I'm pressing too hard for fun. 25 - 30 with the bug is just a lot of fun, but not taxing. I cannot match my copy speed on bug or paddles, which is a real shame, but I hate to send poor code.

The question came-up about anyone loosing their minds in code training?   Oooooooh yes.  I remember windows broken out from someone going nuts and throwing a 'mill' (telegrapher's typewriter') out the window, guys going AWOL (in our case desertion), those who would just show all kinds of phychologicial problems from the constant noise, pressure and etc.  Some guys just stood-up and walked out - never seen again. Remember, if you failed, you were usually sent to the worst assignments in the Army, as a demonstration to others. At least that's what we were told.  Very few guys flamed-out when they hit their field asignment, by then, it was rare. Half the purpose of the training was the make us crack before we were on duty in some far flung part of the world - where it really mattered.  Besides, there were all those grease traps to clean - and no volunteers!  


Time for a nice cup'a tea and to work on a QRP rig.



73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._
« Last Edit: October 07, 2012, 07:42:11 AM by W7ASA » Logged
W7ASA
Member

Posts: 204




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« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2012, 07:14:15 AM »

Hey Matt -

The other fellows are quite right.  What REALLY makes it all work for you, will be conversations in Morse.  Starting with the simple RST, QTH, NAME in slow, accurate Morse and building from there.  Sign-off before you've had enough. Then it all begins to become really interesting, more enjoyable (with maybe a tiny bit of pressure...) and that's where the next level of progress will come from.  The main thing:  have fun!  It's much easier to become at something that you enjoy.


73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._
« Last Edit: October 07, 2012, 07:44:36 AM by W7ASA » Logged
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