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Author Topic: Key or paddles for 30 wpm character speed.  (Read 2902 times)

Posts: 4

« on: February 10, 2009, 09:28:46 AM »

Here's my problem.  I read "The Art and Skill..." and a few other books that recommended using Koch and Farnsworth for learning code.  I used G4FON's program to learn code.  I started at the 20 wpm character speed that was recommended so my brain would not break down the characters into dots and dashes.  The overall speed was set at the recommended 15 wpm.  I was able to learn all the characters in a couple of weeks (I am a very busy doctor) but for the life of me could barely handle the 15 wpm overall speed.  I finally realized that even at 20 wpm character speed my brain was still hearing the individual dots and dashes and that was slowing me down.  I had to turn up the individual character speed to 30 wpm before I could hear the whole and not the parts.  I started from scratch again because I had previously never heard the characters at 30 wpm and it does sound quite different from 20 wpm.  I easily got up to 15 characters in the first sitting of 20 minutes and the overall speed of 15 wpm actually seems slow now that my brain is not taking the extra step of visualizing dots and dashes.  I have actually been able to listen to fast code on the air and understand it better than the slow code and am already making out whole words and copying in my head.  My problem is this: I have been using MRX to practice sending with a straight key (a newer style Junker).  But if I am going to have to listen to code at 30 wpm character speed should I just dump the straight key and start practicing sending with paddles?

Posts: 14491

« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2009, 11:56:56 AM »

You are going to have to develop a really good "fist" to send very long at 30WPM. It's time to move to a paddle and an electronic keyer, in my opinion.

Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA

Posts: 317

« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2009, 07:59:33 PM »

I suggest that you consider holding off sending until you feel that you have mastered copying, especially at 30 WPM. By mastering I mean copying everything without any errors. By copying I mean decoding in your head, not on paper.

Then, when you finally do use a key, you will tend to imitate what you have been copying. You will be making  words with proper spacing, etc., not a poorly timed string of dots and dashes. (There are those who disagree with me on this, however.)

Although some people can send 30+ WPM with a hand key, it is much easier to use a dual paddle and a keyer.

73, Jim W4YA

Posts: 4283


« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2009, 05:27:22 AM »

Paddles for sure.

Posts: 1316

« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2009, 10:48:44 AM »

One caveat I discovered while learning to copy using the same method you describe is that (for me) the ratio of character speed to effective speed should not be greater than around 1.25.

I thought I was doing great at 30 WPM character speed and nearly 20 WPM effective speed. However, when I tried a TRUE 15 WPM I discovered I had been taking advantage of the time between characters to process a lookup table. In practice, the 15 WPM character occupied the entire time necessary for each character at true 15 WPM and there was no idle period for my CNS to process the character.

Perhaps in the long run with sufficient practice, this won't matter.

I also discovered that sending requires more manual acuity than I had anticipated. This Newbie recommends making actual QSOs as early as possible rather than becoming a "super fist" before getting on the CW bands. This is also consistent with the Elmer advice I received.

Posts: 5688

« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2009, 06:39:05 PM »

And make it an Iambic Keyer to go with that paddle and start keying Iambic from the gitgo.  

Posts: 2527

« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2009, 08:30:59 PM »

You'll find sending, even sending faster than you can copy, is easy.

My experience was that sending detracted from increasing my receiving speed.

When I got my ticket, all I had was a straight key, and as soon as I passed 5 WPM, and my ticket arrived, I wanted to immediately get on the air and have FUN.


Posts: 113

« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2009, 07:53:54 PM »

There are ops who can send well at 30 wpm and even at 35 wpm with a straight key, but most are hard pressed to get above 25 or even 20 wpm.  This is particularly true of us old goats who may have some problems with arthritis.

I would advise going to either a bug or a paddle if you contemplate anything faster than about 25 wpm.  Either device is capable of well-formed characters, with practice.  The cost of a new bug is unreasonable, however.  Unless you can get a good deal on a used one, opt for a paddle, either single lever or imambic.

Good luck and 73 de John AD7WN

Posts: 672

« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2009, 03:35:39 PM »

Paddles and Iambic, OM.  In fact, even the style of the paddle set can cause you 'hurt' if you don't grab the correct [for you] set first.  I came from a long term 'Bug' background. The closeness and 'gentle touch' of the Benchers I bought were just...beyond my dexterity and long term 'slap it around' manner. I finally cured the problem by altering those little weeny triangular pieces with some 'scabbed on' 1/4 inch plastic chunks that gave me more to work with. The point is, if I had never touched a Bug, it would have been easier!

By the way, sooner or later, you are going to just close your eyes and 'see' those letter and words form, mark my words. In fact, one day soon you will find 'reading' is a lot easier than sending!

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