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Author Topic: Speed or more characters  (Read 1085 times)
WC1I
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Posts: 15




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« on: June 10, 2009, 04:02:53 AM »

I'm learning the code (using G4FON's software) and am looking for some advice.  I've been trying to learn at least at 25 WPM from the outset.  I do this by spending some time listening (only) at higher speeds - up to 40 WPM or so, and even taking a stab at copying, though I can typically only catch a letter or two before getting lost.  I then bring down the speed - which then sounds leisurely by comparison.  I toggle the speed back and forth in this manner a few times during a learning session.

My question is this - my copying is good, 90% or better with the characters I have, to add more - but at 15 WPM.  Am I better off to add characters and bring the speed up later, or press on to learn at the higher speed I'm seeking first?  The two offsetting concerns are these: I hear a lot of operators lamenting their inability to increase their speed when they've learned at a lower speed.  On the other hand, I'm concerned about setting myself up for failure by pressing on with the higher speeds.  

Any perspective would be appreciated.
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KC9HOZ
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« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2009, 05:45:49 AM »

Your copy speed and accuracy will drop with each new character added, but you continue on as before and your accuracy will come back up (sometimes very quickly, sometimes quite slowly depending on how soon you get your head wrapped around each new character).

Scott
kc9hoz
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K5TAT
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« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2009, 05:58:15 AM »

I’m in the process of learning code with G4FON. I started out following Koch method starting with 2 characters at 25 wpm character speed and tried to keep my word speed at 15 to 20wpm minimum.  Progress was slow adding characters and for me quickly led to boredom. I started to add characters at lower word speed of 9wpm, even going as low as 6wpm for a few runs to familiarize myself with the character sound (while maintaining 25wpm character speed).  This made practice more interesting. I practiced more and am making progress.  However I worry when I run word speed below 15wpm because this gives me time between characters to automatically analyze the dot/dash pattern of each character which most people agree is a hindrance to learning.

My rule is that I never listen to characters below 25wpm character speed, but will go as low as it takes to assimilate new characters. If I followed the Koch method 100% it would take me much too long to learn the entire character set and get on the air or copy text. My method appears to be a combination of Koch & Farnsworth. It's working for me, and I’m sticking to it. My suggestion is do whatever works for you and take everyone else’s opinion with a grain of salt.

Good luck.
Denny K5TAT
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K5END
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Posts: 1309




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« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2009, 06:11:59 AM »

>
Maybe this experience will be useful to you.

I've been working on copy for about a year now and find that my skill fluctuates.

Using the software "tutor" (G4FON, Morse Runner, www.lcwo.net etc.) sometimes I can copy short messages, like call signs, at 30 WPM (true speed) but a week later I'm back down to the low 20's.

But for general purpose ragchew or plain text, I'm consistently capped at around 13 - 15 WPM.

I find that listening to the bands and copying real humans, for some unknown reason, is more effective. I get to hear real mistakes, misspelled words, what I call "Morse dyslexia" ("f" instead of "L" or " "ei" instead of "s") and so on.

The good elmers all gave me pretty much the same excellent advice (which I predictably ignored for a while in much the same way a teenager ignores his grandparents.)

Their advice was/is, to heck with the speed. Get on the air as soon as you can and do it. Keep working on it with the practice methods, but get on the air and get some real QSOs.

Don't expect to be equivalent to the ops who were military operators and can do 60 wpm.

Accept where you are and experience the journey without wishing you were at the destination.

Like I said, I'm a newb. I'm only repeating what the guys who have been doing this for decades have told me.

Maybe this will work for you, maybe not. We're all different, theoretically. (I thought I was.)
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K5END
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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2009, 06:16:13 AM »

>
"However I worry when I run word speed below 15wpm because this gives me time between characters to automatically analyze the dot/dash pattern of each character which most people agree is a hindrance to learning. "

That is the *&^% truth.

It is exactly what I did, and your concern is 100% valid.

Fast character speed and low true speed gave me time to access a mental "lookup table," which they say is the wrong way to learn.

After a few short weeks I thought I could do 25 wpm. But then I tried 15 wpm character speed at 15 wpm true speed and got a reality check. I couldn't do squat.

Basically I had to start over.

And it all goes back to me ignoring what the old guys told me in the first place (see previous post.)
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2009, 09:31:35 AM »

I think modern day hams (maybe people in general) overanalyze everything.

In the older days we learned enough code to make a contact and then we got on the air and made lots of contacts, with mistakes, misses, requested repeats and whatever it took to complete them.

After six months everybody was going 20-30 wpm without analyzing anything, and we had log books filled with contacts.

No tapes, no CDs, no off-the-air practice, obviously no computer programs (nobody had a computer), no special methods.  Just using it.

I guess our method was more similar to the way people learned sports: If you want to know how to play basketball, you dribble the ball every time you go outside for a walk to anywhere, and then you play some games.  

We used that method for advancing code skills: No analysis, just using it.

I don't know anyone who's tried the "old" method who isn't an absolute pro at code.  I never actually thought about how it occurred, but it occurs naturally and quickly by use.
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K5END
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« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2009, 10:30:44 AM »

Now see, Steve?

You coulda' told me that a year ago and saved me a lot of trouble...

or...uh, maybe you did.

I recall hearing good advice like that somewhere. It just took me a while to hear it.

Smiley
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WC1I
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« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2009, 11:11:32 AM »

> After six months everybody was going 20-30 wpm
> without analyzing anything, and we had log books
> filled with contacts.
> ...
> I don't know anyone who's tried the "old" method
> who isn't an absolute pro at code. I never actually
> thought about how it occurred, but it occurs
> naturally and quickly by use.

That's why I'm asking - while I'm happy that those in your circle had that experience, it's actually not what a lot of people report.  What they do report is getting stuck at speeds lower than they would like.

Still, I like the advice to listen to actual QSOs.  While I've played around with QRM, fading, and similar settings in software, there's absolutely no doubt that the real thing comes across as very different.  That's worth digging into, the speed issue aside.  I'm also committed to learning to send at the same time I'm learning to copy (albeit with a keyer and paddles, since that's what interests me).

Thanks for responding.
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W7ETA
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Posts: 2528




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« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2009, 12:22:58 PM »

Its a lot more FUN to chat when you know all of the characters and numbers.

It might be that whatever way you practice copying CW has strengths and weakness?  No perfect method to learn CW?

So, why not have some FUN while you are doing it?

73
Bob
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K5END
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Posts: 1309




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« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2009, 01:31:32 PM »

>
Isn't it a fair statement to say everyone agrees that practice, practice, practice and real QSOs are the most important?

There is music theory, then there is time spent on the violin.

It's hard for one to exist without some measure of the other (even if the music "theory" is the God-given talent/genius to be able to understand music by hearing it alone.)
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KC2MJT
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« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2009, 02:58:06 PM »

K5END and WB2WIK are spot on. Get on the air. There is nothing better than real QSOs. Your ear will be able to anticipate enough to get you through the common mistakes and the common cues.  

After a while you'll hear QTH, OP, QRM ad infinitum as words. I call them cw mental cues, as they're the first things you learn to hear as words. After a while you don't even need to concentrate on them, they just float across your synapses to put your brain on notice important stuff is coming; city, name etc. When you start hearing those cues as words you stop wasting precious mental processing on the minutia. Use G4FON to listen to train your ear to hear them as words. Leave learning letters to real QSOs with other ops who will be more than willing to work with you.

Don't ignore trying a QSO with someone sending a bit beyond your reach - It is after those QSOs you'll find your speed 'magically' increases. Nevertheless, you should expect that you'll hit the occasional plateau, some of which can be quite lengthy. Persevere, stick with it and enjoy.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2009, 06:10:03 PM »

>RE: Speed or more characters  Reply  
by WC1I on June 10, 2009  Mail this to a friend!  
> After six months everybody was going 20-30 wpm
> without analyzing anything, and we had log books
> filled with contacts.
> ...
> I don't know anyone who's tried the "old" method
> who isn't an absolute pro at code. I never actually
> thought about how it occurred, but it occurs
> naturally and quickly by use.

That's why I'm asking - while I'm happy that those in your circle had that experience, it's actually not what a lot of people report. What they do report is getting stuck at speeds lower than they would like.<

::I don't believe that at all.  Who are these people?  The only ones I know who get "stuck" at any speed are those who practice code by COPYING it, not by using it.  Those who are actually using it, daily, making 5-10 CW contacts a day...I've never heard of anyone getting "stuck" at any particular speed.

I'm currently "stuck" at about 60 wpm mostly because I lack the coordination to send any faster than that with paddles.  I've been trying for years to send faster than that, it just isn't coming.  But it's pretty fast, and much faster than most operate anyway, so I'll settle for it.
 
>Still, I like the advice to listen to actual QSOs. While I've played around with QRM, fading, and similar settings in software, there's absolutely no doubt that the real thing comes across as very different. That's worth digging into, the speed issue aside. I'm also committed to learning to send at the same time I'm learning to copy (albeit with a keyer and paddles, since that's what interests me).<

::Yes, a keyer and paddles are what works, so you're doing it right.  But MAKING CONTACTS is much more important than "listening" or "practice sending."  When you're in QSO, you're not practicing, you're doing it for real.  And absolutely nobody cares if you get "100% copy."  The only one grading you is yourself.  When operating CW, I operate with my eyes closed most of the time and never write anything down.  I keep a log, but that only involves logging the other station's call, the date, the time, the band, maybe his name.  Nothing else is ever written, and nothing else needs to be.  I keep a log so I can confirm contacts properly when I receive QSL cards.

MAKE THE CONTACTS.  5-10 a day is sufficient.  Anybody who makes 10 QSOs per day on CW and isn't easily copying 30-40 wpm after six months is either handicapped or exaggerating.  I've never seen anyone fail at this, in almost 40 years of teaching code classes.

WB2WIK/6
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K5END
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Posts: 1309




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« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2009, 06:49:40 PM »

>
"I'm currently "stuck" at about 60 wpm...so I'll settle for it. "

C'mon, Steve...

...a wimpy 60 WPM?

Where is your sense of pride, Man?

That's only faster than something like 98 or 99% of everyone else.

Geeze. I'm disappointed.



+++++++++

You do get the joking tone of my voice coming through in my typing, right?

From one facetious smart-A (aleck) to another, 73!

:-)
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K5END
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« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2009, 07:02:12 PM »

>
"they're the first things you learn to hear as words"

Maybe I'm behind the curve. Tell me if I am wrong about something. Do we really need to say "name is Larry" "rig is Icom.xyz99" "age is 102" ?

I'm wondering if I can drop the "name is" "age is" and "rig is." The other OM is going to know it's MY name and age, and obviously unless my name is Icom, Yaesu Kenwood or TenTec, they are going to know I'm talking about the rig I am using. (However, those rig names would make good dog names, come to think of it.)

When I hear the letters "na," "ag" or "ri" I start to get bored. I'm thinking, here we go again, yeah, yeah, yeah. "name is," "rig is," "age is" ...cut to the chase.

Is that impatient of me, or does anyone else feel the same way?

In other words, is this a legitimate gripe or do I need to start doing that Yoga stuff again?

(...AS IF I had the time and patience for Yoga in the first place)

 Smiley
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W7ETA
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Posts: 2528




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« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2009, 12:39:35 AM »

I used ARRL code tapes and W1AW to increase my speed.

I had FUN on the air with CW.

But, I started out with good copy of numbers and the alphabet, at least gud enuff to get my Novice, and brave enough to get on the air.

It might be that it is more important to have FUN at whatever speed gets you the full character set, and then proceed from that point?

It seems as if everybody hits speed lulls--what you do at that point might determine what eventual speed you hit.

73
Bob

PS: rig is, wx is, antenna is puts me to sleep.  but, its a good way to just take mental notes and practice copying words.
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