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Author Topic: How did you old heads learn morse?  (Read 7720 times)

Posts: 21

« Reply #45 on: July 19, 2009, 05:44:06 PM »

Well, back in the day....

was 1962 and I had this little battery operated code oscillator and a Hallicrafters S108 receiver. So, I wrote the code down on paper and memorized it 5 characters at a time. Then drilled myself until I had letters, numbers and punctuation down pat. Then I practiced sending till I got around 5wpm. Next, was to tune in the ham bands and listen. But, in those days were also a lot of commercial cw stations. I copied those guys endlessly, even tho' I didn't have a clue what they were sending. Didn't matter, the objective was to get good at code, not interpret a message. That would come later.

I spent a lot of hours listening to stuff faster than I could copy and before I knew it, I was copying the fast stuff.

So, it's a natural progression. Just gotta stay with it. I didn't use tapes, thought they were boring and predictable.

73's - Larry - KA2DDX

Posts: 242

« Reply #46 on: July 23, 2009, 06:55:25 PM »

Great stuff!!  At age 56, I got a late start at age 43.  My Elmer, kf3l, kept encouraging me to get on CW as that was where the juicy dx was, and as I worked for the guy anyway, I wanted to please him.  He is an Ortho surgeon from Johns Hopkins who got his pre-med and EE from Cal Tech in the early 60s, and we would talk about theory every day when we did surgery.  I started listening to Gordon West tapes, and being dyslexic and an ex- rock guitar player who had no high-frequency hearing left, it was tough, but I hung in there because I loved it, and because pursuing excellence had become part of my life.  I am very proud to be a daily CW operator.  n5xm, Richard

Posts: 2842

« Reply #47 on: July 30, 2009, 09:06:53 PM »

I learned in the late '80s if that qualifies as old enough.

Basically, what I did was some simple work on my computer (a 20 line BASIC program) and had it send me whatever I thought would work using the computer's "beep" function to send the code.

A lot of it was carefully constructed 5 letter not-quite-random groups.

Things like:


and things of that sort.  The game was that the middle three were "nearly the same" but there was just enough "other stuff" to keep me honest.

It worked -- I got to 13 and then 20.

The main ingredient, though, is spending time on it _every night_.  When I slacked off, I did less well the next night.  The pros will all tell you 20 minutes a night, but if you can't manage that, squeeze in 10.  Anyone has 10 minutes a day to spare somewhere.

Do that and just about any method will get you there.


Posts: 1041

« Reply #48 on: July 31, 2009, 08:45:11 AM »

I learned each individual letter, number, and
punctuation code combination by looking at each
correct code combination until I could instantly
recall each one without having to think. I did not
use a code oscillator. I simply looked at each
character's code combination until I knew it correctly
and could instantly recall it without having to think
of the code combination.

At this stage I trained my ear to actually hear the
character being sent which allowed me to eliminate
the code to character conversion step. I knew once I
trained myself to actually hear the charactes my
receive speed would increase significantly, allowing
me to copy in my head. This takes a lot of practice
and does not happen overnight! Once you have achieved
this point, you can get up and go get a cup of coffee
and not miss anything in the conversation.

I only write down a person name and callsign and,
if necessary, any questions a station asks me and
only so I can refer back to the question. Listening
to good character formation, good character and
word spaced CW is a pleasure. Horrible, sloppy,
and swing sent code is, for me, very difficult to

When I got to this point, I started to learn how
to send. I wanted to sound as good as W1AW or
the many commerical machine generated CW stations
I use to hear on the air. I did a lot of listening
and using a straight key, learned to form the
characters properly and with continued practice
I was able to sound very much like W1AW. The
continued practicing to improve my sending to
achieve my ultimate goal of sounding just like
W1AW or the commerical stations I heard on the air.

I am a retired Chief Radioman and spend many years
teaching code in the Navy, not only on ships I was
stationed on but as an instructor at the Navy's
Fleet Training Group when it was located on the
Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Everytime I get on the air on CW, I do my best to
ensure my sending is as good as it possible can.
Anyone who has worked me on CW knows what I am
talking about. I have received numerous compliments
on my fist, "great fist and easy to copy" and, yes,
I'm proud of that!

Mike W5RKL
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