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Author Topic: Any tips for learning?  (Read 9521 times)
NU9J
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Posts: 109




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« on: May 08, 2013, 06:13:21 PM »

Hi all!

After lamenting my apartment situation for over a year, I finally decided to buy an apartment antenna and try again. So, I finally have a good excuse to learn CW.

I have been using lcwo.net, and going through the lessons at 5wpm with 20wpm characters. I know 10wpm is recommended, but is just way too fast for me. I am doing 1 minute practices and can usually get close to 100% copy in 2 or 3 tries, but barely. I find that if I lose concentration or my mind wanders in the slightest, I screw up the whole rest of the group at least. My whole brain needs to be fully focused Smiley I hope I can learn the whole alphabet in the next week or two, and hopefully try to make some real (patient) contacts, but until then, any words of wisdom about learning the symbols?
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~Philip
K8AXW
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Posts: 3910




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« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2013, 07:25:04 PM »

Symbols?  You mean like, period, comma, slant bar?  Just consider them part of the alphabet.... but you can put them at the end if you wish.  Actually, it might be best if you indeed did put the few symbols you need at the end. 

After learning the alphabet and the numbers, learning the symbols is what I consider throwing crap into the game.  You'll be better prepared to learn these after getting the alphabet and numbers because you can be copying off the air and increasing your speed.

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NU9J
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2013, 07:50:39 PM »

By symbols, I just meant "characters" or "the code." Sorry for the confusion.
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~Philip
KD8IIC
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Posts: 160




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« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2013, 02:28:00 AM »

Hello Phil ; Congratulations on having the Desire to master Morse! That desire is the fuel you will need to move you along. Morse is a Language and it is not learned overnight.The U.S. Military's courses were never mastered in as short of a period as you are planning for yourself.Please be more realistic on the learning curve before you become frustrated with yourself. You will learn at Your Own pace.Be happy with a gowing sucession of accomplishments, be it large or small, they will add up...
 I however applaud your enthusiasm OM! I have found the G4FON program to be of a better benefit personally and there are many online resources to help us to master Morse.
 Please keep us informed on your progress and 73 from Lane in Columbus.  de n8aft sk ..
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AA4N
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Posts: 111




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« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2013, 04:18:40 AM »

I found that sending could be a good way to learn the characters.  I used to send the text on road signs, in my head, during the daily commute.  You don't have to be tied to a chair while you are working on your code skills.  As I improved, I loaded a novel in morse into my iPod and listened while I jogged (I still do that sometimes).

The initial memorization of the characters is just a very small first step.  Don't let folks scare you with stories about how you'll be ruined for life if you memorize them the wrong way.  Just keep banging away at it, and get on the air as early as you can.  Practice by itself is drudgery.  QSO's are fun, even the really slow ones.

73.  mike
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W1JKA
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Posts: 1777




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« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2013, 04:19:39 AM »

All good advice above,but also consider a basic method of getting the characters straight in your head during your off air time that was used by many hams including myself.It's simple observation during idle moments,i.e. in the car while stopped mentally dit/dah various signs and common names such as red,yellow,stop, caution,men at work,Ford,Chevy,etc.At home,feed the DOG,get the MAIL,put out the TRASH etc.This will greatly enforce your comprehension during on air listening and copying W1AW or other slow code operators,of course you will have to follow the basics of practice and persistence at your OWN learning curve.It will all eventually come together for you.Have fun with CW.
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N3DF
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Posts: 252




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« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2013, 09:48:15 AM »

1.  Short (15-25 minute) sessions daily are better than long sessions infrequently.

2.  Over the long haul, continuing motivation is the key to success.  Most people don't find code programs motivating more than short term.  Over-the-air reception (W1AW code practice and bulletins) and slow-speed QSOs are much more motivating.  They don't speed you up quickly, but they do so surely.  In the prime Novice days of the 50s and 60s, must of us made hundreds of QSOs and virtually automatically got comfortable at 13 wpm+ before the year was out. 
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Neil N3DF
M0LEP
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Posts: 210




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« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2013, 10:44:33 AM »

any words of wisdom about learning the symbols?

If you can, find a real live human teacher, or at least a real live human to learn the code with...
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N5XM
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Posts: 242




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« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2013, 11:16:18 AM »

Congrats on making the decision to learn CW.  In the long run, you will be very happy to have made the effort.  CW is an aural exercise, and sending is a good way to reinforce the sounds into your brain centers.  Sending is going out from your brain, while receiving is coming into your brain.  You need to practice both.  Keep getting after the characters, learn the comma, period, and question mark, and the numbers.  Then start working on the pro-signs.  A CW QSO is comprised of elements, and learning those elements will help you anticipate what's coming next.

1. Callsigns
2. A signal report (RST)
3. A location (QTH)
4. Name or OP
 
At that point you can turn it back over to the other operator and he/she will give you the same thing back in a similar order.  When you hear the prosign RST you will know to listen for 3 numbers (599, 579, 449, etc).  When you hear QTH, you will know to listen for a location with a comma in between.  Usually you will proceed with:
1. The weather (WX)
2. Your age (always followed by another number)
3. Your gear (rig, power, antenna)

You will get this stuff back from the other op, and at that point it is a matter of your CW vocabulary (which will grow over time) to proceed to a ragchew or send tnx and 73 and move on to another contact.














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K5UNX
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« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2013, 11:54:47 AM »

I also have an interest in learning CW . . I found lcwo and some apps for the phone/iPad etc. I'll work on those. My question is "what is a good way to learn to send"? I know listening and transcribing is one thing, but sending might be a whole other thing to learn. And should we just start with paddles? I know someone will say straight key out of a mentality of "Thats what I learned on or that how we used to do it" . . But honestly, in 2013 what's the best way to learn to send? And learn with what device?

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AC2EU
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« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2013, 02:01:01 PM »

As someone who is in the process of learning CW ( I now copy about 15WPM on a good day...), I have some observations that may help.

I spent too much time trying to increase my speed by listening to the random character generators. In retrospect I would move to text copy as soon as I learned the alphabet and numbers. The only other characters that are important, IMO, is period, comma, slash, equal and question mark. The others are rarely used.
Once I started coping text, my progress  improved markedly.

Don't worry about getting every letter, just move on at the rate of transmission,  just beyond the speed that you can do. At first, the copy looked like a wheel of fortune puzzle, but then as I continued practicing, it got more filled in.

I have used G4FON and the "just learn Morse code" program and a few others at a lesser degree.
ARRL also has the code practice schedule on various bands and times as well as the MP3 practice files.
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KD0EXQ
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Posts: 23




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« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2013, 02:35:27 PM »

I too had trouble concentrating, using the Just Learn Morse Code program.  I could go 2 minutes max.  And if I missed a letter it would throw me off and I would miss the next letter (or 2 or 3) trying to go back in my head, while listening to the new letters.  And I could only practice maybe 10 minutes at a time in a practice session.   Could get very frustrating. I think it is because the letters are random.   Took me 3 months, but I finally learned all the letters and numbers to a high degree of accuracy.  Lots of ups and downs.  Perseverance is the key.

Then I moved on to the ARRL practice code files. MUCH better.  Can easily listen for the first part of the file, which takes probably 9 or 10 minutes.  I believe this is because you are listening to actual words.  You can use the context of the sentences to help you "guess" what the next letter(s) or words are going to be and if you goof up on a letter you can usually go back at the end  and figure out what it was.  When I first started using the files, I would go back through the file again and listen for the letters I missed the first time through.  Accuracy started off in the 80% range, but within a week or so I was up to 90% and am now easily in the 95 - 99% range pretty consistently. 

I also looked at the text of the ARRL code file and listened to the code while looking at the text (don't know how helpful that was, though), to associate the sound of the letter(s) with the print.   And I have also tapped out the code (thumb for dit, and pointer for duh since I am going to be using a paddle) while reading though the text.

If I had to do it over again, I would probably start working with words and  Q signs/codes earlier than I did. 

Good luck.  Can get very frustrating, but very rewarding at the end. 
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AC2EU
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« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2013, 06:00:40 PM »

FYI . The "just learn Morse Code" program has the capability of pasting text in the window to be output as well as the random characters. SO if there was some online article that you meant to read, you can paste it in the program and copy in down in Morse, thus killing two proverbial birds with one stone!

Another slightly different program is RUFZ, a free download, which will transmit random call signs at interactive pace.
I you get them right, it speeds up, if you are struggling, it slows down. Very cool! This too, is a necessary CW skill, rather than having to listen two or three times before responding to a real CQ, get it right on the first shot...
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AC2EU
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Posts: 414


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« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2013, 06:19:26 PM »

I also have an interest in learning CW . . I found lcwo and some apps for the phone/iPad etc. I'll work on those. My question is "what is a good way to learn to send"? I know listening and transcribing is one thing, but sending might be a whole other thing to learn. And should we just start with paddles? I know someone will say straight key out of a mentality of "Thats what I learned on or that how we used to do it" . . But honestly, in 2013 what's the best way to learn to send? And learn with what device?

I have been told by some that they felt that sending was another skill to learn. Others say not.
I'm with the latter camp. Once you can hear and identify the "sounds" ( not dits and dahs!) it wasn't that hard to reproduce them myself with the keyer. Yes there is a small learning curve to get the feel for it, but it wasn't too bad at all. Rag chew is still very difficult for me and my sending speed slows way down because I have to think of what I'm saying, how to spell it and produce the code all at the same time.
The benefit of a keyer is that it keeps the dits and dahs in the proper ratio for you. Straight key and bugs are much more difficult in this regard unless you have a very good sense of rhythm. From what I have heard, not too many Hams who are using these devices do!

After a while you will able to tell what they are using by just listing to the fist.
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RENTON481
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Posts: 67




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« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2013, 10:49:52 PM »

Hi all!

After lamenting my apartment situation for over a year, I finally decided to buy an apartment antenna and try again. So, I finally have a good excuse to learn CW.

I have been using lcwo.net, and going through the lessons at 5wpm with 20wpm characters. I know 10wpm is recommended, but is just way too fast for me. I am doing 1 minute practices and can usually get close to 100% copy in 2 or 3 tries, but barely. I find that if I lose concentration or my mind wanders in the slightest, I screw up the whole rest of the group at least. My whole brain needs to be fully focused Smiley I hope I can learn the whole alphabet in the next week or two, and hopefully try to make some real (patient) contacts, but until then, any words of wisdom about learning the symbols?

I'm an SWL and I've been learning the code recently.  I know the alphabet and numbers, and some of the most basic symbols (?, period, comma, slash).  But the best I can copy right now is probably 5 w.p.m.

I've found that monitoring the CW portions of the ham bands helps me learn the code a lot more than practicing with the key.
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