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Author Topic: Speed and spacing and learning  (Read 7275 times)
K0JEG
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« on: August 09, 2013, 06:42:24 AM »

As I'm moving along with CW I'm starting to listen to the code practice from W1AW. One thing that is messing me up is that while I'm trying to process the letter I'm hearing I miss quite a few letters after it (apparently my brain takes a while). It's not as much of an issue when using random letter generators but it does happen with them too. I think part of the problem is that I'm also trying to figure out what word is being sent at the same time, but I really don't know. It's not necessarily due to the sending speed, but the fact that it doesn't stop.

When I practice sending I put a lot of space between characters, so much so that FLDIGI almost never joins words together. I think it must be related, but again, I don't know.

Anyone have any tips for slow brain?  Smiley
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2013, 07:30:24 AM »

I have the same problem. The key thing is to skip immediately to the next letter without even trying to figure out the one that tripped you up. Initially this is quite hard to do, but it yields dividends eventually.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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K8AXW
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« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2013, 08:56:44 AM »

JEG:  This "problem" you describe is very common with those just starting the code learning process.  The reason is the speed of the code is too high.  The code speed should be set low enough so that the brain has time to process what it has heard.  Regardless of how slow the code speed has to be.

This might sound over simplistic but all in all, learning to copy code is simple.  Many wish to make it a big hairy deal but it isn't.  The acronym "KISS" (Keep It Simple Stupid) probably originated with the military code schools.   Roll Eyes

As for trying to "read" what is being sent, this too can be a problem because now your brain is trying to do two things simultaneously, at a time when it requires total focus to process just the one item.....correlating the sound of a character with the real life character.  

This is a very common problem for military types who spent years copying random 5 letter code groups  and then in civilian life had to switch to clear-text.  This transition was a major problem for me.

The only suggestion I can offer to this later problem is to force yourself to focus on just reacting to the character sound .  This is what learning code is in the beginning; hearing a sound and then your hand reacts to it by writing the character on paper or hitting a key on the computer. At first you have to think about it, decipher it, mentally double-check it, and then write it down.  The goal is to hear the sound and your hand simply reacts by writing the character without thinking. deciphering or analyzing.

Picture yourself in a combat situation.... you hear a shot and the automatic reaction is to duck        and  swing your head to see where the shot came from.  It's automatic. It had better be or you might miss the next one....

As you progress both of these problems will resolve themselves and it will become easier and .....FUN!
« Last Edit: August 09, 2013, 09:02:34 AM by K8AXW » Logged
KH2G
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« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2013, 04:00:14 PM »

Quite trying to "keep up" and get used to copying behind. After a bit, when words are being sent you will recognize the characters as words. Example might be the word get  [--.  .  -] Trying to keep up will only slow you down. If you miss something draw a dash for the blank space and move on! Practicing Q codes is another useful thing and helps with recognition.
73,
Dick KH2G
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M0LEP
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« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2013, 01:21:26 AM »

I wish the various Morse training programs would have an option to send a complete group at speed and then put a long enough gap between groups to write in. That would help with "copying behind", but none of them do; they stretch the gaps between characters (thus encouraging "get every character by itself" copying), but don't stretch the gaps between groups while leaving the gaps between characters un-stretched.
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IZ2UUF
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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2013, 01:27:05 AM »

I wish the various Morse training programs would have an option to send a complete group at speed and then put a long enough gap between groups to write in. That would help with "copying behind", but none of them do; they stretch the gaps between characters (thus encouraging "get every character by itself" copying), but don't stretch the gaps between groups while leaving the gaps between characters un-stretched.

This is not true: my app "IZ2UUF Morse Koch CW" since first version has separate "character spacing" and "word spacing".
You can keep character spacing at 1x and have a much larger word spacing. You can even have a voice that, after a programmable pause, reads you the characters composing the previous word if you want to repeat them verbally instead of writing.

Davide  IZ2UUF
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Davide IZ2UUF - FISTS #16285 - SKCC #9531 - JN45nk
N0IU
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2013, 04:46:26 AM »

As I'm moving along with CW I'm starting to listen to the code practice from W1AW. One thing that is messing me up is that while I'm trying to process the letter I'm hearing I miss quite a few letters after it (apparently my brain takes a while).

This is very common when someone is just starting out since you are (most likely) trying to count the sequence of dits and dahs then associate that with a letter, number or punctuation mark. Yes, this  takes a lot of time! So if you miss a character, don't dwell on it and move on. When you look at what you have written, your brain will "fill in the blanks". This is also why a lot of people who are learning CW have a plateau at about 10 WPM because when the code is faster than this, it is too fast to count dits and dahs, figure out what character it is and write it down since the next character or several characters have probably already been sent. This is also why the General code test was at 13 WPM. It was just fast enough to be just past that plateau so that you really had to know the sound of the characters in order to copy the transmission.

There will be a certain point in your learning process where you will no longer be counting dits and dahs and you will actually hear the sound of an entire character. And when you get up to 20 WPM, you will actually begin to hear whole words!

I think part of the problem is that I'm also trying to figure out what word is being sent at the same time, but I really don't know. It's not necessarily due to the sending speed, but the fact that it doesn't stop.

This is also a very common trap for those just starting out. Just write the characters that you hear and don't try and figure out the words being sent as it is being sent, not at this stage of your learning anyway. Again, this process takes too much time.

When I practice sending I put a lot of space between characters, so much so that FLDIGI almost never joins words together. I think it must be related, but again, I don't know.

Anyone have any tips for slow brain?  Smiley

One of the problems with code readers, especially at slow speeds, is that it doesn't know if you are just leaving spaces between characters or between words. Don't tailor your sending style to suit the code reader!

I am also a big advocate of "head copy" and actually NOT writing down characters as you hear them. This will come later.

It takes practice so just keep at it. But also, don't burn yourself out! When you start getting frustrated and angry with yourself when you start missing a lot of characters and your brain just doesn't seem to be processing the code, take a break and walk away from your radio and come back later. Remember, its just a hobby and its supposed to be fun!
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M0LEP
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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2013, 12:51:44 PM »

This is not true: my app "IZ2UUF Morse Koch CW" since first version has separate "character spacing" and "word spacing".

My apologies. Yours isn't one I can try (not having a suitable Android device), so I'd not checked what it could do. It's the first I'm aware of that has that option. Hopefully, others will follow your excellent lead. Wink
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M0LEP
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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2013, 12:58:15 PM »

It takes practice so just keep at it. But also, don't burn yourself out! When you start getting frustrated and angry with yourself when you start missing a lot of characters and your brain just doesn't seem to be processing the code, take a break and walk away from your radio and come back later. Remember, its just a hobby and its supposed to be fun!

Aye! There's more than one way to learn Morse. If you're getting really frustrated all the time then the chances are you're not learning anything useful, and it might be time to try something different. Been there. Took far too long to learn that...
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K0JEG
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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2013, 07:12:56 PM »

Thanks all for the good advice. I'm not really all that frustrated with learning, just not having enough time to devote to the subject... and getting myself in the right frame of mind.
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AC6CV
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« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2013, 06:39:18 AM »

Copying code takes time and effort. I realize not everyone can sit for 2 hours a day and copy code or have an opportunity to spend 4 years copying code 8 hours a day. However, all of these different "learning the code" methods reminds me of when I turn on the TV and hear about about all the diet programs on how to lose weight. Thousands of them out there that will sell you a program to lose weight but none of them work any better than just not eating as much. It is the same with learning morse code and building your speed. It takes work. Lots of work. You have to have a passion and interest in copying code. Lots of fancy expensive programs out there but nothing works as well as just spending as much time as possible and practice, practice, practice. Just copy W1AW. W1AW down in the mud and hard to copy? Great! What better way to learn to copy than through all the qrn and qrm and some qsb. I agree with a few of the previous posts. Copying code 10 to 15 minutes a day isn't going to cut it. When I was a teen we didn't have all the computers. I walked around high school all day reading all the signs I saw in morse code. All the other kids in school thought I was nutso. That helped me get my novice ticket. I was really excited being ex-WN8RUR. A lot of call signs later but I'm still on CW most of the time. Next year it will be 60 years. I have as much passion now copying code as I did back then.
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K0JEG
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« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2013, 08:07:43 AM »

I walked around high school all day reading all the signs I saw in morse code. All the other kids in school thought I was nutso.

That's (almost) exactly what my dad recommended. He told me what worked for him was to sound out road signs and billboards while driving. Of course he also said he though the FCC tester felt sorry for him and let him slide through on his 25WPM test. HI HI
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K8AXW
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« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2013, 09:12:41 AM »

Quote
When I was a teen we didn't have all the computers. I walked around high school all day reading all the signs I saw in morse code.

I wasn't a teen walking around school doing this but this was one of the ways I retained what I had learned in code school each day!  This is a great habit to get into and actually works.
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KB4QAA
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« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2013, 08:24:09 AM »

I was taught to leave a space or place an underline/dash for missed letters.  Then when reviewing the message you may recognize the missing character.

Don't get flustered over missed letters, since this will result in breaking your concentration.  Let them go, and keep up with the flow.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2013, 08:46:00 AM »

Quote
Don't get flustered over missed letters, since this will result in breaking your concentration.  Let them go, and keep up with the flow.

This reminded me..... in the military, whenever we encountered a character that we didn't recognize, we were to put a "period" on the paper.  I carried that over into civilian life before I went to strictly head copy.  Whenever I encountered a character I didn't recognize, I simply put a dash on the paper.  This seemed to pretty much eliminate the need to figure out what you missed. 

With clear text copy, it also makes it easier to go back and read what was copied....if necessary. 
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