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Author Topic: My Morse Learning Campaign  (Read 62078 times)
KB1WSY
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Posts: 665




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« Reply #75 on: December 26, 2013, 07:47:25 AM »

So I went through the depressing exercise of calculating my accuracy on the latest 33-character-level drills. Answer: 73 percent. Yeech.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #76 on: December 26, 2013, 11:34:25 AM »

OK, so, nearly four hours later and after doing a 5-minute drill every half-hour or so, I have increased the accuracy from 73 percent to 82 percent, without making any changes to the 33-character set or transmission speed. I guess I'm lucky that it's Boxing Day and there's plenty of time available. Apart from eating and doing a lot of Morse code, my only other activity during the day has been a total of about 6 miles of walking through the snow in sub-freezing weather shortly after dawn. Very pretty.

Perhaps therefore I can get "back on track" just with a lot of practice ... and coffee … taking advantage of the rest of the family's absence while they prowl the shopping malls. If that doesn't work, I will reconfigure the G4FON speed settings when I get home tomorrow. I can tell that I am still "counting dits and dahs" but the number of characters for which I am doing that has fallen, so there is less counting. I now copy the numerals "3" and "8" and the "question mark" character without "counting" but there are still issues with some other characters. Most annoying is that "old" characters such as "Z" and "F" aren't copying well, and I am confusing various characters with each other more frequently than before.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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WB3CQM
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Posts: 116




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« Reply #77 on: December 26, 2013, 05:33:48 PM »

Hi Martin and every one else here,

I have no plans to tell you what to do or how to improve your cw learning. But wanted to share a few things on Morse Code.

Your doing great ! Just keep it up. You are doing better than when I first started by yards.

How did I learn code ? and Why ? Well when I first heard code on a SWL receiver I said I got to learn that and I want to be a CW op. That was my dream  , to be a cw op. Did not say how good or bad , just a be a CW op.

I don't even know where I got the 45 AMECO record (if that is the name ) But it was 5 wpm and a little book. I listen to that and just stated to copy letters at 5 wpm. Sooner or latter I could copy letters then  words and then W1AW and I could even copy other hams. I went to a local ham and he tuned in a station around 7-10 wpm and said copy this . He said I copied 10 wpm and I took the written and passed the Novice exam. From there I just started to copy code over the air.(and work other stations)  There was no tapes I knew of or any thing else. No computer in 1976 I can tell you that. Had NO clue how to learn or how to learn the right way. LOTS of hams learned this way. And they learned in time how to copy .

Unlike many here on this board , I do NOT believe one should pick up a key and send , until one can copy code . Like 10-15 wpm. Then it is imprinted in their minds what good code should sound like. ( But what do I know ? )

Lets go on with this if you do not mind. By 1979 I had DXCC-CW No#777 and I knew at this point I had to get a extra class license in order to advance in CW dxing.

What else did I do for copy practice ? I listened to USN weather / news broadcast sent on commercial frequencies. I also listen to WCC and as well ship to shore . I even could find the ship freq and listen to those ops sending to WCC. It was a blast and I will never forget listening to those professional ops. When I went for my Extra I could copy backwards cw and almost 2 stations at the same time.

Man I wanted to be a Professional cw op  for some reason. So I went to the USCG and had pen in hand and was about to sign on dotted line when I asked about my vacation time and when I wanted it. They said you will be US Gov. Property and most likely end up on a ship and you will be given leave when they say. ( I laid the pen down and walked out ) My dogs and hunting meant to much to me and that was a wake up call. I was Not sorry one bit still today I know this.

Did I ever become a professional CW op ? No NOT a professional, How about just a amateur cw op  ? Most likely but can not say if I am very good yet.

In 2012 I made a goal - I wanted to log 50,000 calls in 6 months on RufZxp and I did make that goal. The other is to copy a call sign at 50 wpm. I made 48 wpm , I for fitted the speed for higher score and kept 222 cmp. Oh well , now I go back and try once in a while and can not get in the grove. 40 wpm is about it for now. ( and more like 30 wpm and still miss letters)

What do I miss ? Was it a B or 6 e or I or s or H was it J or or W on and on and on and on. Copy of call sign is not anything like copy of words . But this I can tell you.
My hearing is a handicap , I am tone deft. Some dits I just never hear. I am 60 that is handicap, I have lots of things on my mind. I learned wrong. But this I know , none of it matters . I love Morse Code and Never lost interest in it. In fact I think I love Morse code more now in 2013 and have more respect for the ops than in 1976 and on.

I hardly think you will not get letters mixed up. I know a cw op that was Professional op also one of the greatest cw ops in the world and he tells me some of the letters he misses at times.

Strive for perfection but have fun and just keep copy and one day you will be a cw op This I know ! I can see it and feel it.

I copied many messages in US Army Mars cw / messages for ham in Africa for his family back home here , Hours and hours spent in cw qso. 100's and 1000's of cw pile ups. And this I know , I am still leaning to copy code. I listen to the NA Sprint ops and even DXexpditions and other contest cw ops, rag chew qso and I am amazed at the skill these ops have. I have used the bug for years and people can say what they want to but I think I have as much or more fun using a keyboard as a hand key.

My point is there are MANY SKILLS to be learned to be a good cw op and it all takes just a little time and lots of EFFORT , there is no free lunch and YOU are PROVING Ham Spirit at the highest IMHO>

73 and Good Luck
JIM
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LB3KB
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Posts: 221


WWW

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« Reply #78 on: December 26, 2013, 07:08:47 PM »

The only way I can turn off the counting is to get code coming at me too fast to count. There's nothing like practice to get past the barriers.

Your best bet is to speed things up.  Drop or at least reduce Farnsworth.  That way you won't have time to count.

I came to that conclusion yesterday. I'm on holiday and brought fixed-speed mp3 drills with me. But when I get home tomorrow I will speed things up. Currently I'm on 20wpm character speed, 15wpm Farnsworth ("20/15"). I'm thinking of radically speeding it up to 25/20. Or perhaps 20/20 with no Farnsworth at all, which will probably be very hard initially. (I have tried 15/15 and find it very hard.)

I think it would be better to use smaller speed increments.  E.g. increase the overall speed by 1 WPM and see what happens (at 16/20 WPM).  If you still have time to count, try 17/20.

WPM is not really a good unit for this - if the software you use allow you to specify speed in CPM you could consider using that.  That would give you five times as many choices for speed.


73
K4NL Sid
justlearnmorsecode.com
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KK4MRN
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Posts: 85




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« Reply #79 on: December 27, 2013, 01:48:13 PM »

Hello Martin, KB1WSY:

I'm glad to see you still practicing.  It is a good inspiration to read your progress and others' comments about it.   I am still chugging away.  I am way behind you, but that's OK.  I'm not in a rush or competition.  Some days I am more motivated then others so I just listen a few minutes on days I am not so motivated.  Other days I do 90% on a new element.    Other elements, it takes me days to get 90%.    Just like you - the letter F is hard.  I could not get 90% with it, so I just moved on to the next element.

I have also been practicing sending.  Not real practice - just some app on my phone because I can carry it anywhere.   And it checks if my sending is good. I do have a cheap straight key with oscillator that I practice sometimes.  Not sure if this is the best way, but each day I practice each element like the alphabet.  Pound 2 sets of 5 of an element:  AAAAA AAAAA BBBBB BBBB.   I start with the letters: A, b, c, e.... z.  Then numbers: 1, 2... 9, 0.   Then some pro-signs/punctuation.  I even try pounding an imagined QSO like CQ CQ CQ DE KK4MRN KK4MRN N.  Then act like I am responding to someone.   ABC123 DE KK4MRN KK4MRN = RST IS 599 599 = QTH IS VA VA KN...  I even pound my full name, my brothers names, anything I can think of to pound.

I was hoping I would be ready for the CW Rookie Roundup on December 22nd or the Straight Key Night around New Years, but I will not be.  The only code I can comprehend on the air is the W1AW code practice.  So, I have long ways to go...  I even bought a cable that can hook up my MFJ straight key to my Heathkit HW-101, but I won't be using it anytime soon. 
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W1JKA
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Posts: 1619




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« Reply #80 on: December 27, 2013, 02:20:57 PM »

Re: KK4MRN

If W1AW code practice is all you can comprehend now, you are way ahead of the game and doing yourself no favors by not getting on the air immediately. W1AW is mostly considered the generic perfect canned fist for all others to emulate and since most operators you hear on the air can't send this perfect it is up to you to learn to copy these different fist and this is only done by on air listening and contacts with other hams.
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 665




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« Reply #81 on: December 27, 2013, 02:47:20 PM »

M0LEP, LB3KB, WB3CQM, KK4MRN, W1JKA: Thank you for the advice and encouragement.

Today I was traveling. I did a couple of Koch drills. Then when I got home I listened to a long and "fun to listen to" CW pileup on 40m, using my crude regenerative receiver -- it sounded almost like an "electronic music" composition, it was so random and complex. I probably should have been more disciplined but it's now nearly six weeks that I've been doing these deadly serious Koch drills every day and I needed a breather. NOT a day with "no code" but a day when I could just relax and absorb like a sponge. Will get back to the more serious stuff tomorrow, including some experiments with varying the speed/Farnsworth settings.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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PA1ZP
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Posts: 212




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« Reply #82 on: December 28, 2013, 03:21:15 AM »

Hi Martin

It is lovely to read that you are into morse code.
Just wanted to give you a boost.
Keep up the practice and take care not to overdo.

It just takes time and one day is better as the other.
my learning curve is still going on and it has always been like 3 steps forward and 2 steps back.
I just always found out that the condition of the day is very important.
I needed to be awake and in good rested condition.

Now I use morse code training as a way to relax and escape from daily stresses.
If i tell someone that if I am totaly stressed can not sleep I use morse code to relax and clear my mind.
Most hams whom are not good in CW look at me with a srange look "using morse code to relax", and they come back with the answer , it drove me crazy all those beeps, how can you get relaxed by them.

Very good luck with your training and I am always very pleased to see that there are still people that want to learn the morse code.

And I hope that there will come those days that came with me that i was completely happy as i still am that I have learned the code and use it.
For me every CW contact is more special as every other contact in other modes, and maybe other CW users agree with me, it has something special, and i even can not describe what that special thing is.
I always remeber some very special contacts in CW , and they are the best contacts, still can remember where they were what time what frequency what we talked about even the smell in these moments is remembered.

73 Jos 
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 665




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« Reply #83 on: December 28, 2013, 02:11:33 PM »

Today I woke up with a heavy cold, which I must have caught from my daughter who arrived for the Xmas holidays coughing and sneezing.... Am feeling cruddy, and a bit woozy from medicine. Not good Morse conditions. So I confined myself to monitoring on-air QSOs on 40m, with some success. No drills.
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 665




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« Reply #84 on: December 29, 2013, 03:39:11 AM »

Still got that heavy cold but, I'll live.

Today I set the G4FON software to a straight 20wpm (no Farnsworth spacing at all). Surprise! It's tough, but I am copying a fair portion of it, AND there's no time to "count the dits and dahs." So I will try this out for a few days.

BTW, I also tried Sid/K4NL's suggestion to use smaller adjustments. So for instance I tried 20wpm with 17wpm Farnsworth. But when I did that I found I was still definitedly "counting" the dits and dahs.

This whole business of "counting" is really pernicious. I think that, for some of us at least, our minds are hard-coded to translate this stuff into visual images. I never learned the "visual" version of Morse code but my mind insists on building the damn table anyway! (And, it didn't happen initially. It only happened when I was more than halfway through the Koch character table. Rats!)

I think this must vary from one individual to another. Although I am a musician, I am also very visually oriented. I'm always trying to build patterns out of the things I see. When walking along a sidewalk, I adjust my pacing to the lines inscribed in the concrete ... when I see wallpaper in people's homes or decorative tiles on kitchen walls I look for the patterns. In my "day job" I am a sheet music typesetter working for music publishers; in other words I spend my whole day converting sound rhythms into visual rhythms on paper!!

Of course, if this new attempt to learn 20wpm with no Farnworth spacing succeeds, it will be fantastic! Wish me luck! It will also stand me in very good stead when practicing *sending* since I'll be "hearing" the correct spacing during the copying drills, and can emulate it.

(I have dropped back to the 28-character Koch level and will add one character each time I get to 90 percent. It could take a while, at a straight 20wpm!)
« Last Edit: December 29, 2013, 03:44:27 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
KB1WSY
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Posts: 665




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« Reply #85 on: December 29, 2013, 10:50:28 AM »

So the verdict so far at a full 20wpm (no Farnsworth) and a 28-character set is: accuracy of around 50 percent, which is pretty dismal. (I've done about half a dozen five-minute drills this morning.) However, I am definitely not "counting dits and dahs" anymore. I think the skill I need to figure out now is "copying behind," i.e., writing down the character while listening to (and memorizing the sound of) the next one. With Farnsworth spacing, that wasn't necessary because I had time to write the character during the silence between characters....

I will persist with this 20wpm experiment for a while, probably several days, in hopes that copy accuracy improves. I am determined to destroy that "lookup table in my head."

One positive byproduct is I already seem to be capturing more of the on-air QSOs that I monitored this morning. I think this is because "real" QSOs don't use that exaggerated Farnsworth spacing, therefore, the new drills are closer in timing to the ones I hear on the air.
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2E0OZI
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Posts: 269




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« Reply #86 on: December 29, 2013, 03:08:21 PM »

KK4MRN - it sounds like you are ready to do the first one.  Grin
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Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
George Orwell
KB1WSY
Member

Posts: 665




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« Reply #87 on: December 30, 2013, 06:09:04 AM »

Today my mind is just cotton wool, as this filthy cold works its way through the anatomy. Am totally useless in the Morse drills and will probably just lay off them for the rest of the day. Am, however, continuing to monitor some relatively slow-speed QSOs on 40m with success -- a way to "stay in touch with the code" until I start feeling better.

Many of the Morse teaching methods say that merely listening to code transmissions during the day, without necessarily trying to copy them, is also beneficial. So I'm doing some of that, too.

Life happens. Smiley

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W3JAR
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Posts: 49




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« Reply #88 on: December 30, 2013, 12:47:12 PM »

Hello Martin, KB1WSY:

I'm glad to see you still practicing.  It is a good inspiration to read your progress and others' comments about it.   I am still chugging away.  I am way behind you, but that's OK.  I'm not in a rush or competition.  Some days I am more motivated then others so I just listen a few minutes on days I am not so motivated.  Other days I do 90% on a new element.    Other elements, it takes me days to get 90%.    Just like you - the letter F is hard.  I could not get 90% with it, so I just moved on to the next element.

I have also been practicing sending.  Not real practice - just some app on my phone because I can carry it anywhere.   And it checks if my sending is good. I do have a cheap straight key with oscillator that I practice sometimes.  Not sure if this is the best way, but each day I practice each element like the alphabet.  Pound 2 sets of 5 of an element:  AAAAA AAAAA BBBBB BBBB.   I start with the letters: A, b, c, e.... z.  Then numbers: 1, 2... 9, 0.   Then some pro-signs/punctuation.  I even try pounding an imagined QSO like CQ CQ CQ DE KK4MRN KK4MRN N.  Then act like I am responding to someone.   ABC123 DE KK4MRN KK4MRN = RST IS 599 599 = QTH IS VA VA KN...  I even pound my full name, my brothers names, anything I can think of to pound.

I was hoping I would be ready for the CW Rookie Roundup on December 22nd or the Straight Key Night around New Years, but I will not be.  The only code I can comprehend on the air is the W1AW code practice.  So, I have long ways to go...  I even bought a cable that can hook up my MFJ straight key to my Heathkit HW-101, but I won't be using it anytime soon. 


Hi Daniel,
You're ready. As many people have stated, get on the air and start sending! NOW! If you want, we could set up a schedule to send code together. Send me an email. Who knows, your first contact could be on SKC night! How awesome would that be.
John
W3JAR
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #89 on: December 31, 2013, 06:38:50 AM »

Ahh, today I can feel that bad cold moving out and the head is much clearer. Monitored several 40m QSOs this morning. Slowly getting back into the drills. Will enjoy listening to SKN later in the day ... the band is already chock-full with CW, it's a pleasure to hear.
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