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Author Topic: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning  (Read 11143 times)
K7KBN
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Posts: 2813




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« Reply #45 on: January 10, 2014, 06:50:00 PM »

Regarding learning ALL the code (clear back on page 1 of this thread)...

One punctuation mark that was not taught during Navy RM school while I was there in 1963 was the semicolon, or in code:  -.-.-.  

Apparently the Navy felt that it wasn't necessary to learn because RTTY was being used more and more, and a teletype keyboard has the semicolon as part of the mix.

So it was in 1964 when the Medical Department brought in a stack of Priority outgoing messages.  They were in the correct format and required transmission EXACTLY as written; semicolons included.  And, at this unfortunate juncture, all of the secure TTY circuits from the ship to the shore station with which we were terminating were down because of propagation.  CW was marginal to good, so the watch officer came out and handed them to the supervisor, who handed them to me.  

A good RM always scanned the outgoing stuff quickly to see that it "looked" okay; these didn't, obviously.  A quick look at my code reference showed me the -.-.-. for the semicolon, so I called the shore station and advised the operator that I had 17 priority messages to send.  He said "QRV K", so I began.  Immediately after the first semicolon he "broke" me, asking for a repeat.  I sent it again and he came back with "INT -.-.-.", with the INT sent as one character, meaning "DID YOU SEND -.-.-."?

One thing an RM wasn't supposed to do was chit-chat on a live circuit - meaning using plain language between operators.  From being on the Signal Bridge quite often, I knew the signal "ZWC", which means "This transmission is being sent to the operator on watch only".  So for the first time, AFAIK, it went out on a radio circuit:  "ZWC -.-.-. IS A SEMICOLON".

From the shore station:  "R K" (Roger.  Go ahead.)  I sent all 23 messages (Medical sent up a few more to sweeten the pot).  That was the busiest and most memorable watch I ever had!
« Last Edit: January 10, 2014, 07:08:28 PM by K7KBN » Logged

73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
K0JEG
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Posts: 669




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« Reply #46 on: January 12, 2014, 10:30:36 AM »

Learning research has shown that that as we age our rate of learning decreases, retention decreases, attention span decreases and increased repetition of material is required to compensate.  This is especially true after the age of 45.

The strategies to use are:
-Take the material at a reasonable rate
-Stop studying when your mind wanders, i.e. you start missing whole words
-Review the material already studied at regular intervals
-Don't try to cram for tests!

I found this to be very true when I returned to college at age 45, just as the literature says.  Strategies that served well in my undergraduate years, left me struggling as an old foggie. 

Looks like I have 6 months to learn the code...
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NV2A
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Posts: 120




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« Reply #47 on: January 12, 2014, 05:16:16 PM »

.........................................................  I'd wager almost all of them (with the possible exception of those in their younger 50s) learned on their own with no special methods and no actual record of their method or progress.


I expect this is true but it does not speak to how many walked away from it after working hard but just lost interest before they got to that 50 year old level.

I learned the code as a high school kid but never achieved 13 wpm.  I tried it again 20 years later and made it to 25 wpm (characters not words in my head) with very little effort at all.  My old efforts popped right back like riding a bicycle.   On my second effort, I hit it real hard for two days and then took two days off.  Each time I went back to practice I was encouraged by how easy it was getting.

Least you think I'm a saint, I can't copy a word behind like you should AND I tend to anticipate (you sent "there" but I stopped the rhythmic phrase at "the", then I get hung up getting back on track ! HI HI.
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KB4QAA
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Posts: 2407




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« Reply #48 on: January 13, 2014, 10:40:26 AM »

Regarding military methods, keep in mind:

-Military trainees are chosen by some criteria that selects them to be better than average (or at least not less likely to be successful) at learning morse.

-Ham learners are self-selected with no screening for aptitude other than self interest, and personal motivation.

We cannot assume the groups are equal in natural ability.  We cannot assume that military methods designed for young minds, with above average ability are equally succesful for older, un-screened hams.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2014, 10:46:07 AM by KB4QAA » Logged
AA4PB
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Posts: 12892




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« Reply #49 on: January 13, 2014, 11:09:26 AM »

K7KBN: Wow, RM school in 1962 and retired as a CWO4. Good job sir!
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N7DMA
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Posts: 18




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« Reply #50 on: January 31, 2014, 06:56:34 PM »

OK, I'll jump in here.

I took an interest in electronics in around 1970 or so. With the loaner SB-310 shortwave receiver a neighbor gave me, I soon discovered ham radio. With no internet, cell phones, or other modern diversions, I knew I wanted to get my ham license.

After perusing all the ham radio books and magazines in the local library, I learned that in order to get my ticket, I'd have to learn morse code. So, I started studying.

There was no Koch or Farnswell methods known to me, so I learned the way the ARRL recommended; in groups of similar sounding characters.
E, I, S, H, 5.
 T, M, O, 0.
Etc.

Before long, I was translating everything I read into Morse. Stop signs. Store marquis. Newspapers. Even the safety notices on the lawnmowers I used to earn a few dollars.

Finally, after a bunch of teen aged shenanigans, around 1975, I felt I was finally ready to take the Novice test. I found a local ham who was willing to administer my exam. Passed with flying colors, and received my ticket.

I spent many nights pecking around the 40 meter band with my borrowed equipment, had a blast, and my code speed became more natural.

When I graduated from High School in 1976, I wasted no time enlisting in the Navy. They guaranteed me  Communications Technician "A" school. Way cool!

Then, in my final weeks of boot camp, I was told that there were no openings in CT school, and if I wanted, I could chose another rate. Since I wanted to be a communicator, they offered me 4 choices:

Radioman, Operation Specialist, Quartermaster, or Signalman. RM was my first choice, but I ended up going to Signalman school.

I dutifully went to SM "A" school, thinking that it was better than going to the fleet as a deck ape.

Turned out to be not such a bad choice.

When I reported to "A" school, the first day was our introduction to morse via flashing light. After a very boring first session, I went to the instructor, and informed him that I already knew morse code. He took my word for it, and gave me the final morse exam, which I passed with no repeats, and nothing missed. He then informed me that I was to teach my classmates CW. Switching from sound to light was easy for my malleable, young brain was no problem.

All 17 of my classmates passed the morse portion for the exam, and went on to the fleet as signalmen. I used the same method to teach them as I had learned it, by grouping like characters. Maybe not the Navy way, but it worked. We worked on it for hours every day for 8 weeks. Semaphore, well, I was able to do it, but CW via flashing light was my thing. BTW, that little stunt earned me an extra stripe!

I found out when I went to the fleet, that I was able to copy words, not just single letters. It was frustrating, as protocol required calling out single letters for transcription to a message pad.

It was enjoyable, and I loved being at sea. Most of our messages were routine, things like movie transfers, Captains golf scores, and the odd drill messages.

Then one day, I was called in by the communications officer. He took notice of my CW skills, and asked me if I would be interested in helping out in the radio shack passing traffic via CW, as we had no one onboard that was all that proficient . I jumped at the chance!

So, I pulled double watches when we were at sea. Same routine, boring messages we sent and received on the signal bridge. Most of the radio traffic back then was by RTTY.

I passed my General test in 1980. No, I didn't have to walk uphill in the snow both ways to take my exam. Hey, I live in Tucson! Just had to wait for the FCC to come to town to take my exam! I passed the CW test and written exam first time 'round.

Once upon a time, I gained my ARRL CW proficiency award at 30 wpm. That was then.

After several years of inactivity, I got back into it. Fortunately, I never lost my CW ability, but it took some work to gain back most of my speed. Once learned, and all of that.

Now, after all these years, CW is till my preferred mode. I've been working with my straight key skills over the last 6 months or so, trying to break from sending with paddles. I'm up to a good, solid 18 wpm on the straight key. That is all I use these days. I still can copy in my head, only writing the pertinent info, like callsign, name, location, and other random  information. I hear words, not individual letters.

If I miss a word, I don't sweat it. I get the general gist of the conversation. It works, every time. Often I fiddle around with other things on the bench while working CW.

Martin, don't overthink it too much. Learn the basics, then GET ON THE AIR! There are lotsa folks in your same situation, and they overcome the obstacles.

Practice, desire, and persistence. Those attributes are the key to proficiency.

Translate everything you read into CW. As time progresses, you will find that it becomes second nature. That is the sweet spot. When you can copy effortlessly, then you have made the transition. Once you get there, you'll find out how relaxing a CW conversation can be!

It's not easy for us in our mid-50's to learn a new skill. I get the idea that you are an intelligent man, so with due diligence, you can get it, and it will be a wonderful asset to your skill set. I'm just glad I learned CW so long ago. It would be tough to learn it now. Keep it up!

Tune that nice homemade regen to 7.114 MHz, and just read the mail. W1AW has code practice on 7.045 or so. Use it! Don't fret what you miss. You'll get it in time. Don't give up!

Not bragging here. Just telling my story.

Hope to work you on the air, Martin! It will happen.

73, and good luck!

Karl
N7DMA

 

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KB1WSY
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Posts: 804




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« Reply #51 on: February 01, 2014, 05:42:39 AM »

Practice, desire, and persistence. Those attributes are the key to proficiency.

Yes. No "magic route" to Morse!

Translate everything you read into CW. As time progresses, you will find that it becomes second nature.

I've been doing that for some time, especially when I'm a passenger in a car ... mind you, that's actually "sending" practice and a rather different skill from copying.

It's not easy for us in our mid-50's to learn a new skill. I get the idea that you are an intelligent man, so with due diligence, you can get it, and it will be a wonderful asset to your skill set. I'm just glad I learned CW so long ago. It would be tough to learn it now. Keep it up!

It's the encouragement from great CW operators such as yourself that's kept me going. I made several attempts to learn CW in the past couple of years, but "all on my own" and they all petered out for one reason or another. This time, I've been at it -- solidly -- since November and it's been fun.

Tune that nice homemade regen to 7.114 MHz, and just read the mail. W1AW has code practice on 7.045 or so. Use it! Don't fret what you miss. You'll get it in time. Don't give up!

I'm monitoring a lot of stuff. That includes some CW nets such as HBSN on 7114, which is interesting because it's relatively slow speed and they use a lot of arcane abbreviations and greetings such as ARF ... the first time I monitored them, I was convinced I was mis-copying the code, until I looked up the information on their website! I'm also copying chunks of the W1AW bulletin at 18wpm -- seldom entire sentences, but plenty of words. Also, lots and lots of QSOs, which is good in terms of learning "operating routines," "boilerplate QSOs" and "copying callsigns." I've also heard the amazing Amsterdam Island DX pileups, which is quite exciting to listen to, albeit incomprehensible. There's some nice slow code just above 7100 involving SKCC members and a lot of CW Elmering going on there. I've also been hunting for DX in the low portion of 20m.

Of course the biggest problem is finding time, time, time.

Hope to work you on the air, Martin! It will happen.

I KNOW that it will happen (i.e. getting on the air) and I'd love to work you!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
« Last Edit: February 01, 2014, 05:50:56 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
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