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Author Topic: Need help with learning CW.  (Read 19100 times)
KC2ZPK
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« on: March 29, 2012, 09:00:34 AM »

I told myself when I got my license that I WOULD learn CW! And I am trying. Having been bitten by the DX and Contesting bugs I am now finding myself highly unarmed in the DX battle. My problem is time. My radio shares a bedroom with my 2yo, so when she sleeps, so does the radio. And I don't get home from work till 6:30pm (up at 4am). What I do have is an hour and a half train ride commute home in the afternoon, a laptop and headphones. Does anyone know of a teaching aide or program that I can use under these conditions to help some? I do get some time at home to practice, but not a lot. So it's lunch at work, and the ride home on the train. (the commuter train is not like a subway car, more like an Amtrak car, in a Yugo sort of way)

Any ideas would be great!
73
John
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John
KC2ZPK.com - A work in progress
WB2WIK
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« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2012, 09:25:00 AM »

With your limited time to use the "shack" at home, what I'd really recommend is finding a practice partner to work with and just use another part of the house, maybe the kitchen table.  That's what I always used.

Two keys, code practice oscillator.  Take turns sending to each other until you both copy stuff solidly and then you're well on your way.  This might take a grand total of 3-4 one-hour sessions, and then you're ready for air time.

HUGE advantage in doing this: It's more fun and more interesting.  It provides SENDING practice as well as receiving practice, and that is every bit as important as "copying."  I've always found, with hundreds of code students over about 20 years of teaching code, that the more they SEND, the better they copy.  Also, that practice makes them much more "air ready" than just knowing how to copy code.

BTW code and CW are two different things.  You learn code first. Wink  "Learning CW" is learning a mode, and it's like learning SSB or learning RTTY or learning PSK...there is a lot to learn, but if you know the language first, you're well on your way. Smiley
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2E0OZI
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« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2012, 09:43:08 AM »

http://c2.com/morse/

If you go to that page you will find a very simple Koch trainer that you could run on your laptop on the way too and from work. Dont do it all the way there an back to start with - it might burn you out!  Shocked

Its the one I used for about 8 weeks and then moved onto callsign training at LCWO, at the same time started really listening to QSOs on the bands.

The idea was to be ready for my first QSO on 1 March 2012, well I almost made it! I have done 4 very simple rubber stamp QSOs now, and as they say the more you do the better you get. I was sweating like a pig during the first one, talking to myself...... Cheesy

This is a good page;

http://www.netwalk.com/~fsv/CWguide.htm

once you are nearly ready to go!
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Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
George Orwell
M0LEP
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« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2012, 09:56:18 AM »

Does anyone know of a teaching aide or program that I can use under these conditions to help some?

If you're running some variant of Windows you might try G4FON or Just Learn Morse Code. They seem to work for some...
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2012, 10:34:19 AM »

There are also Morse-code trainers for Android phones.  I assume they're available for iPhones as well.

Check the Android marketplace (now the Google "Play Store").   There may be some reviews on eHam.

        Charles
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WA4FNG
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« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2012, 02:13:37 PM »

You mentioned that you are up at 4am. Can you operate at that time? If not, what are the actual times you can get on the air. I'm available to help you on the air if we can setup a schedule...
73, Milt
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KF7IPW
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« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2012, 04:57:34 PM »

My favorite is "Just Learn Morse Code".
I put it on my laptop and it runs without an internet connection.
www.justlearnmorsecode.com

It got me to the point I can copy at about 20 WMP.


Stan
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DL3RR
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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2012, 04:28:59 AM »

I've been learning Morse for a few months now and I have found the following to be extremely useful.

Firstly, G4FON's CW Trainer, and LCWO.net.

The former has the ability to simulate QSOs, as well as useful things like QRN, QRM, straight key sending and so on.

The latter requires an internet connection, but is good for getting the speed up.

I tried various Android tutors, but didn't find anything particularly inspiring.

If you are commuting by train, with a Laptop and no internet connection - I'd go for G4FON.

Is there anyway that you could relocate your shack out of your daughters bedroom?  The times when you will be able to operate and more than likely going to be the times where she is sleeping!
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VA3KBC
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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2012, 06:07:38 AM »

I have tried a few times to download the Version 9 cw trainer from G4FON
All I get is Bandwidth Limit Exceeded
Hopefully it will be fixed on his side. Would like to give it a try.
Learned the code at 10wpm 30 years ago when I was trying to get my license. Didn't get it back then. Theory stumped me.

Of course over time I have forgotten the code and I need to reaquire it.


« Last Edit: March 30, 2012, 06:10:15 AM by VA3KBC » Logged
KC2ZPK
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« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2012, 07:43:06 AM »

Thanks for the replies, a couple of points.
I used G4FON here and there, so I will continue to use it, I'll look at 'Just Learn Morse Code'

WA4FNG, I am up at 4, but showering and out by 4:45, best time is evenings, say 8-9 EDT, or weekends, but I am not there yet Sad


DL3RR, RAdio set up is what it is. We live in a 2-bedroom condo(apt) and it is cramped, you could say we are at 'Critical Mass'. We are looking to move to a new QTH where I can have a somewhat proper ham shack Smiley

I guess the real deal is just DO IT!
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John
KC2ZPK.com - A work in progress
WB2WIK
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« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2012, 07:58:56 PM »

As a die-hard daily CW operator, I really think G4FON and all the other techniques similar to that are a huge handicap that makes the code learning process a lot longer than it needs to be.

When I teach code students, they go from zero to fully copying and sending code at 15 wpm in about ten days, spending one hour per day.

I don't know of any "programs" that yield similar results.

That's because they're not fully interactive and don't involve "sending" nearly as much as they should.

The worst code ops I hear on the air learned by such methods.  They might be able to copy, but they can't send, which is "the other half" of the skill required, and the only half that actually improves both sending and copying every time you do it.

IMO all that stuff is silly.
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LB3KB
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« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2012, 09:17:23 PM »

There's lots of people praising the method they used to learn Morse code, and some people praising the way they prefer to teach Morse code.

However, I've only seen one person praise WB2WIK, and that is WB2WIK.  He does it again and again, always complaining about the "competition".


LB3KB Sigurd
justlearnmorsecode.com
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NS8N
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« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2012, 09:22:26 PM »

lcwo.net is the best resource that I have found. I suggest starting out FASTER than 5wpm. Do 10wpm. Learn what the characters sound like first. Then, get on the air and stumble through that first QSO. YES, it will be sloppy. Forget all that. Just make that first QSO, it becomes much easier after that. Fun facts: Most CW ops are simply happy to work other CW ops, regardless of your experience or skill-level. Also, many are not paying attention to what you are sending outside of RST, callsign, QTH, etc (sad but true from experience). Point is, get those bits down pat and make that first QSO.

You will find as your speed increases that you begin hearing whole words instead of individual characters. For instance, "73" is perhaps the easiest as you hear it so much. Listen to the ARRL bulletins, tune in at W4AX.com. This stuff is really easy, I have found that most are simply too afraid of making that first QSO. They learned all of the characters but simply can't make themselves press down on that key (or paddle). I realized that this was my stumbling block a few years ago when someone finally told me to just DO IT. Been hooked ever since.
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2E0OZI
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« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2012, 12:30:29 PM »

As my freind above said, the thrill of just getting the first QSO will drive you on to more listening, picking stuff out, and then being less afraid to jump in for QSO number 2 etc etc. I know because I am only at number 5 Grin. But I can tell you despite bad conditions and heavy self imposed QRM (yeah I only have a wide filter at the moment) the actual morse code part of that contact was the easiest so far.
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Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
George Orwell
M0LEP
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« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2012, 03:36:10 PM »

I have no doubt that learning morse in a classroom with a tutor and other students would be a great deal better than trying to learn morse using the computer-based tools that are available. However, where morse is no longer required there are no longer that many (if any) actual morse classes. The computer-based stuff may take a hundred times longer than learning in a class, but when the choice is using the computer to learn with or not learning morse at all...

As for getting on the air... well, you have to get past a certain point before what you're hearing makes any sense. When the best you can copy is something like this:

Code:
u ss w ll w ll q swe nsc ei gssk wd wrh5wo ipeitsel q spellpyrrichllel 9aa k

then there's not much chance you'll be able to have a QSO.
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