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eHam Forums => CW => Topic started by: NA7U on May 16, 2012, 10:05:17 AM



Title: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: NA7U on May 16, 2012, 10:05:17 AM
:o Put down the microphone!  ::)

Give your mic and/or HT to the XYL or better yet some stranger and tell them to hide it and not give it back to you until you can copy at least 15 WPM.

I have seen so many ops who want to learn CW, but they keep spending their time on voice, meaning to get back to CW soon, ... real soon. There is just no excuse for this. CW for most folks takes a lot of work, frustration, and more work, but most of all persistence. The learning curve is like a roller coaster, up, down, flat, etc.; certainly not a linear gradient at all. But, if one simply applies themselves, say, 20 minutes a day, minimum, little by little progress will be made.

And while you're at it, keep the RX tuned away from voice transmissions. Instead, put it on CW transmissions and let it play in the background. A lot of it will filter into your brain by osmosis. Probably the easiest way to do that is to use a digi-mode program or one of the many WebSDR sites so you can find the CW traces very quickly.

Get the job done! dit-dit  ;D


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: PA0BLAH on May 16, 2012, 10:35:53 AM
When that osmose idea is really true, It is very dangerous to turn on the radio or televisoin with talking heads on them, when you are unconscious listening to them.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: W2IU on May 16, 2012, 10:57:44 AM
Hi,
John here. Trying to learn CW as we speak. Had my wife hide my mic and have not turned on the radio since my CW quest began (which is just learning the letters) almost 19 days ago. I started a twitter "diary" that outlined my trials and tribulations of learning it. Here is the website: https://twitter.com/#!/JohnRogener  (https://twitter.com/#!/JohnRogener)

I think persistence is key and so is patience. There were days where the last thing I wanted to do was listen to code. I did, it was a mess and I accepted it. What would happen is that the following day's session would be fantastic. Knowing that learning code is hard and accepting it is the first step to learning it.

Also, don't read the boards on how quick people can learn code. Everyone has different speeds. Just because Joe Smith learned it in 10 days does not help your confidence.

In two weeks I plan to christen my J-38 ebay key If you hear me spitting out terrible code, my sincerest apologies.

John


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: N2EY on May 16, 2012, 03:06:38 PM
The following is a couple of years old, but I guess it bears repeating. See Step 10.

12 steps to learning Morse Code:

1) Realize that Morse Code is a set of skills, not just one or two, and they take a while to learn. They cannot be learned by reading a book, watching a video, or posting to a forum; they can only be learned by doing. There is no "best way" nor "magic method" that is universal; there is only what works for you, and it can ONLY be found by doing.

2) Set up a place to study code. A good solid desk or table with no distractions, lots of room to write, good lighting, good chair. Source(s) of code (computer, HF receiver, tapes, etc.), key and oscillator. Headphones are a good idea. I recommend starting out with a straight key. It needs a good solid base and needs to be adjusted properly.

3) Stay away from gimmicks and printed charts with dots and dashes on them. Morse Code is sounds, not printing on a chart or little phrases. Learning to receive consists of nothing more than learning to associate a certain sound pattern with a certain letter or number. There are only about 41 of them to learn. Do you think you could learn 41 words in a foreign language? Learning Morse is easier than that because the sounds are simpler.

4) Set aside at least a half-hour EVERY DAY for code practice. Can be a couple of ten- or fifteen minute sessions, but they should add up to at least a half hour every day. That means every single day, not just weekends, holidays, etc. If you can do more than a half-hour some days, great! Do it! But more practice on one day does not give you an excuse for the next day.

5) Visualize success, not failure, not mediocrity. Nobody is born with the skills, all those hotshot ops you hear or see started out as clueless newbies. Do not accept excuses about "talent" or "musical skill" or such; there are plenty of tone-deaf CW ops who couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. "If you believe, you can achieve".

6) Download and read "The Art And Skill of Radiotelegraphy". It's free and available from several websites. Search out other code-oriented websites and read what they have to say. But do not let time reading or on the computer get in the way of practice.

7) Practice both sending and receiving each and every day. A few minutes sending is plenty, most of the time should be spent receiving, but the two help each other.

8) Practice receiving by writing it down. Copying "in your head" comes later. I find a pencil and block printing works best for me, but what matters is what works best for you.

9) Discontinue ANYTHING that impairs your ability to concentrate, focus, and learn new stuff. Only doctor-prescribed medications are exempt from this rule. Beer and other learning-affecting substances are not exempt. Get enough sleep and enough physical exercise. Eat right.

10) Put away your microphones and stay off the voice radios - all of them. Listen to hams actually using code on the air, copy down what they send. Learn how hams actually use code. Translate street signs, house numbers, etc. into code (in your head). Have code playing in the background whenever you can.

11) If your HF rig doesn't have a sharp filter (400-500 Hz), get one and install it. Read the manual about how to use the rig on CW. Best operation usually requires turning off the AGC, turning the RF gain down and the AF gain up. The S-meter and AGC won't work under those conditions but that's no big loss.   

12) Keep at it. There may be times when it seems as if you are making no progress, and times when you make rapid progress. What matters is that you keep practicing.

---

A bit of work? Sure it is, but well worth it, because all those steps make learning the code easier. And there's a lot you can do with the skills once they're learned.

But a person has to be willing to do what's required. And they have to actually do those things.

73 es GL de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: NA7U on May 16, 2012, 05:42:21 PM
The following is a couple of years old, but I guess it bears repeating. See Step 10.

12 steps to learning Morse Code:

<snip>

7) Practice both sending and receiving each and every day. A few minutes sending is plenty, most of the time should be spent receiving, but the two help each other.

Practice receiving by writing it down. Copying "in your head" comes later. I find a pencil and block printing works best for me, but what matters is what works best for you.

<snip>

But a person has to be willing to do what's required. And they have to actually do those things.

73 es GL de Jim, N2EY


Excellent list Jim!

I think a pen works better than a pencil, less friction. :) I'm of two minds about writing first and head copy later. I understand it's a logical progression, but that giant leap from writing to head copy seems like an enormous chasm the first time and I wonder if there aren't methods for learning it in your head first.  Also, once you get to head copy you should be starting to copy words instead of letters.

And then, of course, there are the QRQ guys!! ( http://cloud-warmer.blogspot.com/2011/09/qrq.html (http://cloud-warmer.blogspot.com/2011/09/qrq.html) ) :D


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: N2EY on May 17, 2012, 06:09:08 AM

Excellent list Jim!

Thank you.

I think a pen works better than a pencil, less friction. :)

See the first step:

There is no "best way" nor "magic method" that is universal; there is only what works for you, and it can ONLY be found by doing.

For some folks a pen may indeed be better. The thing is to try various writing implements and see what works best for you.

In fact, some folks who type really well may be better off using a keyboard.

I'm of two minds about writing first and head copy later. I understand it's a logical progression, but that giant leap from writing to head copy seems like an enormous chasm the first time and I wonder if there aren't methods for learning it in your head first.  Also, once you get to head copy you should be starting to copy words instead of letters.

The trick to learning any complex skill is to break it down into small pieces and learn them individually until they are practically automatic, then put them all together.

With writing-it-down, the basic skill is to hear the character, decode it, and write it/press the key - to the point that you're not really thinking about it. Head copy involves keeping the previously-sent letters in your mind to form words and sentences, which is a different skill.

The biggest problem folks have with learning Morse is that they're not used to learning skills. They're used to learning facts and concepts, which are usually learned in very different ways from skills.

For example, I watched a video about the P-39 on youtube, and learned a lot of facts about that airplane. If I watched it a couple of times, I could probably recite the entire startup/taxi/takeoff sequence for you. (There are quite a few steps!)

But actually fly one? That's a completely different thing, and no amount of video watching would teach me that. I might know the concepts and facts, but being able to use them requires a different learning technique entirely.

I doubt anyone would learn to fly in a high-performance (for its time) plane like a P-39 - even if it had a second seat and dual controls. They'd start with something much slower, much simpler and much more tolerant of pilot mistakes, and only when they had the basic flying skills down cold would they be allowed anywhere near a plane like the '39.


And then, of course, there are the QRQ guys!! ( http://cloud-warmer.blogspot.com/2011/09/qrq.html (http://cloud-warmer.blogspot.com/2011/09/qrq.html) ) :D


Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: KB3SYZ on May 17, 2012, 08:18:27 AM
I too am in the process of learning Morse. I have a Blog where I am documenting my adventure here: http://kb3syz.blogspot.com/ (http://kb3syz.blogspot.com/).

I am currently have my General ticket but plan on upgrading after I learn Morse. Only want to concentrate on one thing at a time.

I do not own any HF or CW gear yet. Will buy a key and practice oscillator soon though. When I do get on the air due to my current employment situation I will not be able to afford the an HF rig that has phone capability. So it will be a QRP kit as they are cheaper. So wont have to worry at first about that as I will only be able to transmit and receive in CW.

Thanks for all the hints and advise. I do look over all the HAM related forums that I can find and read as much as I can about the subject.



Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: K8AXW on May 17, 2012, 09:26:19 AM
As one who has been using Morse for 55 years....starting with suffering through 6 months of forced fed code tapes, many tests with pressure to pass within in specific time frame and who used the skill for almost 3 years in the service in the most stressful manner you can imagine; as one who still prefers CW over any other mode even though I use voice and digital,  I feel that I am qualified to make this statement:

Make a hard copy of N2EY's "12 Steps to Learning Morse Code" and nail it to your wall.  Every day, before you set down for your daily practice, read it.  Believe what he wrote.  It covers it all and is the best advice I have ever seen.

A - K8AXW
 


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: K7KBN on May 17, 2012, 12:00:26 PM
Ask members of a local amateur radio club for help.  Somebody who's had several years - or decades - of experience can be a valuable asset, and this is especially true for your sending.  I've heard so many lousy fists over the past five years or so.  I'd like to help each one, but there are just too many.  And there are others who get offended by the suggestion that their code is less than copyable.



Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: N0BLT on May 17, 2012, 04:21:12 PM
The single most vital piece of info for me, is to "HEAD COPY" only, using COMPLETE WORDS.  
     I spent months using the "Just Learn Morse Code" program, scribbling random characters on paper, using 20wpm as a target before I'd add another character (I'm up to 11 characters now) . I made a few audio files of words only, instead of random characters. When listening, I was horrified.  Although I could copy on paper successfully, I was unable to comprehend what I was writing in real time.  Having read numerous threads about the value of "head copying", I decided to try and skip the writing and go for stretching my brains buffer.
     To create my custom, "words only" files, I take the letters that I currently know and feed them into http://www.scrabbleaword.com/  then take the words that pop out, edit them, and create audio files using, the "Just Learn Morse Code" program.  I then put them on my mp3 player.
     In many ways it is easier, I'm no longer confined to desk, which can drive me CRAZY.  I listen to code mostly on my bicycle.  I REALLY get into the "code groove" for some reason on my bike--much more than at home chained to a desk.  Lots of exercise that way too, and I don't find it unsafe, cuz my brain is always looking for some silly reason to quit comprehending what is coming in my ears anyway!  
     I was also scared that after learning 20wpm paper copying, I'd have to start all over again just to learn head copying.  I have sort of started over again, speedwise, because my mental buffer is resisting massively!  I don't really care though, cuz I want to do this RIGHT, and not have to look back, only knowing slow motion code, and be paper/pencil dependant.
     It's definitely slower learning. But I think I'll be happier later.  Too many horror stories of those that copy 10wpm, but cannot speed up later because they never stopped mentally translating the dit's and dah's all the months they were writing on paper.  
     So for now my code practice is almost exclusive listening to WORDS (not random characters) via  mp3 player on bicycle.  As I said I'm only using the first 11 characters prev learned from the "Just Learn Morse Code" program.  I may sometime go back and supplement or test myself with paper/pencil copy method.
     If you are going to be stuck hand writing copy, I'd recommend  getting a uni-ball® Kuru Toga mechanical pencil.  It's a mighty fine instrument!  The lead rotates while you write, always keeping a sharp point.  Pens are fine for some, but for me, ink-pens and I DO NOT GET ALONG.  If I can find one that works, it will inevitably quit, dry out, skip, or have blobs and smudge.  

Brian


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: STAYVERTICAL on May 17, 2012, 06:51:36 PM
All of the advice posted above is excellent and worthy of being put into a tome for aspiring CW enthusiasts.
But much of it is addressed to what to do after you have learned some code, or reached a plateau in speed.

To address the original question: "The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW",
the thread originator already had the answer in his question.

In every endeavour we try, and tasks we attempt, their are elements of skill, teamwork and plain luck always present.
But, as has been shown repeatedly in history, and science, the one element which kindles the fires of success is persistence.
If we look at many inventions we use today, they were originally wrestled into existence by the stubborn refusal of a particular
mind to accept defeat.
Edison is one example with his famous 99 percent perspiration, 1 percent inspiration quote.
Einstein spent years working on the problems of relativity before receiving the eureka moment.
Even the eureka quote came from archimedes revelation about a problem he was working on relating to measuring gold content
in a crown.

Our ancestors knew the power of persistence, and positive thinking - you only have to see the number of books published in the
1920's onwards to see how early this power was recognised.
The subconscious mind is the hidden source of power which you need to condition to learn CW.
It is not easy to convince the subconscious that you are serious about it, and only persistent application will win it over.
Once that is done, your path is clear, and like an experienced driver, musician or CW afficianado, you will do it instinctively.

As the philosopher Wolfgang Von Goethe said two hundred years ago:

Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do.

73 - Rob


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: NA7U on May 17, 2012, 07:26:33 PM
Quote
N2EY said: The trick to learning any complex skill is to break it down into small pieces and learn them individually until they are practically automatic, then put them all together. With writing-it-down, the basic skill is to hear the character, decode it, and write it/press the key - to the point that you're not really thinking about it. Head copy involves keeping the previously-sent letters in your mind to form words and sentences, which is a different skill.

Allow me to offer a couple of refinements here. As someone else in this thread noted a lot of people get stuck at a slow speed because they started learning by counting dits and dahs (they may not have even realized it), so there can be a drawback to breaking the problem into parts too small. That's why I'm a strong believer in using Koch/Farnsworth methods as part of (not solely) learning the Code. Furthermore, I don't think head copy of words, if you want to really learn it, is a matter of buffering up letters. It's actually hearing the entire word as one unit. "the" is one of the first easily recognizable words we all learn. We don't hear it as "t" "h" "e", but just as a single entity unto itself. When guys get to QRQ speeds (35+ WPM) they are even beyond hearing just words, they are starting to hear the sentences as a whole.



Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: KG4NEL on May 18, 2012, 06:37:47 AM
Quote
Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do.

Yoda also put it succinctly :D


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: K1ZJH on May 18, 2012, 06:44:23 AM
Download the G4FON  CW training programs to your computer. If sitting by
the rig is a problem for practice, the G4FON program is next best thing.
It did a lot for my code speed. Next best thing is the CW contests--work
at copying the calls. They are almost as good as copying random code
groups!

Don't EVER get into the habit of counting dits or dahs in numbers. That
works good until about 25 WPM, and after that it becomes an almost
impossible habit to break. Learn the sound of the full character.

I'm getting to the point where I can copy longhand--faster than writing
each letter individually.

Keep at it. Listen the W1AW bulletins and prop forecasts.  The prop forecasts
are great to learn numbers.

Peter


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: NA7U on May 18, 2012, 08:50:32 AM
Download the G4FON  CW training programs to your computer. If sitting by
the rig is a problem for practice, the G4FON program is next best thing.
It did a lot for my code speed. Next best thing is the CW contests--work
at copying the calls. They are almost as good as copying random code
groups!

<snip>

Peter

For copying call signs there is no better trainer than RufzXP! (http://www.rufzxp.net/)


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: W5CYF on May 18, 2012, 06:42:14 PM
For what it’s worth the statement about not comparing your learning curve to others is excellent advice.  When I started, I wanted to learn CW so badly that I was sure that within a few weeks I would become fairly proficient…after all that what I that some others had done.

When I realized I was not in a race to learn CW the pressure was off and the fun began.  Now CW is by far my favorite mode.  I'm slow but am on the air about every night and meeting some mighty fine folks.

The advice about putting the mic in the drawer is on target.  In fact if I had to find my mic within 5 minutes, I’d not be able to do so.  I think it’s in a box on the shelf somewhere in the shack!

I actually put my thoughts about learning CW in a YouTube video that you may find encouraging.  Take a look here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9h8nZAqBYBQ

Hope to catch you on the air; CW of course.

73
John/W5CYF


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: K5JYD on June 02, 2012, 07:58:08 AM
na7u is right , put the mike in the garage or attic and forget abt voice and just become a cw op . Thats how it was when I got my novice, cw only and it worked.I learned it and still use it 99% 0f the time. You will love it.
k5jyd


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: AB2CF on June 08, 2012, 10:47:23 PM
This is a couple "single most vital' pieces of advice.
I translated everything i saw into dits and dahs.  Street and business signs, license plates, names, car models, headlines, household items, whatever was in front of me  became code.  Get your brain to think in CW.  It helped

If you know code and are slow, get on the air. Most ops will slow down.  Just ask them to QRS.  Find a CW op at your local club.  Set up a sked. 

One mistake i made was transcribing for too long.  Once i got to 25wpm I couldn't write much faster.  Now I am working on head copy. Not up to the 25 yet but it frees me up. The brain is faster than the pen.  If writing works do it.  But don't not learn to copy in the head (even if it's slower).

Most importantly, Stick with it. 




Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: K8AG on June 12, 2012, 11:41:14 AM
I would only add one thing to N2EY's steps.  Practice decoding your own "fist".  Record your own sending.  Play it back.  Decode what you send.  I would rather copy someone at 3 WPM cleanly than 20 WPM badly sent.  If you can copy tapes and CW from the computer but not your own recorded CW, you have to work on sending.

I find that I need to do this from time to time just to clean-it-up.  Don't forget sending.

73, JP, K8AG


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: AK4YH on June 16, 2012, 11:07:02 AM
Hello,

My K1 doesn't have a microphone!

I guess I'm off to a good start.

That said, I am struggling with the Koch method.. Four letters in a week, at 10wpm (20wpm characters).. Any faster and I lag behind.. Very frustrating, but I am persisting. Not thinking of dits and dahs either.. It's going to take a while...!

Gil.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: K7KBN on June 19, 2012, 08:53:21 AM
For those hams who want to use CW as a communications mode, I'd recommend learning Morse code. 

One does not "learn CW"; CW and Morse code are not interchangeable terms.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: VK2FAK on June 19, 2012, 11:53:41 PM
HI all......

I now know its true....someone on this forum made a quote......something like,  you want it on the tombstone that you enjoyed many years of operating Morse......not, he would have enjoyed many years of operating Morse but never managed to get on air.....

Had myself a Heart attack on Friday morning......was in Hospital by 9am, had the blockage removed by about 2am......spent a nice few days eating Custard cups, mixed fruits cup, reasonable meals....and watching some New release movies.......and just as a Tip, don't always expect a strong pain in the chest or arm.....mine was focused in the Tummy, and was not a very strong pain.....

So the quote....is simple and true....when you get to a reasonable standard....just do it, even it you have to make a few trips to the bathroom first...

John


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: W7ASA on June 20, 2012, 04:45:10 AM
Good on Ya John for pulling through.  I hope the hospital food wasn't too rough. You didn't mention what sort of radio you smuggled into hospital ?!?    :o


Your recent experience just brings it into focus:  Life is to be lived.  Whether it's Morse, ballrom dancing, hiking, kayaking or just tossing a frizbee int he local park with the dog - like the Nyke adverts say: "Just Do It!". I think of all the tall mountains, pristine deserts and the small bit of ocean I've tapped code from and even running clandestine in the occasional city apartment & it's all good memory , especially now as my own body is beginning to complain a bit more strenuously about years of abuse! ha ha


"See" you on the radio,

de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: VK3GDM on June 21, 2012, 07:26:46 PM
Removing the mic is a great idea!
I did that four years ago, and haven't got around to re-attaching it yet!
I've been having too much fun on CW.

73
David


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: 2E0OZI on June 22, 2012, 02:41:04 PM
Made my first QSO in a while on SSB last night, as I am having so much fun on CW. It was with a freind though, and good to hear his voice.

Glad to hear you pulled through your heart attack mate! Its not always as depicted, as you say..


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: KG4NEL on July 06, 2012, 12:58:21 PM
That said, I am struggling with the Koch method.. Four letters in a week, at 10wpm (20wpm characters).. Any faster and I lag behind.. Very frustrating, but I am persisting. Not thinking of dits and dahs either.. It's going to take a while...!

Gil.

I'm going slower than that, so don't feel bad  :P Going to try to get a solid hour in tonight.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: M0LEP on July 06, 2012, 03:13:44 PM
That said, I am struggling with the Koch method.. Four letters in a week, at 10wpm (20wpm characters).. Any faster and I lag behind.. Very frustrating, but I am persisting. Not thinking of dits and dahs either.. It's going to take a while...!

If you can sustain 4 new characters a week then you'll get through the Koch set before summer's over.

(I'm doing well if I can learn one new character a month.)


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: W7ASA on July 06, 2012, 04:42:47 PM
'...learn four letters...'

I hope that this wil not lead to the use of only FOUR LETTER WORDS.......  ::)

aActually, on second thought, if we wanted that, we could just tune to the 80m SSB band here in the USA.   


seriously though, if your experience is like mine, you'll find a tipping-point where it begins to flow.  For me, that was when 'copy' changed from getting a few letters to receiving words then sentances made from the letters that I knew and a few that I did not.   Once that began, then my mind REALLY worked at getting those unknown letters and seemed to use what I already knew automatically - with the occasional Oooops  ???

Press-On!  It's worth it!


73 de Ray
W7ASA   ..._ ._

   


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: PA0BLAH on July 07, 2012, 06:01:02 AM

If you can sustain 4 new characters a week then you'll get through the Koch set before summer's over.

(I'm doing well if I can learn one new character a month.)

That is just what I thought. Probably in the start of the course you go faster, lesson 1 two characters, that's fast, but at the end slower. However when you take half a year, the average progress is nearly 2 characters a week at the average.

You are the guy cut of the right wood, I am sure you will make it. Try to exercise words as I said in the other thread, copy by head, with the subset you master.




Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: KB2HUK on July 30, 2012, 03:49:36 PM
the post by N2EY listed this book  "The Art And Skill of Radiotelegraphy" and he is right it is a terrific book I have read it a couple of times and I find it very entertaining and informative do your self a favor and read this book !  John kb2huk


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: N5XM on July 30, 2012, 08:31:39 PM
I want to congratulate and encourage those of you who are working to acquire CW skills.  Don't get discouraged, because we all go through plateaus on our way up the ranks.  Listen to the ARRL code sessions.  They start fast and slow down and by the time they get to the slower speeds, you will find easy copy.  You will get smoother as you go along.  Remember that sending is as important as how you copy.  I used to get the Editorial section out of the Sunday newspaper to practice sending, or find a textbook and do the same.  Be careful not to learn to send faster than you can copy.  Practice copy for 30 minutes, then practice sending for 30 minutes.  Anything worth learning is worth taking the time to do so.  Listen to live QSOs and don't worry about how much you copy.  Over time you WILL improve.  All good CW ops have spent thousands of hours acquiring their skills.  It shouldn't be any different for any of you.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: S51M on July 31, 2012, 11:06:45 PM
Yes, it's a little difficult to learn CW, but you will find the most elegant and beautiful activity in our hobby.
Please, continue.

73 ES GL

S51M, Bruno


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: K8AG on August 07, 2012, 09:11:46 AM
We all started at 0 WPM.  ;D


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: N3PDT on August 08, 2012, 01:34:55 PM
We all started at 0 WPM.  ;D

Yep.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: PA0BLAH on August 09, 2012, 01:58:02 AM
We all started at 0 WPM.  ;D

Don't think so. 0 wpm is an infinite long space or mark, so you never can start with another speed when you start with 0 wpm.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: PA0BLAH on August 09, 2012, 07:59:49 AM
Above that, my mom told me I always said dahdah when I wanted her milk.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: AK4YH on August 11, 2012, 10:29:31 PM
Hi Guys,

I'm up to about half the alphabet! But slower than I'd like, about 8wpm. It's just that I am not used to write that fast. The other problem is when my brain leaves the "automatic mode" and goes "was that a ..?" crash-and-burn..
Listening on my K1, I can sometimes pick up series of 2 or 3 letters that I know, sometimes a word. I once heard "amperage," I was ecstatic! Though I didn't know the G, but it couldn't be anything else. I always get CQ CQ CQ DE, and some letters of the call sign, but never a complete one yet. Listening seems to help. I suspect my subconscious makes more efforts at decoding than I do ;-)

Have a great day :-)

Gil.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: PA0BLAH on August 12, 2012, 01:57:33 AM
Hi Guys,

I'm up to about half the alphabet! But slower than I'd like, about 8wpm. It's just that I am not used to write that fast.

Hi Gil,

Very good.
Writing that fast can be solved.

Just don't listen to any Morse, sit down and write on a piece of paper, with an easy  gliding pen.
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog 1234567890
Watch on your second hand of your watch the time used. Easiest is to start writing when the hand is on 0 .

The writing speed is then 705/t  words per minute PARIS standard. In this formula is t the number of seconds you need to write that complete sentence down.
Report your speed here please.

When it takes around 88 s your writing speed is 8 wpm, I expect it will be faster.

Two reasons:
1. The recognition is not yet fast enough, will come with exercising.
2. You write the wrong way in separate capitals. Use long hand, small characters.

Quote
The other problem is when my brain leaves the "automatic mode" and goes "was that a ..?" crash-and-burn..
That is also because you need more exercising.  Above that: when you don't know all the 41 most used characters yet, you easily got in that panic mode when a not familiar and  still unknown character is received. The same will happen when you copy plain text, and after the starting of a word you expect the remaining part to be something else as it turns out to be.

Bob PAoBLAH


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: PA0BLAH on August 12, 2012, 03:46:03 AM
www.radiopreppers.com

Gil I tried lo enter radiopreppers, but can't pass the question "What is the wavelength of 50 mHz"
That is a very very low frequency and the wavelength in vacuum is,when we put the speed of light at 3 E8 m/s,
according to my calculation 6E9 m. or 6000000000 I tried also 6,000,000,000 and 6 billion, no result.
So you have to check the question and the expected result.

Morse code is excellent for emergency communication in weak signal conditions. So an organisation that claims to prepare for emergency communications, has to have operators at hand that master Morse code.

In an exercise in this country of the dutch amateur emergency DARES, mainly newbie members with no code technician licenses, last month, they couldn't make contact with phone, so no contact was possible with Germany, while the signal was excellent for CW. So pretty ridiculous to advertise yourself for emergency com, and not able to  communicate in Morse code.

Here a snippet of the report of one of the participating members:

Sunday 29 July 2012. The DARES procedures test started at around 11:30 AM with an HF check for one of the participants who was operating from the North of Germany. We tried 80, 40 and 20 meter bands, but his signal was too faint to hope for message interchange.

73 Bob


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: AK4YH on August 12, 2012, 08:13:56 AM
Hi Bob, the answer is 6 try again :-)

Thank you very much for that very revealing test:

Using capitals, as I have been doing: 31wpm.
Using long hand: 35wpm.

So, it is the decoding!

I agree about Morse for emergencies. These organizations could use keyboards/decoders if they lack skilled operators. CW is really a data mode readable by humans. I don't think I will sign-up for any of these "ARES" type organizations. In a real bad National or State wide emergency, I can't imagine running off to help who knows who instead of helping the people I care most about. That's one of the main reasons I started Radio Preppers, for people to exchange information to help themselves, and maybe extend that to their local community, not to work for some agency for free (not to mention spending money on classes). But this is for another board, so I'll stop here.

I wish there was a software that would, given a group of letter a Morse code student has learned so far, output random words from the dictionary in code. I am a programmer, but it would be hard for me to find the time... I'll think about that...

Gil.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: PA0BLAH on August 12, 2012, 12:14:49 PM
Hi Bob, the answer is 6 try again :-)

OK Gil, but the unit is wrong then. mHz is millihertz and MHz is megahertz.
Quote
Thank you very much for that very revealing test:

Using capitals, as I have been doing: 31wpm.
Using long hand: 35wpm.

As expected the writing is not the problem. But exercising shortens the process, because it becomes of a kind of direct memory access without CPU processing.

Log in at www.lcwo.net and you will find all kind of exercises, not only koch lessons but also words random with the acquired letterset. It is important to listen to words as spelled out, not as whole sound pattern but spelled out. 

May be that the sequence of learning letters is not the same at lcwo.net, that is a pity.
Furthermore there a well known excellent programs, such as JustLearnMorseCode, G4FON and MorseCat, Morsemachine is less good.

Quote

I wish there was a software that would, given a group of letter a Morse code student has learned so far, output random words from the dictionary in code. I am a programmer, but it would be hard for me to find the time... I'll think about that...

Gil.

When you learn the letters at LCWO after learning 12 letters there are random words with those letters in the Word exercise group. You can chose to repeat them, speed, max length, and you name it.
Start with words as fast as possible, not listening to the soundpattern of the whole word but by reading them letter by letter just as you learned reading in school at 5 or  6 years old. You end up in your case in writing plain text at 35 wpm, listening to the text just as reading plain text, without writing or typing hardly limited, 40 to 60 wpm. In general ham radio is done with around 18 wpm plus or minus 6 wpm, that is the bulk of connections. A lot of guys are not or hardly able to divert from the standard rubber stamp QSO procedure, due to lack of proficiency at the used speed.



Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: AK4YH on August 12, 2012, 03:48:09 PM
Thank you! I signed up for the site..

Gil.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: N0BLT on August 12, 2012, 06:32:13 PM

I wish there was a software that would, given a group of letter a Morse code student has learned so far, output random words from the dictionary in code. I am a programmer, but it would be hard for me to find the time... I'll think about that...

Gil.

Gil
A guy Fabian Kurz, DJ1YFK, a German engineering student has written such a program.  It is free and downloadable.
The random word files, that come with it, contain all characters tho, and you need to make your own custom text files, using the word/characters you currently know.   I like it for the fact you don't have to have a live internet connection, and you can create your own word files.  Us that don't have the entire vocabulary of characters yet, need this option.

The program is called "qrq"

http://qrqcwnet.ning.com/forum/topics/dj1yfk-fabian-s-famous-high-speed-cw-training-program-called-qrq-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvQ5t8PGARs
http://fkurz.net/ham/qrq.html

You can either type in the word and get scored, or hit F6 to repeat or "enter" for a new word.  Most of my study is merely hitting either the F6 (endless repeats) or enter, (and not typing the word).  Many times I record the output with Audacity, and load on my mp3 player, for later "bicycling while studying therapy". 

I love it because it's the only prog that lets me use my own text files AND sends any speed with an unlimited pause (until I hit the F6 or the "enter" key).  I still use "Just Learn Morse Code" for it's record feature.  I just needed a way to add that indefinite pause after each word, with QRQ. 

There is a program like QRQ called rufzxp, but I forgot why I did not choose that one.  Maybe you can't use your own text file with it.

Oh, and If you need help making words of your current known characters, put those characters into one of the online scrabble word finder programs, and out pops hundreds of words.

Go look at my latest posts in my history, you'll find more info, cuz that's about all I talk about.
Brian


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: AK4YH on August 12, 2012, 06:59:19 PM
Great, thanks Brian.

To generate words with the letters I know, I go to:

http://www.scrabblewordmaker.com

Gil.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: N0BLT on August 12, 2012, 11:50:44 PM
I forgot to say Fabian the author of QRQ is the same guy that started LCWO.

Anyway it is good to have built my speed back up to near 20/20wpm.  I was at 20 solid using random characters (11 of them).  When I decided to switch, to words, It was pretty humbling.  I had no word bufffer in my brain, and had to slow down to 20/8 or so to even TRY to catch some of the words whizzing by.  Now with the longer pauses between words, I'm building back confidence and speed.  I've got QRQ sending 20/20wpm words.  Soon, I'll see the need to shorten and then drop the need all-together, for the longer pauses between words.  THEN it'll be time to start adding characters again.  It's been months.  Building this word buffer in my brain is well worth it though!  

This whole code learning is taking much longer than I expected, but I want to be an "out of the gate", minimum 20/20wpm head copy operator, not a hurried scribbler that has to re-read what I WRITE, to comprehend.  With my mp3 files I can listen for hours a day, and even on my bike, which, for me, makes it a zen kind of thing, and FOCUSED.  I'm no longer worried about WHEN I finish adding the other characters, because the JOURNEY ITSELF is pretty dang FUN!  

Soon I'm going to either modify one of my Bencher paddles or make one out of a hacksaw blade and install it, along with a keyer, on my handlebars, or thigh and test my sending while riding skills.  Yes slow, to start, and on QUIET streets.

Too much fun!

Bicycle CW-QRP is my goal
Brian
If you have an Iphone, check this out...
http://iditdahtext.com/iDitDahText.html
this guy is iambic-CrAzY  
Gil, What kind of paddles do you use?


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: AK4YH on August 13, 2012, 07:01:19 AM
"Bicycle CW-QRP is my goal"

Geez Brian, that's multitasking.. I wonder if you could find a way to send code hands free.. What kind of antenna are you planning on? What radio?

Gil.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: N0BLT on August 13, 2012, 10:31:50 AM
I seem to ride no handed a LOT, anyway, so one hand on my thigh keying wouldn't be a problem.
Don't know about a radio, but I started hanging around a QRP club here in Denver and I'm sure they'll steer me right.  The Yaesu FT-817 would prob be WAY too much of a battery hog, but the HF and SSB 2 meters would be fun.  Could prob do that much more efficiently with tiny transcievers.  

As far as an antennae go I'd LOVE to have a Helically Loaded Magnetic Loop, just for the weirdness of it all! Well maybe the attention getting also.  Link...  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YpyLAULKqg  I need to visit that guy, and find a way to shrink the loop even further, by making the individual culy-que copper windings a larger diameter.  As if that center pipe was a 4 inch pipe instead of that 1/2 or 3/4 in pvc he's using.  I do need a smaller profile ant of some sort also.  Dunno, maybe a big coiled Texas Bugcatcher.  You could just reach around and change your tap points, when changing bands.  80 meters would be fun once in a while too, cuz I've got friends there.  Would probably have to cast off and drag a counterpoise, perhaps.  Yes I'm talking about one dangerous machine here!  But hey you only live once.  I prob should quit trying to be such a code savant, and start building stuff and gathering the necessary radios.  For now I've only got some dusty HT's and my Kenwood TS-440 and a G5RV. 

Check that Utube guy's various videos.  He has other mag loop ideas. One thing he mentioned that sticks with me is that mag loops when run vertically is ground independant.  I guess when you run them horizontally you need to be concerned with the ground and therefore need to but them at some significant elevation.   
Brian




Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: AK4YH on August 15, 2012, 07:29:13 PM
Hi Brian,

You could have a dit burron on your left handlebar, and a dah button on the right!

Watch out for RF exposure with a magnetic loop, not to mention high voltages!

Gil.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: N5XM on August 16, 2012, 05:22:12 PM
What a great idea, Gil!  I can picture a Logikey in the middle of the handlebars.  You could program CQ into it, but I can just picture those red buttons on both handlebars.  Get about a 12 foot length of pipe, have someone bend it in the middle and hook up a red wagon with brown rails on it so you could carry a battery and an HF rig.  The remote head could be mounted above or below the keyer.  I would consider a banana seat and some "ape hanger" handlebars.  Of course you'd have to get a small bike license plate with your call on it!


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: N0BLT on August 16, 2012, 10:16:08 PM
Keeping in line with the threads topic, "single most vital piece of advice", I say HAVE FUN WITH IT--learning code that is.  I'm getting near 20wpm head copy of 11 characters, and I use my bike a good deal for code listening time, on my mp3 player.  Not having switched to listening to complete words sent as code (and the ability to do other things now, like bicycling) I don't think I would have made it this far!  Paper and pencil, and being chained to desk with computer was driving me CRAZY and my hand was a hurtin'.  Now It's only my brain that hurts. :)

You could have a dit burron on your left handlebar, and a dah button on the right!
Iambic on the right and Cootie/Sideswiper on the left.  Gotta get that left hand trained too.

Quote
Watch out for RF exposure with a magnetic loop, not to mention high voltages!

Prob not that much worse than a bugcatcher. At qrp power, I wouldn't think I'd be too dangerous. What amazes me about mag loops, is the way you feed them with a small coax loop.  No direct connection to the main loop. What you have in effect is a one to one air core transformer.  

What a great idea, Gil!  I can picture a Logikey in the middle of the handlebars.  You could program CQ into it, but I can just picture those red buttons on both handlebars. And hook up a red wagon with brown rails on it so you could carry a battery and an HF rig.  The remote head could be mounted above or below the keyer.

I'd go for the memory keyer.  The Kenwood 480 control head oughta be visible in the sunlight. I'd save the wagon for some extra strange looking antenna/art contraption.  Led rope light also.
Brian


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: PA0BLAH on August 17, 2012, 06:30:15 AM

Iambic on the right and Cootie/Sideswiper on the left.  Gotta get that left hand trained too.

That is surely not a bad idea. Preppers are thinking about possible dangers, obviously feeling more urgent at present then in the past, when I read Gils website www.radiopreppers.com. (org should be a better domain) The only thing changing is man made/introduced reasons for the dangers. Natural hazards and disastes are pretty having the same statistical parameters.  

When the sharia ( شريعة‎ )  is there, selected in democracy by 50+ percent of votes, the democracy is void and the sharia may be there, you never can turn that back, because voting is dogs and pigs behavior from the past. That (sharia) is the law not constructed by humans but by the holy HOLY supreme, piece be with him (or her); what is the sense of being a her or him for someone supreme, with eternal existence,  but excuse , this rat that produces only dogshit can't understand.  So using the cootie left handed, is a good preparation because when you tailgate or steal two 2W 100 ohm Mil spec resistors, or even a drawer,  from government property, you lose your right hand.

Do not only plan it but perform your plans. We can erect a club of left handed cootie keyers. Will be a wise decision.
http://www.sideswipernet.org/ will be your host.

Bob


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: N0BLT on August 17, 2012, 08:27:41 PM
We can erect a club... of cootie keyers. Will be a wise decision.

Are you in the club?  Or can't the old dog learn new trix, OM


Lovin' the journey,
Brian


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: STAYVERTICAL on August 17, 2012, 11:22:26 PM
Don't worry Blah - If you look at Europe's ( and the world's) history over the last few thousand years
you can see that despite the best laid plans of men - nature will decide our fate.
If I were to list the Empires which have come and fallen, it would take pages and pages.

Where are all these grand empires now - they can be summarized by the words of the sonnet by Shelley:

                          Ozymandias.

    I MET a Traveler from an antique land,
    Who said, "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    "My name is OZYMANDIAS, King of Kings."
    Look on my works ye Mighty, and despair!
    No thing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that Colossal Wreck, boundless and bare,
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.


     By Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

The now infamous "Reset button" has been pressed many times in history.
No doubt it will be pressed again in the future - of that mother nature will make sure.

When looked at against this backdrop, I would just enjoy life, ham radio and improve my CW skills.
There are too many opportunities in this era to waste them fighting shadows.
 
73 - Rob


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: PA0BLAH on August 18, 2012, 03:25:45 PM
We can erect a club... of cootie keyers. Will be a wise decision.

Are you in the club?  Or can't the old dog learn new trix, OM

No, I am not interested in double speed keys. When I am in condition, I make 30 wpm with a straight key, but 25 is normally my limit. When tired I don't pass 20. And the double speed doesn't make his name true. 30 is abt the limit people claim. Above that the fist is nearly always recognisable to be a cootie, and I prefer to keep the right pace as good as possible, because the nearly machine code like HA7AP generates is easiest to copy, not so all kind of swings.

Don't worry Blah - If you look at Europe's ( and the world's) history over the last few thousand years
you can see that despite the best laid plans of men - nature will decide our fate.
I don't worry Rob, but I noticed that GILGSN is doing that, according  to his website.
Afterall he is learning Morsecode because you can use it in distress, very good. When everything fails Morse is usable by whistling, honking, moving, wigwagging, light or what have you. However the Dutch DARES doesn't require it and are nearly 100% occupied with no code technician (novice) licenses. So, what to expect in case of distress. They are then part of the problem instead of the solution.

Bob



Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: 2E0OZI on August 19, 2012, 03:13:42 AM
Best piece of advice? Stick to it. Rome wasn't built in a day.  ;D

I'm just plugging on trying to make one or two contacts a day as time permits, but I need to do a lot more listening as well instead of acting like a DX hound and pouncing on folks! I'll try and mix a good 30 mins/hour listening and decoding general qsos as often as I can now. Got good old CO8LY last night strong 599 very nice!!


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: PA0BLAH on August 19, 2012, 06:16:23 AM
Best piece of advice? Stick to it. Rome wasn't built in a day.  ;D

I'm just plugging on trying to make one or two contacts a day as time permits, but I need to do a lot more listening as well instead of acting like a DX hound and pouncing on folks! I'll try and mix a good 30 mins/hour listening and decoding general qsos as often as I can now. Got good old CO8LY last night strong 599 very nice!!

Not so.

When you want to increase your speed, you have to exercise. Every QRQ-er can tell you that the best way is to copy a speed that you can't copy solid, is  the right way to do that effective. Never seen an athlete that improves his running time for 100 m sprint, or a marathon by just walking long distance every day for half an  hour.

Wonder how much time you spent in finding a speed you just can't copy solid, on the ham-bands, May be because the timing is far off just as the number of dits is superfluous. And above that , a rubber stamp QSO is not desired for increasing speed, because you can forecast what is coming. Rubber stamp QSO's double your copy speed instantaneous.

So just exercise with a computer generated plain text source as is available nowadays from a large number of sources.

You have it pretty much easier, then the hams that were learning the code without computers, tape recorders, money to buy records not offered for sale, and what have you.

Be lucky, because when they did it that hard way, they are right now offending monsters for  the present generation of "hams" as the multi tiny pushbutton proud owners of equipment they even can't understand the construction of, are mentioning themself  nowadays.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: KU7I on August 19, 2012, 02:13:41 PM
The big difference now as has been said before is there is no longer a code requirement. I was licensed in 1980. If you wanted to be a ham you had to learn the code, no option. The initial learning was painful.

Lane
KU7I/JH1JCM


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: AK4YH on August 20, 2012, 06:18:19 AM
Hello,

I think that the removal of Morse Code from General and Extra was a bad thing to do.
Our way of life depends mostly on the power grid. To take the grid for granted is foolish.
One only has to look back at the Quebec blackout of 1989, and the solar storm of 1859.
Other man-made and natural events could take the power down for extended periods.
As I mentioned on my site, Morse Code can be used with anything, not only radio.
It is in my opinion a great mode of communication to learn for anyone, radio or not.
If, God forbids, some devastating event brought us back to the level of the 1850s,
we would be back to using wired telegraphy.

I also have read a touching story of a Ham undergoing open heart surgery. After the operation he couldn't talk but holding his wife's hand (also a Ham), he tapped morse code with his finger to let her know he was in pain and loved her. The nurse gave him a shot for the pain...
There is a long list of ways Morse Code has been used without radio to save the day.

Keeping the code requirement would also keep some people from using HF, who are better confined on 2m. I have heard conversations on 2m that made me rethink the depth of human stupidity. You don't want these people to represent the U.S. in DX blabbering all over the world. Of course they would use 1500W. Next thing you know, HF is like CB.. I liked CB in the 80s, not anymore.
This is why I am going for General right away and haven't passed the Tech exam, which I could do at any time and pass. I am however not interested in 2m. I'll pass both exams on the same day.

Unfortunately there are many life skills these days that are deemed obsolete (Like Morse code), until the shtf...

Gil.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: K0AST on December 27, 2015, 01:06:44 AM
There was a lot of good info here, and it had a lot of views in the past, so I felt the need to add something.

If you like G4FON there is an iPhone app called 'Morse Elmer' that operates nearly like it.  I think it cost me a few bucks, can't remember, but it's worth it.  I do a few 'couple minute' CW decodes every day trying to get good at 20WPM head copy while increasing my letters known count.

Also want to thank those who brought up "The Art..." book -- very interesting!


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: K7EXJ on December 27, 2015, 07:44:26 AM

When you want to increase your speed, you have to exercise. Every QRQ-er can tell you that the best way is to copy a speed that you can't copy solid, is  the right way to do that effective.


I agree with this. Which is why I still tune in the really fast guys chatting away and read the mail.

My experience with Morse reaches back to 1956 when there were no inexpensive methods of learning it. You could buy records but even my teen-aged brain realized that a couple times through would mean I was memorizing what was sent rather than learning something new. And the records were not cheap, either.

The single best piece of advice I could give any aspiring Morse artist is to listen. Don't focus on methodology. Listen. Find someone you cannot copy and try to pick out characters you know... then pick out characters you DON'T know, look them up, and listen to see if you can recognize them again out of a stream of Morse. Once you can, rinse and repeat.

Knowing Morse entitles you to membership in a club you cannot pay to join. It's a club that no one can fake their way into. Morse operators aren't made in weekend "boot camps" where just finishing the weekend entitles you to a certificate and four letters after your name.

Being able to send and receive Morse Code is that rarest of things in our modern culture. Something that's based on competence and not credentials.

Surprisingly, even though we no longer receive credentials for it, lots of people still do it.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: WA2ISE on December 27, 2015, 11:01:41 AM
Heard that one should do code copying using code done Farnsworth method, ie, 15WPM characters spaced at 5WPM.  Idea is to get yourself used to the sound of a character and not be counting dits and dahs. 


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: W9OY on December 27, 2015, 01:02:02 PM
My single most vital piece of advice is:  DO NOT BUY A STRAIT KEY.  Buy a paddle and use the keyer in your radio or buy a cheap (but very full featured) keyer from K1EL.  For CW to be fun you should try to get up around 17-20 wpm as soon as possible.  A strait key necessarily keeps you slow and is a big PITA to  conversation.  It also tends to force you to create a look up table in your brain ... lemme see... B  ahhh that's dash dot dot dot... and that look up table behavior is then reinforced reinforces by the actual physical movement of creating the sound.  A paddle/keyer removes the physical movement and causes you to concentrate on the sound and hear the sound, and it's getting the sound lodged in your brain that is key.  For years I could never get past 13 with a strait key and I built a keyer and a paddle and in just a couple weeks was at 20.  I built the paddle from an old telephone relay I bought for 25 cents at a hamfest.  It was single lever and had no adjustment but up to about 30 wpm it didn't need any adjustment.  The point is you don't need to spend a lot of money to get a keyer/paddle working.

73  W9OY


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: K0AST on December 27, 2015, 02:04:33 PM
One of the things I have been trying is head copying at (for me) very fast 22-23wpm, then dropping to say 15wpm for a while.  the 15 sounds like 5WPM in comparison, and is far far easier after 23WPM.

Kind of like stressing my mind, then allowing it to relax.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: K7KBN on December 27, 2015, 03:54:00 PM
Every student who graduated from Navy Radioman School in the early-to-mid 1960s and earlier was able to send and receive at least 22WPM, properly spaced and formed, using a STRAIGHT KEY and a TYPEWRITER.  None of us got tired after 30 minutes, or six hours, of essentially constant sending at that speed.  If you learn to use it correctly, a straight key is a wondrous machine.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: W9OY on December 28, 2015, 07:11:05 AM
Just because the Navy did it in the 60's doesnt mean its the right thing to do.  This is a hobby not Viet Nam.  Every radioman I knew from that era could copy 35 in his head without batting an eye and most could do 50, so you are trying to compare a race car driver to a student driver.

73. W9OY


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: K7EXJ on December 28, 2015, 09:59:12 AM
Well, since I was a ham at 13, and a Radioman in the Navy, and a Radio Officer on merchant ships, and a communications tech in government service, plus learned American Morse at a railroad telegrapher school, I have to say: use a straight key first, get the patterns down, and then decide which way to jump from there. Focus on learning the code not on gadgets.

The ability to use a straight key is basic to using Morse code. A straight key is generally sturdier than a paddle, is usable on virtually any rig new or old, and is less of a gimmick that the various paddles and keyers and bugs. You can make a straight key out of a piece of metal, two screws and a wood block; or even two bare wires if you have to but if all your reflexes are focused on paddles and keyers then you're missing out on a big part of the art of Morse Code.

I like gadgets as much as the next ham but I have, in the past, used the Tune switch on an Argonaut 509 to get help for a family of sailboaters stranded on an isolated beach in Baja. (Someone in La Paz broke into our van and stole both the microphone and the straight key for the 509 but, fortunately, the 509 was with me on our sailboat.)


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: K7KBN on December 28, 2015, 11:58:25 AM
Just because the Navy did it in the 60's doesnt mean its the right thing to do.  This is a hobby not Viet Nam.  Every radioman I knew from that era could copy 35 in his head without batting an eye and most could do 50, so you are trying to compare a race car driver to a student driver.

73. W9OY

Those "race car drivers", as you call them, started out as "student drivers", as you call them.  Maybe the Navy's method wasn't at all bad.  The ability to copy 35 in one's head didn't come until after a year or so as an actual operator unless the student had had some exposure to Morse code before going to Navy school.

K7EXJ has it exactly right.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: W9OY on December 28, 2015, 03:03:55 PM
Pat

I was a LT in Navy and thank you for your service.  I also took the 2nd class CW license and of all the commercial licenses it was the hardest.  Too much nonsense about dynamotors.  I was licensed at age 11.  I took my novice test down at the old Allied radio store in Chicago at age 7 but failed the code by one letter.  So by age 7, I was already fairly competent at 5wpm CW. 

You miss the point.  The Navy radioman and a Radio officer are commercial posts.  The quality of CW you need to do commercial and military traffic far exceeds what you need for ham radio.  You trained hours and hours a day for months to learn your skill, not 15 minutes a day so implying one should use the method you used doesn't make sense.  You were getting paid to do what you did, and the Navy was paying you to achieve a certain level of competence, and they had an entire training program to teach you how to become competent.  Had you failed you would have been swabbing the deck so you had a motivation far exceeding "I think I'd like to learn CW", and you had teachers to monitor, troubleshoot and amend your weaknesses.   I'm sure you worked up to that 8 hours on the key, but I bet the first time you tried it you probably did 8 minutes.  So while your credentials are impressive your arguments are not.   Your prescription assumes a lot, like motivation and frustration tolerance a competent training program etc.  It's very different if it's your career vs if it's your hobby.  Nobody gets paid to learn CW in ham radio.  So what's the point of making it really friggin hard when all you want to do is become competent enough to bat the breeze with some joker in Poughkeepsie?  Yes strait keys are pretty robust but so what?  If you whack it with a sledge it will explode just the same as a paddle.  If one is already hell on wheels on CW it takes zero minutes to learn to use a strait key and do a credible job, so the point is to get to be hell on wheels on CW, not make the frustration so high as to fail to learn the code.

In addition the ONLY way you get to 20 is to learn to hear a character and have it register in the consciousness as the character.  The goal is to hear a group of characters and have it register as a word or a thought.  You will never get there if you use the dot/dash look up table method.   Russ Farnsworth was a friend of mine and he was the author of the Farnsworth method.  The whole point of the of that method was to send the character at a high speed and have a period of time to let the sound sink in and be identified as the character, avoiding learning the look up table.  In addition a paddle/keyer separates the muscle memory of pumping the key from the sound of the character.  If you study the neuro-psychology of thought, "pre-thought" is often made up of certain anticipatory muscle movements, that is the muscles move in a pattern before the thought actually occurs.  You can often see pre-thought in an older person who moves his lips mimicking what he is hearing, or in a guitarist who is singing the melody just before ripping out the sequence on the fret board.  This pre-thought sequencing is something you would like to divorce from the sound of a character because it's too time consuming to gain speed.  A keyer/paddle achieves this goal.  Koch's method sends the character at full speed (say 20 wpm) but starts with only 2 characters and then adds characters as competence with the preceding characters is achieved.  Koch's method is regarded (at least by some) as the fastest way to learn CW, which also likely means it's the least frustrating.   Koch was apparently a learning and occupational psychologist, and published his method in German in 1936, and used acquisition of CW as his experimental model.  Of course you can use any method that gets the job done, but to me this is my most vital and likely least considered piece of advice.  So it boils down to use a keyer and some method, or join the Navy.   

I learned using a record from Allied radio and it was flat out the worst method.  It virtually guaranteed you would never get past 13 wpm unless you unlearned what they taught.

73  W9OY


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: K7EXJ on December 28, 2015, 04:35:56 PM

You miss the point. 

Apparently one of us did. I was under the impression that the OP wanted suggestions for LEARNING Morse code and, while I'm sure your post was interesting, I fail to understand how someone in the process of learning Morse code would benefit from changing his/her focus to learning how to manipulate a paddle and keyer; which is, after all, a completely different skill set.

Now I can see how an operator might benefit from using a paddle after learning the code and gaining some proficiency. After all, you, yourself say that you were at 13wpm when you moved to a paddle. And sending is different from copying when it comes to Morse. Certainly we all need to learn to send but a straight key seems to me to be far better for that in the beginning than trying to use a paddle.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: K7KBN on December 28, 2015, 09:26:26 PM
Nobody gets paid to learn CW in ham radio. 

Nobody gets paid to learn Morse code in ham radio, true enough.  But there are those who complain it's too hard when there's no test at all (other than the ham on the other end of the QSO being able to decipher what's being sent).  The ONLY way to learn is to PRACTICE. Practice requires time and concentration.  If the beginner is unable to devote the time, and to get away from interruptions for at least half an hour a day - and more is better - he's not going to progress as fast as he probably expects, and he'll get discouraged.

Yes, it's a hobby.  Some hobbies require a commitment of time and effort for one to become "good" at it.

And thank you for your service.  I went from Radioman to Warrant Electronics Tech (I was one of the Navy's last W1s, to give you an idea of how long ago THAT was ;) ).  Finally retired as LDO LT in Surface Engineering and Repair.  My retired rank remains W4.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: W9OY on December 29, 2015, 06:22:17 PM
Craig

The point of sending with a paddle/keyer is you can make perfect code without involving pumping the key in unison with code generation.  Sending code is clearly as much involved in learning as receiving.  No one is ever going to make a qso unless they are confident enough their code is readable.

Pat

My hat's off to you, I was a one month wonder in the medical core at NHO so I barely consider myself part of the service.  I'm an anesthesiologist by trade but I didn't make a career out of the Navy.  I have the greatest respect for those that did.  Made a lot of good friends there.  I looked you up and see you're in Bremerton so it all makes sense.  Maybe catch you on 40 sometime, where you can bury me on CW.  I'll be the one using a paddle :)

73


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: K7KBN on December 30, 2015, 01:36:18 PM
Hey, Doc Lee!

Probably off topic, but it's medical.  Back in '63, while I was in RM school, there was an outbreak of meningitis in San Diego so the instructors passed out little green and white envelopes of the drug of choice, which was a sulfa compound, and I'm highly allergic.  So the instructor tells me to go to the main dispensary and exchange it.  So - I tucked the envelope into my inside jumper pocket (undress whites) and set off.  It was a warm day and I perspire pretty heavily.  The sweat got absorbed by the envelope and then by the sulfa, and it leached out onto my skin.  When I stepped up to the desk at the dispensary, the left side of my neck was bright red and the corpsman hit his emergency button, vaulted over the desk and pulled my jumper off, looking for the source of what he thought was blood!  By this time, every medical person in the world was there!  They put a baking soda poultice on the area to reduce the itching and kept me for an hour or so for observation.

Hope to meet you on the air one day!


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: M0LEP on January 01, 2016, 07:27:33 AM
I fail to understand how someone in the process of learning Morse code would benefit from changing his/her focus to learning how to manipulate a paddle and keyer; which is, after all, a completely different skill set.

I tried starting using a straight key. Hated it. For one, it seemed to strain parts of my arm that are overly sensitive due too way many years of using computer mice. It was pointed out to me that just about every rig has a keyer in it these days, and stand-alone keyers aren't that big an outlay (and might make an interesting construction project along the way, too). I tried a paddle. It took me a few days (and a little reading) to get the trick of it, but it is far more natural for me than a straight key. Putting the straight key aside and getting a paddle was one of the changes that kept me trying to learn Morse. Another was dumping Koch in the bit bucket and learning to read the old-fashioned way instead. The last big change was finding the best pitch and volume. The almost universal default 600Hz was torture for me. A fairly quiet concert A (440Hz) or therabouts works way better for me.

You need to find the ways that work best for you. I can only talk about what has and has not worked for me. My way won't work for everyone any more than the Navy way or the CWOps way or any of the others will.

73, Rick 5Z4/M0LEP


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: W9OY on January 01, 2016, 01:01:34 PM
Rick

Excellent point about the pitch.  I use 400hz.  160m DX Guru W4ZV uses something like 300.  Your strait key experience pretty much mirrors mine.  You can get a VERY deluxe keyer kit from K1EL called the K16 for $19.95.  The K16 has adjustable pitch for the sidetone from 300 to 2000hz.  It also will send Farnsworth method cw so you can load up a memory and have it play back. or use the built in code practice generator.

http://k1el.tripod.com/files/k16man.pdf

73  W9OY


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: W3TTT on January 02, 2016, 04:55:53 PM
First of all it's a hobby in the purpose is to have fun. Second I don't C any reason for going any faster than 10 or 12 words per minute. Because see above it is a hobby. so therefore if you hear me calling please slow down, I think I can do maybe 15 words per minute currently. And I've been practicing for over 20 years.. so please do not put away the microphone. If you want to use voice then go ahead no problem. like others have said its not a race and you're only out to have fun and amateur radio. On a separate note I'm wondering just how many code operators are still around that can go faster than 20 or 25 words per minute? It's not something that is so common anymore especially commercial workers. I've seen statistics that say 95% of amateur operation is voice and only 5% is CW. And of those how many would be faster than 25 WPN? The point is that most hands cannot operate at faster than 20 and most operates at around 10 to 15 which is what I would like to see as the national standard.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: K7KBN on January 02, 2016, 06:19:01 PM
There are thousands of hams around the world who "have fun" WELL above 12 WPM.  Many of us never thought of ourselves as being capable of that 20 WPM required back in the old Extra days, but after a few QSOs at 5, then a few more at 10 .... using the radio every day and getting more and more proficient we were doing 25 before we realized it.  Same thing happens today - or it CAN happen, if one wants to give it a chance.  My hands still work on a straight key at and above 20, and I'll be 72 in March.

If you "have fun" at 10-12 WPM, well and good.  Just don't expect everyone to be willing to slow down when they can have fun at a higher speed.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: K7EXJ on January 02, 2016, 06:52:14 PM
First of all it's a hobby in the purpose is to have fun. Second I don't C any reason for going any faster than 10 or 12 words per minute. Because see above it is a hobby....
Lots of hams seem to want to insist that amateur radio is "just a hobby" but it doesn't look like the FCC thinks that. Part 97 calls it the "Amateur Radio Service" and further defines its purpose in this way:

§97.1   Basis and purpose.

The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:

(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.

(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.

(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.

(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.

(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.



Stamp collecting is a hobby. Building a model railroad is a hobby. Quilting is a hobby. None of those are Internationally recognized by treaty and none are licensed. You may treat it as a hobby if you wish, but the reason all these frequencies are set aside for our use is because the world expects that least some of us will be competent enough to help out in an emergency or in case of war.


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: M0LEP on January 02, 2016, 10:15:22 PM
Middle of last year I did a bit of analysis based on reversebeacon.net logs. See messages in this thread (http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,104314.msg862789.html#msg862789). Broad conclusions were that in general CW averages around 20-25wpm and contest CW averages 25-30wpm. Quite a bit of the contest traffic is computer-keyed.

As for the "just a hobby" thing; well, yes, these days there is a large part of amateur radio which is "just a hobby", but there are also plenty of bits of it where new gound's being broken, new things experimented on, and solid research being done. It may be "just a hobby", but it's a highly technical hobby which offers benefits to others outside the hobby in many ways, and it's mostly because of those side benefits to others outside the hobby that we get the frequency allocations we do. This is true worldwide, even the parts of it where the FCC has absolutely no say. ;)

73, Rick 5Z4/M0LEP


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: W9OY on January 03, 2016, 03:02:19 PM
W3TTT

I hardly ever go slower than 20.  I will of course slow down, but I tend to try and match my contacts speed and it's generally 25 +- 5

73  W9OY


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: OZ8AGB on January 07, 2016, 02:39:13 AM
Why go faster than 12-15? Because it is a challenge!

I am quite new on CW and struggle with head copy. But I set myself the goal of one day being so proficient that I can become member of HSC. Why? Because of the challenge. Because it is not easy.
I know it won't happen in a minute. Not this year. But some day hopefully before I retire.
 8)


Title: RE: The single most vital piece of advice I can give to those wanting to learn CW
Post by: GW3OQK on January 07, 2016, 03:51:56 AM
Casey - TI2/NA7U
What did you consider the "single most vital piece of advice" amongst all those replies?

73, Andrew