eHam

eHam Forums => CW => Topic started by: AD0AE on January 09, 2013, 07:24:53 AM



Title: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: AD0AE on January 09, 2013, 07:24:53 AM
Hi All-

I recently read WB2WIK's article about CW and really enjoyed it.  Thank you WB2WIK!  I want to take his advice a step further and get some recommendations. 

My story real quick, I am currently in the process of learning morse code at 12 wpm using the Koch Method (JustLearnMorse code freeware).  I am about 2 letters shy of having the whole alphabet done and then it is onto numbers and a few prosigns (SK..etc).  I try to do a 100% copy using the keyboard ( and I am good at typing, so that isn't an issue).  Unfortunately, I probably only practice 5-10 mins a day.  So it is a bit low, but I have been at learning it for over a year now, so I am committed.

After reading the article, it sounds like a better way to copy (perhaps after learning the code?) is to listen and just absorb what is being said.  My question: how can you practice this skill?  I would imagine listening to actual conversations is great, but I still sense I will be trying to copy.  Maybe using programs or other website that send words to copy? 

In this context does slowing down to maybe 5-8 wpm make sense to get the hang of listening and then building up speed?

I am also wondering if people who just listen will occasionally jot things down or "spell out" harder/longer words during real QSOs?  I suppose some of this is just "what works," but you all are the experts, not me!

As a final note, one of the key reasons I want to learn CW is that it is one of the few modes that comes in clear in my apartment which has a ton of noise.  That is reason enough right there! 

Thanks all!



Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: WB2WIK on January 09, 2013, 09:29:20 AM
For me and for most I've encountered, the way to learn how to copy without writing or typing anything (just listening) is by actually using the code to make contacts.

"Copying" code can work, but it takes a long time and is kind of boring.  Much nicer to actually chat with people, which of course provides sending practice as well.  Sending is 50% of the code, and not only is it good practice but it improves almost anyone's "copying" ability in the process.



Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: PA0BLAH on January 09, 2013, 09:40:08 AM
I miss a reference to W2WIK. so don't recall what he wrote.

So right of the pen:

You master practically all characters, so exercise with words. You are accustomed with Just Learn Morse Code.

Two methods:
1. log in at www.lcwo.net and exercise words. You can do that with a limited number of characters and with a fixed speed, with limited wordlength  and with repetitions ad infinitum.

Listen to the word at your present speed. repeat the word just by listening and glueing the received characters in your head, till you get it. repeat it 2 times after detection to be sure. After that go over to next word. Do that each day with a set of 25 words as offered by lcwo.net.

2. Take a list of words from wikipedia that are most common in English, or ur language. or the language you want to get the utmost proficiency in.

put them car return separated in Just Learn Morse Code and play the file random. In that case every word only one time, or no stop when you are sure you detected right.

My opinion is that it is not good to exercise on the band, because then you don't want to miss a single character and hence are jotting it down. Furthermore decoding by head is much more then the standard QSO text of a rubber stamp QSO.
Also when you will be learning with machine code, your sending increases in quality, because you know exactly how Morse has to sound in order to copy the easiest way.


gd luck and congrats with your progress so far




Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: KK4MRN on January 09, 2013, 11:46:17 AM
I have that program too - Just Learn Morse Code.  It is good, but it can get boring just listening.

I also listen to live CW on 40 m.   Some are slow.  Some are fast.  Some you can tell use straight key. I do this also to hear how contacts happen.  I recognize the musical sound of a CQ call.

I have a few programs on my cell phone.  I have an iphone.  I'm sure Android and other makers have apps too for learning CW.  This way, you can learn it wherever you are.  However, you might need a pair of headphones so as to not annoy people around you. 

Most morse code software tends to focus on listening.  There is the Tap tab in the iphone software called Morse It which allows you to enter morse code.  If you enter the dits and dahs correctly with the correct spacing in between, the character will display.    I try tapping each letter of the alphabet, then the digits, then some punctuation like question mark, period, comma, then some pro-signs.  I then type my name, my call sign, think of sentences to type out.  This helps me learn too and keep me interested.  CWSpeed is another good app, but it is only for listening.


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: AG6WT on January 09, 2013, 12:26:55 PM
Take this with a grain of salt as I too am just learning but hear is some off-the-air advice I've gotten from my club elmers...

Try copying behind. That is instead of writing the characters as you hear them, try listening, storing the characters in your head, and transcribe them a few characters back. For example, if you are doing 5 character code groups like ABCUW, don't write the "A" as you hear it but let a few characters come first so that maybe you are hearing the "U" when you start writing "AB..". What you are doing is training your brain to not just translate but to actually store characters as a word is being formed.

See if your software has a word or qso mode. The software I use has a library of CW abbreviations, q-codes, and common English words. If your software has it, try transcribing words after you hear them. Many will recommend not writing anything down but if you do that you don't have anyway of checking your progress and seeing where you need work. As you progress, try to listen for more than one word before you type anything.


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: K8AXW on January 09, 2013, 08:53:28 PM
Some people have the ability to copy in their head right off or shortly after learning the code.  However, most of us mortals learn head copy after many years of listening to the code.

As one pointed out the best way to do this is by making contacts.  Most contacts consists of similar components..... name, QTH, signal report...etc.  These will be the first things that most people learn to head copy first.  When the OP switches to personal items or asks questions, then it's a different game.

It should be understood that head copy is an advanced art.  If  I was just learning the code I wouldn't complicate it by learning head copy at the same time.  Just learn the code and the rest will be forthcoming.



Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: AC4RD on January 10, 2013, 04:12:08 AM
...the way to learn how to copy without writing or typing anything (just listening) is by actually using the code to make contacts.

I agree 100%!   If you sit down with some training device, you're working.  If you make contacts on the air, you're having FUN, and you'll improve faster than you would with some trainer. 

Except for learning it for the 5wpm test, I never studied code at all.  But as a new Tech+, I spent a lot of time on 15 and 40, having fun working some DX and having some chats.  A year later, I took the 20wpm test as a warmup for 13wpm, and passed it without expecting to. :-)  And I had a WORLD of fun getting my speed up that way!   73 GL!


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: PA0BLAH on January 10, 2013, 04:47:53 AM
Right,

So AD0AE, you asked a question and you got a lot of nearly orthogonal answers. So just pick the one that suits you  best.
Afterall asking has hardly or no sense.

The worst advice I noticed was to exercise copying behind.

Make fun that is the easiest way to get results, I read.

Nature knows that, otherwise we shouldn't be here because making careless sex is extreme fun.

May be people are able to perform a task that they think by carefull reasoning must be the best to do, (diminishing overweight by example) but the task is not funny at all, in that case you should invent a syringe with a fluid that makes the task funny for everybody that will perform the task but missing any willpower required to accomplish it.

A lot of guys don't succeed in academic education, not due to lack of brains, but because every task you determine that it will be your goal is not funny in the long term.



Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: AA4PB on January 10, 2013, 05:17:53 AM
Copying behind was something we were taught in the military. That's because we were using a typewriter (mill). Different Morse characters take different amounts of time to send but a typewriter takes the same amount of time to type each character. At higher speeds you need the "brain buffer" so that the varying Morse times can be translated to a constant typing rhythm. For example, if someone sent "EE0", the two Es would appear faster than you could type them but the zero would give you time to catch up.

In my case, copying behind didn't appear to do anything to help copying in my head. I could type what was sent but I didn't comprehend any of it until I read it later. The best thing I found for head copy of normal QSOs was to learn to recognize the short, common words like "and or the" as complete sounds rather than individual letters.


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: N2EY on January 10, 2013, 05:57:10 AM
Here's how I learned "head copy":

First I learned to "write it down". I found a pencil and paper, plus block printing, worked best for me. Got well past 5 wpm and the Novice license that way. Kept at it and got well past 30 wpm, with the limiting factor being writing speed.

But once I had the basics, I also spent time "just listening". Had the receiver on and receiving code whenever possible, even when doing other things. Over time it became second nature.

Contesting helped too because you hear a lot of the same thing over and over but only have to write down some of it.

73 de jim, N2EY


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: AB7KT on January 10, 2013, 07:03:50 PM
I can tell you the way I learned to copy in my head. It worked for me, that is all I can tell you.
For copying in your head, I listened to CNN Headline News in CW (there is a website and I listened to it on my iPhone while I was driving).
I often have read that people felt you should practice copying random letters or random code groups so you can't anticipate what is coming or so you can't guess what is coming etc.
I disagree with this, especially when it comes to learning to copy in your head. If you are copying text that is in complete sentences, yes you do anticipate what is coming and you also guess: but this is a good thing. You guess because you know what they are talking about and are following a along with the conversation: so when you get lost or you miss a few characters in a row, you mentally fill it in. If you are rea ing this sent  ce and you miss a few charact  s. You still know and understand what is being said: and that is the point.
It would be no different if you were having a verbal conversation or watching TV and you get distracted: you missed a little bit, but you still know basically what is being said.

So in my case I used CNN Headline News, but you could use any text: magazine articles, books, whatever.

Back when we had to take an FCC code test and they required you to have perfect copy and/or answer questions about what was sent, it made sense to learn to copy on paper or typewriter. But if you are learning CW to communicate on the air, this is an unnessary step that makes things harder and more complicated. It adds another dimension that only complicates things: you can't write fast enough to keep up or you make a mistake writing, or your pencil breaks, or ............................. Learning to copy in your head is the only way to go. I wish I would have learned to copy in my head from the beginning. I feel that I learned to copy code the wrong way.

I may be wrong about this but it seems to me that if you can copy in your head, you could transition to writing it down pretty easily if nessessary. However the opposite is not true as you are figuring out: learning to copy by writing everything down does not easily translate to copying in your head.


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: ZENKI on January 10, 2013, 11:04:33 PM
Throw the pencil away and just listen. Dont think or say I am going to copy 100%  When you work on the computer or you doing some soldering just listen.

In no time you will be copying in your head. When you try too hard to be MR CW superman you  will then fail at it. Chill, take it easy and  your act just comes together.

Its a language, and thats how I learned many languages. I speak 8 different languages fluently and I did this by listening to shortwave broadcasts without trying too hard or studying. CW is no different.

Irregular CW is the best way to learn copying in your head. There is still a Korean and Chinese coastal radio stations on the air trying copying that in your head you will see how quickly
your head copying gets better. Ham QSO's these days are too canned to be of value. Whats being sent can be almost predicted so you not sweating on copying because you know what is coming.
Its even worst now with QRZ.com because the turkeys are looking up your name. Thats why I blanked out my name on QRZ. Its all the PC CW operators who cant receive CW  who are using this canned CW.

I can easily fix the PC CW receivers up, I just switch on the bug and they go QRT!

Hi All-

I recently read WB2WIK's article about CW and really enjoyed it.  Thank you WB2WIK!  I want to take his advice a step further and get some recommendations. 

My story real quick, I am currently in the process of learning morse code at 12 wpm using the Koch Method (JustLearnMorse code freeware).  I am about 2 letters shy of having the whole alphabet done and then it is onto numbers and a few prosigns (SK..etc).  I try to do a 100% copy using the keyboard ( and I am good at typing, so that isn't an issue).  Unfortunately, I probably only practice 5-10 mins a day.  So it is a bit low, but I have been at learning it for over a year now, so I am committed.

After reading the article, it sounds like a better way to copy (perhaps after learning the code?) is to listen and just absorb what is being said.  My question: how can you practice this skill?  I would imagine listening to actual conversations is great, but I still sense I will be trying to copy.  Maybe using programs or other website that send words to copy? 

In this context does slowing down to maybe 5-8 wpm make sense to get the hang of listening and then building up speed?

I am also wondering if people who just listen will occasionally jot things down or "spell out" harder/longer words during real QSOs?  I suppose some of this is just "what works," but you all are the experts, not me!

As a final note, one of the key reasons I want to learn CW is that it is one of the few modes that comes in clear in my apartment which has a ton of noise.  That is reason enough right there! 

Thanks all!




Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: AB7KT on January 11, 2013, 06:45:17 AM
"Ham QSO's these days are too canned to be of value. Whats being sent can be almost predicted so you not sweating on copying because you know what is coming."

However, if you are doing this (learning CW) in order to use it in ham radio QSOs then learning, by copying ham radio QSOs is a good thing to do.
You know what's coming ?
Good.
You know what's coming because you succesfully copied what came before. Otherwise you wouldn't know what was coming. And you are practicing what you are going to use on the air.

Think about the freedom: instead of sitting there hunched over the table, pencil in hand, carefully writing UR RST 599 599 BT NAME KEN KEN..........................
You instead can copy in your head, you are sitting back relaxed. Because ham radio QSOs are canned (at least the first go round or two) you know the only thing you really have to concentrate on is getting the report, name, and location. You might want to make note of his name and location on paper. Or while he is sending has canned response, you might want to be updating your logbook or filling out his QSL card instead of bending over the desk copying down letters and words that you know are coming. You are free to do this because you can copy in your head and you know what's coming. 

Landline telegraphy is long gone. Martitime CW is long gone. The US Military doesn't use CW anymore. Morse code exams are a thing of the past.  So I have to assume you are studying CW for use on ham radio ? A lot of stuff that has been accepted as gospel for decades is no longer valid. Learning CW using the methods of 50 years ago is not the BEST way to go today. Yes, it will work, but there are better/faster/more efficeient ways to learn CW today IF you are learning it just to converse on the ham radio bands. And the most important of these is to forget about trying to achieve 100% copy on paper.


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: K8AXW on January 11, 2013, 05:52:24 PM
7KT:  Yup!  Yur right!  For the typical "canned" QSO this will work fine.  But, the first time someone sends something out of the ordinary you're screwed!  Like there is more than one way to say "The name here is..."  Or, "The QTH here is....?  Then what?

I've seen a natural tendency to constantly eliminate writing portions of a QSO on paper by being able to hear the letters and putting them together in the head to form words.  Without conscious thought. 

I feel learning head copy is to keep writing it down and with time the need to write it down becomes less and less.  In the meantime, successful QSOs take place without constant repeating because you wasn't able to follow it in the head.



Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: AB9NZ on January 11, 2013, 07:27:58 PM
k8axw, Al you're absolutely right. New operators are encouraged to put down their pencils and look like idiots to somehow force head copy. Having a pencil in your hand won't keep you from learning head copy. Head copy will come exactly when you are ready.
          73 de Tom, ab9nz


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: AB7KT on January 11, 2013, 07:34:37 PM
K8AXW: go back and read my previous post. You somehow left all that out of the discussion.

I advocate learning to copy in your head by listening to plain text stuff (including on the air CW QSOs). Stuff just like they send on W1AW code practice which is typically text out of QST magazine articles. I chose to use the CNN Headline News simply because someone posted the link, and I could use my cell phone to listen to it in the car. It plays in an endless loop so you don't have to mess with your phone while you are on the road. You CAN listen to W1AW code practice from the ARRL website, however it plays the file and stops. I used to commute 70+ miles to work. I could spend 15 minutes or so listening to the news without ever touching my phone.

When I was listening to the news, I knew what the current news stories were. So, when a news story started, I knew bascially what was going to be said. This fact allowed me to miss letters, words, etc but I was able to sort of fill in/guess at words because I knew what was being talked about. I might get a letter or two out of a word, but was able to "guess" the word based on the letters I copied and because I knew what they were talking about.  Over time, I was able to copy more and more and miss less and less. After a few months I stopped writing down my ham radio QSOs word for word. I started taking notes. Sometimes I would get off track and have to pick up the pencil and revert back to copying on paper. At some point along the line, I quit even doing that.

If you can copy W1AW code practice in your head: not nessessarily with 100% copy but you are following what is being discussed, you can easily handle a CW QSO on the air. This isn't a "canned" QSO. This is being able to copy in your head.



Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: K8AXW on January 11, 2013, 08:57:07 PM
7KT:  I didn't mean to minimize your opinion OM so please try to get the knot out of your tail!

I've never heard of CNN being sent by CW and it's great that you have this resource.  Same with W1AW.  However, both must be used at a specific time.  On the air experience is usually at a different time and will be used much more than the other two examples you gave.

Consequently, I feel that the time on the air is the most important and "life like."  I'm always amazed at how so many of us want the easy way, the fastest way to learn a talent.  Most times this fast/easy way winds up complicating the process and probably discourages many. 

At one time people 'just did it.'  Now so much time is wasted looking for the fast/easy way that seldom actually works.  You found a method and I congratulate you.  As one old ham told me many times, "Whatever floats your boat."  Hardly original but truthful, never-the-less.


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: M0LEP on January 11, 2013, 11:16:09 PM
I'm always amazed at how so many of us want the easy way, the fastest way to learn a talent.

That's just human nature. (Well, the smarter folks will be looking for "most efficient" rather than "easiest", but that's a subtle difference.) A few might be able to "just do it", but most folk will need some help along the way. A good teacher could adapt the training to match the pupil's needs, but in these post-Morse-test days there aren't so many teachers about (never mind good teachers). If you want to learn but you don't know where to start, and there's no teacher there, what else are you to do? Chances are you come to some likely place and ask...


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: M0JHA on January 12, 2013, 01:30:21 AM
Just reading the code in your head rather than copying it with a pen is so much more fun and feels more natural . I'm self taught and started reading as soon as i was making qso's just jotting bits and bobs down , name/call etc . I don't think it's any harder than writing down, in fact i find writing down harder as it's one more thing to do , like learning code itself it's just practice..

learning doesn't have to be boring , make some plain text mp3 files on subjects that interest you and listen whilst out and about , i have had loads of files on fishing etc .. I'm now listening to a case file on Jack the Ripper and i forget about code and concentrate on reading what's being said ..

one tip i would offer and some may disagree is make the files faster than you currently work at. i work at 21wpm at the moment on air but my files are at 25 and although i miss more than i would on air the bits i am getting come very naturally and i'm hardly aware i'm reading code and it's starting to feel like reading if that doesn't sound daft ..

Oh , i make no conciouse effort to do it , i listen with the view if i hear it, i hear it , if i don't ,i don't  , no pressureand i go about my business with the mp3 playing away ..

billy


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: WB2WIK on January 12, 2013, 04:38:05 PM
I think "whatever works for you" is the right way.

But since I taught code classes for 20 years to hundreds of people I didn't know, I think "most" found that really believing code is a language and learning to use it is the same as learning French (or whatever might be a new language) works well.  And that is, to think in code.  If you have to think in English (or whatever) and "translate" into code, that just makes it harder.

And I think literally every single student found that sending code helps with being able to receive it.  As such, "listening" is fun, and fine, but makes a longer and more difficult path to becoming good at it: It's faster and easier to be good if you also send it -- a lot.


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: AB9NZ on January 12, 2013, 08:08:42 PM
Quote
And I think literally every single student found that sending code helps with being able to receive it.  As such, "listening" is fun, and fine, but makes a longer and more difficult path to becoming good at it: It's faster and easier to be good if you also send it -- a lot.
  100% true Steve. I've been listening to music on the radio most of my life, using the logic of the Koch method, I should be a rock star now.
               Tom, ab9nz, Mount Prospect, Illinois


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: K7JBQ on January 12, 2013, 10:42:51 PM
"Head copy," or whatever you want to call it, is more a matter of attitude than technique.

If you convince yourself that's it's OK to miss the occasional character, you're part way there.

If you decide to "have a conversation," instead of sweating "copying code," you're most of the way there.

The rest is simply doing it, as Steve suggested, until it's second nature.

73,
Bill


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: LB3KB on January 13, 2013, 05:42:22 AM
I've been listening to music on the radio most of my life, using the logic of the Koch method, I should be a rock star now.
That's just stupid, Tom.

If you applied Koch to playing the guitar, you would learn one note or chord at a time at the speed you want to play it at.  Whenever you could hit that one note or chord most of the time, you would add another one.

While that may not make you a rock star, it sure would make you a better guitarist than just sitting around bitching about it.


LB3KB Sigurd
justlearnmorsecode.com (http://justlearnmorsecode.com)


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: AB9NZ on January 13, 2013, 06:58:50 AM
Good point Sig. Probably not a fair comparison, but I do believe the act of sending has a huge impact on imprinting the sounds in your brain. Don't you believe sending helps in learning the characters faster? Tom, ab9nz


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: AD0AE on January 13, 2013, 02:57:12 PM
Hi All-

I just want to thank you all for the awesome suggestions and the input.  I will say that my time on the air is pretty limited, so that is partially why I wanted to ask for a few other things I could do.  I also sit in front of a computer most of the day, so something online makes a lot of sense.  I was mainly asking this for suggestions on how to take things to the next level.

I plan to put some of these ideas into practice, along with trying to send some code in my spare time.  Maybe there is some sort of software package that will help you send code...

Thank you all for the suggestions!

73s,
Steve
AD0AE


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: N3QE on January 13, 2013, 03:26:11 PM
35 years ago, I would take notes in paper logbook of (beyond FCC required logging) ops name, QTH, rig, other interesting information. As a novice I pretty quickly learned that the typical novice QSO had a lot of repitition and while I could do letter-for-letter copy by handwriting at a speed of 5 or 10 WPM it got hard as I got faster. The typical RST, name, QTH exchange involved a lot of repitition and very quickly I think we all progressed from 100% copy, to just taking notes.

Fast forward to 2013. I have scraps of paper on the desk to take paper notes if necessary. The log information like name etc. now goes straight into my computer logger via keyboard. I do a lot of contesting but other stuff too.

As far as notes... The bandmap (partially filled in by skimmers if I'm running assisted, but always filled in and followed by keyboard and eye as I listen to the band) is important to many ham activities but is completely essential in contesting. The equivalent when I was a kid, was "ARRL Op Aid 7" aka the dupe sheet as annotated by band position (at least many of us, who weren't filling the whole dupe sheet, were annotating hand-drawn bandmaps). The computer bandmap is so much better. I haven't seen Op Aid 7 in decades. I don't know if there's a CW practice program that simulates tuning the band and letting you fill in the bandmap. If there were... that would be excellent practice. As it is, RufZXP is pretty good too (minus the actual "information value" in a bandmap).

If you wanted to use a computer program that is similar to my CW usage... I think RufZXP is pretty good. You don't have to key in the call letter-by-letter as it comes in, so it encourages thinking in bigger blocks than just letters. The computer UI is not identical to logging programs but is not too much different. If you miss something the first time, you just ask for a fill, in this way RufZXP is just like real life.

There's some slow CW on the bands... just tune it in and listen to it. Copy to paper or via keyboard if you feel it's necessary... but pretty soon you'll move beyond that. It's a natural progression if you are listening to real QSO's or contest exchanges, and not using "100% copy" training programs.


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: LB3KB on January 14, 2013, 03:29:26 AM
Good point Sig. Probably not a fair comparison, but I do believe the act of sending has a huge impact on imprinting the sounds in your brain. Don't you believe sending helps in learning the characters faster? Tom, ab9nz
You have to learn the characters before you can send them.  Once you know the characters, both sending and receiving will reinforce your skills.  And practicing sending is a must.  Too many of us went on the air with great receiving skills and messed up utterly because we didn't know how to properly send at speed.

73
LB3KB Sigurd
justlearnmorsecode.com (http://justlearnmorsecode.com)


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: WA6MJE on January 16, 2013, 09:02:48 AM
Thanks for all the great tips here.  After 55 years of hamming, one of my bucket list items it is actually get proficient at copying CW in my head before I kick the bucket.  I do not have forever to get this done at my age :)

First a question.  What is the goal here?  I had assumed that the most proficient CW op would actually copy every single word as would a person in a conversation in their native tongue.  But, the hints in these posts suggests that actually they just get the gist of it. I am not sure which is the goal I must shoot for.  Way back when I was a kid, one of my high school buddies became a whiz at CW, and when I stopped off at his house after school, he would whip out code that seemed like a blur to me, and he never used paper, and it seemed like he and the other party just chatted away without skipping a beat while I was clueless as to what was being said even though I had passed the FCC 13 WPM general test at the time. So I am setting my goal after all these years to do what he did.  Is that realistic?

Then a tip.  Suggestions here are to copy on the air rather than using practice devices. I have been doing that.  An easy way is to monitor one of the several SDR servers on websdr.org.  One of them has all of 160 through 20 meters showing in waterfalls all at once.  I can easily see a CW trace in the waterfall and click on it to listen in.  Also, I can tell which ones are at my speed by the spacing on the waterfall.  I can do this on my laptop while casually watching a boring TV show and get a few hours of practice at night.  I can do it from anywhere I have a computer and an internet connection, so I can practice copying a real QSO from a hotel room with no rig, no antenna.  My code speed is now back to 18 WPM working on 20.  But, I do not have the confidence yet to actually get on the air for a few more weeks.

Some day I will hook up with you guys at blazing speed and chat. Better late than never.

Rene - WA6MJE   


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: WB2WIK on January 16, 2013, 01:39:17 PM


First a question.  What is the goal here?  I had assumed that the most proficient CW op would actually copy every single word as would a person in a conversation in their native tongue.

Maybe, but when you converse with someone verbally, you don't write down what they say.  If you have a weak cellular telephone connection, or a noisy landline connection, or a fading signal on the radio (voice mode QSB), you can miss quite a lot of what the other person says and still have a perfectly good conversation.

I never thought "copying every single word" had anything to do with having QSOs via amateur radio. ;)


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: KW6LA on January 16, 2013, 04:55:47 PM
It blows my mind when people say just copy words when you’re just starting out to learn code. I have been listening to people speaking Spanish here in LA for decades
but have not learned to speak it… Crazy .  Know this up front, It is an acquired skill like riding a unicycle. You must practice, but practice doesn’t always make perfect and
can make it permanent if do it wrong. The human brain processes things very different, so what works for one may not for another. Just look at how men and women
think so differently. Lots of good advise here, but none would have worked for me. No silver bullet for most, but live sending and coping QSO’s have been the building
blocks for many Hams.

KW6LA / T2


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: K8AXW on January 16, 2013, 09:45:50 PM
6LA:  Of course you're very correct!  What is going on with the various posts is an attempt to answer questions by providing an opinion and or what works for that particular person.

What the person who originates the question must do is sift through these comments and see if one will work for him/her. 

This is why I've tried to point out for quite some time the best way to learn CW or to head copy is to practice, practice and practice some more.  This means listening and sending or anything that involves the learning process.

I spent 6 months in a military school where CW and its application was "force fed" which is the best way to train many people in a short period of time.  I've been using this 'craft' now for 58 years.

When this is analyzed it boils down to a lot of practice in a short period of time without the need for self discipline.  The discipline is provided for you.

Sure, there are "easier" ways to learn but quite often one spends too much time looking for the "magic bullet" instead of just doing it.


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: WB2WIK on January 17, 2013, 08:07:55 AM
It blows my mind when people say just copy words when you’re just starting out to learn code. I have been listening to people speaking Spanish here in LA for decades
but have not learned to speak it… Crazy . 

The difference is, if all you do is listen to it, it's almost impossible to pick it up.  Learn a couple dozen words and start speaking it, and others will coach you through a conversation.  Within a few months, you'll be fluent enough to have conversations without help.

The biggest obstacle IMO is simple: If you don't actually use the language (by speaking it), no amount of listening paves the path for progress.  That's why regarding Morse code, I've always encouraged everyone to start right out both sending and copying.  The sending part is important, and sending "to yourself" isn't terribly helpful.  It's much better to send to someone else, and have them reply.  If you miss 90% of what's sent, that's perfect.  100 "QSOs" later, you'll only miss 50%.  And 1000 "QSOs" later, you won't miss anything. ;)


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: M0LEP on January 17, 2013, 08:56:34 AM
If you miss 90% of what's sent, that's perfect.

...assuming the person at the other end has the patience to send everything ten times (or so)...


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: WB2WIK on January 17, 2013, 10:28:02 AM
If you miss 90% of what's sent, that's perfect.

...assuming the person at the other end has the patience to send everything ten times (or so)...

Not really.  If you're copying telephone numbers or something, then of course you need accuracy.

But in general conversation, you can miss a lot without really impacting the conversation, so no repeats would be required.

A great method for learning to comprehend stuff really well without paying attention to the words is the Evelyn Woods Reading Dynamics course, which I took in school at the age of 14 or so.  What a difference it makes.


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: M0LEP on January 17, 2013, 04:30:02 PM
But in general conversation, you can miss a lot without really impacting the conversation, so no repeats would be required.

In general conversation there's a bit of redundancy, but in a QSO some bits of information (callsigns, especially) need to be correct, and can't (usually) be guessed...


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: K5MF on January 17, 2013, 04:50:24 PM
trd tkng mst of th vwls out as i ws tld thy arnt rlly ncssry. Bt I kpt gttng rptd rqsts fr my cll sgn.  Sms thy cldnt fgr out who
5QB is.

73

Tom/AE5QB



Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: M0LEP on January 18, 2013, 12:03:50 AM
Sms thy cldnt fgr out who 5QB is.

Heh. Visited a Net recently where the old-timers all just gave their suffixes most of the time. As they all had the same prefix, it worked for them. Wouldn't have worked for me, though... ;)


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: M0JHA on January 18, 2013, 09:19:27 AM
practicing doesn't have to be boring , i noticed a few guys using "just learn morse code" you can copy/paste plain text to this and convert to mp3 files and listen whilst out and about with the benefit of the subject matter being what your interested in.

when i first started using it i was listening to fishing tips, species , tactics etc , as i knew the subject matter it was easier than trying to listen to a totally alien subject .. never gets boring as i can sawp and change files very quickly and i'm always looking for good reading material , i'm listening to jack the ripper case files ,treasure island and robinson crusoe at the moment ...

reading has made the code double pleasurable for me , it's just alltogether more natural feeling  ..


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: N3HAM on January 22, 2013, 10:27:34 AM
Go mobile with CW, and I mean actually driving not parked. No way you are going to be jotting anything down. And it makes you keep a call and name in your memory, quite the exercise and fun.


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: M0LEP on January 22, 2013, 01:19:26 PM
Go mobile with CW, and I mean actually driving not parked.

That might, I guess, work once you've reached a certain level of proficiency, but if you're still at a stage where listening to Morse takes concentration then it's probably better if you're not trying to drive at the same time...


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: W3TTT on January 24, 2013, 02:11:29 PM
Not everyone is born with the same "code intelligence" just like not everyone has the same strength or intelligence.  Personally, I am very good in math, programming, but maybe not so good in CW code.  It doesn't matter if I listen all day, for months, I still will not be as goood as some.  Fact of life.  All those that say "just listen in your head..." and so on, don't get it.

BTW the CNN server is:
http://cw.dimebank.com:8080/
; :) :)


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: AD0AE on January 25, 2013, 07:55:10 AM
One thing that would be nice about that CNN website is if the format wasn't exclusively for Mac products. I understand that .m3u only works with Itunes.  It would be nice if maybe the format was something that could be opened in Chrome.

Maybe there is a work-around, but I have tried to open this using Rythmbox on ubuntu and got a bunch of garbage.



Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: DJ1YFK on January 25, 2013, 01:05:05 PM
One thing that would be nice about that CNN website is if the format wasn't exclusively for Mac products. I understand that .m3u only works with Itunes.  It would be nice if maybe the format was something that could be opened in Chrome.

Maybe there is a work-around, but I have tried to open this using Rythmbox on ubuntu and got a bunch of garbage.

M3U is an open format for MP3 playlists, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M3U

In those M3U files on http://cw.dimebank.com:8080/ there's just one line in each, pointing to the URL of the actual stream. E.g. http://cw.dimebank.com:8080/CNNfast.m3u contains in plain ASCII: http://cw.dimebank.com:8080/CNNfast

All media players that support streaming media should support it in principle. Unfortunately those streams are using a 8kHz sample rate which many MP3 decoders choke on. With a default mplayer on Ubuntu I get very garbled audio, whereas VLC appears to handle it just fine.

73,
Fabian DJ1YFK
(who, by the way, uses rss2email & cwbiff for news headlines in CW)


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: K7RNO on April 01, 2013, 09:52:44 AM
To add my own experience and to ask a question, please allow me to resurrect this sleeping thread.

I was an active radio operator in the German Navy about four decades ago. I always had to deal with the problem that my brain was adding letter to letter for each word as it progressed, causing a problem when the word did not turn out what I expected it to be. In such cases, I lost at least one or two letters. To avoid this issue, I had to force myself not to read the evolving word but just each sign, one at a time.

So my question is, whether this would not also be a problem for anyone who prefers to copy the words in the head and not the signs on paper (or computer).


Title: RE: How to practically copy CW in your head - for beginners
Post by: STAYVERTICAL on April 01, 2013, 07:26:52 PM
To add my own experience and to ask a question, please allow me to resurrect this sleeping thread.

I was an active radio operator in the German Navy about four decades ago. I always had to deal with the problem that my brain was adding letter to letter for each word as it progressed, causing a problem when the word did not turn out what I expected it to be. In such cases, I lost at least one or two letters. To avoid this issue, I had to force myself not to read the evolving word but just each sign, one at a time.

So my question is, whether this would not also be a problem for anyone who prefers to copy the words in the head and not the signs on paper (or computer).

I also had this problem, and still do to some extent.
It is a normal human attribute to draw conclusions from content as it comes in, and is the reason that people learn by code groups.
Unfortunately, code groups are boring and random, something which in one way, appears pointless to the human brain.

The way to overcome both this problem, and to gain proficiency in reading in your head is simple.
Increase the speed and difficulty in reading morse, until you simply enter a state of mind where your conscious mind cannot calculate and think ahead.
In this state, at first you will receive almost nothing, but gradually your subconscious will take control and you will gradually hear it like a conversation.
In the end, you will not even think of morse at all, but just hear content, like when we listen to other people talking.

This is why CW ops who can read at 45wpm, sometimes find it more difficult to read 15wpm.
The reason is the 15wpm, for them, releases the conscious mind to interfere with the process.
What I do in this circumstance (slow morse reading) is to visualise the characters being written on a blackboard as they come in.
In this way, my conscious mind is sidelined as my imagination and right brain uses its imagery to read slower morse but still not write it down.

Anyone who does enough morse listening WILL achieve this state - the only variable is how long it takes.
Also, do listening online, to real conversations, with real static and fading - this will help you to learn even more.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but it works.

Then grasshopper (for those old kung fu fans), you will have achieved the zen state of morse mind.

73 - Rob