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eHam Forums => CW => Topic started by: NU9J on May 08, 2013, 06:13:21 PM



Title: Any tips for learning?
Post by: NU9J on May 08, 2013, 06:13:21 PM
Hi all!

After lamenting my apartment situation for over a year, I finally decided to buy an apartment antenna and try again. So, I finally have a good excuse to learn CW.

I have been using lcwo.net, and going through the lessons at 5wpm with 20wpm characters. I know 10wpm is recommended, but is just way too fast for me. I am doing 1 minute practices and can usually get close to 100% copy in 2 or 3 tries, but barely. I find that if I lose concentration or my mind wanders in the slightest, I screw up the whole rest of the group at least. My whole brain needs to be fully focused :) I hope I can learn the whole alphabet in the next week or two, and hopefully try to make some real (patient) contacts, but until then, any words of wisdom about learning the symbols?


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: K8AXW on May 08, 2013, 07:25:04 PM
Symbols?  You mean like, period, comma, slant bar?  Just consider them part of the alphabet.... but you can put them at the end if you wish.  Actually, it might be best if you indeed did put the few symbols you need at the end. 

After learning the alphabet and the numbers, learning the symbols is what I consider throwing crap into the game.  You'll be better prepared to learn these after getting the alphabet and numbers because you can be copying off the air and increasing your speed.



Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: NU9J on May 08, 2013, 07:50:39 PM
By symbols, I just meant "characters" or "the code." Sorry for the confusion.


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: KD8IIC on May 09, 2013, 02:28:00 AM
Hello Phil ; Congratulations on having the Desire to master Morse! That desire is the fuel you will need to move you along. Morse is a Language and it is not learned overnight.The U.S. Military's courses were never mastered in as short of a period as you are planning for yourself.Please be more realistic on the learning curve before you become frustrated with yourself. You will learn at Your Own pace.Be happy with a gowing sucession of accomplishments, be it large or small, they will add up...
 I however applaud your enthusiasm OM! I have found the G4FON program to be of a better benefit personally and there are many online resources to help us to master Morse.
 Please keep us informed on your progress and 73 from Lane in Columbus.  de n8aft sk ..


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: AA4N on May 09, 2013, 04:18:40 AM
I found that sending could be a good way to learn the characters.  I used to send the text on road signs, in my head, during the daily commute.  You don't have to be tied to a chair while you are working on your code skills.  As I improved, I loaded a novel in morse into my iPod and listened while I jogged (I still do that sometimes).

The initial memorization of the characters is just a very small first step.  Don't let folks scare you with stories about how you'll be ruined for life if you memorize them the wrong way.  Just keep banging away at it, and get on the air as early as you can.  Practice by itself is drudgery.  QSO's are fun, even the really slow ones.

73.  mike


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: W1JKA on May 09, 2013, 04:19:39 AM
All good advice above,but also consider a basic method of getting the characters straight in your head during your off air time that was used by many hams including myself.It's simple observation during idle moments,i.e. in the car while stopped mentally dit/dah various signs and common names such as red,yellow,stop, caution,men at work,Ford,Chevy,etc.At home,feed the DOG,get the MAIL,put out the TRASH etc.This will greatly enforce your comprehension during on air listening and copying W1AW or other slow code operators,of course you will have to follow the basics of practice and persistence at your OWN learning curve.It will all eventually come together for you.Have fun with CW.


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: N3DF on May 09, 2013, 09:48:15 AM
1.  Short (15-25 minute) sessions daily are better than long sessions infrequently.

2.  Over the long haul, continuing motivation is the key to success.  Most people don't find code programs motivating more than short term.  Over-the-air reception (W1AW code practice and bulletins) and slow-speed QSOs are much more motivating.  They don't speed you up quickly, but they do so surely.  In the prime Novice days of the 50s and 60s, must of us made hundreds of QSOs and virtually automatically got comfortable at 13 wpm+ before the year was out. 


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: M0LEP on May 09, 2013, 10:44:33 AM
any words of wisdom about learning the symbols?

If you can, find a real live human teacher, or at least a real live human to learn the code with...


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: N5XM on May 09, 2013, 11:16:18 AM
Congrats on making the decision to learn CW.  In the long run, you will be very happy to have made the effort.  CW is an aural exercise, and sending is a good way to reinforce the sounds into your brain centers.  Sending is going out from your brain, while receiving is coming into your brain.  You need to practice both.  Keep getting after the characters, learn the comma, period, and question mark, and the numbers.  Then start working on the pro-signs.  A CW QSO is comprised of elements, and learning those elements will help you anticipate what's coming next.

1. Callsigns
2. A signal report (RST)
3. A location (QTH)
4. Name or OP
 
At that point you can turn it back over to the other operator and he/she will give you the same thing back in a similar order.  When you hear the prosign RST you will know to listen for 3 numbers (599, 579, 449, etc).  When you hear QTH, you will know to listen for a location with a comma in between.  Usually you will proceed with:
1. The weather (WX)
2. Your age (always followed by another number)
3. Your gear (rig, power, antenna)

You will get this stuff back from the other op, and at that point it is a matter of your CW vocabulary (which will grow over time) to proceed to a ragchew or send tnx and 73 and move on to another contact.
















Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: K5UNX on May 09, 2013, 11:54:47 AM
I also have an interest in learning CW . . I found lcwo and some apps for the phone/iPad etc. I'll work on those. My question is "what is a good way to learn to send"? I know listening and transcribing is one thing, but sending might be a whole other thing to learn. And should we just start with paddles? I know someone will say straight key out of a mentality of "Thats what I learned on or that how we used to do it" . . But honestly, in 2013 what's the best way to learn to send? And learn with what device?



Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: AC2EU on May 09, 2013, 02:01:01 PM
As someone who is in the process of learning CW ( I now copy about 15WPM on a good day...), I have some observations that may help.

I spent too much time trying to increase my speed by listening to the random character generators. In retrospect I would move to text copy as soon as I learned the alphabet and numbers. The only other characters that are important, IMO, is period, comma, slash, equal and question mark. The others are rarely used.
Once I started coping text, my progress  improved markedly.

Don't worry about getting every letter, just move on at the rate of transmission,  just beyond the speed that you can do. At first, the copy looked like a wheel of fortune puzzle, but then as I continued practicing, it got more filled in.

I have used G4FON and the "just learn Morse code" program and a few others at a lesser degree.
ARRL also has the code practice schedule on various bands and times as well as the MP3 practice files.


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: KD0EXQ on May 09, 2013, 02:35:27 PM
I too had trouble concentrating, using the Just Learn Morse Code program.  I could go 2 minutes max.  And if I missed a letter it would throw me off and I would miss the next letter (or 2 or 3) trying to go back in my head, while listening to the new letters.  And I could only practice maybe 10 minutes at a time in a practice session.   Could get very frustrating. I think it is because the letters are random.   Took me 3 months, but I finally learned all the letters and numbers to a high degree of accuracy.  Lots of ups and downs.  Perseverance is the key.

Then I moved on to the ARRL practice code files. MUCH better.  Can easily listen for the first part of the file, which takes probably 9 or 10 minutes.  I believe this is because you are listening to actual words.  You can use the context of the sentences to help you "guess" what the next letter(s) or words are going to be and if you goof up on a letter you can usually go back at the end  and figure out what it was.  When I first started using the files, I would go back through the file again and listen for the letters I missed the first time through.  Accuracy started off in the 80% range, but within a week or so I was up to 90% and am now easily in the 95 - 99% range pretty consistently. 

I also looked at the text of the ARRL code file and listened to the code while looking at the text (don't know how helpful that was, though), to associate the sound of the letter(s) with the print.   And I have also tapped out the code (thumb for dit, and pointer for duh since I am going to be using a paddle) while reading though the text.

If I had to do it over again, I would probably start working with words and  Q signs/codes earlier than I did. 

Good luck.  Can get very frustrating, but very rewarding at the end. 


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: AC2EU on May 09, 2013, 06:00:40 PM
FYI . The "just learn Morse Code" program has the capability of pasting text in the window to be output as well as the random characters. SO if there was some online article that you meant to read, you can paste it in the program and copy in down in Morse, thus killing two proverbial birds with one stone!

Another slightly different program is RUFZ, a free download, which will transmit random call signs at interactive pace.
I you get them right, it speeds up, if you are struggling, it slows down. Very cool! This too, is a necessary CW skill, rather than having to listen two or three times before responding to a real CQ, get it right on the first shot...


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: AC2EU on May 09, 2013, 06:19:26 PM
I also have an interest in learning CW . . I found lcwo and some apps for the phone/iPad etc. I'll work on those. My question is "what is a good way to learn to send"? I know listening and transcribing is one thing, but sending might be a whole other thing to learn. And should we just start with paddles? I know someone will say straight key out of a mentality of "Thats what I learned on or that how we used to do it" . . But honestly, in 2013 what's the best way to learn to send? And learn with what device?

I have been told by some that they felt that sending was another skill to learn. Others say not.
I'm with the latter camp. Once you can hear and identify the "sounds" ( not dits and dahs!) it wasn't that hard to reproduce them myself with the keyer. Yes there is a small learning curve to get the feel for it, but it wasn't too bad at all. Rag chew is still very difficult for me and my sending speed slows way down because I have to think of what I'm saying, how to spell it and produce the code all at the same time.
The benefit of a keyer is that it keeps the dits and dahs in the proper ratio for you. Straight key and bugs are much more difficult in this regard unless you have a very good sense of rhythm. From what I have heard, not too many Hams who are using these devices do!

After a while you will able to tell what they are using by just listing to the fist.


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: RENTON481 on May 09, 2013, 10:49:52 PM
Hi all!

After lamenting my apartment situation for over a year, I finally decided to buy an apartment antenna and try again. So, I finally have a good excuse to learn CW.

I have been using lcwo.net, and going through the lessons at 5wpm with 20wpm characters. I know 10wpm is recommended, but is just way too fast for me. I am doing 1 minute practices and can usually get close to 100% copy in 2 or 3 tries, but barely. I find that if I lose concentration or my mind wanders in the slightest, I screw up the whole rest of the group at least. My whole brain needs to be fully focused :) I hope I can learn the whole alphabet in the next week or two, and hopefully try to make some real (patient) contacts, but until then, any words of wisdom about learning the symbols?

I'm an SWL and I've been learning the code recently.  I know the alphabet and numbers, and some of the most basic symbols (?, period, comma, slash).  But the best I can copy right now is probably 5 w.p.m.

I've found that monitoring the CW portions of the ham bands helps me learn the code a lot more than practicing with the key.


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: IZ2UUF on May 10, 2013, 03:03:41 PM
After lamenting my apartment situation for over a year, I finally decided to buy an apartment antenna and try again. So, I finally have a good excuse to learn CW.

Hello dear friends.

I would like to share my experience regarding CW because it has been quite "extreme".
When I started learning Morse code I could merely spell a few letters, nothing more.
After having read all I could find about mastering CW, and taking in account my personal character, I decided to go for the one that I believed would have given me the best results: the Koch method.
So I started excercising every single day: maybe thirthy minutes, maybe five, but regularly.
I kept 20 to 25 wpm and I stayed on a letter set until I could reach an accuracy of 90% at 20WPM with normal spacing; then I moved to the next letter.
I never tried to copy real CW from my radio, because with the Koch method, it is very frustrating: every time an unknown letter is copied, the "comprehension flow" will block immediately.
I never ever used the computer to decode CW at any time: not for of some rules of honor or moral virtuousness, but simply because I did not want to waste any time having my brain learning to "peek" into the computer monitor instead of decoding itself.

Day by day, after about ten months, all the 40 Koch letters were learned with 90% accuracy.

Reached this goal, I begun tuning on the CW bands to see what I was able to copy.
Just listening, I could barely tell that someone was calling CQ.
But with a sheet and a pencil, I found myself able to copy most of what I could tune at. I can't say I was actually "understanding" anything, but those sound made me kind of "feel" that I had to write those letters.
I can't tell you the emotion and the surprise when, after almost an year writing down random letters generated by a computer, on my paper appeared a message that made sense and that was sent by a human being!

At the beginning, in order to understand, I had to write down and read everything, including "UR RST IS" or "73".
But it didn't take long before I begun to recognize the standard QSO parts as standalone symbols. Still, In a casual QSO I have to write down what I ear and then read back what I have written, otherwise I don't understand anything at all.

Regarding transmission, with a perfect timing, a Begali paddle appeared on the second-hand desk of a nearby HAM shop.
As soon as I had this paddle at home, I plugged it in my radio and I prepared a setup with a computer software decoder that could read what I was typing. I never used a paddle before nor sent any Morse with any other mean, so I couldn't wait to try.
I was afraid it would have taken another long time to learn TX, but with my surprise, I discovered that the conditional reflex works both ways: not only when I ear a given sound I'm conditioned to write the related letter, but also when I saw a letter I recalled the sound that was related to it! It works in this way: when I see a letter, I immediately know what is the sound I want to ear, so I try to reproduce it with the paddle.
That first time, with my great surprise, I spent maybe three hours transmitting newspapers, books, numeric tables, making very few errors at 20 WPM.

PROS:
- very fast (I do not thing there are many other techniques that can bring anyone from zero to 20-25WPM in such a short time)
- being used to copy random letters, you can copy anything, not only "standard" QSO
- conditioned reflexes require very little "CPU-time" from our brain: I found myself writing down a QSO while speaking to my son;
- transmission comes almost for-free;
- even sparse 2' sessions are effective;
- you never experience 5 WPM wall (actually, you never experience 5 WPM at all);

CONS:
- it requires an exceptionally high grade of persistence and commitment: this is for sure the greatest obstacle for many people
- it is useless until you are finished. 50% done doesn't mean that you can copy 50% of QSOs: you can't copy any. So, if you give up at 80%, you wasted your time.
- it requires writing down everything: this is temporary, because with some real-radio experience, it becomes soon limited to the callsign, name and little more.

73 de IZ2UUF
Davide


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: M0LEP on May 10, 2013, 03:44:58 PM
Clearly the Koch random character progression method works for some. If it works for you, that's great. It does not work for everyone. Personally I think most of the time (well over a year) I spent trying to learn Morse using it was time I wasted. I should have looked at the statistics LCWO threw back at me a lot more critically, and gone elsewhere much much sooner.


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: IZ2UUF on May 10, 2013, 04:00:57 PM
Clearly the Koch random character progression method works for some. If it works for you, that's great. It does not work for everyone.

I would rather say that it works for a minority: at my local HAM club, I'm the only one that succeeded.
Most people simply aren't able to sustain this commitment for enough time to have a result: so I agree with you, it is time completely wasted.
I have not been able to "study" any case of anyone that put my same effort without obtaining my same results, so honestly I can't tell whether, besides the commitment, this method could work with anyone or not.
What I know that at my club there are a lot of people that know "M" and "K" very well.  :)

73 de IZ2UUF
Davide


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: AK4YH on May 10, 2013, 05:06:23 PM
Hello Philip,

At 5wpm you will be tempted and most likely use a look-up table in your head, which will slow you down a great deal later. I highly suggest learning at least at 12wpm with 20wpm characters. That will give you a much better base to build upon. If it's too fast for you, reduce the number of letters. Also see on lcwo.net: "Morse Machine." And try to go as fast as you can.

I made the same mistake you are making now, and after ten months, I am only at 15wpm. Only now am I able to transcribe directly from sound for most letters. 5wpm makes things easy now, but you will pay for it later...

Gil.


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: M3KXZ on May 11, 2013, 03:35:22 AM
I also have an interest in learning CW . . I found lcwo and some apps for the phone/iPad etc. I'll work on those. My question is "what is a good way to learn to send"? I know listening and transcribing is one thing, but sending might be a whole other thing to learn. And should we just start with paddles? I know someone will say straight key out of a mentality of "Thats what I learned on or that how we used to do it" . . But honestly, in 2013 what's the best way to learn to send? And learn with what device?



Straight key all the way for sending. It's NOT what I first learned on. I started with paddles. BUT subsequently I found that physically keying each character with a straight key reinforced what I was wanting to send, which in turn has helped me ever more with receiving. Everything seemed to connect together more strongly and my receiving speed picked up really quickly as a result. It's all to do with rhythm and mimicking the sounds of the words. Just like listening to music and tapping out the rhythm, the music gets into your head. Tapping the rhythm on a table with a finger is easy. Imagine though trying to tap out a rhythm with a paddle where one side is a short note and one is a long note.... much harder.


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: M0LEP on May 11, 2013, 06:57:53 AM
Most people simply aren't able to sustain this commitment for enough time to have a result: so I agree with you, it is time completely wasted.

It's not just a matter of commitment; I put the time in (several hundred hours over a year and a half or so), but (with the odd exception) each new character took more time to learn than the one before. Sometimes it was only a bit more, but sometimes a lot more. My early estimates were that it'd take me three years to get the characters learned. By the time I'd got to lesson 12 I'd revised that estimate to nearer ten years. For me, it was far better to make sound files of "A B C", "1 2 3", "AA AB AC", "AA BA BC" and so on, and listen to them repeatedly. At least that way I got all (or most of) the characters at least part learned fairly quickly, and I could try to make sense of QSOs on air.


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: K5UNX on May 11, 2013, 07:28:01 AM
Clearly the Koch random character progression method works for some. If it works for you, that's great. It does not work for everyone. Personally I think most of the time (well over a year) I spent trying to learn Morse using it was time I wasted. I should have looked at the statistics LCWO threw back at me a lot more critically, and gone elsewhere much much sooner.

So did you learn using another method?


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: M0LEP on May 11, 2013, 08:05:22 AM
So did you learn using another method?

Pretty much the same way I learned to read and write. Progress is slow, but fairly steady.


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: AK4YH on May 11, 2013, 06:34:46 PM
For sending, just read a book and send what you read.. You can check with Fldigi if it decodes your code. Good way to get your timing right..

Gil.


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: KD8POH on May 12, 2013, 01:57:31 AM
Just Learn Morse Code has worked well for me. As others have mentioned, it is best to paste in an actual paragraph of text, so that you are not just listening to random letters. The great thing about using a computer program is the immediate feedback -- you know which ones you missed and need to work on next time.


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: M0LEP on May 12, 2013, 03:19:09 AM
The great thing about using a computer program is the immediate feedback -- you know which ones you missed and need to work on next time.

...but only if you can type it straight in. That was another mistake I made; trying to type in the Morse I heard. I'm not a good enough touch-typist. It was far better for me to write out what I heard long-hand, but I wasted about three months trying to type in Morse before I realised that. Of course, once I'm writing out what I hear in pencil on paper, the only thing the computer's giving me is the Morse to practice from. LCWO lets you type in what you've heard for checking, but JLMC doesn't (or didn't last time I tried it).

The second catch with pasting in text is that you already know what you're going to hear. G4FON's random QSO files get around that one, but there comes a point when you're better off listening on-air.

It'd would be really cool if the Koch-style programs could generate sensible text rather than random groups from the set of characters they're currently trying to teach. Wouldn't work much below about lesson 15, I expect, and would probably be an interesting programming challenge...


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: AC2EU on May 12, 2013, 10:08:24 AM
The great thing about using a computer program is the immediate feedback -- you know which ones you missed and need to work on next time.

...but only if you can type it straight in. That was another mistake I made; trying to type in the Morse I heard. I'm not a good enough touch-typist. It was far better for me to write out what I heard long-hand, but I wasted about three months trying to type in Morse before I realised that. Of course, once I'm writing out what I hear in pencil on paper, the only thing the computer's giving me is the Morse to practice from. LCWO lets you type in what you've heard for checking, but JLMC doesn't (or didn't last time I tried it).

The second catch with pasting in text is that you already know what you're going to hear. G4FON's random QSO files get around that one, but there comes a point when you're better off listening on-air.

You can do that with the "Just learn Morse code" program.
http://www.justlearnmorsecode.com/ (http://www.justlearnmorsecode.com/)

It'd would be really cool if the Koch-style programs could generate sensible text rather than random groups from the set of characters they're currently trying to teach. Wouldn't work much below about lesson 15, I expect, and would probably be an interesting programming challenge...


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: M0LEP on May 12, 2013, 11:44:17 AM
You can do that with the "Just learn Morse code" program.

Fair enough, I'd forgotten JLMC did that too. I used G4FON because I liked the controls it has for messing with the sounds it sends, which makes the Morse it produces sound a lot more "real" than LCWO or JLMC manage.


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: N5RDE on May 20, 2013, 04:00:55 PM
For beginners, I highly recommend Chuck Adams' code course.  It has over 20 hours of practice materials and is free from several sites on the Internet.   It is in the form of mp3 files so you can use it on your computer, and s .pdf manual is included.  It is very well done.

I believe you can also obtain it from the FISTS site.

Just search for Chuck Adams, K7QO.


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: MM0ZBH on May 20, 2013, 04:42:12 PM
AA9PW iPhone app is good for a few minutes here and there during the day.  I am sending the letters on the app slighter faster than I can decode in my head and it allows me to push forward.  Currently sending at 15wpm spacing and I struggle but it pushed me past 12wpm spacing and that now seems easy.....just pushing my brain and it seems to work.


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: KH6AQ on May 21, 2013, 05:53:49 AM
Practice every day and you will learn to focus. Learn to continue on when you miss a letter. 

CW comes easy to some and hard to others. I knew one ham who struggled mightily for months and in the end his determination made him a decent operator. I taught code to one ham who learned it in three short sessions yet after passing his Technician exam never worked code. And I taught code to a 7 year old girl who learned all 26 letters in one 20 minute session. Me, I was somewhere in the middle with a month of work needed to pass the Novice 5 WPM exam.


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: WX2S on May 31, 2013, 05:16:50 AM
Here's a resource I'm using now to build speed:

http://www.morseresource.com/podcasts.php

I'm listening to the quotes a couple of times, then going back and seeing what the actual quotes were on the quote of the day page. Then I listen again, maybe a couple of times. It seems to be helping.

73,
Wx2s.


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: KH2G on June 01, 2013, 07:01:09 PM
Do not try to learn in order ie a,b,c,d,e... try e,i,s,h,5 t,m,o,0 etc soon you will make words then sentences.
Trying to learn in order will ruin a person. (Taught cw in the military - age dated -hi) Notice the first series was all dits? . .. ... .... ..... you can now send 5 shes
You'll get there.
73
Dick


Title: RE: Any tips for learning?
Post by: W0ALE on June 11, 2013, 06:34:32 AM
I've been learning the Koch method through an Android app called KMT Pro.  It's great!  I've been practicing 15-20 minutes at lunch...you start with 2 letters and write down which letters you hear.  When I can copy with 95% success I add another character. It's amazing what I've learned in just a few months.  I also picked up a key and oscillator so I can practice what I've been learning.  Good luck!!