eHam

eHam Forums => CW => Topic started by: KB1WSY on December 02, 2013, 03:48:14 PM



Title: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 02, 2013, 03:48:14 PM
Hi everyone,

Haven't posted here in ages because I took a very long break from Morse learning.

Over the U.S. Thanksgiving break I finally got back into it. Using the Koch method, I am doing drills for five minutes, every hour, during the working day (I run my own business so no problem with that!). So that's more than one hour a day, split into tiny chunks.

I'm diving in at 18wpm and managed to get back to a 16-learned-character level today. I am adding one character a day. That should mean that I could finish my Morse learning in just 3 weeks -- to get to the 40 learned characters (letters, numbers, and a few punctuation marks).

I will post daily on my progress. Very narcissistic but I need some "accountability" and this is a pretty good place to get that, I think.

Stay tuned (or tune out, depending on your reaction to this post!).


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KH2G on December 02, 2013, 10:55:31 PM
You might start practicing receiving over the air so you get a real feel - noise and all -hi
Regards, Dick KH2G


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0JHA on December 03, 2013, 02:06:40 AM
I second real on air RX , if you rely on computer generated well sent code it can be quite a shock when you hear some of the stuff sent on air . Not normally a problem when your used to it . Spelling mistakes is quite common but I find that's not an issue as I make mistakes also and it doesn't tend to be an issue but you will hear all manner of weird ditties that people must make up thinking they are sending something else or just bad sending ,be it timing or whatever .

BUT that said computer generated code is the way to go to get the basics down in the old grey matter ..


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 03, 2013, 02:07:11 AM
So here are the 16 characters learned so far: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E.

Accuracy on last copy test with 16 characters: 94 percent.

Today I am adding the 17th character which is F or di-di-dah-dit.


You might start practicing receiving over the air so you get a real feel - noise and all -hi
Regards, Dick KH2G

That's a great suggestion Dick. There are a couple of hurdles to applying it:

(1) I'm already copying QSOs on the air but with the Koch method you start off with only a few characters. I'm now reaching 17, which means I can copy bits and pieces of QSOs but "drop" a lot of characters because I haven't learned them yet.

(2) I haven't built my transmitter yet; my station is being entirely homebrewed. However it won't be long before I build it! (It will be a two-tube crystal-controlled design from the 1960s.) I am however practicing sending CW with a code oscillator and Ameco K-4 key.

Here's a picture of my homebrewed, 2-transistor code oscillator in the foreground, and 3-transistor homebrewed regenerative receiver (160m thru 10m) in the background:

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-dPGC0c3UNRc/UbiKtBvsH4I/AAAAAAAABOY/1CziN8h3hWY/s576/DSCF5829.JPG)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N3HEE on December 03, 2013, 06:01:19 AM
Nice looking rig!  That will be a lot of fun and challenging to operate.  Just remember not to count dits and dahs.  F is really not di-di-dah-dit.  It's just a sound that represents the letter F.  The biggest mistake I've ever made in my long ham career was learning the code, as a novice back in 1976, the wrong way.  It took me a LONG time to get over counting dits and dahs in my mind.  Looking forward to hearing your homebrew rig on the air!  Regards -Joe n3Hee


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 03, 2013, 07:32:18 AM
It took me a LONG time to get over counting dits and dahs in my mind.

Thanks, good advice! I am aware of the "trap" of thinking in "dots and dashes" -- so far it's going OK, the letters pretty much come straight from my headphones into the tip of my pencil without "thinking" about it (it's just a reaction to a particular set of sounds). If you start "thinking," you will drop five or six characters in a row! In any case I've got the software set to 18wpm so there really isn't any point trying to "analyze" what's in the headphones -- there just isn't enough time!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on December 03, 2013, 07:34:59 AM
I had a 4-day weekend this past Thanksgiving that I practiced CW too.  I've been learning CW at 18 wpm for each element with (5 wpm spacing between elements), and I really do not know how many dits and dahs there are.  What do you do when you want to send these elements?  You will have to know what the dits and dahs then?   

I have a code oscillator and key from MFJ, but since it uses the 555 timer, it has square waves which do not sound pleasant compared to real CW I hear on the radio.  I try to listen to CW on 40 or 80 meters, but I haven't gotten to the point I can understand the Morse code.

This might be Off-Topic for the CW forum, but do you care to share your design plans for your homebrew code oscillator and regenerative receiver for multiple ham bands?  I want to build a regenerative receiver one day.  I've looked at a lot of diagrams online or in books, but I am still unsure.  I do not have enough knowledge and experience to design my own radio yet.  Unless, you count the TRF radio I built, but that is basically a crystal radio with amps and a variable capacitor to tune.   


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 03, 2013, 08:02:59 AM
What do you do when you want to send these elements?  You will have to know what the dits and dahs then?

I agree that this is a problem, although CW Elmers on this forum found this odd when I mentioned it some time back. The mistake I made, initially, was to practice only the copying and not the sending. I now find that as long as I practice sending often enough (I spend about one minute on sending for each four minutes of copying), the problem solves itself. In fact, I find that receiving and sending mutually reinforce each other.

I have a code oscillator and key from MFJ, but since it uses the 555 timer, it has square waves which do not sound pleasant compared to real CW I hear on the radio.  I try to listen to CW on 40 or 80 meters, but I haven't gotten to the point I can understand the Morse code.

I know what you mean. I have a kit-built Ameco code oscillator with a timer chip (probably a 555, I can't remember) and it sounds quite harsh. My two-transistor homebrew oscillator sounds rather better even though its technology is prehistoric. (See below.)

.... but do you care to share your design plans for your homebrew code oscillator and regenerative receiver for multiple ham bands?  I want to build a regenerative receiver one day.  

I have no EE training so I used circuits from the 1968 edition of the ARRL publication, "How to Become a Radio Amateur." Details as follows:

Regenerative Receiver: see http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,90273.0.html (http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,90273.0.html).

Code oscillator: see  http://tinyurl.com/mbryt24 (http://tinyurl.com/mbryt24).

This post was edited to add: Please note that I am obsessed with building "vintage" style homebrew gear! You can probably find much easier to build, and cheaper, contemporary circuits. If you are interested in modern regenerative sets, check out this article:

http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Technology/tis/info/pdf/9811qex026.pdf (http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Technology/tis/info/pdf/9811qex026.pdf)

(The article is by Charles Kitchin, N1TEV, who is one of the modern "gurus" of regenerative radio.)



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on December 03, 2013, 09:41:02 AM
What do you do when you want to send these elements?  You will have to know what the dits and dahs then?

I've heard folk say you just use the key to imitate the sound without really thinking about the way it's constructed. With a paddle and keyer you do have to think more that way because the relationship between your keying and the sound produced is slightly less direct, but even so...
   
it has square waves which do not sound pleasant compared to real CW I hear on the radio.

Even the sounds produced by Morse practice computer programs often sound horrible when compared to code heard on the air. G4FON has ways of altering the sound that make it less unpleasant and more "real", but most of the rest don't. One way I've found of making a horrible sound bearable is to turn the volume way down til it's only just audible. I do that with LCWO.

73, Rick M0LEP


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KH2G on December 03, 2013, 10:08:45 AM
old transistor radio will give you the parts to build a sine wave audio oscillator. The sine wave is what makes it sound nice. As far as a circuit, an oscillator is nothing but an amplifier with induced feedback. It is the RC timing that will set the frequency.
Regards,
Dick KH2G


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 03, 2013, 11:37:48 AM
The sine wave is what makes it sound nice. As far as a circuit, an oscillator is nothing but an amplifier with induced feedback. It is the RC timing that will set the frequency.

Yup, my HOMEBREW oscillator sounds fairly nice and uses a couple of vintage RCA transistors from the 1960s.

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-_Qr98FeSCoA/UbiKrbHC0hI/AAAAAAAABxU/AaClwQMmq_8/s640/DSCF5813.JPG)

I have NOT yet had a chance to view the output of my homebrew oscillator on an oscilloscope.



The more recent Ameco code oscillator I have uses an IC timer chip and shows an obviously square wave on my ancient oscilloscope (it's a 60-year-old Eico oscope that needs some TLC). This Ameco code oscillator is the TOP TRACE:

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-riD9cTPVX7g/T5n4M_Y7SJI/AAAAAAAAACw/Za02jmsrOp8/s640/Oscilloscope_03.jpg)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on December 03, 2013, 12:23:58 PM
The sine wave is what makes it sound nice.

Pure sine waves aren't quite as horrible to listen to as square waves, though to my ear they're not far off, but I suspect it's probably the small amount of noise that inevitably gets into an on-air signal that makes it so much less unpleasant to listen to than either...

73, Rick M0LEP


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 04, 2013, 02:33:41 AM
So here are the 17 characters learned so far: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F.

Accuracy on last copy test with 17 characters: 92 percent.

Today I am adding the 18th character which is ZERO or dah-dah-dah-dah-dah.

(That's a relief! I love loooooong characters!)

I will also make an effort to improve my sending by using the PCW-fistchecker program (see the separate, very useful thread titled CW Spacing).


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N4KD on December 04, 2013, 06:31:11 AM
...
(That's a relief! I love loooooong characters!)
...

I'm glad to see someone else has the same thought. Mine is really that I hate short characters. I set up "Just Learn Morse" with words based on short characters like 'e', 'i', 's', 't', etc and they go by so fast I recognize them, but can't process them into a word. I guess that's what the "Practice make perfect" phrase was meant to address.

73,
Dave N4KD


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 05, 2013, 03:48:24 AM
So here are the 18 characters learned so far: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0.

Accuracy on last copy test with 18 characters: 93 percent.

Today I am adding the 19th character which is Y or dah-di-dah-dah.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 06, 2013, 04:15:05 AM
So here are the 19 characters learned so far: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y.

Accuracy on last copy test with 19 characters: 90 percent.

Today I am adding the 20th character which is V or di-di-di-dah.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WX1YZ on December 06, 2013, 06:12:48 AM
Martin,

Your posts have inspired me to start learning Morse Code.  I'm using the Just Learn Morse Code program and following the suggested sequence on the Ham Whisperer's web site. http://www.hamwhisperer.com/p/morse-code-course.html (http://www.hamwhisperer.com/p/morse-code-course.html)

So far I've learned E,T,I,5,M,A,N,0.  Hope to add S,O,R and 1 in the next two days.

How long of a run do you use when testing yourself? 

All the best,
Tom WX1YZ


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 06, 2013, 06:57:04 AM
How long of a run do you use when testing yourself? 

Five minutes, which is 360 to 380 characters usually. It's actually quite a long time, especially when you consider that you are copying nonsense strings of characters, not real "words." I'm doing this approximately 8 times a day. I do it on the hour, every hour. (This is possible only because I'm self-employed and work from home!)

I have it set for 20wpm character speed, but 15wpm overall speed (i.e. a variant of "Farnsworth" spacing). In effect, this increases the silence between the characters, making them easier to copy. For the moment I find it almost impossible to copy if it is set to 20/20, but I realize that I need to abandon Farnsworth eventually.

Mostly I have good days, sometimes not so good. Yesterday was painful, with lots of dropped characters ... the hard bit is "pushing through" even when you get discouraged on a "bad day."

As for *sending* I only do that two or three times per day, but have recently become aware that my sending needs a lot of work (see the "CW Spacing" thread). That's another area where habituation to "Farnsworth spacing" is a bad idea, IMO.

Last night I spent about half an hour monitoring CW on 40m and actually managed to copy bits and pieces of QSOs, which was fun! This morning, I spent a few minutes copying the W1AW code-practice broadcast. In both cases though, it is quite frustrating because I've only learned 20 characters so far....



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 07, 2013, 04:30:05 AM
The 20 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V.

Accuracy on last copy test with 20 characters: 91 percent.

Today I am adding the 20th character which is the COMMA or dah-dah-di-di-dah-dah.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 07, 2013, 05:50:54 AM
Too late to edit my post: the comma is actually the 21st character of course.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 08, 2013, 04:20:58 AM
The 21 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,.

Accuracy on last copy test with 21 characters: 92 percent.

Today I am adding the 22th character which is G or dah-dah-dit.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 09, 2013, 06:08:54 AM
The 22 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G.

Accuracy on last copy test with 22 characters: 89 percent -- not too good, but I'm forging ahead anyway.

Today I am adding the 23rd character which is 5 or di-di-di-di-dit.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N4KD on December 09, 2013, 10:16:54 AM

Today I am adding the 23rd character which is 5 or di-di-di-di-dit.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY

Here's something to think about when you start sending practice and it was '5' that reminded me. When I started using a keyer, doing "dit-ladders" really helped with control. Do E, I, S, H, 5, H, S, I, E a few times to make sure you can control the spacing.

- Dave N4KD


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: W0BTU on December 09, 2013, 11:01:10 AM
Your posts have inspired me to start learning Morse Code.

Anyone wanting to either learn or improve would do well to download The Art & Skill of Radio Telegraphy. It also contains powerful incentives to learning it. It's a masterpiece. I printed and bound all 60+ pages, but you don't really need to read much of it to benefit.

It used to be at http://www.qsl.net/n9bor/n0hff.htm but I see that's now broken. There are other places it can be downloaded.

Whatever you do, DON'T learn it by memorizing the printed dots and dashes, or you'll have to re-learn it all over again in order to actually use it. Learn the SOUNDS.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 09, 2013, 11:37:04 AM
Here's something to think about when you start sending practice and it was '5' that reminded me. When I started using a keyer, doing "dit-ladders" really helped with control. Do E, I, S, H, 5, H, S, I, E a few times to make sure you can control the spacing.

Great idea, thanks, I'll do that.

Anyone wanting to either learn or improve would do well to download The Art & Skill of Radio Telegraphy.

I've heard of that book. Must get hold of a copy.

There's also Morse Code: Breaking the Barrier by David Finley, N1IRZ, which I found to be a good introduction to CW and to the Koch method.

Whatever you do, DON'T learn it by memorizing the printed dots and dashes, or you'll have to re-learn it all over again in order to actually use it. Learn the SOUNDS.

Thanks, that's what I'm being very careful about. At the moment I'm using a 20wpm character speed, partly in order to make sure that I respond only to the sounds (at 20wpm, there isn't enough time to do anything else!).


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N2EY on December 09, 2013, 12:07:29 PM
In case anybody hasn't seen this:

---

One of the most common questions I encounter from hams nowadays is “how do you learn Morse Code?” It's clear that they need more than a simple answer such as “Practice, practice, practice!”

Dr. George Sheehan frequently said that "Each of us is an experiment of one". He meant that while there are general rules to learning new things, each of us has to experiment to find out what works best for him or her. For most things, there is no single "best" way for everyone.

That said, here are 12 tips to learning Morse Code:

1) It used to be that there were two main reasons for radio amateurs to learn Morse Code. The first was to actually use it on the air, while the second was to pass the license tests. The second reason has disappeared in the USA and several other countries.

So it's important to understand what your goal really is: to become a Radio Operator who is skilled in Morse Code. That means learning a set of skills, not just the one or two skills needed to pass a one-time test.

That skillset cannot be learned by reading a book, watching a video, using other modes to talk about them on the air, or participating in online forums. While those things help, they are not the core. The needed skillset can only be learned by doing, and it takes time, practice, and an active involvement on your part.

2) Set up a place to study Morse Code. This doesn't mean it's the only place you study code, just that it's optimized for learning it. A good solid desk or table with no distractions, lots of room to write, good lighting, and a good chair. Source(s) of code (computer, HF receiver, tapes, CDs, etc.), key and oscillator. Headphones are a good idea. I recommend starting out with a straight key, you may decide to go straight to paddles and a keyer. Regardless of what key you decide to use, it needs a good solid base and needs to be adjusted properly.

3) Avoid gimmicks such as CodeQuick and printed charts with dots and dashes on them. Often such systems were designed to help a person learn just enough code to pass the 5 wpm test, but resulted in bad habits that had to be unlearned for practical operating. Morse Code as used on radio 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. If you could learn to recognize 41 words in a foreign language, you can almost certainly learn Morse Code.

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 on one day does not give you an excuse for the next day.

Yes, you may miss a day here and there, because life happens. The trick is to keep such missed days to the absolute minimum.

5) If you can enlist a buddy to learn the code with, or find a class, do it! But do NOT use the class or the buddy as an excuse to miss practice or slow down your learning. The buddy and/or class are a supplement to your study, not the center of it.

6) Download and read "The Art And Skill of Radiotelegraphy". It's free and available from several websites. “Zen and the Art of Radiotelegraphy” is also good. Search out other code-oriented websites, articles, etc. and read what they have to say. But always remember they're not a substitute for practice.

7) Practice both sending and receiving each and every day. Most of your practice time should be spent receiving, but the two help each other. Practice receiving by writing it down and by copying "in your head". I find a pencil and block printing works best for me.

8) A combination of the Koch method and Farnsworth spacing is probably optimum for most people. Read up on them, understand and use them – but remember they are tools, not magic. They can make learning the code easier but they will not make it automatic.

9) Discontinue ANYTHING that impairs your ability to concentrate, focus, and learn new stuff. Only doctor-prescribed medications are exempt from this rule; beer is not exempt. Eat right, get enough sleep and enough physical exercise.

10) Put away your microphones, stay off the voice radios - all of them. Besides the automated Morse Code generators, listen to hams actually using code on the air. Copy down what they send. Have Morse Code playing in the background while you do other things (but don’t count that as practice time). Learn how hams actually use code. When you get to the point where you can send and receive code, even slowly, get on the air and start making QSOs. Get involved in CW contesting, rag chewing, DX chasing, etc. Remember that you are learning Morse Code to be a Radio Operator, not just to pass a test.

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, often the default settings are optimized for SSB. 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; they’re not essentials.

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 every day. Nobody was born knowing the skills you're trying to learn.

---

A bit of work? Sure it is, but well worth it, because all those steps make learning the code easier. And the work is trivial compared to what 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: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: W0BTU on December 09, 2013, 12:30:15 PM
That's very good advice, Jim!

CW is a lot of fun. I have not kept up my skills over the years, but I had a blast in the ARRL 160 contest last weekend, and we're looking forward to two more 160 CW contests this winter. CW contests are a lot more fun. If I ever enter an SSB contest again, it'll probably be on VHF,

I forgot all about Dr. Sheehan. When I took up running 30 years ago, I read some of his stuff. I think they called him "the runner's philosopher" or something similar.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 09, 2013, 01:52:26 PM
A bit of work? Sure it is, but well worth it, because all those steps make learning the code easier. And the work is trivial compared to what 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


Thanks Jim. I had seen your list before but it's good to have it again. I've just ordered a proper bound copy of "The Art and Skill."

Things are still going well but I do feel it may be time to turn off the Farnsworth spacing. The trouble is, it gives you a split second to write down the character ... but that's not how people send on their air! In other words I think I need to learn to copy slightly "behind" i.e. writing one letter while listening to the beginning of the next. I'm thinking of switching from 20/15 to 15/15.

Another gratifying thing is being able to make more sense of the QSOs I'm hearing on air.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 10, 2013, 04:52:24 AM
Yesterday was messy. I experimented with "normal" spacing i.e. instead of Farnsworth 20/15, I used a straight 15/15. This made it much harder to copy the code. I struggled through it anyway, but decided to go back to Farnsworth today. Whatever happens, I don't want to do anything to disturb the now 12-day-old Campaign. I will have to do something about weaning myself from Donald R. Farnsworth sooner or later, though.

The 23 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5.

Accuracy on last copy test with 23 characters: below 80 percent -- because of the experiment with "normal" (non-Farnsworth) spacing. So despite the terrible score, I am forging ahead with a new character anyway.

Today I am adding the 24th character which is SLASH or dah-di-di-dah-dit.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 10, 2013, 05:53:02 AM
Yeah! I am copying intelligible QSOs. Here's this morning's candidate, N4PGJ (with repetitions redacted, and unknown characters turned into dashes). It was this morning on 40m. I don't know the exact frequency but judging "by ear" it was around 7040 (my homebrew set doesn't have a calibrated dial!). Looking him up on QRZ it seems he hangs out around 7050, so that was probably the frequency.

The dots represent a portion that I couldn't copy. There was heavy QSB and QRM. Code was somewhere around 12wpm and sounded like a straight key.

CQ DE N4PGJ.

.... NAME IS RON ... QTH IS STONY BROOK, NY ... RST 57 ... --- INCHES SNOW ... ON UR STATION ...

I tried to catch RIG details but other than the words OLD, RUNNING and HR repeated several times, I didn't get it, mainly because there were lots of numbers and I've only learned two of those (0 and 5). Perhaps he's running the Heathkit HR series.... for the other numbers, I have to figure out the dots/dashes in my head (not a good idea).

That's it, but it's still exciting!!!! (With apologies to N4PGJ for using him as a guinea pig.)

I caught a couple of abbreviations that I don't know, can anyone enlighten me: YYS and EN, used frequently during the QSO? They are not on my list here.

I did not catch the call of the other station and could not hear it at all.



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on December 10, 2013, 11:11:27 AM
I'm glad you finally made a contact.  It takes me 1 to 3 days to learn an element.  I won't make it to the ARRL Rookie Rounup CW this month on the 22nd, but i will try for the ARRL Straight Key Night at New Years.  I'm eager to make a contact, but i do not know enough elements yet. I only know 18 of 43 using the Koch method.
I think i should start practicing sending; maybe that will help speed things along.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 10, 2013, 11:49:15 AM
I'm glad you finally made a contact.

Thank you for the kind words, but note that I didn't actually conduct a QSO -- I simply monitored someone else's! (No point trying to conduct a QSO unless I've learned nearly all the characters, huh?)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 11, 2013, 02:43:21 AM
The 24 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /.

Accuracy on copy tests yesterday with 24 characters: terrible. I haven't bothered to calculate it, but it wasn't higher than 80 percent. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I've decided to just "push on" and assume that the difficulty is temporary.

I did spend some time yesterday monitoring a QST from ARRL on 7.0475 which seemed to pertain to solar conditions. I caught a number of words including "NOAA," "JANUARY," "MONTH," "LATEST," SMOOTH," "ARRL," "W1AW" and "MAKE A COMMENT." According to the ARRL schedule the bulletin was sent at 18wpm. It looks like the bulletin must have been this one: http://www.arrl.org/w1aw-bulletins-archive/ARLP050/2013 (http://www.arrl.org/w1aw-bulletins-archive/ARLP050/2013). I have a long way to go before I can copy all of that!!!

I also messed around with increasing the "efficiency" of my handwriting techniques, but found out that I was already at almost maximum efficiency: my strokes for drawing the letters already match the ones suggested by the U.S. Signal Corps chart published in ARRL's "Learning the Radiotelegraph Code." In a "former life" I was a reporter for a major news agency and therefore already learned how to take notes very fast! My problem isn't "writing too slowly," it is, rather, "recognizing too slowly." Seems the only remedy is practice, more practice!

Today I am adding the 25th character which is that famous letter Q or dah-dah-di-dah.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on December 11, 2013, 03:15:23 AM
You mentioned early on that you were spending five minutes each hour with Koch lessons. Do you know roughly how many Morse characters you end up hearing in a day's worth of Koch lessons?

One possible problem might be that as you get further through the Koch course you end up hearing he new character less and less, because each one is a smaller part of a growing set.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 11, 2013, 03:28:07 AM
You mentioned early on that you were spending five minutes each hour with Koch lessons. Do you know roughly how many Morse characters you end up hearing in a day's worth of Koch lessons?

About 340 in each 5 minutes, and about 10 sessions per day, so that's 3,400 characters per day.

One possible problem might be that as you get further through the Koch course you end up hearing he new character less and less, because each one is a smaller part of a growing set.

I don't think that's it. The problem is happening with characters that I learned some time ago and therefore should be easy. For instance, I am confusing W with G, and having a lot of trouble with F, even though those characters were a piece of cake when I first learned them!

My best guess is that I am just more tired and preoccupied than I was a week ago. I am experiencing immense variations in my Morse skills during the day. When it goes well, it goes really well. When it goes badly, it's the pits. This, even though I am following N2EY's advice about having a calm setting, staying off the beer, und so weiter.

I also find that if I try to do several 5-minute sessions close together, they get progressively worse. It works much better if I do 5 minutes, wait for an hour, then do another 5 minutes....

What I have noticed is that I do best when I fall into a "Zen-like" state where I'm not really "thinking" at all: the letters are just coming straight out of my pencil without any conscious thought. That's harder than it sounds, and I only achieve it maybe 25 percent of the time!

Note that all of this is happening during one of my typical "work days" (I work from home) so I am sure that work tensions must be trickling into the CW learning, even though I find that the Morse breaks are welcome, and fun!




Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K7MEM on December 11, 2013, 03:38:45 AM
I'm glad your getting a feel for on-the-air CW. With noise and fading it can sometimes be a tough task to copy everything.

CQ DE N4PGJ.

.... NAME IS RON ... QTH IS STONY BROOK, NY ... RST 57 ... --- INCHES SNOW ... ON UR STATION ...

I tried to catch RIG details but other than the words OLD, RUNNING and HR repeated several times, I didn't get it, mainly because there were lots of numbers and I've only learned two of those (0 and 5). Perhaps he's running the Heathkit HR series.... for the other numbers, I have to figure out the dots/dashes in my head (not a good idea).

Well this does highlight the need for more practice. If you looked up N4PGJ  in QRZ you would see that the QTH is "Stoney Point" not "Stoney Brook". If you look him up on a map you see that he lives just south of Yasgurs farm (Woodstock). I wonder if he dealt with the traffic going there and back. It was a long time back, but I may have stopped there for gas.

Yes, sometimes the rig report is difficult, depending on the rig. I do use a Heathkit HR-1680/HX-1681. I usually just say "Heathkit' and and hope that they don't ask me which one. It's much easier when I can say "HW-8" or "home brew".

But this also points out things like "expectations". When you heard "Stoney" coming through you might have immediately associated it with "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" and lost concentration. You can anticipate a little bit, but you still have to listen. When the anticipated word doesn't correspond to what your listening to, an alarm should go off. Then you listen closer because the QTH is usually sent twice. The second time usually clarifies it.

That's it, but it's still exciting!!!! (With apologies to N4PGJ for using him as a guinea pig.)

I don't think he will mind. You get use to the fact that there may be listeners from all over the world listening in on your QSO.

I caught a couple of abbreviations that I don't know, can anyone enlighten me: YYS and EN, used frequently during the QSO? They are not on my list here.

They aren't any abbreviations that I recognize. I tried to think of what they might mean, in the context of a standard QSO, but didn't come up with anything. There are lots of CW operators that talk to friends regularly. They do it so much that they start to use abbreviations that are unique to their conversations. When I lived and operated in Germany, there was a friend that talked with his son in Washington State every day via CW. They had a lot of special signals between them.

However, since the QSO sounds fairly standard, my guess is that you initially copied them wrong and then used some anticipation for the other times. Probably the QSB and QRN also had something to do with it.

Well, just keep on listening. It gets easier over time.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 11, 2013, 03:42:00 AM
Well this does highlight the need for more practice. If you looked up N4PGJ  in QRZ you would see that the QTH is "Stoney Point" not "Stoney Brook".

Actually I did copy POINT -- I made a mistake when transcribing my notes into the eHam post!

Thank you for the encouragement in general!

Copying real QSOs is very motivating, even if I only catch a few works. It reminds me of why I'm doing this!!!!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on December 11, 2013, 09:18:48 AM
About 340 in each 5 minutes, and about 10 sessions per day, so that's 3,400 characters per day.

Thanks. That's a lot more than I was ever managing while working on Koch.

For instance, I am confusing W with G, and having a lot of trouble with F, even though those characters were a piece of cake when I first learned them!

I find I often make that sort of error. Sometimes the relationship between the confused characters is obvious. Other times it makes no sense at all...

I also find that if I try to do several 5-minute sessions close together, they get progressively worse.

Yep, my scores often seemed to get worse during a session. I think your short sessions spread through the day are an excellent idea.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 11, 2013, 10:21:58 AM
I find I often make that sort of error. Sometimes the relationship between the confused characters is obvious. Other times it makes no sense at all...

So today I started early and have already done six five-minute sessions, one hour apart, with the 25-character set. It started dismally, but the last two sessions have been 89 percent, and then 92 percent, accuracy. So there's no magic to it, it really does seem to be a question of practice, practice, practice.

I've also discovered a weird ritualistic kind of thing. If I raise my left hand to my head and press the left headpiece against my head gently, my recognition rate goes up noticeably. Come to think of it, that's what you see radio operators doing in the old movies, when they are concentrating extra hard! (The right hand, meanwhile, is occupied with the pencil.)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N3PDT on December 11, 2013, 08:58:16 PM
I'm enjoying the read on your progress. You're doing great, really.

I have QSOd with Ron a few times, and he is a fellow SKCC member. 7.050-7.055 would be a typical range to find SKCCers, and they would be using a straight key, or bug. I suspect the EN you heard was actually an "R". Probably heard it most when one op responded to the other op turning the QSO back to him. That can get um, stylized a bit. Haven't figured out the YYS though.

As you've read, and has been mentioned here, the variance in your "ability" is normal.  Some days you're sharper than others - for any number of reasons.  That will even out as you get more comfortable listening to code and it becomes more second nature for you.

How's your sending coming along?



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 12, 2013, 04:00:21 AM
The 25 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q.

Accuracy on the best copy test yesterday with 25 characters: 92 percent.

That's a major improvement after a couple of days in the doldrums.

Today I am adding the 26th character which is 9 or dah-dah-dah-dah-dit.

I'm enjoying the read on your progress. You're doing great, really.

Thanks! It feels rather self-centered to be doing this, but on the other hand it's great to feel some "accountability" to the friendly Morse Elmers in this place, and the advice has been excellent. (I wish I were a teenager, though, and not a 56-year-old working an exhausting full-time job!)

How's your sending coming along?

A bit hard to tell.

I have no problem sending several minutes of code containing the characters learned so far.

However I'm also using software called PCW-Fistcheck which is telling me that my dits are now fine (regular, and properly spaced), but my dahs are dreadful. Usually I test it with the character "zero" and find that the first dah is too long (about four dits' worth) and the other four dahs are both irregular, and much too short (about two dits' worth). I have done the drill hundreds of times, with little improvement.

Listening to myself in the headphones, when I send CQ it sounds like this: daaaaaah-di-dah-dit   dah-dah-di-daaaaaaah. Is that "swing"?

I can also hear that the gap between characters is exaggerated. In effect I seem to be replicating the Farnsworth spacing used in my copy drills.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 13, 2013, 04:23:35 AM
The 26 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, 9.

Accuracy on the best copy test yesterday with 26 characters: 86 percent. Not good, but I soldier on anyway. (Yesterday was a busy work day and I skipped some of my sessions.)

Today I am adding the 27th character which is Z or dah-dah-di-dit.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KH2G on December 13, 2013, 05:26:43 PM
I don't know "KOCH" method but it sounds tedious  :D  I used to teach CW by setting up similar groups IE E.I.S.H.5 which is all dits and then T.M.O.0 which is all dahs and you can make reversals like R and K etc. Soon as we had enough letters we could make simple words. Anyway that works for you is fine but you have enough letters now to practice making some simple words.
BTW if you like long characters wait till you do numbers and punctuation  :D
Regards and keep on pecking
Dick KH2G


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 13, 2013, 05:32:13 PM
I don't know "KOCH" method but it sounds tedious  :D

More information on the Koch method can be found here: http://www.qsl.net/n1irz/finley.morse.html (http://www.qsl.net/n1irz/finley.morse.html).


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 14, 2013, 04:36:05 AM
The 27 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, 9, Z.

Accuracy on the best copy test yesterday with 27 characters: 89 percent.

Today I am adding the 28th character which is H or di-di-di-dit.

Settings in G4FON Koch-method software:
--15wpm Actual Character Speed; combined with
--20wpm Effective Code Speed ("Farnsworth spacing").

Lots of CW on 40m yesterday and managed to catch some bits and pieces of QSOs. Weirdly, am finding the faster CW (nearer 15-20wpm) easier to copy than the slow stuff. ???


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KH2G on December 14, 2013, 07:03:39 PM
The faster CW seems easier to copy because your starting to get words vice letters and that is as it should be!
Regards and keep pounding
Dick KH2G


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 15, 2013, 05:07:21 AM
The 28 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, 9, Z, H.

Accuracy on the best copy test yesterday with 28 characters: 91 percent.

Today I am adding the 29th character which is 3 or di-di-di-dah-dah.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: 2E0OZI on December 15, 2013, 05:18:28 PM
G'day Martin,

its great to hear of your progress and I think you are pretty close to being able to aim for a first contact  - despite not knowing everything perfectly. I reckon it's only a week or two away. Here's why....

When I had learned the letters and numbers on the Morse Machine programme I happened to attend a meeting of my club, where a talk on morse was given by a local "morse guru" who's callsign has slipped my mind for a moment. It was about 30 minutes long and at the end of it I was inspired to "push on". At the end we chatted and he said "What are you waiting for? If it goes wrong whats the worst that could happen?" I went home that night and made my first contact with HA2PP and was over the moon!!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: 2E0OZI on December 15, 2013, 05:23:23 PM
Here is what I wrote more than a year ago -

I went to a presentation on CW by M0BLO in March and he dealt with anxiety quite a bit - which helped me a lot. His tips were;

1. Use previous QSOs (assuming replying to a CQ) to get the information you need, such as name, QTH. This might be called cheating but also might be called "listening"  Wink Then you can concentrate on getting the other OPs call, RST and one other piece of info. Still copy the other stuff, but you know what to expect so you can relax a little.

2. Dont be afraid to keep it really simple even if the other guy want a long chat. At this stage I can handle a simple QSO but not a rag chew. Thats OK.

3. Get on the air - its a hobby nobody will have a cow if you make a mistake.

4. Be fully prepared at the op position - do not (like I did) be scrabbling around for scraps of paper looking for a pen that works!!

5. Get comfy.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 16, 2013, 11:32:10 AM
I went home that night and made my first contact with HA2PP and was over the moon!!

Here is what I wrote more than a year ago -

I went to a presentation on CW by M0BLO in March and he dealt with anxiety quite a bit - which helped me a lot. His tips were;

1. Use previous QSOs (assuming replying to a CQ) to get the information you need, such as name, QTH. This might be called cheating but also might be called "listening"  Wink Then you can concentrate on getting the other OPs call, RST and one other piece of info. Still copy the other stuff, but you know what to expect so you can relax a little.

2. Dont be afraid to keep it really simple even if the other guy want a long chat. At this stage I can handle a simple QSO but not a rag chew. Thats OK.

3. Get on the air - its a hobby nobody will have a cow if you make a mistake.

4. Be fully prepared at the op position - do not (like I did) be scrabbling around for scraps of paper looking for a pen that works!!

5. Get comfy.


Thanks for all the encouragement and advice. Wish I could get on the air very soon, but haven't built the transmitter yet ... or put up a better antenna. It won't be long, though. (The TX will be a 2-tube, 5-watt MOPA so I want to get a decent dipole up into the trees.)

Today's news is messy. We had a snowstorm over the weekend that took out our power for 8 hours yesterday. I monitored lots of QSOs on my (battery-powered) homebrew receiver but the computer was dead so couldn't do any formal "Koch practice." The power outage was combined with a much longer Internet outage, which had a knock-on effect on my "work life" so I've had to hold off on doing any Morse today. Will be getting back to it tomorrow at the latest though. Sometimes, Life Happens.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 18, 2013, 12:55:30 PM
I was on the road for the past couple of days. I'm very low-tech when I travel (no laptop, no smartphone) because I like to get away from those things. So I carried a small MP3 player with some old Koch training drills (23 characters) and did quite a lot of that while spending nearly 8 hours on trains. Accuracy on that reduced 23-character set: 94 percent. Tomorrow I will go back to the 29-character level and start adding new characters day by day.

Meanwhile the "Art and Skill" book arrived, so there's some new bedtime reading:

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-szg6Hde0xfk/UrIKTCyCanI/AAAAAAAABy4/wtYgF4gGa60/s800/Books.jpg)

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: 2E0OZI on December 19, 2013, 07:21:48 AM
One thing to watch out for Martin is the idea that you have to be able to copy and send 20wpm perfectly every time before you even think of getting on the air. Thats not true at all - it's a hobby, you are not in the forces or back in the 1950s as an radioman on a ship, so you do it for enjoyment. As soon as you have the roughly 40 characters you need (and a transmitter) get on the air. The first qsos will be rubber stamp types; call, RST, name, QTH usually at most. And that is OK, its a start.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 19, 2013, 12:19:03 PM
One thing to watch out for Martin is the idea that you have to be able to copy and send 20wpm perfectly every time before you even think of getting on the air. Thats not true at all - it's a hobby, you are not in the forces or back in the 1950s as an radioman on a ship, so you do it for enjoyment. As soon as you have the roughly 40 characters you need (and a transmitter) get on the air. The first qsos will be rubber stamp types; call, RST, name, QTH usually at most. And that is OK, its a start.

That's the goal. And actually my target speed is not 20wpm but 15wpm (I'm using 20wpm character speed but with the Farnsworth spacing it's actually 15wpm). When I "downshift" to 15/15 it actually gets a lot harder to copy because I don't have the extra space between the words, but I need to get used to that.

Today I've been stuck at the 29-character level. Have done a lot of drills, probably too many, since it's not getting any better and accuracy is actually dropping. Will give it a breather and things should go better tomorrow I hope.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: W7ASA on December 19, 2013, 01:38:39 PM
Go Get'em Martin!

I am so glad that you are pursuing the Morse code.  Let me present two points here:

1.   Your power outage which caused you to have "no computer" proved a good point; that radio in it's basic form, works independent of commercial infrastructure.  If you had ability to power a rig - such as a QRP rig on batteries, it would not have mattered one bit that all other power was out.  In fact, you likely would have had EXCELLENT reception because there would be no local electrical noise!

There was a green beret years ago who wrote something like this about one particular mission he was on:

'We had all the latest equipment, including this little electronic
tablet that connected to our HF radio. It could do anything:
send maps, diagrams, text and do it in a short encrypted burst. 
Yes, it could do anything - except work, proving the old point
that 'Sooner or later, you find yourself on the side of a
mountain, with a pad of paper and the stub of a pencil, pounding
it out in Morse code.
We reached our base with no trouble using Morse.'

2.   As others have stated, get on the air as soon as possible.  This means to get on the air BEFORE you think that you are ready. Like the old Nike commercials said:  Just Do It. Tapping good, accurate code slowly with another ham is the best way to take what you've learned and to turn it into a working language for you. The best approach (though not always possible) is to have a daily, 30 minute sked with another ham, so that you become accustomed to communicating in the Morse code, the operating techniques and methods and also the abbreviations. You need to not only be able to read the letters & numbers, but you need to get in tune with how we actually communicate efficiently in CW.

Example:

RR MARTIN, UR SIG GUD HR IN QTH REEDVILLE, VA. ES GL GN BT AR KB1WSY DE W7ASA SK  E  E

Translation:  I received all that you sent. Martin. Your signal is good here in my location of Reedville, Virginia and good luck, good night /break/ ENDING THIS CONTACT   KB1WSY THIS IS W7ASA  SIGNING-OFF  DIT-DIT  (like 'see you later')

Yes, we are using a cipher system (International Morse) to send code (Q-signals) with heavy abbreviations, especially at lower speed, to increase actual throughput.

Remember: It's FUN! and the fellow on the other end of the radio link is likely also having fun.

Good, clean Morse is the goal.  Speed occurs with practice/familiarity, but fast, sloppy, inaccurate code is worthless.


de Ray
W7ASA  ..._  ._




Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 19, 2013, 02:13:02 PM
....Your power outage which caused you to have "no computer" proved a good point; that radio in it's basic form, works independent of commercial infrastructure.  If you had ability to power a rig - such as a QRP rig on batteries, it would not have mattered one bit that all other power was out.  In fact, you likely would have had EXCELLENT reception because there would be no local electrical noise!

As I said, despite the power outage, I was able to monitor the bands on my homebrew receiver and copy bits and pieces of QSOs. Indeed, the background was unusually quiet: normally there is a certain amount of a/c hum from the house and noise from various other a/c devices but on Sunday it was pristine!

I am expecting to get on the air "soon" but that is an elastic concept. I was licensed nearly two years ago but was immediately hit with an avalanche of "real life" work so it's been a challenge. All the more so because I insist on homebrewing all the equipment.... but I will get there soon, I know it!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: W7ASA on December 19, 2013, 08:35:00 PM
Ooops!  Poor wordsmithing on my part:  "If you had ability to power a rig ..." was meant to say ' BECAUSE you had ability to power a rig...'

I look forward to meeting you on the air sometime.


73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._  ._ 


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 20, 2013, 06:18:16 AM
The 29 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, 9, Z, H, 3.

Accuracy on the best copy test with 29 characters: 90 percent.

Today I am adding the 30th character which is 8 or dah-dah-dah-di-dit.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: W6QW on December 20, 2013, 08:51:33 AM
Learning code by listening can be frustrating at times.  An alternative that may be beneficial is to open up a book and practice sending the characters from the text.  It will certainly help your brain learn the characters and speed up the translation.  As your memorization progresses, you will find that you are sending at an increasing faster rate. Enjoy...


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 21, 2013, 06:29:17 AM
The 30 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, 9, Z, H, 3, 8.

Accuracy on the best copy test with 30 characters: 87 percent. Not great, but I'm forging on anyway.

Today I am adding the 31st character which is B or dah-di-di-dit.

Settings in G4FON Koch-method software:
--20wpm Actual Character Speed; combined with
--15wpm Effective Code Speed ("Farnsworth spacing").
(This corrects what I said in an earlier post, where I had those numbers the wrong way round!)

Other experience: I monitored quite a lot of CW on 40m, yesterday and early today. I am now catching entire "common short words" such as "THE, IS, HIS, FOR, FROM, THIS, WELL, RIG, SNOW, WORK, TOWN, INCHES, MORE, TREE, HOUSE, STILL, ALL, HAVE, HAM, LUNCH, WOOD"; Q-codes "QTH, QSO, QRM"; abbreviations "NW, HR, ES, ANT, HI"; and longer words/phrases sometimes: "RETIRED, TICKET, IN THE 70s, WASHINGTON STATE, YESTERDAY, TOMS RIVER, LOWELL...." Making this list has actually cheered me up, because these words were scattered through dozens of QSOs that I copied, all of which were fragmentary but if you look at the list of words, it's evidence of real progress!!!!

Some of the copied CW was quite fast (around 15-20wpm) and some of it slow (below 10wpm). There doesn't seem to be a strong connection between speed and readability, for me anyway, as long as I stick to CW that's 20wpm or lower. Ironically, some of my best copying was done through heavy QRM and QSB on my primitive 3-transistor homebrew regenerative receiver. I find it easier to copy good code/bad signal than bad code/good signal. I came across one signal that had so much ripple, it sounded like a Hammond organ with full tremolo!

Learning code by listening can be frustrating at times.  An alternative that may be beneficial is to open up a book and practice sending the characters from the text.  It will certainly help your brain learn the characters and speed up the translation.  As your memorization progresses, you will find that you are sending at an increasing faster rate. Enjoy...

You're right about the frustration! When that happens I just try to "push through it" -- like right now, where I am finding that my accuracy rate (and the number of dropped characters) is worsening.

Thank you for your suggestion, but it has in common with quite a few others the fact that it is premature for anybody who has chosen the "Koch method" and hasn't completed it yet. Unlike the methods of yesteryear, Koch doesn't teach the entire character set at the beginning. If you look at the list of characters I have learned (see above) you will see that I haven't even learned all the letters of the alphabet yet.... This makes it impossible, or at least very hard, to use any drills that employ the entire character set. That includes sending "real" text, or monitoring the W1AW drills, or copying canned "standard QSOs" or conducting real QSOs .... and so on. Fortunately I am only about two weeks away from having the full 40-character set, festive season permitting.

For anyone reading this who hasn't started learning Morse yet: There is a fundamental choice to make, right at the beginning. Either you learn the entire character set at the beginning of the process, and then build your skills from there (speed and recognition). Or, you jump in at a relatively high speed (usually recommended to be at least 12wpm) and use the Koch method, which teaches one character at a time, in process that will take (for most adults studying one hour per day) about four weeks to six weeks minimum. The problem with this approach is that it is, on the face of it, very boring, because you are dealing entirely with random letter groups that "make no sense." However, there is a constant feeling of "making progress" coupled with the knowledge that you will be able to copy relatively fast code. The biggest drawback is finding that six-week window! I think this is my third attempt at learning using the Koch method, and this time I know I will finish it.

Concerning sending: some time in the next few days I am planning to rewire my setup to make it possible for the computerized drills to play back in my left ear, and my code oscillator to play back in my right ear. I will then try to key exactly like the drill, from the same text. This is a suggestion I found in "The Art and Skill of Radiotelegraphy." At the moment, my own sending sounds pretty awful, at least to my ear!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 21, 2013, 09:03:11 AM
Quick question: I make far more mistakes in the first five to ten "words" of my copying drills (specifically, dropped characters). Eventually, my mind "settles down" and it gets much better.

Any suggestions for reducing that problem?

I wish that all the drills began with "VVV VVV VVV" or something like that, in order to get attuned to the pace!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 21, 2013, 10:05:41 AM
I managed to catch some almost complete sentences of a QSO on 7056!!!! (The ellipses are the bits I missed.)

QRS K

OK I WILL SLOW DOWN. IS THIS GOOD?

RR ER F CHA (??)

OK WELCOME ... I KNOW HOW ... FEEL LIKE TO START NEW. LET ME KNOW IF I ... TOO FAST. MY RIG IS A YAESU FT950. THE ANT IS A HOMEBREW ... DIPOLE. THE AGE IS 55 YEARS OLD. BEEN A HAM FOR ... (I haven't learned all the numbers yet).

I would estimate that the experienced CW op was transmitting the characters at 15wpm but spacing them for an overall 8wpm or so. I did not understand the newbie at all, and s/he was sending faster than s/he could receive.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K7KBN on December 21, 2013, 11:08:46 AM
Quick question: I make far more mistakes in the first five to ten "words" of my copying drills (specifically, dropped characters). Eventually, my mind "settles down" and it gets much better.

Any suggestions for reducing that problem?

I wish that all the drills began with "VVV VVV VVV" or something like that, in order to get attuned to the pace!


Same suggestion as how to get to Carnegie Hall:  PRACTICE. 

Gaining experience with actual two-way communications, either on the air or with an oscillator and a friend/Elmer is the surest way to learn and remember.  It's been 50 years since I sat in my operating position on CVA-63 and ran stacks of messages incoming and outgoing for 8-12 hours at a time, and yet I believe I could still do it.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 22, 2013, 07:35:07 AM
The 31 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, 9, Z, H, 3, 8, B.

Accuracy on the best copy test with 31 characters: 88 percent. The past 24 hours have been very tough. Normally I was practicing about one hour per day, spaced out in 10-minute runs every hour or so. But yesterday I did more like three hours, scattered throughout the day, and this morning, another hour, until I reached that 88 percent copy level. Apparently my "Rubicon" is at approximately the "30 learned character" level. Because time is precious, I am forging ahead with the next character anyway.

Today I am adding the 32nd character which is the question mark or di-di-dah-dah-di-dit.

Same suggestion as how to get to Carnegie Hall:  PRACTICE.  

You are of course absolutely correct. Hey, I actually was in Carnegie Hall a few days ago ... but in the audience, not on the stage. The climax was a very long Christmas-carol medley, which about summarizes what the code sounds like in my head today!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K7KBN on December 22, 2013, 09:46:28 AM
Listen to the Hallelujah Chorus:  C  C  F  F  R  A

...or DAHdidahdit...DAHdidahdit...dididahdit...dididahdit...didahdit...didah.

Has a bit of a Lake Erie swing in some places, but I've always had a part of my brain encoding musical rhythms for examining later.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 22, 2013, 09:52:49 AM
... I've always had a part of my brain encoding musical rhythms for examining later.

I'm a musician (albeit a mediocre one) and I'm in the music publishing business, but it doesn't seem to be helping me much with the code! I thought there was supposed to be a connection between musical ability and code skills, but perhaps that's an "old ham's tale" huh?


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 23, 2013, 07:00:51 AM
The 32 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, 9, Z, H, 3, 8, B, ?.

Accuracy on the best copy test with 32 characters: only about 80-85 percent. However I'm going to be a bit "risky" and forge on to the next character. The Koch "rules" say I need to hit 90 percent accuracy but I feel that would create more frustration -- I don't want to feel like I'm stuck on a plateau, even if that is to some extent true. Also I am having no trouble at all recognizing the last-learned character (the question mark) which has an easily assimilated sound. The problems are with *other* characters, some of which I learned weeks ago....

My main problems are rather basic:
--The pairs W/G and V/B.
--The letter F, of all things. I either miss it altogether, or confuse it with "/" (the slash).
--The numbers. I am definitely "counting the dits and dahs" in some cases, which is fatal because I then miss the next five characters or so! I think the bad habit of "counting" is more likely to surface with the numbers, because of the way those Morse characters are structured. It seems to be more acute with the numbers between 1 and 5 for some reason (I am having no trouble with the "second half" series that I have learned so far, i.e. 8, 9 and zero).

Today I am adding the 33rd character which is the 4 or di-di-di-di-dah.

Software settings are the same as before:
--20wpm Actual Character Speed; combined with
--15wpm Effective Code Speed ("Farnsworth spacing").

I've also monitored quite a few 40m QSOs over the past day and that's cheered me up. I am trying to get used to the plethora of abbreviations that are common in these exchanges!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WB2WIK on December 23, 2013, 01:32:24 PM
Quick question: I make far more mistakes in the first five to ten "words" of my copying drills (specifically, dropped characters). Eventually, my mind "settles down" and it gets much better.

Any suggestions for reducing that problem?

I wish that all the drills began with "VVV VVV VVV" or something like that, in order to get attuned to the pace!


When you've used the code on the air to make contacts for a while, it should start sounding like a language and not a code; just like listening to people "talk" in English or French.  No "deciphering," no "thinking about it," it just happens.

But I honestly don't know anyone who's accomplished that by only "listening" or "copying" code.  The only ones I know (including myself) who listen to code and hear English words without ever thinking about the code are ones who have made a lot of 2-way contacts on the air using it.  Some are probably better than others, but it took me a few years of using code before my brain stopped thinking of it as code, and that included close to equal "sending" time, and working dozens of contests at pretty high speeds, and copying some signals that are so weak you really need to engage the "wetware" filter between the ears to even tell there's a signal there.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 23, 2013, 01:51:49 PM
When you've used the code on the air to make contacts for a while, it should start sounding like a language and not a code; just like listening to people "talk" in English or French.  No "deciphering," no "thinking about it," it just happens.

But I honestly don't know anyone who's accomplished that by only "listening" or "copying" code.  The only ones I know (including myself) who listen to code and hear English words without ever thinking about the code are ones who have made a lot of 2-way contacts on the air using it.  Some are probably better than others, but it took me a few years of using code before my brain stopped thinking of it as code, and that included close to equal "sending" time, and working dozens of contests at pretty high speeds....

So this is the beginning of a long journey! It's a lot of fun, most of the time. Interesting what you say about sending. In much of my reading, it has been said that sending engages a completely different skill set. But obviously copying and sending are complementary. As is the case with many beginners, I can send faster than I can copy, but the sending sounds awful (at any speed). Need to put in a lot more work on that. (I'm in the process of rigging up a left ear/right ear headphone setup so that I can hear a drill in one ear, and key the oscillator in the other ear.) So much to learn....

....copying some signals that are so weak you really need to engage the "wetware" filter between the ears to even tell there's a signal there.

I have actually been seeking out weak signals, and signals overlaid with QRM or suffering QSB. For some reason I really enjoy that challenge. And finding a weak signal isn't hard, on my primitive equipment (on a modern rig that same signal is probably probably 5-and-9!).


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 24, 2013, 01:45:10 PM
I'm up in Maine for a family Christmas but brought an MP3 player with code practice files, and my trusty hombebrew code oscillator and Ameco K4 key. Currently stuck at the 33-character level, same as yesterday, and not sure how much progress I can make during a short two-day holiday. But will make sure to practice every day. It's very calm and un-stressful here (which is good) but I cannot be a code hermit either!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 25, 2013, 06:19:38 AM
In the early morning before opening the Christmas presents I realized why I have reached a Morse "plateau." While copying, I noticed that I am "counting the dits and dahs" for a handful of characters. Those also happen to be the ones I learned recently: I'm at the 33-character level in Koch, and it looks like I started deviating from the straight path right around character 27 or 28.

Perhaps not coincidentally, these tend to be the longer characters: numbers, and the "question mark" punctuation. Ironically, there are also some earlier characters that I originally assimilated entirely "by sound" but now find that I am "counting the dits and dahs." For instance, the letter "Z," which I had found easy, at the time I learned it. I also continue to have a lot of trouble with the letter "F" (very mysterious, since that letter has a very distinct sound).

The remedy I am using to fix this "counting the dits/dahs" problem is to force myself not to do it! The result is a dramatic fall in my recognition rate, for the time being. It is even possible that I may have to "drop back" to the 28-character level and spend at least a short time re-doing the earlier 28 through 32 characters.

At this point I don't care about this momentary setback. It's better to learn the whole thing properly, "by sound," rather than drift into using *any* version of "lookup table in the head."

Merry Christmas everyone!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on December 25, 2013, 10:27:52 AM
some earlier characters that I originally assimilated entirely "by sound" but now find that I am "counting the dits and dahs."

I found that the add-a-character progression did this sort of thing to me in spades; each time I added a character I had to re-learn many of the previous ones, so my progress got slower and slower, and eventually ground to a halt at about lesson 16.

The remedy I am using to fix this "counting the dits/dahs" problem is to force myself not to do it!

Good luck!

73, Rick M0LEP


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 25, 2013, 10:52:43 AM
I found that the add-a-character progression did this sort of thing to me in spades; each time I added a character I had to re-learn many of the previous ones, so my progress got slower and slower, and eventually ground to a halt at about lesson 16.

How did you break through that barrier? Or did you drop Koch and switch to another method?

It is especially frustrating today. If I "turn off" the dit/dah counting in my brain, my recognition rate is dropping dramatically -- and that includes characters that I used to find "easy" and never had to "count." Gnyah. (Plus I am rested, sober, and in a quiet holiday environment.)

This too shall pass, I think.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on December 26, 2013, 12:55:05 AM
How did you break through that barrier? Or did you drop Koch and switch to another method?

I switched to another method, and learned all the numbers and letters in one go, but I'm still stuck below 10wpm for reliable copy, and some punctuation throws me. I can get short abbreviations at 25wpm, and given a couple of repetitions, callsigns at over 30wpm, but not a minute or more of steady code at anything like that speed. It'll take lots of practice...

It is especially frustrating today. If I "turn off" the dit/dah counting in my brain, my recognition rate is dropping dramatically

The only way I can turn off the counting is to get code coming at me too fast to count. There's nothing like practice to get past the barriers. However, there comes a point where the practice needs to be two-way.

73 and good luck. Rick M0LEP


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: LB3KB on December 26, 2013, 03:21:37 AM
Your best bet is to speed things up.  Drop or at least reduce Farnsworth.  That way you won't have time to count.


73
K4NL Sid
justlearnmorsecode.com (http://justlearnmorsecode.com)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 26, 2013, 06:40:31 AM
The only way I can turn off the counting is to get code coming at me too fast to count. There's nothing like practice to get past the barriers.

Your best bet is to speed things up.  Drop or at least reduce Farnsworth.  That way you won't have time to count.

I came to that conclusion yesterday. I'm on holiday and brought fixed-speed mp3 drills with me. But when I get home tomorrow I will speed things up. Currently I'm on 20wpm character speed, 15wpm Farnsworth ("20/15"). I'm thinking of radically speeding it up to 25/20. Or perhaps 20/20 with no Farnsworth at all, which will probably be very hard initially. (I have tried 15/15 and find it very hard.)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 26, 2013, 07:47:25 AM
So I went through the depressing exercise of calculating my accuracy on the latest 33-character-level drills. Answer: 73 percent. Yeech.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 26, 2013, 11:34:25 AM
OK, so, nearly four hours later and after doing a 5-minute drill every half-hour or so, I have increased the accuracy from 73 percent to 82 percent, without making any changes to the 33-character set or transmission speed. I guess I'm lucky that it's Boxing Day and there's plenty of time available. Apart from eating and doing a lot of Morse code, my only other activity during the day has been a total of about 6 miles of walking through the snow in sub-freezing weather shortly after dawn. Very pretty.

Perhaps therefore I can get "back on track" just with a lot of practice ... and coffee … taking advantage of the rest of the family's absence while they prowl the shopping malls. If that doesn't work, I will reconfigure the G4FON speed settings when I get home tomorrow. I can tell that I am still "counting dits and dahs" but the number of characters for which I am doing that has fallen, so there is less counting. I now copy the numerals "3" and "8" and the "question mark" character without "counting" but there are still issues with some other characters. Most annoying is that "old" characters such as "Z" and "F" aren't copying well, and I am confusing various characters with each other more frequently than before.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WB3CQM on December 26, 2013, 05:33:48 PM
Hi Martin and every one else here,

I have no plans to tell you what to do or how to improve your cw learning. But wanted to share a few things on Morse Code.

Your doing great ! Just keep it up. You are doing better than when I first started by yards.

How did I learn code ? and Why ? Well when I first heard code on a SWL receiver I said I got to learn that and I want to be a CW op. That was my dream  , to be a cw op. Did not say how good or bad , just a be a CW op.

I don't even know where I got the 45 AMECO record (if that is the name ) But it was 5 wpm and a little book. I listen to that and just stated to copy letters at 5 wpm. Sooner or latter I could copy letters then  words and then W1AW and I could even copy other hams. I went to a local ham and he tuned in a station around 7-10 wpm and said copy this . He said I copied 10 wpm and I took the written and passed the Novice exam. From there I just started to copy code over the air.(and work other stations)  There was no tapes I knew of or any thing else. No computer in 1976 I can tell you that. Had NO clue how to learn or how to learn the right way. LOTS of hams learned this way. And they learned in time how to copy .

Unlike many here on this board , I do NOT believe one should pick up a key and send , until one can copy code . Like 10-15 wpm. Then it is imprinted in their minds what good code should sound like. ( But what do I know ? )

Lets go on with this if you do not mind. By 1979 I had DXCC-CW No#777 and I knew at this point I had to get a extra class license in order to advance in CW dxing.

What else did I do for copy practice ? I listened to USN weather / news broadcast sent on commercial frequencies. I also listen to WCC and as well ship to shore . I even could find the ship freq and listen to those ops sending to WCC. It was a blast and I will never forget listening to those professional ops. When I went for my Extra I could copy backwards cw and almost 2 stations at the same time.

Man I wanted to be a Professional cw op  for some reason. So I went to the USCG and had pen in hand and was about to sign on dotted line when I asked about my vacation time and when I wanted it. They said you will be US Gov. Property and most likely end up on a ship and you will be given leave when they say. ( I laid the pen down and walked out ) My dogs and hunting meant to much to me and that was a wake up call. I was Not sorry one bit still today I know this.

Did I ever become a professional CW op ? No NOT a professional, How about just a amateur cw op  ? Most likely but can not say if I am very good yet.

In 2012 I made a goal - I wanted to log 50,000 calls in 6 months on RufZxp and I did make that goal. The other is to copy a call sign at 50 wpm. I made 48 wpm , I for fitted the speed for higher score and kept 222 cmp. Oh well , now I go back and try once in a while and can not get in the grove. 40 wpm is about it for now. ( and more like 30 wpm and still miss letters)

What do I miss ? Was it a B or 6 e or I or s or H was it J or or W on and on and on and on. Copy of call sign is not anything like copy of words . But this I can tell you.
My hearing is a handicap , I am tone deft. Some dits I just never hear. I am 60 that is handicap, I have lots of things on my mind. I learned wrong. But this I know , none of it matters . I love Morse Code and Never lost interest in it. In fact I think I love Morse code more now in 2013 and have more respect for the ops than in 1976 and on.

I hardly think you will not get letters mixed up. I know a cw op that was Professional op also one of the greatest cw ops in the world and he tells me some of the letters he misses at times.

Strive for perfection but have fun and just keep copy and one day you will be a cw op This I know ! I can see it and feel it.

I copied many messages in US Army Mars cw / messages for ham in Africa for his family back home here , Hours and hours spent in cw qso. 100's and 1000's of cw pile ups. And this I know , I am still leaning to copy code. I listen to the NA Sprint ops and even DXexpditions and other contest cw ops, rag chew qso and I am amazed at the skill these ops have. I have used the bug for years and people can say what they want to but I think I have as much or more fun using a keyboard as a hand key.

My point is there are MANY SKILLS to be learned to be a good cw op and it all takes just a little time and lots of EFFORT , there is no free lunch and YOU are PROVING Ham Spirit at the highest IMHO>

73 and Good Luck
JIM


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: LB3KB on December 26, 2013, 07:08:47 PM
The only way I can turn off the counting is to get code coming at me too fast to count. There's nothing like practice to get past the barriers.

Your best bet is to speed things up.  Drop or at least reduce Farnsworth.  That way you won't have time to count.

I came to that conclusion yesterday. I'm on holiday and brought fixed-speed mp3 drills with me. But when I get home tomorrow I will speed things up. Currently I'm on 20wpm character speed, 15wpm Farnsworth ("20/15"). I'm thinking of radically speeding it up to 25/20. Or perhaps 20/20 with no Farnsworth at all, which will probably be very hard initially. (I have tried 15/15 and find it very hard.)

I think it would be better to use smaller speed increments.  E.g. increase the overall speed by 1 WPM and see what happens (at 16/20 WPM).  If you still have time to count, try 17/20.

WPM is not really a good unit for this - if the software you use allow you to specify speed in CPM you could consider using that.  That would give you five times as many choices for speed.


73
K4NL Sid
justlearnmorsecode.com (http://justlearnmorsecode.com)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on December 27, 2013, 01:48:13 PM
Hello Martin, KB1WSY:

I'm glad to see you still practicing.  It is a good inspiration to read your progress and others' comments about it.   I am still chugging away.  I am way behind you, but that's OK.  I'm not in a rush or competition.  Some days I am more motivated then others so I just listen a few minutes on days I am not so motivated.  Other days I do 90% on a new element.    Other elements, it takes me days to get 90%.    Just like you - the letter F is hard.  I could not get 90% with it, so I just moved on to the next element.

I have also been practicing sending.  Not real practice - just some app on my phone because I can carry it anywhere.   And it checks if my sending is good. I do have a cheap straight key with oscillator that I practice sometimes.  Not sure if this is the best way, but each day I practice each element like the alphabet.  Pound 2 sets of 5 of an element:  AAAAA AAAAA BBBBB BBBB.   I start with the letters: A, b, c, e.... z.  Then numbers: 1, 2... 9, 0.   Then some pro-signs/punctuation.  I even try pounding an imagined QSO like CQ CQ CQ DE KK4MRN KK4MRN N.  Then act like I am responding to someone.   ABC123 DE KK4MRN KK4MRN = RST IS 599 599 = QTH IS VA VA KN...  I even pound my full name, my brothers names, anything I can think of to pound.

I was hoping I would be ready for the CW Rookie Roundup on December 22nd or the Straight Key Night around New Years, but I will not be.  The only code I can comprehend on the air is the W1AW code practice.  So, I have long ways to go...  I even bought a cable that can hook up my MFJ straight key to my Heathkit HW-101, but I won't be using it anytime soon. 


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: W1JKA on December 27, 2013, 02:20:57 PM
Re: KK4MRN

If W1AW code practice is all you can comprehend now, you are way ahead of the game and doing yourself no favors by not getting on the air immediately. W1AW is mostly considered the generic perfect canned fist for all others to emulate and since most operators you hear on the air can't send this perfect it is up to you to learn to copy these different fist and this is only done by on air listening and contacts with other hams.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 27, 2013, 02:47:20 PM
M0LEP, LB3KB, WB3CQM, KK4MRN, W1JKA: Thank you for the advice and encouragement.

Today I was traveling. I did a couple of Koch drills. Then when I got home I listened to a long and "fun to listen to" CW pileup on 40m, using my crude regenerative receiver -- it sounded almost like an "electronic music" composition, it was so random and complex. I probably should have been more disciplined but it's now nearly six weeks that I've been doing these deadly serious Koch drills every day and I needed a breather. NOT a day with "no code" but a day when I could just relax and absorb like a sponge. Will get back to the more serious stuff tomorrow, including some experiments with varying the speed/Farnsworth settings.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA1ZP on December 28, 2013, 03:21:15 AM
Hi Martin

It is lovely to read that you are into morse code.
Just wanted to give you a boost.
Keep up the practice and take care not to overdo.

It just takes time and one day is better as the other.
my learning curve is still going on and it has always been like 3 steps forward and 2 steps back.
I just always found out that the condition of the day is very important.
I needed to be awake and in good rested condition.

Now I use morse code training as a way to relax and escape from daily stresses.
If i tell someone that if I am totaly stressed can not sleep I use morse code to relax and clear my mind.
Most hams whom are not good in CW look at me with a srange look "using morse code to relax", and they come back with the answer , it drove me crazy all those beeps, how can you get relaxed by them.

Very good luck with your training and I am always very pleased to see that there are still people that want to learn the morse code.

And I hope that there will come those days that came with me that i was completely happy as i still am that I have learned the code and use it.
For me every CW contact is more special as every other contact in other modes, and maybe other CW users agree with me, it has something special, and i even can not describe what that special thing is.
I always remeber some very special contacts in CW , and they are the best contacts, still can remember where they were what time what frequency what we talked about even the smell in these moments is remembered.

73 Jos 


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 28, 2013, 02:11:33 PM
Today I woke up with a heavy cold, which I must have caught from my daughter who arrived for the Xmas holidays coughing and sneezing.... Am feeling cruddy, and a bit woozy from medicine. Not good Morse conditions. So I confined myself to monitoring on-air QSOs on 40m, with some success. No drills.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 29, 2013, 03:39:11 AM
Still got that heavy cold but, I'll live.

Today I set the G4FON software to a straight 20wpm (no Farnsworth spacing at all). Surprise! It's tough, but I am copying a fair portion of it, AND there's no time to "count the dits and dahs." So I will try this out for a few days.

BTW, I also tried Sid/K4NL's suggestion to use smaller adjustments. So for instance I tried 20wpm with 17wpm Farnsworth. But when I did that I found I was still definitedly "counting" the dits and dahs.

This whole business of "counting" is really pernicious. I think that, for some of us at least, our minds are hard-coded to translate this stuff into visual images. I never learned the "visual" version of Morse code but my mind insists on building the damn table anyway! (And, it didn't happen initially. It only happened when I was more than halfway through the Koch character table. Rats!)

I think this must vary from one individual to another. Although I am a musician, I am also very visually oriented. I'm always trying to build patterns out of the things I see. When walking along a sidewalk, I adjust my pacing to the lines inscribed in the concrete ... when I see wallpaper in people's homes or decorative tiles on kitchen walls I look for the patterns. In my "day job" I am a sheet music typesetter working for music publishers; in other words I spend my whole day converting sound rhythms into visual rhythms on paper!!

Of course, if this new attempt to learn 20wpm with no Farnworth spacing succeeds, it will be fantastic! Wish me luck! It will also stand me in very good stead when practicing *sending* since I'll be "hearing" the correct spacing during the copying drills, and can emulate it.

(I have dropped back to the 28-character Koch level and will add one character each time I get to 90 percent. It could take a while, at a straight 20wpm!)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 29, 2013, 10:50:28 AM
So the verdict so far at a full 20wpm (no Farnsworth) and a 28-character set is: accuracy of around 50 percent, which is pretty dismal. (I've done about half a dozen five-minute drills this morning.) However, I am definitely not "counting dits and dahs" anymore. I think the skill I need to figure out now is "copying behind," i.e., writing down the character while listening to (and memorizing the sound of) the next one. With Farnsworth spacing, that wasn't necessary because I had time to write the character during the silence between characters....

I will persist with this 20wpm experiment for a while, probably several days, in hopes that copy accuracy improves. I am determined to destroy that "lookup table in my head."

One positive byproduct is I already seem to be capturing more of the on-air QSOs that I monitored this morning. I think this is because "real" QSOs don't use that exaggerated Farnsworth spacing, therefore, the new drills are closer in timing to the ones I hear on the air.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: 2E0OZI on December 29, 2013, 03:08:21 PM
KK4MRN - it sounds like you are ready to do the first one.  ;D


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 30, 2013, 06:09:04 AM
Today my mind is just cotton wool, as this filthy cold works its way through the anatomy. Am totally useless in the Morse drills and will probably just lay off them for the rest of the day. Am, however, continuing to monitor some relatively slow-speed QSOs on 40m with success -- a way to "stay in touch with the code" until I start feeling better.

Many of the Morse teaching methods say that merely listening to code transmissions during the day, without necessarily trying to copy them, is also beneficial. So I'm doing some of that, too.

Life happens. :)



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: W2IU on December 30, 2013, 12:47:12 PM
Hello Martin, KB1WSY:

I'm glad to see you still practicing.  It is a good inspiration to read your progress and others' comments about it.   I am still chugging away.  I am way behind you, but that's OK.  I'm not in a rush or competition.  Some days I am more motivated then others so I just listen a few minutes on days I am not so motivated.  Other days I do 90% on a new element.    Other elements, it takes me days to get 90%.    Just like you - the letter F is hard.  I could not get 90% with it, so I just moved on to the next element.

I have also been practicing sending.  Not real practice - just some app on my phone because I can carry it anywhere.   And it checks if my sending is good. I do have a cheap straight key with oscillator that I practice sometimes.  Not sure if this is the best way, but each day I practice each element like the alphabet.  Pound 2 sets of 5 of an element:  AAAAA AAAAA BBBBB BBBB.   I start with the letters: A, b, c, e.... z.  Then numbers: 1, 2... 9, 0.   Then some pro-signs/punctuation.  I even try pounding an imagined QSO like CQ CQ CQ DE KK4MRN KK4MRN N.  Then act like I am responding to someone.   ABC123 DE KK4MRN KK4MRN = RST IS 599 599 = QTH IS VA VA KN...  I even pound my full name, my brothers names, anything I can think of to pound.

I was hoping I would be ready for the CW Rookie Roundup on December 22nd or the Straight Key Night around New Years, but I will not be.  The only code I can comprehend on the air is the W1AW code practice.  So, I have long ways to go...  I even bought a cable that can hook up my MFJ straight key to my Heathkit HW-101, but I won't be using it anytime soon. 


Hi Daniel,
You're ready. As many people have stated, get on the air and start sending! NOW! If you want, we could set up a schedule to send code together. Send me an email. Who knows, your first contact could be on SKC night! How awesome would that be.
John
W3JAR


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 31, 2013, 06:38:50 AM
Ahh, today I can feel that bad cold moving out and the head is much clearer. Monitored several 40m QSOs this morning. Slowly getting back into the drills. Will enjoy listening to SKN later in the day ... the band is already chock-full with CW, it's a pleasure to hear.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 31, 2013, 11:50:50 AM
So today I got back seriously into the Koch drills now that I'm feeling that the worst of the head cold is over.

I had spent a few days struggling with a "real" 20wpm (no Farnsworth) which was "worth a try" but in the end just too hard at this stage.

However it does seem to have been somewhat successful at breaking the "counting the dits and dahs" problem.

So today I went back to the old timing: 20wpm character speed with 15wpm Farnsworth spacing. I also went back to a much earlier stage in the Koch course, i.e. the 23-character level, 10 characters fewer than I was using a week ago.

My latest theory is that I have been "rushing things" and should have spent a bit more time on each of the previous levels. It's back at the 23-character level that I started having problems with the letters "G" and "F" and I now think that I paid too little attention to those issues.

The good news is that I am "acing" the 23-character level, with a 95 percent accuracy rate or higher. But I am *still* having problems with "G" and "F" so I've decided to just go on drilling this one to death until those letters are vanquished.

(At this point the anti-Koch crowd is probably scratching its head in some amusement!)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: LB3KB on December 31, 2013, 02:21:33 PM
I still think you should consider smaller speed increments.  It doesn't have to be 15 or 20 WPM.  Go with 16, at least.
You're going to have to get rid of Farnsworth sooner or later anyway, so why wait ?


73
K4NL Sid
justlearnmorsecode.com (http://justlearnmorsecode.com)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 31, 2013, 02:33:23 PM
I still think you should consider smaller speed increments.  It doesn't have to be 15 or 20 WPM.  Go with 16, at least.
You're going to have to get rid of Farnsworth sooner or later anyway, so why wait ?


73
K4NL Sid
justlearnmorsecode.com (http://justlearnmorsecode.com)

I'm using G4FON and it only gives me one Farnsworth choice between 15 and 20, namely, 17. (Is JLMC more flexible, BTW?). You are of course right that I should dump Farnsworth at the earliest opportunity. Right now, I'm mainly concerned with getting my confidence back (with a smaller character set). But I should probably try the 20/17 setting at the earliest possible moment.

During my 23-character drills today I was very encouraged to find that the copying was almost totally "automatic" although I am *still* stumbling on "G" and "F." What I will probably do is set up G4FON to give me intensive drills with just those two letters, perhaps mixed in with only a handful of others.

By "automatic" I mean that I was writing the letters down while thinking about something else altogether. It's only when I hit one of the problem letters that my brain would go "WTF" and I would drop a few characters.



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on December 31, 2013, 02:53:58 PM
It is not even 7:00 PM EST yet (00:00 UTC) and CW is alive on 160m, 80m, 40m, and 20m.   40m is very alive with CW.   Plus, it helps that the sun just went down.   I think people started Straight key Night early.  Or they're practicing...

I wish I could join in, but I am not ready yet...  So for now, I will only listen.   Unless I find a really, really slow CW operator out there...   I tried practice today with the remaining letters and numbers, but I did not get anywhere.  I am only about 22 out of 43 using Koch/Farnesworth.  I even tried changing my wpm to 10, but that was too slow.  The numbers are important for calls signs and RST.   I do know how to pound all the letters, numbers, and some pro-signs and punctuation.   But, it is like I have 2 look up tables in my head: 1 for listening and then 2nd for pounding a key. 

How about you Martin, are you going to try and make your first contact during Straight Key Night?   

73, Daniel KK4MRN


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on December 31, 2013, 03:23:07 PM
How about you Martin, are you going to try and make your first contact during Straight Key Night?  

Daniel, like you I am monitoring SKN. I have my 3-transistor homebrew regenerative receiver optimized for 40m CW (it tunes 7000 through 7150) -- more details here http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,90273.0.html (http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,90273.0.html). Am catching lots and lots of QSOs but copying them remains quite tough. I find the slow ones hard (the sounds appear meaningless when you really slow them down). But I'm not advanced enough to catch the "fast good fists" because they are going *too* fast! So I find that perhaps 1 in 20 of the QSOs is "in my range" at which point I can catch maybe half the words, but almost none of the numbers. Callsigns are very tough to catch, too, partly because many ops seem to rush through them. Strangely enough, QRM and QSB don't seem to bother me much, which is just as well, because my equipment is primitive.

I'm not technically able to "join in" because I haven't built my transmitter yet! Nor do I have a proper antenna, the receiver is just running off a few meters of wire tossed up into the trees. The transmitter will be the "novice" ARRL design from the 1960s (MOPA with a 6C4 crystal oscillator and a 5763 final -- often referred to as the "W1TS" design). To start with I'll operate monoband on 40m. (I have this crazy philosophy that *all* of my equipment must be homebrew. That slows me down a lot, in terms of progressing in the hobby, but I'm a bit weird....)

Timetable: who knows? Life happens. I first passed the ham exam in the UK exactly 42 years ago at the age of 14 but never got licensed back then and never got on the air. Got my US ticket two years ago. Have made a New Year's resolution to get on the air "some time in 2014"!

Edited to add: I think it is "culturally" a bit harder now than it was 40 years ago. Without those "Novice sub-bands" populated with slow-coders, it's a bit harder for a CW beginner to find a "home" apparently. I don't want to sound like it's *really* hard because I don't think it is, but there isn't any longer that "rite of passage" that so many Novices went through. It must have been a lot of fun, and I know that we'll have a lot of fun once we get on the air with CW!

Edited a second time to add: of course I could have simplified things by not bothering with CW. However: (1) I do think CW is a special part of our hobby, and nowadays, it is almost unique to ham radio, a proud heritage that deserves preservation. (2) Homebrewing phone transmission gear is a whole level harder than building CW gear! (3) Although I have read a lot of complaints about the alleged "bad behavior" of modern hams, that doesn't seem to be anything like as much of a problem for the CW crowd.

Happy New Year and 73 de Martin, KB1WSY




Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on January 01, 2014, 09:08:46 PM
SKN is over.  I listened some.  Great to hear CW on 160m, 80m, 40m, and 20m.  I did not hear any on 15m or 10m - but I usually don't at night anyways.  I definitely was not ready for getting on the air.   Hopefully, I will be ready next year.   Now, it is time to return to practicing...

I was thinking I could do an element a day.  At first, this was true, but it has turned into multiple days or weeks to learn an element.  The letter F is hard.   Yet, I really DO want to become a CW op, so I keep trying...


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 02, 2014, 07:27:13 AM
I was thinking I could do an element a day.  At first, this was true, but it has turned into multiple days or weeks to learn an element.  The letter F is hard.

Yes, I am coming to the reluctant conclusion that assimilating new elements (at the level I have reached) is going to take more than one day. I made the mistake of rushing it, and got into that bad habit of "counting the dits and dahs." I've dropped back to a smaller number of elements, and am doing a larger number of drills before moving on.

I, too, am finding the letter "F" devilishly hard. It makes no sense at all! But in a strange way it's good to know that someone else is having trouble, too.

I monitored lots of CW on SKN (actually not just "night" but a whole day). Go some CW copied on 15, 20, 40 and 80 although it was all North American, no DX. That may just be because I was concentrating on the U.S. "CW" sub-bands rather than prowling the bottom ends of the bands where the faint DX signals are. I was looking more for readability than for DX.

I, too, am definitely not ready yet. My QSO copying (even the slow ones) is fragmentary. But improving fast! Mind you, I heard plenty of operators whose elementary CW skills weren't deterring them one bit!!! And several very patient Elmers slowing down for them!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0KDW on January 02, 2014, 07:41:01 AM
Start with ONLY the remaining characters a new campaign. Hence one character  a day. AFTER you are at the same level as you have now with the first group. go and intermix them.

That will be a severe shortcut.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 02, 2014, 08:06:11 AM
Start with ONLY the remaining characters a new campaign. Hence one character  a day. AFTER you are at the same level as you have now with the first group. go and intermix them.

That will be a severe shortcut.

Hans, is this a technique you've used successfully or seen work with other people? It's a very interesting concept but not mentioned anywhere in my Koch book.... HNY.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on January 02, 2014, 11:34:12 AM
Martin,
I think some Koch training software will let you set specific characters to practice.

The AA9PW Ham Morse, an iOS app, will allow you to Reorder the Koch elements. 

I think Just Learn Morse Code, a Windows app, may allow you to choose what characters to practice.

Have you seen K7QO's Code Course?
http://www.k7qo.net/ (http://www.k7qo.net/)





Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0KDW on January 02, 2014, 12:28:39 PM
Quote
Hans, is this a technique you've used successfully or seen work with other people? It's a very interesting concept but not mentioned anywhere in my Koch book.... HNY.


It was the way I learned the code 64 years ago, and I remember my fellow hams were amazed abt the progress I made in a pretty short time.  I got my license - code included of course - within 2 month after starting at scratch, and for sure I am not a very bright guy, not now but also not at that time. It is the same way you learn 100 words in a foreign language, bundle them, It works, I know for sure by a long long experience.

The handle is Frans here, not Hans sri.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KD0PGM on January 02, 2014, 12:35:04 PM
I'm going to chime in and also suggest that you get on the air.  I don't give this advice from the vantage point of experience exactly.  I'm also teaching myself Morse code presently.  I've taken a different path.  I started with lcwo.net, which I heartily recommend to others.  But I found myself stalling out on the number of characters I could do at speed at once.

And I also found that all that copying on the computer left me unprepared to copy over the air with static and noise, etc.  (I'd love to design my own training site, and I may at some point.  Drills on "common words" and drills with selectable noise levels would both be part of the design).

I decided to focus on copying the w1aw transmissions, first at 5wpm, then at 7.5wpm, and so on.  I can't quite copy at 10 wpm successfully, though I get large parts.

But once I got to reasonable-but-not-perfect success at 10wpm, I set my keyer for about 8wpm and decided to get on the air.  Basically, I tune around and listen for the slowest guy on the band and that's the one I contact.  I send at 8wpm, even if they're a bit faster, because people know right away that I'm a beginner and they'll generally slow down and match without needing to be asked.

And here's why I decided to get on the air.  I have a friend who is very good at picking up languages.  I asked him about it once, and he told me that he thought adults don't pick up languages well because they aren't willing to "baby talk."  You should start talking as early as possible, even when you know you won't get it all right, and when your vocabulary is limited.  Essentially, you should start talking even when you'll sound dumb like a baby.

It was his belief that baby talk is an essential stage to learning a language.  People can learn a language with out it, but it's much harder and it takes longer.  I've decided I'm ready to baby talk on CW, so I reach out to someone who's going so slow I know they don't mind, and I just try it.

And it helps.  It helps especially on the letters I've found hard.  Like several others on this thread, I've found F fairly hard.  I mix it with L.  But you get so many "TNX FER" and "FROM" and such in a QSO that it's working it's way out.  Same for me with V, since "VERY" comes up a lot in conversation, and I key it over and over when working Canadian VE3*** calls.

You're going to get there faster than I am, since you're pouring way more effort into it.  But I think you'll get there even faster if you let yourself get on the air and start working it.

Don


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0KDW on January 02, 2014, 01:30:56 PM
KD0PGM Don,

Morse has nothing whatever to do with learning another language, because Morse is an alphabet and not a language.

Don't disturb the learning process with QRM, QRN , QSB. noise and chirpy signals. FIRST learn the code the way it sounds , without long spaces and what have you. AFTER that you got your QRM QRN and noise in practice, And  the  T 4 signals from the Russians that were allowed to transmit in 1950 in a clubstations under the condition they were active members of the only permitted political party in their country, with a power oscillator fed with 5000 V raw AC from the local municipal power plant.
So a one tube transmitter.

How superior felt the West, till they launched their Sputnik.



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K7MEM on January 02, 2014, 02:34:35 PM
... I have a friend who is very good at picking up languages.  ..

Your friend may be correct about picking up a language. I spend three years in Germany and, even with a class in German, I never did pick up much of anything. Well except for "ein pils, bitter". But my son was one year old when we got there and he spoke both languages fluently by the time we left. The XYL has always been good at languages and never has trouble understanding any language. Including sign language. She daily interfaces with tourists from all over the world (we live near the Grand Canyon) and understands them perfectly. If you ask me, it's a gift, but it makes you feel really dumb sometimes.

However, as PA0KDW pointed out, Morse Code is not a language. There has been a lot of discussion about this over the years and you really don't want to bust open up that hornets nest. Morse is more like someone spelling everything to you, in your own language. You have to receive these letters and assemble the words. Only brief pauses are available to let you know where one word ends and the next begins. It's difficult because it's an unnatural way of communicating.

But as you get better, the words actually form in your head. At first it's the most common ones like qth, name, rst, etc.. After a longer while, bigger words form from the small ones. Overall it's a pretty clumsy way of communicating, but at the same time, very effective.

QSB, QRM, and QRN are just things you need to get use to. I always thought that the 40 Meter Novice band (7.100 - 71.150 mc - we didn't have MHz then.) was great sport at night. You were surrounded by high power broadcast stations. They were talking in various languages and causing big heterodynes. And you were trying to operate in between all of the ruckus. It was great. I still hang around the old novice bands, but it's often hard to find anyone.

I would recommend that you just get on the air. It doesn't matter that you are slow and don't copy everything. You usually don't have to. Almost everything is sent twice, so you always have a second chance. Learn to live with the QSB, QRM, and QRN. It isn't going away. It just takes practice. There is no requirement to go 25 or 30 WPM, just go what ever speed you like and enjoy it.



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 02, 2014, 02:42:53 PM
The handle is Frans here, not Hans sri.

Sorry Frans, silly mistake by me.

Don't disturb the learning process with QRM, QRN , QSB. noise and chirpy signals. FIRST learn the code the way it sounds, without long spaces and what have you. AFTER that you got your QRM QRN and noise in practice....

I do want to finish the basic learning process in a "clean" environment. For variety, I also monitor QSOs on the air and listen to the W1AW transmissions. But the Koch drills are still the centerpiece of my learning at the moment.

.... I've decided I'm ready to baby talk on CW, so I reach out to someone who's going so slow I know they don't mind, and I just try it..... You're going to get there faster than I am, since you're pouring way more effort into it.  But I think you'll get there even faster if you let yourself get on the air and start working it.

For sure, I will be getting on the air before I really feel ready for it. Otherwise I would never get on the air, huh? It's not going to be long now. But I do feel I should, at least, complete the character set.

Martin,
I think some Koch training software will let you set specific characters to practice.

I can do that with my current G4FON software too.

Have you seen K7QO's Code Course?
http://www.k7qo.net/ (http://www.k7qo.net/)

No but I will check it out.

I would recommend that you just get on the air. It doesn't matter that you are slow and don't copy everything. You usually don't have to. Almost everything is sent twice, so you always have a second chance. Learn to live with the QSB, QRM, and QRN. It isn't going away. It just takes practice. There is no requirement to go 25 or 30 WPM, just go what ever speed you like and enjoy it.

You know, the funny thing is that the QSB, QRM and QRN doesn't bother me as much as all that, when I'm monitoring on the air. It's amazing how good the brain's "filters" are. No, my issues now are to mainly to do with copying code -- they exist even when I copy "perfect" code from the software. But I can tell that it won't be long before I'm ready to try going on the air.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 04, 2014, 12:42:29 PM
As of today, I'm still down at the 23-character Koch level. I eased up on the Morse work over the past few days. To be honest, I am trying to take it a bit less seriously, while still putting in the time on the drills. To some extent, it seems to be that, the harder I try, the harder it gets. I do best when I'm in that strange "Zen" state when the copying seems to happen automatically. Getting into that state is harder that you might think. But it's great when it happens, and I don't think you can reach that state if you are too anxious or in too much of a hurry....


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 05, 2014, 02:21:13 PM
Today, making definite progress in "automatic copy" -- still at the 23-character level. I think I may be close to vanquishing the problems with the letters "F" and "G." Don't want to try moving on to extra elements unless I feel certain that the problem with those two letters has largely gone away.

Spent a lot of time monitoring 10 meters today, because of exceptionally good conditions (well, good for this current solar cycle!). For the first time ever I heard activity on 10m on my little regenerative set, nearly all of it CW. For some reason most of the stations I monitored were in the southern United States (Texas, Mississippi....). Also caught some CW activity on 20m and 40m.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 07, 2014, 02:11:30 AM
Still stalled at the 23-character level. Somewhat discouraged, but persevering. There is some slight evidence of progress (I am getting slightly better at automatically copying those Devil Letters, G and F). Looks like I could be in for a lengthy process ... for sure, learning Morse has not been an "easy" process for me. Bear in mind that I'm 56 years old, and operate a home-based business with 12-hour work days, six to seven days a week. So I guess my difficulties are not too surprising.

Still copying a lot of stuff on the air, although what I write down is very fragmentary. I can get the overall gist of some QSOs and am making quite a lot of progress with figuring out "the format": exchange of calls, WX, RIG, and so forth. The transmission speed doesn't seem to be too much of a factor unless it's above 20wpm or so, and I'm not bothered much by QRM or QSB even when it is heavy and the signal is only just above the noise level. However, I am extremely sensitive to the quality of the fist. Way too sensitive. I find W1AW at 18wpm much easier to copy than a lot of the hams who are doodling along around 12wpm. The only remedy for that, surely, will be to continue doing a lot of monitoring, and to Get On The Air as soon as possible so that I can inflict my own fist on the universe....


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 07, 2014, 03:13:00 AM
Start with ONLY the remaining characters a new campaign. Hence one character  a day. AFTER you are at the same level as you have now with the first group. go and intermix them.

That will be a severe shortcut.

Frans, coming back to this subject. Ludwig Koch specifically tested this idea. Here is a summary:

"SHOULD PRACTICE BE BY GROUPS OF LETTERS ?

"The question [Koch] asked is this:  should the student practice one group of characters until he knows them well, then work on a second group separately in the same way, and after that combine the groups?

"He began this teaching test with characters composed of dahs only: t m o ch (German single character ch).  After enough practice (a couple of class sessions) to 'master' this group of letters, he began teaching the dit group e i s h  by itself in the same way.  Next he combined these two groups together, and found that somehow during the intensive study of the second group, the students had forgotten the first group almost completely, and their confidence was badly shaken.  He had to begin all over again teaching these eight letters together until they were mastered together.

"After this, when these eight letters had been practiced to the point where they were correctly and consistently identified, two new groups were studied separately in the same way as the first two groups. First the group d b g, then after that the group u v w.  Next, when these two new groups were mixed together, it was found that the d b g group had been forgotten.  But worse, after these two groups had been re-learned together (d b g u v w) to the point of correct identification, and then combined with the first 8 letters, alas, the (combined) first two groups of 8 letters had been virtually forgotten!

"It appears that the student's intense concentration upon a new group of characters by itself causes that group to override and replace what had been previously 'learned'.  He sensibly concluded that teaching by groups is wrong-headed.  Therefore, the most efficient way is to introduce one new letter at a time and then immediately integrate it into the group of letters already learned, until finally the whole alphabet is complete. In this way all the previously learned characters are under constant review and repeated frequently without lapses."

So, for the time being, I will struggle on *without* trying the "two groups, then combine the groups" method. I will try it only if I get desperate.... and thank you again for the suggestion.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on January 07, 2014, 04:20:31 AM
Martin,

Good explanation of code groups.   I will stay away from them then.   Good to see you practicing.   Maybe we will catch each other on the air one day using CW.

- Daniel, KK4MRN.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 07, 2014, 04:28:39 AM
Martin,

Good explanation of code groups.   I will stay away from them then.   Good to see you practicing.   Maybe we will catch each other on the air one day using CW.

- Daniel, KK4MRN.

Thanks Daniel! I look forward to it!

The news from here is: I think I have vanquished the letter F! Praise be! Di-di-dah-dit, di-di-dah-dit, di-di-dah-dit!!!!!

I have, however, only obscenities to proffer concerning "G" which is not only still intractable, but keeps getting confused with several other letters and not just the obvious one of "W." This too shall pass.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 07, 2014, 12:39:17 PM
So, whats my message Martin? ....... There's no short cuts, no one scientific method that brings rapid success for all, it just requires dedicated hard work & practice plus as I already said, variation in methodology & a bit of friendly competition with your peers. Setting goals to achieve in set time frames was/is very helpful for me too.

Good Luck Martin, keep practicing, there will be light at the end of the tunnel if you are determined enough.

73 Ray, G3XLG

(The above is a quote from a different thread, but Ray subsequently indicated he had originally meant to post it in this current thread.)

Ray, many thanks for your detailed explanation of your recent code journey. As I suspected, it takes a lot of work and patience. Your experience is inspiring me to put the stress on practice, practice, practice....

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 09, 2014, 03:39:32 AM
Having vanquished "F" I am getting near to taming "G." Slightly obsessional. Took my daughter to the dentist and sat in the waiting room with my headphones on my head, madly scribbling random characters on a legal pad -- just as well there was no-one else in the waiting room or they would have given me a wide berth, especially when I emitted little grunts of satisfaction during each drill.

At least I wasn't loudly humming "dah-dah-dit." At least I think I wasn't.... I only do that in private!!!

I think I heard Steve, WB2WIK, on 7051 kHz last night. He had tipped me off in advance that he would be conducting QSOs at a particular time and frequency, from his powerful West Coast station. It was challenging because the signal was extremely weak in my little receiver, with copious QSB, but I did copy the words "STEVE" and "CU ON CW" at relatively slow speed (perhaps 15wpm). Later, Steve told me that this matched what he was doing at the time (a long QSO with a ham who was getting back into CW, and Steve had QRS'd for him). I never caught the callsign so I haven't logged it in my SWL log, but it was fun.

Edited to add: it's interesting how the brain works sometimes. So this morning at 1155G I heard a fast CQ on 7012 from a station I tentatively identified as N4BP (Florida). He was sending CQ D* N4BP. You see, I haven't learned the letter "X" yet! But by the time he'd listened for a response, then come back on the air, my brain had already decided that the mystery character must be "X"! CQ DX....

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on January 10, 2014, 12:01:30 PM
Martin,
So, where are you today?  I like reading about your progress.   I am listening more to W1AW.  I have it on the calendar in my smartphone so I know when and where it is.

It's Friday, and I have the weekend to play (cw practice and listening to CW on the air).

- Daniel, KK4MN.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 10, 2014, 02:31:52 PM
Martin,
So, where are you today?  I like reading about your progress.   I am listening more to W1AW.  I have it on the calendar in my smartphone so I know when and where it is.

I haven't done any formal drills since my last post. However I copied a W1AW bulletin, at slow speed. I also monitored lots of CQ calls and QSOs. The bands are busy with CW, especially 40m, here. I think I'm making some slow, but measurable, progress in monitoring QSOs.

Tomorrow I get back to the drills and particularly the letter "G." I run a home business and will be working through the weekend, but will be catching some breaks for CW.

I look forward to a CW QSO with you, in due course!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 11, 2014, 09:46:59 AM
Fantastic!!!!

As of today, I have conquered "G." It is causing no problems at all any more, in fact I now wonder why it was so hard until now. Simultaneously, my overall recognition rate for entire 5-minute drills has risen sharply, and that's entirely because I'm no longer getting sidetracked by "F" and "G."

I'm now moving on, but carefully and with the intent to avoid the trap I got into last month with proceeding too quickly through the element set.

I'm also changing the speed settings to:
--20wpm Actual Character Speed; combined with
--17wpm Effective Code Speed ("Farnsworth spacing").

That's faster than currently; I was using 15wpm effective, not 17wpm, previously. It matches a suggestion made by Sid (LB3KB/K4NL) to move the two speeds closer together, but in small-ish increments.

I anticipate the drills being much harder with 17wpm effective speed (I tested it a few minutes ago and it was nasty). I will stick with it for a while, but drop back again if it's just too hard. The aim of the higher speed is to eliminate any "counting of dits and dahs."

Bringing the two speeds closer together should also help with my *sending* practice since I will be listening to somewhat more "natural" Morse during the copying drills.

One project to do soon: set up my PC so that I can listen to a drill in one ear, and hear my code oscillator in the other ear. That way, I can use my key to try to "mimic" what I'm hearing. My sending is still pretty awful (and I must admit I've spent very little time on it over the past couple of weeks).

The 23 characters in my drill set over the past couple of weeks has been: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5.

Accuracy on this morning's tests: extremely high, way above 90 percent (I didn't even bother to compute it because it was obviously excellent).

Today I am adding the 24th character which is SLASH or dah-di-di-dah-dit.

When was the last time I reached this level, before my "setback": December 10th, when I was also at the 23-character level. Have I "wasted a whole month"? Nope, I don't think so. Put it down to "experience" and, for sure, I was definitely learning plenty of things during the past months even if the progress was not at all apparent.

Wow, more than 13,000 views for this thread. You fellow CWers have been an inspiration to me to Get This Done. I must admit that I started the thread in part for that selfish reason ... there's nothing like having a friendly eye (or in this case, ear!) monitoring your progress.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: W1JKA on January 11, 2014, 11:05:05 AM
Re: KB1WSY

Take a well deserved practice break, PATS game tonight!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 11, 2014, 11:26:08 AM
Re: KB1WSY

Take a well deserved practice break, PATS game tonight!

I'm not a big football fan, but XYL is ... she will make sure that I watch it. I hope it's warmed up in Winslow ... here, it is finally above freezing in fact the thermometer shows 13C (61 fahrenheit). Or to be more appropriate:

W1JKA DE KB1WSY NAME MARTIN AGE 56 RIG RX HOMBEBREW REGEN TX UNBUILT ANT LONGWIRE QTH NR BOSTON WX CLOUDY ES WINDY RST 599 HW CPY? K

Meanwhile, the new speed settings on G4FON are not as hard to copy as I expected. I haven't computed my scores yet, but after a few drills it looks like it's greater than 80 percent. I think Sid (LB3KB/K4NL) was right: by all means move the two speed settings closer together, but do it in small increments.

I've also been monitoring a fair amount of CW on 40m and I think there's a contest this weekend (NAQP-CW).

Edited to add: the contest runs from 1800 UTC Jan 12 through 0559 UTC Jan 13. More details here: http://naqp.contesting.com/naqprules.pdf (http://naqp.contesting.com/naqprules.pdf).

Most important of all, I think, is that the Morse learning once again feels like "fun" after several weeks when it felt like Hell, to be honest.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 11, 2014, 11:40:32 AM
Quick question for the CW mavens: does anyone still preface their transmissions with VVV VVV?

I actually find it extremely helpful to have a "header" to get my ear tuned in to the transmission speed and fist, but I've barely heard it on the air. If I'm not mistaken, it's something I used to hear more when I was a kid doing SWL (I didn't understand the transmissions, but I knew about the VVV bit).

Interestingly, the canned QSOs that come with G4FON software *do* have the VVV VVV at the start of each "typical" QSO.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WB3CQM on January 12, 2014, 05:07:00 AM
Quick question for the CW mavens: does anyone still preface their transmissions with VVV VVV?

I actually find it extremely helpful to have a "header" to get my ear tuned in to the transmission speed and fist, but I've barely heard it on the air. If I'm not mistaken, it's something I used to hear more when I was a kid doing SWL (I didn't understand the transmissions, but I knew about the VVV bit).

Interestingly, the canned QSOs that come with G4FON software *do* have the VVV VVV at the start of each "typical" QSO.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Martin ,

Here is a suggestion I make . You are using Morse code Software which I never used because there were no computers in my day as far as I know.

Start your lesson of the week like this :: GGG GGG GGG de KB1WSY KB1WSY KB1WSY K  Using the letter you are adding new or having trouble with this week. Sending VVV is waste of time to start your lessons IMHO . You can make up your own lessons to copy or start them out like this, I am guessing ?

What you may have heard in your SWL days was this

VVV VVV VVV de WCC WCC WCC QSX 4 6 8 12 16 22 MHZ OBS? K  Or some other call letters using this cw transmission.

I listened to NMN NNN and other USCG stations sending those transmissions for hours , then in between there would be weather alerts sent in cw and also WCC ops would send and receive messages from ships. Nothing I ever copied matched those News broadcast and weather alerts and messages being  sent and received  .

Learning Morse code is memorizing sounds. The more you hear the sounds the better the memory. When I was doing call sign copy I did ok on many calls, then a odd one would come up and I would miss it at higher speeds. But I logged my own call several times in those programs and my call could have been sent at 50 wpm or some call I know well and I would not miss them. That is nothing more than memory stored in the brain of a sound.



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 12, 2014, 09:32:35 AM
Today I'm still on the 24-character drill, at 20wpm Actual Character Speed combined with 17wpm Effective Code Speed ("Farnsworth spacing").

It is going better than I expected. I'm not at the 90 percent copy level yet, and I can tell that it could take me a while to get accustomed to the higher speed -- probably several days. But I do get fairly long bursts of fluent copy, which come to an end with a sort of "exit lane" while I take a breather before coming back a word or two later. When characters are dropped, there's no time to "figure stuff out," which is precisely the effect I was aiming for.

Am also copying a lot of QSOs on the air today, especially 20m which is pretty busy.

Here is a suggestion I make . You are using Morse code Software which I never used because there were no computers in my day as far as I know.

Start your lesson of the week like this :: GGG GGG GGG de KB1WSY KB1WSY KB1WSY K  Using the letter you are adding new or having trouble with this week. Sending VVV is waste of time to start your lessons IMHO . You can make up your own lessons to copy or start them out like this, I am guessing ?

[snip...]

Learning Morse code is memorizing sounds. The more you hear the sounds the better the memory. When I was doing call sign copy I did ok on many calls, then a odd one would come up and I would miss it at higher speeds. But I logged my own call several times in those programs and my call could have been sent at 50 wpm or some call I know well and I would not miss them. That is nothing more than memory stored in the brain of a sound.

Thanks for the advice! Practice, practice, practice; listen, listen, listen ... those seem to be the keys (pun intended).

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 14, 2014, 05:27:21 AM
Still on the 24-character drills, still at 17wpm, slow (but measurable) progress.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 15, 2014, 03:31:14 AM
Still on the 24-character drills at 17wpm. Sometimes they go well, but most of the time they go badly. I "go off the rails" and miss entire words before getting "back on the rails."

It seems that if I allow myself to "copy behind" it works much better, in other words writing down the characters with a slight time lag, while keeping the following characters in a kind of "buffer memory" in the brain. This is especially the case with "fast" element combinations that have a lot of dits, involving the characters E, I or S for instance. I think "copy behind" is a valuable skill and I'll probably linger at this level for a while as I try to make it a routine reflex.

I also suspect that "copy behind" is one of the procedures the brain uses when "head copying."

The good news is that I seem to have annihilated the "lookup table in the brain" for the time being, and I think that's entirely due to the increase in speed from 15wpm to 17wpm.

Today is also when I begin applying a New Year's Resolution to get fitter and lose some weight, by going to the gym on a daily basis, after a two-year lapse. I *hate* "gym exercise" but what I've done is loaded up some W1AW code bulletins at 18wpm onto a small MP3 player. My workouts, usually on a stationary bicyle or treadmill, last about 45 minutes and I will try to kill the "exercise boredom" by listening to the bulletins on headphones. It's another attempt to progress with "head copy."

Too bad that the recent bulletin is a very technical solar condition forecast with lots of numbers ... ARRL is in the middle of revamping its code archive, thus only a handful of bulletins are currently available -- the most recent ones. "Solar activity declined somewhat this week. The average of daily sunspot numbers retreated nearly 21 points from 134.4 to 114.6, and average solar flux was off nearly 21 points to 138.8.  Geomagnetic indices were quiet.  These comparisons are between the recent seven day reporting period....." The other people at the gym will probably think that I am "hearing voices"....

I also have software that can turn any text into Morse. For instance I have the "To be or not to be" speech from Hamlet. I wonder whether listening to very familiar texts in Morse is helpful, or not? The gurus keep saying that the "practice tapes" are no good once you've memorized them....

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0WV on January 15, 2014, 04:42:31 AM
I wonder whether listening to very familiar texts in Morse is helpful, or not? The gurus keep saying that the "practice tapes" are no good once you've memorized them....

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Are that the same gurus that preach that you have to recognize whole words (and hence exercise that)?

Very good to listen to the same text of 5 minutes duration with unknown content, and when you get used to it change it.
However better take plain daily laymans text, then some antique unusual grammar.

You can find the 5000 most used words in US English in wikipedia (or probably also elsewhere), put them in the JustLearnMorseCode program separated by new lines (0x0D) and play them random, preferably in groups sorted on length to chose from. When you record that you are learning with optimal result.

When you have a staircase in your house and walk it up, weighting 80 kg (Oops a USA citizen:  ) 150 kg and the difference in height is 3 m you produced 4500 joule, that is 0.24*4500 cal=1080 cal
For intercontinental understanding: 1 cal is the amount of energy needed to warm up 1 gram of water 1 degree centigrade.

So by walking up the staircase you need 1 kCal. 1 kg fat is 8000 kCal
Hence  to lose 1 kg of your weight in fat, you need to walk up the staircase 8000 times. (increasing to 15000 times when you approach 80 kg)

You better make your QSO's, relax and sit back, but do not eat your normal amount of food (>2500 kCal/day for US citizens) but half that amount. Then your weight lowers about 1 kg each week  without any exercising that makes you hungry, cost your time and money.

BTW on my website http://pa0wv.home.xs4all.nl/zelfbouw.html you will find a pretty large number of home brew learning aids for CW. transmitting and receiving.



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 15, 2014, 04:57:20 AM

Are that the same [gurus] guns that preach that you have to recognize whole words (and hence exercise that)?

Very good to listen to the same text of 5 minutes duration with unknown content, and when you get used to it change it.
However better take plain daily laymans text, then some antique unusual grammar.

You can find the 5000 most used words in US English in wikipedia (or probably also elsewhere), put them in the JustLearnMorseCode program separated by new lines (0x0D) and play them random, preferably in groups sorted on length to chose from. When you record that you are learning with optimal result.

[snip]

BTW on my website http://pa0wv.home.xs4all.nl/zelfbouw.html you will find a pretty large number of learning aids for CW. transmitting and receiving.

Thank you for the advice, and there is a lot on your website! My daughter is studying Dutch BTW.

When you have a staircase in your house and walk it up, weighting 80 kg (Oops a USA citizen:  ) 150 kg and the difference in height is 3 m you produced 4500 joule, that is 0.24*4500 cal=1080 cal

I weigh 83 kilos (183 pounds) and my height is 1m93 (6-foot-4). That's about 8 kilos more than when I arrived in America 15 years ago. But this is getting away from the topic of Morse! I'm not a big eater -- for example, in America the restaurant portions are huge and I often only eat one-third of what's on my plate. I also walk about 5 kilometers (3 miles) per day and I try to use public transport, not the car, as often as possible.

The problem in my case is that I am sitting behind a desk all day, every day (even weekends) because I have a home business and we are very busy. A few years ago I managed to lose 5 kilos, and at the time I was also going to the gym every day, but those 5 kilos came back, quite quickly. It is true that exercise doesn't have very much effect on weight: in my gym "workout" I usually "burn" about 300 calories ... which is about what you will find in a couple of "non-fat" yoghurts!!! I am also too fond of beer and wine ... cutting down on alcohol seems to make a bigger difference than cutting down on food, in my case. So I need to reduce the intake, but not too much! I'm not a Puritan!

Now, if I can find a way to combine "taking exercise" with "learning Morse" I might make better progress in losing weight!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N2EY on January 15, 2014, 06:36:46 AM
One thing I started doing as a young ham, and still do today, is to have Morse as "background music".

I would tune in a CW QSO, or W1AW, or whatever I could find, and just let it play while I did other things. Fast, slow, whatever. In the old days I would pick out a letter or two; today it's like listening to somebody talk.

This does NOT replace active learning! But it helps.

I equipped my cell phone (Samsung Note) with MorseRing, a 99 cent app, the day I got it. It "rings" by sending the caller's name as it appears in my contacts list, or the number if it is not on the list. That way, I know exactly who is calling by the ringtone itself.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: LB3KB on January 15, 2014, 07:22:11 AM
You can find the 5000 most used words in US English in wikipedia (or probably also elsewhere), put them in the JustLearnMorseCode program separated by new lines (0x0D) and play them random

You can do that.  You could also just select /Source/Words.  The 1000 most common words are built into the program.


73
K4NL Sid
justlearnmorsecode.com (http://justlearnmorsecode.com)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0WV on January 15, 2014, 08:53:36 AM


You can do that.  You could also just select /Source/Words.  The 1000 most common words are built into the program.


73
K4NL Sid
justlearnmorsecode.com (http://justlearnmorsecode.com)

Sri Sid,

First of all thanks for making that excellent program for the ham fraternity.

I came to that advice because I put another language in the thesaurus of your program.

May be an idea for the next release, to add repetition of the words. Can also be done by the user of your program, I suppose, by repetition of the repetition words space separated with an editor.

I published the Kujer2, it is on my website, which is pronounced as QRQ-er, that is home brew hardware and transmits
words that when I began were 10 times repeated, but right now 3 times. Mostly I copied the first time correct and read known data during the two repetitions. It makes me very proficient in a relative short time. Last November I claimed 71 wpm words copied correct at the during a hamfest orginized CW competition "Dag van de Radio Amateur 2013" Top of the list at age 80 with the with that age degenetated brains. Amateur, not some ex professional telegrapher.

So I Believe that I have the right way of exercising the art of CW. But often I read that it differs from person to person what the right way is.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WB2WIK on January 15, 2014, 11:47:51 AM
Quick question for the CW mavens: does anyone still preface their transmissions with VVV VVV?

I actually find it extremely helpful to have a "header" to get my ear tuned in to the transmission speed and fist, but I've barely heard it on the air. If I'm not mistaken, it's something I used to hear more when I was a kid doing SWL (I didn't understand the transmissions, but I knew about the VVV bit).

Interestingly, the canned QSOs that come with G4FON software *do* have the VVV VVV at the start of each "typical" QSO.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Martin: No, nobody does that.

However, a lot of hams send "R" or sometimes "R R" or even "R R R" (I guess that means "I copied it all three times!") at the beginning of a rag-chew type transmission.  In rag-chews where the transmissions are each fairly long (maybe a few minutes, or more), it's also common that each "exchange" begins with a full set of callsigns KB1WSY DE WB2WIK, so that provides quite a lot of "preparation" time. 

As you get into more "conversational" rag chews, the full callsign exchange becomes more rare for each transmission, and a simple "BK" signifies "I'm done, back to you."  In full QSK at higher speeds, we often omit the "BK" entirely and just send back and forth any time there's a slight pause.  Then, CW becomes more like a real conversation, such as in person or via telephone.

But slower ops almost always use the full callsign exchange at the start and end of each transmission, until they get steady enough to stop doing that.  And it's still very common.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 16, 2014, 12:16:16 PM
Today I supplemented my usual drills with some "passive listening." My food-shopping involves three 20-minute walks so I listened to the W1AW 18wpm bulletin on headphones during all three walks. I deliberately didn't try too hard to "copy" what I was hearing, but instead, tried to snatch individual words here and there and just generally let it soak in. By the end of my walks, after 1 hour of listening (the same bulletin 3 times), I was more familiar with the short words (articles and prepositions) and also some of the longer ones that appeared in the bulletin, for instance: QUIET, MOSTLY, SOLAR, THEN, THIS. These short words were appearing more as "units" than as a collection of individual letters.

Going back to the Koch drills, they seem to be going slightly better, following this "passive" listening. Not a dramatic improvement, but still, interesting.

I'm still at the 24-character level at at 20wpm Actual Character Speed combined with 17wpm Effective Code Speed ("Farnsworth spacing"). Working my way toward the 90 percent accuracy that will allow me to proceed to the next element.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 17, 2014, 02:14:57 PM
Today my copying at the 24-element level (17/20 speed settings) is still improving, but slowly.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 18, 2014, 02:34:23 PM
Encouraging. I've reached 89 percent copy accuracy at the 24-character level at 20wpm Actual Character Speed combined with 17wpm Effective Code Speed ("Farnsworth spacing"). So I am nearly ready to move on to the next element; hopefully within a day or two.

It took me a whole week to get to this level of accuracy on the 24-element level but that surely must be because I was getting accustomed to the faster speed, 17wpm. I'm hopeful that in the future it will take less than a week to assimilate each additional element ... we'll see.

I'm also copying quite a lot of CW on the air, in a fragmentary manner, and continuing to listen "passively" to CW texts on headphones while, for instance, taking my daily walk.

I'm feeling quite confident about the process, and enjoying it, although it looks like it could be very slow. I am finding that, with a lot of practice, the copying is pretty "automatic." I'm also trying to learn to "copy behind" but that is actually quite hard: it requires a strange combination of relaxation and vigilance, but it does seem to be one of the keys to mastering the code.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 19, 2014, 09:03:14 AM
OK, I've reached 90 percent accuracy at the 24-element level. However it is not consistent. Sometimes I get high accuracy, but then I do another 5-minute drill and it's below 90 percent.

Now, according to the Koch method, that doesn't matter: I'm just supposed to forge ahead to the next element. However, after what happened last time I "forged ahead," I've decided to go on drilling the 24-element tests to death, until I *consistently* get 90-percent-accurate copy. I don't care how long it takes!

It is clear to me that the problem is somewhat different to the one I used to have. "Back then," the issue was "rogue characters" that were tripping me up. Now however, it's more a question of speed/fluency at 17wpm: it's not triggered by any particular character. That's why I'm keen to get it "completely under control" before forging ahead to the next elements.

At this point is is *very* affected by how much sleep I've had, how relaxed I am, and so forth. N2EY's points about finding a good place to practice, being rested, and so forth are right-on.

One more thing: I still haven't got very far with "copying behind." Sometimes I manage to get into the right "frame of mind" for a few words in a row. But then, a word comes along that's full of dit-characters that just fly by, and it's hard to keep those in the brain's "memory buffer."

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 19, 2014, 09:40:59 AM
Does anyone know of software that will generate real English-language words, even sentences, from a limited character set? (Meaning, words that only include a specified subset of the entire alphabet?)

I'm thinking of supplementing the Koch random-character drills with drills that would contain "real words" or even "real sentences." The aim being to use those to practice "head copy" and also to become accustomed to the Morse cadence of "real English" which is not the same a random-character drill.

I tried Googling various terms such as "generate english text with limited character set" but all I got were endless references to IT concepts such as ASCII, Unicode, database languages and so forth....

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on January 19, 2014, 10:19:49 AM
Does anyone know of software that will generate real English-language words, even sentences, from a limited character set? (Meaning, words that only include a specified subset of the entire alphabet?)

On lcwo.net the word training has an option to pick only words containing characters up to Koch lesson N (where N is 12 or greater). The catch is it uses a progression that differs from LCWO and G4FON in a few small but significant ways...


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 19, 2014, 10:47:00 AM
On lcwo.net the word training has an option to pick only words containing characters up to Koch lesson N (where N is 12 or greater). The catch is it uses a progression that differs from LCWO and G4FON in a few small but significant ways...

OK I just played with that but it seems to just go word by word, rather than generating, say, a 5-minute drill. I mainly wanted something I could listen to while away from the computer ... at the gym, during my daily walks, etc. Pity, because otherwise it's pretty close to what I'm looking for.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 19, 2014, 10:52:51 AM
I'm finding what I wanted ... as usual the trick is knowing the right search term in Google.

Try "wordlist generator" and a whole world of possibilities opens up....

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 19, 2014, 11:13:08 AM
A warning to anyone who follows my foosteps and googles "wordlist generator."

I guess I'm naive, I didn't realize that the primary use of such programs is to break passwords. So, they generate a huge number of words that hackers can then use to attempt break-ins.

So tread carefully. The first program I downloaded was judged "safe" by my Norton software. But it proceeded to install all sorts of malware on my system, which took a little while to exterminate. I spent several minutes uninstalling programs I'd never asked for, and clearing my browser cache completely.

Sigh.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 19, 2014, 11:28:41 AM
Never mind, I'm giving up on this word-generator quest for the moment. Far too many of the Google hits are for products that are clearly intended for password-breaking and I'm scared that this innocent search for an English-language random word generator from limited character sets could accidentally cause me to download something nasty. It's already happened once, and that's enough.

Back to the random-character drills....


73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: LB3KB on January 19, 2014, 02:11:11 PM
With Just Learn Morse Code you can use your own lists.  The software selects one random line at a time from a text file.

Each line can contain a word, phrase, sentence, QSO, number, callsign, whatever you want.


73
K4NL Sid
justlearnmorsecode.com (http://justlearnmorsecode.com)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0WV on January 19, 2014, 03:55:16 PM
Never mind, I'm giving up on this word-generator quest for the moment. Far too many of the Google hits are for products that are clearly intended for password-breaking and I'm scared that this innocent search for an English-language random word generator from limited character sets could accidentally cause me to download something nasty. It's already happened once, and that's enough.

Back to the random-character drills....


73 de Martin, KB1WSY

On my website you can find file2.mp3 that are 899 words with your learned characterset sofar, plain english, with a Dutch accent, and character speed 20 wpm  effective speed 17 wpm. http://pa0wv.home.xs4all.nl/file2.mp3


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0WV on January 20, 2014, 03:11:26 AM

On my website you can find file2.mp3 that are 899 words with your learned characterset so far, plain English, with a Dutch accent, and character speed 20 wpm  effective speed 17 wpm. http://pa0wv.home.xs4all.nl/file2.mp3

I realised because there are different definitions going around of effective speed that the file2.mp3 has used the definition that letter and wordspaced only are lengthened to the size used with 17 wpm.

The ARRL uses another definition: the spaces are such that the transfer speed is lowered to 17 wpm.  

I made another file http://pa0wv.home.xs4all.nl/file2us.mp3 that is 20/17 to the arrl standard.

Furthermore you can find the text file2.txt  on http://pa0wv.home.xs4all.nl/file2.txt, when you copy that in your computer on the right place it is available when you start JustLearnMorseCode in order to play it random when you want with the speedset you want, as mentioned earlier in this thread by the author.

The added value is that you have a textfile of plain English with the character set you specified. That is a feature not available in JustLearnMorseCode.  
 


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 20, 2014, 09:02:09 AM
Sid and Wim: thank you VERY much!

For Wim: so what happens when I reach the next level ... I'm only on 24 elements ... you've generated a custom set of 899 English words based on those 24 characters, and a text file -- how did you do it?

For Sid: thank you for the JLMC randomizer that uses words from a generated list!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0WV on January 20, 2014, 09:14:43 AM
Sid and Wim: thank you VERY much!

For Wim: so what happens when I reach the next level ... I'm only on 24 elements ... you've generated a custom set of 899 English words based on those 24 characters, and a text file -- how did you do it?

I wrote a program yesterday night, the input is a word thesaurus in your language the output (second parameter) is file2.txt and an additional the third parm  is a string with all by you known characters (don't forget the space).

I will sent you in email a link to my website, so that you can download and use the program for a (your) larger thesaurus of words, and another string of characters known by you.

Do however remember that different character and effective speeds give a distorted Morse sound. MUCH MORE than the difference between 4 and 3 dits dashes and letter spaces, about which a pair of old timers were nitpicking recently.

So don't try to get used to the sounds of whole words, but just read during reception.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 20, 2014, 10:27:42 AM
Wim, I cannot thank you enough, that's fantastic!

I do think one of the biggest problems with the Koch method is this business of copying random character groups. I guess it's OK if you're a fast learner and get all the way through the course in a month or two ... but for me, it is taking longer. Being able to copy "real words" will help quite a lot, I think. I have already been copying real QSOs and W1AW transmissions on the ham bands but it's been frustrating: I miss a lot of characters simply because I haven't learned them yet!

What I plan to do with the files generated from your software is listen to them with headphones while going for a walk, or doing other things, and just getting used to the sound of "real words." It is a quite different "feel" compared to the random groups ... and "head copy" is possible -- I have never been able to "head copy" the random drills in fact I am not sure that "head copy" of random groups makes any sense at all.


Do however remember that different character and effective speeds give a distorted Morse sound. MUCH MORE than the difference between 4 and 3 dits dashes and letter spaces, about which a pair of old timers were nitpicking recently.

So don't try to get used to the sounds of whole words, but just read during reception.

That is what I want to do: become accustomed to copying whole words, but not necessarily as a "single sound." It's very different to copying on paper because you have to keep the letters in a sort of "memory buffer" until the word makes some sort of sense. With a pencil, you can just write down the letter without memorizing it at all....

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WB3CQM on January 21, 2014, 09:43:45 AM
This is worth looking at - Take a look if you will -

HQX Morse Program


http://htc.ch/en/morstrainer

73 JIM


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 21, 2014, 10:15:10 AM
This is worth looking at - Take a look if you will -

HQX Morse Program


http://htc.ch/en/morstrainer

73 JIM

Thanks again everyone. I will look into all of your suggestions.

The past couple of days I've been working on a lot of non-ham business and family stuff. I'm also going to be away, traveling on business, for most of the rest of this week.

My recent Morse learning sessions (past two days) have been terrible, but I'm blaming that on general stress and exhaustion. Being very tired is not good for learning Morse, or anything else for that matter!

It's a temporary problem. I'm taking practice MP3 files with me so I can keep up the practice during my trip.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 23, 2014, 01:45:52 AM
Away on business until next week, taking code files with me.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on January 23, 2014, 06:05:04 AM
Martin,
I'm glad to see you're still at it.   Shamefully, I am not practicing like I did in November and December, but I do listen to a little on the air.  And when I'm at work, I listen to a code practice app on my smartphone.  People thinks it's an MP3 player and that I'm listening to music.

- Daniel, KK4MRN.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 26, 2014, 05:29:31 AM
Just back from a business trip to California. Also had the opportunity to have lunch with CW op Steve Katz (WB2WIK) at a fish restaurant on the beach near Malibu ... he teased me by saying he had considered turning up with a code oscillator so he could assess my code skills, but thankfully he didn't! (Those of you who have the book "The Art and Skill of Radiotelegraphy" will find Steve quoted on the subject of learning Morse.)

During my trip, I kept up the Morse practice at the 24-character level. Had some very good sessions, although I wonder what the other passengers in the airline lounges thought I was doing! Still working on getting a consistent result before pushing on, but it's looking good. At the moment my biggest problem seems to be "being in the right frame of mind" and especially, not being tired or stressed. I am doing plenty of Morse practice (probably averaging one hour per day for the past 2.5 months)!

I also visited the HRO store in Anaheim and tried out a rather expensive straight key (Bencher RJ-1) and decided that I very much like a "Navy Knob." The Bencher key, while very nice, felt a little "small" to me -- I'm looking for a rather larger key. My current key (Ameco-K4) isn't bad, although I did have to make some alterations by replacing the tension spring (which was too stiff); but I've come to feel that something more "massive" would suit me better.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: W1JKA on January 26, 2014, 05:40:46 AM
Martin, you want something massive? Check out K2CPO's findings here in the CW forum 3rd topic down, complete with Navy knob, 21/4 lbs. and as Bob Barker says "The Price is Right"


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 26, 2014, 05:48:57 PM
Martin, you want something massive? Check out K2CPO's findings here in the CW forum 3rd topic down, complete with Navy knob, 21/4 lbs. and as Bob Barker says "The Price is Right"

That does look nice! Actually what I had more in mind was the classic GPO (Post Office) British key:

(http://w1tp.com/1242.jpg)

However I admit that this is mainly driven by nostalgia. We had a beautiful example of that key in the electronics lab in my school in England, but I can't honestly remember whether it was much good as a key! What I do know is that I seem to prefer larger keys, and a Navy knob.

They pop up on eBay sometimes, although I suspect they may be collectors' items now and out of my price range....

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 29, 2014, 06:23:30 AM
Still chugging along. Nearly ready to launch back into the "new characters" progression.

Main thing holding me back recently has not been motivation or skill, but time. Very busy with work.

Having fun though, and probably splitting my time 50/50 with the Morse: half of the time with Koch practice, the other half monitoring CW QSOs and W1AW on the air. Learning a lot about propagation on 20m, 40m and 80m even with my primitive homebrew regenerative set. Copying CW through QRN, QRM and QSB. Getting better at copying the "standardized" exchange of call signs that I hear.

Countries monitored on CW so far: USA, Canada, Hungary, Denmark, Russia.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 30, 2014, 09:02:22 AM
Getting there, getting there. Swamped with "real work" from my "day job" but still making sure to get in between 30 and 60 minutes of CW per day. I can see a slow improvement, especially in the "automatic copy function" in my brain. Still tough when it "goes off the rails" but those cases are slowly diminishing.... Still having fun, and don't care if it ends up taking a long time to get to the end of this journey (within reason!).

PA0WV/Wim, I still haven't downloaded your word-randomizing program ... will surely get to it soon.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on January 30, 2014, 10:36:03 AM
Yeah, work and real life keep interfering with my ham radio hobby too...   I still listen even if it's only for a little bit.

Good thing WA1W transmits its code practice on multiple bands because some days and times are better than others.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 31, 2014, 08:07:40 AM
It's been a long slog, but I am now copying the 24-character drills at a consistent 91 percent to 93 percent accuracy. Furthermore:

--It is relatively effortless. A five-minute drill doesn't seem like an eternity, and my copy accuracy doesn't deteriorate over those five minutes (if anything, it improves).
--Almost all of the "inaccuracy" consists of dropped characters (rather than incorrectly copied ones) and they are usually isolated in bunches of two or three characters; I am seldom dropping entire character groups.
--I have become modestly capable in "copying behind" and that helps with (a) long groups and (b) groups with lots of short characters in succession (E or I, for instance).

I am READY TO PROGRESS to the next character.

The 24 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /.

Today I am adding the 25th character which is that famous letter Q or dah-dah-di-dah. A good way to ease into "learning additional characters at last."

Settings: 20wpm Actual Character Speed combined with 17wpm Effective Code Speed ("Farnsworth spacing").

Task still to be done: download the "word randomizer" devised by PA0WV/Wim and start copying real words, not just nonsense Koch drills!

Other CW activities: I am listening to a *lot* of QSOs on the air. Still quite frustrating because:
--Some QSOs I just can't copy at all, even relatively slow ones, because the sending is so differently shaped, compared to the "perfect" drills I'm working from.
--Many QSOs are too fast, although I can copy little bits and pieces of them.
--And, of course, I only "know" 24 of the 40-odd elements!

Time spent on learning CW so far: Exactly three months, at about one hour per day.

Overall: I'm having a LOT of fun. Very different from those doldrums I was in during that Morse-learning "plateau" a month ago!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on February 02, 2014, 04:33:10 AM
Chugging along, at the 25-character level, having added the letter "Q" a couple of days ago. Best score so far is 86 percent, on the 5-minute drills.

The "bad" news is:
--Progress continues to be slow.
--There is a lot of variation from one session to the next, apparently dependent on "mood." I'm thinking of trying the "relaxation exercise" from "Zen and the Art of Radiotelegraphy" (http://www.qsl.net/ik0ygj/enu/index.html (http://www.qsl.net/ik0ygj/enu/index.html)). Lying on the floor for a few minutes before each session and just sort of chilling out. Carlo's book is fun, it was my bedtime reading last night. The only danger with doing the relaxation exercises is that XYL will think OM is ever more eccentric than usual (and that's saying something!).

The good news is:
--The progress, albeit gradual, is measurable and constant.
--There's a definite improvement in the "copy behind" skill although I do have to be careful to avoid "over-using" it because when that happens, the "memory buffer" gets too full and I miss some of the following characters.
--The copying is increasingly "automatic." I catch myself thinking about something else altogether, while copying. Strangely enough that doesn't seem to lower the accuracy rate.
--When monitoring on-air QSOs, I am getting much better at callsigns, and also catching more and more "entire words." These are almost entirely short words such as prepositions, articles and conjunctions, but still, that's a start.... Yesterday there was a contest for "elite" First-Class Operators and I was surprised to find I could copy fragments of it, even though the code was often very fast.

Speaking of Zen and the Art..., I was very interested in the part of Carlo's book where he talks about skills that are processed in the "primitive" part of the brain, which has a much faster "processor" than the "rational, cerebral" part of the brain. This ties in very much with the discussion in that other thread about "Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning."

The time horizon: I really don't care how long it takes. But let's say it takes me 4 days to assimilate each remaining character. At that rate, I will have all the characters done within the next two months! Of course at that point I won't be a CW wizard, in fact I'll just be starting out really, and it will be time to Get On The Air. Somewhere around April Fool's Day.

Zen and the Art... advises doing just 15 minutes of drills per day, in order to assimilate the 40 characters in the space of ... six weeks. In my case it may end up being more like 5 months, with at least one hour of practice per day (widely spaced throughout the day). To each, his pace.... (as it happens, I'm using the same G4FON software that Carlo suggests using).



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on February 03, 2014, 04:34:05 AM
Still making good progress, I should be able to move on to a new character soon.

Today's news is that, with fantastic technical help from Wim/PA0WV who wrote some software, I have been able to generate MP3 files containing transmissions of actual English words that still meet the requirements of the Koch method, i.e., they are generated from a limited character set (in my case today, 25 elements).

So in addition to the usual "nonsense" Koch drills (example: LP UNNQ A LTY ....) I will be supplementing the drills with new ones that sound like this: WORKER NUTS POOR OUTLINE RETURN WARN NEVER. These words will contain only characters that I have learned already! So it's a little bit like monitoring QSOs on the air, but without the frustration of "unknown characters."

Because these words "make sense" I am hoping that I will make some modest progress in "head copy." At the very least, I will become accustomed to copying "real words" and that's important because they are very different to random drills, especially as concerns the distribution of characters. Koch feeds you an equal amount of each character, but in "real English" some characters are much more common than others.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: LB3KB on February 03, 2014, 07:52:46 AM
Koch feeds you an equal amount of each character

Not necessarily, it depends on what program you use.

Just Learn Morse Code feeds you more of the characters you learned last, and it also feeds you more of the characters you miss the most.


73
K4NL Sid
justlearnmorsecode.com (http://justlearnmorsecode.com)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on February 03, 2014, 07:56:33 AM
Koch feeds you an equal amount of each character

Not necessarily, it depends on what program you use.

Just Learn Morse Code feeds you more of the characters you learned last, and it also feeds you more of the characters you miss the most.


73
K4NL Sid
justlearnmorsecode.com (http://justlearnmorsecode.com)

As far as I know, the G4FON software that I'm using transmits equal quantities of each character, except if you check the option called "favor the most recently learned characters" (which I don't do, except if I find a new character exceptionally hard).

I'm copying on paper, not on a keyboard, so feeding the characters that I missed the most would have to be a manual option I guess?

Thank you for pointing out that the programs vary in their approach to character frequency in drills.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: LB3KB on February 03, 2014, 08:26:07 AM

Just Learn Morse Code feeds you more of the characters you learned last, and it also feeds you more of the characters you miss the most.


As far as I know, the G4FON software that I'm using transmits equal quantities of each character, except if you check the option called "favor the most recently learned characters" (which I don't do, except if I find a new character exceptionally hard).

I think you should try it.  According to your reports here, you need more than one session for each character you add.  Getting more repetitions of the newest characters is not likely to hurt you.


I'm copying on paper, not on a keyboard, so feeding the characters that I missed the most would have to be a manual option I guess?

There are technologies available for using handwriting as text input, so it wouldn't have to be manual.


73
K4NL Sid
justlearnmorsecode.com (http://justlearnmorsecode.com)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on February 05, 2014, 09:48:30 AM
I think you should try it.  According to your reports here, you need more than one session for each character you add.  Getting more repetitions of the newest characters is not likely to hurt you.

I did try it for a while, but it didn't seem to make much difference except for the occasional, exceptionally hard character.

For new characters, I need not just one session, but more like 30. That's right, 30 five-minute sessions for each new character. I work at home, so what I do is take a 5-minute break for Morse code, every hour or two. So even in the best circumstances it takes four days to learn a new character.

I did attempt to go through the character list much faster, but if you go back to my December posts in this thread, you'll see that this had very bad results. I've now decided I just need to "take my time." This has also had the welcome result of "taking the pressure off" -- which actually helps quite a lot with the code learning. No more worrying about it; if I have a bad day or two, so be it. It has also restored the "fun factor" which is key I think.

My problem when adding new characters is not usually the new character. Indeed, the new character is very distinctive (because it's new to the ear) and therefore in some ways easier to copy.

What happens more often to me is that when I add new characters, the OLD characters go wonky. I have no idea why this happens, but it's not unique to me (I've heard other people say exactly the same thing). In other words stuff that I "knew" yesterday falls apart today.

It looks like I'm learning the code alright, but very slowly indeed. Or, perhaps my speed is "normal" for slow-learners who don't give up. A lot of people give up, and maybe they are people like me....

In the end, the main lesson that I take out of this might turn out to be: persistence is the key.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: LB3KB on February 05, 2014, 10:41:10 AM
What happens more often to me is that when I add new characters, the OLD characters go wonky. I have no idea why this happens, but it's not unique to me (I've heard other people say exactly the same thing). In other words stuff that I "knew" yesterday falls apart today.

That is why it would be beneficial to enter (one way or another) what you copy into the computer in real time and use software that drills you more on what you miss.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0WV on February 05, 2014, 10:50:40 AM


What happens more often to me is that when I add new characters, the OLD characters go wonky. I have no idea why this happens, but it's not unique to me (I've heard other people say exactly the same thing). In other words stuff that I "knew" yesterday falls apart today.


Right moment to start all over again with the subset of now missing characters only, in order to try to prove that Koch was a scientific crook.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on February 05, 2014, 10:54:45 AM
That is why it would be beneficial to enter (one way or another) what you copy into the computer in real time and use software that drills you more on what you miss.

I'm sure you are correct. I touch-type at 80wpm so it would be easy. However I just want to do it the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper. The only reason I'm using a computer at all is because the Koch method is very hard to do without a computer.

My shack is all-analogue and has no computer. It's my refuge from the invasion of the digital world that is all around us. (I love digital stuff but for some reason I'd rather keep it out of my hobby.)

Yes I know I'm weird. To me, the attraction of Morse (and ham radio) has a lot to do with simplicity and the satisfaction of building things myself.

As for drilling me on what I miss ... it literally changes from day to day, and from drill to drill. And some days, everything is wrong. I did one drill this morning with less than 50 percent accuracy. I've basically just got used to it, it doesn't upset me any more, I just keep pushing on because I know that the setback is temporary.

Right moment to start all over again with the subset of now missing characters only, in order to try to prove that Koch was a scientific crook.

I'll say it again: there is no consistency at all in the characters I miss. At least, not now. Two months ago the problem was with the G-W character pair among others. Today, it's different. Either I have a good drill at more than 90 percent accuracy, or I have a bad one, but it's not like there's a particular stumbling block with particular characters. I'm advancing. But very slowly.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on February 06, 2014, 10:31:50 AM
Hey Martin,
I have since learned that I will not be able to do this in a few months like I thought I was.  Looks like it will be a year before I will be ready for my first contact.

I have been listening to the code practice app on my phone at work and wherever I go.  Not a full listening, just trying to get my body used to listening to code over a long period of time. 

I have not been practicing like I was in November and December.  I used to write down on paper what I heard and progress to the next element when I got 90% or more.  Yet, now I am just listening.  I need to be taking this practice seriously again by writing down on paper.

Sometimes, I listen to W1AW if I remember and I can receive the station.

How do you keep yourself motivated to learn CW?  To me, that is the hardest part.  My brain wants to run away everytime I try to practice.

- Daniel, KK4MRN.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on February 06, 2014, 11:32:17 AM
How do you keep yourself motivated to learn CW?  To me, that is the hardest part.  My brain wants to run away everytime I try to practice.

That is hard to explain. I think it's a logical progression. I'm in ham radio because:
  • --I love building things.
  • --I want to build my entire station myself (this is under way); and not from a kit; using discrete components, not ICs (this limits me to tube gear and early transistor gear).
  • --My knowledge of radio, and my skills, are elementary; so building speech-modulated equipment is too ambitious for the time being.
  • --I love the idea of (eventually) working DX and in particular weak-signal stuff, only just above the noise floor. I love receivers ... building a REALLY GOOD, CW-oriented receiver of my own design would be just an amazing thing, I think, sometime in the fairly distant future.
  • --I live in an apartment and that's likely to continue, in one place or another, for the rest of my life. Fancy antennas and powerful rigs are probably not in my future.
  • --I've been fascinated with Morse Code all my life. I also have an interest in cyphers (which cannot be used in ham radio!): I have a whole little library of books about them and in particular the whole Enigma/Bletchley Park history including the Morse intercept stations.
  • --Now that Morse code has almost no non-ham usage, it is the ultimate challenge that you do "because it's there."
  • --In our frazzled, complicated world, I yearn for simplicity.
  • --Finally a negative reason: I've listened to a lot of SSB QSOs on the air and they just don't thrill me in the same way as CW. Why? I really don't know. CW is extremely slow compared to speech (about one-tenth of the speed!).

My *motivation* has always been there. However I'm a full time businessman too. Finding the *time* is the issue. Also, not getting too exhausted....

I wouldn't worry too much about putting off your CW quest for another year or so. I first passed the ham test in England more than 42 years ago, and the U.S. tests two years ago, and I'm still not on the air ... each thing happens in its own good time.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on February 07, 2014, 03:53:05 AM
For three days in a row, my Morse drills have been crap. There isn't any particular "difficulty" but I have trouble copying more than 10 or 20 characters without taking an "exit lane" and dropping several characters in a row.

But I'm not worried about it. The problem is physical and mental exhaustion, mainly from professional commitments (I've been getting barely 5 hours of sleep per night for the past several days; several big work deadlines). Strangely enough I am "enjoying" the drills even though the result is crappy: they are a welcome break from everything else that is going on in Life.

Simultaneously, on the non-professional front, I am completely "rebuilding" my shack. Have removed all of the equipment and furniture (it's been dumped in a spare bedroom) and now have a "blank slate" for making a better layout, building some furniture, and creating a proper "work bench" area away from the station itself. I had got to the stage where the "junk box" was taking over the shack, like all those coils were reproducing or something ... must be the harmonics.

I also continue to monitor CW on the ham the bands, with success.

I am certain that my Morse accuracy/speed will improve as soon as work pressures can be brought under control. The main thing is to KEEP GOING every day.

One thing that I have noticed is that *when* I am on a "good streak" with the copying, it is very automatic. But when you are exhausted and still learning Morse, it's easy to "crash out" of these drills.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on February 07, 2014, 11:10:28 AM
Every practice session, I have been changing the tone so it does not sound the same as the last session.  It's like I become tone deaf to the same tone over a long period of time.

I recently got some parts in to fill my so called junk box, so I will be building a simple QRP CW transmitter and receiver this weekend.  I will not be going old school like you using only tubes - it will contain transistors to make things easier for me.  ICs maybe used for audio amps.   I have an appliance (as some hams call commercial rigs) that works good with CW, but I think I will get more thrill from something I built.

I agree that it helps to have a good amount of sleep.   I have not gotten to the point where I automatically recognize characters without counting dits and dahs.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N4OI on February 08, 2014, 06:38:20 AM

How do you keep yourself motivated to learn CW?  To me, that is the hardest part.  My brain wants to run away everytime I try to practice.


I have been a ham for 11 years now, which is not that long relative to others in this great hobby.  My CW learning experience had two distinct stages: (a) learn 5 WPM for the exam, and (b) learn about 10 WPM for basic QSOs.  I accomplished (a) and got my license.  Then bought a new FT-920 with a microphone and Bencher paddle.  I was about to give up on CW, but the XYL gave me great encouragement to keep at it. 

Looking back, I am sure that I would have chucked the whole thing if SSB (or digital, which is like PC instant messaging) were all there was to it.  CW makes it all worthwhile.

So…. my advice is to keep at it and get to that 10 WPM milestone by listening to W1AW code files, on-air QSOs, software programs -- whatever.  Then comes the fun!  Start working real, on-air QSOs at 10 WPM or as fast as you can almost handle.  (BTW - I started with a paddle and keyer from the get-go, but if you just have to work that straight key, YMMV.)  Have fun.  Boost your speed and write down less as you continue working QSOs and having fun. Do not be satisfied with a 15 WPM or 20 WPM plateau. (And yes, you will have to move to an iambic paddle and keyer eventually if you want to get to those 30 WPM conversational speeds that won't wear out your fist.) 

Soon it will become second nature.  Not just like someone is saying the letters to you, but even better.  You will begin to recognize many letter groups as words -- no assembly required!  I am not sure how many lifetimes it takes to get to the "end of the CW Internet," but remember, the joy is in the journey.  Have fun!

 73



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on February 08, 2014, 12:34:30 PM
Today, my Koch drills are still crap (and I am still exhausted, and still need to catch up on several weeks of very little sleep).

But I'm not worried about the Morse learning process. "It is what it is" and the main thing is just to keep going.

I'm in the process of completely revamping my shack, which involved *emptying* it of all its contents first. I am building a proper station area, and a separate "workshop" area. The old, very messy shack had become a serious problem so it needed to be faced head-on! (More details here: http://forums.qrz.com/showthread.php?423830-KB1WSY-Shack-Redo (http://forums.qrz.com/showthread.php?423830-KB1WSY-Shack-Redo)).

I temporarily moved the receiver to my home office. Today I've been monitoring lots of FISTS club activity on 20m. Some of it is beautiful code and very easy to monitor. One of the participants, WD8OCV, spelled out his QTH as "ASHTABULA, OH" and I had no trouble copying that! (He made it extra easy by going nice and slowly....)

Also very busy with work. So lots of things going on ... all of them good, but it's quite tiring to keep all those processes going simultaneously! I'm hopeless at multitasking, as XYL will tell you!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: NI0C on February 08, 2014, 03:24:35 PM
Take heart, Martin.  Learning and maintaining Morse proficiency is not a linear process, it is more random.  Three steps forward, two steps back sometimes.  Take a look at the graphs of Rufz speed practice runs here: http://www.dxwatch.com/rufzxp/

Click on the callsigns to see graphs of progress for individuals who have chosen to upload their scores. Notice how random the graphs appear!

Exhaustion and mental distractions take their toll on Morse proficiency-- for everybody.  Do what you can when you can, and you will be back achieving more than ever after you are rested. 

73,
Chuck  NI0C


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on February 08, 2014, 05:54:03 PM
Take heart, Martin.  Learning and maintaining Morse proficiency is not a linear process, it is more random.  Three steps forward, two steps back sometimes.

What can I say, except ... THANK YOU!

I love ham radio and have a lot invested in learning CW. More than that, I just love the code itself ... I'm in the music business, and I'm a (bad) musician myself. That's something I left out of my earlier list of "reasons to learn CW." The code is actually beautiful in itself. If you remember that, it provides enough motivation all on its own. Beauty and elegance trump just about everything else!

I'm inspired to make these comments partly because I heard some beautiful code on the air today. It seemed to be mostly parts of a FISTS event. It wasn't especially high-speed, it was just beautifully proportioned, and it wasn't just one operator, it was several. It was transparently "readable."

Just like any other beautiful creation, it takes time and a lot of effort to achieve proficiency. At least, that's how it's working out for me. And that's fine.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WB3CQM on February 09, 2014, 03:00:25 AM
I am not sure how much you can apply call sign copy from RufzXP to normal text copy of Morse code.Nor the learning of Morse code .  I am not putting down call sign copy .

But first off it is NOT copy of words . It is copy of groups of random letters and numbers as little as 2 letters and one number to a possible 12 letters maybe more . Example KH6/WB3CQM/M or KH6/WB3CQM/QRP or W3C

The soft ware starts out slow and increase with speed through your success and decrease in speed with your failure. You start the session at what ever speed you choose. The object is to gain a high score and copy a call at 50 ,75 ,100 or 500 wpm - they use CMP instead of WPM

The session is what 3 min to 7 min long ? I never timed my self.

You MUST have a typing skill to be successful as far as I can tell. You listen to the call , you type it into a block then hit enter and log the call sign. There are 50 call signs sent in a session.

It is really a online competition .

In 2012 my goal was to copy 50,000 call sign on RufzXP and a call sign at 50 wpm.  I had been doing call sign copy off and on before I started this 2012 session.

Forget the fact that I have been in 1000's of CW DX Pile Ups for it means very little in this call sign copy and may have worked against me .

It took me around 45,000 call signs copied  to hit 48 wpm call sign. I forfeited the copy of 48 wpm due to lower overall score on that one run. I stayed with 222 cmp and higher score. Then went qrt for about a year. I have started again in 2014 and I am stuck at 40 wpm and and low score . Missing about 18-23 calls of per 50 call signs. Other words ONE DIT or  missed letter or number and you miss the call and if you repeat the call you lose a good 50% of score. Of course higher speed call means a higher points for that call. If you TYPE the call in with extra letter and do not check you could miss the whole call and get zero score on that call. I have copied a call perfect typed it in did not double check and find out I typed in WWB3CQM .

Why can I NOT be a champion at call sign copy ?

One reason is I am tone deft and no matter what I do I will miss some dits that are sent regardless of speed. No big deal.

Older in age . Never did this till about 2010 , takes daily practice, My guess is my brain can not process random letters at high speeds.

But I was told that the champions can remember 1 -5 calls as buffer before they even type in a call. THINK about this one a second.

When I hear a call sign sent I must type almost right away or it is Totally forgotten . If I did not type your call in I may remember couple letters of it or it  was a USA call . In order for me to totally remember a call before typing I will have to hear that call 1-4 times , Generally 2-3 times and I better type it in. before  30 seconds or it forgotten forever. I have next to NO short term memory .

Most of us typing are using QWERTY key board. I believe DRWOKE keyboard would be a 100% improvement over QWERTY keyboard.

Honestly I see very little comparing of Call sign copy to LEARNING Morse code

And though I believe there is a SKILL to call sign copy it is NOT and NEVER will be the same as copy of TEXT. Just sit down and have a 3 min to 3 hours CW qso from 5wpm to 35 wpm or higher  with some one and you will understand it is a different skill all together .

Further more Call Sign copy is Machine Sent Code . It is perfect code where you can or can not adjust the tone of code sent.

On the air qso have 1- 100 factors involved in the copy . Do you want me to start to list them ?

I do love Call sign copy and see a benefit in it for contesting or DX expedition operator and just plain fun.

I am sure we could argue the benefits of this or not for the next 20 years. But I see nothing from RufzXP to compare to learning of or copy of plain text Morse.

Also if I copy at a fixed speed of say 30 wpm I will copy like 100% calls this speed may vary a little . Then I wonder why someone comes back to me on the air from a CQ and I miss there call sometimes ::lol::

for what it is worth I am sure no one really cares what I think

73 JIM


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on February 09, 2014, 03:26:36 AM
for what it is worth I am sure no one really cares what I think

Jim,

Well, I care! Anyone who is a veteran code user is worthy of respect considering that no-one is "forced" to learn the code anymore. It's something we do because we want to.

You have put your finger on it when you mention the "memory buffer" used by code champions. This, in my experience, is an exceedingly hard skill to "learn." In fact you can't really "learn" it at all. I find it is almost entirely connected with "state of mind." If I am in a relaxed state where I'm not "obsessed" with writing the letter down immediately, "copy behind" becomes possible and my accuracy improves sharply. It's especially important in cases where there is a string of "all-dit" characters.

If you think about it, "head copy" is ALL "copy behind." It is a process where the brain analyzes an entire string of characters and recognizes them as a complete "word."

The Koch method, for what it's worth, is perfect preparation for callsign copy. Why? Because all the drills consist of random characters. Callsigns are not quite random-character groups (there is always a number somewhere in there!) but almost. I have become quite good at copying callsigns even when I cannot catch the rest of the QSO. Partly, that's because they are so frequently prefaced by DE, so when I hear DE I concentrate extra-hard on what comes afterwards. Or, if the code is really fast, I listen only to the CQ and don't bother to monitor the QSO once a contact has been made (it's too fast).

I am too much of a beginner to use RufzXP for the moment! I need to finish learning all the elements first, I think!

(BTW I am not using a keyboard for copying. I use a pad of paper and a Number-2 pencil. I spend about 12 hours a day in front of a computer, running a home-based business. My ham hobby is one of the few times when I get AWAY from the digital world. If I ever use a keyboard, it will be an Underwood mechanical "mill" purchased at a flea market! I type at 80wpm, so it's not a skill issue, it's an issue of wanting to get some "relaxation" away from computers and so forth.)

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: NI0C on February 09, 2014, 04:54:09 AM
I am not sure how much you can apply call sign copy from RufzXP to normal text copy of Morse code.Nor the learning of Morse code .  I am not putting down call sign copy .

.......................



I am sure we could argue the benefits of this or not for the next 20 years. But I see nothing from RufzXP to compare to learning of or copy of plain text Morse.



for what it is worth I am sure no one really cares what I think

73 JIM
Hi Jim,
Well, I too care what you think.  I consider you a CW friend, although I don't believe we've had an on the air QSO.  I've heard you in the DX pileups, always a courteous and good operator.

Jim, you make some valid points distinguishing the differences among:
1.  learning Morse.
2.  Conversational Morse (plain text copy); and
3.  call sign copy competition.

The only point I was trying to make make in my post to Martin was (and from my observations only, not from any scientific studies) that human progress in any of these three areas seems not to to be steady or linear; rather it seems to be random. Hopefully, our progress will show up as a linear bias to a very scratchy, random function. The Rufz graph for DJ1YFK shows this perfectly.   

I also have many runs of Rufz and CWFreak under my belt, and can tell you that my performance is greatly affected by my state of mind, including what is going on in my life at the time, also exercise and caffeine. I go into a slump if I have not had sufficient physical exercise (walking or running outside). 
 
The records that are displayed in Top List rankings in these competitions are spikes, not average performance.  I think the performance graphs with many data points in the link that I provided give a clearer picture. The short term memory buffer that you and Martin have mentioned may well be key to explaining variations over time.

73,
Chuck  NI0C     


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WB3CQM on February 09, 2014, 09:49:35 AM
I am not sure how much you can apply call sign copy from RufzXP to normal text copy of Morse code.Nor the learning of Morse code .  I am not putting down call sign copy .

.......................



I am sure we could argue the benefits of this or not for the next 20 years. But I see nothing from RufzXP to compare to learning of or copy of plain text Morse.



for what it is worth I am sure no one really cares what I think

73 JIM
Hi Jim,
Well, I too care what you think.  I consider you a CW friend, although I don't believe we've had an on the air QSO.  I've heard you in the DX pileups, always a courteous and good operator.

Jim, you make some valid points distinguishing the differences among:
1.  learning Morse.
2.  Conversational Morse (plain text copy); and
3.  call sign copy competition.

The only point I was trying to make make in my post to Martin was (and from my observations only, not from any scientific studies) that human progress in any of these three areas seems not to to be steady or linear; rather it seems to be random. Hopefully, our progress will show up as a linear bias to a very scratchy, random function. The Rufz graph for DJ1YFK shows this perfectly.   

I also have many runs of Rufz and CWFreak under my belt, and can tell you that my performance is greatly affected by my state of mind, including what is going on in my life at the time, also exercise and caffeine. I go into a slump if I have not had sufficient physical exercise (walking or running outside). 
 
The records that are displayed in Top List rankings in these competitions are spikes, not average performance.  I think the performance graphs with many data points in the link that I provided give a clearer picture. The short term memory buffer that you and Martin have mentioned may well be key to explaining variations over time.

73,
Chuck  NI0C     

Hi Chuck ,

No we never  had a on the air cw qso yet.  I also  care what you have to say as well. I respect your opinion and you  have lots more experience at cw call sign copy than me and I think you are up around 70+ wpm call sign copy. Plus you have been a cw op long time as well. ( Thanks for nice words )

You make a good  point to Martin that  learning or progress in cw is more random than steady or Linear and is affected by many factors.

I use the word factor due to my Retriever field trial experience. Field trial judges set up test where by the dog that  best fights the factor (wind, terrain , or complex marking concepts  )  and holds the best line  to the mark or blind will end up winning that day in most cases.

We have two saying's in field trial game as well as racing pigeon sport. And I apply this to Morse code .

Rest Rust - Winners Train , losers complain . Of course rest is a needed element in learning and competition.
I also believe when you do NOT train you will NOT make forward progress, I see that even with winning field trial retrievers. Some times Less is Best but still one must train to gain. Just my 2 cents worth.

In my case the harder I train at Call sign copy or copy of plain text as well as  sending the better I do. But when I start to get tired and start messing up I pull the Plug !

You make some interesting  points Chuck about to much caffeine and not enough exercise, lots of things on our minds. Those are true factors effecting our performance.
 

So how many runs do you do per day on RufzXP , what speed do you start at and do you have a estimate of number of calls you have copied  from your start of your quest ?

 Chuck I think your slump would probably be my most successful run on RufzXP  or spike as you rightly  call it::LOL::

73 JIM


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: NI0C on February 09, 2014, 10:21:17 AM
Quote from WB3CQM:
Quote
Of course rest is a needed element in learning and competition.
I also believe when you do NOT train you will NOT make forward progress, I see that even with winning field trial retrievers. Some times Less is Best but still one must train to gain. Just my 2 cents worth.

In my case the harder I train at Call sign copy or copy of plain text as well as  sending the better I do. But when I start to get tired and start messing up I pull the Plug !

You make some interesting  points Chuck about to much caffeine and not enough exercise, lots of things on our minds. Those are true factors effecting our performance.
 

So how many runs do you do per day on RufzXP , what speed do you start at and do you have a estimate of number of calls you have copied  from your start of your quest ?
Jim,
I don't do too many Rufz runs these days; I have 843 attempts stored in my database-- these date back several years.  Lately, I've been doing a lot with CWFreak.net, and have 1358 attempts in my database, which dates back only to last September.  I like the fact that they have monthly, yearly and all-time competitions.  I also like the brevity of CWFreak, just 25 call signs.  It also penalizes you quite heavily, once you miss a call sign.  It places a premium on accuracy and perfect copy in what the program calls a "Combo." 

I noticed a dramatic slump when I took a two week winter vacation, and it took me over a week to get back in shape.  When I mentioned caffeine, I meant that caffeine seems to help me! 

73,
Chuck  NI0C


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on February 09, 2014, 12:03:10 PM
I noticed a dramatic slump when I took a two week winter vacation, and it took me over a week to get back in shape.  When I mentioned caffeine, I meant that caffeine seems to help me! 

Although I have been mentioning a lot of "variation" in my skills from day to day, there is one constant: first thing in the morning, it's lousy, even on a "good" day. A bit better after the first cup of coffee. A bit better after breakfast. Then a gently improving curve all day, especially when I get enough exercise -- which has been tougher recently because of the winter weather (when the weather is OK, I walk a lot). In the evening: even half a glass of beer pretty much destroys my ability to do a Koch drill. I can still monitor on-air but at a diminished level.

(So on a "bad day" those early drills are especially bad; but the "badness" isn't quite as bad at the end of the day as the beginning of the day, if I stick with the drills all day, which I don't always do if the copying is really awful.)

Another thing that has been entirely consistent for a while now: The first dozen or two dozen characters of each Koch drill are the toughest. It gets better once I am "in the groove." In fact, sometimes I "cheat": if I'm still stumbling after the first couple of dozen characters, I draw a line under my copy and re-start the computerized drill from the beginning.

It really has an lot to do with "getting in the zone" mentally. When it happens, it's fantastic!

Today I was a passenger in a two-hour drive up to Maine. On the way, I spent about 45 minutes listening to real-language drills with the most common 900 words in the English language, at 20wpm, "head copy" (no possibility of pencil/paper). This was very interesting. For the first 15 minutes or so I was catching essentially nothing. By the end of the 45 minutes I was catching perhaps one word in six. I realize that doesn't sound very impressive but with a lot of practice, I can imagine it being very useful. Among other things, it gets your ear accustomed to some very common character strings in the English language such as OO or LL. It also, depressingly, reminds you how frequent letters such as E and I are -- and of course they fly past in an instant. The cadence and sound are completely different from a Koch random drill, and, of course, much more like a real QSO.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: NI0C on February 09, 2014, 12:55:13 PM
Quote from KB1WSY:
Quote
It really has an lot to do with "getting in the zone" mentally. When it happens, it's fantastic!
And so it seems to be at any speed or proficiency level!  Keep up your good work.
73,
Chuck  NI0C


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on February 12, 2014, 02:34:08 PM
So as of today, I'm achieving a fairly consistent 88 percent to 89 percent accuracy on the 25-character drills.

Meh.

I've been stuck at that level for the past 12 days, so I think it's time to move on, even though I'm still not consistently at the 90 percent level. I am almost sure that it's caused by exhaustion and "too much going on" rather than any specific problem with the code-learning.

The 25 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, / and Q.

Starting tomorrow, I am adding the 26th character which is the numeral 9 or dah-dah-dah-dah-dit.

Settings are still the same: 20wpm Actual Character Speed combined with 17wpm Effective Code Speed ("Farnsworth spacing").

I have been supplementing those Koch random-character drills (about one hour a day) with three other Morse activities:
--Monitoring QSOs on the air.
--"Head copy" of actual English words taken from the 26-character set, at 20wpm (no Farnsworth). This is being done in long sessions of up to half an hour each, during walks in the neighborhood or while a passenger in trains and cars. As of today, I am "catching" about one word in five.
--Pencil-copy of straight 15wpm code (no Farnsworth). The idea is to start getting used to "normal" code without the extra spaces.

Am feeling reasonably good about progress being made. As others are pointing out, it's not linear. When I get frustrated with one type of "exercise," I switch to another type.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on February 13, 2014, 04:31:42 AM
So here's an example of the special "restricted character" listening drills I've been doing to help with "head copy" at 20wpm:

EFFORT EQUAL RULE SON KEPT SAM INFORMATION FEEL SIMPLE ORIGIN SKILL TAKE MEMORY SWEPT GENTLE SEEING LEAVE PRIMITIVE LOUIS UPON FURNITURE MISSING PLATES YOUNGER UNLESS SLIP KEEP IF NATURALLY WESTERN VOWEL PIANO FOG FORT EQUALLY PIPE TEMPERATURE FINEST FAMILIAR LYING IT SO SOLUTION FAT POOL STRING JAMES WIFE KEY FIRE TOO TURN NEST POETRY PLURAL EASILY IMPROVE APPLE MOUNTAIN STORY FIRST WANT RUSSIAN STRAW STRIKE PROGRAM ....... (and so forth).

It's from a set of 900 common words in the English language. All thanks to Wim/PA0WV who wrote the word-selection software. The above words contain only the letters that exist in my current Koch sub-set, thus providing a "real language" version of the Koch drills. After generating the subset, I'm using the RAND() function in Microsoft Excel to generate random-order drills -- real words, but the order changes from one drill to the next.

The cadence of these drills is radically different from the "random-letter" Koch drills. A cursory glance will show you how frequent certain letters are (the vowels, especially E, I and A) and how relatively rare some letters are (Q, for instance, which is common only in ham-speak!).

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N4OI on February 13, 2014, 05:06:38 AM
[...] I first passed the ham test in England more than 42 years ago, and the U.S. tests two years ago, and I'm still not on the air ... each thing happens in its own good time.[...]

With all this preparation, you should sell the honor of your first CW QSO to the highest bidder on ebay!    ;D

73


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on February 13, 2014, 05:50:00 AM
With all this preparation, you should sell the honor of your first CW QSO to the highest bidder on ebay!    ;D
73

I'd like to be able to say that my 42-year "hiatus" between first passing the ham test and conducting the first QSO will be some kind of ham record ... but I doubt it. Anecdotally, I've seen several accounts (on forums like this one) of hams who got into the hobby as kids but didn't follow through until retirement -- and I'm not at retirement age yet.

Yes it is ridiculous. Part of a personality type that "starts" a lot of things but doesn't "finish" them all. Plus an insistence on an entirely homebrewed station. Plus an excessive dose of perfectionism. ::) ::) ::)

Also, modern, high-stress life is hard to combine with a "serious" hobby such as CW ham radio that requires a certain amount of learning, a government license, a rig, an antenna, and the time and discipline to learn Morse code.

But this time I can "smell" it, that first QSO won't be very long from now. :)

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: W1JKA on February 13, 2014, 06:13:46 AM
Re: KB1WSY

Looking forward to construction pics of your homebrew xtmr. and ensuing mini pile up during your first back on air CQ call.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on February 13, 2014, 06:31:33 AM
Re: KB1WSY

Looking forward to construction pics of your homebrew xtmr. and ensuing mini pile up during your first back on air CQ call.

Small correction ... it's not "back on air," it's "first time on air." Back in the 1970s, I passed the test, I even built a receiver and transmitter, but then never actually got on the air (had passed the UK test, but never even applied for the available license). Lost interest ... you know, teenage.... Also, lost interest in learning the code, so the transmitter was actually an AM rig for Top Band (160m) which was available to code-less British "novices" in those days IIRC. Otherwise it would be VHF only IIRC.

Part of the issue back then is that there was, in the UK, a 14-year-old minimum age for ham radio. I was passionate about it as a 12-year-old then had that interminable wait until my 14th birthday before I could take the test. By the time I took and passed the test, the interest had waned quite a bit.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on February 17, 2014, 08:11:36 AM
I'm scoring around 90 percent to 91 percent on the 26-character drills. Finally got enough sleep: about 10 hours/night for three nights in a row.

Time to move ahead.

The 26 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, and 9.

Today I am adding the 27th character which is "Z" or dah-dah-di-dit.

I'm actually farther ahead than it might seem. Although the current Koch sequence hasn't reached the letters C, D and H yet, I already know those very well, because they are so common in QSOs -- as in "CQ," "DE" and "HI." So there's really only one letter of the alphabet left to learn, after Z, and that will be "X." After that, it's all numerals and the "question mark" character (which is another character that is so common in QSOs, that I know it already ... di-di-dah-dah-di-dit).

"Head-copy" is slowly progressing. It's a very different skill from pencil-copy!

As of today I have decided that with my current Morse skills, I am ready for my first QSO despite not yet "knowing" a couple of letters of the alphabet. Unfortunately that QSO won't be happening for a little while (there is some station-building still to do, plus major professional commitments between now and early April).

Meanwhile I will complete the Koch course and work some more on "head copy."

Also need to start working on my *sending* which has been neglected in recent weeks. Need to dig out the soldering iron and set up that "two-ear" system where you can listen to a drill in one ear, and send (from the same text) in the other.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on February 20, 2014, 01:05:23 PM
Martin,
Glad to hear you're ready to make your first contact.   Have you finished building your transmitter?



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on February 20, 2014, 03:48:36 PM
Martin,
Glad to hear you're ready to make your first contact.   Have you finished building your transmitter?

I run my own business and have limited time for ham radio. My shack is under (re-)construction after getting to such a messy state that something radical needed to be done, viz, building a proper workbench, proper storage for parts, and a separate station desk.

For the next six weeks or so I am either working on huge professional projects, or traveling on business.

Target date for building the transmitter: sometime in April (after finishing shack rebuild). Also need to build and erect the homebrew dipole and drive in a grounding rod (the electrical system in my rental apartment is shaky). Target date for first QSO: late April to mid-May. Station will be monoband 40m, receiver is 3-transistor regenerative set, transmitter xtal-controlled 10W (input) 2-tube MOPA.

Meanwhile about the only thing I have (a little bit of) time for is continuing the CW drills: learning the last few characters and then a bit of consolidation. Also need to work on my SENDING which I have completely neglected for the past couple of months.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on February 27, 2014, 02:36:04 PM
I'm scoring around 89 percent the 27-character drills.

Time to move ahead.

The 27 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, 9 and Z.

Tomorrow I am adding the 28th character which is "H" or di-di-di-dit.

Very pressed for time at the moment, and that situation continues for the next two weeks, which is then followed by a two week business/pleasure trip to Europe, followed by a cascade of work deadlines. So the best I can hope for is to maintain, perhaps slightly improve, the current Morse level, with about 20 minutes of drills per day.

Actually getting on the air looks like it won't happen until about mid-May at the earliest. At this point it's not the CW skills that are holding me up, but the pressures of Work and Life. The key thing is to try and get a little bit of Morse immersion every day.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on March 05, 2014, 12:11:15 PM
Martin,
How is your practice been going?

My iphone died that I mainly used like an ipod touch since I have another phone.  There was a great app called Ham Morse from AA9PW.

Sure, there are good programs for Windows like Just Learn Morse Code, but this requires me to be in front of a computer when I do code practice.   When I do code practice, it is best for me to NOT be on a computer because I get distracted easily.  My kitchen table is the best place to sit and do code practice.  This has been primarily my place when studying for my ham license exams too.

Anybody, what are some good Android apps for learning morse code?  I had bought a ton of ham radio apps for my iphone, but most were not good.   Hmmm...  Maybe this question should be its own topic.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on March 05, 2014, 04:01:22 PM
Martin,
How is your practice been going?

Thanks for asking! It's going OK, under the circumstances. As I explained a few posts earlier, I'm awfully busy with life in general. So, the Morse practice is down to "maintenance" levels -- about 20 minutes per day. Sometimes, such as today, I am just too exhausted to copy anything much; and when that happens I stop, because it's counterproductive.

I don't see emerging from this until sometime in May, the way things are going. The main goal is to keep the proficiency that I already have. I'm off on a two-week business/pleasure trip to Europe later this month and I have high hopes that I can also make some additional Morse progress during that time. I don't need a smartphone or even a computer: I prepare MP3 drills in advance and play them back on a $9 MP3 player.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on March 07, 2014, 02:40:27 PM
I'm scoring 90 percent the 28-character drills.

The 28 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, 9, Z and H.

Tomorrow I am adding the 29th character which is "3" or di-di-di-dah-dah.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on April 06, 2014, 09:52:08 AM
So, one month since my last post....

I've been very busy with life in general, including traveling for two of the past four weeks. I've cut back on the Morse drills, down to about 20 minutes per day, which has meant no "progress" but also no "setbacks." I'm still at the 29-character level in the Koch method (at 17WPM) and doing OK on that. While traveling in Europe I also monitored the 20m band with a small Ramsey kit radio, to "keep my hand in" with on-air CW.

It's hard to say when I'll be able to get back to Morse (and ham radio) in earnest, so the important thing is to make sure I at least maintain the Morse skills that I already have, and try to make a bit of progress with learning the characters as time permits. Professional/family time commitments are already occupying the next two months at least.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on May 07, 2014, 09:25:36 AM
Martin,
Where are you with your learning?   

I want to get back to learning CW.   Reading your messages (and others) have been an inspiration.  I actually turned on my HF radio the other night and listened to CW on 40m.  It has been awhile because I was sick.   I even got myself to build a simple QRP receiver from a kit.  I was so excited when I actually heard CW with an antenna no bigger than my finger.   Then I hooked it up to my G5RV antenna that I used for my base HF transceiver - oh my - signals boomed in.  Yet, I also got Shortwave Broadcasts too...   I have may have done something wrong building it or it needs a front end bandpass filter.  But nevertheless, I am excited.  My next simple QRP radio to build will be a transmitter.   

And now comes the problem - I need to know CW in order to be able to use these simple QRP receivers and transmitters I build.   Sure, I have my big commercial HF transceiver (some hams call them appliances), but it is so fun to build and operate the radio you built.

I first picked up trying to learn CW in fall of 2012 around the time I was studying for my Technician License.  Picked it back up in April 2012, November 2012, and other times.  Hopefully, I can stick with it this time.  Some days it seems I get no where.   I do remember the joy of listening to W1AW with their slow code practice one night and actually understood what was being pounded - except for punctuation, numbers, and pro-signs.

Once I make my first confirmed contact, I am going to reward myself with a real key from VibroPlex or Nye Viking, etc.  For now, I have a MFJ economy key that came with a code practice oscillator.

Since I am getting nowhere, I may decide to slow down my learning speed to 10wpm or slower.  And match to spacing to the actual speed to match real world CW instead of using Farnesworth.  Then listen to more real CW on the air like W1AW. 

I got so excited one night, I hooked up my straight key to my HF rig on the CW portion of 10 meters at night, and I pounded my call sign a few times.  It felt great.  It sounded great - much better than the awful sound from the code practice oscillator.  It was night on 10m, so I had no fear of causing interference or wondering what to do if someone actually replied.

My goal last year was to make my first contact by December 2013 so I could also get on Straight Key Night.  But all I ended up doing was listening - I was not ready sadly.

- Daniel, KK4MRN.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N3DF on May 09, 2014, 09:09:22 AM
I wouldn't knock anyone's chosen method of learning code, and yours may well be more efficient than mine.  However, I think I had more fun.  In the mid-1960s I memorized the characters--took 3 or 4 days--and passed the Novice 5 wpm test.  In the following seven or eight months, I made perhaps 250 qsos on 40 and 15 meters.  Also listened to W1AW code transmissions about twice per week.  Then easily glided past the General 13 wpm test with no special practice and no difficulty.  Over the next two years, made perhaps 1,000 QSOs, together with occasional light contesting and DXing.  Then passed the 20 WPM Extra easily with no special practice.  Probably could have reached 20 faster with a disciplined program, but I sure enjoyed being on the air.  I feel sorry for you that you keep putting off your very first cw QSO. 


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on May 09, 2014, 10:21:31 AM
Thank you for your questions. I am still plodding along, in a holding pattern, at the 29-character/17-wpm level. I am doing just enough practice to prevent my skills from regressing, but no more. Unfortunately my non-ham life has become much too busy. In answer to N3DF's question, the reason I'm not on the air has nothing to do with deliberately "putting off" my first QSO, it has to do with life in general. I haven't had time to revamp the shack, put up the antenna and build the transmitter or do anything more than about 20 minutes of CW practice every two or three days, plus monitoring the bands a few minutes every few days with a simple regenerative receiver and a long-wire antenna.

This will change, eventually, but it could be several more months before I can clear enough time. I run my own business and currently work about 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. These are "good problems to have" in today's so-so economic climate, but they wreak havoc on hobbies!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on May 13, 2014, 06:03:19 AM
Martin,
I discovered that I can hook up my straight key to my HF rig and practice pounding without it actually transmitting.  Yet, you hear nice audio.  This is much better than the awful sound of the MFJ code practice oscillator that uses a 555 timer. 


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on May 13, 2014, 10:01:24 AM
much better than the awful sound of

Almost all the bits of Morse-teaching kit (including the computer programs) out there that I've come across seem to have horrible sound generators. G4FON produces a sound that's bearable (if you tweak it with some of the effects it comes with). The rest (including JLMC, LCWO, etc.) are varying degrees of torture to listen to.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on May 13, 2014, 10:58:08 AM
Martin,
I discovered that I can hook up my straight key to my HF rig and practice pounding without it actually transmitting.  Yet, you hear nice audio.  This is much better than the awful sound of the MFJ code practice oscillator that uses a 555 timer.  

For sending practice, I built this "vintage" code oscillator using the circuit from the 1968 edition of "How to Become a Radio Amateur," which uses a couple of vintage germanium transistors and is mounted on the small wooden board on the left. The tone is quite pleasant.

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-dPGC0c3UNRc/UbiKtBvsH4I/AAAAAAAABx0/db5J0VfpC2I/s1152/DSCF5829.JPG?gl=US)

Before then I used an Ameco kit, which IIRC uses a timer chip and sounds, to my ear, more tiring. On the 'scope it is pretty much a square wave (top trace in the following photo; the 'scope is ratty coz I haven't restored it yet):

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-riD9cTPVX7g/T5n4M_Y7SJI/AAAAAAAAACw/Za02jmsrOp8/s1152/Oscilloscope_03.jpg?gl=US)

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on June 12, 2014, 08:05:44 AM
Martin,
Still practicing?   Where are you at now?

Don't feel bad; I still have not made my first contact - yet.   But I will when I feel the time is right...

Daniel, KK4MRN


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on June 12, 2014, 04:04:58 PM
Martin,
Still practicing?   Where are you at now?

Just got back from a 2.5-week vacation in Europe. Haven't done any code practice for more than three weeks; not good!

I will be getting back into it in the next few days and it will be interesting to see how much I have "lost" in terms of skills. My wild guess is that I've dropped back, but hopefully not too far.

Stay tuned.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WA7PRC on June 13, 2014, 07:59:51 PM
Instead of practicing, why not just get on the air... a lot.  As a new Novice in September 1970, I found my proficiency improved quickly and I was having a blast.  Besides, the vinyl LP record I had was wearing out.

My shack was in my folks' separate 2-car garage, next to the log stove. It didn't take long for me to learn to split wood and load the stove while copying Morse at 20+ WPM (while wearing "cans").  By the time I was ready to take the General exam at the FCC office, 13 wpm was a snooze.  You can do it too.  Just get on the air... a lot.

vy 73,
Bryan WA7PRC


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N4OI on June 14, 2014, 06:00:06 AM
Martin -- Wow -- that old EICO oscilloscope in your photo sure brought back some memories...   (Now have a nice, digital Rigol, though.) Thanks!

73


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: W4MPT on June 14, 2014, 02:41:49 PM
Instead of practicing, why not just get on the air... a lot.  As a new Novice in September 1970, I found my proficiency improved quickly and I was having a blast.  Besides, the vinyl LP record I had was wearing out.

My shack was in my folks' separate 2-car garage, next to the log stove. It didn't take long for me to learn to split wood and load the stove while copying Morse at 20+ WPM (while wearing "cans").  By the time I was ready to take the General exam at the FCC office, 13 wpm was a snooze.  You can do it too.  Just get on the air... a lot.

vy 73,
Bryan WA7PRC

That is the drawback to the Koch method...you can't!  I, like you and many others, learned from cassettes (ARRL, Gordon West, 73 mag, Ameco) that utilized the Farnsworth method.  All the letters, numbers, and prosigns learned slowly.  Well, the characters themselves at a high WPM, but big gaps reducing it to an effective speed of slow.  After a few glacial qsos, I went back and used LCWO to get my speed up quickly.  But I knew all the characters, and learn higher speeds quickly.  The Koch method gets you out of the gate at a very high speed, but it takes a while to get to that gate.  Both ways will work, it is just what works best for the learner.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WB2WIK on June 14, 2014, 06:20:08 PM
Instead of practicing, why not just get on the air... a lot. 

Ditto.

My nephew Rob (was KD6EWT as a Novice, now N8YM) knew barely enough code to pass his Novice back in the 80s (at age 10).  I pushed him to "just do it," and get on the air with my station, and six weeks later he was fluent at abou 30 wpm...after about 500 contacts.

There is NOTHING like simply "using it."  And there's no cash prize for "solid copy," unless you're involved in a lifesaving emergency (which would be awfully rare on ham radio), "copy" matters very little.  If u gt abt haf cpy thts mor thn enuf.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N6PG on June 16, 2014, 12:51:39 AM
Martin,
Still practicing?   Where are you at now?

Just got back from a 2.5-week vacation in Europe. Haven't done any code practice for more than three weeks; not good!

I will be getting back into it in the next few days and it will be interesting to see how much I have "lost" in terms of skills. My wild guess is that I've dropped back, but hopefully not too far.

Stay tuned.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Everybody will find what works best for them, but I have enjoyed getting back on CW after being absent since I was 15 (30 years ago).  I have little free time, but I've enjoyed throwing out a wire and getting on the air with my KX3.  I spent a lot of time on my iPhone app before, and I found I was at 20 wpm on the app, but in a real QSO, my speed went WAY down. And then there was sending! For me, I should have gotten on the air sooner.  A QSO a day would have been a lot more effective.... And fun.

I brought the KX3 to Europe, and after everyone is in bed I throw a wire out he window and I'm up on 40 meters. It's been great practice and a lot of fun.
73,
Scott N6PG


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on June 16, 2014, 08:27:36 AM
Instead of practicing, why not just get on the air...

WA7PRG, N6PG, WB2WIK, et al.:

You are right, of course. I need to get on the air.

Time is the constraint. Doing the odd 10 minutes of "taped" code practice from time to time is one thing. Finishing my station setup (because of my eccentric insistence on homebrewing everything) is another. Looks like it will happen this summer though. In real life, need to to get "ahead" of that large pile of work on my desk first.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on June 16, 2014, 09:24:51 AM
WSY:  Martin, homebrewing is MY thing with ham radio.  Most of the time the homebrewing or modifying......call it bench work, interferes with on the air activities.  I really don't concern myself about this because as I said, "homebrewing is my thing."

If you have only 10 minutes a day to dedicate to learning/practicing code, so be it.  However, I suggest you do indeed dedicate this 10 minutes, every day.

I've found that many have difficulty in learning code or increasing their speeds because of sporadic practice.  Sporadic practice simply doesn't get it unless you're a young person and have the time and patience to satisfy your goal(s).

Think: Sporadic and Impatience = Failure.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on June 17, 2014, 03:49:46 AM
AXW: Al, you are totally correct to tax me with being "sporadic" and unfortunately, "that's life" at the moment. My priorities are, starting at the top: family, work, ..... ham radio. At the moment, and for much of the 2.5 years since I've been licensed, the first two items on the list have taken up most of my time.

Impatience: nope, that's not me!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KA5PIU on June 17, 2014, 08:27:37 AM
Hello.

When Radio Shack was selling this tiny PC board.
http://www.n4mw.com/cp373.htm
I had this guy who I knew who was a woodworker extreme.
Anyhow, I built a code oscillator like yours, fahnestock clips and all.
He got a piece of scrap wood, and drilled 8 holes, routered a cavity and had me hand sand it.
I mounted 8 thumbscrews, mounted the CPO board on the underside and an AA cell holder.
2 wires went to a speaker, 4 to a key and or paddle, 2 to a sounder, like an old telegraph set, and 2 could connect to a telegraph line.
Not only did it look much nicer, but it could work with the old boy scout one piece telegraph sets.
The reason this was important is that you will learn faster and have far more incentive if you have a buddy.
Even if this is just in another room or tent, the desire to "get it right" is much stronger with friends.
http://www.zianet.com/sparks/toy.html
So, even it it is nothing more than a bit of bent metal for a key, having 2 of them connected is the way to go!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on June 22, 2014, 08:49:30 AM
Anyhow, I built a code oscillator like yours, fahnestock clips and all.

That very same circuit is used in the two-tube crystal controlled transmitter that I will be building. The code oscillator becomes the inboard sidetone generator!

The reason this was important is that you will learn faster and have far more incentive if you have a buddy.

My remedy for that is to try to get on the air as soon as possible. The basic plan is to attempt to take a week of vacation but stay at home (no traveling) and devote the entire week to ham radio: re-building the shack, then building and erecting the antenna and building the transmitter. Might be possible sometimes in July.

Concerning the code practice: I've been doing quite a lot this weekend, much more than in recent weeks, and it's going well.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WB2WIK on June 22, 2014, 04:10:52 PM
AXW: Al, you are totally correct to tax me with being "sporadic" and unfortunately, "that's life" at the moment. My priorities are, starting at the top: family, work, ..... ham radio. At the moment, and for much of the 2.5 years since I've been licensed, the first two items on the list have taken up most of my time.

Impatience: nope, that's not me!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Martin, you must add in: Mussels and Corona Beer, as those were prevalent when we met for lunch a few months ago in L.A. ;)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on June 23, 2014, 08:13:35 AM
Martin, you must add in: Mussels and Corona Beer, as those were prevalent when we met for lunch a few months ago in L.A. ;)

Had mussel chowder (this being New England, it's "chowda") on Saturday at the beach in Maine. Also lots of CW practice over the weekend. Even got to practice "head copy" during the drive back to Boston this morning -- XYL was driving and I was listening to random real-word groups at 20wpm. Interesting how the "head copy" seems to "latch in" and "latch out" or at least that's what I'm finding at my novice stage: I catch several words in a row, and then "fall off the bus." Am getting some inspiration from the separate "head copy" thread.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on June 29, 2014, 02:16:17 PM
I'm scoring between 85 percent and 87 percent on the 29-character drills.

While the Koch method specifies that you should not add a new character unless you are scoring 90 percent on the already learned characters, I have decided to make an exception this time.

That's because I've been "stuck" on the 29-character level since March 7, three and a half months ago! While there were some periods when I cut back on Morse practice to only about 10 minutes per day (and a three-week vacation during which I did no Morse at all), for the past 9 days I've been doing at least half an hour per day and I'm still stuck at that 85-to-87-percent level.

I have decided that I would prefer to learn all the characters (40 altogether) at the 85 percent level, rather than never completing my Morse campaign, which began ... last November!!!

The 29 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, 9, Z, H and 3.

Today I am adding the 30th character which is "8" or dah-dah-dah-di-dit.

I am still using these settings: Actual Character Speed 20wpm, Effective Code Speed 17wpm (Farnsworth spacing).

Apart from the listening drills, I am supplementing the learning with monitoring actual QSOs on the air, and doing some sending practice with my code oscillator.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on June 29, 2014, 08:40:43 PM
Glad to see you picked things back up.  I've recently picked it back up myself.  Went to an ARRL Field Day and watched a ham make contacts with a paddle.  It was exciting the way they had it set up.  Multiple radios and antennas.  While the cw op did his thing, i had a headphone where i could hear wherever he tuned.  So, that was exciting.  When he jotted things down on paper, I logged the contacts.  That was the first time i saw a cw op operate in person. 



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on July 06, 2014, 03:47:10 AM
Over the past couple of days, I've been scoring between 87 percent and 89 percent accuracy on the 30-character drills. In keeping with my recent philosophy that this score is "good enough," I am pushing ahead with a new character instead of insisting on a 90 percent score.

The 30 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, 9, Z, H, 3 and 8.

Today I am adding the 31st character which is "B" or dah-di-di-dit.

That was the first time i saw a cw op operate in person. 

Talking of watching a CW operator. A couple of days ago I was listening to a ham station and looked him up on QRZ. On his QRZ page he actually has a live webcam. So I got to watch him sending, and I could hear the code here on my radio! This is rather cool but it was spoiled by a couple of things: (1) I realized that much of what he was sending was done with a memory keyer; not just the CQs, but also a boilerplate about his station. I'm sure this is quite common but I was hoping to watch more of the hand keying! (2) It was very early in the morning and he was scratching himself and generally looking much like we tend to look in the small hours! Apparently he's had the webcam for so long that he's more or less forgotten it's there ... it's quite a courageous thing to have a webcam.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on July 06, 2014, 06:40:43 AM
Quote
. it's quite a courageous thing to have a webcam.

It's also a great way to keep your wife out of the shack!!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N3PDT on July 06, 2014, 08:45:17 AM
Sheesh, just get on the air already.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on July 06, 2014, 09:45:50 AM
Sheesh, just get on the air already.

I'm working on it. All in its own good time.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on July 06, 2014, 02:49:30 PM
Sheesh, just get on the air already.

One of Koch's downsides; until you get to the end of the course you don't know enouugh characters to get on the air...


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on July 06, 2014, 03:49:10 PM
One of Koch's downsides; until you get to the end of the course you don't know enouugh characters to get on the air...

Exactly. I am now 77 percent of the way through the Koch course (31 characters out of 40) so the end is in sight.

I could go on the air now (and "skip" the characters I don't yet know) but why not wait until the course is completed. I'm nearly there.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on July 07, 2014, 10:13:45 AM
The final stages of Getting On The Air are under way.

Today I began building ""A Simple Two-Tube Transmitter" from "How to Become a Radio Amateur," 1968 edition.

This project is being documented in the Homebrew forum here on eham. You can go directly to it by clicking here: http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,97719.0.html (http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,97719.0.html).

The receiver will be the "Three-Transistor Receiver for the Beginner," which I built last year.

I've only got another nine Morse characters to learn and I think that will be completed at around the same time that the transmitter and antenna are finished, within the next month or two at most.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on July 07, 2014, 12:06:44 PM
I've been scoring an average of about 87 percent accuracy on the 31-character drills. Good enough to add a new character.

The 31 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, 9, Z, H, 3, 8 and B.

Today I am adding the 32nd character which is "?" or di-di-dah-dah-di-dit.

This character, the "question mark," should be easy because I hear it all the time on the air, when someone is asking for a retransmission of a callsign or whatever!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on July 07, 2014, 01:58:14 PM
I've been scoring an average of about 87 percent accuracy on the 31-character drills. Good enough to add a new character.

The 31 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, 9, Z, H, 3, 8 and B.

Today I am adding the 32nd character which is "?" or di-di-dah-dah-di-dit.

This character, the "question mark," should be easy because I hear it all the time on the air, when someone is asking for a retransmission of a callsign or whatever!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


You must be very tenacious. I just used the trainer to learn the letter sounds ( i may have got to 60% for the whole set), then moved on to text copy. I found the random letters on the trainer to a very tedious way to hone my skills. Listening to WIAW and QSO messages was a much more fun and rewarding for me.
The "real word" senders rarely send perfect code like a trainer or W1AW, so it's good to get a feel for that as well.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N3PDT on July 08, 2014, 12:30:09 PM

 ...but why not wait until the course is completed. I'm nearly there.


Because you'll lean it a lot faster actually using it.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on July 20, 2014, 03:08:05 AM

 ...but why not wait until the course is completed. I'm nearly there.


Because you'll lean it a lot faster actually using it.

I have been monitoring quite a lot of QSOs on the air, but I can't copy characters that I don't even know yet. The best I can do is just skip over them and concentrate on the ones that I've already learned. That is a (major) drawback with the Koch method: it's basically "all or nothing." Anyway, not long to go now. Only a handful of characters remaining to learn, and the transmitter building project is nearly finished.

I'm scoring about 86 percent on the 32-character drills. Good enough to add a new character.

The 32 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, 9, Z, H, 3, 8, B and ?.

Today I am adding the 33rd character which is "4" or di-di-di-di-dah.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0WV on July 20, 2014, 09:12:21 AM
Keep track Martin,

In any case you can use the program I developped for you which yields plain words with any learned set of characters.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on July 20, 2014, 04:37:36 PM
Keep track Martin,

In any case you can use the program I developped for you which yields plain words with any learned set of characters.

Indeed Wim, that program has been very helpful! Thank you again!

The transmitter is nearly finished ... only the tank circuit and sidetone monitor are still left to build.

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-YaIWHyIvDf4/U8xGPgYLR6I/AAAAAAAACuU/faCGR3QnAJI/s912/DSCF6707.JPG)

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on July 20, 2014, 05:10:00 PM
Tube QRP?
You did some nice work so far. I saw an unsoldered joint on the variable cap and on the 100 ohm resistor near the bottom of the picture. You did say there was more to do, so perhaps those were left that way intentionally? I repaired some old Heathkits where there were unsoldered joints that didn't cause problems until 20 years later- very strange.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on July 20, 2014, 05:30:42 PM
Tube QRP?
You did some nice work so far. I saw an unsoldered joint on the variable cap and on the 100 ohm resistor near the bottom of the picture. You did say there was more to do, so perhaps those were left that way intentionally? I repaired some old Heathkits where there were unsoldered joints that didn't cause problems until 20 years later- very strange.

I don't solder the joints until there is nothing left to connect to that point. So, yes, at this point many joints have been left unsoldered.

For more details on this project, there's a separate eham thread: http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,97719.0.html (http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,97719.0.html).

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on July 21, 2014, 06:35:20 AM
Martin,
Seeing the posts about your ongoing CW learning campaign, the building of your novice receiver and transmitter, I think these 3 could be combined into a nice Article for eHam.net written by you or someone willing to make an article out of them.  I am sure others would enjoy reading about it.  I know I would! 

I did not catch on to your postings in the CW and HomeBrew forums until around November 2013 when I started learning CW.  So, I have been following your progress ever since.  And I'm sure there are plenty of others too.  Gotta love this hobby.  Can't wait to hear you on the air!

I've since learned that the best way to practice CW (for me) is to actually practice by listening and writing down what I hear.  Just listening does not seem to help.  In my college days, I found it best to study by listening and writing down notes what the professor said.  The note taking helped me memorize better.  I feel the same with learning CW.  Head copy is not for me.  Interestingly, I learned that I can understand CW at 20 WPM or higher.  Yet, it is the spacing of 18 or 20 that gets me.   But real world CW does not use Farnesworth spacing.  So, I have been trying to learn at 15 WPM at normal spacing.  I'm tempted to even do 13 wpm with normal spacing just to speed my learning progress to get on the air.  I've also learned that CW is one of those use it or lose it memories - unless you practice everyday, you lose what you've learned.  Since I stopped for awhile, I had to go back to the beginning of learning K and M again.   I really do want to do Straight Key Night, so this is why I keep trying.  I hear CW on 40 meters each night, and I want to respond when I hear CQ, but I am not ready.

73 de Daniel, KK4MRN


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KM4CLJ on July 22, 2014, 09:01:20 AM
I'm one of the elder clan as well and working to recover my old speed. During my military career I was a direction finding operator and at times just filling in as a morse intercept operator. I was getting 100% copy at 22+ but this was all on teletype or typewriter at various time of my career. We had to hand copy and send 15 with a good old J-38 just for training. Can you say hand cramps from the hand copy?

I started out in ham radio back in 1965 and let my ticket expire while i was overseas. The new story was my return to ham radio almost 40 years later. I had my first QSO on 2 meters FM upon my return, but I have always been a morse operator and will forever be one. At least I'm not starting out from scratch.

73's and good luck.

Bill KM4CLJ


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on August 02, 2014, 04:05:53 AM
My Morse learning campaign has been neglected for the past two weeks. I've been devoting all of my spare time to finishing the building of my homebrew station. The rest of the time I am too exhausted for Morse practice.

This will change in the next few days because that station-building is almost finished (only the antenna remains to be built). Meanwhile I will get back to the CW-learning but I'm going to short-cut it deliberately: there are only eight characters remaining to learn. Some of them are numerals and I can skip over those (because they are easy to identify, and skip over, in monitored code). So I really just need to learn the few remaining letters. I will not try to achieve a "high score" on these: I just want to get a passing acquaintance with them so that they don't trip me up when I get on the air, which should happen in the next few weeks.

For those who haven't seen my station description (in the "homebrewing" forum), here are a couple of photos.

This is the cover of "How to Become a Radio Amateur" (1968):

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-On-B-x9yPo4/U9g7S0ak2fI/AAAAAAAADTQ/MiNTGrzFqfI/s713/How%2520to%2520Become%25201968.jpg?gl=US)

This is my station (I deliberately made the photo black-and-white to give a vintage feel):

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-FeR5eSEHSWE/U9g7TYruuBI/AAAAAAAADUE/qoT_98iEicA/s1024/My_Station_KB1WSY.JPG?gl=US)

I look forward to rag-chewing with y'all ... on the air and in CW!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on August 02, 2014, 09:56:56 AM
You made an almost exact replica of the QST cover, complete with antique headphones, clock and the books?   :o
May I ask why?
The build looks great, by the way.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on August 02, 2014, 10:00:25 AM
You made an almost exact replica of the QST cover, complete with antique headphones, clock and the books?   :o
May I ask why?
The build looks great, by the way.

Because I'm strange ::).

Thanks for the compliment.

It's the station I wanted to build in 1969 when my parents gave me the book when we were living in America, but we moved back to Europe and there was a lower-age limit of 14 years old to be licensed in the UK. By the time I reached that age, I had lost interest in ham radio and I never built the station.

Concerning the headphones. The receiver will only work with high-impedance headphones, which are no longer widely available. Thus it was actually logical to use the "antique" 'phones (although, I could have used an output transformer and connected modern 'phones....). The other period details simply prove that I'm outstandingly eccentric (I'm British, so it comes with the territory).

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on August 19, 2014, 02:18:21 AM
It's been a bad month for Morse-learning, with heavy work and family commitments. I have devoted a fair amount of time to Morse, but exhaustion is contributing to "bad" recognition scores. (I haven't bothered to calculate the rate, but it's much lower than 90 percent.) I have spent more time than usual doing *sending* practice, and monitoring QSOs on the air, which is fun.

Despite the "bad" scores, in the spirit of "forging ahead" I am adding a new character today.

The 33 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, 9, Z, H, 3, 8, B, ? and 4.

Today I am adding the 34th character which is "2" or di-di-dah-dah-dah.

One possible factor in the "bad" scores is that I recently switched the software to "favor recently learned characters." This is useful when you are approaching the end of the Koch course because otherwise, the new characters tend to get "drowned" within the large number of already learned characters. But it also tends, initially, to lower your score because a large percentage of the characters you hear in your headphones are new, less familiar ones.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on August 27, 2014, 12:28:57 PM
I would like to make a general observation about "writing it down" vs. "head copy."

Often I hear the argument, "But I just can't write fast enough to copy at 20wpm or 25wpm with pencil and paper."

So just for the heck of it, I just sat down with a stopwatch and wrote a stock phrase down on a piece of paper, in capital letters. (NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN TO COME TO THE AID OF THE PARTY.)

Without even pushing myself, I discovered that I was writing at 28wpm (and it would have been much faster in longhand, of course).

The problem, in my opinion, has nothing to do with "not being able to write fast enough," at least not below about 30wpm. I believe that the problem is entirely with the speed of the mental "Morse copying" process.

If you can get to the point where, upon hearing the Morse character, it comes out of your pencil automatically and without effort, it is my opinion that copying with pencil and paper should be not only possible, but relatively easy and non-stressful, at speeds of up to 25wpm. Beyond that, you'd probably either need to develop a form of written shorthand, or use a "mill" (old-fashioned typewriter or modern keyboard) if you want a paper record of what you're copying.

In my case, what happens is that even at 20wpm I can copy whole strings of characters relatively easily, and then suddenly I hit one or two characters that I still haven't completely "internalized" in my brain. At that point, copying falters and if I'm not careful, I lose an entire word before getting back into the saddle.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on August 27, 2014, 06:23:54 PM
Without even pushing myself, I discovered that I was writing at 28wpm (and it would have been much faster in longhand, of course).

I guess folks differ quite a bit there... I did something similar (using "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog") and discovered that if I wasn't writing longhand then I could manage 22wpm at best, and after a couple of minutes at that speed I'll be feeling writer's cramp. My comfortable copy-taking (character by character) speed is definitely somewhat slower than that, especially if it's sustained for five minutes or more. Anything faster has to be taken longhand (whole words at a time). I suppose, longhand, I might manage 30wpm for a short while.

At that point, copying falters

Non-words (especially callsigns, but some punctuation and numbers too) do that to me.

Tomorrow's my first chance in three weeks to catch GB2CW. I wonder how far back I've fallen...

73, Rick M0LEP


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on August 28, 2014, 12:37:53 AM
Without even pushing myself, I discovered that I was writing at 28wpm (and it would have been much faster in longhand, of course).

I guess folks differ quite a bit there... I did something similar (using "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog") and discovered that if I wasn't writing longhand then I could manage 22wpm at best, and after a couple of minutes at that speed I'll be feeling writer's cramp.

Makes sense that folks would differ on this. In a former life, I worked as an international journalist for nearly 15 years and often had to take written notes "on the fly" and sometimes for long periods of time (a long press conference or interview), including verbatim quotes that would be reproduced in the articles I wrote later. So I've had a lot of practice.

I also find that ergonomics make a big difference. Several things make it easier for me:
--Sitting relatively low down and close to the table (for hand-writing). For typing, the opposite is true: it's best to be perched reasonably high above the keyboard.
--Writing as small as possible.
--Using efficient strokes of the pencil: there is a "Signal Corps" method of writing that is taught in old ARRL books; I don't follow it 100 percent but it's a good place to start.
--Using a recently sharpened pencil, not a ballpoint or other pen.
--Making sure that the headphone cable is tucked out of the way.
--Total lack of distractions such as extraneous noise, or people walking around in the vicinity. Until recently, I did all of my code practice in the living room, in front of a PC. Recently I moved it to the shack, violating my "all-analogue shack" rule by putting an old laptop on the station desk for use during code practice. I can shut the door and be in a totally peaceful environment.

Having said that, I still find there are huge variations in performance from one day to the next. Copy success is closely connected with (a) how much sleep I've had and (b) general mood and stress level. For instance, the past month has been high-stress (in a good way, getting some important "life and family" things done). Now that the stress is largely over, Morse performance has improved noticeably; plus, I've got back to doing at least 30 minutes of code practice (copying and sending) per day.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on August 28, 2014, 02:50:38 AM
I've got back to doing at least 30 minutes of code practice (copying and sending) per day.

Last three weeks have been busy, and I've hardly had 30 minutes a week to practice. It sure showed in this morning's GB2CW session. I made mistakes everywhere. Only 90% correct at 5 wpm, 91% at 8 wpm, 68% at 12wpm, and 98% on digits. I usually manage 100% at 5 and 8 wpm. Last time I caught this GB2CW session (3 weeks ago) I got 83% at 12 wpm, and thought that was a bit low... :/

73, Rick M0LEP


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on August 28, 2014, 08:50:09 AM
why bother with 5wpm? That's almost painful to listen to. I think i have heard 5 wpm once or twice on the air. Some beacons are that slow, but that's about it.

I'm sitting here listening to CW by the seat of my pants ( no computer,skimmer or pencil/paper) trying to improve my "head copy".
It works too. The brain is wired to learn language and patterns. I know how well I'm doing by how much of the QSO I understand. I'm not ready to ditch the paper yet, but I am improving steadily with every session.

Bottom line: just do it. If the other station understands you and you understand him, that's all that matters...right?


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0WV on August 28, 2014, 09:28:21 AM
I would like to make a general observation about "writing it down" vs. "head copy."

Often I hear the argument, "But I just can't write fast enough to copy at 20wpm or 25wpm with pencil and paper."

So just for the heck of it, I just sat down with a stopwatch and wrote a stock phrase down on a piece of paper, in capital letters. (NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN TO COME TO THE AID OF THE PARTY.)


Oeeaaahh, the ex US military, present here with a bunch of color coded resistors on their breast, even on their pyamas , learned a kind of capitals, drilled to write in one single way. May be  a method for reading encrypted messages of importance, and when over 17 wpm (QRQ hi) they used a mill. You can't write that way real fast.

For writing fast you have to use long hand, easy gliding pen (fountain pen, buy one from Begali for 860 bucks ex fees, because the same easy  writing one from Pelikan for 5 bucks has no status, and hence does not emphasize your important position in society, which you demonstrate  by the possibility to demonstrate that you can easily afford yourself a gold plated instance of a limited and numbered series with the personal signature of the seller, engraved by laser. )

It are the guys, dropped out of high school,  that signed a contract for a fee, and after that had to learn the code or, if failing,  clean for 10 years greasy staircases in Anchorage.   Without that presssure they should never have learned the Code anyway, I estimate. Lucky the pressure was there and heavy enough, because there were no greasy staircases enough in Anchorahe to honor the treatment.

When you write your test sentence, cited above, in capitals or long hand, it contains 524 dits ( a dash is 3 dits a wordspace 7 dits and so on.

A PARIS word is 50 dits,  so the sentence is 524/50 words PARIS standard.

When you write that sentence according to the indication of your stopwatch in t second
then you write 524/(50*t) words per second OR 60*524/(50*t) words per minute.

That is 629/t words per minute.

Martin is right. Try is out and you know your real writing speed.  

PA0WV


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on August 28, 2014, 10:09:00 AM
(NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN TO COME TO THE AID OF THE PARTY.)
When you write that sentence according to the indication of your stopwatch in t second
then you write 524/(50*t) words per second OR 60*524/(50*t) words per minute.

That is 629/t words per minute.

I used a cruder measure. I counted the characters in that sentence (including the spaces, as one character) and divided by five, which yielded almost exactly 13 words. I found that I could write that sentence twice in one minute, plus a couple more words, thus yielding 28wpm. (Less accurate than the PARIS standard of course.)

At that point, copying falters

Non-words (especially callsigns, but some punctuation and numbers too) do that to me.

One of the advantages of the Koch method is that, because all of the drills are random nonsense character groups, it doesn't make much difference when you reach numbers or call signs. There are plenty of *dis*-advantages of the Koch method too, principally that you really have to do the whole course before you can copy real QSOs fully.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WB2WIK on August 28, 2014, 10:34:35 AM
I tried the test and I stink at writing fast.

About 22-23 wpm and after three minutes my hand cramped so badly I had to stop.

I can type well over 100 wpm and have been doing that for so many years that I very rarely "scribe" anything on paper.  I think I could probably write 25-30 wpm for 30 minutes when I was in high school, but that was a really long time ago. :P

When working CW the only notes I take are the other op's name and location, callsign, date and time of contact, and possibly a few brief notes if he sends something interesting.  Might be 30-40 characters of writing, total, and I don't do any of that while it's being sent...I do it when I feel like it.  I don't "directly copy" anything to paper.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on August 28, 2014, 05:50:39 PM
why bother with 5wpm? That's almost painful to listen to. I think i have heard 5 wpm once or twice on the air. Some beacons are that slow, but that's about it.

1) The text for faster speeds follows on from the slow text.
2) It's Farnsworth-spaced, I'd guess with about 12 wpm characters.
3) It's a useful warm-up for the faster speeds later in the session...

That is 629/t words per minute.

If I was actually sending the text in Morse then I'd agree with you, but I'm using it only to determine how quickly I can write, so no Morse is involved. I did adjust the way I reported my writing speed for five-character words, but that's all.

There are plenty of *dis*-advantages of the Koch method too, principally that you really have to do the whole course before you can copy real QSOs fully.

The breaker (for me) was the way it seemed to take longer and longer to learn new characters as lessons progressed. I abandoned Koch after more than two years of trying because in that time I'd managed to get only as far as about lesson 16, and extrapolation of my progress curve suggested I might get through the course in a decade, if I was lucky. Silly thing is I'd pretty much figured I had a problem with Koch within the first few months. I should have changed course then...


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on August 29, 2014, 01:28:27 AM
There are plenty of *dis*-advantages of the Koch method too, principally that you really have to do the whole course before you can copy real QSOs fully.

The breaker (for me) was the way it seemed to take longer and longer to learn new characters as lessons progressed. I abandoned Koch after more than two years of trying because in that time I'd managed to get only as far as about lesson 16, and extrapolation of my progress curve suggested I might get through the course in a decade, if I was lucky. Silly thing is I'd pretty much figured I had a problem with Koch within the first few months. I should have changed course then...

I hit a brick wall with the Koch method at around the 30th character (out of 40) -- this is documented in the current thread if you go back to the December 2013/January 2014 posts. It was similar to the problem you describe: each new character became harder than the previous one. The frightening part was that not only were the new characters harder, but *old* previously learned characters became harder to copy too, and in an unpredictable manner.

At the time, I decided I'd been going too fast. I was about two months into the Koch course. I actually regressed to a smaller number of characters, slowed down, consolidated what I had learned so far, and eventually pushed forward.

Having said that, it's now more than six months later and I've still got six characters remaining to learn. They don't get any easier! With the default character-learning order in G4FON software, you get this barrage of numerals right at the end of the course. I find the numerals quite hard because it's awfully difficult to avoid "counting the dits and dahs" and if you fall into that trap, you'll miss the following few characters.

However, I am having quite a lot of fun monitoring QSOs on the air now. If you're only missing six characters, you can monitor large parts of the contacts, as long as you train yourself not to worry about the still-unlearned characters (some of them are obvious; I haven't learned "X" yet, but "CQ DX" is obvious even if you haven't learned the letter yet). For that matter, even the letter "D" is as-yet not "learned" but I assimilated that one ages ago because of the "DE" that's in almost every contact. In fact, looking at the only characters I haven't "learned" yet (7, D, 1, C, 6, X) I basically "know" them already, they just need a bit of drilling.

I do find that I am very bad at monitoring ops whose fist is "interesting"! Relatively few ops sound like the mechanical sending that comes out of software programs. I manage OK with mildly irregular sending, except for the ops who really run the characters together. (I am also handicapped by having learned with Farnsworth spacing; my software is still set to 20wpm character speed with 17wpm spacing.)

BTW I am totally hopeless at monitoring slow sending (anything below about 12wpm). To my ear it just doesn't sound like Morse at all, but I'll have to get used to it. Heck, when I get on the air next month I may want to start really slowly myself!

When I am finally "finished" with Koch (sometime next month I hope) I will post a summary of my thoughts about his method. It will be great fun to use, finally, the Koch-learned Morse skills on the air; and to start learning how to operate CW which of course is a whole skill unto itself.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on August 29, 2014, 02:27:16 AM
I hit a brick wall with the Koch method at around the 30th character (out of 40) -- this is documented in the current thread if you go back to the December 2013/January 2014 posts.

Yes, I remember thinking at the time that you'd got at least three times further through before you hit that...

The frightening part was that not only were the new characters harder, but *old* previously learned characters became harder to copy too, and in an unpredictable manner.

Yes, at times it was like all the characters were new. Eventually I decided that, if I was going to have to learn N new characters every time I might as well dump the Koch progression and learn them all in one go.

BTW I am totally hopeless at monitoring slow sending (anything below about 12wpm). To my ear it just doesn't sound like Morse at all, but I'll have to get used to it. Heck, when I get on the air next month I may want to start really slowly myself!

Most of the "slow" code I hear is actually Farnsworth-spaced, and doesn't give me any trouble so long as it doesn't go on for too long...

73, Rick M0LEP


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: W2RI on August 29, 2014, 08:38:36 AM
For writing fast you have to use long hand, easy gliding pen (fountain pen, buy one from Begali for 860 bucks ex fees, because the same easy  writing one from Pelikan for 5 bucks has no status, and hence does not emphasize your important position in society, which you demonstrate  by the possibility to demonstrate that you can easily afford yourself a gold plated instance of a limited and numbered series with the personal signature of the seller, engraved by laser. )

Thanks - gave me a good laugh this morning  ;)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on August 29, 2014, 09:02:07 AM
WV isn't familiar with the British intercept operators!  They never used a mill and all of their copy was box letters/numbers at speeds up to 35wpm with a pencil and they did it all day!




Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on August 29, 2014, 10:41:22 AM
... the British intercept operators!  They never used a mill and all of their copy was box letters/numbers at speeds up to 35wpm with a pencil and they did it all day!

Great point. Also, the majority of these women (most of them were women IIRC) probably never touched a transmitter in their lives. This is evidence against the idea that to copy code well, you have to "operate."

Furthermore everything they copied was "nonsense" five-letter groups, and they were seldom told whether what they were copying was being successfully decoded or how important it was.

I think the Bletchley Park Museum people sometimes organize re-creations of this. I wonder whether they actually transmitted Enigma code groups on the air as part of this?

Bletchley Park website: http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/ (http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/).


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0WV on August 29, 2014, 11:02:23 AM
Good point WSY,

As a matter of fact those intercept operators were keeping busy 24/7 with Morse code produced by UA  random code generators. Were lot of vacuum tubes involved at that time . That's for sure.  It were the first vacuum tube maximum length 32 bits shift register sequences.

However doesn't matter, the US copiers in 24/7 shift are honored with a bunch of color coded resistors on their breast, so everybody is lucky, the machine generated code fakers and the receivers,

People are better off when they respect each other and live in peace, Seems to be impossible, we as human beings are evolutionary  to close related to colonies of apes.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on August 29, 2014, 01:28:24 PM
One of the regulars at one of the radio clubs I attend spent his National Service (back in the 50s) taking down Chinese Morse code groups. He's one of those folk who can be taking down Morse while having a chat about something completely different...


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on August 29, 2014, 01:37:29 PM
So, back to the thread subject: my monomaniacal quest for Morse Code proficiency.

Today I turned off Farnsworth spacing. So my setting is: 20wpm, transmitted with no extra spacing.

I also added a new character, which is the numeral "7." There are now only five characters left to learn, after that one: D, 1, C, 6, and X (and I already pretty much "know" D, 1 and C, because they are so common in the U.S. CQ transmissions I've been monitoring on the air).

Initially, the non-Farnsworth drills just sounded like a blizzard in the ears, but within minutes I was copying a fair amount. A few months ago I tried doing the same thing, but quickly retreated back to the Farnsworth safety blanket. This time I will try to stick with "normal" spacing. Let's see if it lasts.

(I am also altering my sending to eliminate the extra spacing.)

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WB2WIK on August 29, 2014, 07:09:49 PM
When the code was first invented, the "international code" which is slightly different from Morse but quite similar, was often learned in toto by would-be telegraphers standing in line for jobs.  They'd get in line at 6 AM, and the "test" would be at 8 AM, and in that two hours, they learned it enough to get a job, which was an "office job" better than bailing hay or shoveling manure.

I have no clue why folks today, 150 years later, have such a problem with it. :D

Seriously.  It's not a science, it's a simple language that only has about 45 words.  I never learned Chinese or Swahili, but I think if I moved where those are spoken, I'd learn 45 words in a few days.  Either that, or maybe starve if I couldn't order food. :P


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0WV on August 30, 2014, 04:41:23 AM

Seriously.  It's not a science, it's a simple language that only has about 45 words.  I never learned Chinese or Swahili, but I think if I moved where those are spoken, I'd learn 45 words in a few days.  Either that, or maybe starve if I couldn't order food. :P

It is not a language but an alphabet. You can't speak a language by learning an alphabet. Afterall you should not have to learn anything when you use the Latin alphabet just as I do, in order to converse with me.  That we, you and I, are able to converse is not your performance but solely mine.

When it should be so easy to learn the code as you suggest, what were all those freshmen military guys, trying to escape the task of cleaning  greasy staircases in Anchorage, then doing full time for at least three month?  

The time involved in learning the code is age dependent. Ham radio is an "old mans" hobby, just buying a radio, not able to deviate the default menu, buying an wire antenna in see-through package and there you go, proud to be not a CB ham because you did an "FCC-test". with questions like:

There is an ape in the tree; The ape scratches his head, and hence falls out of the tree.
A. He is falling to the left
B he is  falling to the right
C he is falling  upwards
D he is falling downwards.







Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on August 30, 2014, 04:47:09 AM
I have no clue why folks today, 150 years later, have such a problem with it. :D

I don't see it as "such a problem." Admittedly it's been laborious, but not terribly "problematic." The main thing is getting it done, regardless of distractions.

I have no idea why it was easy in the past and, supposedly, hard now (or even if either of those assertions are true). We've gone over this issue so many times now, but in a nutshell: at least in my case, it's been difficult to set aside the consistent daily practice time that seems to be required for my middle-aged brain to take in this stuff. It's not "hard" at all, once I get down to it, but I don't seem to be able to get anywhere without extremely consistent daily effort.

For some people the issue may be motivation. With all the distractions of modern life, it can be hard to devote effort to a single-minded, esoteric pursuit such as learning Morse (which, nowadays, has no use whatsoever as a practical skill and is being kept alive almost entirely by ham radio operators).

I don't totally "buy" your generalization that it's "easy" to do, but I don't think it's particularly hard either. A lot easier than learning a foreign language: at the advanced age of 31, I took a one-year sabbatical to study Arabic in Cairo, and that was a thousand times harder than learning a simple sound alphabet such as Morse!

Let's put it another way Steve. When I was about 14, I took a typing class at school. I was the only boy in the class, BTW. I think it must have been a total of about 6 hours of class time, by which time I was touch-typing effortlessly at about 30wpm -- and with daily typewriter usage (and a later career as a journalist) I later reached speeds of 80wpm+ without even breaking a sweat.

Now let's suppose that I had never taken that course and was still, at 57 years old, a "2-finger typist." How likely is it that I could "become" a touch typist after 6 hours of course time? My answer is: not terribly likely, even if I could find 6 "free" hours to attend the course! For me the "problem" with Morse is a combination of being rather older, having a lot less "free" time, and being always on the edge of exhaustion because of work and family commitments. It probably has almost nothing to do with the nature of Morse code itself. :)

73 de Martin, KB1WSY




Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K7MEM on August 30, 2014, 05:51:43 AM
I will just give my opinion on a couple of topics being discussed here.

IMHO, copying Morse code at 20-25 WPM, and writing it all down, is not that difficult. When I was in my upgrade mode, the Morse code tests were still part of the licensing tests. For the 13 WPM test, I worked my code speed up to about 15 WPM. The extra speed helped overcome the stress of the test taking. But I also knew how the Morse test was structured. It was a simulated QSO and you only needed to copy the important information, like call sign, name, QTH, etc. So you knew when important pieces of information were coming and you paid closer attention.

I used a very simple study method. I made a group of audio files using a utility named Morse Academy. I had 10 files for each speed, 5 through 25. I found where my current copy speed was (~10 WPM) and started there. As soon as I was copying 90%, I would bump the speed up by 2 WPM. At the time I used a cassette player, for portability, but now a MP3 player would be better to use. All of the tests used the standard character timing for dots, dashes, and spacing.

In 30 days I was copying the 15 WPM samples at better than 90% and took the General test. I then kept going, in the same manner, up to 25 WPM. That took a bit longer to do, but it did work. I just increased the testing speed, by 2 WPM, every time I got comfortable with the speed. In the end, the extra speed helped calm the jitters, so I wasn't struck dumb during the test. And that did happen to many a test subject.

But I also found that, while it wasn't necessary, copying everything down was possible, right up to 25 WPM. And it was easy and comfortable. Plus, I only write in simple block lettering. If I used cursive, I wouldn't have been able to read it later. At the time, you could pass the test by 100% copy, or by answering 10 questions. I passed both ways and walked out an Extra.

Many years prior to the upgrading, and all during the studying, I was on the air. It didn't help in increasing my speed, but it was fun to do, and gave me confidence that I could copy and understand others on the air. And, it didn't interfere with my studying for Morse code test.

I also agree with PA0WV, on the fact that Morse is not a language. It is just an alphabetic representation of your own language. The words are just coming at slower speed, and in a manner that you are not use to. So it is sometimes difficult to put together. I have no aptitude for other languages (unlike my XYL who can understand/speak almost any language). Even English, my native language, is difficult for me sometimes.

There is no real requirement to be able to copy each and every letter/symbol perfectly. I still have trouble sometimes with numbers. So sometimes you just have stop making excuses and Git-R-Done.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on August 31, 2014, 05:55:52 AM
So, after couple of days without the Farnsworth spacing, I'm encouraged.

Although the copy rate is considerably lower than the pre-Farnsworth scores, I feel like it's a much more natural rhythm and I am much less likely to try to "count the dits and dahs." If I don't immediately copy a particular character, there isn't time to think about it, I just move on.

Ironically this seem to be helping with the more recently learned characters, which include several numerals. The fact that I'm not writing them down immediately ("skipping" them) is not so important as hearing them over and over again and eventually assimilating them.

At 20wpm and without extra spacing, it has however become even more important to try to achieve that sort of "zen" calm where you're not really thinking about anything much, just listening to the code and letting the letters flow out of your fingers. The closer I get to that state, the higher the copy rate, and the more fun I have.

Admittedly I've also, because of more favorable work and family conditions, been able to spend more time, and better-quality time, doing Morse drills. For the past week it's come close to about half an hour per day: about five minutes per hour, starting in the late morning and ending in the late afternoon. It's mostly copying, plus maybe 5 minutes of sending practice. Then, in the evening, I try to monitor 40m CW for 20 minutes or so.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on August 31, 2014, 06:47:59 AM
Martin:  You're proving what I've been saying for years on this CW forum!  Just learn the code and forget Farnsworth and all of the other gimmick methods of learning code.

What I have been trying to point out is that "after you learn the code with a gimmick, then you'll have to unlearn the gimmick which in effect is requiring more time to be able to copy "on the air" code"!

It's always difficult to unlearn a bad habit.  However, with a fast moving process like listening to code, the confusion induced by this "unlearning" really becomes a problem.

I'm happy to hear that you've managed to improve your copy time. 
That will do more for you than anything else.



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N4OI on August 31, 2014, 08:13:14 AM

Seriously.  It's not a science, it's a simple language that only has about 45 words.  I never learned Chinese or Swahili, but I think if I moved where those are spoken, I'd learn 45 words in a few days.  Either that, or maybe starve if I couldn't order food. :P

It is not a language but an alphabet. [...]

Perhaps it is both.  Here is the "typical QSO:"

"______ de WB8FSV TNX FER CALL BT MY NAME IS JACK JACK BT QTH IS HILLIARD, OH HILLIARD, OH BT UR RST IS ___ BT HW COPY?"
And perhaps on your second transmission:

"______ de WB8FSV TNX ______(name) FOR NICE REPORT BT MY RIG IS A KNWD TS 450 ANT IS A DIPOLE BT WX IS ________ TEMP IS ___ BT HW COPY?"

Note that even when using English characters and not their corresponding morse code sounds, the language can appear to be foreign.  Perhaps that is why we can enjoy basic communications with those around the world, regardless of their native tongues. 

73   ;D


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0WV on August 31, 2014, 09:39:58 AM
N4OI

you are right,

That are the rubber stamp QSO's, learned by heart at Morse Academy, they proceed nice till  the moment that  at the same speed a question in the native language of the QSO partner is asked. That is the way to influence nature, because then suddenly 5nn changes in  hvy QSB QRM QRN tks QSO cuagn 73 es SK


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on August 31, 2014, 10:42:11 AM
N4OI

you are right,

That are the rubber stamp QSO's, learned by heart at Morse Academy, they proceed nice till  the moment that  at the same speed a question in the native language of the QSO partner is asked. That is the way to influence nature, because then suddenly 5nn changes in  hvy QSB QRM QRN tks QSO cuagn 73 es SK

I have had much more abrupt breaks than the above when asking a question. Often I'll get the standard "73 TU DE_________SK
as if I didn't ask a question!
However, if the other Ham doesn't understand very much English, what else can he do?


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on August 31, 2014, 11:00:40 AM
I think that the past few posts on this thread pertain to the skill of operating CW, as opposed to learning Morse code.

The boilerplate QSO abbreviations and customs aren't so much a language and more a kind of subset of English, a patois if you like. Actually, it's not even a subset of English because it contains abbreviations such as DE (French) and ES (which I suppose is Latin or Spanish, I have no idea).

If you throw in all the Q-signals, various other common pieces of shorthand, and some remnants of the Phillips Code and railroad telegraph abbreviations, you end up with an interesting and fun subculture. "Learning Morse code" doesn't even begin to encompass that stuff, but it's a necessary precondition!

In a former life, I was a wire-service journalist and we still used remnants of that stuff in our internal service messages, even though we were using teletype/computer equipment. For instance, "30" and "95" -- for newcomers, "30" means "end of message" and "95" means URGENT. We also used a lot of telegraphese, such as "UNWANT STY" (we don't need a story) or "UPSEND LEDE" (please send an update). Not to mention the classic DOWNHOLD (spend less money!). These were left over from the days when telegraph offices charged by the word!

Every service that used CW developed its own fascinating dialect!



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0WV on August 31, 2014, 11:35:30 AM
Yes OK, I got the point.

BTW 'es' is not from Spanish but it is the railroad code for the ampersand &, a non existing character in international Morse code.

And oh yes, 55 is introduced by the Germans short after WW2. They say it is meant to be 'success' (MANY POINTS in a contest) but another tale tells that it is introduced because HH (Heil Hitler) was not longer allowed to be used as greetings in a QSO.
So now the neo's have introduced 88 (YES 88) cuz H is the eighth character in a..z Kind of Caesar encryption.

Quote
AC2EU
However, if the other Ham doesn't understand very much English, what else can he do?

Yes but I wrote, that I asked a question in his NATIVE language. So the point is they are able to make a rubberstamp QSO with name and QTH sent twice, wide spaced  and slow, and that's it. Morse Academy and the 5 wpm FCC  exams promoted/ stimulated that, I suppose.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on August 31, 2014, 02:28:30 PM


Quote
AC2EU
However, if the other Ham doesn't understand very much English, what else can he do?

Yes but I wrote, that I asked a question in his NATIVE language. So the point is they are able to make a rubberstamp QSO with name and QTH sent twice, wide spaced  and slow, and that's it. Morse Academy and the 5 wpm FCC  exams promoted/ stimulated that, I suppose.
[/quote]

I never heard of Morse academy until you mentioned it.  The FCC no longer requires code at all.
If the limited responses are at 20 WPM and up, they are called "contesters"  ;D
Otherwise most of those guys can't converse in CW beyond contest responses, but they are quick to tell me that they can do 30 wpm...


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on August 31, 2014, 02:34:36 PM
Martin:  You're proving what I've been saying for years on this CW forum!  Just learn the code and forget Farnsworth and all of the other gimmick methods of learning code.

What I have been trying to point out is that "after you learn the code with a gimmick, then you'll have to unlearn the gimmick which in effect is requiring more time to be able to copy "on the air" code"!

There do seem to be a lot of "gimmick" methods of learning the code (such as the "mnemonic" tricks) but I wouldn't list Farnsworth, or the Koch method, among them.

Farnsworth spacing, for me, was really useful in the early period of learning the characters. By separating them with a greater space, they "stood out" better and could be learned faster. Yes, I should have taken off those "training wheels" rather earlier. Indeed, it will take a while to "unlearn" the bad habits of excess spacing between characters. But in my case, the tradeoff seems to have worked OK.

The Koch method isn't a gimmick, either, having successfully been used by its inventor to teach German operators and being the fruit of some psychological insights about how people learn. Of course, the fact that it's not a gimmick doesn't necessarily mean that it's the best way to learn ... there is a choice of methods available.

Fact is that nowadays many of the offered methods (which tend to be distributed via various websites) use either Koch and/or Farnsworth and thousands of hams have used them successfully. That doesn't invalidate older teaching methods; for that matter, Farnsworth has been around for more than half a century now and Koch is even older, although it only received wide attention outside Germany starting in the 1990s.

Thank you for your encouragement. Yes, in the end it comes down mainly to persistence and finding enough time.

BTW 'es' is not from Spanish but it is the railroad code for the ampersand &, a non existing character in international Morse code.

Thanks, that's interesting to know!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 02, 2014, 12:32:23 PM
As of today, I have "finished" the Koch course. There were five characters remaining to be learned, but I already "knew" four of them to some extent from my monitoring of on-air transmissions (the letters C, X, D and the numeral "1" which are all very common in North American CQ calls). The only "unfamiliar" character is the numeral "6" but I don't see the need to drill that one to death, I should be able to pick it up on the fly.

So as of today, I'm no longer using random letter/number groups for my drills, but actual QSOs. These are either monitored on the air, or produced mechanically by the G4FON software, which includes several hundred "typical QSOs."

I must say that at 20wpm and without Farnsworth spacing, this is a whole new ball game and quite hard! I am probably only copying about 50 percent of what I hear. OTOH it is a lot of fun to be copying "real words" and there's a great feeling of accomplishment from knowing all the characters have been learned. It also seems to be getting rapidly better day by day.

I am also spending a larger proportion of the drill time on sending practice because it's now possible to "practice" sending an actual transmission using real words containing any letters of the alphabet. (Doing sending practice with random groups gets "old" really fast.)

"Key-down" time for my first-ever QSO will be later this month after putting up the antenna. From a Morse point of view, I am more than ready! (Also, when I send my first CQs I will start quite a lot slower than 20wpm!)

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on September 02, 2014, 02:35:38 PM
Drum roll. please!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on September 02, 2014, 10:03:26 PM
Brain to rectum...... increase pucker-factor to 10.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 03, 2014, 02:13:51 AM
Brain to rectum...... increase pucker-factor to 10.

That's funny! Seriously though, at this point I feel like I've had so much practice that it's going to seem fairly routine. I believe that's what the astronauts did in their training: they practiced the same darn procedures over and over and over. It's called something like "insensitivity training." OTOH, it's unlikely that the organ you alluded to will be totally relaxed!

You'll be the first to hear about it. The antenna work is about to begin (I am about to meet with the landlord and his wife to discuss it), and once it's completed, it's CQ time.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 03, 2014, 05:40:09 AM
This morning, I've lowered the speed to 15wpm which is approximately the speed I'll be aiming for in my first contacts. At the slower speed, my ability to copy "boilerplate QSOs" improves a lot -- but not quite as much as you might expect.

The problem, as old-timers surely will know, is that the characters sound quite different at 15wpm compared to the 20wpm character speed I've been using for the past 10 months in the drills. For instance, at the slower speed I have a lot of trouble with the letter "P" for some reason. Diiih-daaah-daaah-diiiit just sounds completely different from dih-dah-dah-dit (what I previously perceived as a single sound unit gets broken up, therefore harder to copy).

But I think it's excellent practice, because there's no "standard speed" (let alone the wide variety of "fists" out there).

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N4OI on September 03, 2014, 05:57:28 AM
Drum roll. please!

First QSO: 5NN TU   

This thread cracks me up!

73   ;D



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on September 03, 2014, 06:12:23 AM
At the slower speed, my ability to copy "boilerplate QSOs" improves a lot -- but not quite as much as you might expect.

What? With all of this preparation I would think you could copy Tolstoy's "War and Peace" right "out of the  gate"!  :o  ;D

Quote
But I think it's excellent practice, because there's no "standard speed" (let alone the wide variety of "fists" out there).

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


This is why we were telling you that spending all that time with a training program is not all that helpful in the "real world"
You have to learn to 'interpolate" bad fists... and there are many versions of them!  :(


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 03, 2014, 06:18:45 AM
I love you guys and you've been very patient with me and my pompous chronicle of code-learning. (Alright, sometimes you've been im-patient but I provided ample provocation for that).

Yes, the Real World is approaching fast and I'm looking forward to it -- for sure, it will reveal all the flaws of "book learning" very quickly.

(I don't know about "War and Peace" but I did try some Shakespeare in Morse a month or two ago. The "To be or not to be" soliloquy was surprisingly hard even though I knew it already! ;D)

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0WV on September 03, 2014, 08:33:00 AM
KB1WSY

You  collected nearly 80000 visits on this thread.

Mostly guys that announced here they were going to learn the code, collecting a large number of encouragements and never did make that true.

That is the average visitor.

Congrats, not because you learned some nearly useless trick, but because you are one of the guys that did what they  planned to do. Welcome in the club. The club are the guys not learning the code compulsory, (greasy staircases as alternative) but at their free choice.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 03, 2014, 08:48:02 AM
Congrats, not because you learned some nearly useless trick, but because you are one of the guys that did what they  planned to do. Welcome in the club.

Wim, thank you for the kind words (and thank you for the software assistance with your "word generator"). I just looked you up on QRZ and see that you earned a certificate for solid copy at 40wpm! Bravo!

I'm not sure why there are so many "views" for this thread, except that (1) it shows that lots of people are interested in this "museum skill," and (2) if you take a very long time to do something i.e. about 10 months, you will gets lots of views just because the thread has been in existence for a long time!

By the way, one reason I started the thread was because I was worried I would start learning the code, but never "follow through." By "publicly" recording my journey through the learning process, it felt like I was "responsible" to other people to finish the process. It's not true, of course: why should it make any difference that other people are following along? But somehow it helped.

(In the same way, learning Morse in a classroom setting, or with a "buddy," must be a great help.)

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on September 03, 2014, 09:44:33 AM
if you take a very long time to do something i.e. about 10 months

I suspect that's a lot less "very long" than you think. It'd be interesting to find out how long, on average (for whatever sorts of averages you might pick), it usually takes folk who do get as far as using Morse on air (at whatever speeds) to get there. I can usually manage tolerably at about 8wpm (give or take Farnsworth spacing), with very basic QSOs including enough repetition at up to maybe 16-18wpm on a good day with a following wind, but it's taken me four years plus to get there. That's very roughly five times as long as you for something like half the working speed.

GL es 73 de Rick M0LEP


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 03, 2014, 10:20:30 AM
if you take a very long time to do something i.e. about 10 months

I suspect that's a lot less "very long" than you think. It'd be interesting to find out how long, on average (for whatever sorts of averages you might pick), it usually takes folk who do get as far as using Morse on air (at whatever speeds) to get there.

Rick: of course I'm not on the air yet so who knows what my effective speed will be. The answer will come very soon.

Yes, it is strange how wide the reported range in learning times is.

At one extreme, there is WB2WIK/Steve who tells us how he learned the code quickly and with relative ease, albeit (1) at a young age, (2) with a buddy, (3) using it on the air very early and (4) with an almost total emphasis on "head copy." I do think he is the "outlier" on the "quick learning" end of the spectrum, although he would probably passionately disagree, and say that almost anyone can do it. If you read the description of Steve's Morse-teaching techniques in "The Art and Skill" book, you'll get a thoughtful description of how it works.

At the other end of the range are people like you and me who, for whatever reasons (and the possible "reasons" have been discussed ad nauseam in this thread) take much longer to learn. The main question, of course, is whether we were doing something methodologically "wrong," or whether we were, rather, more "typical" cases.

Despite the large accretion of advice including N2EY's useful summary, and two fun books ("The Art and Skill of Radiotelegraphy," and "Zen and the Art of Radiotelegraphy"), and a century and a half of history, I'm still not convinced that there is a bedrock basic "method" or "science" to learning Morse that is demonstrably better than the others. If such a method existed, we wouldn't have this constant refrain of people asking, "How do I learn Morse?"

Perhaps the only thing we can all agree on (with the possible exception of WIK?) is that it takes a sustained effort, and strong motivation, over a certain period of time, to learn Morse to a reasonable level.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on September 03, 2014, 10:40:20 AM
it takes a sustained effort, and strong motivation, over a certain period of time, to learn Morse to a reasonable level.

Yep. I'm certain that the "certain period of time" is determined at least in part by age, and most definitely also by natural aptitude, which varies considerably from person to person.

73, Rick M0LEP


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on September 03, 2014, 12:34:02 PM
Martin,
Glad to see you following through with your campaign.  Reading your posts does motivate others including me to stick with it.  As slow as it is for me...

As for a "ham buddy", I do know various clubs like FISTS and SKCC welcome CW newbies.

Find a Code Buddy in FISTS
http://fistsna.org/operating.html#codebud (http://fistsna.org/operating.html#codebud)

Find a Morse Elmer in SKCC
http://www.skccgroup.com/member_services/morse_elmers/ (http://www.skccgroup.com/member_services/morse_elmers/)

I'm not ready yet for a ham buddy.   Yet, if there was a local ham willing to show how its done in person, I would talk to this ham.  The only time I got to see a ham do CW in person was on Field Day, but my XYL called me to come home...


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WB2WIK on September 03, 2014, 02:11:18 PM

At one extreme, there is WB2WIK/Steve who tells us how he learned the code quickly and with relative ease, albeit (1) at a young age, (2) with a buddy, (3) using it on the air very early and (4) with an almost total emphasis on "head copy." I do think he is the "outlier" on the "quick learning" end of the spectrum, although he would probably passionately disagree, and say that almost anyone can do it. If you read the description of Steve's Morse-teaching techniques in "The Art and Skill" book, you'll get a thoughtful description of how it works.

There was another trick involved, though, and it probably only applies to young people: Nobody was ever around to tell me that learning the code is difficult.  Never heard that anywhere, from anyone, and never read it anywhere either.  At the time (mid-60s) all hams anywhere in the world had to learn code to become licensed and I naturally figured it's the "easy part" of the test (with the difficult part being theory).

I think that matters, a lot.





Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 03, 2014, 02:44:27 PM
There was another trick involved, though, and it probably only applies to young people: Nobody was ever around to tell me that learning the code is difficult.

Yes. This is the final drill from ARRL's book, "Learning the Radiotelegraph Code," 1955 edition (I used to have a late-1960s edition of the same book and it was almost identical).

Note that they do warn you that the drill is "exceedingly difficult" but that didn't stop them from including it in the book anyway.

(http://tinyurl.com/ozy4wah)

By the way Steve, I'm from the Boomer generation like you, and I don't remember being told that *anything* much was "difficult"!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on September 03, 2014, 02:55:44 PM
Nobody was ever around to tell me that learning the code is difficult.

I'm pretty certain that comes down to natural aptitude. I strongly suspect you'd have had little difficulty learning Morse even if you had been told it was the most difficult thing in the world to learn because you have the natural aptitude. When I was a kid at primary school nobody ever told me languages or science were difficult. Science I was good at, lapped up, and progressed easily with (at least through school; by university it wasn't quite as easy). Languages, on the other hand, were difficult for me pretty much right from the start. There's a flip-side, too; things I was told were difficult and yet I had no trouble with, and things I was told were easy and yet struggled with nevertheless.

73, Rick M0LEP


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0WV on September 03, 2014, 03:55:05 PM
I just looked you up on QRZ and see that you earned a certificate for solid copy at 40wpm! Bravo!

The  writing speed is the main problem for my old arthrosis hand. I am really proud that I managed in 4 years the next result, by daily exercising.
(starting out with 20 wpm proficiency certificate) Is a perfect healing for progressive Altzheimer, that was the diagnosis at that time. I read an article from K7QO and so started exercises with self designed equipment and software. Doctors neurologist wondering what happened, seems to be an extraordinary  miracle for them. So Morse is a less  useless trick for really old men.

(http://pa0wv.home.xs4all.nl/vonk.jpg)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 08, 2014, 11:43:25 AM
I've spent the past few days listening to QSOs, mostly of the "sample tape" variety but also some on the air. This has been done at around 15wpm. (For variety, I throw in some 20wpm drills but they're very hard.)

So my world revolves around: name Lucy age 26 I live in kitty hawk, nc. rig Icom XZ123 ant Yagi up 17 feet WX hot es muggy yr rst 479. hw cpy?

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WB2WIK on September 08, 2014, 01:40:16 PM
I've spent the past few days listening to QSOs, mostly of the "sample tape" variety but also some on the air. This has been done at around 15wpm. (For variety, I throw in some 20wpm drills but they're very hard.)

So my world revolves around: name Lucy age 26 I live in kitty hawk, nc. rig Icom XZ123 ant Yagi up 17 feet WX hot es muggy yr rst 479. hw cpy?

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


26 year-old Lucy in Kitty Hawk sounds like a catch. ;)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on September 08, 2014, 07:55:37 PM
Martin:  This very thing has been cussed and discussed here on eHam several times.  It should always be understood that many people simply can't carry on a conversation and these are the types of contacts you will get over and over.

However, on occasion, you will 'connect' with someone who can talk and actually has something to say.  As you listen to these QSOs you should also be evaluating your own conversational ability.  I think that many, once they find themselves actually working someone, loose their ability to think or their mouths become detached from their brains.   ::)

With that said and after reading the many comments you have made here on this forum; your gear construction ability, your photography ability, I'm very confident you won't have a problem.

Just pretend you're fishing and once in a while you'll snag a nice one and this is when ham radio becomes fun!  Good luck.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0WV on September 09, 2014, 02:57:59 AM
Al is right, allright
However the pond has a diminishing amount of fish, due to the fact that rag chewers are moving to eham.net CW.

Furthermore there is some commercial institute in the USA "Morse Academy" as far as I understood they promise that you learn the code in a short time at moderate speed, however they only learn you the kind of rubber stamp QSO's, so hams able to do them go on tilt at the moment you ask a question. FCC was promoting that method due to the  fact they tested candidates by rubber stamp QSO's

The probably non existing lady says age is 26 and she uses yr in stead of ur. As far as I know yr=year and ur=your,
so entry point for discussing that in a starting rag chew. But sometimes they want to make just a short QSO for card collection, or to spent 3 minutes, and don't have the time available like already for long retired om's have.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 09, 2014, 05:34:57 AM
As far as I know yr=year and ur=your,

That was my typo!

Actually, the 900 "canned" U.S. QSOs in G4FON software are "verbose." Instead of "ES" they use "AND" and instead of "UR" they use "YOUR." They spell out ANTENNA and WEATHER, etc., etc. This is rather odd, but I don't mind, for the moment (it gives me extra time to "catch up" mentally: when I hear "A-N-T.." I know what the next few letters will be. Eventually, I will use a search-and-replace to make them less verbose.

G4FON also includes hundreds of non-U.S. QSOs and those ones are "non-verbose."

In any case this should become moot, soon, as I get on the air and learn this stuff "for real."

For K8AXW/Al: To some extent, these "canned" QSOs are a menace because copying them is so easy. I am finding that I'm learning entire words (such as  RIG, WATT, RST, FEET, COPY....) and no longer really listening to the individual characters. This is very encouraging, until you get to "NAME IS" or "I LIVE IN" and then find you can't copy the names because they are not "expected" words! Even though I have 900 4-minute QSO files to practice with, they are so "boilerplate" that you only really end up practicing on the very few words that are non-repetitive, such as the person's name, their QTH town, or their job! The other problem with "boilerplate" QSOs is that you start anticipating what the next word will be. Which is fine, if your guess turns out to be correct, but very bad if your guess turns out to be wrong! Funny thing, the human brain.

However, I will be thrilled just to be able to get on the air and just have those "boilerplate" exchanges, to start with.

26 year-old Lucy in Kitty Hawk sounds like a catch. ;)

Getting on the air will be a bit of a shock. In the practice QSOs, most people are young (under 70 anyway), half of them are females called something like LUCY, ELIZABETH or BECKY, and they all send perfect code with no QSB or QRM! ;D

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: W1JKA on September 09, 2014, 06:06:34 AM
  I must be missing something, never heard an YL or XYL on or off air with no QRM and a least a little QRN.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WB2WIK on September 09, 2014, 09:11:39 AM
  I must be missing something, never heard an YL or XYL on or off air with no QRM and a least a little QRN.

Yeah, and that's without a radio.

Add a radio and it gets slightly worse.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on September 09, 2014, 08:43:53 PM
Martin, you make a very good point!  Boilerplate QSOs are a detriment to learning good code copy.  I never considered that angle but it's easy to understand.

Go ahead and have your boilerplate QSOs, but initiate a rag chew whenever you can.  If that fails then listen more than transmit.....turn the dial and listen for a conversation type QSO.  This is when and where you'll actually learn code. When this happens and someone sends you something that is unexpected, you'll be able to copy it.

I can't count the number of QSOs I've had where I deviate from the boilerplate format, the other guys asks for a repeat.  He simply wasn't expecting anything else bu t the usual nonsense.  Very sad.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 10, 2014, 01:59:35 AM
Martin, you make a very good point!  Boilerplate QSOs are a detriment to learning good code copy.  I never considered that angle but it's easy to understand.

I'll be initiating QSOs as soon as I can get the antenna up, this is getting dragged out ridiculously. I've been asking my landlord almost daily for a meeting about the antenna possibilities, but it's proving surprisingly difficult for us to get together. Surely it can't be long now.

I now understand a bit better why people say it's much easier if you "just get on the air," especially with the boilerplate QSOs. In a way that's reassuring. Since I've been making things really hard for myself by essentially doing random-character drills for nine months (not even real words!), it should eventually be much easier to break out of the "boilerplate QSO" mode.

What is useful about the boilerplate is that it gives you a kind of "breathing space" when the obvious phrases pop out of the ether. OTOH, it is also dangerous because you get lulled into a false sense of security and you then get zapped by an "unexpected" word!

Another thing that must be very useful about boilerplate is for DXing with hams whose native language isn't English. The Q-codes and other abbreviations must be really useful for that, too. (The "international" canned QSOs provided by G4FON are much more terse than the American ones, and much more reliant on codes and abbreviations.)

In my monitoring, I've heard many different flavors of QSO. In theory, the real rag-chewing ones ought to be the hardest to copy, because they are more likely to have "unexpected" content. OTOH it's often the accomplished rag-chewers often have great fists, and if I manage to copy them it's often the most interesting of all.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on September 10, 2014, 07:00:14 AM

I'll be initiating QSOs as soon as I can get the antenna up, this is getting dragged out ridiculously. I've been asking my landlord almost daily for a meeting about the antenna possibilities, but it's proving surprisingly difficult for us to get together. Surely it can't be long now.
73 de Martin, KB1WSY


If you do a non-destructive antenna installation, ie; ropes over tree limbs holding a wire dipole, perhaps it will be better to act and ask forgiveness later...  As long as it's unobtrusive and safe, why would your landlord object?


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on September 10, 2014, 08:36:20 AM
EU:  Agreed!  It's easier for a landlord to say "No" than it is for him to say, "Take it down!"


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 10, 2014, 10:01:21 AM

I'll be initiating QSOs as soon as I can get the antenna up, this is getting dragged out ridiculously. I've been asking my landlord almost daily for a meeting about the antenna possibilities, but it's proving surprisingly difficult for us to get together. Surely it can't be long now.
73 de Martin, KB1WSY


If you do a non-destructive antenna installation, ie; ropes over tree limbs holding a wire dipole, perhaps it will be better to act and ask forgiveness later...  As long as it's unobtrusive and safe, why would your landlord object?

EU:  Agreed!  It's easier for a landlord to say "No" than it is for him to say, "Take it down!"

He lives in the apartment above mine, so I cannot "act" without him seeing me do it! The house is large but the yard is small, and the only anchor point for the antenna is a tree right in front of his 2nd-floor deck. The landlord, who is really nice, is a former ham himself and initially gave approval for a simple homebrewed wire dipole, using 18ga PolyStealth insulated wire, configured as an inverted-V. But later he said, reasonably, that his wife also needs to approve these plans.

The good news, fresh off the press (20 minutes ago) is that he has just agreed to have a formal "antenna meeting" on Friday. I will describe my plans to him and his wife and we will go from there. I'm optimistic, because until now it was just getting dragged out....

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: NI0C on September 10, 2014, 02:23:29 PM
Quote
The landlord, who is really nice, is a former ham himself

What a stroke of luck!  I had similar luck some years ago, when I lived in a townhouse, and began deploying mobile antennas on my patio.  After doing this for a year or two, I escalated things by installing a 23 ft. vertical (Cushcraft R-3) next to the patio.  One day, the apartment manager asked me about it, and I though I would have to take it down.  However, he went on to say said he had a good friend who was a ham, and that he knew how important it was to have an antenna.  I never heard any more about it.

Hope your meeting goes well, Martin.

73,
Chuck  NI0C


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: W2MR on September 13, 2014, 03:19:43 AM
I taught myself CW at age 13 from a vinyl record (33 1/3 rpm).

What sort of fossil does that make me?

It's nice to have a shortwave radio to give you actual conversations after you've memorized the record.

Good luck and most of all - have fun.

Mark/W2MR


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 13, 2014, 03:52:12 AM
I taught myself CW at age 13 from a vinyl record (33 1/3 rpm).

What sort of fossil does that make me?

My first attempt to learn the code was at age 12 in the late 1960s. My parents bought me a Heathkit "become a ham" bundle, which included a code oscillator kit, three ARRL books and a multiple-LP Morse course entitled the "Revolutionary Word Method" with the narrator being, I believe, the eponymous Farnsworth himself.

IIRC this jumped in at 13wpm rather than the 5wpm required for the Novice license, but I may be wrong about that. I got about halfway through the course then I must have become bored, because I never finished, even though I had learned (I think) all of the characters and was pretty well set. Passed the UK ham test (regulations and theory, not Morse), but never applied for a license and never got on the air. In those days you could get a Morse-less phone license with a G8 prefix that was usable on VHF and (I think) also 160m, but not on any of the other HF bands (UK hams please correct me if I got those details wrong). But I never even bothered to do that, and dropped out of ham radio without ever getting on the air.

The "Revolutionary Word Method" LPs are still frequently available on eBay, for the nostalgia buffs....

When I got back into the radio hobby two years ago I purchased another vintage Morse method (the Ameco course, which was originally on LPs or maybe even 78s, and is now available on a CD) but found that it was dreadful ... however plenty of people successfully used it, half a century ago, so it can't be that bad!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 14, 2014, 04:06:35 PM
Yesterday I built an extra audio amplification stage for my 3-transistor regenerative receiver. I used a 2-transistor push-pull circuit from the 1950s, so my little receiver is now a "5-transistor" deluxe model and now has a Loud Speaker, not just Headphones!

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-s6_eJ8vLLkI/VBTF5RvcdUI/AAAAAAAAEF4/lKExvQgCK2w/s1024/DSCF7081.JPG)

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-xqsfs08Pl8I/VBTF70BSVOI/AAAAAAAAEGQ/9502KTVVwRA/s1024/DSCF7086.JPG)

To my surprise, monitoring CW with the speaker (rather than only the headphones) is a useful "change." The headphones are much better for really weak signals buried under the noise, but otherwise, I think changing between headphones and speakers from time to time adds a useful variety and makes copying easier overall. I also find that having them both on at the same time (headphones and speakers) can be quite good.

It's also useful to "monitor the bands" in the background, with the speaker, while working on other stuff in the shack.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 18, 2014, 01:26:55 PM
As the negotiations to allow me to put up an antenna outside my apartment continue, I'm still plodding away with the canned QSO practice as well as monitoring real on-air stuff. This is good because the transition from the Farnsworth spacing to "real code" has been laborious. My world continues to be peopled by Tom, Ann, David, Elizabeth and a plethora of others. Their fictitious names, hometowns, RST reports, weather, rigs, antenna, ages and professions, in that rigid order.... There's a pleasing randomness sometimes. Tom, 60, is a student while Lucy, 26, is an architect (not actually taken from the drills but that sort of thing).

I also spent some time last night monitoring a large pileup at the bottom end of 40m. This was very useful for practice in copying callsigns.

Numerals seem to cause the most trouble of all, but this too shall pass.

Can't wait to get on the air.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on September 18, 2014, 01:32:42 PM
Go stealth!!!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 18, 2014, 01:36:26 PM
Go stealth!!!

I have backup plans if permission is not granted. I don't actually have to go stealth; I have permission to put up a much less optimal antenna (end-fed, low altitude, relatively short) just outside my rental apartment. But first, I'm going all-out to try to get permission for a full-length dipole. It's a QRP station and I want the best possible antenna that can be installed, under the circumstances. My proposals have been submitted, I'm just waiting for a decision.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on September 19, 2014, 08:41:14 AM
Martin:  Considering the elapsed time in these "antenna negotiations," have you considered the UN?  This might be faster.   ;D 

I imagine these people have one hellova time buying a new car!!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 19, 2014, 10:11:13 AM
Al/K8AXW. There are now six separate parties involved in these antenna negotiations -- I live in a fairly densely populated section of a close suburb, studded with classic New England "triple decker" housing. I don't want to go into details because publicly airing them on an online forum could be (a) counterproductive and (b) violate people's privacy. Suffice it to say that progress is being made ... and that all of the wasted time was my fault, not theirs.

BTW I hate buying new cars. In fact I've only done it twice, in my life, and plan to become car-less within the next couple of years.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: W1JKA on September 19, 2014, 02:51:25 PM
Re: KB1WSY

Your post become more and more interesting as time goes on. CAR-LESS you say, are you going to replace it with your version of a Benson Gyro Copter? if so I can hardly wait for the construction pics. ;)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 19, 2014, 04:03:27 PM
Re: KB1WSY

Your post become more and more interesting as time goes on. CAR-LESS you say, are you going to replace it with your version of a Benson Gyro Copter? if so I can hardly wait for the construction pics. ;)

Not really. I'm a city kid and so is XYL. We have spent major portions of our lives in large cities, car-less and relying on public transportation. Even now, although we live in a suburb, the "T" (Boston's subway) is only a 12-minute walk away. When traveling larger distances, we tend to take an intercity bus, Amtrak or a plane. The last of our children left home a couple of years ago and about two years from now, we'd like to move back to the center of a large city, where a car would be unnecessary.

Obviously this will pose a problem with continuing my newly rediscovered ham radio hobby -- a major antenna challenge! I love this hobby but other things are more important. Meanwhile I'd like to get a decent setup for the next year or two while I have all of this suburban space! (I'm a renter and the property belongs to other people, so I have to be very persuasive ;D).

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on September 19, 2014, 05:27:35 PM
JKA is correct on one major thing.  This thread or discussion is becoming more interesting as we go!  I'm beginning to get a better picture of your living/antenna conditions and understand much more.

As you described the situation I immediately visualized a 18th century London apartment setting..... which of course was only momentary.   ::)   ;D  

You're correct in not "outing" your neighbor/negotiation in more detail.  I'm sorry I was so flippant.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on September 20, 2014, 06:57:38 AM
I you MUST live in a big city, car-less is the way to be! I used to do business in NYC from time to time, which required a vehicle. I hated everything about those trips. The traffic jams, detours, no parking, taxi cabs, etc, etc, etc were big part of the effort.

Living in a large city is one thing, commuting is just plain crazy. I don't know how some folks do that trip every day.

Anyway, we are all waiting for the other shoe to drop. This has been a very long saga, and you're still not on the air!  ::)
Where there is a will, there's a way. I'm beginning to think you prefer to write about your quest rather than attaining it.  ;D



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 20, 2014, 07:26:39 AM
I'm beginning to think you prefer to write about quest rather than attaining it.  ;D

Actions speak louder than words. Stay tuned.  :P


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 25, 2014, 03:36:38 AM
The antenna negotiations continue. So far, so good.

In a fit of possibly unwarranted optimism I have ordered all of the materials to build the antenna. Even if I don't get permission to put it up, it can always do duty in a future QTH, or be used on Field Day, or be dismantled and re-configured in a more stealthy design.

Full details don't belong here, but in the antenna forum, where I will probably post when construction begins. Here's a summary meanwhile.

In the latest proposed location, there isn't enough room for an 80m wire antenna. So I'd be confined to operating 40m and higher. To me this is no great loss: I go to bed early at night (around 9 p.m.) and 80m seems to be mainly a night-time thing. However, in addition to 40m, I'm keen to get on 20m, both because of the "daytime" possibilities and for DX. This will require building a new transmitter, and that project is already "queued up," possibly for early next year.

Because winter is approaching fast and this is New England, if permission is granted I'm going to try to put up a 40m/20m antenna before the weather becomes a factor. This would be a trap dipole configured as a shallow inverted-V with the center about 25 feet up. I am building the traps myself, using the classic "coax around PVC" designs published in QST. The antenna would be mounted in a tree that is located a few feet across my landlord's property line, in the neighbors' yard. That neighboring property is a multiple-family condo with four separate owner/tenant parties involved, hence the negotiations!

There are various complexities, including the need to tunnel underneath a stone path and through a stone wall, among other things (I already have permission to do those things; it's the "above ground" stuff that is dragging out the negotiations). For aesthetic reasons, among others, the coax will be buried all the way from the shack to the tree (I bought fancy "direct burial" coax). Because I don't own the property, extra-careful attention is also being paid to lightning protection and grounding (far more attention than was ever given by 1960s Novice Ham). All this has now been researched, including figuring out how to dig underneath the path and drill through the wall. I am poised to go, if permission is granted. 8)

Big CW pileup at the bottom of 40m last night. As usual, I could catch all of the fishermen/women, but couldn't hear their quarry (the new antenna should help with that!). My dial isn't calibrated but it must have been very close to the bottom of the band.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on September 25, 2014, 06:52:39 AM
The coax for a dipole should attach at a 90 degree angle with the antenna plane. Are you going to be able to do that?


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on September 25, 2014, 08:33:05 AM
Martin:  I also suggest you research the trap design you've chosen.  It's my understanding that the coax traps aren't the best way to go.  If you feel that my "understanding" is in error, please disregard.

I sincerely wish you the best with the antenna negotiations.  You certainly have earned this 'victory' when you finally get it!!  Mercy!!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on September 25, 2014, 09:06:44 AM
The coax for a dipole should attach at a 90 degree angle with the antenna plane. Are you going to be able to do that?

Yes. It's an inverted-V but still relatively "flat" and up 25 feet. The coax would come vertically straight down the tree then run underground to the shack.

Martin:  I also suggest you research the trap design you've chosen.  It's my understanding that the coax traps aren't the best way to go.  If you feel that my "understanding" is in error, please disregard.

The coax-style traps have been described in half a dozen articles in QST and also in the 2014 ARRL Handbook, which I have. Other hams who use them have told me they work fine for them. The trap design I'm looking at has low loss and a relatively high bandwidth for the 40m segment of the antenna. As you know, one drawback of trap antennas is that the outside-trapped section has reduced bandwidth compared to a simple dipole. Because I'm only planning to operate in the CW sections of the band, the reduced b/w isn't much of an issue anyway.

There are dozens of different trap designs, but if you're going to homebrew your own, the coax-coil designs are a good place to start, in my opinion. They are straightforward to build, rugged and easy to weather-proof. I'll be using small RG-174 coax, which has various advantages in terms of trap optimization and also makes the traps smaller, therefore less visible. The only disadvantage is they fail if you feed them with more than about 500W but that's not an issue in my case!

Can you remember what the issues are with the coax traps? I'd be interested to know.

One issue is that any trap antenna needs to be adjusted ("trimmed") in situ, but I'm quite looking forward to that.

The parameters of my antenna project were nailed down after an exhaustive set of exchanges over on QRZ, which you can find here: http://forums.qrz.com/showthread.php?450950-80-40-20-Dipole-(2) (http://forums.qrz.com/showthread.php?450950-80-40-20-Dipole-(2)).

I sincerely wish you the best with the antenna negotiations.  You certainly have earned this 'victory' when you finally get it!!  Mercy!!

Thank you! You don't know the half of it! I'm trying to be discreet, to maximize antenna approval chances!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WB2WIK on September 29, 2014, 02:31:13 PM
Martin:  I also suggest you research the trap design you've chosen.  It's my understanding that the coax traps aren't the best way to go.  If you feel that my "understanding" is in error, please disregard.

I sincerely wish you the best with the antenna negotiations.  You certainly have earned this 'victory' when you finally get it!!  Mercy!!

Everything's a trade-off, but to make coaxial cable traps as efficient as other designs, you'd need to use really thick coax.

W8JI explains why here and includes some actual measurements on bandwidth, losses, etc: http://www.w8ji.com/traps.htm


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on October 01, 2014, 02:23:47 AM
Quick update:

I now have nearly all the materials for the antenna and grounding system apart from the coax feedline which should arrive soon. To save time and maximize efficiency of my 4-watt setup, my first antenna will be a monoband 40m dipole. (So the whole issue of traps can wait until I need to add another band.)

The negotiations to obtain permission from the various property owners to hoist this inverted-V are proceeding well and I am cautiously optimistic of a positive resolution soon. The discussions began with generalities and have now progressed to details, which is a good sign.

Meanwhile my CW skills are in a holding pattern. I've been awfully busy with my regular job. Mostly I've just been monitoring the bands, and the ARRL code transmissions (no time for the computerized drills with Lucy, Bob and cohort). My copying is so-so but I'm sure it will get a boost as soon as I Get On The Air.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on October 25, 2014, 05:10:03 AM
As of today, the antenna-installation work (digging a trench, tunneling under a flagstone path and underneath the property-boundary wall, burying a PVC pipe for the coax feedline, driving the ground rod, bonding it to utility ground, installing a PVC junction box, placing a surge arrestor and camouflaging the visible parts of the setup with color-matched outdoor paint) is proceeding well and could be finished in the next few days. I wanted to get this done before the winter weather arrives in earnest here in New England.

Actually hoisting the antenna (that simple 40m monoband wire dipole) remains contingent on getting permission from the neighbors, whose tree would be used as the center support. They have asked some more questions and I'm waiting for their response to my answers.

Meanwhile I would say that my CW skills are in a process of slow deterioration, largely because of numerous non-ham commitments. The small amount of spare time that I have was devoted to the above-mentioned antenna preparation work.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on November 08, 2014, 04:26:57 PM
To hoist my simple wire dipole, I now have permission from two of the three owners of the tree that will be the central support. The third owner is still asking for a few assurances but I am optimistic that I will get his permission too. Meanwhile my Morse skills have deteriorated substantially, because of life/work commitments, but I'm hopeful it won't take more than a couple of weeks to get back into the saddle.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on November 08, 2014, 05:19:03 PM
Martin:  Sounds like you live in North Korea!  Surely the wives are involved with this "negotiation!"  ::)

When you get the skywire up then the code copy ability will rapidly increase because  once you are "ready to rock and roll" you'll find the "non-ham" activities can "go to hell !!"   ;D


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: W7ASA on November 08, 2014, 07:11:11 PM
Al Said: "...non-ham" activities can "go to hell !!"   Grin

He is WISE - Listen to him!



Moo-ha-ha-ha!
73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._  ._


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on November 08, 2014, 07:35:01 PM
This may be the longest 'antenna raising" task in AR history!!!!!  ::) ;D
Call Larry the cable guy to "git 'er done!"


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on November 09, 2014, 03:58:18 PM
To view the preliminary antenna work so far, here's a photo album:

https://picasaweb.google.com/114229926311767860862/Antenna_02_Trench?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCO3Flu3rstqASg&feat=directlink (https://picasaweb.google.com/114229926311767860862/Antenna_02_Trench?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCO3Flu3rstqASg&feat=directlink)

(For best results, click on the first photo, and then click on the "full screen" icon at the top left.)

I realize this would usually belong in the Antenna forum, but as far as I'm concerned it's just one small episode in my CW journey....

By the way, for physical fitness, I highly recommend one week of work with a pickaxe, a shovel, and an 8-pound sledgehammer!

73 de Martin, KB2WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on November 10, 2014, 05:39:12 AM
a pickaxe, a shovel, and an 8-pound sledgehammer!
That's some serious excavating. The "sidewalk sleever" looks like a handy bit of kit. Hope you have your antenna up soon.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: SHORTWIRE on November 11, 2014, 01:37:12 PM
To view the preliminary antenna work so far, here's a photo album:

A ground rod?
For a Dipole??  ::)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: SHORTWIRE on November 11, 2014, 01:49:50 PM
This may be the longest 'antenna raising" task in AR history!!!!!  ::) ;D
Call Larry the cable guy to "git 'er done!"


It does sound as if Martin is needlessly complicating things for himself.

I've once had my share of OCDs, and I think I can recognise the signs..

First, the homebuilt gear must be absolutely perfect.

Second, all permissions, including that from the neighbours cat, must be signed in triplicate..  ;D

Third, everything must……..(insert next excuse here)  :-\


Hint: MagLoop, Tune, Done!
Then keep a lookout for yourself on Reversebeacon.net or pskreporter.info

If they can't hear you, no one can..


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: LB3KB on November 11, 2014, 06:48:43 PM
To view the preliminary antenna work so far, here's a photo album:

A ground rod?
For a Dipole??  ::)

Are you suggesting that your station does not need to be grounded if you use a dipole ?


73
K4NL Sid


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0KDW on November 11, 2014, 09:03:37 PM

Are you suggesting that your station does not need to be grounded if you use a dipole ?

73
K4NL Sid
CW is messed up with antennas.

Sure you don't need a ground rod, a plane pilot told me over the radio while airborne.

For the radiation a symmetrical antenna is its own counterpoise, and for lightning the tree is the ground rod, and he has to decouple antenna from the set anyway during thunderstorms.

As far as I see, the project does not invite for experimentation.

73 Frans


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on November 12, 2014, 07:55:39 AM
dipole grounding:
Yes it will work without a ground, but it's not safe.
Also, there is a whole procedure for doing this properly in the US N.E.C.
Even if you don't get a direct hit, static will build up on ungrounded antennas under various conditions-enough to damage the equipment!

My dipoles run to a grounded master remote switch( shuts unused ants to ground) which is part of the ground system that also shunts the coax to ground again just before it enters the shack.  All stray reflected RF ( if any) is shunted to the earth and hopefully all of the lightening and charge energy will go there too.







Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on November 12, 2014, 06:59:32 PM
Those of you who say I am OCD may be correct.

Those of you who are criticizing my attempt to get permissions should remember that I am a renter. I'm an old European Socialist but that doesn't prevent me from having a healthy respect for property rights.

I don't own my own apartment, or the plot that it stands on, and the proposed site of my antenna isn't even on my own landlord's property, but on a tree that belongs to the neighbors. If you are a property owner yourself, please imagine your reaction if a random person who was renting an apartment in the building next door to your house/yard erected an antenna in a tree that you own, without your permission. I am very close to getting formal permission from all of the property owners; is there something wrong with wanting to dot the i's and cross the t's in such a situation?

And anyway, what's the %@$! hurry? Don't we all have lives to lead, outside ham radio? I'm proceeding to get on the air, at my own pace. It looks like it may take quite a while longer. So what? (Eh alors?)

Concerning the grounding issue: remember that there are other parties involved. It wasn't that hard to comply with NEC (National Electrical Code http://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/document-information-pages?mode=code&code=70) and doing so takes all sorts of neighbors' (and landlords') objections off the table. What's the problem?

Hmmph!

Best of 73's from

Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on November 12, 2014, 07:57:51 PM
Those of you who say I am OCD may be correct.

Those of you who are criticizing my attempt to get permissions should remember that I am a renter. I'm an old European Socialist but that doesn't prevent me from having a healthy respect for property rights.

I don't own my own apartment, or the plot that it stands on, and the proposed site of my antenna isn't even on my own landlord's property, but on a tree that belongs to the neighbors. If you are a property owner yourself, please imagine your reaction if a random person who was renting an apartment in the building next door to your house/yard erected an antenna in a tree that you own, without your permission. I am very close to getting formal permission from all of the property owners; is there something wrong with wanting to dot the i's and cross the t's in such a situation?

And anyway, what's the %@$! hurry? Don't we all have lives to lead, outside ham radio? I'm proceeding to get on the air, at my own pace. It looks like it may take quite a while longer. So what? (Eh alors?)

Concerning the grounding issue: remember that there are other parties involved. It wasn't that hard to comply with NEC (National Electrical Code http://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/document-information-pages?mode=code&code=70) and doing so takes all sorts of neighbors' (and landlords') objections off the table. What's the problem?

Hmmph!

Best of 73's from

Martin, KB1WSY

Welcome to the land of "instant gratification"! The problem is that your story is very far from the cultural norm!
It's very common that people will act now and seek permission after the fact. I'm not saying that you should do that, but many folks do.
One day I came home to find all of my lawn furniture missing, only to find it at a next door neighbor's party. He softened me up with beer and BBQ, saying "you don't mind that I borrowed your chairs, do you?" What could I say?




Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on November 13, 2014, 06:50:42 AM
Martin,
I am sure there are those hams like me who only wish you the best in your ham radio hobby.  It is a hobby after all - something to be happy about doing. 

I studied for my ham license at the same time I practiced CW.   Many months passed by after I got my license before I even bought my first ham radio.  I talked to hams who encouraged me to upgrade to General, so I did.  I was glad; the General license got me on HF.  I actually started building little radios before I got into the hobby - as a matter of fact - it was building little radios that got me into hobby. 

If you lived nearby and you had the time, I would invite you to get on-the-air at my HF station to make some QSOs in CW.

I have really enjoyed reading about your - shall I say - adventure in ham radio: building your own radios, learning CW, installing your antenna, etc.  Now, I eagerly wait to hear you make your first QSOs once you get everything set up. 

73 de Daniel, KK4MRN.



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on November 13, 2014, 08:53:27 AM
Martin:  I was raised to respect other people's property.  I was taught to keep my hands off of anything that didn't belong to me.

I still ask permission to turn a knob at a friend's shack or ask permission before I open the action of a gun that doesn't belong to me.  (In this case I respectfully hand it back!)

I admire your integrity for getting permission to use someone else's tree! 

Being a "European Socialist has nothing to do with this.  It is simply good manners and respect that should have been learned at an early age.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K5UNX on November 13, 2014, 09:31:29 AM
Like a lot of threads this has gone completely off the rails . . . I would like to here about the OP's Morse Learning Campaign! :)

I have been following the CW learning and keep check the thread when I see a new indicator.



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on November 14, 2014, 05:28:57 AM
Like a lot of threads this has gone completely off the rails . . . I would like to he[ar] about the OP's Morse Learning Campaign! :)

I have been following the CW learning and keep check the thread when I see a new indicator.


You are quite right to object to the red herrings, for which I am entirely responsible. Coming in the next few days: an update on CW. I hope it won't be too grim. I've done no CW for weeks so it will be interesting to see how far things have deteriorated.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on November 15, 2014, 08:14:44 PM
This thread is probably the largest or most read thread that I've seen on eHam.  It's been an interesting read all through it and many lessons were learned and many excellent photos to enjoy.

As with any thread or subject that has almost 128,000 viewers and many commentators it's bound to deviate or "go off the rails" several times.  In each case it all comes back into line and we go on enjoying this tale.

Martin might possibly be dragging this out for the drama but hopefully we'll get to see him get on with his beautifully constructed homebrew gear sometime soon.

It, for me, has been a fun trip and no doubt many "newbies" as well as some "old timers" have learned a thing or two.......which is persistence, determination and maybe even the fun of building something with your hands and the thrill of putting it on the air.



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: LB3KB on November 16, 2014, 03:29:44 AM
any thread or subject that has almost 128,000 viewers

128,000 viewers ?  No way.


73
K4NL Sid


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on November 16, 2014, 04:06:33 AM
Martin might possibly be dragging this out for the drama but hopefully we'll get to see him get on with his beautifully constructed homebrew gear sometime soon.

Thank you Al. Dragging it out, yes, although in my case it may be more a personal tendency toward Procrastination and Perfectionism rather than any deliberate teasing! (Plus I have to say that in recent months particularly, work pressures have been intense.)

any thread or subject that has almost 128,000 viewers

128,000 viewers ?  No way.

A very good point. The number of viewers is probably no more than a few dozen. I don't think there's any way to extract that statistic though ... it's something that would be available to the administrators but only if they have a routine that keeps track of it.

However we can see the callsigns of those who posted in a thread and in the case of the current thread, it probably isn't more than a few dozen.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on November 16, 2014, 09:41:51 AM
KB:  You're correct!  Sorry.  I "saw" 128.... views, but it was 123,000 plus views.

There are 337 contributors to this thread. 



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: LB3KB on November 16, 2014, 09:59:37 AM
KB:  You're correct!  Sorry.  I "saw" 128.... views, but it was 123,000 plus views.

Apparently, you didn't understand the point I was making.  But that's okay.


Also, please stop referring to people by suffix.  If you're too lazy to type the whole thing, just leave it out entirely.


73
K4NL Sid


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on November 16, 2014, 10:21:57 AM
KB:  You're correct!  Sorry.  I "saw" 128.... views, but it was 123,000 plus views.

There are 337 contributors to this thread.  


I don't think so. At this point, there are about 340 posts but some of the posters have made multiple posts, starting with yours truly. It would be possible to figure out how many individual people posted, either with a very tedious hand count or with some quick html programming, but my wild guess is that it's not more than a few dozen people. They are, of course, nice people whose advice I treasure, regardless of their prolixity!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N8XI on November 17, 2014, 07:51:11 AM
Martin,

I just happened upon this thread and I applaud you on your homebrew skills
and the desire to learn CW!

I also noticed that your homebrew CPO looks like the old F/F (Flip/Flops) used in
the old homebrew computer registers of days past :)

Keep up the good work!

73, Rick - N8XI


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on November 17, 2014, 10:12:32 AM
Sid:  Apparently I did miss your point and really don't care.  As for my typing the whole callsign.....I'll do what I please. 

If you don't like anything I have to say or what I do simply put an "Ignore" on my call.



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: LB3KB on November 17, 2014, 10:28:49 AM
Sid:  As for my typing the whole callsign.....I'll do what I please.

Obviously.


If you don't like anything I have to say or what I do simply put an "Ignore" on my call.

You're overreacting.  The only thing you do that I dislike is address others by suffix.  It adds unnecessary confusion.


73
K4NL Sid


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0KDW on November 17, 2014, 01:20:02 PM
Sid:  As for my typing the whole callsign.....I'll do what I please.

Obviously.


If you don't like anything I have to say or what I do simply put an "Ignore" on my call.

You're overreacting.  The only thing you do that I dislike is address others by suffix.  It adds unnecessary confusion.


73
K4NL Sid

Sid, it is a well known shortcut for really old timers (licenced over 60 years) cuz there was at that time only one prefix in each country.

So please respect it ,even when it is bothering you right now.
I highly appreciate your JLMC, it keeps me proficient. Mni tks.

73 Frans


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: LB3KB on November 17, 2014, 01:36:42 PM
The only thing [...] I dislike is address others by suffix.  It adds unnecessary confusion.

Sid, it is a well known shortcut for really old timers (licenced over 60 years) cuz there was at that time only one prefix in each country.

So please respect it ,even when it is bothering you right now.

It was a well known confuser when I got my first license, too.  But back then, the numeral was included - and the "shortcut" was only used in QSOs between hams from the same country.

If respect was truly an issue, respect for your audience should have priority.


73
K4NL Sid


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on November 17, 2014, 02:29:35 PM
Sid:  If you notice, I normally address specific people with the call suffix only when they don't sign their post with a name, like you do.

KDW, Frans,  is correct and this is the first time I've been called on it or have anyone indicate they're offended by it.

I have no idea how long you've been in this country but FYI, the U.S. is undergoing a massive changeover to "Political Correctness." 

This, to me, is just another form of PC and I have no intention of changing from my way of doing things because you are offended.

As for "overreacting," you're absolutely correct there.  Every time I see another example of PC, I go into a rage.  It's only my upbringing that prevents me from expressing myself according to how I feel.



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: LB3KB on November 17, 2014, 02:41:55 PM
I have no idea how long you've been in this country but FYI, the U.S. is undergoing a massive changeover to "Political Correctness."  

This, to me, is just another form of PC and I have no intention of changing from my way of doing things because you are offended.

Get the fuck out of here...  Are you serious ?

;o)


73
K4NL Sid


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on November 17, 2014, 07:35:00 PM
Sid, you took the words right out of my mouth!!  Nothing more to add.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WD8JWJ on November 18, 2014, 01:43:28 PM
I have always wanted to get back into the "swing" of things with CW. I started out as a Novice at 5wpm back in the 70's. Almost WAS'd Went a to 13wpm General. That's as fast as you can "count" dots and dashes. I now know that you can't rely on counting or you will never get beyond 10wpm with reasonable copy. Breaking the counting habit is difficult and takes probably more time re-learning than if I would have done it right in the first place. You have to learn to hear the tone and it goes right to the pencil. It is just another language. Eventually you can learn words. The people that read 100wpm amaze me.
It is all doable but takes commitment. That is what I haven't done as yet.
To the OP, keep up the good work. Your method seems to be working for you and you will get to your goal. It will be something when the day comes that one can just set and listen with no need to write down most of the conversation. Dah Dit DAh
73, Bill, WD8JWJ


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: ILDARIN on January 12, 2015, 12:55:46 PM
Like a lot of threads this has gone completely off the rails . . . I would like to he[ar] about the OP's Morse Learning Campaign! :)

I have been following the CW learning and keep check the thread when I see a new indicator.


You are quite right to object to the red herrings, for which I am entirely responsible. Coming in the next few days: an update on CW. I hope it won't be too grim. I've done no CW for weeks so it will be interesting to see how far things have deteriorated.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY

I'm a little disappointed to see this thread die out...Have you given up?

I've made a few contacts with Elmers, but I've started to wonder if this is all worth it.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on January 12, 2015, 05:28:14 PM
I'm a little disappointed to see this thread die out...Have you given up?

I've made a few contacts with Elmers, but I've started to wonder if this is all worth it.

I'm still here. Unfortunately Life has intervened; nothing bad, just very, very busy on a professional and family level. CW learning has been badly affected, but I will get back to it when appropriate.

I've made a few contacts with Elmers, but I've started to wonder if this is all worth it.

It's worth it!!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N2EY on January 13, 2015, 08:13:32 AM
Good to hear from you, Martin!

Best in 2015!

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on April 12, 2015, 07:36:59 AM
I've been reading the separate "Relearn code again!" thread....

For what it's worth. I have now done the "relearn code again" at least four times over the past three-and-a-half years -- even though I'm not (quite) on the air yet. At the moment, after a long gap, I have finally relaunched the process and it's going great.

It gets easier each time around. Or at least, that's what happens with me. There is a "ratchet effect" such that when you get back to it after several months "off," you can pick up at a higher level than when you began the previous "run." Many of the Morse characters seem to be permanently imprinted in my "sound memory" now, and the number of ones that "trip me up" keeps dropping.

I would not recommend doing things this way; in my case it has simply "happened" in this manner because of work/life constraints. However, if -- like me -- you find that your code-learning comes in "bursts" there is no reason to be discouraged. It's not quite like learning to swim or riding a bicycle, but there is an aspect that "stays with you" even if you neglect it for a while.

This should be greatly speeded up once I'm using Morse in actual QSOs. There is something humorous about computer-generated practice QSOs with NAME DAVID AGE 15 I AM A DOCTOR but it will be much better with real people. "Antenna-building weather" has nearly arrived!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on April 12, 2015, 07:57:24 AM
Quote
This should be greatly speeded up once I'm using Morse in actual QSOs. There is something humorous about computer-generated practice QSOs with NAME DAVID AGE 15 I AM A DOCTOR but it will be much better with real people. "Antenna-building weather" has nearly arrived!

Martin,
I'm beginning to think the world will end before you get on the air.
If you have the time to listen to that fake QSO nonsense, why not flip on the radio and do it for real?

Doing rag chews is a bit much for a newbie, perhaps start by answering contesters just to get a taste of sending with a live operator? RST, name, state and maybe a number is easy enough to get you started. Contesting is not my thing, but I participate from time to time in oder to gain confidence in my CW skills. I would much rather rag-chew, but I don't yet have the comfort level at 20wpm to be able to sustain a QSO for very long. However most ops are patient and will very graciously  deal with my inexperience and mistakes. I really appreciate that!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on April 12, 2015, 08:08:28 AM
Martin,
I'm beginning to think the world will end before you get on the air.
If you have the time to listen to that fake QSO nonsense, why not flip on the radio and do it for real?

I do listen to real QSOs, quite a lot in fact. The fake ones are mainly at times of day when the bands are dead. In terms of "karma" for learning code, daytime hours are best for me; and morning is better than afternoon.

To actually get on the air requires erecting the antenna, whose saga has been documented in my earlier posts. However I do think it shouldn't be long now!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on April 12, 2015, 09:34:15 AM
Martin,
I'm beginning to think the world will end before you get on the air.
If you have the time to listen to that fake QSO nonsense, why not flip on the radio and do it for real?

I do listen to real QSOs, quite a lot in fact. The fake ones are mainly at times of day when the bands are dead. In terms of "karma" for learning code, daytime hours are best for me; and morning is better than afternoon.

To actually get on the air requires erecting the antenna, whose saga has been documented in my earlier posts. However I do think it shouldn't be long now!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY



Last I knew the "dig" was in progress. I thought the antenna would be up by now!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on April 12, 2015, 09:42:12 AM
Last I knew the "dig" was in progress. I thought the antenna would be up by now!

Stay tuned. If you haven't died of boredom yet.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KK4MRN on April 13, 2015, 08:10:42 AM
Not bored!  We are hams too after all...

Besides, there are many of us following (or followed) your path.  I still practice.  I think getting better does come in spurts for some reason.  Not only practicing CW, but building your own radio, putting up an antenna, grounding, etc.

I do listen on 40 meters around 7.100 - 7.125 during the evening or night.  Yet, I do hear it on 160 and 80 and 30 meters too.  And during the day, sometimes I hear it on higher bands like 20, 17, or 15m.  Rarely do I hear it on 12 or 10m.  I have never heard CW on 6 or 2m except beacons.

I even tuned the General coverage receiver part of my HF transceiver below the AM Broadcast band to see what I could find.  I found various beacons transmitting their calls signs.  I even found an experimental 600 meter ham band transmitting a beacon transmitting around 478 KHz I think - the ham N4ICK was using special call sign WD2XSH/8.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: VK3MEG on April 28, 2015, 10:31:09 PM
Martin, KB1WSY this thread is hilarious i started reading it when i was thinking about learning cw last year and your still here. seriously   ???  so i started in December i have a key but its not plugged in i use  code read and software to send 65 countries worked on cw heaps of qso's infact today i was calling cq on 15m and who answered me but vk9nt seriously.
just dive in and have some fun other wise jt65 might be your thing.
cheers
good luck
de vk3meg

The best thing i did re learning code was to read the art and skill of telegraphy by William G. Pierpont NØHFF a great read. and yes i'm learning the code by doing even had dx exchanges @ 35 wpm .


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on April 30, 2015, 04:23:01 PM
i started in December i have a key but its not plugged in i use  code read and software to send 65 countries worked on cw heaps of qso's infact today i was calling cq on 15m and who answered me but vk9nt seriously.
just dive in and have some fun other wise jt65 might be your thing.
cheers
good luck
de vk3meg

The best thing i did re learning code was to read the art and skill of telegraphy by William G. Pierpont NØHFF a great read. and yes i'm learning the code by doing even had dx exchanges @ 35 wpm .

The machine is doing  the exchange, NOT you! Bet you won't want to drag all that hardware to the top of a mountain!
By using a machine, you have missed the point of the stark simplicity and power of the mode.
Besides, the software has trouble reading half the fists out there, but somehow I am able to make sense of them when the computer is lost.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on May 04, 2015, 03:41:03 PM
The best thing i did re learning code was to read the art and skill of telegraphy by William G. Pierpont NØHFF a great read. and yes i'm learning the code by doing even had dx exchanges @ 35 wpm .

I have that book, and love it, but find it more like an "inspirational text" than a practical code-learning guide for beginners.

We're all different. In my case I just wanted a simple path to learning the code -- and found it in Koch, but it would probably have worked just as well with another method. The main issues are Motivation and Time.

For what it's worth, I'm just completing the 38-character level on Koch with the G4FON software, which means the only ones I don't "know" yet are the letter "X" and the numeral "6." This is at 17/20 (20wpm character speed, 17wpm spacing between characters).

Looks like I'll be "on the air" sometime this summer. Work pressures are intense ... but life is not just Work.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N2EY on May 05, 2015, 12:54:09 PM
Martin,

Good to see you are still at it!

Don't know if I ever mentioned MorseRing to you. It's a smartphone app that makes your phone send Morse Code ringtones. If the number is in your address book it sends the name; if not, it sends the number.

So when someone calls me from home, it sends "HOME" in Morse as the ringtone.

I know who is calling without ever looking at the phone.

Speed and tone are adjustable.

Hope to work you on the air soon!

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: SOFAR on May 05, 2015, 02:29:02 PM
Only read the first and last page .... In my opinion practicing 5 mins an hour is a slow drawn out torture, it would be more productive to practice 20 straight minutes a day and be done with it. .... Also, getting on the air as soon as possible is the way to go, we are not perfecting for a red carpet debut. Learn by doing.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: M0LEP on May 05, 2015, 03:09:44 PM
In my opinion practicing 5 mins an hour is a slow drawn out torture
For you, maybe. For me, 20 minutes straight was at least ten wasted minutes. Several short sessions trumped one longer one every time.

Also, getting on the air as soon as possible is the way to go
Possibly Koch's biggest drawback; until you've reached the end of the course you don't know enough to get on the air...


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: VK3MEG on May 11, 2015, 06:29:42 AM
Quote
Possibly Koch's biggest drawback; until you've reached the end of the course you don't know enough to get on the air.

one of the problems  of the koch method I'm still learning the letters but its coming quicker all the time also full words etc. i glance less and less at the decoder now and i will use a key when i can send a good fist.

Quote
The machine is doing  the exchange, NOT you! Bet you won't want to drag all that hardware to the top of a mountain!
By using a machine, you have missed the point of the stark simplicity and power of the mode.
Besides, the software has trouble reading half the fists out there, but somehow I am able to make sense of them when the computer is lost.

yes i'm getting more and more of them.
I fully understand the simiplicity of the code and its not lost on me its what attrect me to it. but my journey is different. if i didnt use the keyboard i wouldn't have quite a few countries many with cw only op's. I only run 100w   75 countries on cw i'll dxcc on cw by the end of the year. and i'm not just working strong station i'm pulling plenty out to of the mud and you dont do that reading a decoder.
every ones view of the hobby is different thats why its so great i use cw in so many way now with my experimentation on the higher bands as well. when an ssb signal cant get through cw gets through adn i'm equipped to use it.
cheers and good luck with the morse code journey i'm enjoying mine.





Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on May 12, 2015, 06:08:30 AM
Martin,

Good to see you are still at it!

Don't know if I ever mentioned MorseRing to you. It's a smartphone app that makes your phone send Morse Code ringtones. If the number is in your address book it sends the name; if not, it sends the number.

So when someone calls me from home, it sends "HOME" in Morse as the ringtone.

I know who is calling without ever looking at the phone.

Speed and tone are adjustable.

Hope to work you on the air soon!

73 de Jim, N2EY

Thanks Jim. I don't have a smartphone ... mainly because I dislike being "always connected, always available." The last of the dinosaurs.

Eventually, they will stop selling "dumb" cellphones altogether. My only concession to smartness is that my dumb phone has a physical keyboard, to make texting easier. But it has no apps, no Internet connection and no email. I don't even own a laptop computer and when I travel, still rely on Business Centers in hotels to check email every day or two. (BTW, hotel Business Centers are gradually reducing their facilities and charging quite a lot of money just for using a PC; eventually they will go the way of the "payphone" and largely disappear, I think.)

Recently, we have had serious illness in the extended family, as well as a mountain of work in my "day job," plus I have been spending way too much time building radios instead of moving toward Getting On the Air by putting up the antenna. No promises, but I'm hopeful this will change.

There seems to be only one advantage to my long-drawn-out Morse learning saga (three years now): when I get back to it after a long break, I find that I have "internalized" most of the code and it is easier each time. Also, when listening on the air I catch bits of phrases as one unit, which is the beginning of "head copy." But nothing will improve my Morse more than actually getting on the air....

I have a lovely new homebrew receiver to test (http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,103101.0.html (http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,103101.0.html)) even if right now it's the ugliest and messiest thing in Tarnation. That little gray fingertip-sized object in the center of the photo is a "subminiature" pentode tube with a 1.2V filament. The set has two tubes, soon to be three. It's built in a "modular" experimental manner atop a series of small wooden "bricks." Where is Tarnation anyway? Is that the same place where you find Cleft Sicks, Handbaskets and Cahoots?

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-yCJDfErBtgY/VVGYX0xTaYI/AAAAAAAAE5I/v5sNgzF5384/s640/Submini_regen_low_voltage.jpg?gl=US)

Only read the first and last page .... In my opinion practicing 5 mins an hour is a slow drawn out torture, it would be more productive to practice 20 straight minutes a day and be done with it. .... Also, getting on the air as soon as possible is the way to go, we are not perfecting for a red carpet debut. Learn by doing.

I'm somewhere in the middle, on that spectrum. When I have time for Morse (it tends to be a one-week period every three months or so!) I find that I can do two Koch drills of five minutes each, one after the other. But if I try to do a third one, performance deteriorates and fatigue sets in. So what I tend to do is 10 minutes on, 20 minutes off -- rinse and repeat. This tends to be when I am on a long plane flight, a long train journey, or holed up in a hotel room for a few hours and it is extremely productive. That is pretty much the extent of my "Morse learning" in the recent past -- but it works quite well. (I also monitor the 40m band daily, which is one way of avoiding "losing the Morse thread.") I would not recommend this extremely long-drawn-out Morse learning method to anyone else!

BTW, far from being "slow drawn out torture," I find Morse (using any learning method) to be a wonderful therapeutic "calmer" when life is too hectic. In that sense it's almost as powerful as music, to my ears. Building radios is nice too! I suspect that I will also enjoy long, rag-chewing CW QSOs -- I certainly enjoy monitoring them.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on June 02, 2015, 03:30:30 AM
I built a CW filter for my homebrew tube receiver

My latest effort in procrastination (i.e. still not getting on the air) was to build an LC audio filter for CW.

You can listen to a recording of the filter in action here:  http://youtu.be/87vIi8_A6Wc (http://youtu.be/87vIi8_A6Wc).

This is a weak CW signal copied last night through heavy QRN. At the start of the 20-second clip, the filter is off. It is switched in at the 8-second mark of the clip.

Full disclosure: I deleted 4 seconds of audio immediately after the filter is switched in. That's because I was adjusting the RF and AF gain to allow for the different load/gain presented by the filter, and during that time the signal was inaudible. So if the CW content seems a bit disjointed, that's why. Deleting those 4 seconds made for a cleaner A/B comparison.

Technical details: Because of the high input and output impedances presented by tube amp stages, the inductors are huge (they are filter chokes intended for power supplies) and the insertion loss is high, requiring considerable amplification to compensate. The circuit is a 1AD4 pentode "pre-amplifier," feeding a "pi" bandpass filter with fc of about 650Hz, followed by a second 1AD4 pentode for additional amplification. The goal is unity gain for the filter stage -- I'm still working on adjusting the gain.

The filter is designed for a 10KΩ source and output impedance, much higher than the 600Ω interstage impedance you might design for in a solid-state circuit. Nowadays LC filters are not so common for CW because it's easier/cheaper to build a solid-state active filter. That wasn't really an option in my case because I'm using "battery tubes" (directly heated) which made a phase-shifter or a modern SCAF design hard to do. I did build a simple "Twin-T" active filter with a single 1AD4 tube that didn't work too well; I may have another go at that circuit later, by trying a two-stage Twin-T.

If you want even more details, including a schematic, see my interminable thread on "Building a high-performance regenerative receiver" over in the Homebrew forum. That "breadboard experiment" has grown into a monster that takes up most of my small workbench.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0WV on June 12, 2015, 03:35:57 AM
Martin,

Your test as demonstrated on youtube is not clear, because you copied a weak station till the switching moment and another station that replied to his bk on the switching after that. No call signs exchanged. Seems to me it is another station.



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on June 12, 2015, 04:57:28 AM
Your test as demonstrated on youtube is not clear, because you copied a weak station till the switching moment and another station that replied to his bk on the switching after that. No call signs exchanged. Seems to me it is another station.

Wim,

You may be right -- I am not sure. I was preoccupied with adjusting the controls during those few seconds (and during that time the signal was not audible). The effect that you hear is real however; it would have been clearer if I'd turned the filter off again so you could hear the significant difference, out-in-out.

Upon further testing I am finding that the filter is useful, but only in a small set of circumstances. It is a very sharp filter, not a "flat-top" curve, and very noisy as you can probably hear in the video (a "rushing/ringing" sound). However I can attest that in some cases it makes the difference between a copyable signal, and one that's buried by QRN or QRM. There is rapid dropoff on either side of the center audio tone, making tuning quite tricky.

It's likely that I will do some additional experimentation with filters, in due course. This experiment was successful but I'm sure something much better could be built -- either passive or active. The big limitation of the current experiments is the use of directly heated tubes -- which rules out quite a few designs or makes them hard to build.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0WV on June 12, 2015, 06:09:37 AM
OK Martin,

You can pretty easily use a controlled testsignal. I have one available for you
at http://pa0wv.home.xs4all.nl/TIMorsedecoder/timorse2.wav

When you download that file and play it in the repeat mode of your player, you have a wideband noise with a weak CW signal, hardly audible, with your filter you can take away most of the noise and demonstrate without time gaps the effect of your filter.

gd luck 73 PA0WV





Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: W4MPT on August 26, 2015, 09:21:51 PM
Well?  Any progress?


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N4OI on August 27, 2015, 05:47:37 AM
Well?  Any progress?

Back after a few months and don't want to read the thread -- cut to the chase -- has there been a QSO yet?

73  ;D


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: VK3MEG on August 27, 2015, 05:52:18 AM
at least i can report i have  akey and have been sending and have had qso's with the key and with out the decoder slow and painfully but done the rx is the hard part. sending is fun. lots of practice happening.
cheers


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on August 27, 2015, 05:31:06 PM
Back after a few months and don't want to read the thread -- cut to the chase -- has there been a QSO yet?
73  ;D

No.

Well?  Any progress?

No. "Life" has intervened. Progress will eventually be made ... no idea when.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: PA0WV on October 16, 2015, 02:58:21 PM
Back after a few months and don't want to read the thread -- cut to the chase -- has there been a QSO yet?
73  ;D

No.

Well?  Any progress?

No. "Life" has intervened. Progress will eventually be made ... no idea when.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Another failure?


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on October 26, 2015, 04:05:33 PM
Another failure?

Wim: No. Just a very long detour. You'll just have to take my word for it: professional commitments have sunk my ham radio hobby for a while -- and that includes CW learning. I'm a persistent cuss, so you can assume I'll be back as soon as possible -- and that may be a very long time. I had no idea it would be like that, but life is life.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K5HP on November 04, 2015, 07:24:05 PM
Well dadgum, I have read this entire thread (almost) hoping to celebrate your conquering CW.  ;D Seriously I am fighting the same battle since April of this year. I just finished level 1 of CWops CW academy and it has helped tremendously. I'm scheduled for the Jan class 2016 and will hopefully progress some more in my seemingly endless search for the "secret". Hang in there and don't give up. I gave up golf and have found yet another skill to learn that is impossible to master  :( Glutton for punishment Hee Hee.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WB2WIK on November 05, 2015, 11:21:33 AM
Well dadgum, I have read this entire thread (almost) hoping to celebrate your conquering CW.  ;D Seriously I am fighting the same battle since April of this year. I just finished level 1 of CWops CW academy and it has helped tremendously. I'm scheduled for the Jan class 2016 and will hopefully progress some more in my seemingly endless search for the "secret". Hang in there and don't give up. I gave up golf and have found yet another skill to learn that is impossible to master  :( Glutton for punishment Hee Hee.

With golf, the course always wins.

With code, nothing stands in your way and you can definitely win.

Using the code to make contacts, even at very slow speeds and making lots of mistakes, ramps up code proficiency faster and usually better than any study method.  The "interaction" of both sending and receiving, and eventually knowing what you expect to hear -- and you'll be right most of the time -- is priceless, not to mention fun and puts contacts in the log.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on November 06, 2015, 06:27:36 AM
Using the code to make contacts, even at very slow speeds and making lots of mistakes, ramps up code proficiency faster and usually better than any study method.  The "interaction" of both sending and receiving, and eventually knowing what you expect to hear -- and you'll be right most of the time -- is priceless, not to mention fun and puts contacts in the log.

I actually stepped into the shack a couple of days ago for the first time in ages and revved up one of the homebrew receivers for a few minutes to remind myself that I have a hobby called "ham radio." That's how bad things have been here! Amazingly enough I was able to copy some CW QSOs at a reasonable clip, showing that it's a bit like swimming or riding a bike: once you've learned it, it's almost impossible to "forget" completely.

Unfortunately, because of all-consuming business projects, there will be many more months away from the hobby. But I'll be back.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8PRG on November 06, 2015, 07:01:00 AM
Using the code to make contacts, even at very slow speeds and making lots of mistakes, ramps up code proficiency faster and usually better than any study method.  The "interaction" of both sending and receiving, and eventually knowing what you expect to hear -- and you'll be right most of the time -- is priceless, not to mention fun and puts contacts in the log.

That's been my approach exactly.....at first I was very reluctant, being afraid to be labeled as a lid, etc...but I finally decided, screw them, it's a hobby and I'm in it for the fun.....and I'm having me some.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: WB2WIK on November 06, 2015, 08:39:07 AM
Using the code to make contacts, even at very slow speeds and making lots of mistakes, ramps up code proficiency faster and usually better than any study method.  The "interaction" of both sending and receiving, and eventually knowing what you expect to hear -- and you'll be right most of the time -- is priceless, not to mention fun and puts contacts in the log.

That's been my approach exactly.....at first I was very reluctant, being afraid to be labeled as a lid, etc...but I finally decided, screw them, it's a hobby and I'm in it for the fun.....and I'm having me some.

I don't think you'd be labeled as a lid or anything else.

When I work someone going slowly, making mistakes, and asking me for repeats I figure "Oh, he's new."  But sometimes that's wrong also.  It can be "Oh, he's old and forgetting stuff."  That also happens.

It doesn't matter.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: VK3MEG on November 08, 2015, 04:51:08 PM
Well dadgum, I have read this entire thread (almost) hoping to celebrate your conquering CW.  ;D Seriously I am fighting the same battle since April of this year. I just finished level 1 of CWops CW academy and it has helped tremendously. I'm scheduled for the Jan class 2016 and will hopefully progress some more in my seemingly endless search for the "secret". Hang in there and don't give up. I gave up golf and have found yet another skill to learn that is impossible to master  :( Glutton for punishment Hee Hee.

thanks for that its encouraging I'm well and truly getting there and the magic is starting to happen pulling out words not canned qso's letters, copying beacons, still got my safety blanket cheat sheet handy but the words are ringing in my ears to ditch it. I actually sent without the echo back the other day and my qso buddy goes that was great. So now comes the time to ditch the security and throw my self out there. cqww cw is a contest i plan to operate as long as possible. as i find each contest i do my skill level jumps up quite a bit. Good to see the encouragement here. its helping. We are getting a few more vk's interested as they are seeing that it is achievable with constant steady work.


my one tip is for people when learning to send to try to get an echoback of what you are sending i find this invaluable.
cheers


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on March 15, 2017, 02:33:16 AM
A couple of weeks ago I stepped into the shack and removed all the household junk that had accumulated in there, which had made the room impassable. Then I fired up my two homebrew ham receivers for the first time in nearly a year.

After making some small hardware modifications to the detector stage and stringing up a much longer "longwire antenna," reception was greatly improved on 40m (as well as 80m and 20m) on the "Three-Transistor Receiver for the Beginner" (an ARRL project from 1968). This was very encouraging because one of the things that discouraged me from monitoring the bands was poor performance in this receiver, which initially worked well when I built it several years ago but then inexplicably became a poor performer. (That building project is described here: https://tinyurl.com/h5fsmm2 (https://tinyurl.com/h5fsmm2).)

I've also been playing with a self-designed, fairly elaborate regenerative receiver built entirely with subminiature tubes powered with rechargeable batteries, assembled on a large wooden breadboard (described here: https://tinyurl.com/hswxr8v (https://tinyurl.com/hswxr8v)). In many ways this set performs better than the "Three-Transistor Receiver for the Beginner," thanks mainly to the extensive design help I received on this (and other projects) from eham contributors G3RZP, N2EY, KB1GMX and JAHAM2BE. I got further sidetracked by an obsession with building an entirely portable AM tube radio (size of a pack of cigarettes), which was enormous fun and has been in frequent use since it was completed (described here: https://tinyurl.com/jmcunod (https://tinyurl.com/jmcunod)).

Getting back to the present time, I am very encouraged that even though I have not studied any Morse for a long time, I am able to monitor the basic elements of the CW QSOs copied on 40m and 20m. There are big gaps in the copy where I cannot copy some characters that I have "fogotten" (they sound familiar but my brain is no longer making an automatic link to a character). So now it's time to spend a few weeks brushing up my Morse skills and then plan to get on the air as soon as Spring makes an appearance and the weather permits hoisting the dipole.

I will also be building a simple "front end" for the receiver, adding a one-transistor isolation stage plus attenuation and antenna tune functions, to eliminate overload problems with strong signals. This has already been breadboarded, it just needs to be mounted in a small chassis and shouldn't take more than a few hours. I will also finally build a transmit-receive switch (I have already added a muting reed relay to the receiver).

The transmitter will be the ARRL "Simple Two-Tube Transmitter" described here: https://tinyurl.com/hl4gtxo (https://tinyurl.com/hl4gtxo).

Please wish me luck in finally getting on the air. For several years now, life has been brutally busy, mainly on the professional side but also lots of important personal/family things that must come before hobbies! Ham radio keeps getting derailed ... I was licensed five years ago and seem to be trying to set a record for procrastination.

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-FeR5eSEHSWE/U9g7TYruuBI/AAAAAAAADUE/qoT_98iEicA/s1024/My_Station_KB1WSY.JPG?gl=US)

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N2DTS on March 15, 2017, 10:50:20 AM
That is some cool home brew.
I have some of those really small tubes, glass, 3 different types I think, triodes and pentodes, I must do something with them!



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: HB0PET on March 18, 2017, 02:41:55 AM
@Martin

I'm not opposed to older equipment, but your headphones and the key should be replaced with something better! They rather give the impression that they come from a technical Museum. :-\


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on March 18, 2017, 04:21:28 AM
I'm not opposed to older equipment, but your headphones and the key should be replaced with something better! They rather give the impression that they come from a technical Museum. :-\

The key is an Ameco K-4 (https://www.mtechnologies.com/ameco/keys.htm (https://www.mtechnologies.com/ameco/keys.htm)) which is a Japanese-made clone of the American military J-38. The cans are high-impedance headphones, matching the output specs of the receiver. My station is 100 percent historically accurate to match the complete station in the 1968 edition of "How to Become a Radio Amateur." I agree that this obsession with historical authenticity is perverse!

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-On-B-x9yPo4/U9g7S0ak2fI/AAAAAAAADTQ/MiNTGrzFqfI/s713/How%2520to%2520Become%25201968.jpg?gl=US)

BTW there is something to be said for the old headphones, when copying CW. Because they have crappy frequency response, they tend to cut out some of the low- and high-frequency QRM or QRN. They are uncomfortable and have almost no isolation from household noise, but thousands of hams managed just fine with them in the 1950s!

Anyway at the moment I'm focusing on a quick brushup of my Morse and then finally Getting on the Air. My historically authentic station won't make it any easier: the receiver's selectivity is as wide as a barn door and the QRP transmitter is crystal-bound. Eventually, I will be building "better" equipment. I even have a Begali key and modern dynamic headphones somewhere in the shack....

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: NI0C on March 18, 2017, 12:21:25 PM
Martin,
It is good to see you back in the CW forum, and thanks for the great pics!  I like your vintage 1960's electric clock-- those keep excellent time.  Best wishes and good luck in your pursuits!  Hope to hear you on the air soon.
73 de Chuck  NI0C


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: VK5EEE on March 18, 2017, 09:10:43 PM
Welcome back Martin! Reading much of the thread, I think your use of Koch would have been a success if you'd not had life/work not allowing time to complete, and perhaps not jumping ahead before the minimum 90% accuracy, as it seems that perhaps at the point you added new characters anyway, then things slowed down? I don't know why many were pushing you to go on air back then, to me there is nothing wrong with mastering CW first before going on air. I learned from a very young age and by the time I was 12 I was the world's youngest R/O on a Greek Ship, yes I knew no electronics, but I knew the frequencies, Q codes, procedures, many of the radio regulations, and was very proficient in CW well beyond the requirement. But I only got on the air again after that some five years later, and would send CW only to myself tapping on a table with a pen etc. But I did an awful lot of listening to all types and languages of CW and that did no harm, so when I got on the air I cannot even remember my first QSO I did not have any nerves as it was easy. I more remember my first use of 500kHz at sea. Well done on the antique equipment, I hope one day to be able to do that too. Let us know how things progress! 73!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on March 19, 2017, 03:29:22 AM
Let us know how things progress!

The good news (and I have said this before) is that if you have learned CW before, but are then forced to take arbitrarily long breaks because Other Things get in the way, it does "come back" quickly. Even the characters that I do not immediately recognize still sound like "old friends" and the mental link between the sound and the character is relatively easy to re-establish.

In the past I was using an "effective code speed" that was different from the "character code speed" -- known as "Farnsworth" timing and helpful for beginners. This time, I am ditching Farnsworth and using a uniform 15wpm speed with the G4FON (Koch-method) trainer. This is working well except that it is tricky copying short characters (such as E, I and T) especially if there are several of them in a row. This time around, I have decided to be much less fussy when this happens: if you cannot copy these staccato bursts of short characters, ignore them and move on. It is usually fairly easy to guess the missing syllables or words afterwards.

Morse is interesting, especially in a modern context, because the characters are of varying lengths -- unlike almost every current digital encoding system which has fixed-length elements. This makes Morse really efficient!

Anyway, after a few days I am up to 14 characters in the Koch progression at a "standard" (non-Farnsworth) 15wpm on G4FON. I am also monitoring a lot of QSOs, although Contest weekends like this one are a bit sterile for a Morse-learner: 20m and 40m are dominated by rapid-fire exchanges consisting of CQ TEST, callsigns, and 5NN! I tried hanging out on the SKCC frequencies, but the problem there is that much of the novice Morse is hard to copy even when it is very slow! I can't wait for the contest to end....

With any luck I will be back up to the full complement of characters in the next couple of weeks.

I am even thinking of doing something sacrilegious and hoisting a commercially manufactured antenna that was generously sent to me several years ago by David, N4AYZ. It's a ParEndFedz "trail-friendly" end-fed QRP antenna (details here: https://tinyurl.com/z53ylch (https://tinyurl.com/z53ylch)) that is only 41 feet long and would not require renewed negotiations with my neighbors or my landlord -- unlike my full-size homebrewed dipole.

Until now I have been determined that the station should be "entirely homebrewed" but my current circumstances as a renter are something of a "force majeure" so what the heck, might as well get on the air even with a compromise, non-homebrewed antenna to start with. I could build my own "compromise antenna" but what the heck, might as well acknowledte N4AYZ's generosity and get on with it! If I do that, we could be talking about having that first QSO within the next few weeks!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: VK5EEE on March 19, 2017, 04:22:16 AM
Thanks for your reply Martin.

I was over 60WPM on RX and 45WPM max on TX when I went QRT early 90's. I came back over 20 years later, and though had not missed CW, oddly, with life events taking over, and not even given it a thought, I had not lost anything coming back to it. Perhaps a little time to get the 60+WPM and 45WPM TX back again, but no sweat. Certainly no characters forgotten though my Arabic CW has suffered, I'd have to practice that. Russian may also be a bit slower now. So it sure is like riding a bicycle: in fact also I not long ago road a bike for the first time in years. I did wobble for a few seconds or minutes at the outset, and also a police car pulled up and said "that's a nice helmet you're wearing!" (I wasn't wearing one, and did not know that while I had been living out in free nations, Australia had turned Orwellian.

I had that problem of losing many characters when trying to work out what I had missed or a word at very high speed, and that took me a long time to overcome the brain harping on what was missed, of course that is an expensive exercise. As you also noted, the "Zen" attitude surely helps, the more relaxed you are, the easier everything is at the top end of your speed ability, both for sending and receiving. "Zen and the Art of Radiotelegraphy" is indeed a must-read for learners and those wanting to push their upper QRQ boundaries.

I did not learn by Farnsworth but only by live CW on MF and HF (Commercial CW, mostly maritime but also other). However, for the learning of the characters at the outset, I would recommend it to beginners, along with Koch, and then once all characters are over 90% correctly recognised, then reduce it until there is no extended spacing. I think that at that stage it is useful, but once successful at 20WPM without extra spacing, when going QRQ learning higher speeds, not to use it at all but the proper spacing.

"Morse is interesting, especially in a modern context, because the characters are of varying lengths -- unlike almost every current digital encoding system which has fixed-length elements. This makes Morse really efficient!"

Indeed! For French and English it is very efficient, well, less so in French because for some reason they chose very long characters to represent some frequent characters, e.g. ..-.. which is OK but .--.- and .----. for example, whereby they could have chosen .-.- instead of .--.- and .---. instead of .----. But what about Japanese!! No way around though, some 40 characters or so I think.

A digital mode that also uses the sort of compression Morse does, i.e. frequency of common letters in German and English, is Pactor with Huffman encoding. But yes, computers generally need a fixed timing, and even Huffman is within a fixed timing of digital transmission. A very well versed CW human brain can make educated guesses at missing characters, in ways that computers will struggle with, but let's not go down the DCW vs CW argument -- these are two different modes!

Yes, those contests! They take over the ENTIRE bands now, and should be leaving non-contesters some small segments free. But contest ORGANISERS these days appear to be psychopaths. They don't give a flying ... or a rats ... about others. Why not go to the WARC bands during such times, does your license allow WARC band use? Those bands are very nice for propagation too, always 30m is open 24 hours a day. Only there is something actually WORSE than contests, at times, and that is DX Terrorism (or is it DX Tourism?) with unspecified and unlimited split. One or several major ones sometimes wipe out the entire narrow band. DX Tourorists are evidently also psychopaths.

Sorry to hear about your lack of freedom also in USA, with regards to antennas. Here in Australia, with all this unlimited space, we are very much crippled and the "sick man of Asia Pacific region" when compared to all our neighbours both in terms of allowed power, and antenna restrictions. In crowded Asia there is so much more freedom than here. It's the system, and the brain of those who like to control and restrict and organise what they perceive to be a "perfect society" where government outsources everything to corruption, rorts and business. A wonder Amateur Radio is still allowed!

Good you get on the air with any antenna at all to start with. On my QRZ page you can see my fan dipole, it is very efficient and effective, but it is up in the clear, you probably cannot do that. It is under the 10m restricted height for non-approval costly bureaucratic applications and permission, but still a very visible structure. Or you can build a vertical based on a fibre glass telescopic pole, these can be bought in lengths of 9m or so, and you can hoist a vertical end fed wire with it and a counter poise or radial(s), or an inverted vee dipole. The vertical will go well for DX, the inverted vee better for closer in contacts. You can easily raise and lower this so it is  not a permanent structure.

The bands I can work USA best on is 40m and 30m, because on higher frequencies my dipoles are null toward USA. But the times I'm on are your small hours of the night, though propagation over the Pacific is good at that time.

As you develop you may like to try a very simple but fun and effective manner of keying: the side-swiper or "cootie". See http://www.sideswipernet.org for details and nets, a very friendly group of people, and a very different technique but not hard to adapt to, and produces a nice sounding CW too. Dits tend to be a bit longer, so the gaps between internal dits/dahs is smaller, one can of course counter this by using a wider berth but some don't mind that. Do check that out some time!

Thanks again for sharing your 2013 first steps and development, it stands as testiment to how quickly CW can be learned. If you'd not had the interruptions, and perhaps a little different luck in strategy, I think 6 weeks was enough to learn all characters up to a reasonable speed. Real life events and pressures get in the way so generally it is much longer than that!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on March 19, 2017, 05:13:40 AM
Certainly no characters forgotten though my Arabic CW has suffered, I'd have to practice that.

My goodness, Arabic CW! In a former life I was a foreign correspondent for The Associated Press, based in various Middle Eastern countries. I studied Arabic for several years and was a mediocre but passable speaker for a short while -- and studied fussha so that even today I can understand the gist of news bulletins on the Arabic shortwave stations or the BBC Arabic Service.

Arabic CW is presumably rather efficient given that you don't need consonants? Or do you include some diacriticals in order to avoid ambiguity? Arabic also doesn't use much punctuation, so perhaps that helps when it's in CW? What do they use for the common sentence linkers "fa" and "wa" -- "ES"?

Edited later to add: I am also a native French speaker (I'm an Englishman but was born in Paris) but have never copied Morse in French. Yes, that must be interesting in terms of the character mix.

As you develop you may like to try a very simple but fun and effective manner of keying: the side-swiper or "cootie".

I am sure that I will want to progress from a straight key to something else, but haven't yet decided what route to take. The Vibroplex seems very attractive, but perhaps I am being overinfluenced by N2EY, who uses one. It would also be fun to build one of the hollow-state electronic keyers from an ARRL manual.

But once I am on the air, the priority will be to improve the heart of my station, namely the receiver and the transmitter (hoisting a better antenna may have to wait until I move home). Everything will be homebrewed. The priority list is something like this: (a) a better receiver, with single-signal CW selectivity, by building my first superhet; (b) greater output power, going up to about 40W; (c) a VFO. I already have most of the parts for these projects, all of which are either straight from ARRL manuals from the 1950s/60s or adapted from them.

Once I have got on the air on 40m, I will be keen to add 20m, so that is another part of the project. I am not a "night owl" anymore, therefore being able to use a band that has reasonable daytime performance would be a plus, not to mention the great DX on that band.

Anyway, I digress. Only one thing matters right now: Getting on the Air!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: VK5EEE on March 19, 2017, 07:44:55 AM
Sounds great Martin! Your home brew projects. That's the type I'd enjoy, old valve sets. So far though my only home brew is assembling a Chinese Pixie. Yes Arabic no use of the vowels, just sent as it is written, newspaper style. Thus and (wa) is just W. In this case the CW is the same as English W. Some others are easy e.g. ---- is letter "Shin", which is the same as "SH" in Russian (E lying on its back) or CH in German. Many are equivalent to English e.g. Ta is T. But Tha is C. Not hard to learn. But Kha, which doesn't exist in English, is O (---). Then in Arabic there is no "O" so that's not a problem. Dha is ---. Hard S, Saad, is X. Dhad is I think V. Again there is no V in Arabic, so they can use that for that. There's no letter P in Arabic and I can't remember P being assigned to any letter. I never became QRQ in Arabic but I don't know of even any Arab who did, by the time I knew Arabic CW it was only being used in Sudan and not at high speed, I guess 18WPM. So Khartoum would be sent as ALORUWM (A-L-KH-R-hard T-OU(W)-M). In this example english KHARTOUM arabic CW: ALORUWM so even with the everpresent "The" in Arabic, it is still shorter than English. Allah was ALLe where the "e" here is ..-.. as in "h", again shorter than in English. So indeed Arabic CW ends up being quite efficient even though it wasn't designed for Arabic. Japanese CW on the other hand is rather inefficient, to say Thank you (Arigato) is --.-- --. .-.. .. ..-.. ..- and Good bye (Sayonara) is -.-.- ..- .-. ... which is longer than GB but shorter than full "Good bye"! We hear a lot of Japanese "Wabun" CW here on 40m and sometimes in the day on higher bands, and I love the sound of it. You can recognise it by the starting signal "switch to Japanese" -..--- (DO joined together) and the "switch to International Morse" ...-. In Japanese many of the prosigns were adopted, so they no longer have meaning when in between <DO> and <SN> e.g. -.-.- is "Sa", and .-.-. is "N". Quite long for a simple N eh! Our "N" in CW in Wabun is actually "Ta". Most of the CW codes actually are for two letters in the SOUND, eg. ka, ki, ku, ke, ko. I don't speak Japanese at all so I have to learn the words with the CW by memory, so I won't get very far. I try to save my "show off Japanese CW" with JA stations, until the final over, because they often then assume I speak Japanese and inundate me with code and words I can't understand!
I think Arabic CW is not used anywhere at all, and can be presumed to be dead -- no amateurs to use it either. Japanese CW is alive and well, of course Russian too, though it is rare to hear Russian hams using it, perhaps locally on 80m? There is Korean CW still being used for telegrams to a few ships from HLO etc. A Japanese coastal station belonging to a fishing company is using Japanese CW. Chinese CW is still in use, but is really just 4 digit numbers, though to make it faster they use "cut numbers", but still, it's slow! One would have to look up the meaning in code books that put a character into 4 digits and vice versa. We can often hear Chinese CW from the military but also coastal stations weather reports.
Indonesia is using Indonesian CW but it's not really Indonesian CW as it's just Latin Alphabet. Nothing unusual there.
All good fun, so anyone who gets bored after learning English CW can always go that little bit further with German extra characters, Swedish, French, Spanish, for easy ones with minor expansions, or take on Russian (not that hard really to learn the alphabet and the CW equivalents), and the crazy could take up a dead language CW (Arabic) or try the very advanced and learn Japanese. The ultimate would be Chinese, but somehow, I don't think that would be fun. It's all digits.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: VK5EEE on March 19, 2017, 08:02:08 AM
PS: Of course Japanese CW you often won't hear the <DO> and <SN> if it is all in Japanese but is easily recognised by things such as --.-. and .-.-. and -.-.- and .-.-- etc -- i.e. long characters that are often heard. Sadly Thai CW is another extinct one, I'm unaware of any hams using it, there are very few Thai hams using CW in any case, I think only a dozen. Back in the days when post offices and police forces and military used CW (though the latter rarely in plain text), it must have been wonderful to hear these various languages. So for sure there are some dead CW languages now. Will they be revived though some day? Even American Morse is "officially" dead but in that case it's not really dead as some hams keep it alive! I've learned how to call CW with my Callsign in American Morse, it is fast and efficient, but as the dahs are officially very short, it can't be properly sent with a keyer, well it can, but then people should be complaining about it not being correct, just as some (in my view wrongly) proclaim that a Q in a CQ call cannot be sent as .-.- (almost), or dahs elongated.

BTW, on the keys... I'd start off on a straight key, then a bug, then paddle, then cootie, or cootie then paddle. But a paddle (electronic keyer) is nice as it uses the least energy. You trade lack of flexibility (imho when using a keyer one should really send perfect CW and certainly not run letters together as many do, as that is hard to decode e.g. is C meant to be TR or KE -- many send KEY and TRY as CY -- really an electronic keyer does NOT give you the freedom to do Beethoven!) you trade flexibility for speed and ease. Bugs are fun, as are cooties. Myself I started straight key, then paddle keyer (iambic), then bug, then cootie. For QRS, I prefer straight key. For middle speed Cootie or Bug, for high speed the paddles. For above 50WPM it has to be keyboard. I don't have a keyboard connected, but all four key types are connected in parallel, actually currently not the paddle as I have only one and that's in the car stuck to the door so I can CW mobile. I should figure out the connection for my cootie to double as electronic single lever paddle, though that'd need practice!

If and when you do move to a paddle, if you have any future aims to be able to QRQ, my strong advice is do not use a twin paddle and get into the iambic habit. Other than the "CQ" it really has no real advantage as saving 10% of finger movement is zero effective energy saving anyway, as you can twiddle your fingers even when you are barely alive. Use a single lever, then you won't have problems going above the 45WPM barrier of iambic timing. I wish I'd known that long ago! I'd then be able to send 60WPM on a paddle by now without doubt. I did not realize what was stopping me, i.e. the iambic timing is much more critical i.e. shorter.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on March 20, 2017, 12:56:05 PM
Today I've been practicing my sending, for the first time in ages. I am using software called PCW Fistcheck. This provides a graphical picture of your dot length, dash length, and the gaps in between. It also attempts to decode your CW -- and measures the speed of your sending. If you can manage to (a) get it to decode your sending accurately and (b) maintain the target speed, you are doing quite well. It is also good for spotting things like dashes that have been lengthened at the end of words.

Here's the rub. The software Help points out that the gap between characters should be three units (one unit is the length of a dit), and that seems to agree with the best sending that I hear on the air. However it also says that the gap between *words* should be *seven* units. When tapped out that way, it sounds to me like a much larger gap than is commonly used on the air.

Does that mean that it is very common for people to shorten the word-spaces on-air to a non-standard, considerably shorter space, and that I have simply become used to hearing it that way?

To give you one example, when I first started my session today it was decoding my sending like this: "CQCQCQDEKB1WSYKB1WSYKB1WSYK". It took quite a mental effort to increase the spacing so that it would decode my sending as: "CQ CQ CQ...."

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K1HMS on March 20, 2017, 09:07:02 PM
....my sending like this: "CQCQCQDEKB1WSYKB1WSYKB1WSYK". It took quite a mental effort to increase the spacing so that it would decode my sending as: "CQ CQ CQ...."

73 de Martin, KB1WSY

Given the 27 pages the following may have been suggest, my apologies if it was.
Most rigs make good practice oscillators and do not TX if VOX is set Off. Take the ext speaker output to the computer and use CW_Get, CW Skimmer, or similar for a decoder looking at the decoded code only after you have sent it.  If you see KB1WSYKB1WSY   or your Y decodes as N M you'll know you have a spacing issue. I did this from the beginning and believe it helped me


Very interesting thread, I will be reading it tonight!

Hamilton K1HMS


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N4OI on March 21, 2017, 04:20:19 AM
Today I've been practicing my sending, for the first time in ages. I am using software called PCW Fistcheck. This provides a graphical picture of your dot length, dash length, and the gaps in between. It also attempts to decode your CW -- and measures the speed of your sending. If you can manage to (a) get it to decode your sending accurately and (b) maintain the target speed, you are doing quite well. It is also good for spotting things like dashes that have been lengthened at the end of words.

Here's the rub. The software Help points out that the gap between characters should be three units (one unit is the length of a dit), and that seems to agree with the best sending that I hear on the air. However it also says that the gap between *words* should be *seven* units. When tapped out that way, it sounds to me like a much larger gap than is commonly used on the air.

Does that mean that it is very common for people to shorten the word-spaces on-air to a non-standard, considerably shorter space, and that I have simply become used to hearing it that way?

To give you one example, when I first started my session today it was decoding my sending like this: "CQCQCQDEKB1WSYKB1WSYKB1WSYK". It took quite a mental effort to increase the spacing so that it would decode my sending as: "CQ CQ CQ...."

73 de Martin, KB1WSY

All this CW analysis is one part of the hobby I missed out on...  And I thought I was having fun just getting on the air and making QSOs... Go figure!

73   ???


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on March 21, 2017, 06:33:24 AM
All this CW analysis is one part of the hobby I missed out on...  And I thought I was having fun just getting on the air and making QSOs... Go figure!

Touché!

See you on the air soon.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: VK5EEE on March 25, 2017, 09:57:35 PM
... However it also says that the gap between *words* should be *seven* units. When tapped out that way, it sounds to me like a much larger gap than is commonly used on the air.

Does that mean that it is very common for people to shorten the word-spaces on-air to a non-standard, considerably shorter space, and that I have simply become used to hearing it that way?...
Yes indeed. The ITU in its Resolutions regarding International Morse Code, without looking it up, I believe it was as recent as the 1970s or was it 1990's, increased the word gap from 4 dit durations to 7. 4 was too small of course, as that is only very slightly more than between characters. So indeed 7 is official, and indeed though I sometimes do it, most of us myself included more often use shorter spacing perhaps 5 or 6. In practice is matters little, just as it matters not if some of your dahs are 9 durations or 2 durations. Oxford English may be official, Canadian, American and Australian have differences, but easy to follow, Jamaican and Trinidadian and Indian may be harder for some less experienced to follow... Or music: official CW may be techno but you can sing the same song in Blues, Reggae or even Jazz (hardest to follow!)


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on March 26, 2017, 06:27:42 AM
I am deliberately rushing through the Koch course (since I have done it several times before!). I am up to 24 characters (out of 40) and adding about 3 characters per day. Basically, every time I run the G4FON program, I add an additional character. I am not achieving the vaunted 90 percent accurate copy rate, but I am past caring, at this point -- and this multi-year thread is in danger of outlasting its initially great welcome if I procrastinate further!!!

I will not be even remotely "ready" by the time of that first QSO. But presumably very few hams were ever "ready" (apart from those who already had military or marine CW training).

Copying QSOs off the air is a big challenge, and I assume that is normal. Most of them are around 20wpm and I only catch small portions of those. It has to go down to about 12wpm before I get more usable results. So for instance over the past day I got this kind of thing on 7030kHz or 7055kHz (callsigns redacted):

xx DE xx GE TOM UR HERE IN CENTR COY NEAR PENNSYLVANIA MYAI 73 MY SKCC NR 4 TOM AROL xx de xx K

50F W TTMR NG JUST GET G BAND B4 CHURCH HANANH NOTHING MUCH NEW HRLA NEW. SOBK IN DE

U AGREAT HIS OFC HRES 59 ES HAM FER YRS ES ENJ C OFALMODES. RIG YAE 1200 AM RONSSAMF 500W ANT IS G UP 30FT. WATT GFER 4 BALV NS IN MAIL TO AC MUCTIB D LA T ES FEE HTRUE 4IN OPENLADDERLAE BE HRTOMORROW. xx DE xx

Of course, with a bit of guesswork it is easy to figure out some of the missing syllables. I must stress that the above operators were sending excellent code (albeit, as I said above, with surprisingly little space between words) and I presume they were sending QRS only at the request of their contact (I usually could not receive the other side of the conversation, so I don't know for sure).

CU ALL ON THE AIR SOON (by mid-April at the very latest; have several business and personal trips away from home to contend with in next 4 weeks).

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: VK5EEE on March 26, 2017, 07:10:11 AM
Sorry I don't understand why you are doing this... I mean, why you are not sticking to the 90% accuracy rate before adding a new letter. Exactly this thread is so old but because, in my analysis of reading through much of it, you did this mistake before just when things were going well: you rushed and did the same thing you are now doing, which may result in failure again. I thought your objective is to learn CW in as short a time as possible, in this case, to avoid confusion and errors, stick to the KM the way it is designed. Otherwise you will overload your brain and cause confusion and have a harder time of it. That is my opinion, and otherwise I don't see the point of repeating the same mistake again. 73


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on March 26, 2017, 08:31:01 AM
Sorry I don't understand why you are doing this... I mean, why you are not sticking to the 90% accuracy rate before adding a new letter.

Because if I do that I will never get on the air. Or, I'll have to wait until after retirement. The past few years have taught me that there just aren't enough hours in the day -- something important in work or family life (something more important than a hobby) always gets in the way.

However, thank you for your comment and I understand the logic behind it! It is a pity that I never finished learning CW the first time I learned it (when I was 12 years old) and did not begin my ham career as a teenager after passing the UK test. I had more time on my hands and my brain was a lot more malleable. Doing it now, at nearly 60 years old and with multiple other commitments, has been hard.

Edited to add: Yes, many people have stated in this thread (or elsewhere) that "it's not hard" and even that "it's easy." WB2WIK has a theory that the only reason some people find it hard is because they have been told that it is hard. But with due respect to Steve, he learned the code as a teenager. Some of the others who have been commenting in this thread learned it as young military recruits. I am sure that for some people, it probably does come easily (even if learned in middle age) but for me this has not been the case, and it has not been for lack of effort.

Which is not to disparage the great support I've had from y'all since I started on this quest -- which will be brought to a successful conclusion.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: VK5EEE on March 26, 2017, 09:04:15 AM
Hi Martin,

Of course it is up to you what you want to do. If you want to go on air sooner and aren't afraid to do that without knowing all the characters, if you think it will help you to learn that way. And you are right, age is important, you are not young. I was also just thinking this evening how life is passing so fast, and I've got lots to do and there may not be much time ahead.

So go for it, do what you think is best! Wish you all the best in your CW journey!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on March 26, 2017, 09:08:07 AM
Quote
All this CW analysis is one part of the hobby I missed out on...  And I thought I was having fun just getting on the air and making QSOs... Go figure!

OI: I did "go figure!"  I can assure you that MOST new amateurs did exactly the same as you and I. THEN we get into the building, fine tuning and experimenting.  

Again, in most cases it was: 1-Study for the ticket, 2-While waiting for the government grist mill to finally get your license to you, it was balls to the wall  getting gear ready for that "big day!"  

After that came the fun of making contacts and having fun with whatever was cobbled together.  Very little thought was given to the inadequacies or inconveniences of the setup.  

It was only after a period of operating did the average ham start to tweak and fine tune his gear with the never ending thought of "what I would like to buy/have"  This last item never seems to end.

Then there are those who find the planning, calculating, thinking and talking about the various nuances of ham radio more fun than the actual operating.  I have done this MANY times.  I have often said here on eHam that planning and building a project was more fun than using the finished product.

I have shelves full of these projects that have never got past the 'trying out and verifying they work phase," only to become dust collectors.

However, this came only after getting on the air and having fun.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on March 26, 2017, 09:27:58 AM
Thank you both for your comments. I will add something technical concerning the Koch Method.

I think each person must have a unique learning curve when using Koch, and in my case it seems to be very stop-go. What happens is that I get to a certain number of learned characters, and I get stuck: I have a lot of trouble getting to the 90 percent benchmark with that character added, and sometimes I have never achieved it.

What I am now doing when I get to that point (and after a certain amount of stubborn attempts) is: I just move on. Strangely, adding a character -- and not worrying about the stumbling block with the previous character learned -- does not necessarily lower my overall accuracy, moving forward.

There are also good days and bad days with Morse learning. In my case, depressingly, it is probably about 50-50. This, I think, was bothering me a lot more than I let on, earlier in this thread. It is hard to admit to this kind of inadequacy when tens of thousands of hams, and others, have managed it in the past.

I must also admit that I now think it is entirely possibly that once I get on the air, it will be incredibly hard to conduct a successful QSO at anything other than a snail's pace -- and I mean, unfortunately, a "counting the dits and dahs" kind of speed. This, I was determined to avoid at all cost when I first started this quest several years ago. But I will never find out, unless I actually get on the air. Also: after all, tens of thousands of Novices got on the air with 5wpm in Ye Old Days and it doesn't seem to have scarred their Morse skills for life.

Back to G4FON for more punishment....

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on March 27, 2017, 10:57:14 AM
So there you are: Yesterday was dreadful. I never once completed a Koch drill with anything like 90 percent accuracy. Today however, in two attemps I have managed it twice (i.e. a full 10 minutes), at the 24-character level (and "true" 15wpm i.e. no Farnsworth).

In my opinion this justifies my (recent) approach, which is not to worry too much about failing to meet the 90 percent target and to just "push on" by adding an additional character. Of course, this would be a reckless approach if my copy skills deteriorated relentlessly each time I added a new character. However that is not what is happening: in my case, things eventually get better again.

So at least in my case, "bending the rules" of the Koch method in this way seems to be beneficial (I wish I had figured this out earlier). Perhaps others will find this experience useful.

Edited to add: It also has an awful lot to do with being able to get into that "Zen" state of mind where the letters just pour out of your pencil, apparently without effort. I only manage this a minority of the time (today was one of those times) but it's magic when it happens.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on April 02, 2017, 01:38:08 PM
It's going nicely. On the copying side, am back up to 27 characters.

For fun, I posted on YouTube a sending practice that I did nearly three years ago, keying my transmitter into a dummy load:

https://youtu.be/n7NYdqXKkqo (https://youtu.be/n7NYdqXKkqo).

My sending sounds about the same now as it did then. Here is what it was like today, using a code-practice oscillator:

https://youtu.be/bdp8IY9xTx8 (https://youtu.be/bdp8IY9xTx8).

I find my optimal sending speed is between 10wpm and 11wpm. If I try to speed up, it degenerates quickly.

I'm using an Ameco K-4, a Japanese-made J-38 clone.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: VK5EEE on April 02, 2017, 02:23:05 PM
Hi OM I get the feeling you are counting the dits and dahs, or imagining the image of the character in your head, rather than the sound of the character as a whole. I could be wrong, you know if that is the case or not. It is of course clear CW though spacing needs to be trained too, between words is a long pause But in time it will improve. Just be sure to continue more the listening aspect than the sending, sending will come quite naturally on a straight key once you have mastered reception. 73


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KE6EE on April 02, 2017, 02:38:32 PM
My sending sounds about the same now as it did then. Here is what it was like today, using a code-practice oscillator:
https://youtu.be/bdp8IY9xTx8 (https://youtu.be/bdp8IY9xTx8).

Fundamentally it sounds good. Spacings between characters are uneven in an irregular way but I did notice that the S and the Y
in your call were regularly close together.

It does sound like you are a bit overly-intent and anxious about the quality of your code. That is perfectly normal. The answer
is to get on the air. When you do you will be less focused simply on yourself. You will need also to attend to what the other op
is doing. You will discover all ops have sending flaws. After a few QSOs communicating well and enjoying yourself will be the
focus and you will relax. Relaxing will increase the quality of your sending (and of your receiving) far better than practicing.

Get on the air right now!  ;D


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on April 02, 2017, 10:03:32 PM
Quote
Get on the air right now!

Martin:  I agree....not perfect but VERY good code!  There's no reason for you not being on the air with that fist.

As for perfection.....seldom is that achieved so don't concern yourself about that.  I listened to both of your links and would enjoy working you any day!

Keep up the good work.  Oh, count on the fact that your speed and accuracy will improve quickly with on-the-air contacts!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: N4OI on April 05, 2017, 04:52:24 AM
All this CW analysis is one part of the hobby I missed out on...  And I thought I was having fun just getting on the air and making QSOs... Go figure!

Touché!

See you on the air soon.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY

Martin, please let me know when you finally put some code into the ether...  With all this build-up, I expect the ionosphere to light up from all the charged particles.  And I want to schedule a day off work to witness the historic occasion!

73   ;D


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on April 05, 2017, 09:40:49 AM
Martin:

Quote
I find my optimal sending speed is between 10wpm and 11wpm. If I try to speed up, it degenerates quickly.

Believe this:  When you get on the air this 'problem' will be eliminated automatically.

When you consciously push yourself to increase speed it all falls apart simply because your brain isn't ready to go faster.

However, when you get on the air, the brain for some reason becomes impatient (I'm quite sure there is a more detailed and accurate medical explanation for this) and automatically speeds up the understanding process.  It's natural and not forced. I seriously doubt if you can stop this process.

Stay with your current speed and let your brain speed you up with its "impatience." 

I listened to your sending and it's VERY good!  You'll do well.



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K3STX on April 05, 2017, 10:04:20 AM
The code sounds great, just get on the air!!! That speed is perfectly fine for sending and receiving.

paul


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on April 16, 2017, 04:23:23 AM
I'm at 33 characters (Koch) with 90 percent recognition at 15wpm, no Farnsworth. Pushing ahead.

Copying of on-air QSOs is patchy (which is only to be expected) but improving noticeably.

I will be on the air on 40m extremely soon. It's a bit like cooking a meal, everything has to be reasonably ready at the same time. Code proficiency is now "good enough." I am completing construction of the transmit-receive switch. Deploying a "compromise longwire antenna" (instead of the originally planned dipole) is the final item on the menu. That's a long story, but a proper dipole cannot currently be erected without permission of my neighbors in the building next door, and this is too complex to finalize soon -- it is a multi-occupancy building.

When this saga is over I will summarize how it went over the years, so that no-one ever has to wade through this entire thread!

There is an awful lot of advice being given in various threads on this forum right now, a lot of it good. About the only thing I will add here is this. If, like me, you have made several attempts to learn the code over a period of years: don't give up. It actually gets a bit easier each time!

Edited to add: Thank you very much for the encouragement given by various posters here. It is much appreciated.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: VK5EEE on April 16, 2017, 05:22:30 AM
Great news Martin and CONGRATS!
With the LW maybe better keep secret from neighbours that you're a ham in case they have cheap Chinese junk such as touch lamps that may blink...
73 & 77 enjoy many great CW QSO on air into the future!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on April 16, 2017, 06:50:58 AM
Martin, the main point not mentioned here....specifically, is PRACTICE, PRACTICE AND MORE PRACTICE! 

Whatever way you do it, Koch, Farnsworth, old fashioned way....whatever, it is still going to require the PRACTICE! 


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on April 16, 2017, 07:02:31 AM
Whatever way you do it, Koch, Farnsworth, old fashioned way....whatever, it is still going to require the PRACTICE! 

Practice is necessary but not sufficient. I don't think you can fault me on the practice front. Again, I will summarize my "campaign" later when I am finally on the air but in my case the obstacles had much more to do with life in general. Even with at least a half-hour of practice every day over a multi-month period, it is hard to learn CW if you are exhausted by work/family commitments or simply anxious about something that has nothing to do with CW or ham radio.

So here's another piece of advice to any young people (I'm 59) who might be reading this thread and wondering whether to learn Morse code. Do it now! It will be much harder later.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KE6EE on April 17, 2017, 09:25:14 AM
It is hard to learn CW if you are exhausted by work/family commitments or simply anxious about something that has nothing to do with CW or ham radio.

Do it now! It will be much harder later.

Absolutely right concerning exhaustion or anxiety in general making learning virtually anything new very difficult for many people.

Morse code will be much easier during periods in your life when you have ample time and energy to focus on learning. This
will be true whatever your age.

In addition, seeking a class (not on-line if at all possible) will be much better than going at the learning in isolation.

When most of us oldsters learned code at young ages, we had ample time and energy and we did our learning with others. The
social aspects of learning are often overlooked in these days of computer obsession. Computers, no matter how smart, are not
people.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: OZ8AGB on April 18, 2017, 05:53:38 AM
KE6EE

Yup. These things has also been my problem: not too much time and being on my own. Could really use on air training buddies at the same skill level.
The usual advice is "Do many QSOs on air". Started that and ran into: DCWers rattling al kinds of things off and fast ragchewers ending up being overwhelmed copying close to nothing and thinking "he ended with ? and it was definately not HW? or OK?". This kind of "training" does absolutely nothing good for me and I considered unplugging and selling the paddle.
Also, I don't know if it is just me but rust seems to pick up fast. Did RufzXP training fairly regularly and beat my own #1 over and over. Then a month or 2 without training and my score went 26 places down. Arrrgh...
 :-[


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K3STX on April 18, 2017, 06:41:19 AM
Martin,

TOO MUCH THINKING!!!!! Just get on the air with what you know. If you miss a letter here or there, who cares. I "knew" the code well enough to pass my novice exam but I still had my "dots and dashes cheatsheet" there by my key just in case. And yes, I counted dots and dashes.

Guess what?

I somehow, miraculously, was able to master Morse by counting dots and dashes.

Enough of practice. I don't want to hear about learning anymore. You KNOW Morse code, use it on the air!! After 2 weeks of at least ONE short QSO every day you will wonder why you spent so much time "practicing".

C'mon!!!!!

paul


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: AC2EU on April 18, 2017, 07:45:48 AM
Martin,

TOO MUCH THINKING!!!!! Just get on the air with what you know. If you miss a letter here or there, who cares. I "knew" the code well enough to pass my novice exam but I still had my "dots and dashes cheatsheet" there by my key just in case. And yes, I counted dots and dashes.

Guess what?

I somehow, miraculously, was able to master Morse by counting dots and dashes.

Enough of practice. I don't want to hear about learning anymore. You KNOW Morse code, use it on the air!! After 2 weeks of at least ONE short QSO every day you will wonder why you spent so much time "practicing".

C'mon!!!!!

paul


I want to propose the perfect vanity call for the OP: "KB1OCD"    ;D


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on April 18, 2017, 09:02:07 AM
Martin:  I second STX!  Come on...... do it!!


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KB1WSY on April 18, 2017, 09:52:27 AM
I want to propose the perfect vanity call for the OP: "KB1OCD"    ;D

LOL! Seriously though, I will be on the air very soon indeed. I don't think of myself as OCD but it's true that I am one of the world's great procrastinators. I start all sort of things, then never finish them. This time will be different though.

FWIW, KB1OCD is already allocated, to another ham in my state of Massachusetts!

As for my existing callsign, I used to be fond of it and never wanted to change it. But it is a bit of a mouthful on CW so when I upgrade to Extra (which will happen a decent interval after I get on the air) I may prefer to let them allocate a shorter systemic call. As I understand it, it is often a shorter variant of the existing one???

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KE6EE on April 18, 2017, 10:57:15 AM
Just get on the air with what you know.

I "knew" the code well enough to pass my novice exam but I still had my "dots and dashes cheatsheet" there by my key just in case. And yes, I counted dots and dashes.

We all have at least one of a miraculous device usually referred to as the human brain. It learns new things at a furious rate and in many ways that are still a great mystery even to the geniuses who are busily inventing the robotic automobile.

The human brain learns things one way or another way. Then as the miraculous device is used again and again it magically changes its processing so that it becomes more and more efficient. The device may have begun counting dits and dahs despite the idiocy and illegality not to mention foolishness of doing this. But the device, without any further programming, drug infusion or flogging at the post, proceeds to hear Morse Code symbols holistically rather than by counting. Eventually the device learns to hear whole words and, possibly, even short sentences, and even more, whole QSOs without reverting back to the prehuman practice of counting dits and dahs.

With the human brain, constant operating system updates are never necessary, not to mention periodic changes to faster processors. The operating system evolves itself. The processors continually upgrade automatically.

Meanwhile the robotic cars have been in development for decades. 1000s of PhD engineers constantly work 24/7 to solve major screwups.

As I recall I learned to drive a stick shift car in one afternoon when I was 14. Eventually we may develop a robotic car which only crashes and kills someone three or four times a year, but I wouldn't bet on it.  ;D


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on April 18, 2017, 08:58:26 PM
Quote
We all have at least one of a miraculous device usually referred to as the human brain. It learns new things at a furious rate and in many ways that are still a great mystery even to the geniuses who are busily inventing the robotic automobile.

The human brain learns things one way or another way. Then as the miraculous device is used again and again it magically changes its processing so that it becomes more and more efficient. The device may have begun counting dits and dahs despite the idiocy and illegality not to mention foolishness of doing this. But the device, without any further programming, drug infusion or flogging at the post, proceeds to hear Morse Code symbols holistically rather than by counting. Eventually the device learns to hear whole words and, possibly, even short sentences, and even more, whole QSOs without reverting back to the prehuman practice of counting dits and dahs.

With the human brain, constant operating system updates are never necessary, not to mention periodic changes to faster processors. The operating system evolves itself. The processors continually upgrade automatically.
I
Beautifully put!  I would like to add that the brain never sleeps, or so it seems.  I'd like to have a dollar for every time I woke up at 3:00AM with a solution to a problem I've been working on all day.....or wake up remembering a name.  I like to think of the brain as two fingers going through a filing cabinet pulling folders, checking them and moving on to other folders and drawers, all night long. 


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KE6EE on April 19, 2017, 09:53:53 AM
I would like to add that the brain never sleeps, or so it seems.  I'd like to have a dollar for every time I woke up at 3:00AM with a solution to a problem I've been working on all day.....or wake up remembering a name.

Those of us who have worked in the psych trade like to attribute the hidden magic of the brain to that old, often wrong, but insightful rascal Siggy Freud. His term was "the unconscious."

Much more recent psychological science shows us quite clearly that we are hardly the rational, logical creatures that we think we are. The more primitive parts of the brain are much more powerful than the more-recently-evolved logical parts. Memory is not under direct control, despite your confusion that your brain is exactly like your computer.

Many of us who have had to come up with new ideas every day in order to earn a paycheck, do exactly as you have described. We review the requirements of a challenging project the day before. The next day, after a night's sleep, presto-changeo, the solutions are waiting to be put down on paper, or whatever high-tech recording device.

I am so often surprised that many seemingly-intelligent people suffer badly under the illusion that "they" are "in control" of their "minds." That little man they think they have in their heads operating the wheels and levers of their consciousness isn't necessarily their friend!  ;D



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KE0EFX on April 19, 2017, 12:07:36 PM
I would like to add that the brain never sleeps, or so it seems.  I'd like to have a dollar for every time I woke up at 3:00AM with a solution to a problem I've been working on all day.....or wake up remembering a name.

Those of us who have worked in the psych trade like to attribute the hidden magic of the brain to that old, often wrong, but insightful rascal Siggy Freud. His term was "the unconscious."


Not to hijack this thread but just a quick question to you KE6EE.  Since you were "in the trade", as you say, do you have any thoughts on Norman Doidge, M.D. and his books on brain function? Specifically, the book regarding the brain and chronic pain, “The Brain's Way of Healing”?

KE0EFX, Scott



Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KE6EE on April 19, 2017, 06:36:46 PM
Do you have any thoughts on Norman Doidge, M.D. and his books on brain function?
KE0EFX, Scott

I hadn't heard of him Scott, but I looked up his books. In general I wholly agree with his perspective--that the mind and body
are part of one integrated system. Every little part of you can affect every other little part of you.

My summary: your thoughts and mind are electrochemical processes just like your digestion or your ability to run and jump. What you think and perhaps especially, feel, does indeed affect, positively or negatively and in all sorts of ways, everything that happens in your body.

I don't know exactly what Doidge writes about healing, but I think probably most psychiatrists, physicians and biologists agree with contemporary holistic mind/body ideas.

It is interesting that the notion of feelings and thoughts affecting every aspect of your well-being is really quite old-fashioned, even ancient. It wasn't until we began to be able to observe how the body works in much greater detail in recent decades that it has become the dominant paradigm.


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KE0EFX on April 19, 2017, 08:24:42 PM
Do you have any thoughts on Norman Doidge, M.D. and his books on brain function?
KE0EFX, Scott

I hadn't heard of him Scott, but I looked up his books. In general I wholly agree with his perspective--that the mind and body
are part of one integrated system. Every little part of you can affect every other little part of you.

My summary: your thoughts and mind are electrochemical processes just like your digestion or your ability to run and jump. What you think and perhaps especially, feel, does indeed affect, positively or negatively and in all sorts of ways, everything that happens in your body.

I don't know exactly what Doidge writes about healing, but I think probably most psychiatrists, physicians and biologists agree with contemporary holistic mind/body ideas.

It is interesting that the notion of feelings and thoughts affecting every aspect of your well-being is really quite old-fashioned, even ancient. It wasn't until we began to be able to observe how the body works in much greater detail in recent decades that it has become the dominant paradigm.

Thanks for your summary, Mike!  It's all very interesting how mind and body works together. 


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: K8AXW on April 20, 2017, 09:44:24 AM
I'm inclined to think the rectum is the main controlling entity of the body.

There was an old story about someone's body parts getting into a heated argument over who was most important.

The brain argued that it controlled everything; the heart argued that it was the one who pump life sustaining blood throughout the body 24/7; the lungs argued that it was the organ that provided life sustaining oxygen to the body and so on.

The rectum finally spoke up and said it felt it was the most important part of the body.  All the other organs laughed and laughed. 

So the rectum shut off and before long the brain became fuzzy, unable to think, the legs and arms became lethargic and the lungs found it extremely difficult to function.  After a few weeks it came to pass the rectum was declared "King of the Body."

Just sayin...............


Title: RE: My Morse Learning Campaign
Post by: KE6EE on April 20, 2017, 11:27:37 AM
I'm inclined to think the rectum is the main controlling entity of the body.

Now I understand why right thinking can be described as rectitude.