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Author Topic: CW Listening Ability  (Read 13598 times)
K7EXJ
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« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2016, 01:54:51 PM »

Sure, without motivation you'll get nowhere, but you also need at least a little aptitude, and some clue as to how to proceed...
All I had was the local library with books on ham radio, Morse code, etc. I then met a local ham and used my paper route money to buy a home-brew receiver he had built but no longer used. Then I spent all my time listening to CW and reading the ARRL license manual (which did not have the questions from the actual test... but simply discussions of the likely test subjects). With the Internet it is a LOT easier now. Including the exams.

Not sure how you'd measure "aptitude" for it. Although I suspect the military thinks it's been done.
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Craig Smiley
KE6EE
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« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2016, 03:30:23 PM »

Not sure how you'd measure "aptitude" for it. Although I suspect the military thinks it's been done.

Drill instructor: "You got a choice, %#$@& (expletive referring to excreta used when addressing boot camp attendee), do ya wanna blow things up or do ya wanna operate the radio that tells other Marines to blow things up?"

Yes I once played the role of the %#$@&.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2016, 03:42:08 PM »

That "relatively early age" makes a significant difference. Folk starting to learn the code after they've already lived more than a handful of decades are going to have a different experience; the "just do it" approach is unlikely to get them far because they're way past the "soak it all up" age of learning.

The age-related "problem" in learning isn't simply age-related. It's much more complex. More recent neuroscience suggests much more neurological plasticity at advanced ages than previously assumed.

I think it's that youngsters usually never heard "this is hard to do," so they figured it was easy, just like everything else.   We learn to ride a bike, starting from ground zero and it seeming absolutely impossible, usually in less than one day.   If we're kids.

And I don't think that's because kids are smaller or lighter or smarter.  It's because they want to, and see everybody else doing it, so it must be easy.

I learned the code at age 12-13 and got my Novice ticket 51 years ago in 8th grade.   Never heard of Morse code until I became interested in amateur radio.   Looked it up at the library.  Saw that telegraphers all over the world were doing it, some really young.  This has to be easy.

So, it was.


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W9OY
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« Reply #18 on: May 17, 2016, 05:36:17 AM »

The point is to hear a sound that registers in your conscousness as a letter, or a group of sounds that register as a sylable or word.  So go fast enough that you are not counting dits and dahs.  My opinion is that is about 18-20 character speed.  You can add time between characters to slow down the throughput, but do not get stuck counting dits and dahs.  It will absolutely limit your speed to about 13
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W3ALG
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« Reply #19 on: May 17, 2016, 07:30:44 AM »

Great replies.

Like anything in life, "how bad do you want it?" I remember in school we had to memorize Shakespeare. I could have cared less and didn't do well on the tests. But when Science came along, I excelled because I was interested in it. I agree, when you take an interest in things, they seem to come a little easier. If you REALLY want something, there is nothing that will stop you.

I can listen to code right now for about 15min. ( like someone mentioned ) then my attention span starts to fall apart and it's time for a break. I might come back to it later in the evening.

Also, I've found that if you study right before bedtime, your subconscious prints it to memory quite well. I use to do this when studying for tests. 
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WS4E
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« Reply #20 on: May 17, 2016, 07:45:01 AM »

I found that 25-27 is the best to learn at.  

1) That is a VERY common speed you will hear on the bands
2) That is fast enough to work contests/field day etc
3) That is fast enough that your brain will pretty much be forced to NOT count or do any thinking like "lets see two dashes and a dot, that is a G".  It will force you to learn the letter as a "sound blurb" and be more instinctive and quicker to recognize.
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NK7Z
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« Reply #21 on: May 17, 2016, 08:02:56 AM »

Don't overthink it.  Lots of people do, and they're the ones who will eventually give up.  You control the loudness and the pitch; whoever's sending controls the speed.
We just did it. Fifty years after not doing any code, I took it up again without a hitch.
Same here, fifty years ago, no plan, just a radio, and the ARRL learning CW book.  Same result...  I took about a 15 year hiatus from Amateur Radio, came back and the first night was able to copy 15 WPM after an hour or so, then within a week 20, and now 30 to 40 again...  I have heard this same story for decades, people not using CW for extended time frames, then starting up again and getting up to speed within weeks...  Something about code sticks with people, much more so than a spoken language.
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Thanks,
Dave
For reviews and setups see: http://www.nk7z.net
NK7Z
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« Reply #22 on: May 17, 2016, 08:06:31 AM »

Given everyone here is probably a CW junkie, let me share an experience with you...

I noticed my hearing was getting worse as I grew older...  I took a hearing test, and found out, yes my hearing is growing worse...  I looked at the graph of freqency vs ability to hear, and noticed a dip at 550 Hz...  That was my selected zero beat tone as well...  I moved the zero beat tone to 510, into an area where my hearing was better, and CW got a LOT easier to copy...  I ganed maybe 5 to 10 WPM, so play with your receive tone a bit...
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Thanks,
Dave
For reviews and setups see: http://www.nk7z.net
KE6EE
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« Reply #23 on: May 17, 2016, 11:30:47 AM »

I looked at the graph of freqency vs ability to hear, and noticed a dip at 550 Hz...  That was my selected zero beat tone as well...  I moved the zero beat tone to 510, into an area where my hearing was better, and CW got a LOT easier to copy

An interesting observation which parallels some of mine.

I set my receiving sidetone offset to about 525 Hz which is C5 the C above middle C on a piano. From what I've read many people set their offset to frequencies considerably higher.

I chose this frequency for a couple of reasons: I can identify this pitch, more or less, pretty easily. This, in turn, allows me to zero beat signals quickly. Signals need to be very close to zero beat if you are going to answer another station on frequency. Many ops seem to have difficulty with zero beat.

At zero beat it's also quick and easy to tune out interfering signals using filters, moveable IF passbands and other tools for making  copy easier.

There are times as when there is a lot of QRN when the pitch needs to be higher for best readability. Then you can use RIT to change the pitch without changing the TX frequency.

Also, audio filters, if you use them, can be peaked for one's sidetone pitch which may make zero beating easier.

In old days when we used boat anchor separate receivers, there was a BFO control on the front panel. Zero beating was very simple because one simply tuned to the real "zero beat." Listening pitch was immediately adjustable. I think that was a much-superior way to operate on CW.

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NK7Z
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« Reply #24 on: May 17, 2016, 12:34:44 PM »

An interesting observation which parallels some of mine.
I set my receiving sidetone offset to about 525 Hz which is C5 the C above middle C on a piano. From what I've read many people set their offset to frequencies considerably higher.
I chose this frequency for a couple of reasons: I can identify this pitch, more or less, pretty easily. This, in turn, allows me to zero beat signals quickly. Signals need to be very close to zero beat if you are going to answer another station on frequency. Many ops seem to have difficulty with zero beat.
At zero beat it's also quick and easy to tune out interfering signals using filters, moveable IF passbands and other tools for making  copy easier.
There are times as when there is a lot of QRN when the pitch needs to be higher for best readability. Then you can use RIT to change the pitch without changing the TX frequency.
Also, audio filters, if you use them, can be peaked for one's sidetone pitch which may make zero beating easier.
In old days when we used boat anchor separate receivers, there was a BFO control on the front panel. Zero beating was very simple because one simply tuned to the real "zero beat." Listening pitch was immediately adjustable. I think that was a much-superior way to operate on CW.
I agree, having an adjustable cw tone was pretty cool at the time....  I use an Elecraft K3, which has the most wonderful filters I have ever used on it, and the ability to zero beat faster than the old days...  Filter wise, it has Hi cut, low cut, center adjust, width, all on the front panel...  To zero beat, you have to preset your sidetone by pressing and holding  the SPOT button to set your sidetone frequency, then once that has been set, you just hit SPOT and the rig zero beats for you.  I am convinced that whoever designed the K3 was a CW person...  The entire rig seems designed for CW.
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Thanks,
Dave
For reviews and setups see: http://www.nk7z.net
KE6EE
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Posts: 1869




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« Reply #25 on: May 17, 2016, 01:00:08 PM »

To zero beat, you have to preset your sidetone by pressing and holding  the SPOT button to set your sidetone frequency, then once that has been set, you just hit SPOT and the rig zero beats for you.  I am convinced that whoever designed the K3 was a CW person...  The entire rig seems designed for CW.

That's a neat feature of the K3 that I didn't know about. I have both a K2 and a K1 and both clearly are well-designed for CW.

I am also convinced that many modern rigs are not well-designed for CW.
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K7EXJ
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« Reply #26 on: May 17, 2016, 03:03:27 PM »


That's a neat feature of the K3 that I didn't know about. I have both a K2 and a K1 and both clearly are well-designed for CW.

I am also convinced that many modern rigs are not well-designed for CW.

I think that only Elecraft and TenTec (which I hope is not RIP) really put CW at the top of the list when designing the rigs. Icom, Yaesu, and Kenwood all seemed to me to be SSB first and CW way down the list. The Elecraft K1, for its size, is a superb little QRP rig. The K2 is really amazing. I wish I could get a K3 but I'll have to wait. The only other transceiver I'm interested in besides the K3 (or KX3) is the TenTec Omni 6+ but they are hard to find (and not cheap, either) but it's not exactly portable. Still.....

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Craig Smiley
KE4ILG
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« Reply #27 on: May 17, 2016, 06:15:43 PM »

I feel the question has been well answered and I hope I can add a little of my personal cw journey that may help someone else. 

Passed the 5 wpm and got on the air as a Tech Plus. Using cw on the air brought my speed from 5 wpm to passing the 13 wpm General exam within a month of  daily qso's  not more that 1/2 hour per day.  Frankly it was far easier and way faster than I expected.  I was then in my early forties. 

I hit a block at about 18-20 wpm and didn't get beyond that for a couple of years.  When I decided to try to get faster I listened to and worked some of the fast contesters.  At first I could only copy part of a call sign, of course with contesters you get plenty of repeats to fill in the blanks.  So I worked a little contests and then some of the faster dx stations. 

For me its always been on air operating that got me the increase in speed and the huge enjoyment was had along the way. 

When I started there was a Novice sub band that I(we) had to stay in.  Luckily experienced hams would go to the Novice sub band and work us newbys giving us the change to hear great slow code.  Today we still have active groups and individuals willing to send good code at slower speeds.  Those of us who can might want to take the time to work the slower newer cw hams.  If you already do work them then I will say thank you.  73 Mike ke4ilg

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KE6EE
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« Reply #28 on: May 17, 2016, 06:28:55 PM »


For me its always been on air operating that got me the increase in speed and the huge enjoyment was had along the way. 


It's not magic or any kind of mystery. Real operating means real interest, real focus, real employment of the resources of your brain.

It's like riding a stationery bicycle for exercise vs riding a bicycle almost anywhere outside. Stationery bicycles are extremely boring and most people don't keep at it. Real bicycle riding is lotsa fun.

If you know how to have fun, CW is a breeze.
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NK7Z
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« Reply #29 on: May 17, 2016, 10:26:00 PM »

To zero beat, you have to preset your sidetone by pressing and holding  the SPOT button to set your sidetone frequency, then once that has been set, you just hit SPOT and the rig zero beats for you.  I am convinced that whoever designed the K3 was a CW person...  The entire rig seems designed for CW.
I am also convinced that many modern rigs are not well-designed for CW.
I should have added that to my post as well...
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Thanks,
Dave
For reviews and setups see: http://www.nk7z.net
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