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Author Topic: Making My CW Classes Interesting  (Read 6108 times)
DL8OV
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Posts: 756




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« on: February 19, 2017, 08:53:23 AM »

As some of you will know I run a small CW class. Right now I'm looking for ways to make the class more interesting as we've tried random letters. done many simulated QSOs and sent pages of plain text. My pupils are slowly getting there but it seems that the lessons just feature the same stuff each week.

I need variety. I need something different, something that will make them say 'that was fun' as they go home.

Any ideas?

Peter DL8OV

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K8AXW
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« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2017, 10:26:45 AM »

Have a beautiful girl remove a piece of clothing each time the class masters 3 new characters?   Roll Eyes
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M0LEP
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« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2017, 11:24:27 AM »

I need variety. I need something different, something that will make them say 'that was fun' as they go home.

Callsign exercises are useful. Can you find a pile-up simulator, something that will send several callsigns almost simultaneously and with a slight variation in pitch? The game becomes "How many callsigns can you pick out of that?" and the expected answer is usually "less than one"...
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KE6EE
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« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2017, 02:37:02 PM »

I would dig up some good, short jokes.

Have the students copy the joke introduction/setup at a speed they can pretty well manage.

Increase the speed so that they have to reach a bit for the punchline/conclusion.

Make it fun. Don't make it serious.
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ONAIR
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« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2017, 03:21:28 PM »

Let them play with some walkie talkies with code oscillators built in!   Wink
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VK5EEE
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Posts: 1057




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« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2017, 03:39:19 PM »

Tell them that what they are really learning is not Morse Code but Gerke Code, and that Gerke was German. Please refer to the PDF at http://www.vkcw.net/cwtoday and I'm sure everyone will find that interesting and they'll know something that almost no one today seems to know, yet these are clear historical facts.

Morse Code was in fact American Morse Code, likely really Vale Code not Morse Code, the International Morse Code we use today is the Gerke Code with a very few changes. That sort of thing will make it interesting as you don't only train them with the Code itself but with interesting information that empowers them in conversation with others.

I'd also look at ordering a Pixie (at least) for each one of the students, with a simple 50 ohm resister (it could be any resistor not only 50 ohm the Pixie is probably forgiving) including postage it should be 5 euro each. You can break the class into teams led by one responsible student who knows a soldering iron is hot and how to solder. Or do them all yourself :-)

Then, send your practice over your Pixie to all other Pixies in the room, each is wearing an ear piece, and, in another class, construct a simple Morse Key -- there are good designs that can be made for as little as 10 Euro each in parts and look very nice indeed, here in Australia VK1SV's Bunnings Special is a good example. This gives them practical experience and pride, they take these keys back with them after all, along with their Pixies.

Then, they can remove the resistors and put a length of wire on the end of those Pixies and continue on air practice "chatting" to each other on 7023kHz from the comfort of their homes -- again if they live near by, the 300mW of power into any length of wire will still work, and give them good training from a QRPp set up from the start.

Naturally you would inform them that they should not do this until they have obtained a license, which you can also run a course at the end, and explain to them why they will need a license to transmit 300mW on 7.0233MHz because the 40m band is very crowded and their tiny signals will enrage very unforgiving hoards of CW operators who will only want to hear faint distant barely audible signals if they are both perfectly good CW and from licensed radio amateurs.

The danger also exists that they can achieve long distances with these Pixies, I reached Alice Springs and Qld from here which is like Russia and Spain perhaps from Germany, within a short time, even though these RX seem to be extremely insensitive, though you may hear local BC stations in the background. But in a class room setting on a resister, it'd be FB!

But this gives them added incentives, as they get a taste of the fun, and as their code develops each can send in turn in the class and everyone else hears them on their Pixies. Build a couple of spare ones in case any break or a fly lands on them.

Let me know if you do adopt any or all of these suggestions and what outcomes are, welcome to contact me via Email at my QRZ page listed Email. Keep up the great work!
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Long Live Real Human CW and wishing you many happy CW QSO - 77 - CW Forever

Support CW and join CW clubs. QTT: FIST#1124, HSC#1437, UFT#728, RCWC#982, SKCC#15007, CWOPS#1714, 30CW#1,
VK5EEE
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« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2017, 03:43:14 PM »

PS you then also don't need the suggested pile up simulator, you can have a real pile up right there if more than one transmits, and these can vary a kHz or so from the 7023 by turning the pot. These Pixies don't need to be in any enclosure, though that would be nice, and there is no danger of electrocution or falling foul of health & safety bureaucrazy.
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Long Live Real Human CW and wishing you many happy CW QSO - 77 - CW Forever

Support CW and join CW clubs. QTT: FIST#1124, HSC#1437, UFT#728, RCWC#982, SKCC#15007, CWOPS#1714, 30CW#1,
GW3OQK
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Posts: 386




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« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2017, 02:23:27 AM »

Hello Peter,
How about having them tuning in to your CW on a receiver so as to find an optimum beat note. Some people on this forum have said they have difficulty unless the tone is below a certain frequency such as 400 Hz.

I have found younger amateurs have not been taught how to report chirp, drift or clicks on a signal. They may give for example, 595 if it is not a pure tone, instead of 599C. Examples below.

http://www.v-d-r.net/images/T1154.mp3 A Spanish amateur's choice.

http://www.v-d-r.net/images/QSO10 3515.wma My choice of tone

73, Andrew
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VK4FFAB
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Posts: 412




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« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2017, 04:29:41 AM »

Russian Roulette, roll the dice and if your number comes up its your turn to call CQ and make an on air contact with some random station. Nothing like pressure to perform to put some fire in the belly.
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M0LEP
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Posts: 491




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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2017, 01:57:20 AM »

the International Morse Code we use today is the Gerke Code with a very few changes.

Gerke introduced the 1:3 dit:dah ratio, and changed the code so that all characters except zero were made only from dits and dahs, but if someone were to use his code on the amateur bands they'd cause quite a bit of confusion. When International Morse Code was defined, it changed the encoding of O,Q,X,Y,Z and all the digits other than 4.

In fact, apart from the dit:dah ratio and the accented characters, there are fewer differences between American Morse and Gerke's German Railway code than there are between Gerke's code and ITU Morse.
</pedantic>
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VK5EEE
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« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2017, 03:10:33 AM »

I guess you got all that information from my article on the subject :-)
http://www.vkcw.net/local--files/cwtoday/CW_Today_3_December_2015.pdf
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Long Live Real Human CW and wishing you many happy CW QSO - 77 - CW Forever

Support CW and join CW clubs. QTT: FIST#1124, HSC#1437, UFT#728, RCWC#982, SKCC#15007, CWOPS#1714, 30CW#1,
N3HEE
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« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2017, 06:24:43 AM »

Get them on the air as soon as they are able.  For the first week have them just make basic QSO's.  Challenge them to make 2-3 QSO's each day.  At the beginning of the next class have a group discussion about their QSO experience.  Then ask them go past the basic QSO.  For the next week have them find out what the other operators occupation is.  At the beginning of the next class have a group discussion about their QSO experience.  For the next week have them find out what the other operators hobbies are.  At the beginning of the next class have a group discussion about their QSO experience.  They will be excited to tell their stories.  The class will learn from discussing each other’s experiences.  Soon they will be making longer QSO's on a regular basis and will become better operators.  Do you see how this works?   
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Joe
N3HEE
CW Academy Advisor (Level II)
DL8OV
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« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2017, 10:42:49 AM »

Thanks to everyone for all of the ideas so far. I like the idea of a CW striptease but as the classes are on university premises there could be practical issues here. So far two of my class have made their first CW QSO but whilst one is slowly building speed accuracy and confidence the other is stumbling a little.

Peter DL8OV
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M0LEP
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« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2017, 10:58:17 AM »

I guess you got all that information from my article on the subject :-)

As it happens, no I didn't. It's entirely possible I found some of the same source you found, though.
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W3TTT
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Posts: 267




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« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2017, 12:08:55 PM »

I need variety. I need something different, something that will make them say 'that was fun' as they go home.

Any ideas?

How about logging in to my CW Stream code practice station?

http://w3ttt.radiostream321.com/

I take the CURRENT news feed from Google, strip out those pesky tags, and send it at 12 wpm, lots of spacing, so it is easy copy. 

To me, it is interesting, because i imagine that I am the Radio Officer on a ship.

It would be interesting because it is current news.  Also, good practice, because there are repeats of key words when the headline is sent, then the news, then the next source sends a similar story. 

 Tongue W3TTT Joe
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