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Author Topic: Learning Morse Code the Right Way.  (Read 12045 times)
AK4YH
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« on: September 04, 2017, 05:01:04 PM »

Hello, here is a video I made some time ago, my most watched so far!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJixhiExOcs

I wonder what else I could have added, might have forgotten, for a possible part 2?

Gil.
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N3HEE
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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2017, 09:46:39 AM »

Gil.  That was a good starting point.  Next is to encourage people to get on the air as often as possible (at any speed) and use the code.  This is by far the quickest and best way to progress.  With more on air experience we start hearing common words and phrases.  Before we know it our speed increases along with what I call our Morse code vocabulary.  Everything takes care of itself if we follow the basic principles you have outlined.  -Joe N3HEE
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Joe
N3HEE
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VK5EEE
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« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2017, 10:26:39 AM »

I agree N3HEE comments, it's a good starting point indeed. At first you said not to write things down, I disagree with that, I don't think it matters, and it would surely help many to do so, but later in the video you don't put that down as a hard and fast rule. But like OM Joe said, next one you need to really encourage people to get ON the air as often as possible and at any speed, and can advise them that around the 55kHz from band edge plus or minus, is QRS territory (80m, 40m, 20m, 15m) and no one is going to berate them, for calling CQ. On the contrary. They'd be very welcomed and they'll have great fun.

We still remember the days of the novice bands, 15m was full of very QRS stations around 21100 to 21149, and now that entire band is virtually empty bar a few data signals. So in your video I'd even encourage them if they are shy, to use 21100 to 21149 (not 21150 as that is the beacons frequency), if they have others locally they can practice on air with, because on 15m in that section no one is going to hear them, but, there is always the chance of some real far off DX answering them. Once they're less shy then venture onto the 55 +/- on 80, 40, 20m.
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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,
K8AXW
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« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2017, 09:58:09 AM »

Gil,

You no doubt will get a lot of replies to your effort, both agreeing and disagreeing with you.  Please don't let that discourage you.

As with the previous posters, I disagree with the "don't write it down" opinion.  Morse Code is an action/reaction process in the beginning.

In the beginning, a student hears a character and immediately writes down the character.  Not only does this fulfill the action/reaction process but permits the student to go back and see what he has missed or see his/her mistakes.

When writing (reaction) it should be taught to put a period or dash when the character isn't recognized and wait for the next character.  Don't allow the student to set and wonder "what was THAT!"  This way, with putting down a period or dash and moving on it creates a flow and discourages missing the next character.  When finished with the session one can see where a problem exists.

Since I was taught the military way I also have to disagree with most of what you teach but also recognize there is more than one way to learn Morse.  I'm firmly against "gimmick"( Koch, Farnsworth, etc.) methods of learning code because at some point, this all has to be unlearned in order to copy code as it is normally used.

Once again, please don't be discouraged by any difference of opinions you might receive.  This subject has been beat to death for years here on the CW forum.  Any encouragement or new methods to get new CW operators is needed.

Please, continue with your good efforts.

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KE6EE
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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2017, 01:13:15 PM »

Please, continue with your good efforts.

Lots of good reflections in the above post.

There isn't really any such thing as the "right way" to learn Morse Code.

Most of us who learned when we were youngsters simply went at it and absorbed it well.

There may be methods that are more suitable for classroom teaching than other methods; suitable for various reasons and likely other than speed.

We all learn in different ways and we all learn differently at various stages of our lives.

The most important principle is to make your learning fun. Pleasure is the critical factor in almost
any type of learning at any stage of life for any type of personality.

Getting on the air is ideal because it is the most emotionally-involving learning process, thus
giving the greatest possible pleasure. Plus, as suggested above by N3HEE, learning real Morse Code is much more than learning how to translate sound patterns into letters. It's about learning
context which provide critical redundancy in the communication process.
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KQ4MM
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« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2017, 06:29:47 PM »

K8AWX ... Please elaborate on " I'm firmly against "gimmick"( Koch, Farnsworth, etc.) methods of learning code because at some point, this all has to be unlearned in order to copy code as it is normally used."

I'm at the point where Im just getting on the air, but I still stumble a lot ( 5-7WPM) . Please explain the "normally used" part, I'm all ears and open to any and all suggestions .. I'm currently reading the book The Art and Skill of Radio-Telegraphy in hopes that I can pick up some good habits and suggestions there. Typical procedures seem to be my hang up too

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KE6EE
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« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2017, 08:03:38 PM »

I'm at the point where Im just getting on the air, but I still stumble a lot ( 5-7WPM)...procedures seem to be my hang up too

Patience.

You just need to do it and keep doing it. Operating.

No amount of reading about "the right way" will substitute for real experience on the air. Give yourself a year--the term for the old Novice licenses we all got in the old days. After a year of experience, operating CW was straightforward.
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KQ4MM
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« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2017, 08:20:32 PM »

I'm at the point where Im just getting on the air, but I still stumble a lot ( 5-7WPM)...procedures seem to be my hang up too

Patience.

You just need to do it and keep doing it. Operating.

No amount of reading about "the right way" will substitute for real experience on the air. Give yourself a year--the term for the old Novice licenses we all got in the old days. After a year of experience, operating CW was straightforward.

Thats my plan, try to make at least 2 or 3 QSOs a day, keep practicing, and as you say simply keep doing it. Its been good adventure so far and I find it quite rewarding.
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VK5EEE
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« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2017, 09:55:14 PM »

K8AWX ... Please elaborate on " I'm firmly against "gimmick"( Koch, Farnsworth, etc.)
...

I know K8AWX did say he is not dictating that they shall not be used... I'm a QRQQ RX and QRQ TX op who learned as a small boy listening to CW without any tone on an AM radio, and without Koch nor Farnsworth spacing, but at that age everything is easy no matter how you do it the KEY is to ENJOY the learning, then it'll be easy. But, in my opinion, Koch is the way to go after all it simply means not learning all letters at once but only a few then adding one at a time. I know there is one person on this forum who says he could ONLY learn them all at the same time, but that is one person, who is STILL struggling years later at slow speeds. That may be valid for that person, somehow, but to me nothing can be learned all at once, so Koch is simply moving to the next letter(s) once you have mastered the existing one(s). As to Farnsworth, I disagree that it results in people sending CW necessarily with large spacing. Again, I hold that there is a minimum speed to learn CW at. For me as a kid listening on AM to coastal stations, it was I guess around 18-22WPM. Farnsworth simply means: a character is sent, and then there is a long pause, long enough for you to absorb what you heard, replay it in your head and react to it by writing it down (or not). It is the only way to prevent learning CW at 3 WPM with the characters being sent at 3 WPM and thus the dits being as long as a tuning up signal and the dahs being as long as an AM broadcast.

But there are many people who learned it the Anglo-American-Military way (which I presume was the slow CW at slow speed), but I believe their militaries did this to be different from the Germans and Bloody Europeans/Hungarians/Russians etc who did it the other way (Koch, Farnsworth without even knowing this was called Koch or Farnsworth but only common sense). But as said many times, you really must just have fun at it, and get on the air as soon as you can (there are again some who say don't do that!) though yes, it will help before going on air, to search for CW abbreviations and learn them, and Q codes and RST table, and keep them to hand, and start out with "rubber stamp" QSO (1st over, TNX, QTH, NAME, 2nd over RIG PWR, ANT, 3rd over 73, QSL, HPE CUAGN). All the best and 77!
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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,
M0LEP
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« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2017, 01:38:56 AM »

I'm firmly against "gimmick"( Koch, Farnsworth, etc.) methods of learning code because at some point, this all has to be unlearned in order to copy code as it is normally used.

I don't think I'd call the Koch method a "gimmick". Its aim is to teach the code in such a way that nothing has to be un-learned. Sure, it's trying to take you by the shortest route, and that's certainly a route not everyone can manage (I know a few folk for whom it has not), but folk who've used it successfully seem to think it's a good method.

Farnsworth is, perhaps, a bit of a "gimmick", in that it stretches the space between characters, and if you get too used to that extra space then you can end up with something to un-learn, but at least it's encouraging you to learn the characters by the sound at a useful speed.

The real gimmicks are the methods that do things like giving you mnemonics to learn the characters. Learning the characters that way puts an additional step into your reading and writing. You will start slow, and you will have to un-learn it later.

...and incidentally, one of the other videos YouTube suggested when I watched the one at the top of the thread was this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5G8vgVA_920

...which I found interesting because the presenter describes quite well a mild form (just turn it up from 1 to 11) of the difficulty I had with using Koch.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2017, 01:47:29 AM by M0LEP » Logged
VK5EEE
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« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2017, 04:00:07 AM »

Simply, any learning process takes time and is step by step. No one learned to speak ANY language in a day. The first words on every Baby's lips is MAMA and DADA. Mama = dit. Dada = dah. From that dit and dah the rest comes. Babies learn one word at a time. They do NOT learn one letter at a time. They only learn letters AFTER they can already speak. No baby learns BAHHHHHHHNAHHHHHHNAHHHHHHH (3WPM) but simply "BANANA". They do not put sentences together at speed without pauses "Mummy, I want a banana please", they say, "Mama.... Banana...." so it is that you leave gaps when learning CW and at a normal speed. Or you leave no gaps, immerse yourself in recordings, but ideally ones that are short and go around in a circle repeatedly: VVV VVV VVV CQ CQ CQ DE VIS5 VIS5 VIS5 QSX 8 MHZ K

The amount of hams I know who are angry and wasted years of their lives because of trying to learn CW alone, the WRONG way, that is, at 3-5WPM without any pauses, and the amount of hams I know who are good CW OPs who learned CW in any number of right ways, I think bears this out. You learn a dit then a dah. That takes all of a few seconds. Then you learn two letters at a normal speed and tell the difference between them. Then you start learning more letters. NO ONE icould learn ALL the letters at once. No matter how their mind tells them that they did, unless, they are a miracle genius. It's just practice don't overload yourself, have FUN and find a good CW OP to mentor you if you can. The CW Clubs have great programs for that, ask around. ON the forums here you'll just end up with all sorts of contradictory advice, and everyone trying to say their way is right. It'll just be confusing. Try to sit with a local master. Above all, do some reading as well: Zen and the Art of Radio Telegraphy by Carlo IK0YGJ http://www.qsl.net/ik0ygj/enu/
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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,
KQ4MM
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« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2017, 05:55:18 AM »

Always much good advice and encouragement from you VK5EEE, and I love the story from your youth on the steamer ship... I generally call CQ and if I get a hit practice on that poor person, if no hit I ask on the SKCC page if anyone is up to a QRS practice and always get a taker...

This I will start doing as well ( I was trying to free style too much and getting lost)

1st over, TNX, QTH, NAME, 2nd over RIG PWR, ANT, 3rd over 73, QSL, HPE CUAGN). All the best and 77!


I do hope to be able to work you someday on 30M

VRY 73 DE KQ4MM
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KM3K
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« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2017, 07:26:56 AM »

As with the previous posters, I disagree with the "don't write it down" opinion.

Hello,

After many false starts, I've finally settled on using K7QO's approach via a hand-held MP3-player but with one important change for me.
I decided to stop writing down the letters; all I do is listen and mentally say the letters.

Now K7QO spent some time talking about writing down the characters and I did that for awhile exactly as he described.
But then, as time went on, I realized that for me writing was a distraction.
Perhaps it is fine for a younger person but, at age 77, it was not working for me, so I stopped.

Besides, when I was searching out which way to go in learning the code, I recall reading that eventually all a cw-operator might actually record about a qso would be those salient details needed for logging it and maybe an important item in the qso.   

Also, by experience, I learned to force myself to religiously avoid playing back any sounds; either I get the character on the first pass or I just let it pass by.

The hardest part, for this fully retired person, is putting aside 30-minutes each day for practice; seems like something always happens to interfere with that time.

BTW, I want to do the code so I can operate qrp-portable and so I can tell my children to put on my tombstone -.- -- ...-- -.-

73 Jerry KM3K
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K8AXW
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« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2017, 10:01:41 AM »

4MM and others:  What I consider "gimmick" methods are methods that teaches code in a manner that deviates from what is actually used on the air.

I thought this was quite simple to understand.

If you learn characters at 20wpm with wide spacing and then go on the air you're in for a shock.  What you have spent so much time learning doesn't  sound the same as what you are hearing so you have to "unlearn" the gimmick method.  This usually means relearning the way it actually is.  This does NOT mean you have to start over but you will probably have to back off and readjust.  During this time the frustration level increases because, it's "what the hell, I learned Morse Code and I can't copy these people!"

The military (American) used the slow method with proper spacing, starting at 5wpm and everyone wrote down what they heard.  When the short session was over, what they had written was reviewed for correctness.  As this speed was mastered and the complete alphabet and numbers were mastered then the speed was increased eventually to 13wpm at which time the student was switched over to a mill.  (Modified typewriter to you younger people) At around 18wpm the special characters were introduced, like the period, commas, etc.

The speed was gradually increased, all the time with correct spacing and element length.  When it was time to copy off the air, it all fell into place.  None of this, "what the hell is this stuff!"

Also please understand I am not dead set against gimmick methods of learning anything.  Whatever it takes to get the job done, so be it.  But I feel it must be understood that when switching from the learning method to the "off the air" copy there is going to be a bump in the road.

I firmly believe in writing it down for the previously mentioned reasons.  The exception would be handicapped people or those like the 77 year old who took exception to my comments about writing it down.  I am 81+ and can no longer write and even have difficulty typing.  So for years I have been head copying.  That's all that I have left.  I also can't use a key or keyer because of arthritis.  I'm in the process of switching to a keyboard keyer.

There are exceptions to everything..... or at least someone will be able to do the opposite of what is proposed. 

I repeat, I'm for anything or anyway to learn this great method of communications.  I'm simply pointing out potential (copy POTENTIAL) pitfalls!
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VK5EEE
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« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2017, 10:41:57 AM »

K8AXW I'm sure you, I and others are all much more on the same page than we may think.

I think that a great advantage of the military training is that there is a long-hours every day full course, along with a trainer, with no backing out, and that of course works well! The problem these days is that it is entirely up to the individual to discipline themselves to spend the time. No one is going to spend 8 hours a day every day for 6 weeks or more in a class room setting. If they did they could do it no doubt. Instead they have to spend a few minutes morning, a few minutes evening. In which case, some of the methods such as Koch and Farnsworth combined, seem to me to be a very good idea. Otherwise over a long time, the hurdle which comes when the speed gets to fast to "count" the dits and dahs, is reached. Best to avoid that hurdle altogether. In a classroom daily course, that is not so much an issue, hence it worked for western militaries. This is my view, I'm not saying I'm right, either :-)

Spacing disappears once they reach 18WPM! So there is no issue there. It's only while learning and not yet up to that average speed, that there is longer spacing. If they go on air in that condition before they have reached 18WPM, I have no problem with that. In time they will get there. There ARE all sorts of CW sending on the bands, I'm not a purist, I don't mind. I think it's great. I rather have more CW OPs on the air using their ears and fists, no matter the quality of their CW, than less on the air.

KM3K my hat off to you too Sir. And you must do what works for you: writing down or not writing down. In ham radio there is no need to write down, other than what you want to remember to reply to, or details for the log. If it helps to write down that's fine, if not that's fine. My own struggle for many years even when I was very proficient in CW, when copying down coded groups, was just putting a dash and not worrying about it -- my mind always wanted to replay what I'd missed due to high speed random groups, and then I'd miss MANY characters, even a whole group of 5. I really struggled with that "don't worry, leave a blank".

KQ4MM it'd be great to have a QSO. On 30m I am usually to be found on the QTT centre of activity frequency plus 300Hz. See http://30cw.net/qtt for information. Probably best times are your very early morning, or very late night. Not a social time for you!

« Last Edit: September 13, 2017, 10:44:56 AM by VK5EEE » Logged

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,
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