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Author Topic: Trying to learn CW, some questions.  (Read 6321 times)
KD8ITX
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Posts: 15




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« on: May 03, 2010, 03:39:05 AM »

So I would really like to learn CW, from my reading it seems like everyone thinks you should use the Koch method to learn, so I have downloaded the G4FON learning software and started listening at 25 wpm.

How do you keep track of what is coming in?  I can't write at 25 words per minute, I tried just writing a "/" for each character I heard and I could barely keep up just doing that.  In real life do you just listen to what is coming in or do you write it down to see what the other person is saying?

Should I be starting out at a slower speed to learn than 25 wpm?

Thanks
--
KD8ITX
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LB5KE
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Posts: 141




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« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2010, 04:37:22 AM »

What you need to do is to pick a few letters to start with like lets say K, F and S. Then you need to start by adjusting the spacing between the letters. The letters it self should be played at high speed but the spacing could be much wider. I think 25wpm is a little high, try around 18wpm in stead and a spacing of around perhaps 8wpm. The point is that the letters should be played at high speed so that you learn how it sounds and not by counting dits and dahs. However the spacing between the letters can be much lower in speed. When you can easily hear the difference between the letters you can add more of them also you can try to decrease the spacing between the letters a little.

It's very hard to write down the code at speeds at high as 25 wpm. What you need to do is to hear what is being said, and then write it down latter. Much like a journalist taking notes during an interview, Writing letter for letter is nearly impossible, but i am not experienced enough so i could be wrong. However once you master 25wpm this is probably not a problem for you.
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W5KNO
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« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2010, 04:55:32 AM »

I would recommend that you start learning the characters at 20 WPM, but set the effective code speed very low, in the 2 WPM speed. This will enable you to learn the characters sounds at the higher speed but will let you have time to copy to paper. As you complete the lessons you will be comfortable with the copy and can increase the effective speed . With practice you will no longer need to copy each character to paper, just the relevant QSO information.
Congratulations to you for wanting to learn CW…I think you will find it very rewarding.

73
de W5KNO
Ernie 
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KD4DIY
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Posts: 4




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« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2010, 07:43:35 AM »

There are as many ways of learning Morse Code as there are languages out there. I learned in the military over 40 years ago, and can still copy 20-25 WPM. Your best bet is to try several methods until you find one that's right for you. We learned, at 5 WPM, the basic alphabet, 4 letters every other day, then progressed to 8 WPM, then 12 WPM, then 15 WPM which was plateau for most of us. Some of us went on to 18-22WPM and enjoyed it! I agree about learning the shorter letters first: E, I, S, H, T, M, O, then go on to more involved letters: A, W, J, etc. You get the picture. The main thing is to enjoy yourself while learning. If you don't, it will become a chore and you will drop it. Good luck with it!
Gene
KD4DIY
Mobile, AL
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KB1NXE
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Posts: 345




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« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2010, 08:58:13 AM »

I've been doing the same and found another program that helps learn the letters through pattern recognition.  It's called "Just Learn Morse" http://www.justlearnmorsecode.com/

It works by teaching you a few letters and you have to answer the computer by typing the letter.  After that it builds as you become more proficient.  By that I mean, you learn 3 letters and as you get a higher percentage of correct answers, it adds a fourth then fifth, and so on.  Each session begins at zero, so your first session can be 5 or 10 minutes, then longer until you're sitting there for half an hour and coping almost the entire alphabet, numbers and prosigns.  It also groups the letters that sound alike together.  Like R and K for instance.  You session last as long as you choose.  Once my frustration is reached I quit for a while.

Try it, you may like it.

HTH, Jim
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KD8ITX
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Posts: 15




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« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2010, 11:14:20 AM »

That is interesting you guys suggest learning the letters at speed but adjust the spacing, if that is the case then I am well on my way.  I have been using an app for my iPhone to learn morse code while in my car, it plays the letters at 25 wpm, but it plays each letter three times then says the name of the letter.  This app is nice in that I can use it while driving to work.

I have learned the whole alphabet so far on that app at 25 wpm at the character level, however I am having trouble copying at speed, I just get lost fast.  But from what you guys are saying I can take where I am at and just keep moving the spacing between the letters to be shorter and shorter.

I was afraid that I would need to learn at 25 wpm both at the character level and at the word/sentence level which would mean the time I have spent learning the alphabet probably wasn't worth much.
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K0UA
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Posts: 55




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« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2010, 01:06:52 PM »

What you seek is here:
Download this PDF and follow the course.

http://www.qsl.net/ik0ygj/enu/index.html

73 and good luck
de K0UA
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LB3KB
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Posts: 227


WWW

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« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2010, 01:11:55 PM »

You should learn at the speed you intend to operate at.  If you want to operate at 25 WPM, learning the characters at 25 WPM is the best way to go.  If you can't keep up, slow down by using Farnsworth timing until you can keep up.  This is what others have already suggested.

If you have trouble with for instance 10/25 WPM, start over using Koch's method with just 2 characters.  You'll find you're able to increase the number of letters rapidly as you already know all of them.

That doesn't mean you're done once you can do solid copy at, say, 10/25 WPM.  Once you master 10/25, practice 11/25 or 12/25.  Once you master that, increase again.  And again.

When you can do solid copy at 25/25 WPM you're done (with perfectly generated code).  Now find out how you do when copying something on the air.

73
LB3KB Sigurd
Just Learn Morse Code
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AC7AC
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« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2010, 03:01:50 PM »

Like some others here, I learned years ago without the Koch system, starting with learning the alphabet at very slow speed and building from there. FWIW, my maximum pencil-and-paper copy speed is just about 20 WPM. That's how I copied for my commercial CW exams and my hand was tired after five minutes! (I earned a 35 wpm certificate on a mill - typewriter).

I have known two fellows who learned by the Koch system. While it's true they were able to copy some QSO's faster than perhaps I did (we were lucky having the Novice bands were almost *everyone* was at 10 wpm and often much slower) they also had two significant problems.

The first problem was that they couldn't send! They had practiced receiving exclusively. Worse, when they tried to send they had no feel for proper spacing, having been given terrible habits with the Koch system. We used hand pumps and focussed on sending smooth and proper spacing from the beginning. Indeed, if someone wants me to send Koch nowadays, it's hard for me. I naturally want to maintain the proper space-to-element-to-word spacing at any speed. (I often tap my foot while sending as a "metronome", especially when QRS on my hand pump for a new CW operator.) One of them finally developed an acceptable fist on a mechanical key after many months of working on it. The other did what I suppose many Hams do now - depend on a keyboard or keyer. But using a mechanical key can be very satisfying and an enjoyable challenge.

The second problem is they could not receive properly spaced CW. If someone QRS for them, reducing all the spacing and elements in proportion, the CW was gibberish to them. Also, as their speed increased they had the same problem trying to read CW at higher speeds where the spacing started to fit the proper spacing. To them, everything was run together.

They eventually got around both issues, but it was a rather extended and frustrating period after they thought they "knew" CW!
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LB3KB
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Posts: 227


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« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2010, 04:09:13 PM »

AC7AC says Koch but he means Farnsworth.

Like I said, you're not done until you're rid of Farnsworth.


(However, once you know how to send it's no problem sending with Farnsworth timing.  In fact, it's a good alternative to slowing down everything when working a slower op as most of them get it even when your character speed is much higher than theirs)

73
LB3KB Sigurd
Just Learn Morse Code
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LB5KE
Member

Posts: 141




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« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2010, 11:58:36 PM »

I have been using an app for my iPhone to learn morse code while in my car, it plays the letters at 25 wpm, but it plays each letter three times then says the name of the letter.  This app is nice in that I can use it while driving to work.

I have tried the same method as you do for a few weeks, playing the code and the have a voice read up every letter. I didn't help very much. However when i tried to have the PC/ CD play a letter and then i had to say what the character was with my own voice, i started gaining speed at once. Saying the character's name by you're self, demands a much active attention. Be careful when your driving.
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IK0YGJ
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« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2010, 07:49:04 AM »

Yes, I agree with the OM suggesting you to simply start around 20 WPM and lower word space to the minimum.
At this speed, writing down is rather difficult, so simply get "exposed" to the CW sound.
The rest will come by itself.
73 Carlo
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KW6LA
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Posts: 92




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« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2010, 08:27:03 PM »

WOW !!

I can’t believe the advice here. It’s like saying try 259 MPH for ur first drag race !@ !

Sure you can speak Spanish at 60 wpm to start out with …. Bologna. First of all know

that it is an acquired skill like riding a unicycle. No subliminal tape will help you here.

Try this http://www.gordonwestradioschool.com/main/page_training_materials.html

Great way to learn code and many swear by this program.  Good luck and hope to wk

U on the air one day OM.

KW6LA / T2
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AA1BN
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Posts: 56




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« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2010, 06:45:49 AM »

So I would really like to learn CW, from my reading it seems like everyone thinks you should use the Koch method to learn, so I have downloaded the G4FON learning software and started listening at 25 wpm.

How do you keep track of what is coming in?  I can't write at 25 words per minute, I tried just writing a "/" for each character I heard and I could barely keep up just doing that.  In real life do you just listen to what is coming in or do you write it down to see what the other person is saying?

Should I be starting out at a slower speed to learn than 25 wpm?

Thanks
--
KD8ITX

It's not like "learning to drive at 259 mph", it's like learning to drive
by driving the car; you can't learn to drive if the car is parked.

If you start by counting dits and dahs, your brain will always try to
count the dits and dahs, making it very difficult to decipher Morse
code at a higher speed than what you can hear each dit and dah at.

On the other bunch of piggies, if you listen to what each letter
sounds like; the rhythm of the dits and dahs that comprise that
letter, you will know what that letter sounds like without your brain
attempting to count all those dits and dahs. You will be very
effectively by-passing a very, very slow step of processing that's
not necessary to have to use.

You will find yourself hearing whole words, and ignoring missed
dits or dahs of individual letters, because an L will sound like an L,
when it's being sent as part of a word... you'll find yourself trying
harder to hear what's being said, rather that it being said in code.

Diddat make sense? Diddit?





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LB3KB
Member

Posts: 227


WWW

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« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2010, 08:01:43 AM »

WOW !!

I can’t believe the advice here. It’s like saying try 259 MPH for ur first drag race !@ !

No, it isn't.  You read too fast, you don't understand the advice.

The best suggestion is that you start out with letters sent at the speed you want to operate at.  But you start with only two letters, typically K and M.  Anybody can do this, even at 25/25.  Once you score 90% or better during a five minute session of two letters, you add the third letter.  Once you score 90% or better at that, you add the fourth letter and so on and so on.  This is Koch's method.

Some people have trouble writing or typing that fast.  For them, increasing the spacing between characters and words is a good option as it allows them to recognise each letter at the speed they intend to operate at while the extra spacing allow them to keep up writing or typing what they hear.  This is Farnsworth timing.

Once you know all the characters, it’s time to get rid of the Farnsworth timing as the goal is to operate at standard timing.  This is best achieved by gradually increasing the word speed, until the desired speed is reached in standard timing.  At this point, there is no need to still use random code groups as you already know all the characters, so the source material may be words or sentences – easily copied without writing or typing.  Voice recognition software may also be used to keep a record of what has been copied.


Sure you can speak Spanish at 60 wpm to start out with …. Bologna.

When learning to speak Spanish, you don’t slow down by spelling out each word and dragging out each letter.  You learn to speak Spanish by listening to words and sentences at the target speed, then you start speaking the words at full target speed but slowed down with the equivalent of Farnsworth timing to be able to keep up.


73
LB3KB Sigurd
Just Learn Morse Code
« Last Edit: May 11, 2010, 08:06:50 AM by Sigurd Stenersen » Logged
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