Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net

   Home   Help Search  
Pages: Prev 1 [2]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Can't Head Copy!  (Read 6587 times)
N3QE
Member

Posts: 2078




Ignore
« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2010, 04:57:37 AM »

I don't see that copying in one's head should be a primary goal. During the days of FCC code tests one had to put it down on paper. Copying in one's head was not on our radar screen.

Sometime in the decade or so before the VEC scheme came into being, the FCC gave a choice for the code element: you could either copy random 5-letter groups, or you could listen to a "simulated QSO" and answer content-based questions about it.

The "simulated QSO" would IIRC have some idiosyncrancies put into it (QTH's with nonconventional spellings) on purpose. You got to take notes on the notepad... if you wanted you could copy every letter verbatim, or you could just take notes, or you didn't have to write anything down at all.

I think this was a very real acknowledgement of the FCC that copying code was not just about copying 5-letter random groups. It was there for communications.

Today I can comfortably copy 40+ WPM QSO's in my head and with a little note taking. But when it comes to "copy every letter onto paper" I never got above 30 WPM (what my ARRL code proficiency certificate says!) Having gone back and tried to get my ARRL certificate up to 35 and 40 WPM I can tell you that it's a different mindset.

And there's at least a third mindset, copying calls at high speed like RufZXP. This is comparable to contests (but only the very fastest in contests are running much above 50WPM). Lately contest exchanges sent by computer have adopted this completely stupid thing where some elements of the exchange (e.g. 599) are sent at 60 WPM or higher and other elements (e.g. serial number) are sent at e.g. 30 WPM. That has to be the stupidest practice in the world. But I've even grown to be able to work with it.
Logged
N3QE
Member

Posts: 2078




Ignore
« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2010, 05:29:04 AM »

I'm not sure how the computer programs you use for practice work (random letter groups? real QSO's?) but if your difficulty with "head copy" is 5 character random letter groups, you don't have to feel bad at all. What you'll eventually be able to head copy is a conversational QSO.

The concept of head copy for random 5-letter groups is almost nonsensical. IMHO.

Myself, how did I do it? When I was a novice I started by copying down every letter to paper. I was on the air every night. In the next year or two I hand-copied less and less, becoming more like note-taking rather than verbatim transcription. It was gradual.

Did I freeze up in some of my QSO's back then? You bet! I was shaking like a tower of lime jello after many of my early QSO's. That's when you nervously ask for fills :-)

But to repeat myself: you gotta get on the air. Listen to real QSO's. The computer practice is OK to a point but you may be beyond that point already.
Logged
KB4MB
Member

Posts: 295




Ignore
« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2010, 06:56:48 AM »

Actually, 5 letter groups aren't that hard for me... it is real words.  Anticipation, or sometimes I get distracted, and then I panic - drop a few letters, that gets me mad and I drop more.

However, I almost always practice with practice qsos generated into mp3 files and listen to them.  They are sent 21-25wpm slowed to 10-13.  Sometimes even slowed to 5-7... I get a groove and then mess up and just get frustrated with the whole mess.

Only recently did I say to myself, why not try to copy with a paper so you don't have to "buffer" anything, and I did much much better - but like I said - goal is to head copy and so many cw gurus on different boards say it is the way to go.  So, I guess I will do that for awhile, get on the air, and just do it.

I wanted to be a bit proficient before getting on the air - I have had 2 qsos and was so nervous, I don't know how I got through it.
Logged
N3QE
Member

Posts: 2078




Ignore
« Reply #18 on: July 18, 2010, 07:16:53 AM »

Actually, 5 letter groups aren't that hard for me... it is real words.  Anticipation, or sometimes I get distracted, and then I panic - drop a few letters, that gets me mad and I drop more.

However, I almost always practice with practice qsos generated into mp3 files and listen to them.  They are sent 21-25wpm slowed to 10-13.  Sometimes even slowed to 5-7... I get a groove and then mess up and just get frustrated with the whole mess.

Only recently did I say to myself, why not try to copy with a paper so you don't have to "buffer" anything, and I did much much better - but like I said - goal is to head copy and so many cw gurus on different boards say it is the way to go.  So, I guess I will do that for awhile, get on the air, and just do it.

I wanted to be a bit proficient before getting on the air - I have had 2 qsos and was so nervous, I don't know how I got through it.

Don't worry about dropping a few letters. That's why the classic "Novice QSO" repeats calls 3 times and everything else twice, and if you still don't get it, you can ask for a fill.

And even those good at CW have to ask for fills, when the phone rings, or the dog barks, or the XYL asks why we're not making supper yet, or because of QRM, QRN, or QSB.

IMHO if you've been on the air and were nervous for the first couple QSO's, that's entirely par for the course! All of us started out that way and we kept coming back for more :-)

Tim.
Logged
N2EY
Member

Posts: 3835




Ignore
« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2010, 07:39:14 AM »

Anticipation, or sometimes I get distracted, and then I panic - drop a few letters, that gets me mad and I drop more.

Morse Code isn't one skill, it's a whole set. One skill is being able to keep going and not get distracted or mad.


However, I almost always practice with practice qsos generated into mp3 files and listen to them.  They are sent 21-25wpm slowed to 10-13.  Sometimes even slowed to 5-7... I get a groove and then mess up and just get frustrated with the whole mess.

Everybody messes up sooner or later. Learning the skills takes time and practice.

I suggest that you turn on the rig and listen to real live on-the-air CW as much as possible. Copy in your head, copy on paper, type it on the computer, whatever works.

Think about how really good musicians (Richard Thompson, for example) got so good:

1) They practice whenever possible - alone, with a buddy, with a band, etc.

2) They don't get hung up on a flubbed note.

3) They realize that there's always more to learn, always a new tune/riff/method, always somebody better at some aspect of music. And they don't let any of that bother them.


Only recently did I say to myself, why not try to copy with a paper so you don't have to "buffer" anything, and I did much much better - but like I said - goal is to head copy and so many cw gurus on different boards say it is the way to go. 

Well I'm not a guru or expert of any kind but I say "do what works for *you*."

When I got started I had to write it all down too. And over time I found myself writing it down less and less, except when written copy was needed, such as message handling and contests. That may be your path to success.

I wanted to be a bit proficient before getting on the air - I have had 2 qsos and was so nervous, I don't know how I got through it.

Try "a graduated series of exposures". First, just listen to others' QSOs.

73 de Jim, N2EY
Logged
K7KBN
Member

Posts: 2763




Ignore
« Reply #20 on: July 18, 2010, 10:16:45 AM »

On an earlier post, I identified myself as a "ZBM1 operator", meaning "qualified speed key operator".  But I decided to Google the term to see if that definition came up.  It does eventually, but I also found this:

http://www.diytrade.com/china/4/products/2427881/sheep_abattoir_slaughter_machine.html

Sort of off-topic!  Doesn't have much to do with Vibroplex!

73
Pat K7KBN/formerly NZFF/
Logged

73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
W0BTU
Member

Posts: 1564


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #21 on: July 19, 2010, 12:05:16 AM »

Download and read "The Art And Skill of Radiotelegraphy". It's free and available from http://www.qsl.net/n9bor/n0hff.htm.
Logged

KB4MB
Member

Posts: 295




Ignore
« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2010, 05:14:11 AM »

Quote
Download and read "The Art And Skill of Radiotelegraphy". It's free and available from http://www.qsl.net/n9bor/n0hff.htm.

I read that twice and Zen and the Art which are both great.  I even printed them out and bound them so I have them as a real reference.  However, it is the idea that I should learn to head copy and skip the pen and paper that I have been really focusing on.  So I never practice with them.  However, I am going to from now on and see how that does in my progress...
Logged
VK4TJF
Member

Posts: 93




Ignore
« Reply #23 on: July 20, 2010, 03:44:20 AM »

i have been doing cw for a few years now
and i find that i like the learn cw online
you can set it up where it sends random words
i find that i can copy on the keyboard 38 wpm
but i very lazy i head copy the word then type
it. even listening to the arrl code practice files
i find that i lazy and rather just listen to it
so keep copying by what ever means that you can
and you will find that one day you will be lazy like
me and just put the pencil down so to speak
Logged
K3YD
Member

Posts: 55




Ignore
« Reply #24 on: July 23, 2010, 08:32:04 PM »

Two suggestions:
1. Listen to ARRL Official Bulletins in CW; they're sent at 18 WPM for about 1/2 hour.  Just listen as you would listen to a news broadcast on the AM radio, don't try to copy on paper.  After a while certain common words will start to register in your mind: and, the, of, radio, with, etc.

2.  Listen to some contests in CW.  You'll encounter "Run" stations which sit on one frequency and call CQ.  Copy what a run station sends, on paper if you have to, but continue to listen to that station after you know his call and exchange.  You'll get his rhythm and eventually you'll begin to copy the stations answering him. 
Logged
K7PEH
Member

Posts: 1125




Ignore
« Reply #25 on: July 24, 2010, 04:18:42 PM »

On head copy...

(1)  I think every CW operator soon learns to head copy "CQ".  I mean, who doesn't know CQ, almost at any speed (OK, under 40 wpm).

(2)  I also think that the "de" between call signs is easy head copy -- I mean, who writes that down, no one I bet.

(3)  In doing contests, I am doing head copy at lots of the exchange, especially that 5NN signal report.  That is easy head copy at 30 to 40 wpm.  (And, it is hard head copy under 10 wpm).

(4)  And, then there are other easy head copies that I am used to.  Such as:  "FB", "UR RST", "QTH", "NAME", and so on.

(5)  I am at that stage where I can head copy words like "THE", "THIS", "THEN", "THERE".  And, I can do that even around 30 wpm even though my comfort zone for copy is 18 to 20 wpm.

(6)  And, there are others of similar ilk.

The thing is, I am learning head copy in a piece meal fashion.  On these examples I gave, when I say head copy, I am not hearing or even thinking that much about individual letters.  It is the pattern that I translate of the whole thing.  Obviously everyone can understand this with something so commonly heard as "CQ" but the same thing happens with other words.

As I progress, I add more stuff.  Now, what do I actually write down.  I write down names, cities, states, rigs.  I don't write a WX report but I do listen to it.  On those, my head copy hears things like "WX HR IS" and then what follows are various things about the weather and often it is only the temp, sometimes something else.  On these, I go letter by letter forming of words in my head since I have not memorized these as a pattern yet.

So, in head copy, at least to me, it is recognizing that pattern or sound of the word as a whole, it is not even thinking of individual letters.

On a typical CW QSO, I can head copy the first couple of exchanges with no problems.  I only write down names, cities, things like that.  But, later in the QSO, I do have to translate often and write things down as I copy.  Main reason is that some words are just too long for me to remember all the letters, others though are easier.  But, I am definitely not full head copy there yet.

I have never struggled or practiced to do head copy.  These sounds just come naturally when you spend time on the air.  Right now, there is a contest and I am hearing a station say "CQ TEST" over a couple of times and then their call sign.  That "CQ TEST" is yet another thing you head copy almost immediately -- it is merely a sound, a pattern recognized by my ears which basically tells me to prepare to hear the call sign where I perk up a little bit.

73, phil, K7PEH

I first learned CW at about 5 wpm when I was about 9 years old but did not get my Novice license until I was 17. When my Novice year was up in 1966 I was in college and did not have time (or the interest at the time) to study and get my General although my CW speed at the time was about 20 wpm.  In 2007 (after getting relicensed in 2004) I started with CW again.  And, that memory of CW came back within about 2 weeks time of just listening on the air.
Logged
KB4MB
Member

Posts: 295




Ignore
« Reply #26 on: July 24, 2010, 04:34:43 PM »

Thank you both for your advice.  Time for me to get up and go do it!
Logged
AD7WN
Member

Posts: 113




Ignore
« Reply #27 on: July 24, 2010, 06:45:51 PM »

You are not alone :-)  When I was trained in the army, back in 1952, we copied everything on a mill (typewriter).  Becasue we were always dealing with coded groups, this was not a problem.  We were trained to copy a few characters behind, at speeds up to 25 wpm.

Three years later, as a civilian, I found that I could easily copy on a mill at speeds up to 35 wpm, but could not "head copy."  The solution: practice copying on a mill farther and farther behind.  By the time I could copy two words behind, I found I was copying in my head before the words showed up on paper.  When I stopped typing, I found I was head copying without problems.

This technique worked for me.  I may not work for everybody who tries it.  But it's worth a shot.  Hope this helps.

73 de John/AD7WN
Logged
K7PEH
Member

Posts: 1125




Ignore
« Reply #28 on: July 24, 2010, 10:27:11 PM »

When I was trained in the army, back in 1952, we copied everything on a mill (typewriter).  Becasue we were always dealing with coded groups, this was not a problem.  We were trained to copy a few characters behind, at speeds up to 25 wpm.

When I was a Novice, a neighbor from across the street came over one evening to copy CW on my receiver.  He was an old Navy radio operator (retired).  So, we got set up and we tuned to some good solid CW stations on the 40 meter band and he couldn't copy anything.  So, he asked me if we had a typewriter in the house and if he could use it.  I went to get the household typewriter and set it on the desk and he could copy any station that night with the typewriter.  But, he couldn't copy in any other way.  I thought that was very strange. 
Logged
STAYVERTICAL
Member

Posts: 854




Ignore
« Reply #29 on: July 25, 2010, 03:59:26 AM »

Quote
Head copy is generally learned at much higher speeds than the 5-7 and 13 wpm that you mentioned.  Just keep at it, write down what you have to and build up your speed.  One day you will begin decoding common words instead of individual characters and you will learn to put the pencil down.  But that may not happen until you've become comfortable at 20-30 wpm.

73 & GL,
Chuck  NI0C
   

I concur with this quote.
I did not learn to head copy until I listened to speeds in excess of 25WPM.
I still cannot properly head copy at 5 to 8 wpm, its just too slow, so don't despair, this is normal.
In my opinion, just write it down until you get to the point where you are capable of 25wpm.
Any faster than this and it is starting to get difficult to write and you will need to go to typing.
Then put some books in text format (gutenberg.net is a good source) on a cw sending program, put on the sidetone
and let it go.
Gradually increase the speed to where it just becomes uncomfortable, then leave it there.
Do it in short but frequent sessions, with rest in between, you will soon increase your speed.
Then will come the magical day when you will head read.
Many people are visual thinkers, so if you can visualise the characters appearing on a blackboard or screen in your
mind, that is one way of "head reading".
Morse is really a language and like any other, you will become proficient quickly and naturally with use.
Don't worry about esoteric methods, like diets they are good for some but perhaps not for you.
Just practice - thats it.


Logged
Pages: Prev 1 [2]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!