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Author Topic: How quick did you learn CW? I've amazed myself!!  (Read 7041 times)
HS0ZIB
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« on: March 18, 2011, 04:47:22 AM »

Although I've hold ham licences for more than 30 years, I never bothered to learn CW.  I previously operated SSB, and now that I'm living in Thailand since 2002, I operate PSK31.  I prefer the digital modes because I run a busy hotel, and it's impossible to operate voice modes whilst I'm working, (since everyone thinks I'm speaking to myself...)

I live very close to many IOTA islands in south Thailand, so I want to do some mini dxpeditions, running QRP.  The obvious choice of mode is CW, and this morning I received in the post a miniature 'spy' straight key that I bought off Ebay.

OK, I need to learn CW, how long will this take?  I downloaded the Morsecat program and found a few explanatory web pages...

I have just finished about 5 hours of study, practising both receiving/understanding morse from the Morsecat program, and sending morse sentences etc with my new morse key.

I am amazed to find that after only half a day of study, I am able to receive and send at an average speed of 18 wpm, including the various punctuations and special characters etc!  

I'm sitting and watching the news on TV and sending the news sub-titles with my morse key (no tx of course).

I have 3 theories as to why I have been able to learn so quickly:

1 - After being exposed to the sound of morse for several decades, I have subconsciously learnt a lot of the letters

2 - My brain is of the type that can acquire/remember sound patterns more quickly (I am left-handed, which often seems to feature amongst the gifted!)

3 - I was able to learn to read Thai very quickly, and to read Thai requires the brain to recognise word patterns, since the Thai language has no spaces between the words.  (I also learn the 'squiggles' of Arabic and Farsi very easily).

Anyway, whatever the reason, I am very happy to have picked up a basic knowledge of CW in such a short time - I'm looking forward to operating as HS0ZIB/ P (QRP) from some of the nearby islands.

Simon

Just an extra comment after reading the other thread on morse and the brain.  I am an electronics engineer with a higher degree, but I have never actually been that good at electronics!  Both my brothers are highly technical professionals.

My parents were both linguists and were fluent in many different languages.  I find learning languages very easy, even non-roman scripts such as Thai, Lao, Arabic and Chinese.

I enjoy music and wanted to learn to play a locally made musical instrument.  But I find it very hard going!

So what sort of brain do I have?
Easy to learn morse code
Easy to learn foreign languages
average to learn electronics
lousy to learn music
« Last Edit: March 18, 2011, 05:06:26 AM by HS0ZIB » Logged
VK5DO
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Posts: 94




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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2011, 09:20:42 AM »

It sounds like you're off to a good start.  Be sure and let us know how your first few QSO's on air go.

Yours
Dene
VK5DO
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ES1TU
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« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2011, 04:06:17 AM »

I have been on cw for 3 months now. Started up from 10wpm. 3 months of on the air practice has brought me to 26 wpm.
Few observations:

* 500usd spent on Begali Sculpture turned out to be money WELL spent
* on cw I can work barely audible weak stations I could definately not reach on ssb
* I wish I had turned earlier from ssb to cw
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KC9TNH
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« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2011, 10:40:21 AM »

So what sort of brain do I have?
Easy to learn morse code
Easy to learn foreign languages
average to learn electronics
lousy to learn music
Simon,
First, congrats on the great CW progress. Interesting topic. Still working on copying 10wpm, but happy with progress after not hearing any for 40 yrs from old Army time. I think basic IMC understanding is a good tool for the bag anyway.

This would be an interesting topic.
You obviously do well at learning patterns; without the foreknowledge that patterns exist, do you do well on pattern recognition in general, spotting them from scratch? (Picture the typical detective show computer geek who can stare at the plasma on the wall with a high-speed protocol analyzer dumping raw output and shout, "Ah-HA!!!")

I pickup foreign languages with some facility, although generally Greco-Roman based.
I can play almost anything I can hear, but written music is Farsi to me (pun completely intended).
I am heavily right-handed.

Not sure what any of that means. Perhaps it's simply why Method A works for one, and Method B for another.
And so it goes.
Seriously, that is a very nice accomplishment. I too would be interested to see how things fare 'live'.

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73
Wes -KC9TNH
"Don't get treed by a chihuahua." - Pete
K3TN
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« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2011, 03:20:51 AM »

Aadu - very nice to work you on CW, glad you have turned! I have operated mostly CW for 42 years, since I was first licensed at 12 and I think the money I spent on my N3ZN key was one of my best investments.

As far as long to learn CW, when I was 12 my neighor and I ran wires between our houses connecting two code practice oscillators and learned the code just trying to communicate  that way. Took a few weeks, but easily passed old 5 wpm novice test using that very unstructured method.

73, John K3TN

I have been on cw for 3 months now. Started up from 10wpm. 3 months of on the air practice has brought me to 26 wpm.
Few observations:

* 500usd spent on Begali Sculpture turned out to be money WELL spent
* on cw I can work barely audible weak stations I could definately not reach on ssb
* I wish I had turned earlier from ssb to cw

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John K3TN
HS0ZIB
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Posts: 424




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« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2011, 03:38:42 AM »

Thanks for all the encouraging replies.  Of course, I cannot become 'fluent' at CW in this short period, but I'm very happy about my CW progress.

I hope to put my new skills to use with QRP operation.  I have my TS-850 for base-station PSK31 use at my hotel, but I just bought an Appalechian III off Ebay and an end-fed ax from Par.  Add in the 'sky' straight key and a robust set of military headphones, and I'm almost ready to go QRP mobile.

In my region, there are many small islands, all located within IOTA AS-053.  I will probably do some mini dxpeditions up the hills on Phuket Island and Yao Yai/Yao Noi island and try out my beginner's CW...

Simon
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NA7U
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« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2011, 05:03:15 AM »

Simon,

Sounds like you are a savant when it comes to pattern recognition. I'm left-handed and it took me a lot longer to get the hang of Morse, hi hi!

You and the repliers on this thread certainly testify to the advantages of using the code. I was sold on it at the beginning for its efficiency in terms of miles per watt and the simplicity of equipment needed. If I want to use voice then I have a phone, Skype, etc.

Good luck and hope to hear you on the air!

vy 73,

Casey, TI2/NA7U
http://cloud-warmer.blogspot.com
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KE4JOY
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« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2011, 09:00:59 AM »

Just wondering if the OP had any background in music.
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AE5QB
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« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2011, 12:47:48 PM »

I a maze myself also,  I have been working at it about a year with some previous experience back in the 70's and am just now getting comfortable on air at about 11-12 words a minute.  It is amazing to me that I am so slow at picking this stuff up. Smiley  I am thoroughly impressed that anyone can learn it as quickly as the OP has.  I am not questioning the OP, just can't see how it could even be possible.  Maybe, no not maybe, I am totally jealous of anyone who can learn it that quickly.

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HS0ZIB
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« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2011, 09:43:37 PM »

\
Quote
Just wondering if the OP had any background in music.

Actually not.  My brothers are adept at playing the violin and clarinet, but my musical abilities are soundly lacking.  I do attempt to play the khaen (a Thai wind instrument rather like pan pipes), but all I manage to dop is to scare the local dog population

Simon
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KB4MB
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« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2011, 06:21:48 AM »

Quote
I a maze myself also,  I have been working at it about a year with some previous experience back in the 70's and am just now getting comfortable on air at about 11-12 words a minute.  It is amazing to me that I am so slow at picking this stuff up. 
I'm with you, a year, and only at the same speed.  I play musical instruments as well, but I am TERRIBLE at keeping a beat on my own, which I think has alot to do with it.  I could never be a drummer.

I am also jealous.  Smiley
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KE4JOY
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« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2011, 06:40:58 AM »

\
Quote
Just wondering if the OP had any background in music.

Actually not.  My brothers are adept at playing the violin and clarinet, but my musical abilities are soundly lacking.  I do attempt to play the khaen (a Thai wind instrument rather like pan pipes), but all I manage to dop is to scare the local dog population

Simon

Okay I was just wondering. I have this impression that my picking up the code quickly (at a young age) was due to my many years of study as a percussionist. You know rhythm and all.

Fortunately having learned at a young age it kind of stuck with me.
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NA7U
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« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2011, 07:54:19 AM »

How often do you have a microphone in your hand? Smiley

I a maze myself also,  I have been working at it about a year with some previous experience back in the 70's and am just now getting comfortable on air at about 11-12 words a minute.  It is amazing to me that I am so slow at picking this stuff up. Smiley  I am thoroughly impressed that anyone can learn it as quickly as the OP has.  I am not questioning the OP, just can't see how it could even be possible.  Maybe, no not maybe, I am totally jealous of anyone who can learn it that quickly.


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HS0ZIB
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« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2011, 08:00:38 AM »

Quote
How often do you have a microphone in your hand?

Very rarely.  due to my employment (busy hotel), I tend to operate PSK31, which I can do AND talk with hotel guests at the same time.

Tom - good luck with your CW.  As I said, I was very surprised about the speed at which I picked up CW, and that's why I was interested in the other thread about brain 'types' and learning morse.  What type of brain is able to rapidly learn CW?  In my case, I'm a linguist, but not a musician, (and I would have thought that musicians would be more adept at learning morse quickly).

Interesting topic

Simon
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KU5Q
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« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2011, 12:48:30 PM »

I have been on cw for 3 months now. Started up from 10wpm. 3 months of on the air practice has brought me to 26 wpm.
Few observations:

* 500usd spent on Begali Sculpture turned out to be money WELL spent
* on cw I can work barely audible weak stations I could definately not reach on ssb
* I wish I had turned earlier from ssb to cw


FB on the Sculpture. Head copy is coming along well. I only write down call, name es qth most of the time now. Now I just have to get sending speed up. May not get very fast at my age. I switch back and forth between straight key and paddle alot. Hand coordination getting better with the paddle. Still I hate making sending mistakes. I wish too had come to cw sooner. It may be the only mode I operate for some time. Not interested in other modes for the present. hpe to wrk u soon.....
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