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Author Topic: Copy CW in your head  (Read 14114 times)
K7KBN
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Posts: 2765




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« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2011, 05:18:55 PM »

In 1974 I still had to write it down.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
N4KZ
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Posts: 594




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« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2011, 12:51:46 PM »

I have copied CW in my head for a long time. Probably since about 1980 or so. It just gradually evolved without any conscious decision to do so. I think what helped me make the transition from copying on paper to the head came when I began sending at faster than my normal speeds. That got me involved in QSOs were I felt uncomfortable trying to copy on paper and therefore head copy became a "survival" skill. And I credit my faster sending to my buying an MFJ CW keyboard. Yep, I have used a keyboard keyer to send with since about 1981 or 82 but began copying in my head about that same time. Still use my MFJ keyboard after all these years and even bought a second one -- used, of course -- a couple years about. I paid $300 for the first one; $50 for the second one two years ago.

Do I feel guilty about sending with a keyboard? Not one bit. I am a good touch typist. You have to be because there's no monitor to look at when sending. Besides, there are many "interesting" fists on the air and mine does not stand out for being "interesting." Hi Hi

73, Dave, N4KZ
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WI2D
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Posts: 9




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« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2011, 10:24:35 PM »

Lynn,

Like you, I would like to master head copy as soon as possible.
Here is a list of my regular practices for past few months:

- Work on the air whenever convenient. Usually 4-6 hours a week.

- 2 times a day, 30-minute sessions. Practice sending to the DM780 at my comfortable speed. Currently 23WPM.
  There are claims that sending texts improves your head copy skill.

- 2 times a day, 10-to-20-minute sessions. Practice copying behind random character groups on the lcwo.net site.
  Increase number of characters in a group when making less than 10% errors.
  Currently working on 4-character groups at 25WPM.
  I believe this exercise develops short-term memory which is important for head copy.

- Every time I drive or walk (about 1 hour a day) I listen to a practice MP3 file with groups of repeating words.
  This practice file is compiled from a list of most used English words using Ebook2CW.
  I rewind player to the beginning of the group until I recognize the word.
  Started at 20WPM for this practice I occasionally increase speed for 10 percent and currently at 40WPM.
  Initially it took me over 20 repeats of an average word to recognize it.
  When I reliably copy most of the words without the need to rewind, I reduce number of repeats.
  Currently this file has word groups with 7 repeats.

- When doing various chores which do not allow concentrating on practice with the above method,
  I play some text in the background at intermediate speed. It increases with the word practice speed
  and is currently at 32WPM. Every night I fall asleep with CW playing in headphones.

Being very determined and persistent with the above exercises, I believe the head copy ability is getting closer.
Each week I begin recognizing immediately more and more character combinations and words. And sure one day I will be comfortably 'speaking' in CW.

73!
Andrey - WI2D
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NI0C
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Posts: 2383




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« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2011, 04:38:53 AM »

As others have reported, head copy just comes naturally with speed.  Both rufzXP: http://www.rufzxp.net/  and lcwo: http://lcwo.net/   provide excellent tools for improving speed and accuracy.

73,
Chuck  NI0C
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W5LZ
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Posts: 477




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« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2011, 07:28:59 AM »

What's the key?  Practice!  Tons of that practice.  The 'mechanics' of it?  Beats me, it happens.  You will gradually find yourself 'knowing' what the rest of a word/phrase is before it's ever sent.  That means you're getting there.  More of that @#$ practice!
Good luck.
Paul
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K8AXW
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Posts: 3683




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« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2011, 08:48:37 AM »

Paul: You nailed it!  For some things there is no easy learned technique or procedure.  It's just practice, practice and more practice.  This would be comparable to learning to write.  When one starts learning to write, each letter and number is individually and painstakingly formed with a pencil. 

As one writes more and more, eventually we write without thinking.  The words are formed in our mind and the hand simply applies these thoughts to paper.  Same with copying code in the head.  No quick method!
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AD5X
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Posts: 1426




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« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2011, 09:51:28 AM »

In my case, many years ago I'd listen to high speed CW ops in the morning before work.  I'd close my eyes and just listen.  After just a few weeks of doing this for 20-30 minutes each morning, the words started firming in my head.  And operating CW has been a real pleasure since then.

Phil - AD5X
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WI2D
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Posts: 9




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« Reply #22 on: April 15, 2011, 03:11:31 PM »

As one writes more and more, eventually we write without thinking.  The words are formed in our mind and the hand simply applies these thoughts to paper.  Same with copying code in the head.  No quick method!

Similar phenomena is happening to me while sending.
Occasionally during my sending practice I am getting carried away and no longer sure whether the word in a phrase was formed correctly since I was not concentrating on sending it. Quick look at the DM780 screen confirms it was sent perfectly. Amazing!

Andrey - WI2D
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K8AXW
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Posts: 3683




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« Reply #23 on: April 15, 2011, 08:21:08 PM »

Andrey:  Right!  One of the problems I have is getting "lost" in what I am sending and then have to stop and figure out where I am or what thought I'm trying to convey. 
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N9MB
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Posts: 2




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« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2011, 03:26:46 PM »

I had no choice but write everything down when I took my tests at the San Francisco and Dallas field offices but when I reached the point that I couldn't write as fast as the code I was receiving I put the pencil down and started taking notes on the QSO instead of trying to write everything down verbatim. After that my copy speed increased dramatically, I had been anchored by the darn pencil! From there on I never looked back. I guesstimate that around 35~40 WPM I started hearing words in plain English instead of characters. My only regret now is that I can't send with my old Bencher nearly as fast as I receive.
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K8AXW
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Posts: 3683




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« Reply #25 on: April 20, 2011, 09:26:31 AM »

N9MB:  I have no idea what your age is but for us "oldtimers" writing down what we hear is no longer an option!  Matter of fact, like you, I write down just the essentials. 

I print off the log information using the same format as the ARRL logbooks; 4 contacts to a sheet.  When I make a contact I simply fill in the blanks which I then later transfer to my logbook.

Since I am always running something off on the printer and then discarding it, I've taken to using the back sides of these sheets of paper for my "temp log/notes."  I get double duty out of each sheet of paper.

Learning to copy in the head should be every CW operators ultimate goal.  It makes CW much more enjoyable and as you noted, you will find your speed increasing dramatically.  Of course sending is another thing.  However, I should note that good sending at a comfortable speed is more important than trying to duplicate your receiving speed.
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WA8JXM
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Posts: 51




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« Reply #26 on: April 25, 2011, 11:30:46 AM »

Well, lots of practice didn't help me, but then most of my cw proficiency came from traffic nets where it has to be written down.  I used to copy 29 wpm printing (not all of it was legible, however  Grin)

What really helped me transition to copying in my head was letting the computer copy along with me while I was on the air.   That way I could look up and see if I missed something I needed.   
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WB0U
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Posts: 12




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« Reply #27 on: April 25, 2011, 05:50:45 PM »

Thanks for all the suggestions.  I knew that practicing 5 letter random groups only makes one more proficient at copying 5 letter random groups.  The Ryder "sight and sound" code records (ah, 40 years ago) that I used to learn the code had random groups which forces one to copy letter by letter.

I think Rufz has a simular drawback that you are forced to copy letter by letter.

I tried Icwo and it gave me practice words that don't occur often in QSOs.  Words like adobe, judiciary, and boundaries.

CW helps reduce the number of repeats required in contest QSOs compared to SSB.  This is especially true using a vertical and 100 watts.

73 de Lynn, WB0U
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KC3JV
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Posts: 20




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« Reply #28 on: April 26, 2011, 06:22:28 PM »

FROM  Mark KC3JV:  CW is a skill that not everyone  can become really proficient at.   The military used to weed out people who just didn't have it.   I gave up trying to get to 20 WPM and only achieved my Extra Class when 13 WPM was acceptable.   My wife was a HS Steno and typing teacher.   And said: anyone can type but really speedy typing is only accomplished by a select group of people.   If you really don't have it go for PSK31 like I did.
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K8AXW
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Posts: 3683




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« Reply #29 on: April 26, 2011, 09:03:52 PM »

3JV:  Of course your are correct.  No question.  However, the Army had at least two schools that taught Morse.  One school taught CW for their radio operators.  They were fairly slow copy people....no doubt becoming more proficient as time when on but as I said, to "qualify" the speeds were pretty slow.  Their copy was with a pencil on paper.

The second school the Army had was for another field and the people that graduated from that one was proficient at 18WPM and quickly increased their speeds later.  Their copy was with a mill, which was another "craft" that had to learned along with the code.

I went through the second and I can honestly say that I remember only a handfull out of a hundred that was "weeded out." 

The bottom line is too often I hear this "I just can't learn the code," or some variation of that.  It is my belief that if you can learn the code, you can increase your speed with the right attitude which includes motivation, patience and practice.  The speeds we're talking here would be around 20WPM.  No everyone can achieve really high speeds, I'll grant you.  I would also point out that time/speed increase is not linear.  Same with typing. 
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