What is a fist? A fist is the telegraph distortion added by a person to machine generated code model. Obviously you have bad an(d) nice fists.
Lots to think about here, but first an oberservation. I assume that the lack of a call sign in your profile means that you are neither an amateur or commercial radio operator. By that I do not mean your comments are invalid or unimportant. Nevertheless, one can better understand comments if one understands the viewpoint.
Although I understand your definition of “fist,” I am not sure that I agree with it. Where one can make a good case that the further away from the mathematically perfect code an operator is the “worse” one would classify said operators fist, most hams I have know over the years would use the word two different but related ways.
The first is simply to refer to the characteristics of the code sent by a specific operator. The second relates to the ease of copying or understanding a particular operator. For example an operator could have a “fist” that is easy to copy while being defined as having a swing or lilt.
Question arises is a "nice fist" better to copy then the machine code with the same amount of text per time unit? I don't think so, because I look to the analogy with printed matter and hand written text.
Maybe yes, maybe no. If the “nice fist” sends code as close as humanly possible to mathematically perfect machine code, the answer is yes. If he/she doesn’t, that answer still may be yes.
Some of the most characteristically unique code that I have heard was sent with a bug. It had the swing that one frequently hears if there is an “imbalance” between the speed of the “automatic” dits as compared with the manual dahs, but frequently such CW was very easy to copy. At the same time it is intuitively obvious that it would be possible to send the same number of dits and dahs per unit time as the machine but to send it in a manner that would be completely undecipherable.
So we recognise the sender on his fist.
Rarely unless we communicate with the same person with some degree of frequency.
And the sender often is proud on that he can be recognised and tries with more bending, text dependent timebase changes, and dash/dot/spaces dependent timebase changes, and the like to improve recognition of his fist to express his personality and mental state in the coded messages.
My experience is that this is extremely rare primarily because it impedes communications which is the primary thrust of the hobby. There are some unethical operators who will deliberately distort a CW signal with either key clicks or strong chirp hoping to gain an edge in attracting the attention of a rare DX station, but that is an entirely different matter.
When someone succeeds to make a fist of 100. % that is no measurable timedistortion of dits and dahs and spaces more than 0,5%, clever, think about estimating distances of 1 to 7 meter on 1 cm precision without failing. It can be done with the aid of electronic circuits and a keyboard.
I believe it is incorrect to say that one can “make a fist of 100%.” A “fist” is always 100% a “fist.” It would be correct to say that a given “fist” can either copied 100% or is indistinguishable from machine code, but it is incorrect to say a “fist” is 45%, 72%, 90% etc.
It should be noted here that although an electronic iambic keyer makes it eaiser send standard code, it does not mean that any specific operator is either capable of sending or willing to send such code. Much of the chopped up code that I hear on the bands sounds as if it is produced electronically because although the character and word spacing makes for difficult copy, each character is perfectly formed.
That is "not done" when I read requirements to be a member of very high speed and extreme high speed clubs , look at the website of pa3bwk. Independent of the meaning of old goats. Requirement is that you code your text yourself during generating code. So only keyers, and cooties and straight keys are allowed.
Furthermore lots of people hate to work with a QSO partner that is not able to copy Morse code but uses his computer.
Certainly there are people with a puritanical streak who shun working with someone sending code with a computer, but I suspect that most hams are more than willing to carry on a QSO with such a party. My initial comments about the number of computer to computer QSOs using high speed CW was based on the observation of almost 40 years as a ham. Forty years ago it was rare to hear almost letter perfect code at 35wpm or more. That is not the case today.. Spend any time in the lower part of any of the bands and one will hear many letter perfect, high speed CW QSOs. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. My personal belief is that it is more difficult to use the computer that way than it is to send and receive code at whatever speed one can with a key, keyer, or bug.
How can you prevent those fakers from answering your CQ, calling you or whatever? Right: By developing a fist that is virtually undecodable by the computer decoders. Fist 100% is nice for PSK31, that's what they need.
Perhaps there are some exceptions, but all of the digital programs I have tried have a hard time copying anything but almost perfectly sent code, and the higher the speed (to a point) the better. Certainly one can deliberately massacre his or her CW to the point that it could not be decoded by a machine, but that is not what I sense is commonly done, and that certainly did not seem to be the case with the broken CW that prompted me to start this thread.
Rather it appeared to be more a case of operators who either:
1. Did not know what standard should sound like,
2. Did not know how to send standard code, or
3. Needed time to think between characters of how the next character is formed.
The solution for all three of those possible causal factors is to:
1. Listen to the ARRL code sessions and practice copying the code
2. Never send code faster than you can copy
3. Never send “Farnsworth code” during a QSO unless you maintain the standard ratio between character and word spacing.
4. On the air, don’t speed up past the point that your CW is easily read.
5. Practice sending higher speed code off of the air until you can send good code at that higher speed.
Like most hams, I would rather copy good standard code at 7 wpm than badly sent code at 25 wpm. All that said, however, we cannot escape our human frailties. As Bob Locher (W9KNI) so elequently pointed out in his 1983 The Complete DX’er
, the excitement of contacting a rare DX can reduce anyone’s “fist” to Jell-O, that point where one is reduced to sending code that is almost unintelligible.
That was a situation in which I found myself just two nights ago as Asiatic Russia boomed over the Artic with an auroral shimmer into my dipole antenna here in the Kansas City area.