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Author Topic: When copying fast do you tune out the message?  (Read 924 times)
KINGBOLETE
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Posts: 10




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« on: November 16, 2005, 08:19:23 PM »

When copying code near your limit, do you need to pretty much tune out the messag content and just concentrate on getting the characters?  I've noticed on the G4FON trainer that I have to slow it down when I use the sample QSO feature rather than the random character mode.  
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2005, 08:56:58 AM »

Just the opposite.  When copying faster code, I ignore the characters altogether and focus on only the message, and I think almost everyone does that.

You'll never get "fast" if you pay attention to the individual characters, and you'll definitely never get fast (at least, not without a great deal of work) if you write any of it down on paper.

Practice not just "listening," but having actual QSOs, back and forth, and after a while your brain identifies words and thoughts, not characters.  I find the only time I really "pay attention" to any characters is if somebody sends something out of the ordinary, like a street address or telephone number, or something with a bunch of numbers I cannot predict.  Then, I listen to those and probably write them down since I won't remember them long.

For everything else, it's just conversation and I haven't written down "code copy" in 30+ years.

WB2WIK/6
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K7UNZ
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Posts: 691




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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2005, 10:57:16 AM »

Steve is quite right.....at higher speeds you are listening to the words, rather than individual characters.

Like Steve, my "notes" during a QSO are minimal, usually just name, signal reports, qth....log stuff.

I'll jot down a key word now and then when the other guy brings up something I want to comment on, but that's about it.

Focusing on individual characters leaves you just remembering the last character you copied, not the content of what was said.

It will come to you in time.  Ya just gotta get on the air and make contacts, copy thru the noise and QSB, and have FUN doing it!

Don't worry about your sending speed, do what's comfortable.  I copy the stuff a lot faster than I send 'cos at 20 wpm I'm comfortable but at 35 wpm sending becomes work, at least to me....(hi!)

73,
Jim/k7unz


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KD7QXO
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Posts: 35




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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2005, 09:58:34 PM »

It makes sense that copying individual letters slows you down, but how does one get started on thinking in words and not letters?  I know this sounds like the old joke,
"How do you get to Carnagie Hall?"
"Practice, Practice"
But, I would like to hear anyone's thoughts, experiences or suggestions on how to get started.  By the way, I can only code at about 10wpm, so maybe it's not possible yet.
Thanks
Kd7qxo  
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N0IU
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WWW

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« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2005, 11:20:05 PM »

Back in the previous millennium when there were three code tests, the speeds actually made some sense. 5 WPM tested a very basic rudimentary knowledge of the letters and numbers and gave you plenty of time to think about it. The 10 WPM you mention is a very typical blocking point that most of us hit. At that speed, it just slightly too fast to count the dits and dahs so you have to start mentally making the connection between the sounds of the letters as a whole and not the individual components that make up the letter. The test at 13 WPM was just past this point so it really was the first genuine test of code skill. This test was also almost three times faster than the previous test, so for me, it took quite a bit of work. I actually found the 20 WPM to be easier than 13 WPM since it was only 50% faster than the General test and at that speed, one begins to hear whole words, not just letters. There will come a point when the light bulb will pop on over your head and you will get it!

You hit the nail on the head with the Carnegie Hall story - practice!

Good luck!
de NØIU
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K9FV
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« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2005, 07:41:44 AM »

Kingbolete: You are correct - when "learning" code one of the hardest parts is learning to focus on the sound - it would help to know what speed range you are working in.

I started using the G4FON (using the Koch method) program with the settings at 12/20wpm (Farnsworth settings) and 15/20wpm ranges. Starting with the 2 characters, then progressing up thru all 41 or 43 characters, depending on settings. Now I am working at the 17/20wpm and 20/20wpm ranges and am up to about 33 characters.

I find I also do better with random code characters rather than "Sample QSO" because with the QSO I find myself thinking of the word and miss the next couple of characters. The whole idea of the KOCH method is to "train" the mind to just write down the character without even thinking what the character is.

Once I get thru all the characters at the 17/20wpm and 20/20wpm range I think the words will then come easier, because the mind is trained to just "write" without thinking of the character. That can get you to about 20wpm copy speed with writing the text down. Hard to write that fast!

Some folks will tell you to just listen for the word - well, that is hard to do until you actually learn the code. Code is just like learning any new language - while it is based on "hearing" - it is best to learn some writing also. I learned Spanish by listening/speaking only, nothing written down. I can tell that has caused some stumbling blocks in progressing to a higher level of Spanish by not being able to read any Spanish. Better to learn to write AND hear a new language, just like with code. First step, learn to write it at a decent speed - 15wpm to 20wpm. Then go to learning to hear words.

I really wish G4FON program had the option in the "Common Words" to set the word speed to 20wpm or 30wpm, but with a BIG pause between words, but not between the letters, (Farnsworth (sp?) method). I think that would really help learn to "head copy" in whole words. Have the common word sent at 20 or 30wpm, with a long pause between the words so the sound would be "one word", then a space for the next word.

BTW, I found the G4FON program works pretty good for me, I think because you are not only learning to "hear" code, but also learning how to write FAST!!!

73 de Ken H.
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KINGBOLETE
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Posts: 10




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« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2005, 08:05:16 AM »

I worked at 7 or 9 WPM with characters at 15 (lowest G4FON setting).  Now I'm trying to get it up to around 15 net.  

Interestingly I bumped the speed up to 20 wpm characters with a net of 15 WPM and it seemed to get easier.  The characters were about as easy to recognize, but there was just a little bit more time to react after the end of the character.  

When I'm doing well, I pretty much just react to the sounds and write them down.  When I'm starting to lose it I end up repeating the characters in my head (e.g., dah-dah-di-dah) which costs me about a 1/2 character or more.  I do notice that sometimes I can recover from getting a few character behind, though it depends on which characters are sent (e.g., a burst of "i" and "t" pretty much kills my copy-behind).  From what everyone  is saying above there's a "learning to ride a bike" aspect to the whole process: if you keep at it then it starts to click.

I want to start finding some on-the-air code to copy.  My luck at getting W1AW has been rather mixed and I've had less luck finding real QSOs.  I've got a Sangean 803A (portable SW receiver) which I'm hooking up to a 50' wire and connecting to the center pin of an RCA plug (that's what they use to provide an external antenna); maybe I need to put a wire from the plug surround to a ground(?).  

When I'm looking around for code it's about 7-9 MST (2-4 UTC) so I would expect some folks to on out there.  Besides the antenna it could just be operator error with the radio (maybe if the BFO isn't set right I'm tuning right past stations; also the tuner only tunes in 1 KHz steps which is rather coarse I gather).  
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K9FV
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Posts: 479




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« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2005, 08:44:04 AM »

Are you licensed?  If not, any interest in getting your license?  OR are you just studying code to learn it?  Doesn't matter, hang in there and you'll succeed at your desires.

I agree with you, studying at 20wpm character speed with the character spacing set at a slower speed is the way to go....  BUT I am not sure I'd have it set at 10/20wpm, yes it gives you more time, but that "time" encourages you to "think" (your dah-dah-dit-dah statement) and you NEVER wish to think that while copying code.  Follow the G4FON instructions of the KOCH method, set the program to 15/20wpm and start over with only 2 characters, pretty soon your mind is writing those without "thinking", then add the 3rd and so on.  You will be surprised how well that works....  Depending on your final goal, to copy at 15wpm for you own satisfaction?  OR to actually get on the air and work some code?  At 15wpm you can work plenty of code.  I was at the 12/13wpm range last yr, and am now working toward the 18 to 20wpm range with the G4FON program.....  

Good luck,
Ken H>
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20595




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« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2005, 09:46:32 AM »

This is why elimination of the Novice class license is such a shame.  Hundreds of thousands of people from the 50s through the 90s became hams by getting their Novice ticket and actually using code on the air, in the HF Novice subbands, making contacts.

*THAT* is the kind of practice that actually works.  "Listening" and "copying" code, whether using tapes, computer programs, CD-ROMs or "off the air" signals, absolutely is NOT the same.  It can never and will never be the same.

Code is just another language.  How many people learned to become fluent in a foreign language by "listening" to it?  Answer: Nobody.  

Code's the same.  If you want to learn it, you have to USE it, both to "copy" and also to "send," and do so back and forth conveying messages effectively.  The more you do that, the easier it is and the faster you'll go.

You can read 100 books and listen to 100 tapes in a new foreign language, and you'll never be good at it.  Take classes where you're forced to hold conversations in that language, and within a few months, you'll know what you're doing.  This is the reason that all effective foreign language classes use only that language, and never the students' native language, starting the first day.  It's all jibberish that first day, but by the end of the tenth class, you're speaking it.

WB2WIK/6

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AA4PB
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« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2005, 11:58:04 AM »

There used to be some code practice material that sent short, common words at a speed much higher than your normal copy rate. This helped to memorize the total sound of these words so that you didn't need to copy the individual characters. Once you can handle the common words like "the" and "and" in this manner that gives you more time to concentrate on copying the individual characters of the more unique words.

If you can't find that specific material then just play normal QSO material at a speed higher than you can copy and learn to pick out the common words.
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KINGBOLETE
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Posts: 10




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« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2005, 02:21:30 PM »

>Are you licensed? If not, any interest in getting your license? OR are you just studying code to learn it? Doesn't matter, hang in there and you'll succeed at your desires.

I got my General at the Socorro HamFest in October.  I've got a TH-F6a (thought it would be handy to be able to use a repeater in an emergency where there isn't any cell phone coverage which means most of the NM).  I need to do a bit more reading to get ready for the Extra exam and then find one nearby; those two should coincide.

Jim/KE5GJT (soon to be K5JHJ, I hope)
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K9FV
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Posts: 479




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« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2005, 05:39:24 AM »

Congrats on getting the general, but I wouldn't let the desire for the extra keep you from getting on the air.  The "Extra" really isn't all that much of a "status" like it was back in the past when it was
required to have a 2 yr operating record, and was expected to have built some things - AND the code was FAST!! for the extra back then.

Just remember, you have to learn the to walk before you can run, same with code - you must learn the characters before you can "word copy" like the "Old Timers" can do.  IF you have musical talent, then your code will come MUCH easier than for us folks who have a "Tin Ear".

Just hang in there with G4FON program, set the character speed at 20wpm, with the overall speed at 15 or 17wpm (20/17wpm) and start from the basic 2 characters adding in the next character until you can copy the 3 characters, then moving to the next character.  Just like the instructions in the "Help" section of G4FON program. This teaches your hand to write as your brain hears the sound.  You NEVER "think" di-dah-dah, your hand just writes. By going thru the KOCH method, you are teaching your hand to write fast while you are teaching your brain to hear (and understand) the characters.

I really think the next stage would be if the program allowed the words to be sent at 20 or 30wpm, with spaces between the word instead of just the characters.  I feel that would be a very valuble tool in learning to "word copy".

AND do remember to practice sending to your computer so you can see what your fist actually "sounds" like - best practice in the world.  It has helped me keep the interest up in working code, and also seems to help the brain "learn" the characters as I was working thru that stage.

73 de Ken H>
K9FV
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KR2Q
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Posts: 3




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« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2005, 05:06:01 PM »

First, it is really hard to copy words or sentences at 10 wpm or even 15 wpm...it's just too slow.  By the time you hear the last letter, you probably forgot what the first letter was.  That's cuz you're copying letters since the words "come out" too slowly. So....

Try this to increase your speed (and subsequently word comprehension)...

Instead of doing little speed increments from lower to higher, crank up the speed to a level where you have absolutely no hope of copying it (maybe 40 wpm for you).  Listen to that for, say, 3 minutes.  You likely won't even hear dits from dahs...no problem.  You just want to hear the sound, don't evey try to copy it.  If you know you are not trying to copy it, it is easy to relax and just listen to sounds.

Then slow it down (same session) to 35 wpm for another 3 minutes.  You may start to hear some dits and dahs, but probably not yet.  Then to 30, to 25, to 20, etc.  You will be amazed how you can start to "copy" letters (and soon words) at (relatively speaking) "super fast" speed compared to where you are now.

The trick is to go from high speed to slower speed.  Do it every day (or multiple times per day) for a couple weeks.

Give it a try!

de Doug KR2Q
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N7ESE
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Posts: 5




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« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2005, 08:46:44 PM »

This topic is popular with me as I very much enjoy the challenge of CW.  At first, when learning, my mind translated the sounds to graphics or patters then to the letters and words. This was a mistake I believe. First seeing the code in print and trying to memorize it was not most efficient. It would have been better if I was like a very young child and learned by sound only, before any visual language. Now at times, when nervous, I battle my mind translating, rather than hear and understand. It is possible to try too hard mentally. Formerly a musician, now I trick my mind out of the way by focusing my conscious mind on the tones. This should all be effortless and natural just as we speak to each other audibly. Excellent hobby, ham radio, and CW makes it very interesting and rewarding for me.
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SAIL_AWAY
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Posts: 19




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« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2005, 08:18:39 AM »

i'm using G4FON as well, i just started a few days ago.  so far i have mostly used 30wpm for character speed and 22wpm for word speed.  i experimented with the settings and have come to the conclusion that the character speed really doesn't matter as much to me as the word speed does in terms of recognition.  i don't "know" morse code, that is, i don't know what the individual components that make up the various characters is, it sounded like the developer of G4FON really frowned on that approach so i didn't do it after reading his advice.  and i think he's right, at 30wpm character speed you really can't even make out the dits and dats, instead the characters just make more of a sound that is somewhat distinctive as a whole (not always yet for me but i'm getting there, sometimes characters sound like other characters until i get an "ear" for them).  for instance, the character "r" makes sort of a quick "ddadup" sound whereas the character "k" makes more of a "dAda-d" sound lol, those being two that sound really similar to me.  most like "m" sound more distinctive, "m" with it's very clear "da da" sound and s with quick drum solo "dadada".  some of the components you can make out, "s" i can tell has three "dit" components, at least i think it does, but "r" with it's "ddadup" sound i really don't know without looking it up, it might be dit-dah-dit but i'm not sure.  i've found i have a lot of trouble copying down the characters on to paper because the act of copying them makes me lose track of the characters i'm listening to, and even looking at them as they print on the screen causes me problems, but i have a much easier time just leaning back in the chair and listening to the sounds with my eyes closed and "seeing them" in my head as characters form in my mind and i recognize them.  after experimentation i picked 22wpm word speed because that seems to be the fastest i can see the characters in my head without the string of sounds turning into random unrecognizable noise.  but i really think i could increase the character speed even higher and it probably wouldn't make much difference, the "ddadup" sound would just be shorter, like the difference between saying "J" as "jjjaaaayyyy" and "jay", it's just shorter and quicker but it's still the same sound.  this is of course all just a newbie take on it all and i'm not very far along, i don't even know all the character sounds yet.  but it's going ok so far!

if i had any kind of a wish list for G4FON, which is just a terrific program ... i'd like it if as you were learning characters 1 by 1 when you get to like 3 or 4 characters and up if it started formulating non-sense words using some of the vowels so that you could recognize "words" while you're listening.  for instance ... with just the letters 'rskm' that you get when you move up to 4 characters you can't make out any words, but if there was a vowel and it was strategically placed in them you could get things like "sas", "ska", "skam", "rask", "smak", "samar", "rak", etc ... just non-sense words that you could "make out" in your mind while you're "reading" them.  that would help me greatly i think
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