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Author Topic: Suggestions for advancing beyond current plateau  (Read 1512 times)

Posts: 113


« on: December 06, 2006, 11:05:20 AM »

I have rehoned my CW copy skill nearly back to where it was when I passed the General exam #$%! years ago. I can once again copy code reliably at 18wpm Farnsworth/12wpm actual by printing block letters on paper.
My questions are, how do I progress beyond this plateau? At what speed will it no longer be possible to write the copy down, and where do i go from there?

Posts: 21757

« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2006, 11:27:54 AM »

If you chat with somebody in person or on the telephone, do you write down what they say?

When working CW, I never write anything down.  I listen, and understand, and begin to form replies so I'm ready to send something relevant when it's my turn to send.

I keep a log, and write down the other station's callsign, name and QTH, usually -- maybe jot a note or two in the "comments" column.  Never write anything else down, what would be the point?

Unless you're very talented, it's almost impossible to print more than 20 wpm, and very difficult to even *write* more than 30 wpm.  I routinely operate at speeds higher than this, so no point in trying to write any of it down.

I can type much faster, but don't bother typing the copy, either, since again, what would be the point?  

Make lots of contacts and get used to just listening, as you would if you were on the telephone.

Being able to get 100% solid copy without using your hands at all comes naturally, you just have to start doing it.


Posts: 1524

« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2006, 12:58:02 PM »

If you do wish to copy the code down on paper, ditch the block letters.  I use a combination of printing, cursive, and whatever else (all generally in lower case not upper case) to allow copying each letter in one smooth continuous stroke with little or no backtracking over a portion of the character already made.

There is a chart somewhere on the internet (I forget where but try the site) that shows a form of printing for copying code where each letter is made without lifting the pen from the paper.

Only a few can copy manually above 20 to 25wpm.  At this point, if you wish to copy it down on paper, most have to switch to typing.

Posts: 247

« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2006, 02:17:43 PM »

  I'm new to cw, been at it for 1.5 years now and am head copying 30wpm fairly well. I have found the best way to improve is to listen to code at a speed higher than you can comfortably copy and practice EVERY day SEVERAL times a day. I don't write everything down either, just jot down name, QTH, RST and maybe a note here and there. I have a speedwriting graphic on my website you can take a look at:

Eric N3EF

Posts: 550


« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2006, 07:43:19 AM »

> I can once again copy code reliably at 18wpm
> Farnsworth/12wpm actual by printing block letters
> on paper. My questions are, how do I progress
> beyond this plateau?

Participate in some contests, using CW.

The 10m contest is coming up this weekend. It's
fun, and callsigns and exchanges are sent at a
variety of speeds.

> At what speed will it no longer be possible to
> write the copy down, and where do i go from there?

Use lowercase cursive characters, instead of

I begin to "lose it" somewhere between 20-25 wpm.


Posts: 10


« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2006, 08:14:44 AM »

I had muddled along at 15 + or - for years just rag chewing and enjoying myself. Then I started getting involved in the National Traffic System checking into the state-wide CW net and handling traffic. After a couple of months of steady copy at 25-30 WPM something wonderful happened. I stopped hearing characters and begun hearing words. First, just small combinations like and, the, tion, etc. then little by little larger words began to form in my head. Now my coping limit is the room acoustics if I'm not wearing earphones. Like the man said, practice, practice, etc and do it at a speed that stretches your limit! Good Luck!


Posts: 3508

« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2006, 05:29:49 PM »

When I started Navy Radioman school (in '63), I could copy 25 wpm with a pencil, but I couldn't type that fast!  We had to type everything, so I spent all my code classes running the tapes for the other guys and practicing getting what I heard down on paper with a typewriter.  There were five or six of us in Code Control all the time - all of us hams; all of us non-typists.  

So if you NEED to copy things verbatim, you could use your computer keyboard, or an old typewriter (which my grandsons call "a keyboard with a built-in printer!!)


Posts: 3189

« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2006, 08:57:48 PM »

Just start "using" it.

1. Get someone interested on the air and start having QSO's using CW with them. License class is no restriction to this. I have many 2m CW QSO's

2. Accept the fact even before you start that you will in fact be making mistakes, you will most likely mess up at times. Best of all, you will most likely just have a lot of fun in the process.

Keep the QSO's simple and repetative on a schedule. Soon you will have all the vowels down to a science. Next you will have common letters, then a few difficult one's. It will come but you must use it to learn it.

Steve said:
"If you chat with somebody in person or on the telephone, do you write down what they say?"

I am no CW expert but I do agree with that statement.

Basically this is because you are listening to "music" as it is playing.
In my own experience I find that writing it down just creates an added diversion and another "brain process" to occur. This added activity seems to just interfere with the main activity your trying to focus on in my opinion.

You are learning the sound of "CQ" in your mind as a new language. You are not trying to learn or understand the letters as they are written on paper as a new language. I suppose I could do this task, but that's really not the main objective.

73 & GL de Charles - KC8VWM

Posts: 144

« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2006, 07:31:40 AM »


My suggestions are:

1. Stop writing things down NOW, except for key information (callsign, name, qth, RST), plus any other interesting information you would like to follow up with on the next over.  Force yourself to copy in your head.  Sit back, close your eyes, relax, and it comes fairly easily.  Look for something interesting in what the other person says, and ask a follow up question.  That way, you start getting away from the "standard" qso information, and start getting more natural conversation, in CW.

2. Call CQ, or look for a QSO, a notch above the speed at which you are comfortable.  Don't go overboard, but keep pushing the envelope.  For example, if you are good at 18 wpm, set your keyer to 21 wpm, and call CQ.  You will be amazed at the progress you make.

3. Try and make at least one QSO per day.  

Good luck.  Hope to catch you on 40 metres some evening.

Best regards,


Posts: 0

« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2006, 03:57:06 AM »

Edison learned to write script and write it SMALL - remember his speed records were as a receiver not as a transmitter, receiving was more challenging

Some code teachers advocate learning to copy without writing it down, I'd say try that a bit.

And it just takes work!

Posts: 352

« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2006, 09:17:26 AM »

I found it difficult to write down letters at @ 19 - 20 wpm.  I now only write down the occasional word (like call,name etc). and copy the rest in my head for the most part.

A lot of ops are sloppy senders when their speed increases which makes it difficult to go beyond 20 wpm on the air.

I think that we can all send as fast as we receive, but we can't all send WELL as fast as we think we can. Wink  I recommend taping recording yourself, using a tape recorder and a code oscillator, sending backward paragraphs from a newspaper or book.  Then try to copy what you send.  As you send faster you will have difficulty decoding your sloppy stuff.  You can then adjust your sending and that, in turn will provide you with solid recordings to bump up your speed.  This way you know if you are sloppy otherwise you can't copy your own fist.

Just a suggestion.

73, JP, K8AG
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