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Author Topic: Too fast!  (Read 1146 times)
KQ6UP
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Posts: 136




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« on: May 24, 2007, 08:32:31 PM »

I am a high speed CW newbie.  I have just taken a couple of months with G4FON to get up to about 20WPM.  At that speed, I am at the bleeding edge of my copy speed.  I can't stand it when I call cq and someone comes back blazing at 30wpm.  I don't understand.  Should I always call cq at slower speeds, but then I am not pushing myself.  I do fine on the computer, but at 20wpm on the air I can copy RST, Name, and sometimes QTH.  If they come back faster, I'm lost.  It's a little discouraging for the newcomer (esp. the bad fists that come back to a cq).

Just a little whine with my cheese ;o)

Chris KQ6UP
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VA7CPC
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Posts: 2415




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« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2007, 11:23:04 PM »

You expect _everyone_ to be courteous and considerate??? <g>   Just like on the roads, some people are, some not.

I'd suggest sending CQ at a speed where you could copy _everything_, and then getting faster _by agreement_ with the other op.

FWIW, there are three CW contests this weekend.  If you want "short burst" practice at high speed, that's a good way to get it.

You might also try "RufZXP", a very neat "callsign-copying" game / practice program for PC's.  It's up on the Web, free.

     Charles
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KQ6UP
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Posts: 136




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« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2007, 06:19:32 AM »

It has happened to me a couple of times were the other opp will just abandon the qso (without even signing) at the request to QRS.

That is RUDE (especially when I was sending much slower to begin with).

Chris KQ6UP
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NG0K
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Posts: 334




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« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2007, 07:03:08 AM »

Ragchewing is harder to copy than perfectly sent computer code.   For example I can copy DX and contests exchanges up to 30wpm, but in a friendly ragchew I have to slow way down to about 15wpm.

Send PSE QRS? if the other station is too fast.   They will slow down or cut the QSO short.

Why rush to get your speed up?   Enjoy CW and let the speed take care of itself.

Good luck,
Doug NG0K
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73, Doug - NG0K
KQ6UP
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Posts: 136




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« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2007, 07:25:59 AM »

That is some sound advice OM.  Thanks, now I don't feel alone.  I can copy bursts up to 30 wpm on the 'puter, but for a comfy armchair copy, I also have to slow down to 15wpm.

I have been puting the peddle to the metal because of Field Day.  I know that pressure is counter productive.

Chris KQ6UP
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NG0K
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Posts: 334




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« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2007, 07:38:08 AM »

For field day you can search and pounce, as opposed to running a station.   Takes the pressure off and you can listen to the exchange a few times to get it down.  Then it's a matter of answering the call and logging it.  S&P is good because you can talk with your friends, eat hamburgers, and drink beverages while you operate.  Now that's my idea of field day!

73, de Doug
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73, Doug - NG0K
WB2WIK
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« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2007, 09:41:37 AM »

My suggestion follows a different path.

I'd recommend *always* having QSOs on the air (forget about G4FON stuff) at speeds that are above your ability to "copy."  ALWAYS.  If you only get 10% of what the other station sends, so what?  First, concentrate on getting his callsign.  Next, concentrate on getting his name.  Everything else isn't terribly important, anyway, and the more contacts you make at speeds "over your head" the faster you'll be operating in just a few weeks.

I'd completely abandon the computer practice, it's not real world.

Things that improve copy ability and enhance speed are:

1.  Making actual contacts on the air, as opposed to "copying" code.  SENDING helps improve your receiving speed, absolutely no doubt about it.  The more contacts you make, the faster you'll be going at the end of the week, maybe even at the end of the day.

2.  DO NOT write anything down except the other station's callsign, name, maybe his location -- enter those in your logbook (not a legal requirement, but for personal satisfaction).  Put the pencil down, put the paper away and LISTEN to the code.  Really listen.  WRITING down code "copy" is the worst detriment to actual code skills ever invented.  Real CW operators don't write stuff down.  I operate mobile CW all the time, and obviously when I'm driving 70 mph on the freeway, I'm not writing anything down -- neither should you, at home.

3.  Really follow step (2) above.  The less you write, the faster you'll be going at the end of the week.

WB2WIK/6
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KQ6UP
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Posts: 136




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« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2007, 09:55:11 AM »

I have already done the stop writing thing, and I do operate mobile, but I would agree that the on the air practice is very good.  I do think there are some positives in computer practice.  In the past I had always practiced on air, and missed much of the punctuation and numbers because they were not used as frequently.  After using the program, I am much more proficient with those characters.  I do feel that I have reached a platau on with G4FON.  It doesn't help one go really fast on air.

Chris KQ6UP
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20672




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« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2007, 01:22:45 PM »

I'm impressed G4FON practice helped you at all...that's pretty good.

But time's passed for that, and you really need to make lots of contacts.

I taught (and still sometimes teach) code classes for many years and always challenged my students who became hams with this one:

1.  Get on the air.
2.  Use CW.
3.  Don't copy anything on paper.
4.  Make 500 complete QSOs, all logged.
5.  By QSO #501, if you're not operating at and copying 30 wpm easily, you'll be the first student ever to not accomplish this!

Practice works.  But "copying" practice doesn't work, much.  Operating practice -- making contacts -- works.

WB2WIK/6
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KB1OOO
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Posts: 214


WWW

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« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2007, 09:06:50 PM »

KQ6UP: the flip side of sampling all letters uniformly with the koch trainer--which allowed you to increase punctuation copy proficiency--is that the effective wpm speed you've learned is actually considerably slower than real conversation; the sampling of letters in real conversation is non uniform with the shortest code letters having the highest frequencies.  Completing koch at 90% for 20wpm means that you'll be able to copy QSOs at 13 or 15 wpm.   I think that this fact makes koch training very misleading.   My guess is that you'd have to complete koch at 26wpm in order to copy real QSOs at 20wpm.

WB2WIK: Do you think that koch has done more bad than good to the community of ham's wanting to learn cw?  It's just that most of the anecdotes I've read suggest otherwise: "tried for years to get to 5wpm but learned immediately with koch," etc.  I'm not trying to challenge you here, I believe in your experiences.  

Marc,
KB1OOO
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LB3KB
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Posts: 234


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« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2007, 06:25:19 AM »

KB1OOO, what you're saying about Koch's method indicates that you're not up to date on what's available.

A good implementation of Koch will throw in more of the characters you miss the most, and thus you won't score more than 90% if you miss all the Es and Is, for instance.

Just Learn Morse Code does just that, and is available for free at http://justlearnmorsecode.com


Also, the 90% idea is intended for learning the characters.  Once you know all the characters, you probably want to aim for 100% no matter what speed you're using.
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KB1OOO
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Posts: 214


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« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2007, 08:55:24 AM »

I've used justlearnmorse code and I didn't notice that it did that.  I only noticed that it upped the frequency of the last character that you've added.  I just read through your web page and help files and I didn't see that fact.  Did I miss it?  If not,  I'm not sure how I would be up to date on what's available. I really like justlearnmorse code but had to switch mid-training because I changed my os to mac os x.  

Anyway, I think that more appropriate than upping the freq of the characters you miss would be to randomly sample from the true distribution (freq) of characters in normal conversation.   What you miss when the freq starts out uniform may have nothing to do with what you miss in real conversation when letters are surrounded by a bunch more e's, i's, and s's etc.

My claim about the 90% or 100% or any percentage completed for Koch is that it doesn't correlate with what your percentage will be for normal QSOs.  

Marc
KB1OOO
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KQ6UP
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Posts: 136




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« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2007, 09:25:46 AM »

Using G4FON for two months has increased my speed a significant amount on the computer, but that speed has not translated very well to actual on air speed.  The only thing it really seems to help is my recognition of numbers and punctuation.  They have always been my weak area in CW, but I can see clearly that the program has helped me speed up my ability to recognize uncommon characters.  I think computer programs kind of handicap you, because one needs to get used to the pressure of a real QSO.  On the computer, it is really easy to relax.  When your on the air it is a harder not to freak out (especially in a WW WPX contest;o).

I have been trying to work the contest, and it is really tough to copy those call signs blazing by at a million miles an hour.  If field day is anything like it, I'm not so sure that I will be making a whole ton of points on CW like I had anticipated.  I'm a little discouraged by that fact.  I was able to get my speed up to about 15WPM to pass the advanced test about 10 years ago.  When I got back on CW just recently, I could still do about 10wpm.  I have worked with G4FON religiously for about 2 months and though I have a new skill (head copy) I was hoping to be much faster than 15wpm head copy.  I can do the word list ok at 25, but that does not translate at all on air.  This is hard for me because I am one of those guys (sorry for the boast) that learns everything very, very fast, but CW seems to be the absolute exception for me.

However, I will not give up.  I MUST LEARN CODE (Mantra)

Chris KQ6UP
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N8UZE
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Posts: 1524




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« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2007, 10:26:42 AM »

To: KQ6UP

Work every major and minor CW contest you can find between now and then.  Find fast QSOs on the air and listen.  Listen to the on-air CW transmissions by W1AW.  Also I have noticed that the US contests typically average slightly slower than the big DX ones.

Even if you are not ready this year, operate it anyway.  You can set out to "win" next year.  Set your sites more on something like making 100 CW contacts or some such.

Also don't hesitate to send "PSE QRS xx" where xx is the speed that you need.  I passed the 20wpm years ago but was off the air for awhile.  When I got back on, I worked the November Sweeps.  Imagine my chagrin when I had to send "PSE QRS 10" !!
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N3EF
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Posts: 247




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« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2007, 10:46:00 AM »

  Iv'e been doing cw for less than 2 years. Made over 2,000 ragchew qso's and can now have ragchew qso's at 35wpm and getting better at 40wpm all the time. I get on the air every day, but also use G4FON and RufzXP every day. Those two programs have been a great help for me. There are plenty of times during the day that I cannot just get on the air but can get on the computer for a few minutes and practice. G4FON can be very close to the real thing because you can set various controls such as signal strength, noise level, variable speed/pitch, QSB, QRM, variable weight, chirp, straight key and the pitch of the signal. RufzXP has greatly improved my ability to copy callsigns at high speed. Averaging 47wpm with top speed of 58wpm. I also record cw as mp3 files and listen to them on a regular basis. Daily practice and listening at a higher speed than you are comfortable with have been the key for me using whatever means are available at the time.

Eric N3EF
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