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Author Topic: Rhythm vs key  (Read 852 times)
NO1G
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« on: May 05, 2009, 04:49:57 PM »

I've always used a straight key, typically comfortable at about 15 WPM when I'm in practice.  For a while, I've wanted to get a paddle/bug of some sort.

One thing I like to do when I'm sending CW is put a little bit of rythm/personality into it.  A straight key will let you do that.

I don't know a lot about other types of keys, but I do know the nice ones are expensive.  I particularly like Vibroplex keys.  The only thing I have ever tried other than a straight key is an iambic (when my older brother would let me touch it... but that was a long time ago).

So what are my key choices in terms of keeping a little rythm in my CW?  Can you get rythm out of an electronic keyer?
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2009, 05:40:22 PM »

If you use it properly, no, you cannot.

You can put "rhythm" into a semi-automatic "bug" key, however.  The most popular of those are made by Vibroplex.

Warning: Adding "rhythm" to a bug does not endear you to other operators, and is usually considered just plain bad sending.  The whole idea of sending is to sound so good that it could be machine (or computer) sent.  "Rhythm" can be cute, but adds nothing to intelligility and if trying to break pileups and work DX, etc -- it doesn't work well.

I work a lot of CW, and when somebody with a "banana boat swing" (or "rhythm" as you might call it) answers (this can only be accomplished with a "bug"), I generally don't respond and answer somebody else or call CQ again because it's painful to copy.

WB2WIK/6
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AD7WN
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« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2009, 05:46:59 PM »

I don't think a paddle is capable of much "rhythm" unless it is grossly misadjusted.

A bug is certainly capable of such rhythm, thus the characterization as "banana boat swing."

While developing a swing does indeed personalize a person's fist, I would have to wonder why you would want to do it.  It doesn't make the code more readable.  In fact, it often makes it more difficult to copy.

As you have pointed out, bugs are exceedingly expensive.  At least new ones are.  I would agree that vibroplexes are among the best, and may be the very best.  Sometimes good buys can be found in used bugs.  If you go that route, make the seller put it in blood regarding return priveledges if any mechanical parts are not good.  Repair parts can be darned expensive and scarse.

Just my two cents worth.

73 de John/AD7WN
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K9MRD
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Posts: 331




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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2009, 05:50:50 PM »

As a 95% CW operator for 51 years, I agree with WB2WIK.  Forget the rhythm and try to learn proper CW skills. Swing only makes it harder for someone to copy you and if your skill level is at 15wpm, you need to work on the fundamentals. Smiley

Wayne
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2009, 07:27:00 PM »

Wayne's right.

I routinely operate at 40 wpm and above.  "Rhythm" has no place there, it makes copy difficult and I just keep tuning.

Now, there are cute signals we send to each other which have not much to do with Morse code, and that keeps the fun going.  The "shave and a haircut, two bits"  (dit dididit dit, dit dit) is classic and has largely been abbreviated to just the two dits (dit dit) at the end of a QSO.  Almost everybody knows and uses this one.  But there are dozens of others.

Instead of eight dits for an error, just keep sending and ignore it, or if you really need to correct it, just send "didit didit" (like two "i's" in a row, quickly) and that's faster.  If you want to sound like a CW pro, don't use "double dash" (dah dididit dah) at all -- it's just a time water and space filler, and really good ops just about never use it.  Most of us also never use periods (didah didah didah) because, again, what's the point?

Use "es" instead of "and."  Use "ur" instead of "your."  Urs = yours.  Hr = here.  Op = name here is.  Thr = there.  Dwn = down.  And a million other abbreviations that are well understood by real CW ops.

Use all the right abbreviations and prosigns, don't bother using punctunation, don't use double dashes, and sound like a pro and everyone will know you are.

WB2WIK/6
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NO1G
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« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2009, 07:50:35 PM »

All good points.  I don't think my CW is hard to copy as I have recieved plenty of compliments/never had anyone refuse a QSO.  It's not something I do with intent, it just flows naturally.

I agree, at higher WPM, it would be more difficult to send and to copy with less perfectly formed characters and if there is some sort of cadence, then something is not perfect.

I'm leaning iambic...
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VA7CPC
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Posts: 2388




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« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2009, 10:57:05 PM »

I was browsing through the online keyer literature, and found this line in a description of the design of the PIC keyer:

http://vk1od.net/module/pik/pik.htm

"Non standard Morse timing is not enhanced Morse, it is just a barrier to effective communication. If you want to "Swing", use a hand key."

So we know where _he_ stands on the question.<g>

       Charles

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NB8N
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Posts: 12




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« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2009, 03:42:27 AM »

Lots of good advice here.  My TS2000 has lots of buttons.  When I want to do CW, that's the button I punch.  When I want rhythm, there's a button for AM.  Despite a dual VFO setup, I don't do both at the same time.  I use a Bencher, as it sends better than I was ever able to do with a straight key.
Your mileage may vary.
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K7UNZ
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Posts: 691




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« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2009, 06:00:34 AM »

To answer the original question, yes, you can get "rhythm" out of an electronic keyer.

Most keyers offer a semi-auto (bug) function.

Having said that, I have to agree that correctly spaced/timed cw is much easier to copy at any speed.

I gave up my bug around '82 and while I still have it, I'm sure it will stay in the closet (hi).

Whatever you decide to use, have fun!

73, Jim/k7unz
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N4KZ
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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2009, 06:43:51 AM »

I agree with the other ops. Rhythm might sound cute but it's a pain in the --- to copy. No cute stuff. Strive to make your CW sound as if it's being generated by a computer -- perfect spacing, perfectly sent letters, etc. Some people will QSO with you but your contacts might be short ones.

73, N4KZ
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2009, 05:02:42 PM »

As a counterpoint, it is possible to send perfect CW with a "bug," but it takes talent!

If you want to hear literally perfect code sent with a bug, work Bob W6BNB.  I hope he's still with us, when I last worked Bob he was in his eighties and his "fist" is so perfect, it's astonishing.  And he uses a bug.

Obviously a *very* proficient operator!

Not sure I've ever heard such perfect code from a bug in my life.

So, at least I know it's possible.  I can't do it, though, and must rely on my Benchers and keyers.

WB2WIK/6
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AD7WN
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Posts: 113




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« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2009, 06:27:31 PM »

WB2WIK is correct.  Perfect code can be sent with a bug, but very few of us can do it.

After I'd graduated from an army radio school in 1952 and arrived at my duty station in Germany, we all had to pass a qualification test in morse at 25 wpm, coded groups.  That test was administered by an overweight master sergeant who sent with a Vibroplex Presentation.  His code absolutely could not be distinguished from machine-sent code.

When I got my ham call, I tried to emulate that master sergeant.  After a time, I could send passable morse at 25-30 wpm, but it in no way resembled machine-sent code.  After several years of practice with only minimal improvement, I went to a single-lever paddle.  It was not hard to send code like that master sergeant, at speeds up to 35 wpm.

Just my two cents worth.

73 de John/AD7WN
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W7ETA
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« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2009, 06:01:30 PM »

Rhythm good for music; not so good for birth control and CW.
73
Bob
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K4DPK
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« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2009, 06:06:48 PM »

Years ago some of us old geezers would work fast 40CW on a fairly regular schedule.  One of them, a good friend now deceased long ago, whom I will simply call Welch, since there is no point in giving his call, had a particularly identifiable “fist”.

Everyone was using bugs, and to Welch, an “N” was a dash and a dot or two.  A “D” was a dash and a couple more dots, and so on.  The number six was a dash and a whole lotta dots.

It was easy to find Welsch on the band, but although he had been an op in WWII Burma as well as an instructor in his younger years, I doubt later on if anyone outside our little group copied his CW quite as readily as I did, along with K5CX and a few more.

“Swing” and character are OK among friends, but it damages your chances of making new contacts and being copied R5 under difficult conditions.

Phil C. Sr.
K4dpk

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KI4ODO
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« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2009, 12:51:35 PM »

I have been a CW op for two years now, and nothing makes me happier during a qso than for a 30 year CW op to tell me that I have a good fist, very easy armchair copy. Mission accopmplished, good, proper code that is pleasent for the other op to listen to and copy. It's a good feeling.
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