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Author Topic: Code Proficiency Credentials?  (Read 1665 times)
VE3XDB
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Posts: 139




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« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2009, 08:03:45 AM »

WB2NVY wrote:  

"but I often wonder about how anyone establishes their claimed copy speed. The ARRL award requires copying 1 minute 100% solid copy, which makes sense. But many people claim it's good enough to head copy "most" of what's sent. So, if I can copy only 75-80% of 50wpm, am I a 50wpm op? If so or if not, where do you draw the line between enough and not enough, short of 100%?"

This comment is confusing to me.  What is a claimed copy speed?  And to whom must it be claimed?  There is no US or Canadian requirement for CW.  If you want a certificate, there is criteria to obtain the certificate.  Head copying "most" of what's sent is usually good enough for me, so long as I understand the message.  If I miss something because of QRN, QRM, QSB or even just inattention, I just ask for a repeat.  My speed is 20-25 WPM every day, 25-30 on a good day.  If I'm not feeling good at a particular speed on a particular day, I just turn the speed knob on the keyer.  If I miss a word, it really doesn't matter.  There is no CW god that "draws the line" or annoints me a 20, 25, 30 or 50 wpm claimed speed.

CW remains my primary mode of operation, and I enjoy it very much.

Have a great day!

Doug VE3XDB  
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WA2WMR
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Posts: 31




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« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2009, 11:13:36 AM »

No one seems to be mentioning the ability to send code. There seems to be a small minority of operators who have absolutely horrible fists. I'm not talking about errors, but rather things like leaving no space between letters or something that I can only describe as a "swinging fist". I find both of these to be difficult to copy even at slow speeds.

By the way, is there any polite way to tell someone that their fist is terrible? I mean, we have rst 599c for chirp, 599k for key clicks. Is there anything like 599f?
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K5END
Member

Posts: 1309




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« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2009, 01:18:40 PM »

You are right about overlooking "send" ability.

I was practicing with sidetones last Sunday night and realized my copy has outpaced my send.

Need to get back on the air this weekend. Ya can't learn to swim on dry land.
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AD7WN
Member

Posts: 113




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« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2009, 03:41:34 PM »

<By the way, is there any polite way to tell someone that their fist is terrible? I mean, we have rst 599c for chirp, 599k for key clicks. Is there anything like 599f?>

Yes there is.  It's called: QLF, meaning send with your left foot for awhile, the right foot isn't all that great :-)

73 de John/AD7WN
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MOTOR486
Member

Posts: 58




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« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2009, 12:01:55 PM »

I am one of those hams for whom code was not required. I shied away from CW until after I reached Extra. I figured that I could only study one discipline at a time.
  I learned the code in March of this year and now use CW almost exclusively. I stayed away from the Extra portions of the bands until I realized that, although those folks may operate quite faster, I still have the right to be there. I plan on working the lower ends much more in the future.
  I do "hang out" in the SKCC and FISTS areas a lot, though. I just got my FISTS CC and have also started delving into QRP. I am a member of FISTS, SKCC, NAQCC and FPqrp - if that's any indication of how much I love operating CW.
   I am just finishing up teaching my first Technician course and I do expose my students to CW.
   BTW, I received my ARRL 10 WPM proficiency certificate last week. Personally, I think it's an accomlishment that I enjoy displaying (as small as that is) and look forward to getting my future endorsements; for myself, not for anyone else. Small potatoes for the 20wpm+ crowd, but cool for me. Dit dit.

73,

Rob
AJ4SB
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N5XM
Member

Posts: 242




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« Reply #20 on: September 27, 2009, 04:58:56 PM »

Your fist and ear should be your code proficiency credentials, IMO.  Get on the air, get on the air, get on the air...get as good as you are willing to get, get as good as you are willing to work hard enough for.  The folks on the other end are who know if you are proficient or not.   n5xm
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K4MSG
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Posts: 2


WWW

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« Reply #21 on: October 27, 2009, 07:06:10 AM »

A few comments.  First, a code proficiency certificate is nice and looks good hanging in the shack.  If you want one, go for it but DON'T CHEAT!  But remember that it's just a piece of paper and doesn't really "prove" your code competency, any more than a brand-new commercial operator with a T2 (2nd class radiotelegraph ticket) was "competent" at 20 wpm plain text until he PROVED it on the job.

Second, there are "High Speed Clubs" that require you to prove your ability to QSO at this or that speed in order to become a member.  This can be a useful means of "demonstrating" your ability and satisfying yourself about it.

Third, contesting at high speed really only proves that you can - well, contest.  Same for high-speed hello/goodbye DX QSOs.  Say what you will, the fact is that you KNOW the format and so you know what's coming, and most of us can concentrate long enough to get an exchange at much higher than our "total copy" speed, especially if the sending station repeats the exchange (which most do).

Fourth, IMO a better way than contests or DXing to prove your ability to follow high speed exchanges, where you have absolutely no idea what may come next, is a CW traffic net.  I recommend the "Hit and Bounce Net" on 40m CW at 0830 Eastern (7042 kHz weekdays, 7114 kHz weekends, 20-25 wpm).  Other good ones are regional nets (like 4th Region Net, 3567 kHz at 1945 & 2130 ET daily, about 25 wpm) and especially the area nets (like Eastern Area Net, 3577 kHz at 2030 ET, 25-30 wpm).

The neat thing about traffic nets is that just when you've fallen into the groove of copying check-ins giving callsign, location, and either "QRU" or "QTC" followed by a list of traffic, the NCS will throw out something off-the-wall or unexpected to a station and they'll answer cryptically and you'll miss it entirely because you really can't yet copy INSTINCTIVELY. But keep listening to the nets, EVERY DAY IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, and you'll get better and better.  Trust me, doing it only once or twice a week won't cut it and you'll stay "plateaued" for a long time.

Of course it follows that, while listening to CW nets or having idle conversations in QSOs may be great for developing your "head copy" speed, the real proof of your skill as a CW op is your ability to hand-copy or type text word-for-word without mistakes.  So, don't just listen to CW nets, CHECK IN and handle some traffic, both send and receive.  Yes, the message format is "canned" so you may know what to expect (numbers or letters or words) at certain points in the message, but even so, things like the recipient's name and address must be copied without error, like the following example (AA is "carriage return" or "go to next line")

JOHN A DOOFUS KJ3XYZ AA
1812 OVERTURE CIRCLE SW AA
RUMPLED MOUNTAIN, MD  23456 AA
301 745 8190 BT

Same goes for the text, i.e., you really don't know what's coming.  But as your skills improve you will INSTINCTIVELY write down the text as sent, without thinking about it.  

Finally, let me just say that when you can converse on CW in ANY arena, whether ragchewing, contests, DXing or traffic work, INSTINCTIVELY reading what is being sent in your head AND accurately transcribing messages or announcements or things you want to comment on to paper (and there's no shame in asking for a fill or confirmation, we all have to do that) then CW has truly become another language for you.

It also becomes an absolute blast to use!

73,

Paul, K4MSG
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K5END
Member

Posts: 1309




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« Reply #22 on: October 27, 2009, 12:48:12 PM »

Thanks, Paul

Since my original post on the topic I have abandoned CW & code...it's just too darn hard.

OK, just kidding. CW is about all I use now. Rarely do I use a mic except on VHF FM.

Some of us have been getting together weekly for a local practice net. Most of us are within 25 miles of each other near Houston.

Because of our proximity, we've been able to use 2 meter CW (true CW) which works a lot better than I would have expected. I thought it would be good to keep our little practice net off the HF bands out of consideration for normal traffic, but the old timers have said to not even worry about that.

So we've been trading off between 2 m and 80 m, and 2 m seems to work better, provided ones antenna is elevated sufficiently. It's certainly less noisy than 80 m.

We also got permission to do "MCW" on a local repeater and may do practice nets there as a formal club activity soon.
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K7KBN
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Posts: 2785




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« Reply #23 on: October 27, 2009, 02:36:57 PM »

WA2WMR:  "By the way, is there any polite way to tell someone that their fist is terrible? I mean, we have rst 599c for chirp, 599k for key clicks. Is there anything like 599f?"

"QLF" has already been mentioned, but that's unofficial (though pretty universally understood).

I use "QSD", meaning "your keying is defective".  And I end the QSO, leaving it at that.  I've pointed out the problem; it's up to the other guy to correct it.

The military uses "ZBM2", meaning "place a competent operator on this circuit".  The ultimate insult for military radio operators in the 1950s-1970s era when CW was how most of the traffic got moved.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
K5END
Member

Posts: 1309




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« Reply #24 on: October 28, 2009, 07:17:28 AM »

"is there any polite way to tell someone that their fist is terrible?"

uh, I am going to go with, "no."

To say something like that would be very "un-CW."

The sender already knows his fist is terrible, and he doesn't need anyone to tell him that. He probably is either new to code, nervous or disabled in some way.


The polite RESPONSE (in my opinion) is to thank the guy and end the QSO when you have had enough.

If he is NEW tell him "welcome to CW. Keep practicing."

I heard that exact phrase on my first or second CW QSO. I had mentioned I was new to CW. I was nervous with "stage fright" and could hardly send. I was hitting the paddle so hard that I had to hold it down with the other hand.

I'm so glad the OM in my first few QSOs were encouraging. If they had made a point to tell me my fist is terrible I might have abandoned CW and code.
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K7KBN
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Posts: 2785




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« Reply #25 on: October 28, 2009, 05:03:10 PM »

You might be surprised at the number of hams who have no idea that their fists are terrible.  There were a few not too far from where I lived a few years ago.  I taped some of their QSOs and played them back for them over the phone.  

QSD isn't intended to be "nice" or "polite".  It conveys information.  If the other station is close enough I might make a phone call and offer some advice.  If he's not local, I won't.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
K5END
Member

Posts: 1309




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« Reply #26 on: October 28, 2009, 09:31:54 PM »

"You might be surprised at the number of hams who have no idea that their fists are terrible."

"I taped some of their QSOs and played them back for them over the phone."


So how did those phone calls go?

Something like this?

"Hello, I'm calling because I've been elected as quality control manager for CW on HF, and I must report to you that your ham ability stinks. Here is a taped recording of you so that you can hear how bad your skills are. Have a nice day."


Yeah, I bet that went over very well, and you changed the bad ham into a good ham, or if nothing else you got him to quit the hobby for the benefit of the rest of us.

Very diplomatic.
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K7KBN
Member

Posts: 2785




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« Reply #27 on: October 29, 2009, 08:40:22 AM »

That may have been the way YOU would have responded; I don't know.  The three fellows in question accepted the information and my suggestions, and when I worked them again over the next couple of weeks, their fists had improved very well.

If I understand you, you'd just let them continue, blissfully unaware that they were sending garbage.  If someone makes a mistake and corrects it, that's fine.  But if they constantly, for example, send six or more dits for an "s" and make no effort to correct it, I will call it to their attention.

No, I am not a diplomat, nor am I politically correct.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
K5END
Member

Posts: 1309




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« Reply #28 on: October 29, 2009, 10:49:29 AM »

No, that would not have been MY response, either way.

My response would have been an absence of a response, in either case. Many times saying nothing says more.

I've heard a lot of bad code on the Amateur bands, but (until now) all of the interaction I've had with other CW/code operators has been polite and gentlemanly.

I guess there are exceptions to every rule.

Have a nice day and best wishes.
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WB8WTU
Member

Posts: 23




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« Reply #29 on: October 29, 2009, 10:09:55 PM »

I remember my first QSO with a new CW op.  The more nervous op was me. In my effort to make his first CW QSO a good experience, I probably have never sent such precise and well spaced slow code. Just wanted his experience to be similar to my first CW QSO.

Although not universal but more often than not, the lower parts of the bands are populated with gentlemen.

73,
dennis
wb8wtu
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