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Author Topic: Starting into CW  (Read 47920 times)

Posts: 187

« Reply #45 on: September 13, 2013, 08:07:54 PM »

  Most of the promoters of the Koch method link to the N1IRZ book promotion , where among other things he writes "How much time is required? That will depend on the individual. Koch himself, with hand-picked students, got a group to master 12 wpm code in a mere 13.5 hours. You probably won't match that, but that's much faster than any other method in the psychological literature. You can get an idea of how long it's going to take after you've mastered a few characters. Keep track of your training sessions (some software will do this for you) and calculate your hours-per-character rate (or characters-per-hour if you're really fast!). That, multiplied by the 43 characters in the amateur Morse test, will give a rough idea of how long it's going to." This is in pretty stark contrast to what these people are actually experiencing with the method .
 Davide, IZ2UUF actually invented an android Koch application, gave it free to the ham community, and then learned the characters using the method. He gives a very honest  picture of his experience with the method in this thread .
  Several Koch trainers are available for free so give one a try, however, potential cw operators need to know that failing with Koch isn't unusual and that there are other methods of learning the Morse code characters.
   Very best of 73 de Tom, AB9NZ

Posts: 505

« Reply #46 on: September 14, 2013, 06:07:44 AM »

This is one of those things that you'll have to determine yourself.

Yes. It eventually dawned on me that the twin problems with Koch for me were the incremental nature (I found I was re-learning many of the previous characters each time a new one was added) and the randomness of the usual output. The CD I made was a little more than just "A B C" and "1 2 3". Most of it was character pairs, with sequences running both ways The important part for me was that it was predictable and systematic; very much like the old-fashioned way I learned numbers and letters in first grade.

In over two years of working the Koch way I got about a third of the characters "learned" (for a value of "learned" that doesn't take account of the re-learning I found I kept having to do).

"That, multiplied by the 43 characters"

Yes, I remember reading that. After the first two lessons it looked like the whole thing would take a few months. By the end of half a dozen lessons the estimate had stretched to a couple of years. After a dozen lessons the estimate (based on that suggested linearity) was nearer a decade. That's the point at which I decided Koch wasn't working for me, because my progress was clearly not following that roughly linear path, but I should have realised that far sooner.

need to know that failing with Koch isn't unusual and that there are other methods

Absolutely! (I wish I'd read that two years ago.) Folk learn in different ways, and a method which works well for one person may be no use to another.

Posts: 6765

« Reply #47 on: September 14, 2013, 07:44:27 AM »

LEP:  Relearning previous "learned" characters when a new one or new group are added is quite common and to be expected.  While you might think you've learned a character or group of characters, you really haven't. There isn't anything wrong with this.  However, the so called "relearning" will be quite fast and really isn't a problem. 

I keep reading references to "speed" and "time" and find these two terms disturbing.  These are the last two things a person wants to even think about!  Erase "speed" and "time" from your CW session vocabulary!

When I was force fed Morse code in school, there was such things as "speed" and "time" because the Army wanted people to learn code in a specific period of time.  If a person wasn't able to hack it, he was sidetracked into another job.  I can also report that very few were "sidetracked."  Which presents the argument that almost anyone can learn the code.  With dedication and patience, it can be done. 

One of the inspirational talks we received was the ridiculous story of them teaching a chimpanzee to copy code and had him up to 15WPM.  It was when they switched the chimp over to copying code on a mill that he lost his mind.

I think the rationale of this story is that anyone can learn code and if you can't transition over to a mill then you might be categorized along with a chimp.  I dunno.

Al - K8AXW


A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!

Posts: 70


« Reply #48 on: September 14, 2013, 07:54:16 AM »

A little tip for people struggling with Koch.
A common problem is that some letters come easy, while others, who knows why, keep on confusing us.
These "weak" letters have the effect of blocking our comprehension flow: "...A W X K... what? what?". At that point we start trying to understand rationally, but in the meantime other letters are being played and we loose them all. The exercise then becomes stressing and frustrating. During a real QSO this is even more stressing, because instead of having a one letter hole, we lost the entire sentence... and SRY PLS RPT TNX! :-)
I tried to fight this effect by exercising the weak letters alone, but it did not work: as soon as I went back to the full working set, the problem was the same as before.
Instead, I raised their frequency within the set by four or five times (some Koch softwares have this feature): well, it worked. About three/four days of exercising with risen frequency have been enough, at least for me, to level weak letters. It has to be done one or at most two letters a time, starting from those that most interrupt our copying flow.
I learned that leveling weak letters is a key point in this kind of training.


EDIT: once carefully leveled all letters, I have been able to quickly rise speed by more than 15 WPM. Each increment of 1 WPM required just a few minutes to get used to the new "musicality". At higher speeds it seems becoming easier because some sequences with many dashes like 1 or J are short enough in time to have a well definite "signature".
In my opinion the letter-by-letter method reaches its upper limit at about 30 wpm, unless exercising for random letter HST competitions. Above that speed I can understand letters, but they are too fast to do anything useful with them and I quickly forget them, never mind writing them down. Above that speed words must be understood as a whole.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2013, 08:16:54 AM by IZ2UUF » Logged

Davide IZ2UUF - FISTS #16285 - SKCC #9531 - JN45nk

Posts: 505

« Reply #49 on: September 14, 2013, 10:54:49 AM »

However, the so called "relearning" will be quite fast and really isn't a problem.

...except that, for me, it wasn't fast, and became a bigger problem with every new character. The purpose of doing the Koch course was to learn the characters. It did not work for me. I learned the characters a different way instead.

I learned that leveling weak letters is a key point in this kind of training.

I levelled the characters by learning them all in one go instead. That worked for me better than any of the Koch programs I was able to try.

The key point? What works for one won't necessarily work for another, and Koch is no exception.
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