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Author Topic: The average speed for CWing  (Read 77428 times)

Posts: 477

« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2013, 05:11:35 AM »

CW speed is like reading speed, it varies according to what you may be reading and how much interest you have in it.  And naturally, endurance depends on need and experience.  If it's been a while since you've 'copied' CW then your endurance and average speed will be less than 'normal'.  That 'normal' speed changes and is absolutely 'normal' (if that makes sense).
It also depends on the other person's speed and ability.  I find that up to a certain point I try to match the person's speed that I'm listening to.  When that speed reaches a point where it's more 'work' than I'm willing to do, then I slow down.  It's all in how comfortable you are and in the 'need'.
I feel no need to set any sort of speed record and there's nothing wrong with not being 'fast'.  Enjoy what you are doing!
 - Paul

Posts: 22


« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2013, 06:01:59 AM »

Thank you very much for interesting point of view !
Yes, I have not done a CW QSO for more than 3 years. I would have prefered to lose nothing, hi.
My goal is not QRQ or high speed, but just to feel confortable again at casual speeds and to avoid to ask "agn" or "QRS" too much time if it happens to me to be too much stressed. When I learned CW, I had the same fears. I trained my speed just because I was afraid that in the middle of a QSO, it happened to me to understand nothing more and just had to shut off the TRX or asked suddently to QRS-QRS. Another solution could be to use valium, hi !


Posts: 204

« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2013, 10:42:20 AM »

CW , like mathematics is not a spectator sport. You have to "do it" to get good at it . Doing QSOs will keep your attention for sure...maybe even cause you to break out in a sweat?  Grin

So true! I had no hesitation at age 15 to get on the air. Now at 44 I get nervous and fall apart! I've found the "average" speed much faster than in the '80s. It used to be easy to just go to the novice bands. Anyway... I've determined to just do what I can and so be it. I really enjoy this... Although its been terribly expensive! The TS-590 comes today!

I really like the ARRL mp3 files the best.
Scott N6PG

Posts: 1

« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2013, 10:19:34 AM »

I seem to have a lot of conversations on 40 and 20 meters in the upper 20wpm speed range. I actually make more mistakes sending if I slow down to 20 wpm.

I'm usually running qrp but still find myself in the lower part of the cw band segments. I had visions of being between 14.040 and 14.060 when running qrp but it seems that a lot of the qrp guys operate at slower cw speeds (10 to 17 wpm). At least that's my perception. I get bored pretty quick below 20 wpm. guess it just depends on what you get accustomed to.

Posts: 18

« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2013, 12:39:09 PM »

If you are asking at what speed you can consider yourself generally proficient, I would say at around 25 wpm.  If you can send and receive easily at that speed, you've arrived.   Some will want to turn the speed issue into a competition, but that's their problem, not yours.  Nobody will be inconvenienced at 25 wpm.

Posts: 6755

« Reply #20 on: June 20, 2013, 07:13:05 PM »

My take on the original question is, "What do you think the average CW speed is"?  (Paraphrased)

This can only be answered by one's experiences operating CW.  In other words, as you tune the band(s) listening to CW QSOs, participating in QSOs, etc., what is the average speeds do you estimate being used.

To that end, I would give my guess to the average speed would be around 18-20WPM.

Closer to 20......


A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!

Posts: 505

« Reply #21 on: June 21, 2013, 12:25:51 AM »

what is the average speeds do you estimate being used.

I'm no good at estimating speeds, but reports the speeds at which CQ calls are sent, and from watching that I'd say the average is more like 25-28 wpm.

Posts: 374

« Reply #22 on: June 21, 2013, 04:37:08 AM »

I seem to have a lot of conversations on 40 and 20 meters in the upper 20wpm speed range. I actually make more mistakes sending if I slow down to 20 wpm.

I keep my keyer set at 30wpm, which results in an RBN reported speed of 29-30wpm.  Interestingly, that speed can seem fast on some QSOs but painfully slow with others!  I tend to adjust my character and word spacing a bit for those slower QSOs and nearly all report easy copy.  If I am on the higher portion of the band (SKCC or FISTS), I will switch to my old Vibroplex bug that limits me to about 22wpm...   talk about a workout!   

Regardless, I find it's harder to stay focused and takes much more concentration to copy at the slower speeds in the lower 20wpm range...  27-33wpm is a breeze for all but the wierdest fists.

Bottom line -- CW is the best, Jerry, the BEST! (Seinfeld)


Posts: 1556

« Reply #23 on: June 21, 2013, 04:33:40 PM »

25wpm "sounds" best to my ears.  But I have no problems going faster.  Anything slower than 15wpm is difficult for me to copy. 


Posts: 84

« Reply #24 on: June 28, 2013, 04:54:59 AM »

F5FRM: depends on where you operate within a band.  Start at the top of a CW band and tune down.  Usually, the lower you go the faster the CW speed.  I am solid copy at 20 - 25 wpm but do not enjoy it.  There is stress waiting for you when you are running at the edge of your speed.  I don't care for that. On each band there is a freq used by the Straight Key Century Club folks.  I start there and set my speed at 13 wpm and am ready to slow it down if need be.  I call CQ.  I meet many interesting people at the slower speeds.  Many, probably most, of the QRP ops I talk to are definitely not going 20+ wpm - far from it.  Most of them are using straight keys on their home brew rigs.  I have been surprised how often I find myself getting called by DX when I am casually QSOing at medium speed high up the band.  The op usually calls me at a slow speed, gets my Idaho QSO because he/she needs it, and then disappears before a pile-up starts.  Quite frankly I think there is wisdom in the biblical caution that says "Pride cometh before the fall".  I get guys answering my CQ and the CQ of others at speeds much higher than we are running and refuse to slow down when we answer.  I have long felt that there are ops who lead with ther pride and ego.  Yes, I am aware it is often hard to copy at slower speeds.  When I work ops at 10 wpm or slower (usually new guys) I often find myself falling asleep at the key.  Oh well! - that is the price we pay when we accomodate others instead of forcing them to play the game under our personal rules. This is my "two cents worth".

Posts: 1265

« Reply #25 on: June 29, 2013, 12:09:32 AM »

There is nothing more stressful than a cw op running at a higher speed than they can, there is nothing more pleasant than cw that reads itself.

Many of the signals I hear fall into the former, all to few into the latter.

ex MN Radio Officer, Portishead Radio GKA, BT Radio Amateur Morse Tester.  Licensed as G3YCP ZL1DAB, now taken over my father (sk) call as ZL1BBW.

Posts: 5

« Reply #26 on: June 30, 2013, 12:08:05 PM »

Why is 25-35wpm that must be repeated 2-3 times better communications than 18-20wpm sent once?

Posts: 38


« Reply #27 on: June 30, 2013, 10:35:51 PM »


I do fine at 15wpm, right at the edge of head-copy speed. I'd like to get up to 20. Since I don't do contests, speed is not a major concern of mine right now.. Head-copy is more important, and that's after 15wpm. Just for when you can't find a pen or while camping...


Posts: 4

« Reply #28 on: January 05, 2014, 05:03:12 AM »

Here I reply to the speed I hear.
I am a QRQ opr and normally call at 30/35 wpm( can work ut to 60 in French)  but if the reply is 20, well I lower the speed to 20.
Problems are when you have a good paddle (Begali) not to mention, set for QRQ, you can make a few errors at slow speeds because the paddle too soft..
It is like running a Lamborgini at 20 MPH HI.
But I enjoy all the QSOs and have fun.
Sometimes the other can work QRQ to my pleasure.

Have fun and make nice music.

73 Gil VE2ENB

Posts: 1299

« Reply #29 on: January 05, 2014, 05:16:17 AM »

"You have nothing to fear but fear itself". (Hmmm, that's a catchy phrase...thought I could recycle it here).

Samuel Morse had a mansion at Poughkeepsie in upstate New York, not far from the mansion of Franklin D. Roosevelt! But Morse died in 1872, so he would not have met Roosevelt (who was born in 1882) or heard the president's famous speech! I have relatives in Poughkeepsie and next time I visit, I'll make sure to visit the Morse mansion: apparently it contains a replica of his original Morse apparatus.

This is a great thread. I don't see an obvious "consensus" reply to the OP's issue.

I started my latest attempt at learning CW in November and feel like it won't be long before I'm on the air. I am going for a top initial reading proficiency of 20wpm but probably won't want to send faster than 15wpm. This decision was based primarily on monitoring the bands and realizing that the average QSO appears to be a lot faster than it was last time I dabbled in ham radio, 40 years ago. (But perhaps I am imagining things.)

The other issue is that, at speeds below about 20wpm, I find myself resorting to that dreaded "lookup table in my head" rather than just reacting to the unique sound of each element. That's a good reason to start your learning at a relatively fast speed, if you haven't started yet. OTOH I have almost no experience compared to a lot of you ... time will tell whether I'm doing it the right way, for me.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY

« Last Edit: January 05, 2014, 05:24:37 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
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