After lamenting my apartment situation for over a year, I finally decided to buy an apartment antenna and try again. So, I finally have a good excuse to learn CW.
Hello dear friends.
I would like to share my experience regarding CW because it has been quite "extreme".
When I started learning Morse code I could merely spell a few letters, nothing more.
After having read all I could find about mastering CW, and taking in account my personal character, I decided to go for the one that I believed would have given me the best results: the Koch method.
So I started excercising every single day: maybe thirthy minutes, maybe five, but regularly.
I kept 20 to 25 wpm and I stayed on a letter set until I could reach an accuracy of 90% at 20WPM with normal spacing; then I moved to the next letter.
I never tried to copy real CW from my radio, because with the Koch method, it is very frustrating: every time an unknown letter is copied, the "comprehension flow" will block immediately.
I never ever used the computer to decode CW at any time: not for of some rules of honor or moral virtuousness, but simply because I did not want to waste any time having my brain learning to "peek" into the computer monitor instead of decoding itself.
Day by day, after about ten months, all the 40 Koch letters were learned with 90% accuracy.
Reached this goal, I begun tuning on the CW bands to see what I was able to copy.
Just listening, I could barely tell that someone was calling CQ.
But with a sheet and a pencil, I found myself able to copy most of what I could tune at. I can't say I was actually "understanding" anything, but those sound made me kind of "feel" that I had to write those letters.
I can't tell you the emotion and the surprise when, after almost an year writing down random letters generated by a computer, on my paper appeared a message that made sense and that was sent by a human being!
At the beginning, in order to understand, I had to write down and read everything, including "UR RST IS" or "73".
But it didn't take long before I begun to recognize the standard QSO parts as standalone symbols. Still, In a casual QSO I have to write down what I ear and then read back what I have written, otherwise I don't understand anything at all.
Regarding transmission, with a perfect timing, a Begali paddle appeared on the second-hand desk of a nearby HAM shop.
As soon as I had this paddle at home, I plugged it in my radio and I prepared a setup with a computer software decoder that could read what I was typing. I never used a paddle before nor sent any Morse with any other mean, so I couldn't wait to try.
I was afraid it would have taken another long time to learn TX, but with my surprise, I discovered that the conditional reflex works both ways: not only when I ear a given sound I'm conditioned to write the related letter, but also when I saw a letter I recalled the sound that was related to it! It works in this way: when I see a letter, I immediately know what is the sound I want to ear, so I try to reproduce it with the paddle.
That first time, with my great surprise, I spent maybe three hours transmitting newspapers, books, numeric tables, making very few errors at 20 WPM.
- very fast (I do not thing there are many other techniques that can bring anyone from zero to 20-25WPM in such a short time)
- being used to copy random letters, you can copy anything, not only "standard" QSO
- conditioned reflexes require very little "CPU-time" from our brain: I found myself writing down a QSO while speaking to my son;
- transmission comes almost for-free;
- even sparse 2' sessions are effective;
- you never experience 5 WPM wall (actually, you never experience 5 WPM at all);
- it requires an exceptionally high grade of persistence
: this is for sure the greatest obstacle for many people
- it is useless until you are finished. 50% done doesn't mean that you can copy 50% of QSOs: you can't copy any. So, if you give up at 80%, you wasted your time.
- it requires writing down everything: this is temporary, because with some real-radio experience, it becomes soon limited to the callsign, name and little more.
73 de IZ2UUF