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Author Topic: CW Spacing  (Read 13662 times)
ZL1BBW
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Posts: 413




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« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2013, 01:17:34 AM »

 Smiley  Thank you, I hope that it gets used.  Send the spaces, how right.  We used to have to be able to send the auto alarm signal by hand accurately enough to trip a test set.  Thankfully never had to use it for real.
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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.
KB1WSY
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2013, 02:10:37 AM »

Actually, there is such a program out there!  It's called "Precision CW FistCheck" by DJ7HS.
Paul  N6EV

Wow! Thank you very much, that is really useful. I'm halfway through learning Morse and my sending has a long way to go:



--Dahs uneven.
--Dits too short.
--Spaces too long.
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GW3OQK
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Posts: 156




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« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2013, 09:53:49 AM »

Wow, that FistCheck DOES look good.
ZL1BBW how about a sked to check out my sending?!
Andrew
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ZL1BBW
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Posts: 413




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« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2013, 10:03:07 AM »

Wow, that FistCheck DOES look good.
ZL1BBW how about a sked to check out my sending?!
Andrew
Once I get the beams up on 20 and 40 be happy to try it.  I am sure you probably came through a similar school of teaching?
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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.
KB1WSY
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2013, 10:34:08 AM »

Wow, that FistCheck DOES look good.

Only issue I've found so far is that it only shows one letter at a time. So if you send "CQ" it will show the C, then erase the C and show the Q. That's an obvious limitation (no way to check inter-word spacing, or to type in entire words and check them as such). Still, it's very useful. I'm still finding it hard to make my "dits" long enough with my straight key -- makes me realize why people like bugs so much!
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K7MEM
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Posts: 108


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« Reply #20 on: December 04, 2013, 02:00:49 PM »

K7MEM  Thanks for posting that, a very good illustration.  I just printed it out and the dots are 2mm, the inter dot spacing is correct at 2mm but the dash measures 7mm so that dash is 3.5 times a dot, not 3 as it should be.

How did you send this?

Hope you dont think I am being picky, but this is how we were checked.

No, your not being picky, but you have to take into account the resolution of the clipping.

The clip I posted was copied directly off of my screen after I zoomed out on the sound editor to get a sufficient display. By that time the displayed signal was heavily under-sampled and probably wouldn't stand up to direct measurements. There may be some slight distortion in the utility I use to clip the image (SWBCapture).

The code on the image I posted was computer generated by a program called Morse Academy. It's a DOS based program. One of the modes for Morse Academy is to generate "simulated" QSOs at any speed you like. It generates audio files (.wav) that can be converted to MP3 files and used on a MP3 player. Of course I used them a while ago so I use a cassette player.

I used Morse Academy to pass the General 13 WPM and Extra 20 WPM CW tests, when they existed. I made sure I could copy at 25 WPM, before I was confident that I could pass the test. <brag>And I passed with 100% copy.</brag> Morse Academy works on most OSs up to XP and is still available. It has problems with Windows 7, but I get around that my running it under DOSBox.

If, in my sound editor, I zoom in on one character and actually measure the timing, the timing is perfect. There is a rise and fall time associated with each element so I measured from approximately the 90% rise to the 10% fall. Each dot measured 57 ms and the space between each dot was 57 ms. The dash measured 170 ms, which is very close to 3 time a dot. The space between the dot and dash was also 57 ms. So if you look close enough at the code you can see the actual spacing.

Below is a clipping of a single dot from that same CW session. The entire length of the display is about 75 ms. So you can see that deciding where to start and end measuring isn't easy. The timing numbers that you see on the screen are relative marking from the start of the file. I can zoom in even further and see each and every audio cycle, which is ~750 Hz.

http://www.k7mem.com/manuals/CW_Spacing_Dot_Closeup.jpg

Here is a link to the actual CW file that the clippings are from, if you care to listen to it.

http://www.k7mem.org/Projects/Morse_Code_Tests/21WPM_00.WAV
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Martin - K7MEM

http://www.k7mem.com
N6EV
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Posts: 4




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« Reply #21 on: December 04, 2013, 05:22:09 PM »

I'm still finding it hard to make my "dits" long enough with my straight key -- makes me realize why people like bugs so much!

Martin, I suggest running some drills with FistCheck, first sending the numbers 5 and 0 repeatedly to get the consistency of your dits and dahs down (matching the hash marks for your spending speed).  Once you're able to master the timing for each, progress to sending a period to alternate dit/dah elements for consistency.  Then you can mix it up with different letters to see how they look.  It shouldn't take long to get the hang of it.   Also, key adjustments (contact spacing & spring tension, trunion pivot resistance) contribute to element timing.  Be sure your key is properly set up first, before you practice sending! 

I hang out in the Elmer chat/sked page when I'm in the shack, ready to help anyone on the air.
http://www.obriensweb.com/sked/index.php?board=elmer

Good luck!  73

Paul N6EV
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K3STX
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Posts: 1080




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« Reply #22 on: December 04, 2013, 06:48:25 PM »

Download one of the W1AW code practice mp3s with the text, then YOU send it and record it. Then play it back to yourself and compare your sending to the W1AW sending. When you can't tell the difference, you are sending good code.

paul
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ZL1BBW
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Posts: 413




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« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2013, 12:57:22 AM »

K7MEM, That sounded really nice, easy to copy, could have sat here all day and taken that straight down onto the mill.

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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.
KB1WSY
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #24 on: December 05, 2013, 04:00:13 AM »

Martin, I suggest running some drills with FistCheck, first sending the numbers 5 and 0 repeatedly to get the consistency of your dits and dahs down (matching the hash marks for your spending speed).  Once you're able to master the timing for each, progress to sending a period to alternate dit/dah elements for consistency.  Then you can mix it up with different letters to see how they look.  It shouldn't take long to get the hang of it.

Thank you Paul. I'll start on that today. I played with it yesterday, using the "period" character, and found it really hard to get right! But it's early days.

Also, key adjustments (contact spacing & spring tension, trunion pivot resistance) contribute to element timing.  Be sure your key is properly set up first, before you practice sending!  

My modern Ameco K4 key (a Japanese knockoff of a J-38) was very stiff when I bought it, even with the spring loosened to the max:



So I went to the hardware store and bought another, weaker spring. I also reduced the contact space. I find it much better now although it's a bit "hairtrigger" (the occasional stray dit gets out). In the longer run I may find that I prefer a "navy knob" -- if I grasp the small knob on the K4 firmly, rather than just resting my fingers on top, I send much better code but it feels flimsy and small.

I hang out in the Elmer chat/sked page when I'm in the shack, ready to help anyone on the air.
http://www.obriensweb.com/sked/index.php?board=elmer

Thanks, that's useful to know!

Download one of the W1AW code practice mp3s with the text, then YOU send it and record it. Then play it back to yourself and compare your sending to the W1AW sending. When you can't tell the difference, you are sending good code.

Thank you Paul-2, that's a great idea. Will need to wait until I have the full character set though (I'm using the Koch method).

A question for y'all: I've got G4FON software set at 20wpm character speed with 15wpm ("Farnsworth") spacing. I'm halfway through the learning process (19 characters learned). When I try to copy a "real" 20wpm without the extra spacing, it's really hard. But isn't it time I did that anyway? Am I making future trouble for myself by keeping the 15wpm word spacing?

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
« Last Edit: December 05, 2013, 04:06:22 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
KB1WSY
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #25 on: December 05, 2013, 10:35:35 AM »

Martin, I suggest running some drills with FistCheck, first sending the numbers 5 and 0 repeatedly.
Good luck!  73
Paul N6EV

I was able to get the "5" relatively close after a few minutes of practice:



However, the number "0" is defeating me completely, for the moment ... I'm sure I'll get it eventually!
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VA7CPC
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Posts: 2414




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« Reply #26 on: December 05, 2013, 07:10:48 PM »


 . . .
So I went to the hardware store and bought another, weaker spring. I also reduced the contact space. I find it much better now although it's a bit "hairtrigger" (the occasional stray dit gets out). In the longer run I may find that I prefer a "navy knob" -- if I grasp the small knob on the K4 firmly, rather than just resting my fingers on top, I send much better code but it feels flimsy and small.
. . .

If you visit Home Depot (or another well-stocked hardware store), you'll find almost-spherical drawer knobs.  The screw hole is just a bit larger than the screw in the K-4, but you can fill it with wooden matches, or glue-based wood filler.   And then mount the big spherical knob on the K-4.

.              Charles
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #27 on: December 06, 2013, 06:14:22 AM »

If you visit Home Depot (or another well-stocked hardware store), you'll find almost-spherical drawer knobs.  The screw hole is just a bit larger than the screw in the K-4, but you can fill it with wooden matches, or glue-based wood filler.   And then mount the big spherical knob on the K-4.
.              Charles

Great idea -- I will give it a go but only if I can do it non-destructively. Ameco's successor company (http://www.mtechnologies.com/ameco/keys.htm) is out of stock of the K-4 "due to problems in the factory in Japan last year" and availability of the key has been "suspended indefinitely." Thus I feel that I own a little piece of ham history, namely, one of the last-ever manufactured K-4s. The company has said they "hope to have a replacement for this key available early in 2014" but from that wording, it won't necessarily be a K-4 per se.

More generally I think I'll be springing for a "better" straight key soon ... but the K-4 is fine for the time being, especially if I can modify it as you suggest.
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K7MEM
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« Reply #28 on: December 06, 2013, 08:05:48 AM »

A question for y'all: I've got G4FON software set at 20wpm character speed with 15wpm ("Farnsworth") spacing. I'm halfway through the learning process (19 characters learned). When I try to copy a "real" 20wpm without the extra spacing, it's really hard. But isn't it time I did that anyway? Am I making future trouble for myself by keeping the 15wpm word spacing?

This is one of those yes, no, and depends questions.

It sounds like you are pushing things a little bit. Like you want to hit the air waves doing 20 WPM on your first QSO. Don't worry so much about speed, until you have learned all your characters. Once you get all the characters down and get on the air, your confidance will start rising. Speed doesn't necessarily come with operating on the air, but confidance does. After a while you will realize that you are recognizing whole words. It starts with the simple common ones like "rst", "qth", "es", "name", "wx", etc.. Then, you no longer need to copy down each character. All you need is the associated information. Most of it you just put right in your log and save the scratch paper for other parts of the QSO.

I downloaded the G4FON software some time ago, just to see what it was like. It looks pretty nice and seems to work well. I found out a long time ago that the "Farnsworth" method was not for me. What works for one person doesn't necessarily work for everyone. But if it's working for you, keep with it. The only issue that sometimes happens with "Farnsworth" users is that, they have trouble copying a slow code user. You get use to the quick characters and long spaces, but most ops don't send that way. And they don't expect to receive that way.

I got my first license in 1966. I had to send and receive at 5 WPM to get it at that time. I always wanted to be real good and fast with the key but lots of things got in the way. You know, school, work, kids, yadada yadada yadada. Fast forward 30 years and I decided to actually do something about it. I knew when I was going for my General and Extra that all I had to do was wait a few years and the CW requirement would go away. But it was a personal goal and I wanted to do it before they eliminated it.

One of the things you might consider, which will help any spacing issues you might have, is to get a keyer. Yes, I know all the arguments about using a straight key. I have two straight keys. A Signal Electric and a McElroy. I blow off the dust and shine them up every so often, but never put them on the air since I got a keyer (1981). That was when I was living in Germany and operating as DA2EU. All I had at the time was a Heathkit CW rig and I worked 15 Meters almost exclusively. With that keyer I was always getting compliments on my CW. Everyone loved how it sounded. I have several keyes now and like them all. You can pick up a descent one for pretty cheap at any ham fest.

I have an old Vibroplex Blue Racer (1916). I never could get the hang of making good consistent dashes but I figured a way to connect it to a keyer. It works great that way. It's kind of nice to hear it clacking around as I send. Currently that's my main key.
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Martin - K7MEM

http://www.k7mem.com
KB1WSY
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« Reply #29 on: December 06, 2013, 08:26:51 AM »

It sounds like you are pushing things a little bit. Like you want to hit the air waves doing 20 WPM on your first QSO. Don't worry so much about speed, until you have learned all your characters. Once you get all the characters down and get on the air, your confidance will start rising. Speed doesn't necessarily come with operating on the air, but confidance does.

Thank you very much for the advice. What I may do, instead of trying 20/20, is slow down G4FON so that it's 15/15. That way, at least, I will assimilate the "correct" spacing. I'm not sure how long it will be before I get on the air, but right now it looks like "several months," mainly because of time contraints in building the transmitter and also because winter weather could make it harder to put up my first dipole (I'm currently just using a long wire for RX). So, in a way, I have the "luxury" of being able to concentrate on the Morse learning for a while. However I'm sure nothing beats actually being on the air, *especially* when it comes to improving one's Morse *sending* skills.

Copying on the air is completely different, when you throw in QSB, QRM and the very basic equipment I'm using. But it's undeniably a lot of fun! I am beginning to get entire words, at least obvious things like "TEST," "THE," "ALL," "RIG," "NAME" and the various Q-codes.
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