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Author Topic: My Morse Learning Campaign  (Read 88225 times)
KB1WSY
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Posts: 770




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« Reply #105 on: January 04, 2014, 12:42:29 PM »

As of today, I'm still down at the 23-character Koch level. I eased up on the Morse work over the past few days. To be honest, I am trying to take it a bit less seriously, while still putting in the time on the drills. To some extent, it seems to be that, the harder I try, the harder it gets. I do best when I'm in that strange "Zen" state when the copying seems to happen automatically. Getting into that state is harder that you might think. But it's great when it happens, and I don't think you can reach that state if you are too anxious or in too much of a hurry....
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #106 on: January 05, 2014, 02:21:13 PM »

Today, making definite progress in "automatic copy" -- still at the 23-character level. I think I may be close to vanquishing the problems with the letters "F" and "G." Don't want to try moving on to extra elements unless I feel certain that the problem with those two letters has largely gone away.

Spent a lot of time monitoring 10 meters today, because of exceptionally good conditions (well, good for this current solar cycle!). For the first time ever I heard activity on 10m on my little regenerative set, nearly all of it CW. For some reason most of the stations I monitored were in the southern United States (Texas, Mississippi....). Also caught some CW activity on 20m and 40m.
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #107 on: January 07, 2014, 02:11:30 AM »

Still stalled at the 23-character level. Somewhat discouraged, but persevering. There is some slight evidence of progress (I am getting slightly better at automatically copying those Devil Letters, G and F). Looks like I could be in for a lengthy process ... for sure, learning Morse has not been an "easy" process for me. Bear in mind that I'm 56 years old, and operate a home-based business with 12-hour work days, six to seven days a week. So I guess my difficulties are not too surprising.

Still copying a lot of stuff on the air, although what I write down is very fragmentary. I can get the overall gist of some QSOs and am making quite a lot of progress with figuring out "the format": exchange of calls, WX, RIG, and so forth. The transmission speed doesn't seem to be too much of a factor unless it's above 20wpm or so, and I'm not bothered much by QRM or QSB even when it is heavy and the signal is only just above the noise level. However, I am extremely sensitive to the quality of the fist. Way too sensitive. I find W1AW at 18wpm much easier to copy than a lot of the hams who are doodling along around 12wpm. The only remedy for that, surely, will be to continue doing a lot of monitoring, and to Get On The Air as soon as possible so that I can inflict my own fist on the universe....
« Last Edit: January 07, 2014, 02:13:45 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
KB1WSY
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« Reply #108 on: January 07, 2014, 03:13:00 AM »

Start with ONLY the remaining characters a new campaign. Hence one character  a day. AFTER you are at the same level as you have now with the first group. go and intermix them.

That will be a severe shortcut.

Frans, coming back to this subject. Ludwig Koch specifically tested this idea. Here is a summary:

"SHOULD PRACTICE BE BY GROUPS OF LETTERS ?

"The question [Koch] asked is this:  should the student practice one group of characters until he knows them well, then work on a second group separately in the same way, and after that combine the groups?

"He began this teaching test with characters composed of dahs only: t m o ch (German single character ch).  After enough practice (a couple of class sessions) to 'master' this group of letters, he began teaching the dit group e i s h  by itself in the same way.  Next he combined these two groups together, and found that somehow during the intensive study of the second group, the students had forgotten the first group almost completely, and their confidence was badly shaken.  He had to begin all over again teaching these eight letters together until they were mastered together.

"After this, when these eight letters had been practiced to the point where they were correctly and consistently identified, two new groups were studied separately in the same way as the first two groups. First the group d b g, then after that the group u v w.  Next, when these two new groups were mixed together, it was found that the d b g group had been forgotten.  But worse, after these two groups had been re-learned together (d b g u v w) to the point of correct identification, and then combined with the first 8 letters, alas, the (combined) first two groups of 8 letters had been virtually forgotten!

"It appears that the student's intense concentration upon a new group of characters by itself causes that group to override and replace what had been previously 'learned'.  He sensibly concluded that teaching by groups is wrong-headed.  Therefore, the most efficient way is to introduce one new letter at a time and then immediately integrate it into the group of letters already learned, until finally the whole alphabet is complete. In this way all the previously learned characters are under constant review and repeated frequently without lapses."

So, for the time being, I will struggle on *without* trying the "two groups, then combine the groups" method. I will try it only if I get desperate.... and thank you again for the suggestion.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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KK4MRN
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« Reply #109 on: January 07, 2014, 04:20:31 AM »

Martin,

Good explanation of code groups.   I will stay away from them then.   Good to see you practicing.   Maybe we will catch each other on the air one day using CW.

- Daniel, KK4MRN.
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 770




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« Reply #110 on: January 07, 2014, 04:28:39 AM »

Martin,

Good explanation of code groups.   I will stay away from them then.   Good to see you practicing.   Maybe we will catch each other on the air one day using CW.

- Daniel, KK4MRN.

Thanks Daniel! I look forward to it!

The news from here is: I think I have vanquished the letter F! Praise be! Di-di-dah-dit, di-di-dah-dit, di-di-dah-dit!!!!!

I have, however, only obscenities to proffer concerning "G" which is not only still intractable, but keeps getting confused with several other letters and not just the obvious one of "W." This too shall pass.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY

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KB1WSY
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« Reply #111 on: January 07, 2014, 12:39:17 PM »

So, whats my message Martin? ....... There's no short cuts, no one scientific method that brings rapid success for all, it just requires dedicated hard work & practice plus as I already said, variation in methodology & a bit of friendly competition with your peers. Setting goals to achieve in set time frames was/is very helpful for me too.

Good Luck Martin, keep practicing, there will be light at the end of the tunnel if you are determined enough.

73 Ray, G3XLG

(The above is a quote from a different thread, but Ray subsequently indicated he had originally meant to post it in this current thread.)

Ray, many thanks for your detailed explanation of your recent code journey. As I suspected, it takes a lot of work and patience. Your experience is inspiring me to put the stress on practice, practice, practice....

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #112 on: January 09, 2014, 03:39:32 AM »

Having vanquished "F" I am getting near to taming "G." Slightly obsessional. Took my daughter to the dentist and sat in the waiting room with my headphones on my head, madly scribbling random characters on a legal pad -- just as well there was no-one else in the waiting room or they would have given me a wide berth, especially when I emitted little grunts of satisfaction during each drill.

At least I wasn't loudly humming "dah-dah-dit." At least I think I wasn't.... I only do that in private!!!

I think I heard Steve, WB2WIK, on 7051 kHz last night. He had tipped me off in advance that he would be conducting QSOs at a particular time and frequency, from his powerful West Coast station. It was challenging because the signal was extremely weak in my little receiver, with copious QSB, but I did copy the words "STEVE" and "CU ON CW" at relatively slow speed (perhaps 15wpm). Later, Steve told me that this matched what he was doing at the time (a long QSO with a ham who was getting back into CW, and Steve had QRS'd for him). I never caught the callsign so I haven't logged it in my SWL log, but it was fun.

Edited to add: it's interesting how the brain works sometimes. So this morning at 1155G I heard a fast CQ on 7012 from a station I tentatively identified as N4BP (Florida). He was sending CQ D* N4BP. You see, I haven't learned the letter "X" yet! But by the time he'd listened for a response, then come back on the air, my brain had already decided that the mystery character must be "X"! CQ DX....

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 04:01:02 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
KK4MRN
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Posts: 91




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« Reply #113 on: January 10, 2014, 12:01:30 PM »

Martin,
So, where are you today?  I like reading about your progress.   I am listening more to W1AW.  I have it on the calendar in my smartphone so I know when and where it is.

It's Friday, and I have the weekend to play (cw practice and listening to CW on the air).

- Daniel, KK4MN.
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #114 on: January 10, 2014, 02:31:52 PM »

Martin,
So, where are you today?  I like reading about your progress.   I am listening more to W1AW.  I have it on the calendar in my smartphone so I know when and where it is.

I haven't done any formal drills since my last post. However I copied a W1AW bulletin, at slow speed. I also monitored lots of CQ calls and QSOs. The bands are busy with CW, especially 40m, here. I think I'm making some slow, but measurable, progress in monitoring QSOs.

Tomorrow I get back to the drills and particularly the letter "G." I run a home business and will be working through the weekend, but will be catching some breaks for CW.

I look forward to a CW QSO with you, in due course!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #115 on: January 11, 2014, 09:46:59 AM »

Fantastic!!!!

As of today, I have conquered "G." It is causing no problems at all any more, in fact I now wonder why it was so hard until now. Simultaneously, my overall recognition rate for entire 5-minute drills has risen sharply, and that's entirely because I'm no longer getting sidetracked by "F" and "G."

I'm now moving on, but carefully and with the intent to avoid the trap I got into last month with proceeding too quickly through the element set.

I'm also changing the speed settings to:
--20wpm Actual Character Speed; combined with
--17wpm Effective Code Speed ("Farnsworth spacing").

That's faster than currently; I was using 15wpm effective, not 17wpm, previously. It matches a suggestion made by Sid (LB3KB/K4NL) to move the two speeds closer together, but in small-ish increments.

I anticipate the drills being much harder with 17wpm effective speed (I tested it a few minutes ago and it was nasty). I will stick with it for a while, but drop back again if it's just too hard. The aim of the higher speed is to eliminate any "counting of dits and dahs."

Bringing the two speeds closer together should also help with my *sending* practice since I will be listening to somewhat more "natural" Morse during the copying drills.

One project to do soon: set up my PC so that I can listen to a drill in one ear, and hear my code oscillator in the other ear. That way, I can use my key to try to "mimic" what I'm hearing. My sending is still pretty awful (and I must admit I've spent very little time on it over the past couple of weeks).

The 23 characters in my drill set over the past couple of weeks has been: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5.

Accuracy on this morning's tests: extremely high, way above 90 percent (I didn't even bother to compute it because it was obviously excellent).

Today I am adding the 24th character which is SLASH or dah-di-di-dah-dit.

When was the last time I reached this level, before my "setback": December 10th, when I was also at the 23-character level. Have I "wasted a whole month"? Nope, I don't think so. Put it down to "experience" and, for sure, I was definitely learning plenty of things during the past months even if the progress was not at all apparent.

Wow, more than 13,000 views for this thread. You fellow CWers have been an inspiration to me to Get This Done. I must admit that I started the thread in part for that selfish reason ... there's nothing like having a friendly eye (or in this case, ear!) monitoring your progress.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
« Last Edit: January 11, 2014, 10:03:04 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
W1JKA
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« Reply #116 on: January 11, 2014, 11:05:05 AM »

Re: KB1WSY

Take a well deserved practice break, PATS game tonight!
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #117 on: January 11, 2014, 11:26:08 AM »

Re: KB1WSY

Take a well deserved practice break, PATS game tonight!

I'm not a big football fan, but XYL is ... she will make sure that I watch it. I hope it's warmed up in Winslow ... here, it is finally above freezing in fact the thermometer shows 13C (61 fahrenheit). Or to be more appropriate:

W1JKA DE KB1WSY NAME MARTIN AGE 56 RIG RX HOMBEBREW REGEN TX UNBUILT ANT LONGWIRE QTH NR BOSTON WX CLOUDY ES WINDY RST 599 HW CPY? K

Meanwhile, the new speed settings on G4FON are not as hard to copy as I expected. I haven't computed my scores yet, but after a few drills it looks like it's greater than 80 percent. I think Sid (LB3KB/K4NL) was right: by all means move the two speed settings closer together, but do it in small increments.

I've also been monitoring a fair amount of CW on 40m and I think there's a contest this weekend (NAQP-CW).

Edited to add: the contest runs from 1800 UTC Jan 12 through 0559 UTC Jan 13. More details here: http://naqp.contesting.com/naqprules.pdf.

Most important of all, I think, is that the Morse learning once again feels like "fun" after several weeks when it felt like Hell, to be honest.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
« Last Edit: January 11, 2014, 12:04:06 PM by KB1WSY » Logged
KB1WSY
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« Reply #118 on: January 11, 2014, 11:40:32 AM »

Quick question for the CW mavens: does anyone still preface their transmissions with VVV VVV?

I actually find it extremely helpful to have a "header" to get my ear tuned in to the transmission speed and fist, but I've barely heard it on the air. If I'm not mistaken, it's something I used to hear more when I was a kid doing SWL (I didn't understand the transmissions, but I knew about the VVV bit).

Interestingly, the canned QSOs that come with G4FON software *do* have the VVV VVV at the start of each "typical" QSO.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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WB3CQM
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« Reply #119 on: January 12, 2014, 05:07:00 AM »

Quick question for the CW mavens: does anyone still preface their transmissions with VVV VVV?

I actually find it extremely helpful to have a "header" to get my ear tuned in to the transmission speed and fist, but I've barely heard it on the air. If I'm not mistaken, it's something I used to hear more when I was a kid doing SWL (I didn't understand the transmissions, but I knew about the VVV bit).

Interestingly, the canned QSOs that come with G4FON software *do* have the VVV VVV at the start of each "typical" QSO.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Martin ,

Here is a suggestion I make . You are using Morse code Software which I never used because there were no computers in my day as far as I know.

Start your lesson of the week like this :: GGG GGG GGG de KB1WSY KB1WSY KB1WSY K  Using the letter you are adding new or having trouble with this week. Sending VVV is waste of time to start your lessons IMHO . You can make up your own lessons to copy or start them out like this, I am guessing ?

What you may have heard in your SWL days was this

VVV VVV VVV de WCC WCC WCC QSX 4 6 8 12 16 22 MHZ OBS? K  Or some other call letters using this cw transmission.

I listened to NMN NNN and other USCG stations sending those transmissions for hours , then in between there would be weather alerts sent in cw and also WCC ops would send and receive messages from ships. Nothing I ever copied matched those News broadcast and weather alerts and messages being  sent and received  .

Learning Morse code is memorizing sounds. The more you hear the sounds the better the memory. When I was doing call sign copy I did ok on many calls, then a odd one would come up and I would miss it at higher speeds. But I logged my own call several times in those programs and my call could have been sent at 50 wpm or some call I know well and I would not miss them. That is nothing more than memory stored in the brain of a sound.

« Last Edit: January 12, 2014, 05:39:50 AM by WB3CQM » Logged
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