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Author Topic: My Morse Learning Campaign  (Read 317139 times)
M0LEP
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Posts: 495




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« Reply #240 on: August 28, 2014, 02:50:38 AM »

I've got back to doing at least 30 minutes of code practice (copying and sending) per day.

Last three weeks have been busy, and I've hardly had 30 minutes a week to practice. It sure showed in this morning's GB2CW session. I made mistakes everywhere. Only 90% correct at 5 wpm, 91% at 8 wpm, 68% at 12wpm, and 98% on digits. I usually manage 100% at 5 and 8 wpm. Last time I caught this GB2CW session (3 weeks ago) I got 83% at 12 wpm, and thought that was a bit low... :/

73, Rick M0LEP
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AC2EU
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« Reply #241 on: August 28, 2014, 08:50:09 AM »

why bother with 5wpm? That's almost painful to listen to. I think i have heard 5 wpm once or twice on the air. Some beacons are that slow, but that's about it.

I'm sitting here listening to CW by the seat of my pants ( no computer,skimmer or pencil/paper) trying to improve my "head copy".
It works too. The brain is wired to learn language and patterns. I know how well I'm doing by how much of the QSO I understand. I'm not ready to ditch the paper yet, but I am improving steadily with every session.

Bottom line: just do it. If the other station understands you and you understand him, that's all that matters...right?
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PA0WV
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« Reply #242 on: August 28, 2014, 09:28:21 AM »

I would like to make a general observation about "writing it down" vs. "head copy."

Often I hear the argument, "But I just can't write fast enough to copy at 20wpm or 25wpm with pencil and paper."

So just for the heck of it, I just sat down with a stopwatch and wrote a stock phrase down on a piece of paper, in capital letters. (NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN TO COME TO THE AID OF THE PARTY.)


Oeeaaahh, the ex US military, present here with a bunch of color coded resistors on their breast, even on their pyamas , learned a kind of capitals, drilled to write in one single way. May be  a method for reading encrypted messages of importance, and when over 17 wpm (QRQ hi) they used a mill. You can't write that way real fast.

For writing fast you have to use long hand, easy gliding pen (fountain pen, buy one from Begali for 860 bucks ex fees, because the same easy  writing one from Pelikan for 5 bucks has no status, and hence does not emphasize your important position in society, which you demonstrate  by the possibility to demonstrate that you can easily afford yourself a gold plated instance of a limited and numbered series with the personal signature of the seller, engraved by laser. )

It are the guys, dropped out of high school,  that signed a contract for a fee, and after that had to learn the code or, if failing,  clean for 10 years greasy staircases in Anchorage.   Without that presssure they should never have learned the Code anyway, I estimate. Lucky the pressure was there and heavy enough, because there were no greasy staircases enough in Anchorahe to honor the treatment.

When you write your test sentence, cited above, in capitals or long hand, it contains 524 dits ( a dash is 3 dits a wordspace 7 dits and so on.

A PARIS word is 50 dits,  so the sentence is 524/50 words PARIS standard.

When you write that sentence according to the indication of your stopwatch in t second
then you write 524/(50*t) words per second OR 60*524/(50*t) words per minute.

That is 629/t words per minute.

Martin is right. Try is out and you know your real writing speed.  

PA0WV
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #243 on: August 28, 2014, 10:09:00 AM »

(NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN TO COME TO THE AID OF THE PARTY.)
When you write that sentence according to the indication of your stopwatch in t second
then you write 524/(50*t) words per second OR 60*524/(50*t) words per minute.

That is 629/t words per minute.

I used a cruder measure. I counted the characters in that sentence (including the spaces, as one character) and divided by five, which yielded almost exactly 13 words. I found that I could write that sentence twice in one minute, plus a couple more words, thus yielding 28wpm. (Less accurate than the PARIS standard of course.)

At that point, copying falters

Non-words (especially callsigns, but some punctuation and numbers too) do that to me.

One of the advantages of the Koch method is that, because all of the drills are random nonsense character groups, it doesn't make much difference when you reach numbers or call signs. There are plenty of *dis*-advantages of the Koch method too, principally that you really have to do the whole course before you can copy real QSOs fully.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #244 on: August 28, 2014, 10:34:35 AM »

I tried the test and I stink at writing fast.

About 22-23 wpm and after three minutes my hand cramped so badly I had to stop.

I can type well over 100 wpm and have been doing that for so many years that I very rarely "scribe" anything on paper.  I think I could probably write 25-30 wpm for 30 minutes when I was in high school, but that was a really long time ago. Tongue

When working CW the only notes I take are the other op's name and location, callsign, date and time of contact, and possibly a few brief notes if he sends something interesting.  Might be 30-40 characters of writing, total, and I don't do any of that while it's being sent...I do it when I feel like it.  I don't "directly copy" anything to paper.
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M0LEP
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« Reply #245 on: August 28, 2014, 05:50:39 PM »

why bother with 5wpm? That's almost painful to listen to. I think i have heard 5 wpm once or twice on the air. Some beacons are that slow, but that's about it.

1) The text for faster speeds follows on from the slow text.
2) It's Farnsworth-spaced, I'd guess with about 12 wpm characters.
3) It's a useful warm-up for the faster speeds later in the session...

That is 629/t words per minute.

If I was actually sending the text in Morse then I'd agree with you, but I'm using it only to determine how quickly I can write, so no Morse is involved. I did adjust the way I reported my writing speed for five-character words, but that's all.

There are plenty of *dis*-advantages of the Koch method too, principally that you really have to do the whole course before you can copy real QSOs fully.

The breaker (for me) was the way it seemed to take longer and longer to learn new characters as lessons progressed. I abandoned Koch after more than two years of trying because in that time I'd managed to get only as far as about lesson 16, and extrapolation of my progress curve suggested I might get through the course in a decade, if I was lucky. Silly thing is I'd pretty much figured I had a problem with Koch within the first few months. I should have changed course then...
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #246 on: August 29, 2014, 01:28:27 AM »

There are plenty of *dis*-advantages of the Koch method too, principally that you really have to do the whole course before you can copy real QSOs fully.

The breaker (for me) was the way it seemed to take longer and longer to learn new characters as lessons progressed. I abandoned Koch after more than two years of trying because in that time I'd managed to get only as far as about lesson 16, and extrapolation of my progress curve suggested I might get through the course in a decade, if I was lucky. Silly thing is I'd pretty much figured I had a problem with Koch within the first few months. I should have changed course then...

I hit a brick wall with the Koch method at around the 30th character (out of 40) -- this is documented in the current thread if you go back to the December 2013/January 2014 posts. It was similar to the problem you describe: each new character became harder than the previous one. The frightening part was that not only were the new characters harder, but *old* previously learned characters became harder to copy too, and in an unpredictable manner.

At the time, I decided I'd been going too fast. I was about two months into the Koch course. I actually regressed to a smaller number of characters, slowed down, consolidated what I had learned so far, and eventually pushed forward.

Having said that, it's now more than six months later and I've still got six characters remaining to learn. They don't get any easier! With the default character-learning order in G4FON software, you get this barrage of numerals right at the end of the course. I find the numerals quite hard because it's awfully difficult to avoid "counting the dits and dahs" and if you fall into that trap, you'll miss the following few characters.

However, I am having quite a lot of fun monitoring QSOs on the air now. If you're only missing six characters, you can monitor large parts of the contacts, as long as you train yourself not to worry about the still-unlearned characters (some of them are obvious; I haven't learned "X" yet, but "CQ DX" is obvious even if you haven't learned the letter yet). For that matter, even the letter "D" is as-yet not "learned" but I assimilated that one ages ago because of the "DE" that's in almost every contact. In fact, looking at the only characters I haven't "learned" yet (7, D, 1, C, 6, X) I basically "know" them already, they just need a bit of drilling.

I do find that I am very bad at monitoring ops whose fist is "interesting"! Relatively few ops sound like the mechanical sending that comes out of software programs. I manage OK with mildly irregular sending, except for the ops who really run the characters together. (I am also handicapped by having learned with Farnsworth spacing; my software is still set to 20wpm character speed with 17wpm spacing.)

BTW I am totally hopeless at monitoring slow sending (anything below about 12wpm). To my ear it just doesn't sound like Morse at all, but I'll have to get used to it. Heck, when I get on the air next month I may want to start really slowly myself!

When I am finally "finished" with Koch (sometime next month I hope) I will post a summary of my thoughts about his method. It will be great fun to use, finally, the Koch-learned Morse skills on the air; and to start learning how to operate CW which of course is a whole skill unto itself.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 01:49:42 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
M0LEP
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« Reply #247 on: August 29, 2014, 02:27:16 AM »

I hit a brick wall with the Koch method at around the 30th character (out of 40) -- this is documented in the current thread if you go back to the December 2013/January 2014 posts.

Yes, I remember thinking at the time that you'd got at least three times further through before you hit that...

The frightening part was that not only were the new characters harder, but *old* previously learned characters became harder to copy too, and in an unpredictable manner.

Yes, at times it was like all the characters were new. Eventually I decided that, if I was going to have to learn N new characters every time I might as well dump the Koch progression and learn them all in one go.

BTW I am totally hopeless at monitoring slow sending (anything below about 12wpm). To my ear it just doesn't sound like Morse at all, but I'll have to get used to it. Heck, when I get on the air next month I may want to start really slowly myself!

Most of the "slow" code I hear is actually Farnsworth-spaced, and doesn't give me any trouble so long as it doesn't go on for too long...

73, Rick M0LEP
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W2RI
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« Reply #248 on: August 29, 2014, 08:38:36 AM »

For writing fast you have to use long hand, easy gliding pen (fountain pen, buy one from Begali for 860 bucks ex fees, because the same easy  writing one from Pelikan for 5 bucks has no status, and hence does not emphasize your important position in society, which you demonstrate  by the possibility to demonstrate that you can easily afford yourself a gold plated instance of a limited and numbered series with the personal signature of the seller, engraved by laser. )

Thanks - gave me a good laugh this morning  Wink
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K8AXW
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« Reply #249 on: August 29, 2014, 09:02:07 AM »

WV isn't familiar with the British intercept operators!  They never used a mill and all of their copy was box letters/numbers at speeds up to 35wpm with a pencil and they did it all day!


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A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!
KB1WSY
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« Reply #250 on: August 29, 2014, 10:41:22 AM »

... the British intercept operators!  They never used a mill and all of their copy was box letters/numbers at speeds up to 35wpm with a pencil and they did it all day!

Great point. Also, the majority of these women (most of them were women IIRC) probably never touched a transmitter in their lives. This is evidence against the idea that to copy code well, you have to "operate."

Furthermore everything they copied was "nonsense" five-letter groups, and they were seldom told whether what they were copying was being successfully decoded or how important it was.

I think the Bletchley Park Museum people sometimes organize re-creations of this. I wonder whether they actually transmitted Enigma code groups on the air as part of this?

Bletchley Park website: http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 10:52:21 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
PA0WV
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« Reply #251 on: August 29, 2014, 11:02:23 AM »

Good point WSY,

As a matter of fact those intercept operators were keeping busy 24/7 with Morse code produced by UA  random code generators. Were lot of vacuum tubes involved at that time . That's for sure.  It were the first vacuum tube maximum length 32 bits shift register sequences.

However doesn't matter, the US copiers in 24/7 shift are honored with a bunch of color coded resistors on their breast, so everybody is lucky, the machine generated code fakers and the receivers,

People are better off when they respect each other and live in peace, Seems to be impossible, we as human beings are evolutionary  to close related to colonies of apes.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 11:06:47 AM by PA0WV » Logged

M0LEP
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« Reply #252 on: August 29, 2014, 01:28:24 PM »

One of the regulars at one of the radio clubs I attend spent his National Service (back in the 50s) taking down Chinese Morse code groups. He's one of those folk who can be taking down Morse while having a chat about something completely different...
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #253 on: August 29, 2014, 01:37:29 PM »

So, back to the thread subject: my monomaniacal quest for Morse Code proficiency.

Today I turned off Farnsworth spacing. So my setting is: 20wpm, transmitted with no extra spacing.

I also added a new character, which is the numeral "7." There are now only five characters left to learn, after that one: D, 1, C, 6, and X (and I already pretty much "know" D, 1 and C, because they are so common in the U.S. CQ transmissions I've been monitoring on the air).

Initially, the non-Farnsworth drills just sounded like a blizzard in the ears, but within minutes I was copying a fair amount. A few months ago I tried doing the same thing, but quickly retreated back to the Farnsworth safety blanket. This time I will try to stick with "normal" spacing. Let's see if it lasts.

(I am also altering my sending to eliminate the extra spacing.)

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 01:40:32 PM by KB1WSY » Logged
WB2WIK
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« Reply #254 on: August 29, 2014, 07:09:49 PM »

When the code was first invented, the "international code" which is slightly different from Morse but quite similar, was often learned in toto by would-be telegraphers standing in line for jobs.  They'd get in line at 6 AM, and the "test" would be at 8 AM, and in that two hours, they learned it enough to get a job, which was an "office job" better than bailing hay or shoveling manure.

I have no clue why folks today, 150 years later, have such a problem with it. Cheesy

Seriously.  It's not a science, it's a simple language that only has about 45 words.  I never learned Chinese or Swahili, but I think if I moved where those are spoken, I'd learn 45 words in a few days.  Either that, or maybe starve if I couldn't order food. Tongue
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