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Author Topic: My Morse Learning Campaign  (Read 129252 times)
KH2G
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Posts: 329




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« Reply #45 on: December 14, 2013, 07:03:39 PM »

The faster CW seems easier to copy because your starting to get words vice letters and that is as it should be!
Regards and keep pounding
Dick KH2G
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 812




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« Reply #46 on: December 15, 2013, 05:07:21 AM »

The 28 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, 9, Z, H.

Accuracy on the best copy test yesterday with 28 characters: 91 percent.

Today I am adding the 29th character which is 3 or di-di-di-dah-dah.
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2E0OZI
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Posts: 270




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« Reply #47 on: December 15, 2013, 05:18:28 PM »

G'day Martin,

its great to hear of your progress and I think you are pretty close to being able to aim for a first contact  - despite not knowing everything perfectly. I reckon it's only a week or two away. Here's why....

When I had learned the letters and numbers on the Morse Machine programme I happened to attend a meeting of my club, where a talk on morse was given by a local "morse guru" who's callsign has slipped my mind for a moment. It was about 30 minutes long and at the end of it I was inspired to "push on". At the end we chatted and he said "What are you waiting for? If it goes wrong whats the worst that could happen?" I went home that night and made my first contact with HA2PP and was over the moon!!
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Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
George Orwell
2E0OZI
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« Reply #48 on: December 15, 2013, 05:23:23 PM »

Here is what I wrote more than a year ago -

I went to a presentation on CW by M0BLO in March and he dealt with anxiety quite a bit - which helped me a lot. His tips were;

1. Use previous QSOs (assuming replying to a CQ) to get the information you need, such as name, QTH. This might be called cheating but also might be called "listening"  Wink Then you can concentrate on getting the other OPs call, RST and one other piece of info. Still copy the other stuff, but you know what to expect so you can relax a little.

2. Dont be afraid to keep it really simple even if the other guy want a long chat. At this stage I can handle a simple QSO but not a rag chew. Thats OK.

3. Get on the air - its a hobby nobody will have a cow if you make a mistake.

4. Be fully prepared at the op position - do not (like I did) be scrabbling around for scraps of paper looking for a pen that works!!

5. Get comfy.
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Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
George Orwell
KB1WSY
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Posts: 812




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« Reply #49 on: December 16, 2013, 11:32:10 AM »

I went home that night and made my first contact with HA2PP and was over the moon!!

Here is what I wrote more than a year ago -

I went to a presentation on CW by M0BLO in March and he dealt with anxiety quite a bit - which helped me a lot. His tips were;

1. Use previous QSOs (assuming replying to a CQ) to get the information you need, such as name, QTH. This might be called cheating but also might be called "listening"  Wink Then you can concentrate on getting the other OPs call, RST and one other piece of info. Still copy the other stuff, but you know what to expect so you can relax a little.

2. Dont be afraid to keep it really simple even if the other guy want a long chat. At this stage I can handle a simple QSO but not a rag chew. Thats OK.

3. Get on the air - its a hobby nobody will have a cow if you make a mistake.

4. Be fully prepared at the op position - do not (like I did) be scrabbling around for scraps of paper looking for a pen that works!!

5. Get comfy.


Thanks for all the encouragement and advice. Wish I could get on the air very soon, but haven't built the transmitter yet ... or put up a better antenna. It won't be long, though. (The TX will be a 2-tube, 5-watt MOPA so I want to get a decent dipole up into the trees.)

Today's news is messy. We had a snowstorm over the weekend that took out our power for 8 hours yesterday. I monitored lots of QSOs on my (battery-powered) homebrew receiver but the computer was dead so couldn't do any formal "Koch practice." The power outage was combined with a much longer Internet outage, which had a knock-on effect on my "work life" so I've had to hold off on doing any Morse today. Will be getting back to it tomorrow at the latest though. Sometimes, Life Happens.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
« Last Edit: December 16, 2013, 11:34:50 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
KB1WSY
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Posts: 812




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« Reply #50 on: December 18, 2013, 12:55:30 PM »

I was on the road for the past couple of days. I'm very low-tech when I travel (no laptop, no smartphone) because I like to get away from those things. So I carried a small MP3 player with some old Koch training drills (23 characters) and did quite a lot of that while spending nearly 8 hours on trains. Accuracy on that reduced 23-character set: 94 percent. Tomorrow I will go back to the 29-character level and start adding new characters day by day.

Meanwhile the "Art and Skill" book arrived, so there's some new bedtime reading:



73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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2E0OZI
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« Reply #51 on: December 19, 2013, 07:21:48 AM »

One thing to watch out for Martin is the idea that you have to be able to copy and send 20wpm perfectly every time before you even think of getting on the air. Thats not true at all - it's a hobby, you are not in the forces or back in the 1950s as an radioman on a ship, so you do it for enjoyment. As soon as you have the roughly 40 characters you need (and a transmitter) get on the air. The first qsos will be rubber stamp types; call, RST, name, QTH usually at most. And that is OK, its a start.
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Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
George Orwell
KB1WSY
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« Reply #52 on: December 19, 2013, 12:19:03 PM »

One thing to watch out for Martin is the idea that you have to be able to copy and send 20wpm perfectly every time before you even think of getting on the air. Thats not true at all - it's a hobby, you are not in the forces or back in the 1950s as an radioman on a ship, so you do it for enjoyment. As soon as you have the roughly 40 characters you need (and a transmitter) get on the air. The first qsos will be rubber stamp types; call, RST, name, QTH usually at most. And that is OK, its a start.

That's the goal. And actually my target speed is not 20wpm but 15wpm (I'm using 20wpm character speed but with the Farnsworth spacing it's actually 15wpm). When I "downshift" to 15/15 it actually gets a lot harder to copy because I don't have the extra space between the words, but I need to get used to that.

Today I've been stuck at the 29-character level. Have done a lot of drills, probably too many, since it's not getting any better and accuracy is actually dropping. Will give it a breather and things should go better tomorrow I hope.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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W7ASA
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Posts: 267




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« Reply #53 on: December 19, 2013, 01:38:39 PM »

Go Get'em Martin!

I am so glad that you are pursuing the Morse code.  Let me present two points here:

1.   Your power outage which caused you to have "no computer" proved a good point; that radio in it's basic form, works independent of commercial infrastructure.  If you had ability to power a rig - such as a QRP rig on batteries, it would not have mattered one bit that all other power was out.  In fact, you likely would have had EXCELLENT reception because there would be no local electrical noise!

There was a green beret years ago who wrote something like this about one particular mission he was on:

'We had all the latest equipment, including this little electronic
tablet that connected to our HF radio. It could do anything:
send maps, diagrams, text and do it in a short encrypted burst. 
Yes, it could do anything - except work, proving the old point
that 'Sooner or later, you find yourself on the side of a
mountain, with a pad of paper and the stub of a pencil, pounding
it out in Morse code.
We reached our base with no trouble using Morse.'

2.   As others have stated, get on the air as soon as possible.  This means to get on the air BEFORE you think that you are ready. Like the old Nike commercials said:  Just Do It. Tapping good, accurate code slowly with another ham is the best way to take what you've learned and to turn it into a working language for you. The best approach (though not always possible) is to have a daily, 30 minute sked with another ham, so that you become accustomed to communicating in the Morse code, the operating techniques and methods and also the abbreviations. You need to not only be able to read the letters & numbers, but you need to get in tune with how we actually communicate efficiently in CW.

Example:

RR MARTIN, UR SIG GUD HR IN QTH REEDVILLE, VA. ES GL GN BT AR KB1WSY DE W7ASA SK  E  E

Translation:  I received all that you sent. Martin. Your signal is good here in my location of Reedville, Virginia and good luck, good night /break/ ENDING THIS CONTACT   KB1WSY THIS IS W7ASA  SIGNING-OFF  DIT-DIT  (like 'see you later')

Yes, we are using a cipher system (International Morse) to send code (Q-signals) with heavy abbreviations, especially at lower speed, to increase actual throughput.

Remember: It's FUN! and the fellow on the other end of the radio link is likely also having fun.

Good, clean Morse is the goal.  Speed occurs with practice/familiarity, but fast, sloppy, inaccurate code is worthless.


de Ray
W7ASA  ..._  ._


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KB1WSY
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Posts: 812




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« Reply #54 on: December 19, 2013, 02:13:02 PM »

....Your power outage which caused you to have "no computer" proved a good point; that radio in it's basic form, works independent of commercial infrastructure.  If you had ability to power a rig - such as a QRP rig on batteries, it would not have mattered one bit that all other power was out.  In fact, you likely would have had EXCELLENT reception because there would be no local electrical noise!

As I said, despite the power outage, I was able to monitor the bands on my homebrew receiver and copy bits and pieces of QSOs. Indeed, the background was unusually quiet: normally there is a certain amount of a/c hum from the house and noise from various other a/c devices but on Sunday it was pristine!

I am expecting to get on the air "soon" but that is an elastic concept. I was licensed nearly two years ago but was immediately hit with an avalanche of "real life" work so it's been a challenge. All the more so because I insist on homebrewing all the equipment.... but I will get there soon, I know it!
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W7ASA
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Posts: 267




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« Reply #55 on: December 19, 2013, 08:35:00 PM »

Ooops!  Poor wordsmithing on my part:  "If you had ability to power a rig ..." was meant to say ' BECAUSE you had ability to power a rig...'

I look forward to meeting you on the air sometime.


73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._  ._ 
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 812




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« Reply #56 on: December 20, 2013, 06:18:16 AM »

The 29 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, 9, Z, H, 3.

Accuracy on the best copy test with 29 characters: 90 percent.

Today I am adding the 30th character which is 8 or dah-dah-dah-di-dit.
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W6QW
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Posts: 21




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« Reply #57 on: December 20, 2013, 08:51:33 AM »

Learning code by listening can be frustrating at times.  An alternative that may be beneficial is to open up a book and practice sending the characters from the text.  It will certainly help your brain learn the characters and speed up the translation.  As your memorization progresses, you will find that you are sending at an increasing faster rate. Enjoy...
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #58 on: December 21, 2013, 06:29:17 AM »

The 30 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,, G, 5, /, Q, 9, Z, H, 3, 8.

Accuracy on the best copy test with 30 characters: 87 percent. Not great, but I'm forging on anyway.

Today I am adding the 31st character which is B or dah-di-di-dit.

Settings in G4FON Koch-method software:
--20wpm Actual Character Speed; combined with
--15wpm Effective Code Speed ("Farnsworth spacing").
(This corrects what I said in an earlier post, where I had those numbers the wrong way round!)

Other experience: I monitored quite a lot of CW on 40m, yesterday and early today. I am now catching entire "common short words" such as "THE, IS, HIS, FOR, FROM, THIS, WELL, RIG, SNOW, WORK, TOWN, INCHES, MORE, TREE, HOUSE, STILL, ALL, HAVE, HAM, LUNCH, WOOD"; Q-codes "QTH, QSO, QRM"; abbreviations "NW, HR, ES, ANT, HI"; and longer words/phrases sometimes: "RETIRED, TICKET, IN THE 70s, WASHINGTON STATE, YESTERDAY, TOMS RIVER, LOWELL...." Making this list has actually cheered me up, because these words were scattered through dozens of QSOs that I copied, all of which were fragmentary but if you look at the list of words, it's evidence of real progress!!!!

Some of the copied CW was quite fast (around 15-20wpm) and some of it slow (below 10wpm). There doesn't seem to be a strong connection between speed and readability, for me anyway, as long as I stick to CW that's 20wpm or lower. Ironically, some of my best copying was done through heavy QRM and QSB on my primitive 3-transistor homebrew regenerative receiver. I find it easier to copy good code/bad signal than bad code/good signal. I came across one signal that had so much ripple, it sounded like a Hammond organ with full tremolo!

Learning code by listening can be frustrating at times.  An alternative that may be beneficial is to open up a book and practice sending the characters from the text.  It will certainly help your brain learn the characters and speed up the translation.  As your memorization progresses, you will find that you are sending at an increasing faster rate. Enjoy...

You're right about the frustration! When that happens I just try to "push through it" -- like right now, where I am finding that my accuracy rate (and the number of dropped characters) is worsening.

Thank you for your suggestion, but it has in common with quite a few others the fact that it is premature for anybody who has chosen the "Koch method" and hasn't completed it yet. Unlike the methods of yesteryear, Koch doesn't teach the entire character set at the beginning. If you look at the list of characters I have learned (see above) you will see that I haven't even learned all the letters of the alphabet yet.... This makes it impossible, or at least very hard, to use any drills that employ the entire character set. That includes sending "real" text, or monitoring the W1AW drills, or copying canned "standard QSOs" or conducting real QSOs .... and so on. Fortunately I am only about two weeks away from having the full 40-character set, festive season permitting.

For anyone reading this who hasn't started learning Morse yet: There is a fundamental choice to make, right at the beginning. Either you learn the entire character set at the beginning of the process, and then build your skills from there (speed and recognition). Or, you jump in at a relatively high speed (usually recommended to be at least 12wpm) and use the Koch method, which teaches one character at a time, in process that will take (for most adults studying one hour per day) about four weeks to six weeks minimum. The problem with this approach is that it is, on the face of it, very boring, because you are dealing entirely with random letter groups that "make no sense." However, there is a constant feeling of "making progress" coupled with the knowledge that you will be able to copy relatively fast code. The biggest drawback is finding that six-week window! I think this is my third attempt at learning using the Koch method, and this time I know I will finish it.

Concerning sending: some time in the next few days I am planning to rewire my setup to make it possible for the computerized drills to play back in my left ear, and my code oscillator to play back in my right ear. I will then try to key exactly like the drill, from the same text. This is a suggestion I found in "The Art and Skill of Radiotelegraphy." At the moment, my own sending sounds pretty awful, at least to my ear!
« Last Edit: December 21, 2013, 06:40:35 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
KB1WSY
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Posts: 812




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« Reply #59 on: December 21, 2013, 09:03:11 AM »

Quick question: I make far more mistakes in the first five to ten "words" of my copying drills (specifically, dropped characters). Eventually, my mind "settles down" and it gets much better.

Any suggestions for reducing that problem?

I wish that all the drills began with "VVV VVV VVV" or something like that, in order to get attuned to the pace!
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