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Author Topic: My Morse Learning Campaign  (Read 137993 times)
KB1WSY
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2013, 04:15:05 AM »

So here are the 19 characters learned so far: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y.

Accuracy on last copy test with 19 characters: 90 percent.

Today I am adding the 20th character which is V or di-di-di-dah.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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WX1YZ
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« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2013, 06:12:48 AM »

Martin,

Your posts have inspired me to start learning Morse Code.  I'm using the Just Learn Morse Code program and following the suggested sequence on the Ham Whisperer's web site. http://www.hamwhisperer.com/p/morse-code-course.html

So far I've learned E,T,I,5,M,A,N,0.  Hope to add S,O,R and 1 in the next two days.

How long of a run do you use when testing yourself? 

All the best,
Tom WX1YZ
« Last Edit: December 06, 2013, 06:33:00 AM by WX1YZ » Logged

Tom, WX1YZ
wx1yz@arrl.net
KB1WSY
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2013, 06:57:04 AM »

How long of a run do you use when testing yourself? 

Five minutes, which is 360 to 380 characters usually. It's actually quite a long time, especially when you consider that you are copying nonsense strings of characters, not real "words." I'm doing this approximately 8 times a day. I do it on the hour, every hour. (This is possible only because I'm self-employed and work from home!)

I have it set for 20wpm character speed, but 15wpm overall speed (i.e. a variant of "Farnsworth" spacing). In effect, this increases the silence between the characters, making them easier to copy. For the moment I find it almost impossible to copy if it is set to 20/20, but I realize that I need to abandon Farnsworth eventually.

Mostly I have good days, sometimes not so good. Yesterday was painful, with lots of dropped characters ... the hard bit is "pushing through" even when you get discouraged on a "bad day."

As for *sending* I only do that two or three times per day, but have recently become aware that my sending needs a lot of work (see the "CW Spacing" thread). That's another area where habituation to "Farnsworth spacing" is a bad idea, IMO.

Last night I spent about half an hour monitoring CW on 40m and actually managed to copy bits and pieces of QSOs, which was fun! This morning, I spent a few minutes copying the W1AW code-practice broadcast. In both cases though, it is quite frustrating because I've only learned 20 characters so far....

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KB1WSY
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2013, 04:30:05 AM »

The 20 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V.

Accuracy on last copy test with 20 characters: 91 percent.

Today I am adding the 20th character which is the COMMA or dah-dah-di-di-dah-dah.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2013, 05:50:54 AM »

Too late to edit my post: the comma is actually the 21st character of course.
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2013, 04:20:58 AM »

The 21 characters learned so far are: K, M, R, S, U, A, P, T, L, O, W, I, ., N, J, E, F, 0, Y, V, ,.

Accuracy on last copy test with 21 characters: 92 percent.

Today I am adding the 22th character which is G or dah-dah-dit.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #21 on: December 09, 2013, 06:08:54 AM »

The 22 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.

Accuracy on last copy test with 22 characters: 89 percent -- not too good, but I'm forging ahead anyway.

Today I am adding the 23rd character which is 5 or di-di-di-di-dit.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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N4KD
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« Reply #22 on: December 09, 2013, 10:16:54 AM »


Today I am adding the 23rd character which is 5 or di-di-di-di-dit.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY

Here's something to think about when you start sending practice and it was '5' that reminded me. When I started using a keyer, doing "dit-ladders" really helped with control. Do E, I, S, H, 5, H, S, I, E a few times to make sure you can control the spacing.

- Dave N4KD
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W0BTU
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« Reply #23 on: December 09, 2013, 11:01:10 AM »

Your posts have inspired me to start learning Morse Code.

Anyone wanting to either learn or improve would do well to download The Art & Skill of Radio Telegraphy. It also contains powerful incentives to learning it. It's a masterpiece. I printed and bound all 60+ pages, but you don't really need to read much of it to benefit.

It used to be at http://www.qsl.net/n9bor/n0hff.htm but I see that's now broken. There are other places it can be downloaded.

Whatever you do, DON'T learn it by memorizing the printed dots and dashes, or you'll have to re-learn it all over again in order to actually use it. Learn the SOUNDS.
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #24 on: December 09, 2013, 11:37:04 AM »

Here's something to think about when you start sending practice and it was '5' that reminded me. When I started using a keyer, doing "dit-ladders" really helped with control. Do E, I, S, H, 5, H, S, I, E a few times to make sure you can control the spacing.

Great idea, thanks, I'll do that.

Anyone wanting to either learn or improve would do well to download The Art & Skill of Radio Telegraphy.

I've heard of that book. Must get hold of a copy.

There's also Morse Code: Breaking the Barrier by David Finley, N1IRZ, which I found to be a good introduction to CW and to the Koch method.

Whatever you do, DON'T learn it by memorizing the printed dots and dashes, or you'll have to re-learn it all over again in order to actually use it. Learn the SOUNDS.

Thanks, that's what I'm being very careful about. At the moment I'm using a 20wpm character speed, partly in order to make sure that I respond only to the sounds (at 20wpm, there isn't enough time to do anything else!).
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N2EY
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« Reply #25 on: December 09, 2013, 12:07:29 PM »

In case anybody hasn't seen this:

---

One of the most common questions I encounter from hams nowadays is “how do you learn Morse Code?” It's clear that they need more than a simple answer such as “Practice, practice, practice!”

Dr. George Sheehan frequently said that "Each of us is an experiment of one". He meant that while there are general rules to learning new things, each of us has to experiment to find out what works best for him or her. For most things, there is no single "best" way for everyone.

That said, here are 12 tips to learning Morse Code:

1) It used to be that there were two main reasons for radio amateurs to learn Morse Code. The first was to actually use it on the air, while the second was to pass the license tests. The second reason has disappeared in the USA and several other countries.

So it's important to understand what your goal really is: to become a Radio Operator who is skilled in Morse Code. That means learning a set of skills, not just the one or two skills needed to pass a one-time test.

That skillset cannot be learned by reading a book, watching a video, using other modes to talk about them on the air, or participating in online forums. While those things help, they are not the core. The needed skillset can only be learned by doing, and it takes time, practice, and an active involvement on your part.

2) Set up a place to study Morse Code. This doesn't mean it's the only place you study code, just that it's optimized for learning it. A good solid desk or table with no distractions, lots of room to write, good lighting, and a good chair. Source(s) of code (computer, HF receiver, tapes, CDs, etc.), key and oscillator. Headphones are a good idea. I recommend starting out with a straight key, you may decide to go straight to paddles and a keyer. Regardless of what key you decide to use, it needs a good solid base and needs to be adjusted properly.

3) Avoid gimmicks such as CodeQuick and printed charts with dots and dashes on them. Often such systems were designed to help a person learn just enough code to pass the 5 wpm test, but resulted in bad habits that had to be unlearned for practical operating. Morse Code as used on radio is sounds, not printing on a chart or little phrases.

Learning to receive consists of nothing more than learning to associate a certain sound pattern with a certain letter or number. There are only about 41 of them to learn. If you could learn to recognize 41 words in a foreign language, you can almost certainly learn Morse Code.

4) Set aside at least a half-hour EVERY DAY for code practice. Can be a couple of ten- or fifteen minute sessions, but they should add up to at least a half hour every day. That means every single day, not just weekends, holidays, etc. If you can do more than a half-hour some days, great! Do it! But more on one day does not give you an excuse for the next day.

Yes, you may miss a day here and there, because life happens. The trick is to keep such missed days to the absolute minimum.

5) If you can enlist a buddy to learn the code with, or find a class, do it! But do NOT use the class or the buddy as an excuse to miss practice or slow down your learning. The buddy and/or class are a supplement to your study, not the center of it.

6) Download and read "The Art And Skill of Radiotelegraphy". It's free and available from several websites. “Zen and the Art of Radiotelegraphy” is also good. Search out other code-oriented websites, articles, etc. and read what they have to say. But always remember they're not a substitute for practice.

7) Practice both sending and receiving each and every day. Most of your practice time should be spent receiving, but the two help each other. Practice receiving by writing it down and by copying "in your head". I find a pencil and block printing works best for me.

Cool A combination of the Koch method and Farnsworth spacing is probably optimum for most people. Read up on them, understand and use them – but remember they are tools, not magic. They can make learning the code easier but they will not make it automatic.

9) Discontinue ANYTHING that impairs your ability to concentrate, focus, and learn new stuff. Only doctor-prescribed medications are exempt from this rule; beer is not exempt. Eat right, get enough sleep and enough physical exercise.

10) Put away your microphones, stay off the voice radios - all of them. Besides the automated Morse Code generators, listen to hams actually using code on the air. Copy down what they send. Have Morse Code playing in the background while you do other things (but don’t count that as practice time). Learn how hams actually use code. When you get to the point where you can send and receive code, even slowly, get on the air and start making QSOs. Get involved in CW contesting, rag chewing, DX chasing, etc. Remember that you are learning Morse Code to be a Radio Operator, not just to pass a test.

11) If your HF rig doesn't have a sharp filter (400-500 Hz), get one and install it. Read the manual about how to use the rig on CW, often the default settings are optimized for SSB. Best operation usually requires turning off the AGC, turning the RF gain down and the AF gain up. The S-meter and AGC won't work under those conditions but that's no big loss; they’re not essentials.

12) Keep at it. There may be times when it seems as if you are making no progress, and times when you make rapid progress. What matters is that you keep practicing every day. Nobody was born knowing the skills you're trying to learn.

---

A bit of work? Sure it is, but well worth it, because all those steps make learning the code easier. And the work is trivial compared to what you can do with the skills once they're learned.

But a person has to be willing to do what's required. And they have to actually do those things.

73 es GL de Jim, N2EY

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W0BTU
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« Reply #26 on: December 09, 2013, 12:30:15 PM »

That's very good advice, Jim!

CW is a lot of fun. I have not kept up my skills over the years, but I had a blast in the ARRL 160 contest last weekend, and we're looking forward to two more 160 CW contests this winter. CW contests are a lot more fun. If I ever enter an SSB contest again, it'll probably be on VHF,

I forgot all about Dr. Sheehan. When I took up running 30 years ago, I read some of his stuff. I think they called him "the runner's philosopher" or something similar.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2013, 12:32:25 PM by W0BTU » Logged

KB1WSY
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« Reply #27 on: December 09, 2013, 01:52:26 PM »

A bit of work? Sure it is, but well worth it, because all those steps make learning the code easier. And the work is trivial compared to what you can do with the skills once they're learned.

But a person has to be willing to do what's required. And they have to actually do those things.

73 es GL de Jim, N2EY


Thanks Jim. I had seen your list before but it's good to have it again. I've just ordered a proper bound copy of "The Art and Skill."

Things are still going well but I do feel it may be time to turn off the Farnsworth spacing. The trouble is, it gives you a split second to write down the character ... but that's not how people send on their air! In other words I think I need to learn to copy slightly "behind" i.e. writing one letter while listening to the beginning of the next. I'm thinking of switching from 20/15 to 15/15.

Another gratifying thing is being able to make more sense of the QSOs I'm hearing on air.
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #28 on: December 10, 2013, 04:52:24 AM »

Yesterday was messy. I experimented with "normal" spacing i.e. instead of Farnsworth 20/15, I used a straight 15/15. This made it much harder to copy the code. I struggled through it anyway, but decided to go back to Farnsworth today. Whatever happens, I don't want to do anything to disturb the now 12-day-old Campaign. I will have to do something about weaning myself from Donald R. Farnsworth sooner or later, though.

The 23 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.

Accuracy on last copy test with 23 characters: below 80 percent -- because of the experiment with "normal" (non-Farnsworth) spacing. So despite the terrible score, I am forging ahead with a new character anyway.

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

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #29 on: December 10, 2013, 05:53:02 AM »

Yeah! I am copying intelligible QSOs. Here's this morning's candidate, N4PGJ (with repetitions redacted, and unknown characters turned into dashes). It was this morning on 40m. I don't know the exact frequency but judging "by ear" it was around 7040 (my homebrew set doesn't have a calibrated dial!). Looking him up on QRZ it seems he hangs out around 7050, so that was probably the frequency.

The dots represent a portion that I couldn't copy. There was heavy QSB and QRM. Code was somewhere around 12wpm and sounded like a straight key.

CQ DE N4PGJ.

.... NAME IS RON ... QTH IS STONY BROOK, NY ... RST 57 ... --- INCHES SNOW ... ON UR STATION ...

I tried to catch RIG details but other than the words OLD, RUNNING and HR repeated several times, I didn't get it, mainly because there were lots of numbers and I've only learned two of those (0 and 5). Perhaps he's running the Heathkit HR series.... for the other numbers, I have to figure out the dots/dashes in my head (not a good idea).

That's it, but it's still exciting!!!! (With apologies to N4PGJ for using him as a guinea pig.)

I caught a couple of abbreviations that I don't know, can anyone enlighten me: YYS and EN, used frequently during the QSO? They are not on my list here.

I did not catch the call of the other station and could not hear it at all.

« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 05:57:07 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
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