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Author Topic: My Morse Learning Campaign  (Read 137348 times)
KK4MRN
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Posts: 97




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« Reply #30 on: December 10, 2013, 11:11:27 AM »

I'm glad you finally made a contact.  It takes me 1 to 3 days to learn an element.  I won't make it to the ARRL Rookie Rounup CW this month on the 22nd, but i will try for the ARRL Straight Key Night at New Years.  I'm eager to make a contact, but i do not know enough elements yet. I only know 18 of 43 using the Koch method.
I think i should start practicing sending; maybe that will help speed things along.
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #31 on: December 10, 2013, 11:49:15 AM »

I'm glad you finally made a contact.

Thank you for the kind words, but note that I didn't actually conduct a QSO -- I simply monitored someone else's! (No point trying to conduct a QSO unless I've learned nearly all the characters, huh?)
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #32 on: December 11, 2013, 02:43:21 AM »

The 24 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 copy tests yesterday with 24 characters: terrible. I haven't bothered to calculate it, but it wasn't higher than 80 percent. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I've decided to just "push on" and assume that the difficulty is temporary.

I did spend some time yesterday monitoring a QST from ARRL on 7.0475 which seemed to pertain to solar conditions. I caught a number of words including "NOAA," "JANUARY," "MONTH," "LATEST," SMOOTH," "ARRL," "W1AW" and "MAKE A COMMENT." According to the ARRL schedule the bulletin was sent at 18wpm. It looks like the bulletin must have been this one: http://www.arrl.org/w1aw-bulletins-archive/ARLP050/2013. I have a long way to go before I can copy all of that!!!

I also messed around with increasing the "efficiency" of my handwriting techniques, but found out that I was already at almost maximum efficiency: my strokes for drawing the letters already match the ones suggested by the U.S. Signal Corps chart published in ARRL's "Learning the Radiotelegraph Code." In a "former life" I was a reporter for a major news agency and therefore already learned how to take notes very fast! My problem isn't "writing too slowly," it is, rather, "recognizing too slowly." Seems the only remedy is practice, more practice!

Today I am adding the 25th character which is that famous letter Q or dah-dah-di-dah.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
« Last Edit: December 11, 2013, 03:04:40 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
M0LEP
Member

Posts: 220




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« Reply #33 on: December 11, 2013, 03:15:23 AM »

You mentioned early on that you were spending five minutes each hour with Koch lessons. Do you know roughly how many Morse characters you end up hearing in a day's worth of Koch lessons?

One possible problem might be that as you get further through the Koch course you end up hearing he new character less and less, because each one is a smaller part of a growing set.
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #34 on: December 11, 2013, 03:28:07 AM »

You mentioned early on that you were spending five minutes each hour with Koch lessons. Do you know roughly how many Morse characters you end up hearing in a day's worth of Koch lessons?

About 340 in each 5 minutes, and about 10 sessions per day, so that's 3,400 characters per day.

One possible problem might be that as you get further through the Koch course you end up hearing he new character less and less, because each one is a smaller part of a growing set.

I don't think that's it. The problem is happening with characters that I learned some time ago and therefore should be easy. For instance, I am confusing W with G, and having a lot of trouble with F, even though those characters were a piece of cake when I first learned them!

My best guess is that I am just more tired and preoccupied than I was a week ago. I am experiencing immense variations in my Morse skills during the day. When it goes well, it goes really well. When it goes badly, it's the pits. This, even though I am following N2EY's advice about having a calm setting, staying off the beer, und so weiter.

I also find that if I try to do several 5-minute sessions close together, they get progressively worse. It works much better if I do 5 minutes, wait for an hour, then do another 5 minutes....

What I have noticed is that I do best when I fall into a "Zen-like" state where I'm not really "thinking" at all: the letters are just coming straight out of my pencil without any conscious thought. That's harder than it sounds, and I only achieve it maybe 25 percent of the time!

Note that all of this is happening during one of my typical "work days" (I work from home) so I am sure that work tensions must be trickling into the CW learning, even though I find that the Morse breaks are welcome, and fun!


« Last Edit: December 11, 2013, 03:30:31 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
K7MEM
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Posts: 108


WWW

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« Reply #35 on: December 11, 2013, 03:38:45 AM »

I'm glad your getting a feel for on-the-air CW. With noise and fading it can sometimes be a tough task to copy everything.

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).

Well this does highlight the need for more practice. If you looked up N4PGJ  in QRZ you would see that the QTH is "Stoney Point" not "Stoney Brook". If you look him up on a map you see that he lives just south of Yasgurs farm (Woodstock). I wonder if he dealt with the traffic going there and back. It was a long time back, but I may have stopped there for gas.

Yes, sometimes the rig report is difficult, depending on the rig. I do use a Heathkit HR-1680/HX-1681. I usually just say "Heathkit' and and hope that they don't ask me which one. It's much easier when I can say "HW-8" or "home brew".

But this also points out things like "expectations". When you heard "Stoney" coming through you might have immediately associated it with "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" and lost concentration. You can anticipate a little bit, but you still have to listen. When the anticipated word doesn't correspond to what your listening to, an alarm should go off. Then you listen closer because the QTH is usually sent twice. The second time usually clarifies it.

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

I don't think he will mind. You get use to the fact that there may be listeners from all over the world listening in on your QSO.

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.

They aren't any abbreviations that I recognize. I tried to think of what they might mean, in the context of a standard QSO, but didn't come up with anything. There are lots of CW operators that talk to friends regularly. They do it so much that they start to use abbreviations that are unique to their conversations. When I lived and operated in Germany, there was a friend that talked with his son in Washington State every day via CW. They had a lot of special signals between them.

However, since the QSO sounds fairly standard, my guess is that you initially copied them wrong and then used some anticipation for the other times. Probably the QSB and QRN also had something to do with it.

Well, just keep on listening. It gets easier over time.
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Martin - K7MEM

http://www.k7mem.com
KB1WSY
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #36 on: December 11, 2013, 03:42:00 AM »

Well this does highlight the need for more practice. If you looked up N4PGJ  in QRZ you would see that the QTH is "Stoney Point" not "Stoney Brook".

Actually I did copy POINT -- I made a mistake when transcribing my notes into the eHam post!

Thank you for the encouragement in general!

Copying real QSOs is very motivating, even if I only catch a few works. It reminds me of why I'm doing this!!!!
« Last Edit: December 11, 2013, 03:51:38 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
M0LEP
Member

Posts: 220




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« Reply #37 on: December 11, 2013, 09:18:48 AM »

About 340 in each 5 minutes, and about 10 sessions per day, so that's 3,400 characters per day.

Thanks. That's a lot more than I was ever managing while working on Koch.

For instance, I am confusing W with G, and having a lot of trouble with F, even though those characters were a piece of cake when I first learned them!

I find I often make that sort of error. Sometimes the relationship between the confused characters is obvious. Other times it makes no sense at all...

I also find that if I try to do several 5-minute sessions close together, they get progressively worse.

Yep, my scores often seemed to get worse during a session. I think your short sessions spread through the day are an excellent idea.
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #38 on: December 11, 2013, 10:21:58 AM »

I find I often make that sort of error. Sometimes the relationship between the confused characters is obvious. Other times it makes no sense at all...

So today I started early and have already done six five-minute sessions, one hour apart, with the 25-character set. It started dismally, but the last two sessions have been 89 percent, and then 92 percent, accuracy. So there's no magic to it, it really does seem to be a question of practice, practice, practice.

I've also discovered a weird ritualistic kind of thing. If I raise my left hand to my head and press the left headpiece against my head gently, my recognition rate goes up noticeably. Come to think of it, that's what you see radio operators doing in the old movies, when they are concentrating extra hard! (The right hand, meanwhile, is occupied with the pencil.)
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N3PDT
Member

Posts: 77




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« Reply #39 on: December 11, 2013, 08:58:16 PM »

I'm enjoying the read on your progress. You're doing great, really.

I have QSOd with Ron a few times, and he is a fellow SKCC member. 7.050-7.055 would be a typical range to find SKCCers, and they would be using a straight key, or bug. I suspect the EN you heard was actually an "R". Probably heard it most when one op responded to the other op turning the QSO back to him. That can get um, stylized a bit. Haven't figured out the YYS though.

As you've read, and has been mentioned here, the variance in your "ability" is normal.  Some days you're sharper than others - for any number of reasons.  That will even out as you get more comfortable listening to code and it becomes more second nature for you.

How's your sending coming along?

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KB1WSY
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #40 on: December 12, 2013, 04:00:21 AM »

The 25 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.

Accuracy on the best copy test yesterday with 25 characters: 92 percent.

That's a major improvement after a couple of days in the doldrums.

Today I am adding the 26th character which is 9 or dah-dah-dah-dah-dit.

I'm enjoying the read on your progress. You're doing great, really.

Thanks! It feels rather self-centered to be doing this, but on the other hand it's great to feel some "accountability" to the friendly Morse Elmers in this place, and the advice has been excellent. (I wish I were a teenager, though, and not a 56-year-old working an exhausting full-time job!)

How's your sending coming along?

A bit hard to tell.

I have no problem sending several minutes of code containing the characters learned so far.

However I'm also using software called PCW-Fistcheck which is telling me that my dits are now fine (regular, and properly spaced), but my dahs are dreadful. Usually I test it with the character "zero" and find that the first dah is too long (about four dits' worth) and the other four dahs are both irregular, and much too short (about two dits' worth). I have done the drill hundreds of times, with little improvement.

Listening to myself in the headphones, when I send CQ it sounds like this: daaaaaah-di-dah-dit   dah-dah-di-daaaaaaah. Is that "swing"?

I can also hear that the gap between characters is exaggerated. In effect I seem to be replicating the Farnsworth spacing used in my copy drills.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #41 on: December 13, 2013, 04:23:35 AM »

The 26 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.

Accuracy on the best copy test yesterday with 26 characters: 86 percent. Not good, but I soldier on anyway. (Yesterday was a busy work day and I skipped some of my sessions.)

Today I am adding the 27th character which is Z or dah-dah-di-dit.
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KH2G
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Posts: 341




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« Reply #42 on: December 13, 2013, 05:26:43 PM »

I don't know "KOCH" method but it sounds tedious  Cheesy  I used to teach CW by setting up similar groups IE E.I.S.H.5 which is all dits and then T.M.O.0 which is all dahs and you can make reversals like R and K etc. Soon as we had enough letters we could make simple words. Anyway that works for you is fine but you have enough letters now to practice making some simple words.
BTW if you like long characters wait till you do numbers and punctuation  Cheesy
Regards and keep on pecking
Dick KH2G
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #43 on: December 13, 2013, 05:32:13 PM »

I don't know "KOCH" method but it sounds tedious  Cheesy

More information on the Koch method can be found here: http://www.qsl.net/n1irz/finley.morse.html.
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #44 on: December 14, 2013, 04:36:05 AM »

The 27 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.

Accuracy on the best copy test yesterday with 27 characters: 89 percent.

Today I am adding the 28th character which is H or di-di-di-dit.

Settings in G4FON Koch-method software:
--15wpm Actual Character Speed; combined with
--20wpm Effective Code Speed ("Farnsworth spacing").

Lots of CW on 40m yesterday and managed to catch some bits and pieces of QSOs. Weirdly, am finding the faster CW (nearer 15-20wpm) easier to copy than the slow stuff. Huh
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