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Author Topic: My Morse Learning Campaign  (Read 89197 times)
KB1WSY
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Posts: 774




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« Reply #60 on: December 21, 2013, 10:05:41 AM »

I managed to catch some almost complete sentences of a QSO on 7056!!!! (The ellipses are the bits I missed.)

QRS K

OK I WILL SLOW DOWN. IS THIS GOOD?

RR ER F CHA (??)

OK WELCOME ... I KNOW HOW ... FEEL LIKE TO START NEW. LET ME KNOW IF I ... TOO FAST. MY RIG IS A YAESU FT950. THE ANT IS A HOMEBREW ... DIPOLE. THE AGE IS 55 YEARS OLD. BEEN A HAM FOR ... (I haven't learned all the numbers yet).

I would estimate that the experienced CW op was transmitting the characters at 15wpm but spacing them for an overall 8wpm or so. I did not understand the newbie at all, and s/he was sending faster than s/he could receive.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2013, 10:09:49 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
K7KBN
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Posts: 2802




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« Reply #61 on: December 21, 2013, 11:08:46 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!


Same suggestion as how to get to Carnegie Hall:  PRACTICE. 

Gaining experience with actual two-way communications, either on the air or with an oscillator and a friend/Elmer is the surest way to learn and remember.  It's been 50 years since I sat in my operating position on CVA-63 and ran stacks of messages incoming and outgoing for 8-12 hours at a time, and yet I believe I could still do it.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
KB1WSY
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Posts: 774




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« Reply #62 on: December 22, 2013, 07:35:07 AM »

The 31 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, B.

Accuracy on the best copy test with 31 characters: 88 percent. The past 24 hours have been very tough. Normally I was practicing about one hour per day, spaced out in 10-minute runs every hour or so. But yesterday I did more like three hours, scattered throughout the day, and this morning, another hour, until I reached that 88 percent copy level. Apparently my "Rubicon" is at approximately the "30 learned character" level. Because time is precious, I am forging ahead with the next character anyway.

Today I am adding the 32nd character which is the question mark or di-di-dah-dah-di-dit.

Same suggestion as how to get to Carnegie Hall:  PRACTICE.  

You are of course absolutely correct. Hey, I actually was in Carnegie Hall a few days ago ... but in the audience, not on the stage. The climax was a very long Christmas-carol medley, which about summarizes what the code sounds like in my head today!
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K7KBN
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« Reply #63 on: December 22, 2013, 09:46:28 AM »

Listen to the Hallelujah Chorus:  C  C  F  F  R  A

...or DAHdidahdit...DAHdidahdit...dididahdit...dididahdit...didahdit...didah.

Has a bit of a Lake Erie swing in some places, but I've always had a part of my brain encoding musical rhythms for examining later.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
KB1WSY
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Posts: 774




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« Reply #64 on: December 22, 2013, 09:52:49 AM »

... I've always had a part of my brain encoding musical rhythms for examining later.

I'm a musician (albeit a mediocre one) and I'm in the music publishing business, but it doesn't seem to be helping me much with the code! I thought there was supposed to be a connection between musical ability and code skills, but perhaps that's an "old ham's tale" huh?
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 774




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« Reply #65 on: December 23, 2013, 07:00:51 AM »

The 32 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, B, ?.

Accuracy on the best copy test with 32 characters: only about 80-85 percent. However I'm going to be a bit "risky" and forge on to the next character. The Koch "rules" say I need to hit 90 percent accuracy but I feel that would create more frustration -- I don't want to feel like I'm stuck on a plateau, even if that is to some extent true. Also I am having no trouble at all recognizing the last-learned character (the question mark) which has an easily assimilated sound. The problems are with *other* characters, some of which I learned weeks ago....

My main problems are rather basic:
--The pairs W/G and V/B.
--The letter F, of all things. I either miss it altogether, or confuse it with "/" (the slash).
--The numbers. I am definitely "counting the dits and dahs" in some cases, which is fatal because I then miss the next five characters or so! I think the bad habit of "counting" is more likely to surface with the numbers, because of the way those Morse characters are structured. It seems to be more acute with the numbers between 1 and 5 for some reason (I am having no trouble with the "second half" series that I have learned so far, i.e. 8, 9 and zero).

Today I am adding the 33rd character which is the 4 or di-di-di-di-dah.

Software settings are the same as before:
--20wpm Actual Character Speed; combined with
--15wpm Effective Code Speed ("Farnsworth spacing").

I've also monitored quite a few 40m QSOs over the past day and that's cheered me up. I am trying to get used to the plethora of abbreviations that are common in these exchanges!
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20595




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« Reply #66 on: December 23, 2013, 01:32:24 PM »

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!


When you've used the code on the air to make contacts for a while, it should start sounding like a language and not a code; just like listening to people "talk" in English or French.  No "deciphering," no "thinking about it," it just happens.

But I honestly don't know anyone who's accomplished that by only "listening" or "copying" code.  The only ones I know (including myself) who listen to code and hear English words without ever thinking about the code are ones who have made a lot of 2-way contacts on the air using it.  Some are probably better than others, but it took me a few years of using code before my brain stopped thinking of it as code, and that included close to equal "sending" time, and working dozens of contests at pretty high speeds, and copying some signals that are so weak you really need to engage the "wetware" filter between the ears to even tell there's a signal there.
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 774




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« Reply #67 on: December 23, 2013, 01:51:49 PM »

When you've used the code on the air to make contacts for a while, it should start sounding like a language and not a code; just like listening to people "talk" in English or French.  No "deciphering," no "thinking about it," it just happens.

But I honestly don't know anyone who's accomplished that by only "listening" or "copying" code.  The only ones I know (including myself) who listen to code and hear English words without ever thinking about the code are ones who have made a lot of 2-way contacts on the air using it.  Some are probably better than others, but it took me a few years of using code before my brain stopped thinking of it as code, and that included close to equal "sending" time, and working dozens of contests at pretty high speeds....

So this is the beginning of a long journey! It's a lot of fun, most of the time. Interesting what you say about sending. In much of my reading, it has been said that sending engages a completely different skill set. But obviously copying and sending are complementary. As is the case with many beginners, I can send faster than I can copy, but the sending sounds awful (at any speed). Need to put in a lot more work on that. (I'm in the process of rigging up a left ear/right ear headphone setup so that I can hear a drill in one ear, and key the oscillator in the other ear.) So much to learn....

....copying some signals that are so weak you really need to engage the "wetware" filter between the ears to even tell there's a signal there.

I have actually been seeking out weak signals, and signals overlaid with QRM or suffering QSB. For some reason I really enjoy that challenge. And finding a weak signal isn't hard, on my primitive equipment (on a modern rig that same signal is probably probably 5-and-9!).
« Last Edit: December 23, 2013, 01:54:58 PM by KB1WSY » Logged
KB1WSY
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Posts: 774




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« Reply #68 on: December 24, 2013, 01:45:10 PM »

I'm up in Maine for a family Christmas but brought an MP3 player with code practice files, and my trusty hombebrew code oscillator and Ameco K4 key. Currently stuck at the 33-character level, same as yesterday, and not sure how much progress I can make during a short two-day holiday. But will make sure to practice every day. It's very calm and un-stressful here (which is good) but I cannot be a code hermit either!
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #69 on: December 25, 2013, 06:19:38 AM »

In the early morning before opening the Christmas presents I realized why I have reached a Morse "plateau." While copying, I noticed that I am "counting the dits and dahs" for a handful of characters. Those also happen to be the ones I learned recently: I'm at the 33-character level in Koch, and it looks like I started deviating from the straight path right around character 27 or 28.

Perhaps not coincidentally, these tend to be the longer characters: numbers, and the "question mark" punctuation. Ironically, there are also some earlier characters that I originally assimilated entirely "by sound" but now find that I am "counting the dits and dahs." For instance, the letter "Z," which I had found easy, at the time I learned it. I also continue to have a lot of trouble with the letter "F" (very mysterious, since that letter has a very distinct sound).

The remedy I am using to fix this "counting the dits/dahs" problem is to force myself not to do it! The result is a dramatic fall in my recognition rate, for the time being. It is even possible that I may have to "drop back" to the 28-character level and spend at least a short time re-doing the earlier 28 through 32 characters.

At this point I don't care about this momentary setback. It's better to learn the whole thing properly, "by sound," rather than drift into using *any* version of "lookup table in the head."

Merry Christmas everyone!
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M0LEP
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Posts: 209




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« Reply #70 on: December 25, 2013, 10:27:52 AM »

some earlier characters that I originally assimilated entirely "by sound" but now find that I am "counting the dits and dahs."

I found that the add-a-character progression did this sort of thing to me in spades; each time I added a character I had to re-learn many of the previous ones, so my progress got slower and slower, and eventually ground to a halt at about lesson 16.

The remedy I am using to fix this "counting the dits/dahs" problem is to force myself not to do it!

Good luck!

73, Rick M0LEP
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #71 on: December 25, 2013, 10:52:43 AM »

I found that the add-a-character progression did this sort of thing to me in spades; each time I added a character I had to re-learn many of the previous ones, so my progress got slower and slower, and eventually ground to a halt at about lesson 16.

How did you break through that barrier? Or did you drop Koch and switch to another method?

It is especially frustrating today. If I "turn off" the dit/dah counting in my brain, my recognition rate is dropping dramatically -- and that includes characters that I used to find "easy" and never had to "count." Gnyah. (Plus I am rested, sober, and in a quiet holiday environment.)

This too shall pass, I think.
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M0LEP
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« Reply #72 on: December 26, 2013, 12:55:05 AM »

How did you break through that barrier? Or did you drop Koch and switch to another method?

I switched to another method, and learned all the numbers and letters in one go, but I'm still stuck below 10wpm for reliable copy, and some punctuation throws me. I can get short abbreviations at 25wpm, and given a couple of repetitions, callsigns at over 30wpm, but not a minute or more of steady code at anything like that speed. It'll take lots of practice...

It is especially frustrating today. If I "turn off" the dit/dah counting in my brain, my recognition rate is dropping dramatically

The only way I can turn off the counting is to get code coming at me too fast to count. There's nothing like practice to get past the barriers. However, there comes a point where the practice needs to be two-way.

73 and good luck. Rick M0LEP
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LB3KB
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« Reply #73 on: December 26, 2013, 03:21:37 AM »

Your best bet is to speed things up.  Drop or at least reduce Farnsworth.  That way you won't have time to count.


73
K4NL Sid
justlearnmorsecode.com
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #74 on: December 26, 2013, 06:40:31 AM »

The only way I can turn off the counting is to get code coming at me too fast to count. There's nothing like practice to get past the barriers.

Your best bet is to speed things up.  Drop or at least reduce Farnsworth.  That way you won't have time to count.

I came to that conclusion yesterday. I'm on holiday and brought fixed-speed mp3 drills with me. But when I get home tomorrow I will speed things up. Currently I'm on 20wpm character speed, 15wpm Farnsworth ("20/15"). I'm thinking of radically speeding it up to 25/20. Or perhaps 20/20 with no Farnsworth at all, which will probably be very hard initially. (I have tried 15/15 and find it very hard.)
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