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Author Topic: My Morse Learning Campaign  (Read 91252 times)
KB1WSY
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Posts: 777




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« Reply #90 on: December 31, 2013, 11:50:50 AM »

So today I got back seriously into the Koch drills now that I'm feeling that the worst of the head cold is over.

I had spent a few days struggling with a "real" 20wpm (no Farnsworth) which was "worth a try" but in the end just too hard at this stage.

However it does seem to have been somewhat successful at breaking the "counting the dits and dahs" problem.

So today I went back to the old timing: 20wpm character speed with 15wpm Farnsworth spacing. I also went back to a much earlier stage in the Koch course, i.e. the 23-character level, 10 characters fewer than I was using a week ago.

My latest theory is that I have been "rushing things" and should have spent a bit more time on each of the previous levels. It's back at the 23-character level that I started having problems with the letters "G" and "F" and I now think that I paid too little attention to those issues.

The good news is that I am "acing" the 23-character level, with a 95 percent accuracy rate or higher. But I am *still* having problems with "G" and "F" so I've decided to just go on drilling this one to death until those letters are vanquished.

(At this point the anti-Koch crowd is probably scratching its head in some amusement!)
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LB3KB
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« Reply #91 on: December 31, 2013, 02:21:33 PM »

I still think you should consider smaller speed increments.  It doesn't have to be 15 or 20 WPM.  Go with 16, at least.
You're going to have to get rid of Farnsworth sooner or later anyway, so why wait ?


73
K4NL Sid
justlearnmorsecode.com
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #92 on: December 31, 2013, 02:33:23 PM »

I still think you should consider smaller speed increments.  It doesn't have to be 15 or 20 WPM.  Go with 16, at least.
You're going to have to get rid of Farnsworth sooner or later anyway, so why wait ?


73
K4NL Sid
justlearnmorsecode.com

I'm using G4FON and it only gives me one Farnsworth choice between 15 and 20, namely, 17. (Is JLMC more flexible, BTW?). You are of course right that I should dump Farnsworth at the earliest opportunity. Right now, I'm mainly concerned with getting my confidence back (with a smaller character set). But I should probably try the 20/17 setting at the earliest possible moment.

During my 23-character drills today I was very encouraged to find that the copying was almost totally "automatic" although I am *still* stumbling on "G" and "F." What I will probably do is set up G4FON to give me intensive drills with just those two letters, perhaps mixed in with only a handful of others.

By "automatic" I mean that I was writing the letters down while thinking about something else altogether. It's only when I hit one of the problem letters that my brain would go "WTF" and I would drop a few characters.

« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 02:36:51 PM by KB1WSY » Logged
KK4MRN
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Posts: 91




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« Reply #93 on: December 31, 2013, 02:53:58 PM »

It is not even 7:00 PM EST yet (00:00 UTC) and CW is alive on 160m, 80m, 40m, and 20m.   40m is very alive with CW.   Plus, it helps that the sun just went down.   I think people started Straight key Night early.  Or they're practicing...

I wish I could join in, but I am not ready yet...  So for now, I will only listen.   Unless I find a really, really slow CW operator out there...   I tried practice today with the remaining letters and numbers, but I did not get anywhere.  I am only about 22 out of 43 using Koch/Farnesworth.  I even tried changing my wpm to 10, but that was too slow.  The numbers are important for calls signs and RST.   I do know how to pound all the letters, numbers, and some pro-signs and punctuation.   But, it is like I have 2 look up tables in my head: 1 for listening and then 2nd for pounding a key. 

How about you Martin, are you going to try and make your first contact during Straight Key Night?   

73, Daniel KK4MRN
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #94 on: December 31, 2013, 03:23:07 PM »

How about you Martin, are you going to try and make your first contact during Straight Key Night?  

Daniel, like you I am monitoring SKN. I have my 3-transistor homebrew regenerative receiver optimized for 40m CW (it tunes 7000 through 7150) -- more details here http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,90273.0.html. Am catching lots and lots of QSOs but copying them remains quite tough. I find the slow ones hard (the sounds appear meaningless when you really slow them down). But I'm not advanced enough to catch the "fast good fists" because they are going *too* fast! So I find that perhaps 1 in 20 of the QSOs is "in my range" at which point I can catch maybe half the words, but almost none of the numbers. Callsigns are very tough to catch, too, partly because many ops seem to rush through them. Strangely enough, QRM and QSB don't seem to bother me much, which is just as well, because my equipment is primitive.

I'm not technically able to "join in" because I haven't built my transmitter yet! Nor do I have a proper antenna, the receiver is just running off a few meters of wire tossed up into the trees. The transmitter will be the "novice" ARRL design from the 1960s (MOPA with a 6C4 crystal oscillator and a 5763 final -- often referred to as the "W1TS" design). To start with I'll operate monoband on 40m. (I have this crazy philosophy that *all* of my equipment must be homebrew. That slows me down a lot, in terms of progressing in the hobby, but I'm a bit weird....)

Timetable: who knows? Life happens. I first passed the ham exam in the UK exactly 42 years ago at the age of 14 but never got licensed back then and never got on the air. Got my US ticket two years ago. Have made a New Year's resolution to get on the air "some time in 2014"!

Edited to add: I think it is "culturally" a bit harder now than it was 40 years ago. Without those "Novice sub-bands" populated with slow-coders, it's a bit harder for a CW beginner to find a "home" apparently. I don't want to sound like it's *really* hard because I don't think it is, but there isn't any longer that "rite of passage" that so many Novices went through. It must have been a lot of fun, and I know that we'll have a lot of fun once we get on the air with CW!

Edited a second time to add: of course I could have simplified things by not bothering with CW. However: (1) I do think CW is a special part of our hobby, and nowadays, it is almost unique to ham radio, a proud heritage that deserves preservation. (2) Homebrewing phone transmission gear is a whole level harder than building CW gear! (3) Although I have read a lot of complaints about the alleged "bad behavior" of modern hams, that doesn't seem to be anything like as much of a problem for the CW crowd.

Happy New Year and 73 de Martin, KB1WSY


« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 03:42:53 PM by KB1WSY » Logged
KK4MRN
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« Reply #95 on: January 01, 2014, 09:08:46 PM »

SKN is over.  I listened some.  Great to hear CW on 160m, 80m, 40m, and 20m.  I did not hear any on 15m or 10m - but I usually don't at night anyways.  I definitely was not ready for getting on the air.   Hopefully, I will be ready next year.   Now, it is time to return to practicing...

I was thinking I could do an element a day.  At first, this was true, but it has turned into multiple days or weeks to learn an element.  The letter F is hard.   Yet, I really DO want to become a CW op, so I keep trying...
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #96 on: January 02, 2014, 07:27:13 AM »

I was thinking I could do an element a day.  At first, this was true, but it has turned into multiple days or weeks to learn an element.  The letter F is hard.

Yes, I am coming to the reluctant conclusion that assimilating new elements (at the level I have reached) is going to take more than one day. I made the mistake of rushing it, and got into that bad habit of "counting the dits and dahs." I've dropped back to a smaller number of elements, and am doing a larger number of drills before moving on.

I, too, am finding the letter "F" devilishly hard. It makes no sense at all! But in a strange way it's good to know that someone else is having trouble, too.

I monitored lots of CW on SKN (actually not just "night" but a whole day). Go some CW copied on 15, 20, 40 and 80 although it was all North American, no DX. That may just be because I was concentrating on the U.S. "CW" sub-bands rather than prowling the bottom ends of the bands where the faint DX signals are. I was looking more for readability than for DX.

I, too, am definitely not ready yet. My QSO copying (even the slow ones) is fragmentary. But improving fast! Mind you, I heard plenty of operators whose elementary CW skills weren't deterring them one bit!!! And several very patient Elmers slowing down for them!
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PA0KDW
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« Reply #97 on: January 02, 2014, 07:41:01 AM »

Start with ONLY the remaining characters a new campaign. Hence one character  a day. AFTER you are at the same level as you have now with the first group. go and intermix them.

That will be a severe shortcut.
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #98 on: January 02, 2014, 08:06:11 AM »

Start with ONLY the remaining characters a new campaign. Hence one character  a day. AFTER you are at the same level as you have now with the first group. go and intermix them.

That will be a severe shortcut.

Hans, is this a technique you've used successfully or seen work with other people? It's a very interesting concept but not mentioned anywhere in my Koch book.... HNY.
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KK4MRN
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« Reply #99 on: January 02, 2014, 11:34:12 AM »

Martin,
I think some Koch training software will let you set specific characters to practice.

The AA9PW Ham Morse, an iOS app, will allow you to Reorder the Koch elements. 

I think Just Learn Morse Code, a Windows app, may allow you to choose what characters to practice.

Have you seen K7QO's Code Course?
http://www.k7qo.net/



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PA0KDW
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« Reply #100 on: January 02, 2014, 12:28:39 PM »

Quote
Hans, is this a technique you've used successfully or seen work with other people? It's a very interesting concept but not mentioned anywhere in my Koch book.... HNY.


It was the way I learned the code 64 years ago, and I remember my fellow hams were amazed abt the progress I made in a pretty short time.  I got my license - code included of course - within 2 month after starting at scratch, and for sure I am not a very bright guy, not now but also not at that time. It is the same way you learn 100 words in a foreign language, bundle them, It works, I know for sure by a long long experience.

The handle is Frans here, not Hans sri.
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KD0PGM
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« Reply #101 on: January 02, 2014, 12:35:04 PM »

I'm going to chime in and also suggest that you get on the air.  I don't give this advice from the vantage point of experience exactly.  I'm also teaching myself Morse code presently.  I've taken a different path.  I started with lcwo.net, which I heartily recommend to others.  But I found myself stalling out on the number of characters I could do at speed at once.

And I also found that all that copying on the computer left me unprepared to copy over the air with static and noise, etc.  (I'd love to design my own training site, and I may at some point.  Drills on "common words" and drills with selectable noise levels would both be part of the design).

I decided to focus on copying the w1aw transmissions, first at 5wpm, then at 7.5wpm, and so on.  I can't quite copy at 10 wpm successfully, though I get large parts.

But once I got to reasonable-but-not-perfect success at 10wpm, I set my keyer for about 8wpm and decided to get on the air.  Basically, I tune around and listen for the slowest guy on the band and that's the one I contact.  I send at 8wpm, even if they're a bit faster, because people know right away that I'm a beginner and they'll generally slow down and match without needing to be asked.

And here's why I decided to get on the air.  I have a friend who is very good at picking up languages.  I asked him about it once, and he told me that he thought adults don't pick up languages well because they aren't willing to "baby talk."  You should start talking as early as possible, even when you know you won't get it all right, and when your vocabulary is limited.  Essentially, you should start talking even when you'll sound dumb like a baby.

It was his belief that baby talk is an essential stage to learning a language.  People can learn a language with out it, but it's much harder and it takes longer.  I've decided I'm ready to baby talk on CW, so I reach out to someone who's going so slow I know they don't mind, and I just try it.

And it helps.  It helps especially on the letters I've found hard.  Like several others on this thread, I've found F fairly hard.  I mix it with L.  But you get so many "TNX FER" and "FROM" and such in a QSO that it's working it's way out.  Same for me with V, since "VERY" comes up a lot in conversation, and I key it over and over when working Canadian VE3*** calls.

You're going to get there faster than I am, since you're pouring way more effort into it.  But I think you'll get there even faster if you let yourself get on the air and start working it.

Don
« Last Edit: January 02, 2014, 12:37:56 PM by KD0PGM » Logged
PA0KDW
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« Reply #102 on: January 02, 2014, 01:30:56 PM »

KD0PGM Don,

Morse has nothing whatever to do with learning another language, because Morse is an alphabet and not a language.

Don't disturb the learning process with QRM, QRN , QSB. noise and chirpy signals. FIRST learn the code the way it sounds , without long spaces and what have you. AFTER that you got your QRM QRN and noise in practice, And  the  T 4 signals from the Russians that were allowed to transmit in 1950 in a clubstations under the condition they were active members of the only permitted political party in their country, with a power oscillator fed with 5000 V raw AC from the local municipal power plant.
So a one tube transmitter.

How superior felt the West, till they launched their Sputnik.

« Last Edit: January 02, 2014, 01:44:25 PM by PA0KDW » Logged
K7MEM
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« Reply #103 on: January 02, 2014, 02:34:35 PM »

... I have a friend who is very good at picking up languages.  ..

Your friend may be correct about picking up a language. I spend three years in Germany and, even with a class in German, I never did pick up much of anything. Well except for "ein pils, bitter". But my son was one year old when we got there and he spoke both languages fluently by the time we left. The XYL has always been good at languages and never has trouble understanding any language. Including sign language. She daily interfaces with tourists from all over the world (we live near the Grand Canyon) and understands them perfectly. If you ask me, it's a gift, but it makes you feel really dumb sometimes.

However, as PA0KDW pointed out, Morse Code is not a language. There has been a lot of discussion about this over the years and you really don't want to bust open up that hornets nest. Morse is more like someone spelling everything to you, in your own language. You have to receive these letters and assemble the words. Only brief pauses are available to let you know where one word ends and the next begins. It's difficult because it's an unnatural way of communicating.

But as you get better, the words actually form in your head. At first it's the most common ones like qth, name, rst, etc.. After a longer while, bigger words form from the small ones. Overall it's a pretty clumsy way of communicating, but at the same time, very effective.

QSB, QRM, and QRN are just things you need to get use to. I always thought that the 40 Meter Novice band (7.100 - 71.150 mc - we didn't have MHz then.) was great sport at night. You were surrounded by high power broadcast stations. They were talking in various languages and causing big heterodynes. And you were trying to operate in between all of the ruckus. It was great. I still hang around the old novice bands, but it's often hard to find anyone.

I would recommend that you just get on the air. It doesn't matter that you are slow and don't copy everything. You usually don't have to. Almost everything is sent twice, so you always have a second chance. Learn to live with the QSB, QRM, and QRN. It isn't going away. It just takes practice. There is no requirement to go 25 or 30 WPM, just go what ever speed you like and enjoy it.

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Martin - K7MEM

http://www.k7mem.com
KB1WSY
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« Reply #104 on: January 02, 2014, 02:42:53 PM »

The handle is Frans here, not Hans sri.

Sorry Frans, silly mistake by me.

Don't disturb the learning process with QRM, QRN , QSB. noise and chirpy signals. FIRST learn the code the way it sounds, without long spaces and what have you. AFTER that you got your QRM QRN and noise in practice....

I do want to finish the basic learning process in a "clean" environment. For variety, I also monitor QSOs on the air and listen to the W1AW transmissions. But the Koch drills are still the centerpiece of my learning at the moment.

.... I've decided I'm ready to baby talk on CW, so I reach out to someone who's going so slow I know they don't mind, and I just try it..... You're going to get there faster than I am, since you're pouring way more effort into it.  But I think you'll get there even faster if you let yourself get on the air and start working it.

For sure, I will be getting on the air before I really feel ready for it. Otherwise I would never get on the air, huh? It's not going to be long now. But I do feel I should, at least, complete the character set.

Martin,
I think some Koch training software will let you set specific characters to practice.

I can do that with my current G4FON software too.

Have you seen K7QO's Code Course?
http://www.k7qo.net/

No but I will check it out.

I would recommend that you just get on the air. It doesn't matter that you are slow and don't copy everything. You usually don't have to. Almost everything is sent twice, so you always have a second chance. Learn to live with the QSB, QRM, and QRN. It isn't going away. It just takes practice. There is no requirement to go 25 or 30 WPM, just go what ever speed you like and enjoy it.

You know, the funny thing is that the QSB, QRM and QRN doesn't bother me as much as all that, when I'm monitoring on the air. It's amazing how good the brain's "filters" are. No, my issues now are to mainly to do with copying code -- they exist even when I copy "perfect" code from the software. But I can tell that it won't be long before I'm ready to try going on the air.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2014, 02:47:06 PM by KB1WSY » Logged
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