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Author Topic: Morse code question  (Read 2700 times)
W4KYR
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« on: October 26, 2017, 10:26:15 AM »

I have read numerous stories that the military used to teach Morse Code 8 hours a day 5 days a week. I'm sure many here have read stories like these...

http://forums.qrz.com/index.php?threads/military-morse-training-how-did-they-go-about-it.299469/


So my question is...

Did anyone here learn on their own 8 hours a day 5 days a week?

If so, how long did it take you to get to 13 wpm or 20 wpm?

What motivated you?

Did you learn this way because you heard it got results?

Thanks

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LA4VSA
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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2017, 11:42:25 AM »

I am learning.  

I find (have read, experienced, and am a neurobiologist) there is loads of evidence to support the idea that short (approximately 15-60min) sessions are best.  No more than three per day, esp. if they are +30 minutes.

I have used everything.  I have started this endeavor several times.  I have never gotten past 10wpm.  

Until I discovered the idea that you have to learn the letters as bulk sounds.  If they come at you too slow, your brain will be counting.  And you CANNOT count.  You have to just hear it.  So you need to listen to code at a speed where the signals sound like one blurp for each character (I might call this +20wpm, others will disagree).  

And there are loads of programs...and I have tried many or almost all of them.  This is my favorite by far:

http://c2.com/~ward/morse/morse.html
and
http://c2.com/morse/

I am not sure I have seen this linked here on eHam.  But it's really a great program IMHO.

The program uses machine learning to evaluate your progress, and it starts teaching you from the bottom of the tree (longest signals) and works up to the easy ones.  It's brilliant.  I literally learned the entire code in 5 days, two session each day for 30min.  I can hear it at 20wpm now, and get into very good streaks of keeping up, bang bang bang.

But still, on the air, I cannot copy fast enough yet for my liking.  But if I run this program, I get better every day.  

The web version doesn't allow you to adjust the sending speed.  But if you download the program itself and run it locally, you can dial in the speed and that's what you need to break the 10wpm barrier for hearing the code.  The downloaded version is timed, so that if you don't respond, it will tell you what it sent as a punishment to keep your speed up.  I like that, too.

I have recently started sending each signal after hearing it, to try and get some sending practice in as well.  This seems to help me with both.

It's fun...soon you'll hear beeps where there are none!

Good luck!
jay
« Last Edit: October 26, 2017, 11:49:34 AM by LA4VSA » Logged
KB2FCV
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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2017, 12:51:35 PM »

I'm trying to remember, but I think we did 1 or 2 15 minute sessions a day after school when I learned morse code (the school had a ham radio club led by the science teacher). I believe he also explained a couple of short sessions per day were best. Gradually as we got through all the letters / numbers we progressed and started listening to the ARRL code practice (he lent everyone hw-16's). That helped start get the speed up.
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W4KYR
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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2017, 03:39:58 PM »

I guess it would be difficult for most anyone to spend 8 hours a day 5 days a week Morse Code training even if we had that amount of time to spend on it. The military is different.
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WY4J
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« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2017, 03:56:10 PM »

It took me two weeks to learn the alphabet and numbers 1-10. In two months I was copying around 13 wpm. Back in 1976 the motivation was that my novice ticket only allowed me to contact other novices on the novice bands so I needed to pass the 13 wpm to use a microphone. I was 20 years young and stupid and I purchased a cassette tape with the lessons as I had no clue of what else to do. The funny thing is that once I earned my phone privileges I realized that I prefer cw over SSB. Loved cw so much that 34 years ago I passed my 20 WPM cw exam at the FCC office (only way to upgrade back in the days). Own 16 cw paddles and keys and only one microphone. A man can never own too many cw keys but just needs one microphone....73 de Ed, WY4J
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KE6EE
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« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2017, 05:55:54 PM »

It took me two weeks to learn the alphabet and numbers 1-10. In two months I was copying around 13 wpm.

That's about the way it was for me. I did it when I was 13. Maybe 10 days to learn the alphabet and a few weeks
to get the speed comfortably to 8 or 10 wpm to pass the Novice exam.

The difference is now people don't know how to focus their attention. There is an expectation that all learning can be
accomplished very quickly. Learning code will not occur quickly or even at a reasonable rate if you are: distracted; unable
to focus; work with the notion that it has to be done a certain way; get yourself all wound up about it so that your brain
is attending to being wound up rather than to learning something new.

A year later after a few hours on the air a week I took the General exam at 13 wpm. It wasn't difficult but I was worried
about it because I was a weenie and only 14 and the FCC examiner was not Mr. Kind and Gentle.

Anyway Morse Code should not be a problem if you approach it with an open mind, without a huge pile of preconceptions about how it "spoze to" be learned.

Just expose yourself to it, to the real thing, on the air. Canned code is boring. The best tool for learning anything is enthusiasm, excitement and enjoyment. Listening to code recordings is exactly the opposite.

Another often-overlooked aspect of learning anything is "to go fast, first go slow." When you learn something new
at a very relaxed pace, and learn it very thoroughly, it will stick with you. I think too many people use gimmick "fast"
methods to learn code and thereby do not learn it thoroughly or understand its rhythmic qualities. You cannot become a
competent reasonably quick op at, say, 20 to 25 wpm unless you totally grasp the rhythms of code.

If try to learn code fast you will not learn it deeply. You then will find that you cannot progress in your copying speed.

Another aspect of deep learning of code rhythm is to send only with a straight key. That's what we all did back in the day.
Shortcuts in trying to master code are really shortcircuits.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2017, 06:03:05 PM by KE6EE » Logged
K8AXW
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« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2017, 09:23:49 PM »

Quote
I have read numerous stories that the military used to teach Morse Code 8 hours a day 5 days a week. I'm sure many here have read stories like these...

Make that 8 hours a day, minus a 10 minute break each hour and 1 hour for lunch 5 1/2 days a week. If one falls behind then two hours in the evening each day was added.  (As happened to me)

http://forums.qrz.com/index.php?threads/military-morse-training-how-did-they-go-about-it.299469/


So my question is...

Did anyone here learn on their own 8 hours a day 5 days a week?

Is that a for real question?  Military training was strictly supervised! I can't imagine a civilian doing this, even if he had the time. 

If so, how long did it take you to get to 13 wpm or 20 wpm?

This of course depended on the individual.  Naturally some learned faster than others.  Although I am pulling this information from my 82 year old memory bank, I am now guessing that it took a few weeks to get to 13wpm and much longer to become proficient at 20wpm.  However, when I say "proficient" I mean very long runs with just a few mistakes.  Then during this 23 week schooling, other classes were introduced so it's difficult to actually put a time line on the process. With just a few exceptions, code copying was involved.

What motivated you?

Fear of failing!  Those that were chosen to take this school had one thing in common.  Failing was not an option! However, out of 30 students, 26 "graduated."

Did you learn this way because you heard it got results?

No. This was the way it was done. Period.  I can only assume the Army had researched this process and determined it to be the fastest way to train many men as quickly as possible.

In response to another post on this thread, "counting" was discouraged but was inevitable when starting out at 5wpm.  This "problem" was eliminated as the speeds got high enough that one couldn't "count" the dits and dahs  which as I recall, was around 10wpm.  This is why I have always blown off comments about copying code characters fast so you CAN'T count.  After 23 weeks I found that "counting" was a non-problem.


Thanks
« Last Edit: October 26, 2017, 09:47:13 PM by K8AXW » Logged
K7KBN
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« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2017, 09:26:19 PM »

In 1963, the Navy "A" school taught code 2 to 4 hours a day in 30-45 minute classes.  The rest of the time was procedure, electronics, teletype, antennas, simple troubleshooting and such.  Those who fell behind the class average had night school for two hours every evening.  I was in Class 16 - about 150 students started in January and 142 of us finished in July.  Not a bad attrition rate, and of the 8 who didn't graduate, only 3 were because of inability to learn code.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
PA0WV
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« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2017, 02:09:14 AM »


Did anyone here learn on their own 8 hours a day 5 days a week?


The military in school got food a sleeping place and had nothing else to learn as Morse code.
So to learn as fast as possible and hence at minimal cost was the goal.

HOWEVER when you look at the total number of exercising hours required to learn the code at each proficiency level, daily exercises of 15 minutes are much more efficient.

You can't say that you are proficient up to  13 and at up to 20 wpm. That is because there is no strict speed-boundary, when you copy 20 wpm you also can copy 21 , 22 wpm and higher but the number of errors will increase  with increasing speed, furthermore the number of errors depends on bad and good days and also depend of the time of the day you are copying. Furthermore the kind of text, is it code, callsigns, or plain text, in this case also the language. This all in case of machine generated code. When guys have a bad fist, or are using a bug or paddles without sufficient off_the_air exercising those keys,  you will decode considerably lower speed. In case of ham CW abbreviations and regularly used Q-codes , you may decode considerable (>50%) faster then plain text speed.

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AE5GT
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« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2017, 01:19:16 PM »

Yes but more like 12 or 16 hours straight .
Every time there is a CW contest .... and at the end of 24 hrs you can definitely tell you have speeded up .  About 2-3 wpm .. Comprehension
is  a different matter.

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PLANKEYE
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« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2017, 05:28:51 PM »

I don't think there is a right answer for the best way to learn CW or become more proficient/speed.  Everyone is different and when you learn it and have it down enough to get on the air then you have other obstacles to get around.  Like peoples sending abilities/FIST, EVERYONE is different if they are using a actual key not a KEYBOARD.  What I mean by that is when you use perfect code sent programs or tapes to learn it you will soon find out folks don't send perfect code unless they are using something other than a actual CW KEY.  One thing I will say, once you get on the air try to make 3 or 4 contacts a day for a month, you might be surprised at how your comfort level and speed will increase.  Good luck and have fun with CW.       
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VK5EEE
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« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2017, 03:15:43 AM »

I think I did 24 hours a day, left 500 kHz on while I slept, as a small boy, the static and CW was comforting.
But when you are young doing anything you want to will get quick results.
For sure when older, for short term memory to become medium/long term memory, (a little) each day is required until proficient.
Just have fun learning, though the army could beat it into you with daily classes until your head hurts, no need for that method today.
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Long Live Real Human CW and wishing you many happy CW QSO - 77 - CW Forever

Support CW and join CW clubs. QTT: FIST#1124, HSC#1437, UFT#728, RCWC#982, SKCC#15007, CWOPS#1714, 30CW#1,
K8AXW
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« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2017, 09:27:52 AM »

EEE:  You're 100% correct!  This is a hobby and with a hobby it's supposed to be fun and a distraction from everyday stress.  To create stress learning CW for your hobby can be considered a form of insanity.

The original question was about the military way.  That is totally different from ham radio.  The two should never be compared or connected in any which, way or form.

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K8PRG
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« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2017, 10:16:04 AM »

I learned CW the military way in '68...8 hrs a day, 5 days a week. It was my job. It was literally drilled into you.
I never even thought about CW again once I left VN in '70....till 2014 when I got my Tech license. Then I "brushed up" on it for about 15-20 minutes a day...it took me two months before I worked up the nerve to try a contact...I had never learned to "send" before.
I believe I'm walking proof that when you learn it the "military way"...you never forget it. But who's got that much time to spend on a "hobby"?
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W4KYR
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« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2017, 10:41:47 AM »

I learned CW the military way in '68...8 hrs a day, 5 days a week. It was my job. It was literally drilled into you.
I never even thought about CW again once I left VN in '70....till 2014 when I got my Tech license. Then I "brushed up" on it for about 15-20 minutes a day...it took me two months before I worked up the nerve to try a contact...I had never learned to "send" before.
I believe I'm walking proof that when you learn it the "military way"...you never forget it. But who's got that much time to spend on a "hobby"?

Interesting question

There might be some out there who are retired, working part time, had their hours cut back or unemployed who could spend 8 hours a day.  Perhaps even kids having off for summer vacation. 

The problem would be even if someone could find that much time in a day, I could imagine it would be difficult to get that self motivated to train 8 hours a day unless they were in some kind of classroom setting with others.

I wonder if years ago there were any (non military) schools that offered all day Morse Code training. Perhaps maybe a radio school or a college?



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