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eHam Forums => CW => Topic started by: K5RM on November 30, 2013, 04:16:05 PM



Title: CW Spacing
Post by: K5RM on November 30, 2013, 04:16:05 PM
This could end up being a long but hopefully good topic. 
I would like any suggestions on how to improve my CW sending.  First off it probably is just on air practice.  I have done  some recording and have noticed that my sending is run together some.  I have had some people tell me that my sending is choppy or machine gun.  I have noticed it myself some while sending during QSO's and usually think  it's because I still get a little nervous when qso'ing and try to watch my spacing more.  You would think that after about  15 years of CW only, it would go away.  But I have only gotten more comfortable in my CW skills in the last couple of years.  I usually qso around 22-25 wpm.  I like a lot of people, contest faster than that, but can't copy good or well enough at those speeds very long.  I am still learning to copy in my head.  Anyway back to the subject..  I will some times find a book or email or something and just practice sending at 22-25 wpm or faster just to try to get comfortable at sending at those speeds.   I'm sure that I'm not the only one out there and maybe this thread will help other people too, who read this and the responses that might be given.  I am always trying to improve my code skills, I listen to QRQ qso's and watch some on youtube and wish I was at that point already, but for now can only try to push myself to get there.  So any suggestions would be great!!

For those of you who I have QSO'd with sorry for my sending at times HI HI!!
73's
John
KM5PS


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: VA7CPC on November 30, 2013, 09:33:44 PM
Quote
. . .   I will some times find a book or email or something and just practice sending at 22-25 wpm or faster just to try to get comfortable at sending at those speeds.  . . .

Three thoughts, FWIW (because you can read, and send, faster than I can):

1.  What are you doing for "quality control" ?   What makes you think your practice sending has correct spacing?  Are you just practicing the same mistakes, over and over ?

. . . Get a computer-based CW decoder, and practice sending so that _it_ can read your characters and spacing.

When a computer can read you, you've got a good fist.

2) If you're not using a paddle or a bug, start to use one or the other.

3) If you're using a paddle,  get a keyer with "auto-word-spacing".  The Logitec keyers, and the K1EL WinKeyer, have this option.   It's likely to clean-up your spacing:

. . . when it's turned on, and your spacing is uneven, "auto-word-space" will make it _very_ uneven, and you'll learn to fix it.

.       Charles




Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: K7MEM on December 01, 2013, 06:35:53 AM
I will some times find a book or email or something and just practice sending at 22-25 wpm or faster just to try to get comfortable at sending at those speeds.

If practicing at 22-25 WPM gives you trouble you may be trying to send too fast. Try slowing down a little bit to see if your spacing improves. Then increase your speed in small steps and see where the timing gets bad. Like VA7CPC suggested, try using a code copying program and see if it can follow you. If your spacing is bad all you will get is gibberish. Then try a different key. It could be you have reached the limits of your key. I personally use an old Heathkit HD-1410 Iambic keyer and a old Vibroplex bug (1916). But I have them adjusted for a relatively slow speed because I like to hang around the old novice bands.


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: K5RM on December 01, 2013, 07:17:09 AM
Thanks for the suggestions.  When I practice I will usually look at my K3 screen to see how well it is copying me and it does a pretty good.  That is how I can sometimes tell when my spacing is getting bad if the K3 will not copy me very well.  I will look aground for some cw programs to try.  I usually use here Morse Runner and RufzXP for practice for contest and callsigns.  I know that it does not allow you to send back to it.  What programs do allow you to send back to them and will run on Win7 32 bit? 

John


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: K7MEM on December 01, 2013, 09:28:15 AM
You might want to try CWlab or EhoCW. I run them on a Windows 7, 64 bit laptop. They should run on a 32 bit system just fine. I really like EhoCW because you can tie a straight key or paddles directly to it, through a serial port. I use a USB to Serial Port converter cable for the interface. I can't try it right now by I will test it later to see if it might suit your needs.

Martin - K7MEM



Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: GW3OQK on December 02, 2013, 04:07:17 AM
John
How about off-air practice instead, and 18-20 wpm until you sound perfect to ourself. Then go on air at that speed. For me its a pleasure to hear perfect morse at any speed rather than poor morse generally at speeds too fast for the operator. Here's some good morse http://www.smrcc.org.uk/Morse/morse.htm (http://www.smrcc.org.uk/Morse/morse.htm) which texts I have used to test my error-free sending speed.
Hope to work you one day
Andrew


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: ZL1BBW on December 02, 2013, 10:07:22 AM
Its a shame there not still inkers around, they used to show up sending mistakes very well.  My advice would be slow down, a genuine 25 is rattling along, especially on a hand key.

Many years ago when being interviewed for a job at the GPO Radio station I had to do a sending test, what speed? what ever you feel comfortable at, a nice steady 18 - 20 was what I sent at, no problems

Too many people are rip n bust merchants and rely on intuitive receiving, that is not the name of the game, you must be able to receive exactly what is sent, letter/character exactly as sent should be received.

I do not know if the decoding programs can be set up real tight, but if they can do that.

We used to test on inkers and then measure every dot dash for length and spacing, if you were sending at 20, then they all had to be the same, no ifs.


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: ZL1BBW on December 02, 2013, 06:11:05 PM
This is a long shot, but wouldnt it be nice if a morse decoder  also actually displayed so you could print it out, the actual length of each unique item in the morse character, then you could check out your ratio and inter character spacing, if using a hand key.

that way could print out the page keep it for reference and see if you have improved.

I am sure my old morse teacher at radio college would have strangled some people with the inker tape with some signals now.


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: K5TEN on December 02, 2013, 06:57:31 PM
There was an excellent article in CQ in the early 80's about hard and fast (almost mathmatical) spacing between letters and between words.  I wish I still had my copy as over the years many folks have asked this question.

I can't tell you how many Ops I hear that are sending 20+ wpm and their spacing between words and between letters is so insanely short that all the letters, numbers, prosigns run into each other.  It's not even worth replying to their CQ or reply.

The article stressed making at LEAST the space of a dit or two between letters and at least a double dah between words.  Regardless of speed.  I always try to so that and just a shade more depending on the other Op's experience.  I am NOT a speed demon and strive more on accuracy and ease of copy over speed any day.  Not all people feel that way and I may be in the minority.


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: ZL1BBW on December 02, 2013, 07:06:20 PM
There was an excellent article in CQ in the early 80's about hard and fast (almost mathmatical) spacing between letters and between words.  I wish I still had my copy as over the years many folks have asked this question.

I can't tell you how many Ops I hear that are sending 20+ wpm and their spacing between words and between letters is so insanely short that all the letters, numbers, prosigns run into each other.  It's not even worth replying to their CQ or reply.

The article stressed making at LEAST the space of a dit or two between letters and at least a double dah between words.  Regardless of speed.  I always try to so that and just a shade more depending on the other Op's experience.  I am NOT a speed demon and strive more on accuracy and ease of copy over speed any day.  Not all people feel that way and I may be in the minority.

Absolutely right, when I was morse testing for British telecom, sometimes you wonder if the person was just having a bit of bad run, and I would get them to send TEST, this would sometimes come out as TEST other times as NST or even NV, they would go away and come back another day.


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: KH2G on December 02, 2013, 10:53:21 PM
I believe that as your copy speed comes up, your sending speed will become cleaner at whatever the rate simply because you'll hear and know it is wrong. Sending to a copy program is not a bad way to go to find out if your decent as most machines don't do well if the characters are not pretty darned good.  Off air practice sending such things as the QST magazine articles is great practice as you'll have plenty of all characters.
Regards and enjoy -
Oh BTW, I used to set my bug dits by adjusting the spring tension, spacing etc until an analog meter set on the contacts would hood mid-scale and that seemed to do well enough for the "ships at sea"   :)
Dick KH2G


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: KB1WSY on December 03, 2013, 02:45:51 AM
Its a shame there not still inkers around, they used to show up sending mistakes very well.  My advice would be slow down, a genuine 25 is rattling along, especially on a hand key.

A few months ago I found my old Meccano (US = Erector Set) Electrikit in my mother's basement. I bought it with my pocket money in the 1960s and one of the things you can build is ... a Morse inker! The Electrikit is missing a few parts but it looks like I'll be able to build this as soon as I can bring the Electrikit back to the shack (it's on the other side of the Atlantic). Here's the picture from the manual:

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-sByWlZnTIvk/Up2zSPnwPyI/AAAAAAAAByE/HUKjBv14vck/s640/Morse%2520Inker.JPG)

One challenge will be finding a new roll of paper. It's like cash-register paper but much narrower. The one that's with the kit has rotted into uselessness.

It will also have to be altered to replace the hand crank with a geared electric motor. I have the parts for that, too, and I remember making such a modification back in the '60s. I actually built two of these back then, and was able to conduct "wired" conversations with a buddy! (Note the key on the left-hand side, and the "transmit-receive" switch in the middle.)

If you look in the middle you will find the "active element" from a ball-point pen. A couple of electromagnets are used to actuate the "print arm." Another two electromagnets ring the "get ready to receive a signal" bell on the back.

BTW the Electrikit that I have is the French model, marketed there as "Meccano Elec" but basically identical to the British version. The manual was missing but I managed to find one on eBay.


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: K7MEM on December 03, 2013, 04:01:24 AM
I'm not sure that building a Morse Inker would be the solution, but there are easier ways to see what your sending.

Most CW receiving programs have a scope display where you can watch the in coming CW on the screen. Just wire the output of your code practice oscillator to the audio input of your PC. But with fast code, it may be a issue seeing much of anything.

You could also just record you sending in a ".wav" or ".mp3" file and then view it with a sound editor. I have a application by Roxio for copying old VHS tapes to DVD ($35). Part of that software is a sound editor that lets me open any audio file and view it. Below is a clip from my sound editor. It is a string of Vs from the start of a simulated QSO at 21 WPM. You can see the spacing very clearly.

http://www.k7mem.com/manuals/CW_Spacing.jpg (http://www.k7mem.com/manuals/CW_Spacing.jpg)

It is possible, with this sound editor, to zoom in and see each individual audio cycle or the turn-on/turn-off shape of the CW. If you ever wondered why your code oscillator sounds mushy or something.



Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: ZL1BBW on December 03, 2013, 11:12:11 AM
K7MEM  Thanks for posting that, a very good illustration.  I just printed it out and the dots are 2mm, the inter dot spacing is correct at 2mm but the dash measures 7mm so that dash is 3.5 times a dot, not 3 as it should be.

How did you send this?

Hope you dont think I am being picky, but this is how we were checked.

Regards Gavin


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: N6EV on December 04, 2013, 12:33:46 AM
This is a long shot, but wouldnt it be nice if a morse decoder  also actually displayed so you could print it out, the actual length of each unique item in the morse character, then you could check out your ratio and inter character spacing, if using a hand key.

Actually, there is such a program out there!  It's called "Precision CW FistCheck" by DJ7HS.  It has a decode function, but the real purpose is to show your element and space timing graphically.  It includes standard timing hash marks to show proper spacing for an entered target WPM value for comparison.   It can be downloaded here:  http://www.qsl.net/dj7hs/download.htm (http://www.qsl.net/dj7hs/download.htm)

Here's a screen capture of the program after I sent a bit of straight key code.  It shows the last letter decoded in my call.
(http://www.N6EV.com/images/CWFistCheck.jpg)

32 years ago my code Elmer instilled in me the need to "send the spaces too".  In other words, the timing of spaces is just as important as the timing of dits and dahs.

Hope you find this helpful.

73
Paul  N6EV
CWOps / FISTS / SKCC / Code Elmer
http://www.N6EV.com/ (http://www.N6EV.com/)

Elmer Chat / Sked Page:  http://www.obriensweb.com/sked/index.php?board=elmer (http://www.obriensweb.com/sked/index.php?board=elmer)


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: ZL1BBW on December 04, 2013, 01:17:34 AM
 :)  Thank you, I hope that it gets used.  Send the spaces, how right.  We used to have to be able to send the auto alarm signal by hand accurately enough to trip a test set.  Thankfully never had to use it for real.


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: KB1WSY on December 04, 2013, 02:10:37 AM
Actually, there is such a program out there!  It's called "Precision CW FistCheck" by DJ7HS.
Paul  N6EV

Wow! Thank you very much, that is really useful. I'm halfway through learning Morse and my sending has a long way to go:

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-Gog9XlUwuvs/Up7-h0pC7sI/AAAAAAAAByY/g-SYE6rKF2Y/s640/My_Fist.jpg)

--Dahs uneven.
--Dits too short.
--Spaces too long.


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: GW3OQK on December 04, 2013, 09:53:49 AM
Wow, that FistCheck DOES look good.
ZL1BBW how about a sked to check out my sending?!
Andrew


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: ZL1BBW on December 04, 2013, 10:03:07 AM
Wow, that FistCheck DOES look good.
ZL1BBW how about a sked to check out my sending?!
Andrew
Once I get the beams up on 20 and 40 be happy to try it.  I am sure you probably came through a similar school of teaching?


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: KB1WSY on December 04, 2013, 10:34:08 AM
Wow, that FistCheck DOES look good.

Only issue I've found so far is that it only shows one letter at a time. So if you send "CQ" it will show the C, then erase the C and show the Q. That's an obvious limitation (no way to check inter-word spacing, or to type in entire words and check them as such). Still, it's very useful. I'm still finding it hard to make my "dits" long enough with my straight key -- makes me realize why people like bugs so much!


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: K7MEM on December 04, 2013, 02:00:49 PM
K7MEM  Thanks for posting that, a very good illustration.  I just printed it out and the dots are 2mm, the inter dot spacing is correct at 2mm but the dash measures 7mm so that dash is 3.5 times a dot, not 3 as it should be.

How did you send this?

Hope you dont think I am being picky, but this is how we were checked.

No, your not being picky, but you have to take into account the resolution of the clipping.

The clip I posted was copied directly off of my screen after I zoomed out on the sound editor to get a sufficient display. By that time the displayed signal was heavily under-sampled and probably wouldn't stand up to direct measurements. There may be some slight distortion in the utility I use to clip the image (SWBCapture).

The code on the image I posted was computer generated by a program called Morse Academy. It's a DOS based program. One of the modes for Morse Academy is to generate "simulated" QSOs at any speed you like. It generates audio files (.wav) that can be converted to MP3 files and used on a MP3 player. Of course I used them a while ago so I use a cassette player.

I used Morse Academy to pass the General 13 WPM and Extra 20 WPM CW tests, when they existed. I made sure I could copy at 25 WPM, before I was confident that I could pass the test. <brag>And I passed with 100% copy.</brag> Morse Academy works on most OSs up to XP and is still available. It has problems with Windows 7, but I get around that my running it under DOSBox.

If, in my sound editor, I zoom in on one character and actually measure the timing, the timing is perfect. There is a rise and fall time associated with each element so I measured from approximately the 90% rise to the 10% fall. Each dot measured 57 ms and the space between each dot was 57 ms. The dash measured 170 ms, which is very close to 3 time a dot. The space between the dot and dash was also 57 ms. So if you look close enough at the code you can see the actual spacing.

Below is a clipping of a single dot from that same CW session. The entire length of the display is about 75 ms. So you can see that deciding where to start and end measuring isn't easy. The timing numbers that you see on the screen are relative marking from the start of the file. I can zoom in even further and see each and every audio cycle, which is ~750 Hz.

http://www.k7mem.com/manuals/CW_Spacing_Dot_Closeup.jpg (http://www.k7mem.com/manuals/CW_Spacing_Dot_Closeup.jpg)

Here is a link to the actual CW file that the clippings are from, if you care to listen to it.

http://www.k7mem.org/Projects/Morse_Code_Tests/21WPM_00.WAV (http://www.k7mem.org/Projects/Morse_Code_Tests/21WPM_00.WAV)


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: N6EV on December 04, 2013, 05:22:09 PM
I'm still finding it hard to make my "dits" long enough with my straight key -- makes me realize why people like bugs so much!

Martin, I suggest running some drills with FistCheck, first sending the numbers 5 and 0 repeatedly to get the consistency of your dits and dahs down (matching the hash marks for your spending speed).  Once you're able to master the timing for each, progress to sending a period to alternate dit/dah elements for consistency.  Then you can mix it up with different letters to see how they look.  It shouldn't take long to get the hang of it.   Also, key adjustments (contact spacing & spring tension, trunion pivot resistance) contribute to element timing.  Be sure your key is properly set up first, before you practice sending! 

I hang out in the Elmer chat/sked page when I'm in the shack, ready to help anyone on the air.
http://www.obriensweb.com/sked/index.php?board=elmer (http://www.obriensweb.com/sked/index.php?board=elmer)

Good luck!  73

Paul N6EV


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: K3STX on December 04, 2013, 06:48:25 PM
Download one of the W1AW code practice mp3s with the text, then YOU send it and record it. Then play it back to yourself and compare your sending to the W1AW sending. When you can't tell the difference, you are sending good code.

paul


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: ZL1BBW on December 05, 2013, 12:57:22 AM
K7MEM, That sounded really nice, easy to copy, could have sat here all day and taken that straight down onto the mill.



Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: KB1WSY on December 05, 2013, 04:00:13 AM
Martin, I suggest running some drills with FistCheck, first sending the numbers 5 and 0 repeatedly to get the consistency of your dits and dahs down (matching the hash marks for your spending speed).  Once you're able to master the timing for each, progress to sending a period to alternate dit/dah elements for consistency.  Then you can mix it up with different letters to see how they look.  It shouldn't take long to get the hang of it.

Thank you Paul. I'll start on that today. I played with it yesterday, using the "period" character, and found it really hard to get right! But it's early days.

Also, key adjustments (contact spacing & spring tension, trunion pivot resistance) contribute to element timing.  Be sure your key is properly set up first, before you practice sending!  

My modern Ameco K4 key (a Japanese knockoff of a J-38) was very stiff when I bought it, even with the spring loosened to the max:

(http://www.skccgroup.com/k3y/awards/2011/ameco_k4.jpg)

So I went to the hardware store and bought another, weaker spring. I also reduced the contact space. I find it much better now although it's a bit "hairtrigger" (the occasional stray dit gets out). In the longer run I may find that I prefer a "navy knob" -- if I grasp the small knob on the K4 firmly, rather than just resting my fingers on top, I send much better code but it feels flimsy and small.

I hang out in the Elmer chat/sked page when I'm in the shack, ready to help anyone on the air.
http://www.obriensweb.com/sked/index.php?board=elmer (http://www.obriensweb.com/sked/index.php?board=elmer)

Thanks, that's useful to know!

Download one of the W1AW code practice mp3s with the text, then YOU send it and record it. Then play it back to yourself and compare your sending to the W1AW sending. When you can't tell the difference, you are sending good code.

Thank you Paul-2, that's a great idea. Will need to wait until I have the full character set though (I'm using the Koch method).

A question for y'all: I've got G4FON software set at 20wpm character speed with 15wpm ("Farnsworth") spacing. I'm halfway through the learning process (19 characters learned). When I try to copy a "real" 20wpm without the extra spacing, it's really hard. But isn't it time I did that anyway? Am I making future trouble for myself by keeping the 15wpm word spacing?

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: KB1WSY on December 05, 2013, 10:35:35 AM
Martin, I suggest running some drills with FistCheck, first sending the numbers 5 and 0 repeatedly.
Good luck!  73
Paul N6EV

I was able to get the "5" relatively close after a few minutes of practice:

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-sPeYMJLGZ-U/UqDGb5YQejI/AAAAAAAAByo/WdQQ6lLH2Mk/s276/My_Fist_02.jpg)

However, the number "0" is defeating me completely, for the moment ... I'm sure I'll get it eventually!


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: VA7CPC on December 05, 2013, 07:10:48 PM

 . . .
So I went to the hardware store and bought another, weaker spring. I also reduced the contact space. I find it much better now although it's a bit "hairtrigger" (the occasional stray dit gets out). In the longer run I may find that I prefer a "navy knob" -- if I grasp the small knob on the K4 firmly, rather than just resting my fingers on top, I send much better code but it feels flimsy and small.
. . .

If you visit Home Depot (or another well-stocked hardware store), you'll find almost-spherical drawer knobs.  The screw hole is just a bit larger than the screw in the K-4, but you can fill it with wooden matches, or glue-based wood filler.   And then mount the big spherical knob on the K-4.

.              Charles


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: KB1WSY on December 06, 2013, 06:14:22 AM
If you visit Home Depot (or another well-stocked hardware store), you'll find almost-spherical drawer knobs.  The screw hole is just a bit larger than the screw in the K-4, but you can fill it with wooden matches, or glue-based wood filler.   And then mount the big spherical knob on the K-4.
.              Charles

Great idea -- I will give it a go but only if I can do it non-destructively. Ameco's successor company (http://www.mtechnologies.com/ameco/keys.htm (http://www.mtechnologies.com/ameco/keys.htm)) is out of stock of the K-4 "due to problems in the factory in Japan last year" and availability of the key has been "suspended indefinitely." Thus I feel that I own a little piece of ham history, namely, one of the last-ever manufactured K-4s. The company has said they "hope to have a replacement for this key available early in 2014" but from that wording, it won't necessarily be a K-4 per se.

More generally I think I'll be springing for a "better" straight key soon ... but the K-4 is fine for the time being, especially if I can modify it as you suggest.


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: K7MEM on December 06, 2013, 08:05:48 AM
A question for y'all: I've got G4FON software set at 20wpm character speed with 15wpm ("Farnsworth") spacing. I'm halfway through the learning process (19 characters learned). When I try to copy a "real" 20wpm without the extra spacing, it's really hard. But isn't it time I did that anyway? Am I making future trouble for myself by keeping the 15wpm word spacing?

This is one of those yes, no, and depends questions.

It sounds like you are pushing things a little bit. Like you want to hit the air waves doing 20 WPM on your first QSO. Don't worry so much about speed, until you have learned all your characters. Once you get all the characters down and get on the air, your confidance will start rising. Speed doesn't necessarily come with operating on the air, but confidance does. After a while you will realize that you are recognizing whole words. It starts with the simple common ones like "rst", "qth", "es", "name", "wx", etc.. Then, you no longer need to copy down each character. All you need is the associated information. Most of it you just put right in your log and save the scratch paper for other parts of the QSO.

I downloaded the G4FON software some time ago, just to see what it was like. It looks pretty nice and seems to work well. I found out a long time ago that the "Farnsworth" method was not for me. What works for one person doesn't necessarily work for everyone. But if it's working for you, keep with it. The only issue that sometimes happens with "Farnsworth" users is that, they have trouble copying a slow code user. You get use to the quick characters and long spaces, but most ops don't send that way. And they don't expect to receive that way.

I got my first license in 1966. I had to send and receive at 5 WPM to get it at that time. I always wanted to be real good and fast with the key but lots of things got in the way. You know, school, work, kids, yadada yadada yadada. Fast forward 30 years and I decided to actually do something about it. I knew when I was going for my General and Extra that all I had to do was wait a few years and the CW requirement would go away. But it was a personal goal and I wanted to do it before they eliminated it.

One of the things you might consider, which will help any spacing issues you might have, is to get a keyer. Yes, I know all the arguments about using a straight key. I have two straight keys. A Signal Electric and a McElroy. I blow off the dust and shine them up every so often, but never put them on the air since I got a keyer (1981). That was when I was living in Germany and operating as DA2EU. All I had at the time was a Heathkit CW rig and I worked 15 Meters almost exclusively. With that keyer I was always getting compliments on my CW. Everyone loved how it sounded. I have several keyes now and like them all. You can pick up a descent one for pretty cheap at any ham fest.

I have an old Vibroplex Blue Racer (1916). I never could get the hang of making good consistent dashes but I figured a way to connect it to a keyer. It works great that way. It's kind of nice to hear it clacking around as I send. Currently that's my main key.


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: KB1WSY on December 06, 2013, 08:26:51 AM
It sounds like you are pushing things a little bit. Like you want to hit the air waves doing 20 WPM on your first QSO. Don't worry so much about speed, until you have learned all your characters. Once you get all the characters down and get on the air, your confidance will start rising. Speed doesn't necessarily come with operating on the air, but confidance does.

Thank you very much for the advice. What I may do, instead of trying 20/20, is slow down G4FON so that it's 15/15. That way, at least, I will assimilate the "correct" spacing. I'm not sure how long it will be before I get on the air, but right now it looks like "several months," mainly because of time contraints in building the transmitter and also because winter weather could make it harder to put up my first dipole (I'm currently just using a long wire for RX). So, in a way, I have the "luxury" of being able to concentrate on the Morse learning for a while. However I'm sure nothing beats actually being on the air, *especially* when it comes to improving one's Morse *sending* skills.

Copying on the air is completely different, when you throw in QSB, QRM and the very basic equipment I'm using. But it's undeniably a lot of fun! I am beginning to get entire words, at least obvious things like "TEST," "THE," "ALL," "RIG," "NAME" and the various Q-codes.


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: KB1WSY on December 06, 2013, 08:28:45 AM
It sounds like you are pushing things a little bit. Like you want to hit the air waves doing 20 WPM on your first QSO. Don't worry so much about speed, until you have learned all your characters. Once you get all the characters down and get on the air, your confidance will start rising. Speed doesn't necessarily come with operating on the air, but confidance does.

Thank you very much for the advice. What I may do, instead of trying 20/20, is slow down G4FON so that it's 15/15. That way, at least, I will assimilate the "correct" spacing. I'm not sure how long it will be before I get on the air, but right now it looks like "several months," mainly because of time contraints in building the transmitter and also because winter weather could make it harder to put up my first dipole (I'm currently just using a long wire for RX). So, in a way, I have the "luxury" of being able to concentrate on the Morse learning for a while. However I'm sure nothing beats actually being on the air, *especially* when it comes to improving one's Morse *sending* skills.

Copying on the air is completely different, when you throw in QSB, QRM and the very basic equipment I'm using. But it's undeniably a lot of fun! I am beginning to get entire words, at least obvious things like "TEST," "THE," "ALL," "RIG," "NAME" and the various Q-codes.

One argument for *starting* at the "fast" end (20wpm+) is that it makes it essentially impossible to "think" i.e. there is no time to "count" the dots and dashes. And that's important, IMO.

This is not the first time I've tried to "learn Morse"; it's actually something like the fourth time (the first one was 40 years ago). All previous times failed because I ran out of motivation, or time, or both. This time, I'm determined to finish!


Title: RE: CW Spacing
Post by: K7KBN on December 06, 2013, 06:23:05 PM
You'll make a lot more QSOs with a nearly-perfect fist at 8WPM than you will at 25WPM with a fist that's ...  way less than perfect.

Good code is good code; experienced operators recognize it immediately.