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Author Topic: What is the second best method of decoding Morse?  (Read 6858 times)

Posts: 273

« on: March 26, 2012, 06:15:07 PM »

Hi all -

I'm looking to find out what the second best method of decoding Morse code is -
ie, what are the current methods that would use a computer?

I say second best, because I know the BEST way is with the built-in OEM stereo listening system, after appropriate training is applied... ;-)

I'm posting this here instead of the CW forum because over here, maybe the flames of "you could always just copy it using your EARS" won't be quite 95% of the responses I get  ;-)

I'll further qualify this by saying I've been a General since the early 80s, and can actually copy the required 13wpm.
I'd just like a little help sometimes...  ;-)

So -

I know there are several programs, and many types of interfaces...

I just don't know what's the most recently developed and what's considered best by the user community
as opposed to the marketing efforts of those who have something to sell today... 

What do you folks use?

thanks KA4LFP


Posts: 273

« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2012, 08:49:15 PM »

I should probably add that I use a Ten-Tec Omni IV, a Swan 350 (not seriously for CW, though)
and a Yaesu FT-757GX.
Mainly the Ten-Tec
(after all, if you have a Ten-Tec, why would you use anything else for CW - )

I don't have any of those fancy new rigs with all kinds of digital interfaces and the ability to control the International Space Station on some multi-pin connector on the back of the radio...

I _am_ however, an IT professional, and one of the extremely early adopters of open source

So if there's a GPL program, I'm open to it...


Posts: 192


« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2012, 05:07:45 AM »

The problem with most CW decoding software is that the worse the spacing and character length become (aka FIST) the worse the decoding gets. If you are coping someone sending by keyboard, it will work almost perfectly.

Posts: 624

« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2012, 06:54:40 AM »

NA4IT is right.  One might say that "the error is in the hand of the sender."

Posts: 5585

« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2012, 09:13:48 AM »

I would submit that an excellent tool for ENHANCING the reception of multiple morse signals, are multi-signal decoders like CW Skimmer.

By no means does not replace the best method. (In fact a good contest op or DX station can simultaneously decode multiple stations in the passband already.) But when combined with a broad-spectrum receiver it is an incredibly valuable addition to give spectrum awareness outside the audible passband.

Others here complain when CW Skimmer busts a call, but it is in fact really good overall. It seems to copy most bad or quirky fists with ease. Look at how it does in straight key events for example. Where it gets confused in a way that a good human op is still way superior, is pretty much confined to static crashes and two stations calling near zero beat.

Posts: 273

« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2012, 08:06:37 PM »

Thanks folks!

I'll have to check out CW Skimmer -- sounds like it's what I'm after --

That, and it answers the one question I'd had -- what interface?
I was hoping for something that used that sort of basic standard cabling.

Now I'll have to get one of the PCs in the office tied into the shack on the opposite side..


Posts: 697


« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2012, 02:59:34 AM »

The CW decoder in the DM780 component of Ham Radio Deluxe isn't too bad. Others have pointed out the deficiencies of computer CW decoding but I've played around with DM780 in CW and if you are listening to a decent signal and set your filters narrow enough, it is not bad.

When I was using an iPhone I found an app in the App Store that decoded CW that was fairly decent if you put the iPhone mic inside your headphones!

I love CW, so insert all the "learn to copy yourself" here! It is always fun to see how much better I am than all of those decoders. Though, CW Skimmer has won pileup contests...

73 John K3TN

John K3TN

Posts: 874

« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2012, 04:21:51 PM »

The best program I have found is CWdecoder, a (free) application which is found on the net.
Its interface is horrible, and its sending section is not worth using, but it is the best decoder I have found for decoding varying fists in poor conditions.

CWskimmer (not free) in read mode (put the morse signal into the bandpass section of the waterfall), is also very good at decoding.
In my opinion (and experience) all the other programs I have tried tend to be too finicky and break very easily under poor conditions.
Since most of my work is low signal HF dx CW, the two programs mentioned above are the only ones I have found to be suitable under these conditions.
Almost any program will work well with strong, in the clear signals, properly spaced, but you will find the gems come out under pressure.

You will only need a cable to bring audio from your receiver speaker to the PC microphone or line in socket.
I would place an audio transformer (like used to be available from radio shack) in line to isolate the PC and radio as far as DC is concerned.
Also put in a potentiometer (volume control) or a resistor divider (two resistors) to bring the signal level down, otherwise you may find even with the radios volume control down all the way, you have too much signal.

Apart from that you should be good to go.

« Last Edit: March 28, 2012, 04:33:16 PM by STAYVERTICAL » Logged
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