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Author Topic: My Morse Learning Campaign  (Read 360624 times)
PA0WV
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Posts: 418




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« Reply #375 on: October 16, 2015, 02:58:21 PM »

Back after a few months and don't want to read the thread -- cut to the chase -- has there been a QSO yet?
73  Grin

No.

Well?  Any progress?

No. "Life" has intervened. Progress will eventually be made ... no idea when.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


Another failure?
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 1308




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« Reply #376 on: October 26, 2015, 04:05:33 PM »

Another failure?

Wim: No. Just a very long detour. You'll just have to take my word for it: professional commitments have sunk my ham radio hobby for a while -- and that includes CW learning. I'm a persistent cuss, so you can assume I'll be back as soon as possible -- and that may be a very long time. I had no idea it would be like that, but life is life.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
« Last Edit: October 26, 2015, 04:07:39 PM by KB1WSY » Logged
K5HP
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Posts: 1




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« Reply #377 on: November 04, 2015, 07:24:05 PM »

Well dadgum, I have read this entire thread (almost) hoping to celebrate your conquering CW.  Grin Seriously I am fighting the same battle since April of this year. I just finished level 1 of CWops CW academy and it has helped tremendously. I'm scheduled for the Jan class 2016 and will hopefully progress some more in my seemingly endless search for the "secret". Hang in there and don't give up. I gave up golf and have found yet another skill to learn that is impossible to master  Sad Glutton for punishment Hee Hee.
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 21836




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« Reply #378 on: November 05, 2015, 11:21:33 AM »

Well dadgum, I have read this entire thread (almost) hoping to celebrate your conquering CW.  Grin Seriously I am fighting the same battle since April of this year. I just finished level 1 of CWops CW academy and it has helped tremendously. I'm scheduled for the Jan class 2016 and will hopefully progress some more in my seemingly endless search for the "secret". Hang in there and don't give up. I gave up golf and have found yet another skill to learn that is impossible to master  Sad Glutton for punishment Hee Hee.

With golf, the course always wins.

With code, nothing stands in your way and you can definitely win.

Using the code to make contacts, even at very slow speeds and making lots of mistakes, ramps up code proficiency faster and usually better than any study method.  The "interaction" of both sending and receiving, and eventually knowing what you expect to hear -- and you'll be right most of the time -- is priceless, not to mention fun and puts contacts in the log.
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 1308




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« Reply #379 on: November 06, 2015, 06:27:36 AM »

Using the code to make contacts, even at very slow speeds and making lots of mistakes, ramps up code proficiency faster and usually better than any study method.  The "interaction" of both sending and receiving, and eventually knowing what you expect to hear -- and you'll be right most of the time -- is priceless, not to mention fun and puts contacts in the log.

I actually stepped into the shack a couple of days ago for the first time in ages and revved up one of the homebrew receivers for a few minutes to remind myself that I have a hobby called "ham radio." That's how bad things have been here! Amazingly enough I was able to copy some CW QSOs at a reasonable clip, showing that it's a bit like swimming or riding a bike: once you've learned it, it's almost impossible to "forget" completely.

Unfortunately, because of all-consuming business projects, there will be many more months away from the hobby. But I'll be back.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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K8PRG
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Posts: 305


WWW

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« Reply #380 on: November 06, 2015, 07:01:00 AM »

Using the code to make contacts, even at very slow speeds and making lots of mistakes, ramps up code proficiency faster and usually better than any study method.  The "interaction" of both sending and receiving, and eventually knowing what you expect to hear -- and you'll be right most of the time -- is priceless, not to mention fun and puts contacts in the log.

That's been my approach exactly.....at first I was very reluctant, being afraid to be labeled as a lid, etc...but I finally decided, screw them, it's a hobby and I'm in it for the fun.....and I'm having me some.
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 21836




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« Reply #381 on: November 06, 2015, 08:39:07 AM »

Using the code to make contacts, even at very slow speeds and making lots of mistakes, ramps up code proficiency faster and usually better than any study method.  The "interaction" of both sending and receiving, and eventually knowing what you expect to hear -- and you'll be right most of the time -- is priceless, not to mention fun and puts contacts in the log.

That's been my approach exactly.....at first I was very reluctant, being afraid to be labeled as a lid, etc...but I finally decided, screw them, it's a hobby and I'm in it for the fun.....and I'm having me some.

I don't think you'd be labeled as a lid or anything else.

When I work someone going slowly, making mistakes, and asking me for repeats I figure "Oh, he's new."  But sometimes that's wrong also.  It can be "Oh, he's old and forgetting stuff."  That also happens.

It doesn't matter.
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VK3MEG
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Posts: 951




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« Reply #382 on: November 08, 2015, 04:51:08 PM »

Well dadgum, I have read this entire thread (almost) hoping to celebrate your conquering CW.  Grin Seriously I am fighting the same battle since April of this year. I just finished level 1 of CWops CW academy and it has helped tremendously. I'm scheduled for the Jan class 2016 and will hopefully progress some more in my seemingly endless search for the "secret". Hang in there and don't give up. I gave up golf and have found yet another skill to learn that is impossible to master  Sad Glutton for punishment Hee Hee.

thanks for that its encouraging I'm well and truly getting there and the magic is starting to happen pulling out words not canned qso's letters, copying beacons, still got my safety blanket cheat sheet handy but the words are ringing in my ears to ditch it. I actually sent without the echo back the other day and my qso buddy goes that was great. So now comes the time to ditch the security and throw my self out there. cqww cw is a contest i plan to operate as long as possible. as i find each contest i do my skill level jumps up quite a bit. Good to see the encouragement here. its helping. We are getting a few more vk's interested as they are seeing that it is achievable with constant steady work.


my one tip is for people when learning to send to try to get an echoback of what you are sending i find this invaluable.
cheers
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 1308




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« Reply #383 on: March 15, 2017, 02:33:16 AM »

A couple of weeks ago I stepped into the shack and removed all the household junk that had accumulated in there, which had made the room impassable. Then I fired up my two homebrew ham receivers for the first time in nearly a year.

After making some small hardware modifications to the detector stage and stringing up a much longer "longwire antenna," reception was greatly improved on 40m (as well as 80m and 20m) on the "Three-Transistor Receiver for the Beginner" (an ARRL project from 1968). This was very encouraging because one of the things that discouraged me from monitoring the bands was poor performance in this receiver, which initially worked well when I built it several years ago but then inexplicably became a poor performer. (That building project is described here: https://tinyurl.com/h5fsmm2.)

I've also been playing with a self-designed, fairly elaborate regenerative receiver built entirely with subminiature tubes powered with rechargeable batteries, assembled on a large wooden breadboard (described here: https://tinyurl.com/hswxr8v). In many ways this set performs better than the "Three-Transistor Receiver for the Beginner," thanks mainly to the extensive design help I received on this (and other projects) from eham contributors G3RZP, N2EY, KB1GMX and JAHAM2BE. I got further sidetracked by an obsession with building an entirely portable AM tube radio (size of a pack of cigarettes), which was enormous fun and has been in frequent use since it was completed (described here: https://tinyurl.com/jmcunod).

Getting back to the present time, I am very encouraged that even though I have not studied any Morse for a long time, I am able to monitor the basic elements of the CW QSOs copied on 40m and 20m. There are big gaps in the copy where I cannot copy some characters that I have "fogotten" (they sound familiar but my brain is no longer making an automatic link to a character). So now it's time to spend a few weeks brushing up my Morse skills and then plan to get on the air as soon as Spring makes an appearance and the weather permits hoisting the dipole.

I will also be building a simple "front end" for the receiver, adding a one-transistor isolation stage plus attenuation and antenna tune functions, to eliminate overload problems with strong signals. This has already been breadboarded, it just needs to be mounted in a small chassis and shouldn't take more than a few hours. I will also finally build a transmit-receive switch (I have already added a muting reed relay to the receiver).

The transmitter will be the ARRL "Simple Two-Tube Transmitter" described here: https://tinyurl.com/hl4gtxo.

Please wish me luck in finally getting on the air. For several years now, life has been brutally busy, mainly on the professional side but also lots of important personal/family things that must come before hobbies! Ham radio keeps getting derailed ... I was licensed five years ago and seem to be trying to set a record for procrastination.



73 de Martin, KB1WSY
« Last Edit: March 15, 2017, 02:47:04 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
N2DTS
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Posts: 951




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« Reply #384 on: March 15, 2017, 10:50:20 AM »

That is some cool home brew.
I have some of those really small tubes, glass, 3 different types I think, triodes and pentodes, I must do something with them!

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HB0PET
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Posts: 0




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« Reply #385 on: March 18, 2017, 02:41:55 AM »

@Martin

I'm not opposed to older equipment, but your headphones and the key should be replaced with something better! They rather give the impression that they come from a technical Museum. Undecided
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KB1WSY
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Posts: 1308




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« Reply #386 on: March 18, 2017, 04:21:28 AM »

I'm not opposed to older equipment, but your headphones and the key should be replaced with something better! They rather give the impression that they come from a technical Museum. Undecided

The key is an Ameco K-4 (https://www.mtechnologies.com/ameco/keys.htm) which is a Japanese-made clone of the American military J-38. The cans are high-impedance headphones, matching the output specs of the receiver. My station is 100 percent historically accurate to match the complete station in the 1968 edition of "How to Become a Radio Amateur." I agree that this obsession with historical authenticity is perverse!



BTW there is something to be said for the old headphones, when copying CW. Because they have crappy frequency response, they tend to cut out some of the low- and high-frequency QRM or QRN. They are uncomfortable and have almost no isolation from household noise, but thousands of hams managed just fine with them in the 1950s!

Anyway at the moment I'm focusing on a quick brushup of my Morse and then finally Getting on the Air. My historically authentic station won't make it any easier: the receiver's selectivity is as wide as a barn door and the QRP transmitter is crystal-bound. Eventually, I will be building "better" equipment. I even have a Begali key and modern dynamic headphones somewhere in the shack....

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
« Last Edit: March 18, 2017, 04:25:51 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
NI0C
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Posts: 3213




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« Reply #387 on: March 18, 2017, 12:21:25 PM »

Martin,
It is good to see you back in the CW forum, and thanks for the great pics!  I like your vintage 1960's electric clock-- those keep excellent time.  Best wishes and good luck in your pursuits!  Hope to hear you on the air soon.
73 de Chuck  NI0C
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VK5EEE
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Posts: 1215




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« Reply #388 on: March 18, 2017, 09:10:43 PM »

Welcome back Martin! Reading much of the thread, I think your use of Koch would have been a success if you'd not had life/work not allowing time to complete, and perhaps not jumping ahead before the minimum 90% accuracy, as it seems that perhaps at the point you added new characters anyway, then things slowed down? I don't know why many were pushing you to go on air back then, to me there is nothing wrong with mastering CW first before going on air. I learned from a very young age and by the time I was 12 I was the world's youngest R/O on a Greek Ship, yes I knew no electronics, but I knew the frequencies, Q codes, procedures, many of the radio regulations, and was very proficient in CW well beyond the requirement. But I only got on the air again after that some five years later, and would send CW only to myself tapping on a table with a pen etc. But I did an awful lot of listening to all types and languages of CW and that did no harm, so when I got on the air I cannot even remember my first QSO I did not have any nerves as it was easy. I more remember my first use of 500kHz at sea. Well done on the antique equipment, I hope one day to be able to do that too. Let us know how things progress! 73!
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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,
KB1WSY
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Posts: 1308




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« Reply #389 on: March 19, 2017, 03:29:22 AM »

Let us know how things progress!

The good news (and I have said this before) is that if you have learned CW before, but are then forced to take arbitrarily long breaks because Other Things get in the way, it does "come back" quickly. Even the characters that I do not immediately recognize still sound like "old friends" and the mental link between the sound and the character is relatively easy to re-establish.

In the past I was using an "effective code speed" that was different from the "character code speed" -- known as "Farnsworth" timing and helpful for beginners. This time, I am ditching Farnsworth and using a uniform 15wpm speed with the G4FON (Koch-method) trainer. This is working well except that it is tricky copying short characters (such as E, I and T) especially if there are several of them in a row. This time around, I have decided to be much less fussy when this happens: if you cannot copy these staccato bursts of short characters, ignore them and move on. It is usually fairly easy to guess the missing syllables or words afterwards.

Morse is interesting, especially in a modern context, because the characters are of varying lengths -- unlike almost every current digital encoding system which has fixed-length elements. This makes Morse really efficient!

Anyway, after a few days I am up to 14 characters in the Koch progression at a "standard" (non-Farnsworth) 15wpm on G4FON. I am also monitoring a lot of QSOs, although Contest weekends like this one are a bit sterile for a Morse-learner: 20m and 40m are dominated by rapid-fire exchanges consisting of CQ TEST, callsigns, and 5NN! I tried hanging out on the SKCC frequencies, but the problem there is that much of the novice Morse is hard to copy even when it is very slow! I can't wait for the contest to end....

With any luck I will be back up to the full complement of characters in the next couple of weeks.

I am even thinking of doing something sacrilegious and hoisting a commercially manufactured antenna that was generously sent to me several years ago by David, N4AYZ. It's a ParEndFedz "trail-friendly" end-fed QRP antenna (details here: https://tinyurl.com/z53ylch) that is only 41 feet long and would not require renewed negotiations with my neighbors or my landlord -- unlike my full-size homebrewed dipole.

Until now I have been determined that the station should be "entirely homebrewed" but my current circumstances as a renter are something of a "force majeure" so what the heck, might as well get on the air even with a compromise, non-homebrewed antenna to start with. I could build my own "compromise antenna" but what the heck, might as well acknowledte N4AYZ's generosity and get on with it! If I do that, we could be talking about having that first QSO within the next few weeks!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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