View Full Version : Relearning CW
06-17-2010, 09:40 PM
I got my novice license in 1990. To do so, I had to pass the 5wpm test. 10m was booming at that point and I just wanted on SSB! To me CW was a necessary evil to get my ham license.
Well, time went on and I got interested in QRP. I built some radios (CW of course) and brushed up on my CW (I did pass my 13wpm General but barely). I gave up QRP mainly because I was always frustrated with my morse abilities. I seem to have a max cap of about 10wpm.
I'm convinced the problem is in the way I was taught and I'm sure everyone will agree. Flash cards first. Then morse at 5wpm (a real 5wpm, not letters at 13wpm w/code spacing at 5wpm, I mean 5wpm). We were told if we missed a letter, write down -.-. and later on go back and decode it.
Anyway... I'm tired of hovering around 10-12wpm and want to push past this problem. I've tried numerous methods, K7QO's code course being the best one I think, but I'm still stuck! It seems no matter what I do, when I hear a morse character, I hear in my head dit dah dit dit. I then see it, I then write it.
Please, does anyone have any ideas for me to get rid of this problem?
06-17-2010, 10:27 PM
I've been licensed since 1970 and always been interested in CW. I passed the 12wpm without a problem :)and that's where I'm stuck. I have given up the hobby any number of times since then and moved all over the world and most recently got involved again and determined to break the 15wpm barrier. My problem is that I was told NOT to write anything down as that is a barrier to the faster speeds. However in trying to mind copy 15wpm and faster my mind lags in interpreting the text being sent (there's no problem with the characters:)) and whilst I'm thinking "are that word is "configuration" (say), the CW has not stopped and I've lost track!
I try and practise but that's the hurdle I have at the moment.:mad:
06-18-2010, 10:09 AM
Everyone reaches a plateau at some point. One good way to break it is to use CW as background music while you're doing something else unrelated. If you're sitting and working on the computer, have a receiver set on a QSO that's faster than you can work. You want it to be only part of the ambience. Don't try to copy it, the same way you try not to listen to others' public conversations. And don't be surprised when some words sent start to jump out at you. At that point, your plateau is eroding.
Retune when that QSO finishes and find another to listen to.
06-18-2010, 12:35 PM
It's in your head. Stop thinking about 10 wpm, and get on the air. Stop trying to measure your speed, just get on the air and have some QSO's. You will gain speed wth experience. Soon instead of hearing dots and dits you will start to hear letters...and then words.
If you want some good QSO practice, go download the G4FON Koch CW Trainer. It's free, and it will do simulated QSO exchanges. You can vary the QRN, the QSB, the speed, etc .... it a very very good CW trainer.
You have already learned the code...now you need to learn CW.
I have never aspired to be the fastest CW operator in town, and I am very comfortable conversing at 18-20 wpm, which is too slow for a lot of ops, but I never have a problem finding a QSO.
I was like you...my head said 10 wpm was all I could do...until I stopped trying to measure my speed, and just started having some QSO's and enjoying the pace I was running. You can do it, just stop trying so hard and let it build naturally.
Good luck...and BTW, I have 10 wpm QSO's all the time on 40m...I can slow down or I can speed up.
06-18-2010, 11:05 PM
I'm in the process of speeding up my CW, and am currently reading fairly reliably at about 10wpm, but pushing ever upwards.
I think the thing to do is to ensure you set the character speed in your tutor program at about 20 to 25wpm, and have the overall code speed to somewhat faster than you can fully copy. You may have trouble differentiating between 'H' and '5', or 'B' and '6' etc at first but time will help. These higher speed characters help you get out of the dot counting phase and start to recognise the characters as unique sounds - this is where I am currently at and I'm doing OK. :)
Your brain will ache after a 10 minute session, but try to do this at least once a day and you will notice a difference. When copying gets easier, increase the overall speed to keep it a bit above your abilities.
Above all, keep thrashing at it - CW is a skill which doesn't get given away for free, it has to be earned.
06-20-2010, 05:28 PM
What BVN said.
The best way I ever found to bump up your speed is to jump into a contest. It won't take long before you "forget about the code" and concentrate on making contacts. Your speed will increase automatically.
My problem is that I was told NOT to write anything down as that is a barrier to the faster speeds. However in trying to mind copy 15wpm and faster my mind lags in interpreting the text being sent (there's no problem with the characters:)) and whilst I'm thinking "are that word is "configuration" (say), the CW has not stopped and I've lost track!
Copying on paper should not impede you until you hit 25 wpm. 15 wpm is slow to be copying in one's head. It can be more difficult than copying faster code.
I copy in my head except when the QSO is under 15 wpm or the sending is quite imperfect. Spelling errors and spacing errors can wreak havoc with copying in one's head.
When working for higher CW speed it's good to accept errors. Copy what you can and relax. It takes time, so get into a mindset where you feel it's a fun and cool thing to be doing.
06-21-2010, 03:33 AM
If you can copy 10-12 WPM, one word will help you.....QSO's!
CQ or answer at speed you are comfortable with and operator should match your speed.
07-10-2010, 12:11 AM
I finally put my mind to being fluent in CW about two years ago. Get a decent CW trainer and practice a few times a day (as much as you can stand it). Try to set the trainer speed at the threshold of your copy ability, or even a bit faster. I decided to forgo writing and wanted to be able to "head copy" without having to write. I also found that listening to CW QSOs on the air that were above my ability helped immensely. It's frustrating as hell at first, but suddenly you WILL find yourself copying faster and better. I can now comfortably head copy about 18-20 WPM and only write down bullet points (name, QTH, etc). CW went from being an absolute chore to truly one of the most relaxing joys in my life.
Keep trying, you will get there!! It really does become quite fun.