20 WPM by March 1... or die trying!

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KK4NSF, Jan 1, 2019.

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  1. KK4NSF

    KK4NSF Ham Member QRZ Page

    OK.... here's the deal: my code is slow. It's very readable: nice and crisp with perfectly spaced dits and dahs.... but if you've heard me, it must certainly be exceedingly boring for you. My average speed is ~10wpm. Sorry about that. I would say "I've tried to speed up, but I just can't do it".....but that would not be entirely true.

    SO.... to help keep all of my friends from having to slow down while sending, or roll their eyes when I'm transmitting, I've decided to get my rusty brain into gear and up my speed. My goal is not lofty: I want to double my speed by March 1, and then hit 25wpm by April 1.

    Since my brain rust is probably quite thick, I'll need some help from you guys. Encouragement, and helpful tips would be appreciated, as would swift kicks in the backside when I stop working on it. Of course I'll grumble when kicked.... but if I backslide, I'll probably deserve it.

    Now it's off to AA9PF.com.... time to get to work.

    KM6VOV, K1LKP, W9RAC and 1 other person like this.
  2. KJ6TAR

    KJ6TAR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I wish you well! My goal is to be able to copy well enough to make a CW QSO by July. I would be happy with anything over 5 words per minute!
    K9ZMD, KM6VOV, W9RAC and 4 others like this.
  3. W5WTH

    W5WTH Ham Member QRZ Page

    KK4NSF likes this.
  4. KJ6TAR

    KJ6TAR Ham Member QRZ Page

    KM6VOV and W5WTH like this.
  5. KD2IYI

    KD2IYI Ham Member QRZ Page

    What has helped me the most is using Farnsworth timing and re-memorizing the characters by their sound, not the number of dots and dashes, which is ultimately a self-imposed speed limit. If I could learn the code all over, I'd have just skipped the stupid Morse chart and learned by sound only, focusing first ONLY on copying. I was probably, at best, a 10WPM op before. After I switched to Farnsworth, I spent endless hours just listening to code sent at 25WPM and 30WPM character spacing, then gradually ratcheted things up until I can now copy 20WPM at about 80% (good enough for a QSO) and 17WPM reliably. Code sent with a straight key or bug still throws me for a loop, depending on the skill of the op, but this is a learning experience and I expect I won't be satisfied with my speed until I can at least participate in some CW contests, which pretty much means 30WPM at a minimum.

    The next speed limit you'll probably hit will be how many words per minute you can actually write down on paper. For many people, that seems to be at or a little above 20WPM. That's why I try to practice head copy as much as possible, and why you should probably try the same, if you want to hit that speed.

    For me, the big things have been:

    1) Learning by ear, not the chart of dots and dashes
    2) Dedicated listening to tons and tons and tons of code sent at a speed above what I can comfortably copy
    3) Taking a break of a day or two when code I should be able to comfortably copy begins sounding like gibberish. (Don't underestimate this one)

    It seems as if everyone who eventually learns CW does it their own way though some combination of Farnsworth, Koch and various other techniques and or mind tricks. What works for me won't necessarily work for you. (It probably won't: I have severe ADD, which makes head copy especially difficult).

    If you force yourself to listen to enough code sent at 25WPM, you'll be shocked at how 'slow' 15WPM sounds - and how 30WPM suddenly seems possible.

    Good luck.
    KM6VOV, M6GYU and KK4NSF like this.
  6. KD2IYI

    KD2IYI Ham Member QRZ Page

    By the way, I should mention that any of the streams you'll find here make excellent background music:


    I'm extremely grateful to K6DBG for hosting that service. It has helped me immensely. I even listen to it in the car.
    KM6VOV and VE7JBX like this.
  7. W5WTH

    W5WTH Ham Member QRZ Page

    KM6VOV, W1TRY, K9CPO and 1 other person like this.
  8. KB5ZCR

    KB5ZCR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Howdy, I tried to get this to work on my android phone and couldn't get it to work. Any tricks?

    Thanks, KB5ZCR
    KM6VOV and KA0HCP like this.
  9. KD8EDC

    KD8EDC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not working on mine either.
    KM6VOV likes this.
  10. W9RAC

    W9RAC Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    My story is somewhat similar. I started in November at 16 wpm or so solid. I want to be at 20 by the end of the winter, solid, both sending and HEAD copy. Im pretty close now. I been using "just learn CW" phone app set at 20 wpm, words. I use it 30 min every day. 20 wpm to me is not quite fast enough to hear the CW completely as words but its too fast for me to count or write. I use it to build the words in my head and some of them I know by sound.

    I'm on the air a couple hours a day CW. I send at 20 so most of the return I get is 18 to 20, although I have gotten 23 or so :(. I use to stay around the slower areas of CW because I was afraid I might not be able to copy at the faster speed. I finally figured out that there will always be a faster speed, someplace, sometime so get over it. Is not like I have never looked like a idiot at some point in my life before.... I did stop listening and responding to slower CW at this point until Im stable at 20 wpm.

    So, I use the phone app at 20 wpm, set at sending words. I listen to it while on the exercise bike so it helps with the time passing. See I can do two things at once after all. Ill be at 20 wpm by winter end both head copy and sending. Im 68 so its been a bit slower, I think a younger person can learn quicker.

    I use the reverse beacon lookup to spot CQ's at around 20/21 wpm, I make a effort to answer those calls when ever I can hear them. Hope this helps and keep me posted to how its going. 73, Rich
    KM6VOV likes this.

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