Brain Freeze during rag chews

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KI4ODO, Jul 9, 2016.

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  1. KI4ODO

    KI4ODO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well, here is my back ground in CW and question. I started working CW in 2006. I down loaded "Just Learn Morse Code", learned it, and began the day I became a general working CW. My speed increased very slowly due to bad habits like writing everything down instead of just making notes like I do now. Name, qth, RST, log info, that sort of thing.

    I had to take several years off the air in 2009 until Feb. of this year. My starting speed coming back was 15wmp with comfortable head copy. I've moved to 18-20wpm with marginal head copy. I can normaly get the gist enough to keep up in the conversation. But some days my brain just freezes. I go from good copy to o_O,,, huh? Nothing. I will go from good copy to an op asking me a question that I have no idea what it was. It's embarrassing.

    My thoughts are this may be more normal than I think. And also that I just need to listen to more qso's at higher speeds than I'm comfortable with.

    Would this be the best course of action? ( I'll add that the brain freeze normally comes when the rag chew goes past the typical rubber stamp of name, qth, rig, age, weather)
    KD2RON likes this.
  2. K1DJE

    K1DJE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Very normal! It doesn't take much of a distraction to lose your place!
    Back in the 60's as a novice my brother (General class) would always send about 5 WPM faster than he knew I could copy. It did work - for me. I can't say it will work for everyone, but as a novice I had close to a 30 WPM code speed when he got done with me! It was the theory that gave me fits!
    GL es 73
  3. K8PRG

    K8PRG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm of the opinion that you can't just make yourself head have to just let it come to you as you progress.
    I read where guys say, just put the pencil away...the sink or swim thing...but that's so easy to say when you've been at it for 40 years or so.
    I can usually head copy the "rubber stamp" exchanges...I jot down the name, rst, qth, etc. so I can remember what to log...but if it breaks into a rag chew my pen gets more of a workout.
    W8ZNX and KE8EAS like this.
  4. KI4ODO

    KI4ODO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well the other thing I'm having fun with, and practicing, is that I downloaded Websdr here on my work computer. Then I can listen during down time.
  5. WR2E

    WR2E Ham Member QRZ Page

    Tune in W1AW code practice. Go about your business in the shack. Don't make a concious effort to copy, just listen. After a time you will find yourself copying without even being aware that you are doing so.

    When learning a musical instrument there's this thing I call 'muscle memory'. After a time you dont even have to think about how to form the chords with your fingers anymore, but remember how you struggled with that when first learning?

    IMHO it's sort of the same thing. It needs to happen almost subconciously and i believe that not really concentrating will allow one to develop that kind of muscle memory in your brain.
    W7UUU, K7WFM and KB0TT like this.
  6. K7TRF

    K7TRF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm a big fan of head copy and not writing every letter, but when the conditions get rough whether that's QSB, QRM, faster speeds than you can manage or temporary brain freeze I find I can get back on track by going back to letter by letter copy. For one thing if you start missing more than a letter here and there the words stop flowing and it's tough to head copy word fragments while trying to solve the puzzle of the missing letters in your head real time.

    So if I can stay with the gist of a QSO and follow the general topics I prefer to head copy and that's helped a lot in terms of increasing comfortable QSO speed and in terms of hearing complete words instead of individual letters. But when the going gets rough for any reason and I'm no longer following the conversation I go back to copying letter by letter and will often be able to piece together incomplete words that I wouldn't follow in my head.

    When things get really rough, for whatever reason, I actually try to turn my brain off and stop trying to interpret the words as they arrive and just copy a letter at a time not worrying about those I miss or trying to catch up with missed letters. A few minutes of that and I can often glance down and make sense of that string of letters I've copied without thinking. It's not ideal and I'm much happier in a relaxed arm chair, head copy ragchew but things can get tough and in those cases it can help to pull out the pen and just start copying sounds to paper.

    Good luck and stick with it,
    KB0TT likes this.
  7. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Take notes. I think most of us who "copy in our heads" do this. And don't be afraid to ask for a repeat, using as clues what you did catch: "SRI OM PLS REPEAT UR ? ABT"... or "B4" or "AFTER" or whatever clues you have.

    In the old days I would often send "SRI OM PLS QSM AA" or "AB," but I don't know how many would recognize QSM or AA ("all after") or AB ("all before") anymore. I had to look up QSM myself just know because I hadn't heard it in so long.

    In fact, I've forgotten a lot of the less common Q-signals because no one ever uses them anymore. When was the last time you heard QUA?
  8. K7KBN

    K7KBN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Google for ACP-131.
  9. M6GYU

    M6GYU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Take notes. Taking notes is good practice. In the same way you can't always remember everything said in a fat to face conversation you cannot expect to remember everything in a CW conversation. Plus, when conditions get bad and/or the operator isn't brilliant and you start to miss the odd bit or letters then being able to refer to what you wrote will help you fill gaps if necessary.

    Despite folk insisting 'Head Copy' is the way forward, every commercial operator and military operator were taught to write everything down - Your memory is not always reliable!!/
    K7NDE, KA0HCP, M0PHE and 1 other person like this.
  10. M0PHE

    M0PHE Ham Member QRZ Page

    2W0OTK and KT0G like this.

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