Copying CW...write it down or just 'hear' it?

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by KB3TGX, Nov 26, 2010.

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  1. KB3TGX

    KB3TGX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have been trying to learn CW for the past couple of weeks. Up to about 7-8 WPM I have no problem neatly writing down what I hear. At around 10WPM (I can barely keep up)...the characters are coming so quickly that I find it difficult to physically write and keep up.

    Do people generally just hear the code and keep it in their head, or do most people write down what they hear? Seems like above 10WPM it would be pretty difficult to keep up.

    I am getting frustrated trying to get up to 10WPM with 100% accuracy. How long is this supposed to take?:(
  2. WA4OTD

    WA4OTD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think it is best to write down everything until you start not needing to write it down, sounds like Mr Obvious statement.

    At some speed you hear it and write the important stuff down. For me it is name and call sign, beyond that I'll trust my memory. Hear Name is then write down his name.

    There is no need for 100% accuracy other than understanding what is said.
  3. KA5S

    KA5S Ham Member QRZ Page

    Don't WORRY about accuracy; get enough to make sense of the words; you are not copying 5 letter code groups. (Are you?)

    My brain can keep spelling words at up to about 24 wpm and I got the Sec Def's Armed Forces Day CW certificate one year at 25 wpm, copying with a stubby pencil (because I can't touch type). But spelling out words is a bad habit if you are not typing; it takes too much processor time. Have to switch over to words above that speed and I am as yet not so good at whole words. It'll come with practice. Should have stopped copying letters after I got the General class but that is water over the darn. (g)

  4. KB3TGX

    KB3TGX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I practice with a random callsign generator and also from just copying text and pasting into a CW training program.

    With the callsigns I am trying to be 100% since I either got the call or I didnt...there is no context to guess from.

    For the text, I often copy news articles or even random posts from whatever page might be open on my screen. I always copy something I havent read...typically a paragraph or two...that is much easier to copy since I can figure out missing characters from the context of the words.

    I've been having a tough time judging how far along I should be.
    I am closing in on 10WPM but I still dont feel like I can copy well on the air. (much different using a simulator than it is listening with S7 noise, QSB, QRN, and QRM;))

    I am self-teaching...not following any special program...not using some widely lauded system...just memorized the dits and dahs, got myself to the point where I see the letter in my head when I hear the trying to increase the speed.

    What is troubling on the air is that people dont leave much space inbetween characters....even slower code is lacking 3 dits between letters and 7 between words. Makes it tough for me to figure out what is being sent.

    I suppose practice will get me faster. (growing impatient and looking for a sanity check)
  5. WA3UCR

    WA3UCR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Patience and Practice

    Well, if you only have been at this for a couple of weeks, writing things down is probably a good idea. However, if you really stick with it and especially if you get on the air and practice, you will begin to "head copy" sooner or later. It all depends on how much time you devote to it. It will come though - trust me. Your speed will increase and you will start hearing words. It is really fun when you can put down the pencil and just go! But, like anything else it takes time and practice. Getting on CW often is the only way I know of to sharpen your skills. Don't give up - it is worth going through the "growing pains" !
  6. WA3UCR

    WA3UCR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Get on the Air

    One more thing....put away the code generators, code tapes, or whatever you're using. Plug in your straight key and get on the air. Most hams will be happy to slow down to your current speed. It is satisfying to help a new ham learning CW and I'd be happy to work you anytime.
  7. AL7N

    AL7N Ham Member QRZ Page

    Copying Cw Morse

    You are at a good point to do something that will enable you to continue "copying" and avoid a speed "hump" later on that people usually encounter...

    Write your copy for "plain text" in cursive, don't print the characters.
    Numerals of course come one at a time, but practice will fix that, plus the fact that numerals are all "long" characters and will give you time to get
    them down.

    Most people can write in cursive much faster than they can print...
    This doesn't make much difference at lower speeds , but when you get to working at 15-18 WPM and upwards it makes a lot of difference.

    When copying words in plain text, strive to let the entire word (for shorter words) be sent before writing it down. With longer words, you can let enough of the word come so that you know what it is before you begin writing it.

    Use a headset to keep external room noise distractions away. Set the audio pitch to what is comfortable (for you), and not too loud.

    Don't make your practice sessions too long at a stretch...half an hour at a time is plenty...go do something unrelated between sessions.

    The above practice will start you on the road to "hearing" what the sender is "saying" and soon you will find yourself being able to fall behind the sender
    a word or two (or even farther with practice) and copying will become more of a "subconcious" thing that you won't have to concentrate so hard on.

    Being able to make legible accurate copy (work on your penmanship too!)
    on paper at speed is the mark of a good CW Morse operator.

    Later on, if you want, you can dispense with writing absolutely everything down, but keeping hold of the skill to do it "in hard copy" if you have to is a good thing.

    Practice....Practice.....Practice......Work with another live operator to actually communicate with CW Morse if at all possible...Proficiency and higher speed will come by itself.
  8. G4COE

    G4COE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Writing down is harder than copying, these are two separate processes, just practice n' practice, before you can write it down you gotta decipher it.

    Learning code you don't have to be sitting in front of a receiver or even wearing headphones! Walking down the road, imagine humming the sound of car license plates, bill board adverts is all good practice.

    Some folks say never touch a key until you are familiar the rhythm because bad habits and timing are sure to pop in.... just like whistling a tune really that's how you should think of CW.

    Pure practice, ten minutes a day I say is far better than an hour for serious studying, the longer you are at it the more chance you'll get frustrated and not wanna' learn.

    Remember well when I was learning, pottering about in the shack always had the QSX lines that shipping and other services used on in the backgroiund, they would be churning the same ol stuff out, that various services used, don't know if they still do now, I started to pick letters out, then letters built into words, mind you most of the time messages wasn't in English.

    You don't have to be sat in front of a receiver 'raring to go', simply tune to a CW station and leave it on as though it was back ground music.

    I found I slowed down at around 10 wpm.... so did a fellow ham, some days I made a dogs dinner of it and give it a rest a day or two and found I was copying even better.

  9. AL7N

    AL7N Ham Member QRZ Page

    Copying CW

    G4COE's suggestion of keeping a receiver on and just using CW coming over the air is an extremely good one...

    Years ago we used to be able to put a receiver on one of the powerful HF CW coastal stations and listen to them handling commercial traffic...There is very little to none of that available these days. It is a real loss to those wanting to learn CW Morse.

    Instead, there is a contest on this weekend. Tune a receiver up into one of the HF bands where there is CW contest activity and just let it run in the background.

    Your ears will get plenty of practice. At first lots of it will be a bit too rapid, but after a while you'll be able to pick the callsigns out.

    Very very useful practice with little effort on your part.
  10. G4COE

    G4COE Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is the Datong morse tuter as well, it generates either letters, numbers or mixed depending on the setting.

    There's no doubt many other computer aided stuff out there that you can download.

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