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. WB3CQM

    WB3CQM Ham Member QRZ Page

    First off I agree with every one hear on what they told you. You have to copy copy copy , it will SINK in some day .IT TAKES TIME do not listen to the guy that said it took him 2 days. That was him not me or you . Every one is different in time frame. My 2 cents.

    Now I have a question for AL7N and any one else . I understand copy of code in cursive and AGREE with that 100%

    Fact is the Maritime Service required 25 wpm copy - The USCG was 22 wpm- at least one US Government job I know of was 25 wpm copy With a Type Writer . A amateur extra class 20 wpm.

    Every one learns morse at a different rate. I learned off a Ameco 45 record in the 70's at 5 wpm then copied W1AW and amateur radio ops. I did the tape thing in the car ect. .. I slept with code tapes and head phones on some times. High speed code tape higher than 25 wpm.

    The best copy hands down was when I listened to and copied NMN and WCC . I still have a old tape I play in the car of a WCC op working ships. Wow I wish I could get my hands on more weather and news broadcast in morse.

    Now then this is what I asking or posing to AL7N or any one else. Fact is we are using contest loggers for contest , many hams sending with keyboard .DXpeditions using computers.

    Would it not be good for some one learning to copy to start with Just Learn Morse Code and Learn to copy code at the same time by typing it ???

    Regardless Of my code speed I use LCWO- RufzXP- JLMC- Morse Runner and CW Freak .

    When I go into program, Learn CW Online I copy call signs and word training mostly. I try and copy the word fully Type it ( building a Buffer ) then type it in the box. The act of copy then typing is more difficult for me. I get lost had high speeds. I am doing this for reasons, nothing to do with this hear.

    No# 2 I am having a local ham copy 2 charters at a time as he is learning code He is typing it . I have him running the charters at 25 wpm and he is not to progress till 90% . Question do you think I have him using to high speed ?? - You see if he learns at the character speed he plans to copy code at . There is no barrier or hours of copy like I did to increase copy .

    Has any on this board used this concept to learn morse ????

    This is all I think applying to this thread > I do not want to high Jack it.

    I have been reading about the Morse Machine , and tried it. Some people think it is bad practice rubbish and should not be used in learning cw. That being learn 2 charters at one time and 90% move on to next lesson . Any input ?

    The ham I have been trying to help says this-- He can not copy cursive any faster than typing - Makes no difference in his progress from what he can tell. AL7N your input or any one else ..
  2. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think practicing code by only listening to it once you have a license and can make contacts is silly and not nearly as effective a tool as just using the code, and making contacts with it.

    As for writing, I can write about 20 wpm okay but after that I have a hard time reading what I wrote. I can type much, much faster but don't want to bother doing that. As a result, for many years (like 40 or more) I don't write anything down except the log info: other guy's callsign, his name, QTH, maybe a couple of random notes. If someone gives me data I want to have and won't remember, like his telephone number, of course I write that down, too. But nothing else. I just listen, it's the same as listening to someone speaking to me: I don't write down what they say, either.:p

    The more you use the code and become comfortable with it, the less you'll need to write anything down. Your brain will retain stuff just fine, same as if you're having a voice conversation with someone.

    Although there's no FCC requirement to keep a log at all (anymore), I still do and log most contacts unless I'm mobile or it's just too inconvenient to do so. I do this for a number of reasons including habit, but a good one is for QSL confirmations.
  3. W4CBJ

    W4CBJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Working Different Modes

    I have been copying CW for more than 50 years. 20 wpm is a comfortable speed for me. I liken it to doing a crossword puzzle. Not do it fast, for me....I do it at an enjoyable time. Also, I agree that 10-to 15 minutes at a time is plenty. Taxing the brain (either CW or crossword puzzles is counterproductive).
    People who do not use enough spacing between the letters or words.....I have no patience with them. You can tell them and tell does no good.
    We need a new prosign for poor CW . PCW= Poor CW. PPCW- Piss-poor CW. That is my contribution to this subject. 73 Joe W4CBJ
  4. KB9BVN

    KB9BVN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Everyone here is making some great points and have steered you in the right direction but I am now willing to give you the secret, the one and only secret you need, to becoming a good CW operator capable of speeds you only dreamed of.

    Go get a pencil and write this down...


    GET ON THE AIR! Every day. 20-30 mins at first. Fear not your newly trained fist, there are worse out there....fear not your ability to copy, there are worse out there. You just have to make your mind up that you are going to jump in and make QSO's. Sending QRS PSE is nothing to be ashamed of. The ops up aroundf 7110-7120 will slow down for you. The FISTS freqs will slow down for you. Jump in the middle of the DX window below 7025 and usually they WON'T slow down for you...but that's their loss, not yours.
  5. K7KBN

    K7KBN Ham Member QRZ Page


    Or, if on a military net, ZBM2.
  6. GW6ITJ

    GW6ITJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    first of all, well done!

    I wish I hadlearnt like you, stick to reading not copying. It is the harder rout but ifyou can stay with it you will reap rewards most of us dream of! I can copy 1well, 20 is challenge but now I am learning to read head and I have to be brainwashed agai. Listen, listen and listen again. When we learn another languagewe into write the words down we listen and lnow, that is what I'm looking forbut by going for the quick win I think I put myself back. Keep with it and tou will soon.

  7. GW6ITJ

    GW6ITJ Ham Member QRZ Page


    Sorry for poor typing, mobile phone keyboard! Honest.......
  8. WA4FNG

    WA4FNG Ham Member QRZ Page

    A lot of great suggestions here. After many years of CW I'm just now starting to head copy. I was QRT for 15 years and during those earlier times there was no internet, no easy and fast way to exchange ideas like we do today. Since I've returned and started reading and using tips (like those mentioned in this thread) I'm finding I'm able to head copy over 30wpm if the code is well sent. I don't mean long conversations, or 100%, but enough to make sense.

    I've gone from trying to write everything down to just the important words, name, qth, maybe rig and wx. You don't need to literally write down "the wx hr is clear and windy, temp is 60f" just "wx clr 60f"

    Also, regarding the suggestion to use cursive, I've found that if I do write most of it down I don't write it down letter by letter, I wait until the complete word has been sent, then write down the word. That helps to train you to hear words.

    Eventually, you'll realize that the other op sent the word "appreciated" without ever hearing a single letter. For practice I find a QSO that's just above my comfort level and just listen.

    Long live CW!

    73 to all,
  9. AL7N

    AL7N Ham Member QRZ Page

    Copying CW

    For WB3CQM...

    My reason for working at learning to copy EVERYTHING on paper was different than what it is for most hams today.

    I was shooting at a commercial license, and the code tests for those required full copy for at least one minute out of five of material sent from a tape, both code groups and plain text....I set my standards higher and made it a point to be able to provide full copy in cursive of the whole plain text receiving test...all of it, before I ever went to the FCC for the exam.

    I managed to do OK for Amateur extra and both the Second and First Class commercial licenses.

    I never was allowed to use a typewriter for any of the code receiving exams, not even the First Class Commercial. (I could have brought my own for that one, but I had to fly 1000 miles to take the test and didn't have anything suitable to haul around.) So it had to be in cursive....I can't print very legibly at 20-25 wpm.

    Along the way I learned to use an "all cap" mill (typewriter) to copy with as well as doing lots and lots of third party message work with it back in the days when the ARRL NTS was actually a functional system.

    Learning to copy code on a keyboard or typewriter is fine...if you can do that, you probably can put down full copy if need be, and also do it in your head as well.
  10. AB2T

    AB2T Ham Member QRZ Page

    I can write at 15 -- 20 wpm even though I have fine motor problems. It's extremely painful and I can only do it for a few minutes before my hand locks, but I can do it. A few minutes is all that's needed for a code test, thankfully. I never learned cursive (teachers gave up), and my handwriting is atrocious, so I was forced from early on to head copy or not copy at all.

    Part of successful head copying is waiting for the end of a word, not the beginning. Let's say a station's sending the word VACATION. Don't wonder, "what the heck is V-A-C?" Just lag behind a few seconds until the ending comes across and the meaning of the word will make sense within the context of the sentence. Eventually you'll be able to fill in the meaning of a sentence even if a word is obscure or difficult to place in context. Never be ashamed to ask for a repeat if you have no clue what was sent.

    Code is akin to sign language -- signing is a mixture of individual letters and word symbols within a special grammar. I don't know sign language, but I can tell when an interpreter is spelling out a name (such as a last name) rather than using word symbols. Code is similar -- infrequently used words have to be filled in by the letter. However, common words and abbreviations should be easily recognizable because they form the underpinnings of many code sentences. That's why it's useful to hear a common word as a unit, store it in the back of your head, and focus on the individual letters and endings of less common words. Head copy operates at a variety of speeds depending on the frequency use of a word, word familiarity, and variables such as poor operating conditions that might require educated guesses about sentence context.

    73, Jordan
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