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. K1DNR

    K1DNR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I agree. When I re-entered the hobby this summer I got back into CW and it was a little frustrating because I was rusty. I started working with the Koch generator on and also the random word, random groups, and other options. Copying random characters is incredibly dull. But it is very good practice for training your ear. Copying words is more interesting. Copying off the air is even more interesting.

    I would take a variety of approaches to keep it interesting. Don't resist turning the speed down to write down what you hear. This is training.

    Don't be afraid to turn the speed up and just let it flow - copying what you can.

    I think both are useful. I think the discipline of writing it down is important.

    I open a text editor like notepad on my PC and copy that way. I can type way faster than I can copy code, so if I'm not keeping up I usually know thats because I'm in a little bit over my head :)

    At really comfortable speeds I still write down the details. I forget names sometimes... was it John or Jim? Madison, IL or WI?

    At higher speeds I like to hard copy everything - there is more information. Usually at higher speeds you start to get into a real rag chew... You are hearing about someone's dog, their grandchildren, the garden they are planting this Spring... And it helps to have that written down in front of you so you can respond to all of it...

    I think struggling to hard copy just means you are at the edge of your comfort zone and you are learning... Practice, practice!

    Oh - I put an application on my Android phone, SMS to CW - every time I get a text message it plays the from: and body: of the text in CW on my phone!
  2. KJ4NT

    KJ4NT Ham Member QRZ Page

    When I was learning cw I found that a couple of actual QSO's a day is worth more than hours of practice. Sending with a straight key is worth lots more than copying practice code. One dosen't realize that when you send code you are getting twice the practice you get from copying code. So get on the air and have QSO's and the speed will come.Ed
  3. WA4OTD

    WA4OTD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Most of my ragchewing is 40M CW mobile so writing is at a premium. I bought a digital voice recorder and will try dictating the important stuff, but when I'm in the QSO hard to remember call sign and name all the time!
  4. K3ROJ

    K3ROJ Ham Member QRZ Page


    Good Morse code comes with time and practice. Here is a good site to start out with: .
    Actually getting on the air is better since when making a contact, your brain will work harder so as to copy what the station is saying. I found my speed increased considerably by working CW contests and at the same time building up my DX list. Writing down important info is necessary such as their callsign, name etc but when chatting with someone, you will eventually copy everything "in your head". Not to brag, but over time, using a good Italian made key, conversations can now take place just as if we were speaking. I think the ARRL and FCC made a mistake dropping the code requirement. Another good reason to use Morse Code is it increases your brain power and tests in Japan proved that Morse users had higher IQs. The reason I mentioned an Italian key is, in Italy and Japan, they are replacing Braile with Morse Code for the visually impaired with books being copied onto CDs at 50 words per minute.
  5. K1DNR

    K1DNR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Do both. Head copy fast code and try to get the gist but let what you can't catch fly by.

    Be nonchalant and it pass by.

    Also practice writing down accurately.

    I think one of the keys (no pun intended) is to keep it interesting and keep it varied. Your brain works differently when you head copy vs when you write it down.

    Do both for maximum effect.

  6. W5BIB

    W5BIB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    A keeper (whole hread) .....

    This thread should be saved by anyone with a desire to learn/use the Morse code. Sooo much good information here. from sooo many knowledgeable ops. Since 1961 I've used CW to "earn my way". As a Ham, NSG/NSA intercept (CW) operator/Instructor, Commercial CW operator & finally (after 20 yrs of QRT) back to where I began, as a HAM CW operator. It's more fun now than it was "way back when". (CW) ... Learn the code,(letter by letter/number) get on-the-air, practice/listen, then practice some more by being on-the-air...pretty soon you'll go from dits & dahs to words & phrases It's like riding a bike,... once you learn, you never forget... :) Just jot down the important stuff like RST, QTH, & name., the rest of it you'll be able to , able to keep in ur "head"... 73 dit dit
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011
  7. WA4OTD

    WA4OTD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I like typing in directly more and more. While in Florida over spring break I didn't use a pen and paper the whole week, just typed directly in. You get used to buffer in your head and then dump via keyboard. Most of us can type 60-70 WPM anyway so that leaves a lot of time to focus on the morse.

    Also when you copy you really only have to write what you cannot remember. For me it is call, name, QTH, any other QSO details you want to record.
  8. WA4OTD

    WA4OTD Ham Member QRZ Page

    A lot of this is just consistency in practice. If you are on once a week for 1 hours you will not get much better. To improve you will need to be on most nights, once a week will about maintain a least in my humble world.

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