Copying on Paper - Best Practice?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KN4I, Aug 8, 2016.

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  1. WA7DU

    WA7DU Ham Member QRZ Page

    My penance...? Admit the facts. Chagrin and everything that comes with it. I failed the ten questions. "Copy to paper" was my salvation. I had more than one 25- character "stretch" of " perfect copy. So, only with the perfect copy, I passed the code test. Whew ! Not proud, but happy to get over that hump.

    I did not like copying to paper, and finally realized that only certain facts need be copied to paper...his/her callsign, his/her name and location, his/her dididahdahdidit, if any, etc. Later, I learned that except for that (previous sentence), all that is needed is the gist of the incoming message. Code ? I love hates me.
    WB5YUZ likes this.
  2. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    This seems to be based on the assumption block printing came first, or was coeval with cursive script. But this was obviously not the case.

    Remember, cursive script was developed over a very long period of time, beginning with the Greek language being written on papyri, and reached its more-or-less modern form in the seventeenth century with the rise of Europe's postal systems. Block printing as we know it today was a product of the industrial school system of the nineteenth/early twentieth century (and was developed overnight by comparison!).

    This means, of course, that cursive is faster/more legible for most of us when using a quill/fountain pen, and block printing is faster/more legible for most of us when using a pencil/ball point pen. But there are always exceptions and personal preferences.

    One thing is indisputable: in the old days, professional high-speed ops overwhelmingly used pencils and block printing if they could not use a typewriter. There were many reasons why, but it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that if cursive was markedly faster and/or more legible for solid copy, more of them would have used it.

    Incidentally, when I took my FCC exam for General in 1977 the FCC office had already switched from solid copy to the "questions based on copy" approach. I still did solid copy with a pencil and paper (and block lettering) because it was how I had trained. I didn't get one hundred percent solid copy but got enough that I would have qualified under the old system, which was something like three minutes solid copy out of five IIRC (help?).

    When I took the 20 WPM from a VE years later, my solid copy was one hundred percent. The examiner was amused.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
  3. W8ZNX

    W8ZNX Ham Member QRZ Page


    over fifty years still can not head copy
    anything more than
    simple hello, report, name, qth, rig
    start a conversaton am lost
    after years of trying with a dear friend CFO op working on me
    to get past novice simple QSO head copy

    ( mus stick copy and then read what is writen down )

    same goes for somebody reading letters out loud from a text to me
    something just does not click
    kinda like when your parents would spell out something so kids
    would not know what they were saying,
    still don't understand what they are saying

    am sort of backwards
    many many years ago when went to the FCC office to take the Gen test
    passed the receiving test but flunked the sending test

    for years could not send would get lost in a word
    not know what letter did or did not just send

    got so was not bad using a mill
    peaked at 28 wpm
    most of all with five letter code groups
    five letters space five letters space five letters space
    could get in to a zen like groove empty my brain not think about anything
    still copy five letter groups better than anything else
    text was always harder

    if try to think about what am doing always loose it
    get lost in words then can't copy
    don't get lost in code groups because they don't mean anything

    still in the stacks
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
  4. KI4ODO

    KI4ODO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have found this recently. After I posted about getting "brain freeze" during qso's while head copying, advice was given that writing some things down help. I always wrote down log info, and made notes of things like their rig, antenna, key, age, years as a ham, whatever. Then I could respond and refer to it so they know I copied it. But when in general chit chat, they would often ask a question during my brain freeze, then the ? would come, and I was both embarrassed and clueless on what they just asked me. So I have started jotting down the beginning of each of their statements, and what I have found is interesting. It prevents brain freeze and often my brain will just click and I can stop writing because I'm back to solid copy. Writing part of the beginning often gets my brain back on track. It has really helped me.
  5. AA7EJ

    AA7EJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    And that is what I refer to as "quality of CW copy" gained by copying 5 words coded text.
    You just cannot selectivity copy only "certain facts".
    IMHO if you cannot copy the entire text you are not CW savvy operator.
    It really does not mean much to yourself that you have passed the 35 WPM test and can extract / guess stuff in casual QSO.

    Would you honestly say you can receive CW as a emergency operator? I would not say that about myself.

    The really scary part that some people cannot "copy" spoken word either. Been a victim of such mistake recently when my GPS coordinates were copied incorrectly !

    Why do you think I say "my name is Jim" instead of "my name is Vaclav"?
    Got tired of replies " QSL QSL Bob".
    I am seriously considering using "my name is Shirley" in next occasion especially when the fellow I am talking to is reading the info about me from QRZ or other database. Should be fun.

    73 Shirley
  6. AI6KX

    AI6KX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I did not state that cursive is more legible than block printing, just faster.... at least since penmanship stopped being taught in schools, and that was on the way out in the '60s. Most folks, especially men, write "chicken-scratch" cursive. But also, cursive was much better suited to using a quill or a nib pen just because of the messy drops and blots that result from lifting the nib for block lettering, so it is only natural that telegraph operators would use pencils and block printing, for both neatness and legibility.


    N7EKU and KA0HCP like this.
  7. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Most "real" CW ops don't send "my name is..." anything.

    It's first-round RST XXX QTH YYY OP ZZZ HW?

    Why send "my name is" anything, when "OP JIM" provides exactly the right information, in full, in five characters instead of eleven?

    Kind of like HW CPY? or HOW CPI? when a simple HW? works fine and has been used by CW ops for several decades.

    I'll work anybody at any speed they wish, but since I have limited operating time I like to make the best use of the time available and sending a bunch of extra words doesn't do that.
  8. AA7EJ

    AA7EJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Somewhat OT, don't you think?
    My comments were more on accuracy of "just the facts , ma'am" not on how to speed up the QSO using common abbreviations.
    But you are correct - your examples are in line of the "my QTH is...".
  9. N2EY

    N2EY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I agree 100%. A little common sense like that effectively doubles the communication speed. Even better, it makes the QSO more fun!



    IOW, if block printing with a #2 pencil on lined paper works best for YOU, that's what you should do. If cursive writing on unlined paper with a ballpoint pen works best for YOU, that's what you should do. If a mill works best for YOU, have at it. If "head copy" with occasional notes works best for YOU, that's the way to go.

    Each of us is an experiment of one, and it's up to each of us to determine what's the best practice for each of us.

    Sure, the military and commercial ops had their standard practices - but that's because they were dealing with written messages, and several operators using the same station. They had to have standard ways of copying code, because of those factors.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
    K7MH likes this.
  10. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I also like the memory exercise of simply remembering what was sent rather than writing it down.

    Using wetware to remember what was sent is -- at least to me -- exactly the same as using wetware to remember what someone tells you using speech. If someone tells me "Let's meet for lunch at the Studio Cafe at 12:30 tomorrow" I don't write that down or enter it into my phone or do anything with the information other than remember it. Same with CW.

    Using your memory and relying on it makes it better.:) And yeah, I can remember phone numbers and addresses and stuff. Not so sure about random code groups beyond just a few of them, although someone with a great memory might be able to recall dozens of them without recording anything and that would be a nice goal.

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