CW Encode/Decode ardware/Software "Ethics" question.

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by KF4ZEQ, Jul 3, 2011.

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  1. KF4ZEQ

    KF4ZEQ Guest

    CW Encode/Decode Hardware/Software "Ethics" question.

    So, as I have wandered through life (well the past 12-13 years anyway) as A Tech, I failed to pick up the ability of CW, which for years limited my ability to upgrade. After the new rules went into effect I began the bookwork for the upgrade, Life happened, and now I have finally upgraded. With that being said, I understand the need, and enjoyment one can get from CW, including the increase in band areas availible to make contacts.
    Many hours of studying have lead me to to complete frustration with attempting to learn CW, add to that the recent discovery of tone deafness, which explains some difficulty I have while studying, It has made me research CW aids, such as software or hardware to decode/encode CW. After talking with a few other Hams about this, I decided I have opened a can of worms. Some believe that using such methods is "cheathing" if you do not know code at all, others have said it's quite fair and have endorsed the use as a way to make those CW contacts. A few even suggested that a high percentage of CW contacts these days are made using these methods.
    While I know there is no right or wrong here, I'm really curious what others think of this idea.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 3, 2011
  2. K7MH

    K7MH XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    It isn't cheating and nothing says you can't decode it that way. It only works so well though. Noise, interference, irregular sending, signal fade and other factors make it difficult for software to decode Morse. An organic analog computer with unlimited memory and spontaneous multi-directional pipe-lining will make computer software look pretty silly at decoding Morse.
    Some software is better than others from what I have heard. I believe CWGet is supposed to be pretty good at it but I have no experience with software for that.

    Kinda depends on what a "high percentage" is doesn't it?
  3. AC0H

    AC0H Ham Member QRZ Page

    Good answer.


    The human brain is far better at decoding CW than most computer programs. CW Get is pretty good.
    As for sending via computer, the nay sayers are ignorant. The only difference between computer generated CW and manually generated CW is the machine generated CW is PERFECT! The computer send perfectly spaced, perfectly timed CW, every time. You can hear it on the air. It's the signal without all the silly mistakes.

    99.95% of CW contesters send via computer through their logging software.

    A lot of people trying to learn morse code give up too soon. They want instant gratification.
    How long did it take you to learn English? Morse code is just another language.
    Practice everyday for 20 minutes a day.

    Don't let your hearing deficiencies become an excuse for not learning morse code.
    I taught a lady with extreme tinitis (ring in the ears from too much trap shooting) morse code.
    Anybody can learn it.
  4. VK2FAK

    VK2FAK Ham Member QRZ Page

    HI all...I did a quick test on FLDigi softwares ability to decode CW....using the JT65 simulation program that has CW output on it.....To get 100% copy it has to be a fairly strong signal......weak but very audible CW has no chance of 100% copy..not even close.

    But I must say....why bother....most get the enjoyment from sending and copying using there Keys and hears....Using a computer is no different to using another Digital mode...and if you go that way you would probably better off just using Olivia mode..

    Last edited: Jul 4, 2011
  5. AH6RR

    AH6RR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I use HRD's DM780 to decode CW it does a decent job but it is not 100% unless it is another computer sending. I passed the 5wpm test in the early 80's but soon forgot it as I did not use it like I should have. In the past 2 years I got interested in CW so I found a simple interface design and built one and have been having a lot of fun so far I have worked over 100 DXCC entities with 90 confirmed. The most important part is to learn what your call sounds like at 20+wpm so you can tell when the DX station is answering you :). And after a while you start to pick up more code and fill in what the program missed. My DM780 has been able to decode speeds up to 50-60wpm that a couple of guys do on 30M 2 to 3 times a week but I think they also use computers as I get almost 100% copy.

    73 and Good Luck
    Roland AH6RR
  6. SV9OFO

    SV9OFO Ham Member QRZ Page

    most of CW ops here in Europe (Russian and Ukranian stations being the exeption that verifies the rule) operate CW through a computer.
    One can tell by the fist. If you send 30wpm through an iambic, you can easily skip the gap between C and Q. At least you will operate with a keyer and the gap between words could get irregular a bit.
    If you operate a straight key, there WILL be some odd spacing between characters in 30WPM.
    Only a computer can be absolutely precise when it comes to gaps.

    Now, receiving 30WPM using a computer and requiring me to receive 30WPM by ear is somewhat selfish and arrogant as an approach...

    I have no problem with computer sending and decoding, other that most PC CW ops send too fast for my ear.

    Ah, and when one CQ's at 30wpm and my signal there is 439 QSB, a computer would simply fail to decode it. An ear probably would.
  7. AB1OD

    AB1OD Guest

    Just remember that different people learn best in different ways.

    I am fairly new to amateur radio, and I am working on learning CW.

    I'm pretty good when it comes to thinking about numbers or learning trivia, but learning languages has always been a very weak point of mine, and my sense of rhythm is sorely lacking. Not surprisingly, learning CW is proving to be a very significant challenge for me.

    I will admit that when I'm on the air using CW now, I do "cheat", using a skimmer to help with decode, and using a Winkeyer to send rote response code (TU UR 5NN). However, I am finding that since getting on the air, either eavesdropping on CW ragchews or playing in pileups and contests, I've been finding it easier to get CW to stick in my head. I'd like to think that's because I learn better with real world context than by drills on individual letters or random strings of characters.

    For example, I may fumble if I have to decode individual letters ("U", "P"), but I now have no problem recognizing "UP". :) Learning the sound of "GOING TO DOC TUES" is probably more useful than learning the sound of "KRSPU TK PRS KKRM".

    The trick is that I have to exercise self-discipline to not over-rely on the computer to encode or decode CW. It's tempting to just read the computer's translation of code being sent, but I (usually) force myself to attempt head-copy first, looking at the screen only if/when I get lost, or to confirm my copy. And when eavesdropping on a ragchew, or before jumping into a pileup, I usually tap out a possible response on paddles/with a practice oscillator, before letting the computer send at speed.

    I say that computer-generated code is still code, and it still has the advantages of simplicity and efficiency as compared to phone. There are other digital modes that require a computer to send, and which can be more accurately decoded by a computer than CW...but there usually are more CW users on the air than other digi-modes.

    But if you're going to do CW, it's probably wise to learn to head-copy and to manually use a key and/or paddles. Computer decode isn't perfect, and if you were ever in a situation where you actually needed to use CW (as opposed to CW being a fun, classic mode to use recreationally), such situations are likely those where you are least likely to have a working computer handy to assist.

    At least that's what I keep telling myself, when the learning gets tough.
  8. K4PP

    K4PP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Please by all means use whatever technique you want to do CW. I am afraid if you don't do it, there might not be anyone out there when I'm 60. It doesn't bother me a bit if you use a decoder, as long as it gives me the opportunity to enjoy CW in my own way too. If you do it enough you're eventually going to copy using the ears though.

  9. W5BIB

    W5BIB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Really !,... It is good (as mentioned) for strong signals (W1AW & other QRO stations) but, when ur DX (or not) is a RST 339 with QSB / QRN,... you are SOL. Some ops just type with no pauses and/or improper spacing on the keyboard & expect you to just copy right along!!!... It can be likened to how a 16-23 year old girl talks (OMG!)....zooooom...whoa!! give me a little breathing room !! (take a breath) I know,... I have a 23 yr old daughter. You miss one word & ur lost!!! R E L A X . . . Sometimes, "slower is quicker"... & almost always more accurate. Me-thinks that's why "hand sent" CW is referred to as, "Manuel Morse" vs "Auto Morse" JMHO Steve... AR
  10. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Let's talk first about the computer CW. It isn't perfect, but if you are both using keyboards to send, I think it beats trying to work across the country on 2 meter FM without any form of VoIP.

    Here's something I just copied from a station that was S2 on a pretty noisy 20 meter band:

    N B E D <BT> I R R S T 5 5 N 5 5 N <BT> Q T H A S A B E , AE A * A R T B I 7 L A E S N A M E J E S S E J E S S E 4 5 W ? A E 0 S D D E * <AS> 5 N P V KN


    That was some very slow, hand-sent CW, probably about 10-13 WPM. The spacing between letters was a bit long, and there was really no spacing between words, so the computer did well! But, copying it by ear, you naturally insert the word spaces as you copy the words. That's the main limitation of the computer. Now, copying computer sent CW or very good hand sent code with proper spaces, the computer does a pretty good job of deciphering it. I've watched CWGet and DM780 copy W1AW flawlessly for hours. But, I've also seen cases where the computer couldn't copy it, due to strange band conditions.

    I'd love to see more no-coders give it a try! Particularly on a quiet band, I don't see why no-coders can't establish a 'watering hole' to try computer CW. If this became popular, it would be a major 'plus' for Techs everywhere.

    I started a yahoo discussion group for this purpose a few years ago. The group has pretty much dissipated to nothing, but it's still there - called 'machinecode'. At the time, I threw out some proposed standards. I suggested 3565, 7065, 10125, 14065, 21065, and 28065 as 'watering holes' for people wanting to try machine CW. I also suggested 18 WPM as the standard speed, as this is the speed used by W1AW for their bulletins, and it's also a speed that nearly all experienced CW guys can copy in their heads. You can buy a keyboard that will roll up in your pocket, and a device that will make it send Morse will fit in the same pocket, too. So, experienced code folk could use such a device to send code that no-coders could copy. I'd still love to see this get a foothold. It's sad that more Techs don't use the best privileges they have!

    Back before dust, in the summertime, 40 meter CW would be packed all night long. QRM was rampant. Now, the only QRM is between the QRP'ers and European PSKers trying to use the same frequency. I don't hear any of those right now. I'd love to hear a bunch of guys banging away around 7065 on computer CW right now!

    As for learning code - don't become discouraged. It's not a new language, but it's a new alphabet. Musical ability really isn't involved, though a sense of rhythm doesn't hurt. You must learn the sounds of the letters - don't count dots and dashes.
    Try the K7QO course - many recommend it. It will teach you the sounds of the letters, and when you're done you will be able to copy it fast enough to really use it on the air comfortably.
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