CW question

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by KB3SDZ, Jun 17, 2010.

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  1. KB3SDZ

    KB3SDZ Ham Member QRZ Page


    I would like to learn CW. I have the ARRL cd for learning the code, is that the best way of going about it?

  2. KE5FRF

    KE5FRF Ham Member QRZ Page

    There are tons of systems, software, CDs, tutorials, etc around that can help you learn code.

    I don't know how far along you are, but the best advice I can offer is to buddy up with someone who is willing to work with you, for one. Avoid gimmicky systems like the ones that tell you to use "words by association" (words or phrases to help remember characters.) Thats phooey IMHO and will only set you back when you actually get proficient.

    Farnsworth spacing does help to increase speed. If you sit and listen to a random code generating program, a little bit of farnsworth spacing will help push your abilities to the next level. It does give your brain time to absorb what it just heard when you are in the learning stages.

    Begin using code outside of your radio time. I mean, everything you do. How I mean this, even while reading my post here on the internet, you can take words and phrases that you are reading and sound them out, out loud or in your head, in code. use "DI" or "DIT" for the short and "DAH" for the longer tones. Those are phonetic ways of expressing the sound of Morse code with the human voice.

    For instance <see that word, "instance". You might sit there at the computer and say "didit dahdit dididit dah didah dahdit dahdidahdit dit" while doing so, visualize sending and receiving this word in your mind, and picture the word in your head. Learn to associate the entire string of characters with the word you are thinking of.

    You don't have to be obsessive with this. You don't want people at the office staring at you and thinking you went nuts. Just make a habit of doing this now and then, without drawing attention to yourself, just to sharpen your mind and skills. Remember, you are basically learning a new audible language. the best way to become fluent is to eat, sleep, and breathe it for a while.

    Others will offer more and maybe better advice.
  3. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page

    NO! At least not in my opinion! Many people have used the G4FON software and can download it from Trainer.htm

    In over 50 years of teaching the International Morse code I use a different method than most. Basically, I start at the letter "A", then "B", and so forth. Next comes the numbers starting a "1" and finally the punctuation/operating characters. I also send each letter at between 15 and 18 words per minute but, of course, space out the letters to whatever speed is necessary.

    I definitely do NOT start with the E, I, S, H, 5 and T, M, O, 0 method that some people use. Unfortunately, doing this gets people into the habit of "counting" the "dits" and "dahs" which is a VERY bad habit to break and which only allows a VERY slow reception rate. By starting with "A", then "B", etc., and by sending the character at a fairly high speed, it forces the student to "listen" to the "sound" of the character and does not allow "counting".

    If you think of learning the International Morse code as learning a new foreign language then you will be much better. This "new" language only has about 50 "words" so it is very easy to learn. Each letter/character has a definite "sound" and by learning that "sound" the "code" will come very easy.

    Glen, K9STH
  4. W0IS

    W0IS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Beware of advice you get from us old timers. Most of us learned code when we were much younger, and young brains process things differently from older brains. So what worked for us might not work for you.

    Having said that, I never heard of Farnsworth, whoever he is, until very recently. His method sounds logical, but I really don't know, since I didn't follow his advice, but picked it up quite easily.

    My main advice is to simply learn the letters any way you can, and then get on the air. Do not wait until you are "ready" to get on the air. Practice sending just enough to make sure that you can do so halfway competently, and then get on the air and call CQ at a speed that you think you can copy (even if it is 1 WPM).

    The advantage of this system is that you immediately start out "having fun" as opposed to spending that same time "learning" something. In the process of having fun, you will discover that you have inadvertently learned code.
  5. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi, "Mike The Kid" - I see from your profile that you are actually a kid - very good!

    That should make it easier for you to learn the code in any of a number of ways.

    There are several prevailing theories on learning code. Here's how I did it -
    I had a summer off from school with very little to do. I had a code record from AMECO, which I suspect is not much different from what you have. I did three practice sessions a day of 20 minutes per session. By the end of summer, I was copying about 8 WPM.

    No matter how you do it, you need discipline - you need to DEDICATE two or three sessions a day to it.

    Another theory that some people swear to is embodied in the free code course from K7QO - Chuck teaches you the code at 'full speed' by learning the sounds of the letters, instead of counting dots and dashes - a MUCH better idea. You learn a couple new letters at a time, and in less time than it took me to get to 8 WPM, you will be doing 20.

    The G4FON course is also good. There is one thing I don't like about it, though. There is a delay between sending the letter and displaying it. That makes it hard for me to visualize the letter when I hear it. Perhaps someone just learning will not have that problem, and many people rave about this tool!

    The ARRL course works, but you will then have to work on increasing your code speed to be able to use it comfortably on the air. I think however you manage to learn the alphabet is a good thing. That's really key- learning the alphabet, and learning it by sound, not counting the dits and dahs.

    Avoid mnemonic devices like 'Code Quick'. Code Quick might have been good for people wanting to learn the code just well enough to pass a 5 WPM test, but it is not helpful for people who want to use code on the air. You will have to 'unlearn' the use of the mnemonics to get much above 5 WPM.
  6. N5AL

    N5AL Ham Member QRZ Page

    When I was a kid, I unsuccessfully struggled through several "code courses". What finally helped me were some old US Navy Morse Code training tapes that a local ham copied for me.

    I know these tapes worked for me because they used the Farnsworth method; where characters were sent at 15 WPM(?), but the spacing between the characters was more like 3-5 WPM. Through this popular method, you don't develop the bad habit of counting "dits" and "dahs". Instead, you learn the characters through their "composite" sound. Once you learn all the characters, increasing your code speed becomes just a matter of reducing the silent space between characters.

    Getting on the air and making QSOs will quickly increase your code speed. Also, making casual QSOs is a lot easier than sending/receiving text from books, newspapers, traffic handling, etc. In a casual QSO, you will often encounter the same familiar words/phrases, such as "Name is", "Rig is", "RST is", and so on.
  7. KB8LFA

    KB8LFA Ham Member QRZ Page

    I was taught morse code first with flash cards, then with a real 5 wpm. That certainly is all the evil ways encompassed into one method. I am currently trying to break out of the habit of counting dits and dahs. DONT COUNT!

    I found a program I like quite a bit called "Just Learn Morse Code". I like it better than the G4FON program as it has a place for you to copy the code then gives you results at the end. It has the ability to change the send speed and space speed just the same. It's just easier to use/test yourself on. This is assuming you are going to type what you receive.

    I very much like the way K7QO suggests learning code but his code code course is not working for me because the recorded code is slow enough I count the dits and dahs even though I try very hard not to! Thus, I decided to take his method and use a computer program (the one I mentioned) and I have the code sent at 30WPM with a spacing of 18WPM. This does not give me any time to count the code.

    Anyway, you don't have to do that but that's what I choose to do for now trying to rid myself of a horrid habit.

    Now, I did want to say one more thing about Just Learn Morse Code... You can use the "Source" menu and choose "Selected Characters". I do this for each new letter I learn, just as K7QO suggests it. Both G4FON and Just Learn Morse start off by sending you random characters, K and M starting with. I really like the idea of 5 minutes of nothing but K. Chuck (K7QO) says this is training your mind when you hear the K sound, you respond to it without thinking. The problem, as I see it, with G4FON and by default, Just Learn Morse Code, is that they do not give that to you out of the box. You start off having to think about each character, was that a K or M? Thus, you analyze the sound with your brain and try to make a decision. K7QO says this is bad. It should be a reaction, not an analysis process. Thus, the 5 minutes of just K begins to build that reaction.

    Oh, the URL is:
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2010
  8. KH6AQ

    KH6AQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Glen, I think you've got a good idea. I wonder if the next improvement is to learn the letters randomly. Let a random number generator chose the order in which the letters are learned. They will then avoid any association with the order of the letters in the alphabet.
  9. NS8N

    NS8N Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you haven't already, check out Great resource and helped me re-learn CW a while back. Good luck and hope to work you some time.
  10. WB2SXY

    WB2SXY Ham Member QRZ Page


    Check out The Art and Skill of Radio Telegraphy, do a web search
    for TASRT -- William G. Pierpont, N0HFF

    tnx es 73 de Bill WB2SXY sk dit dit
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