Farnsworth Spacing on QSO

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KN4ICU, Mar 20, 2018.

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  1. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    If the goal is to have a fist that is easiest for others to understand, one should probably not use Farnsworth spacing on the air. At slower speeds where signals are strong it may not make much difference; but at higher speeds where conditions are marginal, the op "copying in his head" is very dependent on consistent standard character spacing to keep things straight.
    HB9FXW likes this.
  2. KD2RON

    KD2RON Ham Member QRZ Page

    As an older cw learner I have found that spacing is more important than speed. I try to send as stated above with the goal being easy copy. I enjoy SKCC but sometimes wonder if the creative styles you hear on SKCC frequented freq are trying to sound "special" or individual and not for easy copying. Obviously you got the right to send any way you want - just wondering.
  3. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    To my ear the "rhythm of the code" has always been the spaces between characters. Character lengths vary, but spacing should not, whether you are sending what you consider Farnsworth or Standard, as long as you keep the rhythm going the other station should be able to copy. If spacing is too long or too short, you break the rhythm and it becomes a chore to copy you. It's like the old saying that "music is the silence between the notes". Not enough and you just get a solid note, too much and you get random unrelated notes. Get it right and you've got a song. Now you have to figure out if you want to play in the style of Mozart, Basie, or The Ramones. :)
    VE7PJR likes this.
  4. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Let me make one thing clear, first: I am not the Morse Police. Everyone can do pretty much whatever they want as long as they don't violate FCC law or common decency, and as far as I know there's nothing in FCC law about code element spacing, only CW bandwidth.

    Having said that, for many, many years there was a standard, applied across services. The world's military community used it, commercial operators used it, and amateur operators used it.

    That standard was described by the late and much-missed Bob Hertzberg, K4JBI, as follows: "The spacing or silent period between dits and dahs of the same character is equivalent to the duration of one dit; between letters (of the same word), three dit spaces; and between words, five dit spaces."

    Also, here, page eight: http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Technology/x9004008.pdf

    I could delve into my collection of old handbooks ARRL, Radio, etc., and produce example after example of this same standard being quoted.

    I personally think CW is easier to copy if the spacing is varied organically with speed, and using the standard outlined above, or something similar, will facilitate this. I also believe the Farnsworth method is properly considered a learning technique, and should be cast aside, as are training wheels, as soon as the student is ready.

    But again, my opinion is just that..
    N8AFT likes this.
  5. KN4ICU

    KN4ICU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Good insights everyone. I am just feeling guilty because even at slow speeds, I am struggling after a lot of practice...Trying to think of how to make it ok for everyone else as well.
  6. KQ4MM

    KQ4MM XML Subscriber QRZ Page


    Hang in there man... drop me a line and we can schedule a practice session...
  7. KN4ICU

    KN4ICU Ham Member QRZ Page

    To clarify: use it while I'm learning? I'm gradually scaling the Farnsworth back. Trying to do 1 wpm less / week. It's just insanely hard to recognize the characters at a slower speed now.

    On another note.... Just installed my G5RV Jr in place of the 33ft wire antenna I'm using now... Much better receptions. I can hear voice now... So I'm sure the CW receiving signals will be improved.
  8. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Once again, those are just my opinions. I didn't have any trouble copying you except for QSB (which I think may be less of a problem for you now that you have a better antenna up) and your unfamiliarity with prosigns and abbreviations (which will pass quickly).

    One suggestion I would make is to listen to the slower-speed transmissions of W1AW and seek to emulate that spacing.

    But I think if you just stick with it and keep having QSOs you will probably start to unconsciously send more like other OPs, and the Farnsworth dependency will fade.

    Good luck. Hope to hear you again soon.
  9. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Spacing Spacing !
    Don't run characters into each other by ignoring spacing ! Don't run words together because of ignoring spacing.
    This makes copying you like solving a puzzle to guess what words are in the long jumbled run-on message !!!
    It sounds like this "namehereisgoofyandirunthewordstogethertoconfuseyou 73"
    VK3VAR likes this.
  10. VE7PJR

    VE7PJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Or, if you're using the real Morse -- Vail -- code, it's more like a Gene Krupa solo...

    ...or maybe Buddy Rich.


    Chuck VE7PJR
    N2SUB likes this.

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