Getting started in CW

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KV4JW, Nov 16, 2018.

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  1. N8TGQ

    N8TGQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Straightkey 01.jpg
    Heres one made from a gift card.
    I agree on getting the receiving part down first, then concentrate on sending.
    Don't let perfection get in the way! You don't have to be at 20 WPM before you start making QSOs. I would still be practicing after 20 years of CW if that were the case.

    Have fun!
     

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  2. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Put your Radio to work as a Morse learning tool. memorize a few letters at a time and listen in the slow part of 40 M CW band from 7110 to 7120.
    Check the other SKCC Club gathering freqs. 1813.5, 3550, 1055, 7120, 10120, 14050. SKCC members will slow down for new CW ops and you may hear some slow CW signals there.
    There are some very slow QSOs going on there at times. listen for the letters you learned.
    After you have the alphabet and numbers in mind you will be able to listen to the conversations,
    I listened for CQs when I was a kid and then tried to copy the callsigns for my first weeks of learning Morse.
    Have Fun !
     
    WN1MB and N8AFT like this.
  3. KC3RN

    KC3RN Ham Member QRZ Page

    As was said earlier, the 718 has built in side tone. No need for an external generator. If I recall correctly, the 718's sidetone is set at 700 Hz. The CW offset is also set at 700Hz. Translation - no need to zero beat. Tune your receiver so that the incoming CW signal is at the same note as your sidetone. You'll be right on frequency.
     
  4. KI7RS

    KI7RS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I just finished the CWops level 1 class and it was totally worth it. They require the use of an iambic paddle for the class, but I'm sure you could use the online material with a straight key. I 3D printed my first paddle, and still use it on occasion. Other great online resources are :
    www.lcwo.net
    https://morsecode.scphillips.com/trainer.html
    YouTube
    Phone apps:
    Morse-it (iPhone)
    Morse Machine (Android and Kindle)


    You have to practice a little bit each day and absorb the material slowly over time. I did a mixture of phone app listening in the car, and sending practice at home. If you practice three hours a day...you will waste about 2 1/2 hours of your day. It's like trying to pour all the water through your coffee pot at once.
     
    K9ASE likes this.
  5. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think you would be very disappointed at the receive performance. These days it is becoming more and more common to hear a good loud signal, obviously machine-sent, sending CQ over and over again, but the station failing to respond to any of the strong but not machine-sent stations calling back. Apparently, sound-card aps for CW have trouble copying anything other than other sound-card aps.

    I read the thread, and maybe somebody has already mentioned this and I missed it, but your 718 and a key are all you need to practice sending CW. Push the [SET] button to go into quick-set mode, select "BK-IN", and turn it off. Pressing the CW key will continue to active the sidetone, but the rig will not switch into transmit mode. Practice away!

    Actually, you may want to consider leaving the "BK-IN" mode off and using a foot-switch or similar to switch between TX and RX. This has two big advantages; you can practice CW any time you have a few minutes without changing your set-up (and I find it necessary to practice sending every now and then, even after forty-two years!), and perhaps more importantly, you can quickly and easily zero-beat the CW signals of other stations using your sidetone!

    The disadvantage, of course, is that you lose true break-in (QSK) operation. Many CW ops find that intolerable, and there is no question proper QSK is better, but I don't mind using a T/R switch. I do occasionally take my foot off the switch when calling in a pile-up split so I can hear the DX if it starts to call someone else, and there are a few other wrinkles. And, in a contest, I would probably switch the "BK-IN" mode back in.

    In addition (and this is just me) I have no confidence in the ability of the TR relays in an inexpensive radio to survive long when they are switched twice for each element! I don't know of any particular problems the '718 has had with this, but just the same, the foot switch will almost certainly extend the life of that relay.
     
  6. K9ASE

    K9ASE XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I need to take a refresher course with them because my copying is still too slow.
     
  7. KV4JW

    KV4JW Ham Member QRZ Page

    All great information. Thanks ya'll - keep it coming! I downloaded the "Morse-It" iPhone app yesterday (slightly expensive at $5.99 for the FULL version). I've been playing with it all day. Already learned a couple letters just sitting and piddling.

    I spent extra for the "Super version" of it, because I wanted the ability to hold my iPhone near a speaker and watch it decode. I'm thinking this can help me to learn what letters "sound" like when part of a word or phrase, versus what they "sound" like when just practicing.
     
  8. KI7RS

    KI7RS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't like paying for apps, but I REALLY got my $$$ worth with that app. The decode feature doesn't work great if you're receiving it over the air, but I use it a lot when I practice on my straight key to see if my sending is good.

    There are a lot of settings to play with on Morse-it, and they are spread out in different places. I used the CWops Academy tab under the "more" tab almost exclusively. This is all the lessons from the level 1 CWops class. Under the "setting" tab on the main screen there is a CWops section. I set it at 20 WPM receive and Nb launches at 5 (plays the code sections 5 times in a row). Under the "rules" tab go to time and set that at whatever you want as your starting point (I recommend 5-10WPM spacing to start). Don't leave it too low, challenge yourself! This plays the characters at 20WPM, but leaves extra space between characters. This help you learn the sound of the letters, and prevents you from counting the dits and dahs.
     
  9. KV4JW

    KV4JW Ham Member QRZ Page

    My cheap "play" key arrived today from R&L. I really wanted to build my own key, but man, $12 was hard to beat. Over the weekend I made a wooden base out of pure oak to mount it to. This evening I set up my 718 to code practice with the straight key, and after playing with the Morse-It app for a few minutes, I was ready to get on the key and play with it.

    I've learned three letters! K, D, and W.

    K was the first letter the Morse-It app gave me and I began with it. After a rough start, I became fair at pounding out a K pretty consistently, and by accident I stumbled upon the letter D, as it's similar to K. So for a few minutes I was going back and forth with K and D, and then I noticed that a W was kinda the opposite of a D, which made that an easy one to pick up too. My ears are ringing now from the 600Hz noise, so it's time for a break. Pretty happy with what progress I've made.

    This is kinda cool. :)
     

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    KM6VOV, N8AFT and W7UUU like this.
  10. M6GYU

    M6GYU Ham Member QRZ Page

    You will probably make even quicker practice if you ditch the morse key for a while and simply learn to listen and write down morse characters.
     
    KF9VV likes this.

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