Getting started in CW

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KK4JW, Nov 16, 2018.

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  1. KK4JW

    KK4JW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Learned two new letters tonight, X and B. X was easy, it's very similar to K, and where K and X kind of look alike, I picked it up pretty quick. B was a little tougher, I kept getting it confused with D. After about a half hour of practice, everything is heterodyning together and I done a little something just for fun before I let the key cool off for the evening. Sometimes I get a little bit of a rhythm going with the letters and it's easy to pick up a little speed.

    At one point I was sending three letters together in succession pretty easy.


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  2. W9RAC

    W9RAC Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Nice work. As others have mentioned, learn it at around 20 wpm with spacing to suit your learning speed, maybe 14 or so. Learning at a slow letter speed may seem like a great easy idea but you will regret if for a long, long time. To slow it down use spacing between the letters and words. You must learn the proper sound of the complete letter/number etc at a higher speed or you will be in a endless trap. Keep up the the work, the fun is soon to come when you get on air! 73,Rich
    K9ASE likes this.
  3. K1IGS

    K1IGS Ham Member QRZ Page

    The spacing is what I'm having trouble with at the moment. I can send letters fairly quickly, but copying I need some spacing between them to make the connection the other way. What mechanism do you guys recommend to be able to listen to Morse and adjust the spacing to your needs for practice?
  4. N8TGQ

    N8TGQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I recommend using your radio and listening to all the different speeds and "dialects" you will actually hear on the air.
    N5XH and W9RAC like this.
  5. WM8B

    WM8B Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks KV4JW for starting this thread, lots of good information so far. I am also beginning to learn CW. I heard someone say it would be a good idea to type rather than handwrite when you first are learning to receive CW, any thoughts on this, pros and cons?
    KM6VOV likes this.
  6. W9RAC

    W9RAC Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yes Yes Yes...... on air is absolutely the best of the best form practice. Now it the time to lean to copy with QRN/M...QSB and just plain poorly sent CW. You will be a much more prepared OP by learning ON-AIR QSO's and use the computer to brush up on listening also to see how your code should sound. It's always a joy for me to listen to a good quality CW OP anytime, one who actually understands someone on the other end is trying to understand what you are saying. Its a chore to listen and sometimes attempt to understand the bug with 25 wpm dit's and 15 wpm da's or the guy who runs it all together including the K at the end of his call. Being exposed to on ON AIR QSO's will help you prepare for those types of situations. Have fun, 73 Rich
    N7BKV likes this.
  7. W9RAC

    W9RAC Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I believe for most, before its over, being tethered to a notepad or particularly a typewriter is a burden. I was tethered to a notepad and pen, I was addicted. I was afraid to even try. A couple of years ago I was on my outside deck which is 10 foot or so up. I was having a QSO with a gentleman and having a great time until I dropped my pen and it rolled thru the cracks in the decking onto the ground 10 foot below. I was instantly paralyzed, like I had never copied code before In my life. You probably think I am going to say that I magically started coping CW instantly in my head and finished the QSO and been head copying ever since...... No, not quite...I ducted out like a jerk, ran down to get the pen and when I got back he was gone. Now.... what did I learn from that? I started putting a extra pen in my pocket while I was outside doing CW, brilliant...who would have thought? Now, fast forward, I have been working on head copying for the last 5 months or so. About 1.5 hours a day either while on air OR listening to a computer program that sends words. I can copy at about 17/18 wpm head. By the end of the winter Ill be at 20, my goal, learning at 67 is not as fast but just as fun. Its alot more fun to be able to listen and build the words or recognize the words in your head. If your learning CW, consider adding this to your learning process a bit each day. When its over you will be free from the burden of pens, paper, typewriters. Just some thoughts sir....... have fun, 73 Rich
    KM6VOV, KF9VV, WM8B and 1 other person like this.
  8. KI7RS

    KI7RS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I just finished the CWops class, and they teach head copy. You can jot down call signs, location, notes, etc, but they focus on head copy. Writing everything down works good up to a point, but then you reach a limit. If you chose to type it rather than jot notes that would be a personal choice. I found it easier to scribble things on a small note pad than try to type on a computer. It's hard to force myself to head copy, but the more I do it the longer I can remember what's being sent. It seems like when I write things down I never really process the information.
    WM8B likes this.
  9. W9RAC

    W9RAC Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well its certainly a learned ability it seems. I do write down call signs, and some other information along the way. I have been doing better but it has been a challenge but I was just absolutely tired of having to have a pen and paper to have a conversation when on CW. I know several OP's who are driving and have the conversation the entire way . They never ask your call sign or to repeat everything because they have forgotten. I do not imply I will ever have that kind of CW skill but its nice just to be able listen and understand what they are saying without the burden of writing or typing everything along the way. To some it may not be a bother I suppose but its just something I am working on. I'm strictly a rag chewer and CW out of the standard format of RST, name, QTH, rig is a completely different adventure. Having a real conversation CW and trying to write it down might require several pages which of course gets to be cumbersome. Having a entire conversation with actual subjects is a lot of fun, but of course you have to remember what they ask or commented on. If it get technical I have to revert to writing it down I'm sorry to say, I hope I can evolve into remembering it all. Enjoy it anyway you can, its loads of fun, 73 Rich
  10. KZ4KX

    KZ4KX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I am also learning or trying to. Always have been interested but the 5 wpm was so slow I lost interest. So recently I picked it back up and found the Koch method and I think it will really help. I bought a Bencher paddle ( any good?)and a practice oscillator from eBay to practice with. Looking forward to trying it out on the air, when I can copy without holding my breath.
    KM6VOV and W9RAC like this.

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