How did you learn CW?

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by NU8J, Jul 13, 2012.

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  1. N3PDT

    N3PDT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Everyone learns a little differently, so what worked for me may not be the best way for you.

    I started with G4FON, then added W1AW sessions. Then I started listening to live QSOs (very tough at first). While learning the characters, I also practiced sending with a paddle and keyer - I switched to straight key later. I also believe that the sending practice helps reinforce the listening. I got on the air at maybe 8wpm. Fiddled around for almost 6 months with little progress before I went "total commitment" and put the microphone away. Wasn't long before I lost most of the jitters and 12/13wpm was my comfort zone.

    One side note about speed, I hit the "famous" 12wpm plateau and stayed there for maybe 8 months and made very little upward progression. Bought a bug on a whim, and couldn't tame it below 15-16wpm. Within a week or so, I was copying 18wpm, and a little better, with no problem. Here again, I believe the sending practice improved my copy ability. I still top out at about 20wpm on a good day, but I'm only a couple years into this and learned code at age 53. I'm optimistic that I'll have, or create, another breakthrough any day now. I still practice by copying QSOs that are faster than my comfort zone, and practice sending faster into the code reader on on of my rigs.
  2. K2NCC

    K2NCC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Probably much like N4AJZ, I learned Morse by spending hours, days, weeks in front of a military training machine.

    Mine was at Ft Devens, MA. We had to pass 20WPM (actually, "groups" per minute) before moving on to the next training stage. We had all branches, rather small classroom, all along the wall tall machines with lighted letters, a keyboard, and headphones. If memory serves, it was 4-6 weeks, 6-8 hours a day, 5 days a week. It wasn't long CW was ringing in my ears all day and all night!

    Glad I code the code skill out of the military before I left. Many years letter it made it easier to be a "tech plus".

    (I looked for a picture of what we used, but all I found were the older in a central table instead of lining the walls on the big machines as we did, but no luck.)
  3. AB9LZ

    AB9LZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Learned it by listening to the arrl bullitens that I had downloaded as mp3's to my ipod. Two 30 minute sessions a day on the BNSF (train) commute to and from work, was able to cruise the test after three weeks of that.

    73 m/4
  4. W3UC

    W3UC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Im just starting(1 week under belt) with and I like it.

    BTW - Anyone know of a good learning cd to listen to while im drive the big rig at work ??
  5. K7KBN

    K7KBN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I never learned "CW". Had to learn Morse code to make First Class Scout in the Boy Scouts. Our assistant scoutmaster at the time was a retired Navy Master Chief Quartermaster, who taught us Morse code (audible AND flashing light), semaphore, and flaghoist. I was copying 15-20 wpm solid in sixth grade. Didn't have much trouble in these areas in boot camp or Radioman "A" school. Don't worry about a particular method (Koch, Farnsworth or any other).

    Learn how the characters are supposed to sound and learn how to make precisely those same sounds with a straight key. Once you master the straight key and sound like a machine with it, THEN consider a bug or paddles.
  6. NM7G

    NM7G Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't know if you have a HF receiver (or xcvr) and antenna, but I listened and copied ham (including W1AW) and non-ham stations, for many hours. Then I did it some more. I was 13-years old, and long before .mp3 or .wav practice files. There's a lot to be said for using machine generated code, since a newbie has a poor frame of reference for what fist will be acceptable on-the-air, so only listening to hams can be limiting in my opinion. Today, I'd probably borrow or buy a keyer with training/practice capability.

    As I walked to school, I sent automobile license plates, street, traffic, and store signs in oral CW, every day. It was just like the old joke about aspiring entertainers: "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" "Practice, practice, practice." A friend helped me build an ultra-simple simple oscillator for sending. When tired of sending to myself, and self-judging my ability, I asked a local ham to listen and offer feedback about what I needed to improve.

    In those days we sat with a FCC examiner. The biggest error I made in self-training was not giving adequate time to sending. The examiner had to tell me twice to speed up when I tested for the Extra. Preparing for being nervous, with a solid margin of an extra 5 wpm, would have made it easier at test time.

  7. KI6J

    KI6J Ham Member QRZ Page

    By refusing to quit. I tried everything. It worked.
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