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How do YOU copy CW?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by WQ4G, Feb 6, 2019.

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  1. WD0BCT

    WD0BCT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I cannot understand how some can copy and transmit CW while driving! Yeah I've seen the strap on leg keys but it just looks totally distracting from driving to me. Maybe I've got to give up chewing gum?
    K9KXW and M6GYU like this.
  2. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    It's a skillset.

    People learn to do all sorts of things - just look at performers who can sing and play a musical instrument at the same time.
    WQ4G and K8MHZ like this.
  3. WD0BCT

    WD0BCT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I happen to sing and play guitar or bass..I've been playing guitar since I was 10 years that comes easier. I've been playing bass for only 10 years so it is difficult. And if the bass pattern is too demanding I can't sing at all! Actually people who play bass don't typically sing...but Paul McCartney and Jack Bruce did it. Bruce really amazed me because he sang on some pretty complex bass lines when playing with Cream.
    WQ4G and N2EY like this.
  4. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I find it far easier to work CW mobile than "voice."

    Voice would be just as easy if we were allowed to wear a headset with a boom mike and phones covering the ears, and use VOX...but the headset stuff is actually illegal to use while driving here, and maybe most places. So, CW it mike cords to worry about, no background noise tripping VOX to worry about, nothing to "hold." The key is mounted where it cannot move, and CW is easy to copy without the headphones because it can be set to a pleasing tone that stands out well from background noise.

    I wrote an article about this which was published in the July 1993 issue of 73 and is a free download. First page of said article is here:
    Mobile CW operation.PNG

    I find it not the slightest bit distracting, but if driving requires my full attention (two hands on wheel, forget about QSO) I can just ignore it easily, including in the middle of a contact. Just forget about the contact, it's not important -- driving is. But on long stretches of boring freeway -- the route to Las Vegas on I-15 is one of those...200 miles of nothing, and usually not much traffic either -- making CW contacts sure helps pass the time and also keep you awake!
    K8AI and WQ4G like this.
  5. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I got my Novice in 1967 at the age of 13. Nobody in my family or immediate neighborhood was a ham; I learned what I knew of radio from books, taking apart radios and TVs, and building radios out of the parts. I learned the code by listening to hams on 80 CW, one hand on the receiver controls, the other on the pencil.

    K3NYT gave me the Novice exams - the Novice was "by mail" then, regardless of location. 5 wpm is 2.4 seconds per character, so writing it down was no big deal.

    By early summer 1968 I thought I was ready for the General, so I went to the Philly FCC office and took the tests. But the FCC Examiner couldn't read my parochial-school "Palmer Method" longhand well enough to find the required 65 consecutive characters.

    But he did find 25, so I got 5 wpm credit, passed the General written, and got a Technician. The Examiner said that all I had to do to get the General was come back and pass 13 wpm code. In those days, if you failed an FCC test, you had to wait 30 days or more before a retest would be allowed. No do-overs.

    So I went home and taught myself to block-print at 30 wpm. I'd write down "the quick brown fox" over and over and over, fast as I could, printing. Also words to pop songs, the alphabet, whatever, focusing on printing legibly. Also tried different writing implements - turned out that, for me, a #2 pencil was best, and a ball-point pen the worst.

    When I had a good handle on block-printing, I copied code with it night after night after night until I could put down an 18 wpm W1AW bulletin solid, beginning to end. Whole process took 6 weeks or so. Went back to the FCC office later in the summer of 1968 and passed the 13 wpm code easily.

    When the 2 years' experience requirement was up, back to FCC office to get the Extra.

    There is an optimum way to block-print, too:


    Writing it down was necessary for the tests and for traffic handling, which I did quite a bit back then.

    But I also learned to "head copy", which is a different skillset, and the key to ragchewing at speed.

    Then there's the 12 Tips:
    WB5YUZ likes this.
  6. N3PM

    N3PM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I just got used to it. My keyer paddles were duct taped to the center console.
    If I got bored, I'd hit a string of dits and see how many nearby radar detectors went off, as evidenced by brake lights.
    99% head copy, sometimes a recorder if county hunting, sometimes a logger. Some notes in the dust on the dash board.
    Mike N3PM
  7. N0TZU

    N0TZU Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hmmm, but would a paddle be considered illegal as a distracting digital device while driving? Maybe we could debate it for 50 pages...

    (ducks under desk)
    K9KXW likes this.
  8. W6MK

    W6MK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Steve, WB2WIK: Since we were doing this during our one-mile walk each way to school and back (about 20 mins each way)...
    we got used to "hearing" the code and it became letters, numbers, punctuation, words and sentences in our minds...I think that's a cool way to learn, and we really didn't know that everyone didn't do it that way.:p

    I recall talking to Steve about this on the air one (rare for me) SSB excursion. There is an important lesson in this memory.

    There was a day (in my case the 1950s) when people simply went about learning things in whatever manner appealed (or
    appeared) to them. We learned Morse Code in a reasonable period of time (a few weeks at most) by just jumping in. Some
    of us counted dits, some of us visually memorized dashes and dots, some learned at a few words per minute, some learned
    at much higher speeds. In the end, we all learned by following our noses (or our ears and minds).

    There seems to be an odd bias these days about the human mind and about learning. Somehow our culture has adopted, without
    any kind of evidence, the notion that computers are superior devices to human brains and that all learning needs to be
    set up according to some sort of computer-oriented or other-device-based system.

    Not so. Not at all. Learning is an automatic function of the human mind. We learn, even at advanced ages, amazingly well
    and remarkably quickly. We may not process huge volumes of specially-formatted data as fast as computers, but that's really
    not relevant to learning all sorts of complex human skills.

    I think most of the focus on "efficient" learning methods is a great waste of time. It introduces elements of confusion and anxiety
    ("Am I learning the right way? Am I learning fast enough?") which actually impede learning.

    Validated learning theory tells us that people learn when: 1. They focus; 2. They learn in a social setting; 3. When the learning
    is fun, exciting, an adventure, pleasurable.

    Code speed is not an important goal for learning better code skills. Such goals really get in the way of learning. The best way to
    learn head copy, higher speeds and so on is via operating on the air. Or speaking in code to a chum while you are walking. Don't
    try to think about how to learn. Just do it.

    Thinking about how to do something just gets in the way of doing it.
    WD4IGX, K7KBN, K9KXW and 3 others like this.
  9. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    ^I agree with all this stuff.

    I found the easiest people to teach code are kids, because most of them never heard of Morse, or code, and never heard it was difficult or "hard." They're a blank slate.

    You set them up in a class and say, "Now you're going to learn this, it's the easiest thing in the world" and they believe that, so it's just another class, like English or History or Arithmetic. No preconceptions about it being difficult to learn, so for them it's easy to learn.

    Older folks like Baby Boomers (I'm one, too) usually have preconceptions, and they heard of Morse code before because either they actually used it in military service, or knew someone who did, or saw it used in old movies, etc.

    The best pre-Boomer ops I ever encountered, both as a youngster and still occasionally today (they're dying off fast, not so many left) are military (WW2) code ops who learned in the 40s and stayed with it. They mostly use bugs and can have absolutely amazing fists. Not many of those left, but when I was a kid, there were a lot of them.
    K8AI, K7KBN, K9KXW and 3 others like this.
  10. WD0BCT

    WD0BCT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    When we were kids there were a lot more of us too. ;)
    K9KXW, AC8UN and K3ATE like this.

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