How to help those trying to learn CW?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by WF4W, Apr 18, 2017.

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  1. AD0XM

    AD0XM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'll be that guy. I am that guy. Whichever he or she is.

    I had the old Tech-plus ticket (with code) and I could pass the written General, but I hit a wall at 10WPM and I couldn't get to 13. I spent several weeks in the evenings at a local school taking a Morse code class when I was still in High School. I had my flash cards with dashes and dots that I was supposed to study. (nowadays we know that's a terrible way to learn code)

    Fast forward about 25 years and here I am. I decided to study hard and I passed all three tests in the same session. Old Timers can bust on me for not passing 20 or 25 WPM, but that's okay. I am a licensed ham and I'm on the airwaves with you, my brothers and sisters.

    Yup. I'm getting on the air with my first HF rig, I dug out my old Radio Shack brass practice key, and I've headed to the code bands. I've been calling CQ on 40 and 20 for several nights with nary a response.

    My fist on the straight key isn't great yet, and my speed is slow, but I'm there and trying.

    I agree with the poster who said being Extra class doesn't mean you're not a Novice. I can help you put your antenna in, but I'm a novice on CW and am happy to get all the help I can.

    Be an Elmer and don't look down on people trying to learn code. I'll certainly appreciate your effort!

    W9FTV and KU4X like this.
  2. N7ZAL

    N7ZAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well, at least he/she is trying and making an effort. My guess is the speed will come up and he/she might be a prolific CW operator. I've heard my share of very slow CW over the years and always took it as a good sign that there is a brave attempt to learn. JMO
    AD0XM likes this.
  3. WF4W

    WF4W Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yep. I dont look down on anyone for not passing 20wpm code test - why would I? It's not part of the exam so as long as you pass the current requirements then who am I to argue? Those that do are simply stuck in the past.

    I think anyone learning the code should be a good listener first and foremost - go down and copy both sides of a QSO. First, it will help your copy speed which is more important than sending speed. Second, it will teach you the typical exchanges. Finally, it will get you familiar with band conditions and propagation - i.e. QSOs on 40m during the day yield GA hams talking to OH hams while 40m in the evening has CO hams conversing with European hams.

    As always, I continue to try to have a QSO with one newbie each time I'm on the air :)
    AD0XM likes this.
  4. KE8EAS

    KE8EAS Ham Member QRZ Page

    One Ham's Opinion: If you are slower than 5 wpm, it would be best to listen to conversations until you are confident copying at least 5 wpm. Then, begin starting conversations.

    Can the wheels still fall off? Sure. 2 wpm, that is paint drying speed. Kudos on learning, my learning speed was an effective rate of 2.5 wpm, and even struggled with that at times. Practice, get comfortable, dip your toes in the water.
    N2EY likes this.
  5. WF4W

    WF4W Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I had a couple QSOs with newbies last night although I felt like a noob myself since I got a new set of paddles - beautiful vibroplex square racer in chrome! Switching paddles is like getting a new computer KB - gotta get used to the new feel - I tended to send too many dahs for some reason.
  6. KI4VLM

    KI4VLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    To many dahs......
    Well la di dah for you....LOL I am just glad you experienced guys are willing to help us old slowbies... Thank you sir.
  7. KI4VLM

    KI4VLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    It wasn't me but I wish I had the skill to begin trying already. Thank you to you guys that are patient with new slowbies. I will be there soon and hope to QSO with you. Until then, I will continue to practice and learn to copy better. Again, thank you experienced cw'ers for being patient and helping new cw'ers. We could not do it without you.
  8. N7ZAL

    N7ZAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sure you do you think we learned. :)
  9. KI4ODO

    KI4ODO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I would not stress too much about discouraging the new op. Most of us had at least one, if not more "crash and burns" when first starting. First off you have to be persistent to learn and use CW. And if he is persistent at all, then one failed attempt won't throw him off track. I do think a helpful email however could go a long way to help and encourage him,,,,or her.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017
  10. 2E0OZI

    2E0OZI Ham Member QRZ Page

    It happens - I'm a CW re-entrant after 2 years off and although its not all new to me sometimes I crash and burn. Sometimes QRM gets to me. Sometimes conditions are not the best. And always I wish I had a narrow CW filter.

    Apart from the excellent "12 Steps" I would also say wear headphones at all times doing CW - it helps focus I reckon. And join SKCC and set up a sked with someone on a regular basis if you can. Or FISTS. Listen to a lot of CW so you recognise groups of letters like TEST, DX ec etc. Avoid DX pileups and contests (just a personal opinion - there are plenty of TU 599 type contacts outside of contact to build confidence).

    One thing I 100% appreciate is the better CW ops having the patience to work the new guys.

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