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How To Improve Head Copying??

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KN4ICU, May 7, 2018.

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  1. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    How To Improve Head Copy:

    1) Get on the air and make CW QSOs. Use a pencil and paper, or whatever your favorite method, to take notes - but not letter-for-letter copy.

    2) Get on the air using CW during a contest. Field Day is coming up; most clubs that do CW need operators. Contesting was and is instrumental in improving my code skills.

    3) Have CW playing whenever you can. If your computer is in the shack, turn on your rig and tune in a CW QSO while you're doing something else. Utilize W1AW practice sessions and bulletins. Don't write it down; just listen to it.

    4) If you have a smartphone, get a CW ringtone app. Very useful - you know who is calling, but nobody else does.

    73 es GL de Jim, N2EY
    N8TGQ and W5BIB like this.
  2. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I disagree -- and I was a "traffic handler" for years back in the 1960s.

    Here's why: QRM, QRN, QSB.

    Unless your contact is very strong, not fading and impossible to interfere with, it wouldn't matter how great an operator you are -- stuff happens, and "fills" will be required. The trick is to know how to properly request them. "AA DAYTON OH" is a good and brief way to request a fill on "all after Dayton, Ohio" in the text. Or whatever; there are lots of examples. But 100% perfect copy don't happen so often, especially with the vagaries of HF ionospheric propagation.
  3. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    So was I, Steve, a few years later. PTTN, EPA, 3RN, all the way to EAN. Never made BPL but made PSHR several times. My station wasn't anything fancy, either.

    I think you overplay that hand.

    Yes, sometimes QRM, QRN and QSB will make fills necessary. It's part of the game. And yes, I know how to do "fills" on CW - all after, all before, etc. - and how NOT to assume.

    What I was saying is that the operator should strive to never be the cause of a fill. A good op can pull solid copy through conditions that leave others stumped. A good op isn't thrown all catywampus by a bit of QRM or QRN.

    A bit odd to read this in a thread about head copy....

    73 de Jim, N2EY
  4. K8ERV

    K8ERV Ham Member QRZ Page

    If there is a good way to copy heads please let me know.

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
  5. WN1MB

    WN1MB Ham Member QRZ Page

    3-D printer.

    You're welcome.
  6. K8ERV

    K8ERV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would be afraid a small programming mistake might give me Glen's head.

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
  7. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well, we just have different POVs.

    I don't get thrown catywampus by conditions, but if a signal faded down into the noise, there's not much I can do about that. Ditto for being in the middle of copying a message to have another much stronger station appear 300 Hz away and call CQ or whatever. "It happens."

    Not much need for "traffic handling" anymore.

    Within our CD/RACES groups we used to do a lot of it using phone (AM on VHF to contact County, SSB on 75 to contact State) and used the "official Radiogram" formats and stuff. On phone, needing a fill was often the part of both involved: The sender speaking too quickly or using poor annunciation (or bad phonetics, or no phonetics), and the receiver trying to use a speaker and getting distracted by other noises -- or stuff. CW is easier!
  8. G3YRO

    G3YRO Ham Member QRZ Page

    As everyone has said, just spend time listening, and it will come . . .

    It really is just like learning another language. At first you have to translate every word as someone says it . . . but as you improve you stop translating, and hear them just as if they were speaking English.

    The same will happen with CW . . . you'll eventually stop converting each character into letters, and hear . / ._ / _ as the word eat. From that point, you will just begin to hear CW as if someone was talking to you in another language.

    Having said all this, as with most things in life, you can learn things much more quickly when you are young . . . I started learning Morse when I was 12 years old . . . by the time I took the Morse Test just before my 14th Birthday I had a Bug Key and could do 35 wpm.

    My problem was always the other way round . . . I got so used to just copying in my head, whenever I tried a high-speed Morse Test for fun (anything over 25 wpm) I couldn't write it down fast enough!

    Roger G3YRO
  9. N8TGQ

    N8TGQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    For a few years I was able to play the radio as loud and as long as I wanted. I had CW playing as I did other things all day. I think listening to real QSOs is the way to go. Have fun and relax. It will come!
  10. WA3LKN

    WA3LKN Ham Member QRZ Page

    There was an article in QST some years ago written by someone with a linguistics background, and he listed the most common 2 and 3 letter combinations in common English parlance, sort of like what was referred to above, and by learning those combinations rather than individual letters, it was a fast way to bump up word speed. I'm pretty sure this is what both professional landline and radiotelegraphers did back when although they might not have known it.

    With this in mind, the random character generators that help people learn code may actually be counterproductive.
    VK3VAR likes this.

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