Learning CW - Enrolled in CWOps Academy

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KV4JW, Oct 28, 2019.

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  1. KV4JW

    KV4JW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just signed up for the Level 1 CWOps academy starting in January. Also purchased a pristine condition Bencher BY-1, as it's recommended by the hosts that I learn with a paddle type key.

    I'm very excited. Right now, the only letter I know is "K", but I couldn't pick it out of a string of characters being sent for the life of me. I can send the heck out of it with a cheap straight key though!

    K - K -K - K - K

    In the meantime, I'd like some tips on learning from those who are experienced. It's a little intimidating really, I know I'm going to stumble and make mistakes, but at the same time, it's something that I genuinely do want to learn to do (and have fun with)!
     
  2. WW2PT

    WW2PT Ham Member QRZ Page

    From my own experience, the hardest thing was overcoming my key fright! I struggled with that for years, not wanting to embarrass myself on the air. But I eventually overcame it enough to work a lot of DX where I only needed to be able to copy my callsign and send “5NN TU.” Hurdle No. 1 was gone!

    Then I started playing around casually in a North American QSO Party. At first, it was overwhelming. Then after a few hours, everything seemed to click and it suddenly occurred to me that I was copying callsigns and exchanges with no trouble at all. That was Hurdle No. 2. After I cleared that, I started devoting myself to chasing DX on CW.

    Hurdle No. 3 is being able to put myself “in the zone” where I can just hear what’s being sent without having to think about it. This is where I still need work; I can get there some days, other days not so much, at least at a decent speed (25 wpm). I still get “stuck” on a word or letter and miss the next 3 or 4 before I can reset my brain. I just get distracted too easily. Admittedly, I don’t work at it nearly as hard on it as I should. But I never give up.

    Only suggestion I can make is, don’t simply learn Morse code. You should also learn how to “operate CW.” That includes using all the bells and whistles on your radio to get the most out of a weak CW signal buried in the noise; how to listen to a pileup and figure out how the DX is moving through the crowd and knowing where to spot your signal; learning the prosigns and colloquialisms CW ops use in a QSO (BK, AR, SK, BT and the like) and when to use them; etc.

    If you’re into chasing DX, I highly recommend reading W9KNI’s The Complete DXer.

    Good luck!
     
    KV4JW likes this.
  3. W9RAC

    W9RAC Subscriber QRZ Page

    Your going to have the best time you can imagine. Lots of fun learning and a great feeling of accomplishment. The real fun begins when you get on-air and QSO. You are soon to learn it's a completely different world than fone modes, one with respectful and mannered Ops. Wecome to the elites. 73 Rich
     
    WW2PT likes this.
  4. K1LKP

    K1LKP Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    HI JOSHUA,

    LET ME SAY CONGRATS TO YOU FOR JOINING THE CW OPS ACADEMY.

    THEY ARE A GREAT GROUP OF FOLKS AND ARE VERY DEDICATED TO
    HELPING THE ACADEMY STUDENTS LEARN MORSE CODE.

    REGARDING YOUR STATEMENT:

    I'd like some tips on learning from those who are experienced.


    THE BEST TIP THAT I CAN GIVE YOU IS............
    positive_attitude JOSHUA.jpg

    IF TIME ALLOWS, STOP BY MY QRZ PAGE AND GO TO THE SECTION ON MORSE CODE.

    YOU SHOULD FIND SOMETHING THAT WILL HELP YOU IN YOUR QUEST TO BECOME
    A MORSE OPERATOR.

    N9HI Have a Nice Day.gif
     
    WW2PT likes this.
  5. W9RAC

    W9RAC Subscriber QRZ Page

    You know Josh I should have mentioned a couple of things that will be of a benefit to your learning process. Once you start the program and get a few characters you can recognize take some time and listen ON-AIR to some QSO's. I do know the CW OPs use 20/21 wpm character speed to keep a person from counting while learning. So listen in to some speeds that are in that area. Of course your not going to be able to copy the QSO but pick out what characters you can. The main purpose is to hear the code in the actual environment that you will be using it. QRN/M, QSB and the like makes a big difference in the ability to copy. In the sterile environment of computer listening all those factors are eliminated. A little actual ON-AIR listening will make your exposure to real QSOs a bit easier later.

    Also, the type of QSO's/contacts matters. Rag chew CW is completely different than just a contact/contest and then 73. Most rag chew CW OPs are a considerably more versatile. So when it comes time to practice it helps to know how to develop a conversation without becoming consumed by it. It's a developed skill if you desire that type of work. Rag chew is all I do. SSB or CW. I have friends who blaze at calls/reports in contest but can hardly have a intelligible conversation at 10 wpm rag chew. Only because they have not used it much.
    If you follow the program they have you will emerge with the fundamentals to being a efficient CW OP.

    I have other information which will make your journey easier but its at this point Id consider it premature. Let me know how it progresses, 73 Rich
     
    WB5YUZ likes this.
  6. M6GYU

    M6GYU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Learn the alphabet now, so when some one goes asks you what is F, for example, you can just go dit dit dah dit.
    Don't learn the alphabet by memorising F as two short dits, a longer dash and one dit. YOu'll end up struggling.
     
    KV4JW likes this.
  7. W5WTH

    W5WTH Ham Member QRZ Page

    We all started with one letter. Mine was "K" also.

    My best advise is to avoid gimmicks and stick with the basic learning methods that you hear over and over. It takes time (and the learning never seems to end) but it is a fun and rewarding process.
     
  8. N6MST

    N6MST Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am a graduate of CWA levels 1 and 2 and I can tell you that if you put in the work for these sessions you WILL be a effective and confident CW operator. CWA is awesome but it is not something you can be passive about and expect to reap the benefits of. Like others have mentioned, practice is the only real way to get good at code. If I had to start from scratch this is what I would do: go to the CWA Student Resources page and look at the Level 1 materials. Start doing them. They are basically self-explanatory and if you spend the next two months working every day (yeah, every day but only for like 30 minutes) you will be light years ahead of your classmates and the sessions will be so much better for you.

    If you have questions feel free to PM or email me, I have nothing but good things to say about CWA and I love to promote the organization. I am not an instructor or even an official CW Op but I did go through the first two levels and I loved it.

    Good luck!
     
    WB5YUZ likes this.
  9. W2OZB

    W2OZB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well, I am an advisor for CW Academy and for one will state that N6MST just gave you great advice! Start now, go to the CWOps CW Academy student resource page. Don't talk about it, do it! You're going to love class!
     
  10. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Actually, we all knew SOS when we heard it, right?

    I could recognize an SOS from hearing it in teevee shows, movies, cartoons, etc., long before I first tried learning the whole code.
     

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