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Learning CW, it just doesnt stick!

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by SA7CNG, May 21, 2020.

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  1. WN1MB

    WN1MB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I like it!

    re: learning the code - talking about it ain't doin' it.
  2. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    He didn't mention this that I recall (you can look up the article, it's part of QST so it's on line), but did write the students were exchanging words and sentences, so it had to be more than just hearing a character at some very low speed and recognizing it.

    I did teach "code classes" for 20 years, until the code requirement was eliminated. Last six years were spent teaching it at the L.A. Vo-Tech in Woodland Hills, who were kind enough to provide me with a "free classroom" in the evenings, and the room had desks for at least 30 students. We occasionally had that many, but usually it was more like 10-15. In my experience, 5 wpm was a terrible speed to start with and made learning much more difficult for those who never heard the code before; I just started out at about 15 wpm from the first day, sending "A" and really never went any slower than that: Easier to recognize the patterns when there aren't such wide spaces between dits and dahs -- at least that's what everyone seemed to tell me.

    In our case, none of the classes lasted more than eight weeks and for those who actually kept showing up and didn't drop out, 100% left being able to both send and copy at 15 wpm. I found SENDING to be a huge part of the process, as what's the use in copying code if you can't send it? And I really did find "group study" very effective, since from the first hour I'd set up the students in pairs, with one sending, then swapping so the other one sends, etc to give everyone a chance to both copy and send, once they could recognize just the letters E, T, I and M. We'd add more letters in each session, then the numbers. Another trick: No paper, no pencils. I never let anyone write anything down. Either you understand the code or you don't -- writing doesn't make anyone understand it better (in my experience).:)

    Different strokes and different methods abound. After many years I settled on what seemed to work best in a "classroom" type environment.
  3. W6MK

    W6MK Ham Member QRZ Page

    That's exactly why there are so many would-be learners not actually learning.
  4. W6MK

    W6MK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sending: absolutely critical. Sending well requires a really good internalization (that is, memory)
    of the rhythm (that is, sound) of Morse Code characters.

    Yes regarding different strokes. But I always wonder why so many would-be learners
    ask about "the best way" to learn.

    It's non-existent. Learning requires: doing, sharing, making mistakes and continuing.
  5. K8PG

    K8PG QRZ Lifetime Member #333 Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Guess you Do not want to
    learn Morse Bad ENOUGH.



    Paul K8PG
    WN1MB and AD5HR like this.
  6. K8PG

    K8PG QRZ Lifetime Member #333 Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    wonder morse opr. another EXPERT.
  7. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I found that to be the case, too. Many seem to "study" the code by only trying to copy it. That's a shame.

    But I'll admit that "solo practice" without a partner such as someone to send it to is more difficult than the buddy system.

    I learned at age 12-13 with a buddy who also wanted to become a Novice, so we practiced together for a few weeks and had it nailed. We both got our Novices at age 13 and Generals at age 14, and for us the code was the "easy" part -- the General theory (which back then was the same as the Tech theory) was certainly more difficult for us.
  8. W6MK

    W6MK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ditto regarding age and method. We'd have vocal conversations in code. We never questioned for
    a moment whether Morse Code was easy or difficult to learn. We just did it. I quit hamming in college
    a few years later and didn't do anything radio-related for nearly 50 years. Except for a short spell
    monitoring a CW net while in the military.

    50 years later, retired and curious about he status of shortwave radio, I realized I remembered
    Morse Code. Learn something well--it sticks to ya.

    My pal didn't pass the General code exam the first time but I did. Most of the others taking the
    exam were adults and most of them failed too. He never forgave me because he "knew" I was actually an idiot. Possibly he was right.

    I remember feeling very lucky that the simple tube circuit schematic we had to draw for the
    General exam was one that I'd remembered. Of course if you know what the components of
    a simple circuit are supposed to do, there aren't a lot of different ways to hook them up.
  9. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's the way we learned, also. We'd walk to school (8th grade, it was about a mile walk) and back home after school, carrying our books and "conversing" only in code. We'd send each other everything we "saw," like street signs or license plates or whatever.

    What we did not know was how fast we were doing this. Turns out, pretty fast. We never did it slowly. When David (who became WN2WND) and I took our Novice tests together, that was the first time either of us heard "5 wpm code" and we cracked up.
    I think what got me was all the different filter designs, where the test showed a complete circuit but missing a component value, like "C3" or "L2" or whatever, We actually understood, and I had a slide rule! Problem is, slide rules don't retain decimal points: So when the multiple-choice answers are .0001uF, .001uF, .01uF, .1uF....pick one. The slide rule showed the answer had a significant digit of "1," but you had to figure out where the decimal point went, which was a lot of long math on a scratch sheet. We had not yet learned exponential math.

    I passed, but was almost surprised I passed!
    WA9FZB likes this.
  10. WA9FZB

    WA9FZB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I learned code with two school buddies. We, too, did the "conversational Morse" route, and it was our way of keeping our conversations secret from classmates. Nobody else ever expected us to know Morse, but we just wanted our licenses badly enough to grasp it quickly. The Boy Scouts couldn't teach us, but we taught ourselves with only keys and buzzers (not even an oscillator - money was being saved for a rig). We really didn't need much to learn it.
    WN1MB likes this.

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