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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. K7TRF

    K7TRF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Nice job. Yes, moderately fast character speed with extra spacing is a very good way to go as you'll be less tempted to count dits and dahhs and will just start hearing the patterns. There's nothing magical about 15 wpm for the character speed so if you needed to drop that a tad it would be fine and if it all starts making sense you could increase the character speed a bit and then over time increase the overall word speed.

    There's nothing wrong with the MFJ-550, it's a decent working key but if you look around you may find something nicer with a bit better construction for a similar price. Something like an older used military key is often a good way to go. That said, the MFJ-550 will definitely get the job done.
  2. W5BIB

    W5BIB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    When I was 14 years-old (1961) I obtained a little pocket card from the Boy Scouts that had the Morse code on it. Without ever hearing "CW", I memorized each letter & number as dits & dahs.

    It took about a week, while walking back-n-forth to school, & I was able to translate (in my mind AND out-loud) the letters/numbers on every sign, billboard, license plate that I saw.
    I even did it with comic books & anything that had words in it.

    Once I had memorized the Morse characters, my Elmer (KN9ZYS NOW K9JT/Jim who I went to school with) invited me over to his shack to witness Morse/CW in action.

    His homebrew 5 watt xmtr & Heathkit AR-3 rcvr impressed me enough to take the Novice exam a week later, becoming KN9IJQ in July of 1961. :D

    I'd recommend memorizing the Morse characters before you ever listen to any on-the-air CW, tapes, or programs. Once you get the characters memorized, the rest is easy & practice sending (with a straight key) increases your ability to "copy".

    There's a YouTube video "Morse Code Conversation" (almost 2 Million views) on my page that shows how much fun straight-key CW can be !

    Now (over 59 years later) I'm still 100% CW. :)

    "You're never too old to learn" ;)

    dit dit
    M6GYU, K1LKP, W7UUU and 1 other person like this.
  3. WW2PT

    WW2PT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Try adjusting the CW offset. My first rig had a fixed offset (800 Hz?) that was just uncomfortable for me to copy. With later rigs that had adjustable BFO offset, I eventually found my sweet spot (+/- 450 Hz) and my copying improved greatly.
  4. KM4DYX

    KM4DYX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sounds like the Farnsworth spacing is working! You've had a breakthrough. Keep it at 15/5. Looks like the MFJ key would work just fine or you could find an old J-37 or J-38 military surplus key. Good idea to start sending practice now along with copying, they compliment each other.
  5. M6GYU

    M6GYU Ham Member QRZ Page

    15wpm character speed is fine. You won't likely be able to 'count' dots and dashes and once you can easily recognise with accuracy whats being sent you can always increase the character speed when you need to.

    Incidentally when I was in training I took part in a pilot scheme to assess your ability/aptitude to learn morse. I failed. It was a simple test where morse characters were sent reasonably slowly -0 probably 15wpm and we had to write out what we heard in dashes and dots even though we didn't know any morse at all at that stage. |It was doom and gloom for me as all I wanted to do was be a radio operator. Luckily for me and probably one or two others we were reminded it was just being prototyped - so I carried on. I was slightly less accurate at the start than the others in the class but by the end of 27 weeks I was well in front for accuracy.
    KD4ZFS and W5BIB like this.
  6. W6MK

    W6MK Ham Member QRZ Page

    One U.S. military branch used an initial ability screening test. The person being tested would listen
    to two different code characters and would be asked to say whether they were the same or different.

    Although such a screening test might seem to be useful, a careful analysis of many tests could
    show that it is meaningless regarding one's actual ability to learn the code.

    That certainly was your experience.

    My thoughts about Morse Code are that it is an exceedingly simple learning exercise. There are only
    two sounds, a short and a long, to be distinguished. It could not be made more simple. That is why it
    has been useful for nearly 200 years and millions of people have mastered it, to a greater or lesser degree.

    What I think is going on with hams wanting to learn Morse Code is that they essentially are not good at
    learning. They seem to be biased towards learning and experience via computer. There are other avenues.
    And possibly most important hams seem to want to think about how to learn best or easiest or fastest. All
    that pre-thinking gets in the way of learning. And learning is a fully automatic process for humans. No
    manual required.
    M6GYU and W5BIB like this.
  7. N6YWU

    N6YWU Ham Member QRZ Page

    At what speed (WPM)?

    I've been trying to learn to recognize code characters at QRQ speeds, but at 40 WPM or more, I can't reliably hear the difference between 4 and V, or 6 and B. I have to go down to about 36 WPM or so before I can clearly say that they sound different. Most other single characters, I can recognize at up to 50 WPM (although I can't copy at anywhere near that speed). I use a computer Morse Code generator to test myself (my iOS apps, text2Morse and HotPaw Basic).
    M6GYU likes this.
  8. WN1MB

    WN1MB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Amen! And it ushers in over-analysis paralysis.

    Don't try. DO!
    K9CPO and W5BIB like this.
  9. SA7CNG

    SA7CNG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am making good progress att the 15/5 speed, but only with the 3-letter groups i have been working with on I tried 5 letter groups and it all failed directly, at 15/5 i buffer the beeps and use the pause between groups to "count the dots". I have a rather good memory for learning stuff, so i can hold three letters in my head for a while, five is too much though.

    To try out what i have learned in the 7 lesson with Koch at 15/5 i went back and tried lesson 2(3 letters) at 15/10. I just got a few letters right, probably by chance. Some how my abillity to connect sound to letter directly without counting the letters isnt as fast as i would like it to bee.

    Koch himself acording to this source, had student learn CW at 12 wpm in about 13 hours. Since there is 40 lessons, this is about 20 minutes per lesson/character. Does this correspond to how fast other people learn cw?
  10. 2E0OZI

    2E0OZI Ham Member QRZ Page

    To give you an idea I took 4 weeks learning in 2 x 45 minute bursts a day on The Morse Machine or some such similar program to learn the letters and numbers. Then i hesistated getting on the air for nearly 4 WEEKS until at a club meeting M0BLO gave a talk on CW encouraging people to use it. I spoke to him at the end and he said "what are you waiting for - you are good to go!" Later that night had my first CW contact with HA2PP. Each contact made gives you a huge boost. FISTS and the SKCC are very supportive. Even hams here are very supportive - a regular sked can be set up.

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