Learning CW

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by K2DN, May 26, 2010.

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  1. K2DN

    K2DN XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I am at the point in learning CW where I know all the letters. By "know them", I mean that if you ask me what the sound is for any of the letters or numbers, I can say the dahs and dits that make up each of the letters.

    At this point I have been practicing copying by downloading the "Quotes of the Day" at 5wpm from Itunes. This file is usually about 15 minutes worth of copying time.

    What I have been doing is writing down each character as I hear it until I get lost. Then I rewind a bit and try again. I keep doing this until I have finished the whole thing.

    Is this a good way of going about learning CW? Or am I hurting myself by rewinding?

    Last edited by a moderator: May 27, 2010
  2. N5CE

    N5CE Ham Member QRZ Page


    Take a look at G4FON.net. His trainer is good. IMHO, you have memorized the letters and are going through an extra mental process when trying to copy at such a slow speed. That will limit your ability to achieve greater speeds as you progress. You want to learn the sound of the letter and translate that sound to the motion of writing the letter in your subconscious.

    I first learned the way your doing it over 40 years ago and had to unlearn a lot. There are many resources on the web for both the Koch method and the Farnsworth method. You might want to look over those ideas.

    Good luck - CW is a lot of fun.

  3. K9FV

    K9FV Ham Member QRZ Page

    As the man said, get the G4FON program, read the instructions - and follow them. You didn't mention what speed your downloaded CW is - you mention being able to say "di -dahs" and is that ever the wrong way. You don't really want to be able to "count" dits 'n dahs.

    Do yourself a big favor by trying to forget everything you've learned todate (impossible) and start all over from the first two letters with G4FON - there are a couple other programs that are good also, but none can beat the price of G4FON..... free.

    Have fun and best of luck in CW.

    73 de Ken H>
  4. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    If you think LEARING CW is hard...

    ...just try LEARNING it!:p

    Actually, CW is very easy! Just flip the mode switch on your rig to "CW," and you're done.

    Learning code is a bit tougher.

    But it sounds like you're well on the way.

    Since you already have a license with full privileges on all the bands, my recommendation would be to just start slowly making some CW contacts. Go as slowly as you wish, there are others out there doing the same thing.

    If you make five contacts a day, every single day, for three months, that's 450 contacts. If by the 450th contact you are comfortably operating at 20 words per minute, you might be the first one in history.

    Way easier, faster and more fun to learn by using it.:)
  5. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Oops! Made a big typo there in that post! It SHOULD read as follows...

  6. K7JBQ

    K7JBQ Moderator Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page


    Good thinking, but no way, record-wise.

    When we were Novices in the one-year-and-out days, we all made a whole lot of low speed contacts. Once we got rid of the "N" and moved on to bugs (keyers not much known then), the speeds crept up. Working a few contests is what "jumped" the up to 20wpm and above.

    But I would guess there are many out there who work at least a little CW, and have for years, for whom 13wpm is still fast.

  7. AE5KA

    AE5KA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Take a look at www.lcwo.net too. That will give you immediate feedback on your error rate copying, albeit using the keyboard to record your copy.

    The three CW copying modes, writing, keyboarding, and "in head" all seem to have independent learning modes, so its good to practice all three.

    I personally can't scribble fast enough to get past about 10 wpm, but using the keyboard I can record much faster. My "in head" copying lags a bit.

    I don't doubt that getting on the air every day might be the best way to learn, but I don't have the time and opportunity to do it that way myself.
  8. AG3Y

    AG3Y Guest

    Bill, I suspect the reason that 13 wpm is still fast to some operators that have been doing cw for years, is because they have never gotten out of their "comfort zone". They increase the copying speed by a few wpm, and all of a sudden their accuracy falls by the wayside! They miss letters here and there, and instead of shrugging their shoulders, and picking up the words from the context, they sit and stew, and more letters fly by without them copying, and pretty soon they are sitting there in a heap of dismay !

    The only way to get past that point is to forget about those letters you missed, and concentrate on the rest of them that are coming through. After a while, you will find yourself filling in those missing letters almost subconsciously, and at a higher wpm rate !

    Believe me, that is how it works for almost everyone !

    To the O.P. hang in there, and just work code on the air. Your speed will increase almost automatically!

    73, Jim
  9. KE5FRF

    KE5FRF Ham Member QRZ Page

    Agree with Jim.

    Sometimes a QSO at 20-30 or better WPM will be moving along at a comfortable pace and, as it was tonight, the QRN and maybe some QSB will turn the signal into hash for as many as a few words or an entire sentence.

    Just tonight I had a QSO and the other op mentioned being a retired teacher. I caught t----er...and then he went on to say the year he retired --95. I surmised 1995, and to prevent embarrassment, I simply asked, "did you say teacher?". I let him know that I thought I copied it correctly, but gave him the opportunity to correct it if he had said "trucker" or "tailor" or something else.

    I didn't fume and fret. I just took a mental note for a question to ask, and actually pointed the conversation in a good direction by asking more about the teaching.

    Half the battle is realizing that every word isn't heard in verbal communication either. How many classes, conventions, training sessions, and speaking engagements have we all sat through and had our minds distracted by thoughts of the weekend, or pretty girls/women, only to realize that we still learned the topic through "osmosis"? :D
  10. K7JBQ

    K7JBQ Moderator Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    Heath, Jim,

    I completely agree. What gets to people is the idea of "perfect copy."

    You rarely get "perfect copy" in a one-on-one voice conversation. Unless a thermonuclear war hangs in the balance, why worry about it on CW?

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