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Learning CW

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

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  1. WA4OTD

    WA4OTD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I couldn't wait to get rid of WN4OTD and be WA4OTD. Was really beyond believe.

  2. KA9VQF

    KA9VQF Ham Member QRZ Page

    When I was in high school not everyone could take typing class. You had to have a B or better in English to get in.

    I have no idea why that was.

    I had an old LC Smith full legal carriage manual typewriter at home and I would peck away at it with one or two fingers.

    When my older sister got into typing class I would take her grig book and work on learning how to type myself.

    I never got very good at it that way.

    As time passed and I got out of school it was plain to see that typing was going to be a requirement for having a good job.

    I obtained a Vic 20 computer and would spend days at a time inputting 1’s and O’s so I could play some game or have some pretty display run for a while.

    I could also use it as an electric typewriter. It would put the characters directly on paper, no spell checker.

    I still couldn’t really touch type. I took an adult education class offered by the college extension office right at the high school I had graduated at and got better but I still couldn’t type very well I did get to where I was using more fingers but not all fingers on both hands and I had to look at the keys all the time.

    As time passed and I upgraded to different computers I got better but still took long time to get a page of text done and remove all the mistakes even with spell check.

    It wasn’t until I started getting on JUNO and my little sister would send me e-mail. It got to where I was checking my email several times a day just to see what she had sent me last.

    That is when I finally got to be able to type with few mistakes and using all my fingers on both hands without looking at the keys.

    There are still sometimes when I have to look like when I enter numbers but letters are there for me.

    I’m told it’s the same with CW. You work at it and are upset with your inability to do it then one day its like a light turns on and there you are.

    I’m still not there.
  3. N8CPA

    N8CPA Ham Member QRZ Page

    I remember exactly when I figured out that head copy was better for me than scribbling. It was during my 20WPM test. I had been practicing at 25 to 30--jitter buffer--and found myself in a near panic during the test trying to copy verbatim. So I relaxed and just started making notes of key nouns.
    Nailed it!
  4. W4HAY

    W4HAY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Letter-perfect copy is only necessary if you're going to be handling traffic, and if you've ever listened to the SSB traffic nets, you'll even hear them asking for fills and repeats. A few missed characters here and there are not going to spoil the QSO.

    Once you're ready to get on the air, you can find CW OPs more that happy to adjust to your speed around the SKCC calling frequencies, especially 7.114 MHz. Go ahead and sign up and get your number so you'll have it when you get on the air.

    Also, record your sending and compare it with machine-sent CW to make sure your "fist" is easily readable! Slow, copyable sending is far preferred above faster, choppy, poorly-spaced sending.
  5. AG3Y

    AG3Y Guest

    The days of copying 20 wpm 100% perfect, letter for letter for at least one straight minute, are long gone. Enjoy yourself, ask for fills if you miss something, and GET ON THE AIR ! That is the way to progress.
  6. K7KBN

    K7KBN Ham Member QRZ Page

    My grandsons and I once saw an old LC Smith machine in an antique furniture store. They had never seen a typewriter (!). I borrowed some paper from one of the sales staff and showed the boys how we did it in the olden days. Then, the ribbon appearing to be almost new, I typed some and showed them that there was no numeral "1"; we had to use a lower case "L" for that.

    They were at a very rare loss for words. Finally the older one, who was about 9 at the time, commented, "It's a keyboard with a built-in printer!"

    Sadly, that's a pretty dang good description...;)
  7. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    My method isn't working "a little CW," though. It involves making at least 5 CW contacts every day, at least 35 a week, for three months. I've never found anyone who did that and then couldn't work 20 wpm. Usually if they're using a straight key, it becomes frustrating because 20 wpm is a lot of work with a straight key -- so almost everyone progresses to a keyer.

    I've found this true with pretty much every student I've ever had in my code classes over about 26 years. The ones who don't make the contacts don't progress. The ones who do make the contacts progress faster than they ever thought they could.

    I've never found "copying" a lot of code, no matter how many hours are spent, allows people to ramp up their speed.
  8. W0IS

    W0IS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yep, I also agree with just getting on the air.

    Now, I was 12 years old when I learned the code, and it's very likely that adult brains work differently. So it won't be as easy. But just getting on the air will give you practice, you won't be tempted to hit the rewind button, because you won't have one, and you will actually have fun in the process.

    From your description, it sounds like you would probably be able to pass the 5 WPM test, if such a thing still existed. Basically, "knowing the letters" allows you to copy at 5 WPM. It's really not possible to send much slower than that, really. So you're in the same boat as most novices were "back in the day".

    What I found was that I naturally progressed. 13 WPM seemed very daunting, and it probably would have taken forever had I "practiced". On the other hand, I wasn't actively practicing--I was just on the air making contacts.

    After a few months of this, I realized that eventually, I had to start "practicing" so that I would be able to pass the 13 WPM test. With some trepidation, I tuned in to the W1AW qualifying run, and hoped against hope that I would be able to make a little bit of sense out of the 10 WPM run. Much to my amazement, it sounded slow, and I had no trouble copying. I stayed tuned, and even more to my amazement, I was able to copy the 15 WPM, and even got the certificate to show for it.

    So my advice is the same as 'WIK. Don't worry about "practicing". Instead, just get on the air and start making contacts. Then, check back in a couple of months and let us know how fast you are copying. Much to your amazement, you'll probably report some reasonably high speed.
  9. KD1MA

    KD1MA Ham Member QRZ Page

    That is the best advice you will ever receive. If you miss a letter, do NOT go back and mentally repeat the dits and dahs in your head and then translate that into a letter. By then the word will have been finished and so will half of the next word. Force yourself to just go forward to the next letter after the missed one. Your mind is trained to do this already when you are reading. Nobody looks at every letter and then has a revelation that it translates into a word. You need to transform that power from your eyes to your ears.

    Im qte sur yu cn rd this sntnce wtout havg to fil in al the msing letrs!

    Now go make your 5 contacts for the day as Steve recommends.

    GL es 73

    Bob KD1MA
  10. WA9CWX

    WA9CWX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have only skimmed the replies, but they seem right on target, No you will NOT 'hurt' yourself (?) doing the re-wind thing, but as you see there are plenty of more fun and more practical solutions to becoming a cw op.
    What it seemed like however was no one mentioned ...WHERE to get on the air.

    In the good ole days, 2 meters was a fun place to start, plenty of A2 experimenters who were tolerant of slow speed . Somehow I think those days on 2 are past.....I would try 3550 +/- ten Khz or 7115 + / - a bit. early evening would be a good time. Not a lot of power needed usually, politeness and listening are good skills to have, as is a decent antenna...If 7115 area dead, try a little lower in the 7050 range.
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