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learning cw

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by KC1ACL, Aug 1, 2014.

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  1. NM7G

    NM7G Ham Member QRZ Page

    KH2G, K6GB, and KV6O make great suggestions. There are ample resources to choose from: software, CDs, ARRL practice files, with a pal, and DO listen to on-air signals. If it isn't a struggle at first you're doing it wrong. Know the alphabet, numbers and several punctuation cold, 100%, before trying to make sense of it. Expect to get maybe 10% copy at the start. It doesn't matter, just do it, and often. Practice at a speed considerably faster than you copy 100%. If you now copy 100% at 3 wpm, you should be practicing at 10-12 wpm, then move higher. Stretch yourself. Reach for better performance each time you sit down. Remember, you need sending practice as much as receiving. I relied 85%-90% on listening to on-air QSOs. When I tested for extra class before an FCC examiner in 1969 and passed, it was because persistence pays!

    How do people become good on horseback, master a saxaphone, or excel in sports? Practice, practice, practice. 73
  2. VE6AMR

    VE6AMR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Google G4FOH and download the free KOCH trainer which uses the farnsworth method. Start with a code speed of 20 WPM and effective speed as low as you feel comfortable.
  3. M3KXZ

    M3KXZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    G4FON, and also look for Teach4 from NZART.
  4. N3PDT

    N3PDT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    G4FON, ARRL practice, eavesdrop on live QSOs, and start working other stations as soon as possible, like way before you think you're truly ready. Using it often in QSOs will yield the best results. I liked the teaching progression of the G4FON. That's what worked for me, you of course may be different.

  5. M0LEP

    M0LEP Ham Member QRZ Page

    ...and, to emphasise that last point, for me the whole Koch progression idea (as used by G4FON, JLMC, LCWO and the rest) was a total complete and utter waste of time. You, of course, may be different. ;)
  6. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hey I learned it with that record! It got me up to around 5 WPM and then I started listening on the air.

    If I had it to do again, I think I would try the progression method. The 'Just Learn Morse Code' program looks very good to me. G4FON has a glitch that makes me slightly nutzier than usual. The character on the screen is not in sync with the audio. JLMC does not have that issue.

    I do believe that it's possible and probably best to learn the characters at a high speed, so you end up ready to copy at a useful speed without having to go through all the plateaus that you do when you learn it at slow speeds. With the characters set for about 18 wpm, you hear the actual sound of the letter - this is what you need. You don't want to hear the individual dots and dashes - you want to hear the sound that the letter makes when it's sent. That's not how I learned - the Ameco record sent the characters a bit faster, but not anywhere near 18 WPM. The idea of starting out fast runs counter to most people's way of thinking, but I've seen enough people excel using the method to know that it works. If it doesn't work for you after a reasonable effort, you can always go back to learning it slow.

    W1AW is your friend once you know the alphabet.
  7. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

  8. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    (1) I want to cast my vote along with those who say it really doesn't matter what method you use, as long as you stick with it. The idea of "right" and "wrong" methods is rooted in military training back in the day, when a lot of people had to be gotten up to speed, like NOW. The idea was originally meant to express the method(s) that would work fastest for the largest percentage of trainees. This idea is less relevant for the self-taught hobbyist. And, the idea of "easy" or "hard" methods was never a valid topic; this criterium is too subjective. What counts is sticking with it, a half-hour to an hour, three days a week, for six weeks or so.

    (2) Once you get the basics down and can recognize and copy all letters and numbers, plus period, comma, and slant bar at 5 WPM, start listening to live QSOs over the air. There are a number of prosigns to learn before you can make yourself understood. Many a new ham has rushed on the air as soon as he could copy 5 WPM and gotten in an awful mess.

    Slow-speed operation tends to happen on 40m near 7050 KHz. That is as good a place as any to start listening.

    Whenever you hear a prosign you don't know, look it up on the webs.

    Finally, when you can tune in a contact between two hams live on the air, and follow it from beginning to end, you're ready to dive in! It may sound like a lot of work, but again, most of us did it in six weeks or so.

    If you ask hams who are proficient in CW how they learned the code initially, you will get a bunch of different answers. But if you ask them how they got their speed up to where it is now, the answer is usually on-the-air operation.
  9. K7KBN

    K7KBN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Learn Morse code first. Then get on the air in CW mode and use it.
  10. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I disagree! Or, rather, there's some good advice and bad advice in there.

    The good advice is that there is no one best method for everyone. Different people may need to try different approaches. At the same time, searching, for the "best method" can be a fool's errand if it keeps someone from simply buckling down and doing SOME method.

    That said, there are some general rules about what works and what doesn't:

    - Most people, if presented with a large number of things to learn all at once, will fail UNLESS they break it down into smaller pieces. This is the basis of the "Koch method" - learn a couple of characters well, then add one, learn it well, add another, etc. until you've learned them all.

    - Most people learn skills by doing them. You can read books, watch videos, and listen to lectures about bicycle riding until the cows come home, but most folks won't learn to actually RIDE a bicycle until and unless they get on one and try.

    - For most people, in my limited experience, three days a week isn't enough. It should be every day, if it all possible. Not that it can't be done three days a week, but because it's better to have frequent learning sessions.

    One thing I have seen many times over the years as a prime cause of "I can't learn it!" claims is the tendency to take too many days off, and then try to make up for it with long "cram" sessions. Doesn't usually work.

    All good advice.

    Three more things:

    Some folks believe that "you either have the 'knack' or you don't". This just isn't true, except perhaps in extreme cases. If a person can learn to speak and understand English by the age of three or four, and read and write it by the age of seven or eight, there's no reason they can't learn Morse Code to a usable level at practically any age.

    It IS true that some people learn it faster than others. But that's true of anything.

    Some folks believe that "musical ability is needed", and cite various musical folks who were/are also good Morse operators. Again, this isn't true - there are plenty of good Morse ops who can't carry a tune in a bucket!

    But there IS a connection, though not one people want to hear:

    If you get to know good musicians, or singers, or anybody who does a skill really well, what you discover is that they are ALWAYS practicing. Every chance they get, they pick up their instrument, or set down in front of it, and strum/blow/pound out a tune. Over and over and over and over, until they get it right. They don't even really think about it. Good Morse operators are the same way - they don't keep track of how much the practice, they just DO it.

    Some folks believe that when a person learns something like Morse Code, there is a point where suddenly they "get it" and it doesn't require effort any more. That's not true either. Yes, it gets easier with practice, and for many it becomes VERY easy. But it happens over time - there isn't some "AH-HA!" moment.
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