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Learning Method...?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KM4KWK, Aug 2, 2015.

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  1. VK5EEE

    VK5EEE Ham Member QRZ Page

    great advice all and agree K8JD you need QRM. Sadly the huge variety of coastal station vvv or cq loops are gone.
  2. K0INN

    K0INN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm an older guy (62 years) but a recent ham (2012). I don't have any advice to offer, but, for giggles, here is my story.

    I decided last September to learn CW because it's so much a part of the ham heritage and fascinating to watch.

    I've practiced about 1/2 hour per day on it since September 2014 - transcribing of random characters heard (Just Learn Morse Code program) and listening to news text. I listen to QSOs and the ARRL CW broadcasts. I also practice sending with straight key and paddles.

    I've made QSOs with the straight key. I can use the paddles but for some reason I'm fascinated with the straight key.

    I agree with K8JD about studying QSOs. That, after all, is what you are going to use the code for. You learn the QSO format and prosigns.

    I know I've made made some progress but it has been slow. It is very much like learning a musical instrument. It takes time and practice.

    Some folks have started out as adolescents and picked it up easily. They got good at it without really being aware they did so. I wish that I was one of those folks.
    W5BIB and VK5EEE like this.
  3. N7ZAL

    N7ZAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Your certainly right about learning Morse when your young is the best. Same for foreign languages I guess. I learned Morse at age 9 and back then it was needed for a ham license. My Dad tried and tried but could never get past 5 wpm so he was stuck with the technician license, but really wanted the general. If he was alive today he would be a "happy camper." :)

    When I took my FCC administered general test the code sent was actually a ship to shore broadcast with latitudes, longitudes, and other curve balls. FYI
    VK5EEE likes this.
  4. VP9KS

    VP9KS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have found that the best way to get into cw is to first learn the sounds of the letters as they are sent. Start with the dit only characters: e i s h 5. Then the dah only characters. Then fill in the rest. You will notice that I did not say dot and dash letters. It is important to not get into the habit of counting dots and dashes, this is a trap that many fall into and can never get out of. Listen only to the sound of each character. Once you get the first group (the dits) learned, listen to some really fast cw(40+ wpm) in the background as you are doing something else. After a while you will suddenly find that you are picking them out of the buzz. Try this after each group, and soon you will find that you start picking out whole words like the, and, q signals, rst, etc. I agree with one of the previous posters that it should not be made too hard. Relax and listen to it like it is music, for it surely is!
    As far as sending, you need to get the spacing correct, or no one will be able to copy, no matter how strong your signal is. The handbook has a nice dissertation on this, in the 93 edition it is on page 19-4. Keep in mind that more and more stations are now using computer programs to decode cw, and most programs do a fair job. If you have one of these programs, try sending cw, and have the computer decode it. If your timing is so bad the computer cannot read it, then chances are it may be very difficult for someone new to the mode also. I prefer a straight key, and I use one that I got back in the sixties. I have it mounted on a block of 1/2 inch plexiglass with felt on the bottom. It stays where I put it, which is important. I sold the Iambic keyer I built many years ago, because I just never seemed to find the time to use it CORRECTLY, so I never put it on the air. That is another point. I have lost track of the number of times I have heard someone on the air with their keyer speed set to fast for them.. When every 3rd or 4th character is a string of dits, there is a problem. Ok, I'll get off my soap box now
    I hope to hear you down low on 20 some day.

    VP9KS / WA1WJB
  5. M0LEP

    M0LEP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Aye. Trouble is the "do not" advice comes up so often that it's hard not to think of it, and in thinking of it you find yourself doing exactly what it is telling you not to do. I wish I'd heard "do not" a lot less, and "do this" a lot more, but it's waaaaay too late now.
  6. KB1CKT

    KB1CKT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've been trying to learn the code since I got started, 17 or so years now... Still have not mastered it!

    Years ago I would practice at 5wpm, then 10wpm. Right now I have copies of the ARRL practice files, which I dusted off and have been giving a listen to in the morning. I also got a K7QO CD long ago with his method, which I'm working on too. I have yet to figure out how I'm going to copy at 20wpm (my goal is to be comfortable at 20wpm); at that speed I can barely write down the words, yet I think it's too slow for head copy. Probably a practice thing.

    I "cheated" and went to a keyboard keyer long ago. I feel pretty uncomfortable sending code; not only that but my mind wanders too much while sending code slow enough that I can properly send the characters--I forget what comes next! Bad habit, comes from not operating enough. But it has let me make contacts regardless.

    On the flip side I can load up the keyer and then fill in the station log with contact info.


    I kinda got unactive when the Novice subbands went away. Have not really adjusted to that change, and lament the loss of slow cw speed space.
  7. N7ZAL

    N7ZAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Maybe try a different learning method/technique?
  8. KB1CKT

    KB1CKT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Nah. The only different method I need to do is to keep at it for more than a couple of weeks of practice, then actually try to make a few Q's per week. And not go off air for a few years at a time.
  9. N7ZAL

    N7ZAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    No doubt, practice sure helps regardless of the method. That might be a main factor with those that pick up the 'code' faster than others? As a kid I was obsessed with code and practiced it as much as I could. Just about everything I saw or read I translated to code. :)
  10. KA2CZU

    KA2CZU XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    when I was a novice, I could *only* use code. sink or swim.

    made a difference.... ok, I suggest we go back to that. the heck with these other modes :D

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