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New To Transmitting CW: Head to Fist

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KE8EAS, Sep 29, 2016.

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  1. KE8EAS

    KE8EAS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Been studying CW for about 2 months and recently started operating on the air. One problem that really stands out for me is taking what I want to say in my head, and talking with my fist. For instance, saying "hello". I have to spell out all the letters one at a time mentally: "Ok, H ...., E ., L ._.." and so on.

    This, of course, will break up my words when I stall and have to think of a letter that's not instantly recalled. Like, saying "Cong Rats" instead of "Congrats". If I'm transmitting, say, a pre-written sentence (just for practice sake) I'm fine.

    I think it's just nerves and it'll get better with time. It seems silly to me. Has anyone else struggled with this?
  2. AG7BF

    AG7BF Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm behind you... still learning code. But I suspect I will have the same struggle.
    KE8EAS likes this.
  3. NN4RH

    NN4RH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    It'll come over time with regular on-air use. Eventually something in your brain will spontaneously kick-in and you'll "get it" and be able to start doing whole words without thinking about letters. If you let it. Some people fight the "transition" and just never get there. Just keep at it.
    W1BV and KE8EAS like this.
  4. K7MEM

    K7MEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    As NN4RH said, "it'll come over time". It is similar to receiving. With receiving, you initially copy letter by letter, translating to a word after the whole word is sent. But after a while, as you start copying further and further behind, you start hearing entire words. At first it's just the small words, like "rig", "name", "QTH", etc., but that expands over time.

    With transmitting, the reverse is true. At first, you think of the word and then you visualize the word spelled out and laboriously send each letter. Sometimes you loose track of what you were trying to say. But over time, the words you are attempting to send no longer require that visualization step. As you think of the word, you hand movements are almost automatic. It's often helpful if you thing of the word phonetically. It can then be chopped into smaller bits that readily flow from your fist. You might wind up spelling some words wrong, but so what. There are tons of abbreviations used anyway. As long as you get to point across.
    K7TRF and KE8EAS like this.
  5. KE8EAS

    KE8EAS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Glad to hear. The words I'm really trying to recognize, and getting better at, is IS, NAME, RST, QTH, and more recently QSB. I figure the word IS is a big one, since important info will likely follow.

    I have gotten lost before, like "wait, what was I saying?!". Practice practice practice. Studying the Rubber Stamp info has been most critical, just looking forward to branching out. I got into CW mostly for rag chews. That seems most fun to me.

    The more I listen, begin to recognize words, I'm sure the easier and flowier transmitting will be.
  6. NN4RH

    NN4RH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Heck. That happens to me in ordinary verbal conversation. Don't even need a key.
    KE8EAS likes this.
  7. AG7BF

    AG7BF Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sometimes it DOESN'T happen to me in everyday conversation. That's what's noteworthy.
    KE8EAS likes this.
  8. K7TRF

    K7TRF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Some good advice above. The trick is to think ahead to the upcoming words which takes time and practice as others have said.

    One other trick is to practice when you're not on the air. Millions of opportunities to do this, but just look around and think the morse characters and words in your head as you spell out common everyday objects or perhaps titles of books on the shelf or just about anything.

    I've done a lot of long solo road trips out in the Western US and sometimes out on open roads I'll think out road signs, license plates, slogans on trucks, who knows what in CW as I drive down the road just to pass the time. Think those characters and words as you'd send them, IOW hear them in your head like you would a song and you can practice character weighting and spacing as well as word spacing all mentally to develop a sense of sending rhythm while you're also getting a ton of practice in terms of translating written words to a string of CW characters. Sure you've eventually got to bridge the gap from brain to fist but it's easier if the words flow naturally in your brain.
    KE8EAS likes this.
  9. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    It almost certainly will. Learning CW is like learning to play an instrument; practice is what gets you there. I'm afraid people trying to learn CW today mostly spend way too much time on their computers and not enough on the air.
    W1BV and KE8EAS like this.
  10. KE8EAS

    KE8EAS Ham Member QRZ Page

    That's a very good point. On a lunch break, driving in a car. Think of a sentence you'd want to say and try to translate it without reading it directly, but in your head.

    I have been wanting to record practice session of sending and see if I can translate what I said a week later. The more practice I get, the better I'll get. This is a good way of practicing without being on the air and messing up.

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