No more excuses: Learning CW

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by AG7BF, Oct 10, 2016.

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  1. AG7BF

    AG7BF Ham Member QRZ Page

    My thinking might sound strange considering what I've already said, but I think that if it came down to it I would prefer learning how to use a bug to using an iambic paddle. I don't want to be dependent upon an electronic keyer. It just rubs me the wrong way.
  2. K7TRF

    K7TRF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I understand that feeling but really a keyer is pretty nice and leads to very smooth and consistent code. I've used straight keys a lot, cootie keys a bit (which are fun), bugs and keyers. All in all I'll typically go with an electronic keyer for ease of use and consistently good code at higher speeds and use a straight key for lower speeds.

    BTW, don't fall into the trap of thinking all electronic keyers must be used as iambic keyers. An awful lot of hams pair an electronic keyer with a single paddle and don't use the iambic features at all. Any keyer can be used in non-iambic mode either by only pressing one paddle at a time or by using a single paddle with the keyer. Some folks really like iambic mode and the ability to create automatic repeating dit-dah or dah-dit sequences by squeezing both paddles at nearly the same time but personally I much prefer non-iambic single paddle operation. YMMV.
  3. N7ZAL

    N7ZAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    I can appreciate the history and art of using a bug, just as using a hand key. Something magical about going back in time and doing things the old way. Couple a hand key or bug with a boat anchor station and that sure is great. I did use a bug in the 1960's until I got a keyer and I could almost identify everyone by the signature they left using a bug. Almost everyone sounded unique.
  4. KI4ODO

    KI4ODO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think important things to do when using a bug is one, practice and make honest assessments of your sending. This can often be done by recording yourself sending. The other thing is speed control. I started using a bug in July of this year, and I use a vari-speed arm with mine. We all hear both good and bad fists with a bug. I made it a goal to have a decent sounding fist with mine because it really is such a joy to use. I made sure I'm not sending super fast dits and slow dahs. I have made almost 300 contacts with the bug now, 2/3 of them being rag chews, and it feels natural and comfortable. I still often take a quick video of myself practicing and just listen to it critically to make sure it's not sloppy. My experience is that using a bug is only as hard as one makes it. If you only use it occasionally on straight key night, it's not going to typically sound that good. If it's what you use all the time, if you are honest with yourself about how you send, and work on it, they can sound very nice and be a ton of fun.

    Now in your opening post you mentioned that you didn't care for "Just Learn Morse Code". That's what I learned with and liked it because it's all sound based and no silly gimmicks like sound alikes that makes one focus on single characters and counting dits and dahs. I would say find something that wont make you form bad habits like that. And learn at a speed of at least 15wmp or higher character speed. It really helps.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2016
    KE8EAS likes this.
  5. KB2SMS

    KB2SMS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I use LCWO and also listen around 40m's and practice copying there as well. A long time ago I was at 13 but haven't done it in years so I've been practicing to get the speed back up.
    KE8EAS likes this.
  6. WA7DU

    WA7DU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I got in late for this one, and I don't have the energy to read 35 replies. But, I have some important guidelines for you.

    1) From this point forward, never look at a chart or flip cards with dots and dashes depicting the code. If you already have these "visual images" in your brain, get them out. You cannot train the ears with the eyes. (Morse code is an audio code, not a visual code--the part of the brain that sees is a different from the part that hears--you must train the part of the brain that hears.)

    2) Use the Koch method and the Farnsworth method together.

    3) Your writing speed need not limit your code speed. Do not try to write everything you hear. If the other guy sends, "QTH is New York, rig is ICOM IC-7100, ant is dipole up 55 feet, blah blah blah," you only write a few things: "
    NY IC7100 di 55"

    See how easy copying Morse is ?
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
    KI4ODO and WB5YUZ like this.
  7. KI4ODO

    KI4ODO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    AWESOME points!

    My example he sends: "name hr is John" I make the note: op John

    He sends " QTH hr is Livingstonville Pines, TX" My note is "qth TX" lol ( I'll figure out the town later if it's not something familiar like Tampa, or Chicago, or Nashville which most will head copy with a little experience)

    He sends "age hr is 65, been a ham 40 years" My note "age 65, ham 40yrs"

    I would make notes, not try to copy it letter by letter. It's proven that if you read a paragraph with a moderate percentage of the letters deleted the human brain will still be able to process it fine. I've seen it done. Same goes with CW. You will miss things here and there but a lot of the time if you learn to just keep moving, not pause and try to figure it out, you won't get lost nearly as much.
  8. K7KBN

    K7KBN Ham Member QRZ Page

    LWCO? Living With Carbon Monoxide? o_O:D

    Seeing multi-month waiting periods to even JOIN LCWO should make one think he should try on his own and have multi-months of experience on the air. That's what I had to do in 1958. No internet, just lots of books and a couple of good Elmers. One was my high school electronics teacher ex-KØOEI, ex-K7LBQ. Now SK. The other was my Assistant Scoutmaster. Never a ham, but a retired Master Chief Quartermaster, USN. I happened to be in the right places at the right time.
  9. N7ZAL

    N7ZAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yeah, the old way did work well. :) I used a buzzer until I could build a CPO...used note cards, text on one side and Morse on the other.
  10. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Lots of us got started the "wrong" way. Most (almost all?) of us who attained proficiency anyway did so because as soon as we could copy 5 WPM or so, we started listening to and then having QSOs. Starting with the "wrong" method can't hurt you much if you move quickly to a better one.
    N7ZAL and KE8EAS like this.

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