Okay, Now What?

Discussion in 'Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator/Upgrading Privi' started by K6PLE, Mar 19, 2015.

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  1. AA9G

    AA9G Ham Member QRZ Page

    Maybe the next step for you isn't a QSO but copying from the air. Have you tried that? Copying both sides of a QSO or the ARRL slow speed CW stuff?
  2. K6PLE

    K6PLE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes, I just can't handle the sad 5wpm straight keys out there(new guys and gals, please don't take offense, I'm not very good with a straight key either). 18&20 is far easier to pick up on but I still need 10 or more wpm spacing so my brain can keep up. I've been transcribing literature for practice but now I'm finding that I need to go back to basics and learn some common words and phrases that are mostly used in a QSO and maybe even some call signs. Also, for me, this is a great exercise to rid that lingering dyslexia that has plagued me forever. I am a lefty but play sports both ways. Even stranger, I'm right eye dominant and because of all this ambidextrous-ism, an expert at ping-pong. So.... I decided to key with my right so that I can copy with my left. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? I also recently migrated to the keyboard as I am a Dvorak touch typist and I just couldn't print any faster.

    I do like being challenged!

  3. KC5AKB

    KC5AKB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    You will like the Tennadyne Log
  4. K6PLE

    K6PLE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sad that the Tennadyne would be a second choice over a Stepper. I'm being forced to set some limits as my wife won't let me cut into the food budget!

    Thanks for all your responses.
    I have lots of tower questions and I believe we should QSY on over to the appropriate topic area.
    See you there!

  5. K7MEM

    K7MEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    First, Congratulations on passing your Extra.

    With your CW, it sounds like you are using the Farnsworth method, where the character speed is faster word speed. That may be your issue with copying on the air. I found that with Farnsworth, each time I increased the speed it was like learning the code all over again. And, I don't know that I have ever heard anyone using Farnsworth in a QSO. When I was trying to get my speed up, I practiced using simulated QSOs with standard Morse timing. I started at 11 WPM and would listen about three times a day, for 15 minutes each time. When I could copy 80-90 percent, I increased the speed by 2 WPM and start copying. At first it seems like you were struck dumb, but in a week, it starts to get easier. When I finally went for the Morse test, I was copying at 25 WPM and had no problem passing. Overall, for me to get from 15 to 25 WPM took about 6 months. To me, all the written tests were a breeze, so I never put too much time in them.

    I have been typing almost all of my life. I first learned in the 7th grade and have had one, or more, keyboards in front of me ever since. However, I found using a keyboard to copy was a total waste of time. It is not difficult to write things down even when the code is coming at 25 WPM. But you seldom need to write everything down. As your copying speed increases, so does your comprehension and the recognition of whole words and phrases. I'm not talking big words, I'm talking about small words like "name hr" and "my QTH is", etc.. You will hear these phrases over and over, by why write them down. Just jot down the important stuff. Much of this information is sent twice because of variable band conditions so you almost always have a second chance.

    But it is not essential to be copying 25 WPM before you get on the air. I have found that being on the air doesn't help a lot with increasing your speed, but it will build your confidence so that copying will be smoother and less stressful. Less stress and more confidence will then help you read Morse code better and better, faster and faster.

    Finally, don't try to use excuses like Dyslexia. If you are a Dyslexic like I am, you will be a Dyslexic all your life. It doesn't go away, but it can be mastered. I consider it a good thing because it gives me a different perspective on many things.
  6. K6PLE

    K6PLE Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is correct, all of my practice has been using Farnsworth and it sure does make it easy to copy while listening to perfect 15, 18 and 20 wpm characters as long as I have the CW Trainer set to 6, 8 and 10 character and word spacing, respectively. I have found that going down to 5wpm is painfully slow and even difficult to key as I am very impatient. I will take your advice and change the configuration in the trainer now to 10wpm with standard spacing. Hopefully a half step back is all I need. I am concerned about going that slow while as I tend to count dits as the sound no longer represents a character. It's just so stimulating to fire off my name, call, QST, weekdays words and phrases etc at 20++wpm.

    The Dyslexia only seems to rear its ugly head when spelling. It wasn't until after I got this beautiful Begali that I realized it doesn't come with a spell check. HI HI. Really it never has held me back from anything and I see it now as an opportunity to finally learn to spell.

    Another thing I am noticing is; I can key reasonably accurately while reading/transcribing text but to hammer out even simple words using only my brain requires way more work.

    As always, I'll enjoy the ride!

  7. K7MEM

    K7MEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    10 WPM, with standard spacing, is a good speed to start with. You may find it difficult at first, but it will get easier. Even your comprehension of slower speeds will get better as you learn to copy faster. As best you can, try not to count dits. It's a common thing to do, but becomes more difficult to do as the speed is increased. As the speed increases, you don't have time to count and associate, so you tend to listen more to the sound of the character rather than the individual elements.

    As you progress it will become easier. To copy fast code you will start to copy behind. You will start storing the characters waiting for a word space and then assemble the word. Faster yet, and you will start recognizing words. These will mostly be the words you use all the time like "RST", "name", etc.. Often, while I am working at my bench soldering something together, I have some CW playing in the background. Even though I am not concentrating on the code, I find that I can pick out call signs, names, places, etc. But all that comes with time. Some people are more adept than others, so "your mileage will vary".

    Sending is usually much easier than receiving. Its common for a ham to be able to send at twice his receive speed. But try to stay keep your sending even with your receiving. On the air, other stations will try to judge your receive speed from your send speed. If you send too fast, you may be surprised at the speed of the return. But while you are studying to copy code, you also need to listen to your self. Sending good slow code is better than bad fast code. Record a couple minutes of your sending and then try to copy it. You may be surprised at how good, or bad, your sending is.

    If you are Dyslexic, you are Dyslexic all the time. It's just that some times it isn't as noticeable. Spelling is just one of the many aspects of Dyslexia. I have that issue too, but it really has to do with not grasping the concepts of the English language and how a word is assembled. None of it makes any sense to men, and English is my native, and only, language. Don't expect learning Morse code help you with spelling. When your on the air you use as many abbreviations to shorten your transmission. Something like "tnx fer the call om es hpe cu agn ....". Frankly, I have a much easier time understanding the choppy abbreviations than straight text. If you hear some fast code and they are spelling out every word, short ones and long ones, its probably computer sent.

    And, yes, it is always easier to send while reading text, than it is sending off the top of your head. When your are reading and sending your are not concentrating on each word. You are only seeing a single character at a time. Conversely, when you are talking or thinking, you not concentrating on the letters that make up the words. A word is a complete sound and doesn't need letters. So when you have to send something off the top of your head, you start drawing a blank. But there is nothing in the rules that says you can't use Cue-Cards.

    I use 5" x 7" index cards to store a bunch of different information, like the settings on my tuner for different bands. But on some of the cards I have information that keeps me on track during a QSO. I don't write down a whole QSO and then just grind it out on a key. Heck, I could create a macro to do that. Every QSO is a little different, so I just put down clues that help me make the necessary connections in my brain. As you become more comfortable on the air, you find that you reference the cards less and less. Some will call it a crutch, but its really no different than using a spell checker.

    So even if you are only sending and receiving at 10 WPM, get on the air. It will help a little with your speed but the real gain is confidence. The more contacts you make the easier it will get.

    Good luck and have fun.
  8. K6PLE

    K6PLE Ham Member QRZ Page

    All really good advice Martin!

    I believe I read this same advice in "Art and Skill of Radio Telegraphy" than promptly went on my own way. You know, this is not the first time that I have been told to slow down!

    Thanks Again!

  9. KG5GYL

    KG5GYL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Found the discussion on CW interesting. I have tinnitus at a very high level (someone standing next to me can here the buzzing and whistling in my head) as well as 60% hearing loss in each ear. I have been trying to listen to code but just can not resolve the sound out very well from the tinnitus. Will ahve to figure soemthing out, or as Will Penny sez in the movie "A man's got to know his limitations." Thanks guys
  10. K7MEM

    K7MEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    First, congratulations on getting your Technician license.

    Yes, tinnitus is certainly a problem and your not alone. The tone that I hear is pretty high (probably from those screaming electric guitars in my youth), so I don't have a problem separating the code from the ringing. At least these days a new ham can choose to learn Morse Code, or not. When I got my license, there wasn't a choice.

    The hearing loss may be more of an issue than the tinnitus. The tone of a Morse signal is really up to the listener. Some like low tones, around 400 Hz, and other like higher tones. Personally, I like a 750 Hz tone. That's what I set all of my filters for. You may want to get a audio generator and try some tones at a variety of frequencies. You may find that there is a frequency where your hearing peaks. Right around 750 Hz is where my hearing peaks.
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