Part 6 – CW Ops and Learning Morse Code

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by KH6OWL, Jan 31, 2017.

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  1. KH6OWL

    KH6OWL Guest


    After the last class I spent about 5 minutes going through the next letters and numbers so I would start thinking about them. I then went to bed and it was a good and much needed break. The next day I started Session 8 practice in earnest and it went extremely well for me. I can feel a lot of classmates are frustrated and feel like they are making very little progress. Don’t worry because we are all making a lot of the same mistakes. We have to just keep putting in good practice time and reviewing previous sessions as we go and don’t forget to practice sending.

    Day 1 after session 7: We are at the half way point in the class and this will be 21 letters and 7 numbers. This session is the letters B, V, and numbers 7, 9 and /. The only new ones were the B and V. During the session practice on Day 1 after the last session I had problems with the B and 2. I know that they are not the same in any way but I messed them up two times. The frustration sets in when I do something like that. I have even got the A and I missed up before as well as the W and D. No how can you mess up the A and the I or the W and D? I still screw up the A and N at times as well. Anyway, I digress. I have been doing half a session and then take a break and come back and repeat the first half and that has been going well for me. That was the plan with session 8 but I got to 25 and I had only missed 3 words at 20 WPM and 10 Farnsworth so I keep going. It took me 90 minutes to get through the lesson the first time and I missed eleven words. Once the call signs started I slowed down to 20 WPM and 5 Farnsworth.

    TIP: Don’t get frustrated! If you find that happening then I recommend you take time to walk away and come back 10 or 15 minutes later. Frustration will hinder you from learning.

    Sometimes these sounds gets to me and I start to feel as frustrated as a long tale cat in a room full of rocking chairs. When that happened last year I would force my way through, but this year, I stop and walk away. I think that has really helped me focus more.

    The second practice session I was having problems. It took me 22 minutes to get through 1-25. I missed 6 words at 20 WPM and 5 Farnsworth. I was mixing up the D & W, the T & E, and the U & V. Those letters caused me to miss the 6. I was getting all the letters but mixing up those. Funny story, the word BED was sent and I wrote down BEW. I keep repeating the word 5 or 6 times and could not figure out what BEW meant. I hope these are normal mistakes that everyone experiences. So I took my on advice and stopped the session and will take a break and come back to it later to see if it helps. I spent about 2 hours and 20 minutes today not counting the time I was trying to tap license plates when I was driving around today.

    Day 2 after session 7: Back at it, working on session 8 again and finished up the 2nd part of the session after getting frustrated last time. I spent 30 minutes finishing up the lesson and I made some silly mistakes. I hope I am not the only confusing the V and the 4. I’m convinced the A and the N are my mortal enemies. Time to go back and review session 1 for a much needed refresher. On session 1 I reviewed at 20 WPM and 20 Farnsworth for 10 minutes and completed the lesson and then did it at 20 WPM and 10 Farnsworth and completed in 5 minutes. I missed some on both and when the A and N are speed up it takes me a few times to get the difference. Am I the only one getting these two letters reversed?

    Back to session 8 for more practice. I spent the next 45 minutes completed Session 8 once again. I had the settings at 20 WPM and 10 Farnsworth. I missed a total of 9 out of 50. Some of my problems are the A and N and the U, V, and 4. They sound very similar to one another and are only one dit apart. The 6 and the B are also very close and hard to tell apart for me. I hope more practice will help with those numbers and letters. I find myself anticipating again. I usually anticipate wrong and get it in my head what is coming next and when it doesn’t come I get lost. That is a bad habit that I have to find a way to break. I spent roughly 2 hours of practice today and I feel like I need much more to get these problems heading in the right direction. Just a word of encouragement to all those out there trying to learn. I still really enjoy these sessions and challenging myself, yes I get frustrated like everyone else, but if you really want to learn then you have to go through those frustrations nd set back in order to see progress. Alas, I’m going to bed and will listen on my IPhone and the CW Generator.

    TIP: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you have to put in the time to get better. I don’t think I could do this if I was only doing 30 minutes a day. I would not get through a session in a day. You have to make it a priority.

    Day 3 after session 7: OK, back at it again. I spent 45 minutes completely going through session 8 again and then 15 minutes going through all the sender segments. That / mark is tough for me to send but I usually don’t have any problems recognizing it, knock on wood. I’m still having a hard time with the 6 & B and the A & N are still my enemy. I did not anticipate much this time and really concentrated on that aspect of it.

    I told you before that life happens and you may not get to do all the practice you would like to. Well that happened this afternoon, my daughter was home from school this weekend and today she got me watching a series on Netflix and I spent way too much time in front of the TV. So at 10:15 PM I started on session 8 once again but with a different way this time. I set the word speed at 20 and the Farnsworth at 10 and went through the first 25 without writing this down. I don’t know if it is because they are familiar to me after the last few days but I was able to get most of the words without writing them down. I just missed a few but that maybe because I can’t remember as well as I’m concentrating on what is coming next. My hope is that the remembering gets better the more I practice not writing them down. I got in a good 20 minutes of practice on the first part of session 8 tonight with some sending practice also. The plan for tomorrow is to finish up with this session, review a few previous sessions and practice sending session 8.

    TIP: Try something new in your practice session to change things up. I tried to not write down what I was hearing and the results were interesting. I bet Alan would be happy to hear that.

    Day 4 after session 7 and class day: I spent about 20 minutes looking at a program called It is a CW program that teaches using the Koch method. The site, Learn CW Online (LCWO), was established in May 2008 by Fabian Kurz, DJ1YFK, hoping to make learning and practicing CW (Morse code) as easy and effortless as possible. It is free and seems to be pretty good but I did not want to try it out until I have completed this course. After my experimentation I went back to finish up session 8 at 20 WPM and 10 Farnsworth and did not write down the words this time. I did pretty good but not writing them down takes some practice as well. I would forget in my head what I had decoded before I could say the word. That is another piece to learn! On to Session 8.

    Until next time, keep practicing and stay at it. We can do it!

    Aloha and 73!

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  2. NW6V

    NW6V Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Glad you're hanging in their - your persistence is admirable - and a trait that will serve you well both as a CW op - and in life's lesser pursuits.

    A couple of things occurred to me: in general, finding ways to change up on your practice is a really good idea - again, the more pathways you engage the more solid the learning. And you've already realized the importance of rest; it is during rest that retention occurs.

    In the name of changing things up you might consider listening with the Farnsworth speed set faster - see if the differences between the letters are more apparent. In an aesthetic sense - code just sounds better - more rhythmic - at some speeds than others. Particularly the faster speeds - I find some speeds more comfortable than others - I sync with them better. So, consider trying other speeds.

    Copying code is all about recognizing different patterns. Part of that desire to listen ahead and guess what's coming next stems from the fact that that's exactly what a lot of everyday language - and code - amounts to: using and recognizing the parts of speech - the repeating patterns - The "ed"s and "ings" and other things out of which words are built. And along with those elements of the language itself, CW has it's own patterns:

    When I was a kid I used to tune in to one of the coastal CW stations that sent code at 25+ wpm - sometimes the station would just transmit its identifier over and over:


    Those letters were just drilled into my brain... Long before I could copy 13 WPM for my General test. I could copy THOSE letters at 25 WPM. By and by, time went by, and the rest was just filling in the blanks.

    You'll still hear hams sending strings of Vs - with spaces between the groups of three - even today. For some its an homage, for some it means "test," and for others it's a perfect warm up for a cold fist. But another use occurs to me as well:

    Try sending strings of Vs. in groups of three, over and over. After lots of repetitions - I dunno - 20 groups - switch to sending "U"s... and see if it feels different. The letters are similar, but distinctly different. I think that drill might help your body learn the difference. Also try it with strings of "A"s and "N"s. The point is to highlight, emphasize, almost exaggerate the differences between the rhythms of the letters. Repetition highlights the actual, rhythmic patterns of letters.

    There are other patterns that are quite common in everyday ham radio that are worth "memorizing" right away. One is "AR" (yes, I know its a pro sign but it is also an A and an R for the purpose of this discussion). AR has a nice flow to it - it just rolls off the end of your key. Whereas NR is more staccato and 'marching" when sent properly. Repetitions of those small character groups - the phonemes of our "code language" if you will - highlight those differences. And really, the different between your enemies - the "A" and "N" - will be made more clear. Bear in mind, this is a useful exercise: you're going to use and hear those combinations over and over and over on the air - so you might as well get REALLY good at hearing, copying, and sending them.

    And it can be fun to boot.

    If you're not already doing it, you might try listening to CW on the bands. Not necessarily slow CW. Just pretty much any CW. Listen for what you can recognize. At your current level of skill, there are lots of common character strings you can work with, if you haven't mastered them already:

    CQ, 73, DE, HI, 5NN, 599, KN, K, SK, UR, AR, NR, ES (& = and), BK (break), and of course, the one who has no name: dit-dit.

    You can tune around the bands listening and picking out what you can. You will notice these patterns repeating over and over. And yes there are names, and rigs, and QTHs and other things that require a fuller mastery, but you should now or soon be able to hear the structure of conversations taking place. Point being, you really are learning to communicate in this alternative language. Congrats! Hope we hear you on the air soon.

    73 Chris NW6V
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  3. KH6OWL

    KH6OWL Guest

    Thanks Chris. I will give it a try.
  4. KJ7XJ

    KJ7XJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Good to hear your coming along! I saw you logged into LCWO the other day I believe - That s where I have been doing most of my practicing as of late. I'm almost done with their letters and numbers but Im only at a 20/3 so hats off to you getting what you are. I also have been listening to SKCC on 14.05 and 7.05 Much of what NW6V was saying is true. You can start hearing much of the same stuff i.e 599 SKCC nr and such . Keep on keeping on my friend

    de KJ7XJ
  5. W6MQI

    W6MQI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Keep it up Darren almost there and once one masters the code its like riding a bike you'll never forget might slow down a bit. I learned at age 13, 45 yrs ago I took a break from ham radio for some 20 yrs when I was back on the air again I couldn't believe it I could still copy CW at 13 wpm anyway two thumbs up OM hope to work you someday.

    P.S. Don't get stuck into the hello good by QSO's try and do some rag chewing us old farts like to talk more then just RST, and weather reports.

    73, Dave
    SKCC 6213T
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  6. KB9CFH

    KB9CFH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Do any of you use MorseCat2 for practice outside of the class ?
  7. KB9CFH

    KB9CFH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Do any of you use MorseCat2 for practice outside of class ?
  8. KB9CFH

    KB9CFH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Since I'm being ignored anyway.

    Morse Cat 2 for teaching morse code. from zip zero nada to however fast you want to take it. FREE DOWN LOAD.
    You can practice letters, words, text files, and CRYPTO style.

    WINMORSE 2 ( FREE DOWNLOAD ) TEXT to audio morse code file at variable speeds and ARRL Farnsworth or custom Farnsworth.

    This is a communications file that allows morse code communications over the internet. computer to computer. Channel 1000 is the call channel.
    You can practice your sending with either a straight key or an Iambic key.
    It has news robots for receive practice at 13-35wpm. There is also a word practice to 25 wpm of the first 100 words.
    IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A LICENSE this is the place to work on MORSE and send and receive code to people on the internet.
    ALSO good for people that don't have access to a radio at work or schools that don't want radios in the classrooms and the like.

    SUPERALDIS 3 If you have used a flashlight to try to send morse code, this is for you. If you are an OLD SALT and remember when ALDIS lights were on the bridge this is for you. It is a practice program for sending morse code by light. You can use a large light , or try with the small red dot that is the micro setting. It can be set to slow speed for those just starting out. You can enter text files , word practice from Morse Cat 2 and other types of practice.
    This can be used between computers. The help files aren't there but play with the terminal settings and if you know about static IP address then you can set up a computer to computer link to practice sending morse by flashing light. GOOD for training someone around a large lake, ocean, or just for not having a radio.

    Attached Files:

  9. KH6OWL

    KH6OWL Guest

    Been watching the super bowl and not on but I have not used MorseCat2.
  10. KB9CFH

    KB9CFH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Look at the main tab. There are group 1 and 2 that can be changed to use the letters and stuff that you have problems with. Go into the character set tab and nock out the diacritical mark stuff and you can use that for problem letters and etc. All of the group stuff can be changed around. If you need to you can go back to default settings to start over. The alphabet list and the numbers list can be shortened or worked around. If you do a 5 letter group it will send randomly and help with memorizing problems. Use the first 1000 list as a cut and paste for word practice. You can also make words up from the letters that you have already learned. There is a separate group that sends only letters but it sends all of them. If you go to the character set you can set up your own lessons and practice plans. It's a very useful program. There is a straight wpm send and also a Farnsworth section.
    KH6OWL likes this.

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