Prejudices against keyboard CW?

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by AB2T, Oct 21, 2011.

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  1. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I doubt that computer CW will ever be a major mode, but there are those who do it with some level of skill, and quite a few who use code readers to supplement their ears. Sometimes, I even do it, though I'm happy without it up to around 30 WPM and faster on good days, or if copying nice machine-sent code, or in a contest.

    I have encouraged our new no-code HF brethren to try it, with some caveats. The hope is that they will see the superiority of CW and other non-voice modes, and decide to learn to do it the right way. You see, over here, our beginners are limited to CW on most of the HF bands. They have no other options at night. If they don't want to be stuck on the dead repeaters, they have to upgrade to General Class and go on SSB or learn the code. I think that a big part of our retention problem is that people never get accustomed to getting on the air at night anymore, and lack of something for the beginners to do at night is a big part of it. Until we created this no-code VHF ghetto, new hams always had HF available at night. Before WWII, new hams had almost the same privileges as our current beginners, plus 160 meters so they had a night time phone band.

    But, there is nothing in the regulations that say they have to send and receive Morse by ear. The code readers actually work much better at higher speeds. There would be nothing to prevent two newbs or no-code higher level licensees from using computers to do Morse at 75 WPM anywhere they like. Imagine the QRM they could generate!

    Much better, I think , to encourage them to do it in a fashion that's compatible with the rest of us. If they send at a reasonable speed, I can copy it by ear. If I use a keyboard to send, they should be able to copy me. What do we have now, 400,000 Tech licensees or more? I would love to hear about 0.1% of them on the HF CW bands at night, trying to work each other. I've suggested they use 18 WPM - the speed of W1AW bulletins - to maximize the copy by human operators while keeping the computers happy. Learning to send with proper word and character spacing is a big accomplishment in itself. Frequencies around '060' would be a good place to look.

    My father, a very proficient CW op, built his own keyboard back in the 1960's. He was always looking for the best possible key and keyer, but I think he preferred the keyboard, too. That's all the 'good reason' anybody needs.
  2. K5TRI

    K5TRI XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    A different perspective

    Interesting discussion. I'm learning code right now as a non code General as I don't really get much out of the SSB portion of the bands. And it is work, but
    I like it as it is rewarding during the process. It's just interesting that people seem to dismiss the idea of computer generated code totally while accepting it
    in other parts of life. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what one uses to send the code but what is sent. It's also still a human being at the other
    end of the conversation typing in the message. I just took the above and changed it a bit to another context I consider myself much more proficient in than CW
    just to show something. I myself consider CW and art form and like the beauty of hand generated code just as I like the beauty of a analog photograph as it has
    those imperfections that make it human. There may be however a need/ purpose for the perfect computer generated code as well. Life doesn't have to be one or
    the other, black or white. It can be beautiful shades of gray.

    73 Mike K5TRI

    I am a big fan of photography, but am pretty poor at seeing the picture and even worse at making it, but hey, I'm practising.

    I see no problem at all with an photographer using a digital camera if there is a good reason and the photographer knows the art, as in the examples above.

    Photography has always been a analog medium. What I don't like is the thought of photography getting into the hands of those who have not bothered to learn it, and who make photographs using a computer - surely that's not in the spirit of photography, is it? I'm sure in the early days of photography the photographers would have given a leg for a digital camera with immediate results, but that's not the case now.

    To my mind, photography is a analog art and this would be spoilt if computer use by non-artists becomes very popular, and I sincerely hope that never happens. With the ever-increasing ease with which photographs can be "improved" using software, I'm afraid that may happen, and that would be a shame indeed.

    There's photography, and then there's digital crap.

    Disclaimer: I used to make a living as a photographer using digital cameras and there are lots of people out there who create awesome work using whatever camera they have. This is just
    an example to show something and not to derail the discussion onto another topic, or to hate on some specific technology or medium.
  3. AB2T

    AB2T Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't use a decoder. I prefer to practice as much as I can to boost my receiving skills. I do a lot of off-the-air practicing. The online program LCWO is great not just for learning morse code but skills-building for those who know the code. Right now I'm using various sets of exercises to work my way from 20 wpm to 30 wpm solid. I don't see this as being any different than practicing an instrument before a performance.

    I have mixed feelings about using a decoder when learning CW. Like many hams, I used a straight key for my first two years, followed by paddles which I still use. It might not be a bad idea for new hams to learn to copy at least 13 wpm solid, if not even 20 wpm eventually, before using a code program to try to decipher fast code. The machine doesn't catch a lot of what's being sent by a human operator, especially if he or she is using a straight key, bug, or even paddles. I've only seen a CW decoder in action a few times, but I can't see its utility other than as a backup for contests. I would think that ragchewing still requires strong listening skills.
    K0YB likes this.
  4. NI7I

    NI7I Guest

    While I have no problem working key board ops, I fail to understand why. If I had a problem with cw I would go to rtty or one of the other non cw digital modes
    which are designed for the keyboard. I would rather work a kyboard op than an cw op badly using a bug.. Matter of fact, I usually fade out on a bad bug op.. It's
    just too much work

  5. K5TRI

    K5TRI XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    One other way to look at it: if you're getting the pleasure out of working CW by hand instead of a computer and you work
    a OP who's using a computer, at the end of the day, who's cheating who? I'd say the computer op him/herself and you're still
    talking to a person anyway. Different strokes for different folks. Always remember that none of us can set the standards by
    which others are happy.

    73 Mike K5TRI
  6. KF6NFW

    KF6NFW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have never been able to send a word on the bug, but with a keyboard, I can keep up.
    No it is not for lack of trying, it is because my dexterity just isnt worth two shakes of a rabbits ass!

    I can copy some by ear, and getting better, but lets be realistic, what is the point in engineering a device to HELP the ham, if you are going to be looked down upon for using it.

    Just think, someday the argument will be damn I wish we still used keyboard modes versus some chip that transmits our thoughts before being censored!

    I use keyboard so you guys can also understand what it is I am saying, otherwise you probably couldnt tell the difference between noise and my hand!
  7. AB2T

    AB2T Ham Member QRZ Page

    Don't get me wrong. RTTY and PSK are fun also. The rig I use is old and not really stable enough to do rtty or psk, but that might not be so much the radio itself but rather that it needs a tune up. I just like the mental challenge of developing an ability to listen and comprehend code. It's also the only mode I have on hand unless I see why my rig is drifty a bit (+/- 1 kHz or so, but that's a lot of drift for digital).
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