Reasonable amount of time to learn CW for a working adult

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by N7NIT, Oct 15, 2017.

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  1. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    An advantage to working BIG "CW" contests is it's mostly at 25-40 wpm and not many go any slower than that (it just takes too long and lowers the contact rate). But, you only have to copy a callsign and brief exchange and it goes by quickly -- I can't possibly write that fast -- so it forces you to simply "copy and remember," then write or type it to log it.

    When first doing this, most newbies really blow it and screw up their first 10-15-20 contacts, but if they stick with it, by the end of the contest they're not screwing up anything at all and getting 95-99% of it exactly right. Just 24 to 48 hours later.

    Amazing how fast one "learns" when it's interesting.
    US7IGN likes this.
  2. N7NIT

    N7NIT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi all,

    Thanks for the interesting replies to my OP!

    Some good points have been made in this thread.

    I am definitely one of those people who falls into the "learns by doing" category. I've always been a self-starter and if a goal is interesting to me, I usually find a way to accomplish it. In this case, I want to become proficient in sending and receiving Morse code.

    As I am a solo learner with limited free time, I need to maximize my progress VS. time invested. I do have an MFJ code practice key and oscillator for sending. I have the "Just Learn Morse Code" program on my computer. I've got a few characters down so far using JLMC.

    Is there a computer program out there that allows you to connect a key/paddles to your pc and that can read what you send and display it?

  3. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think it helps to remember that many thousands of us studied Morse the "wrong" way but still mastered it. I used an LP (ask your parents) but still got to 10 WPM in about six weeks. We wanted to learn, so we did.
  4. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    I learned it visually using a scouting manual - A to Z, 0 to 9, and punctuation. HORRIBLE way to learn Morse I'm sure. But it worked when I was 13 and I've loved Morse and the CW Mode my entire ham life.

    MUCH better ways to learn Morse these days - kudos to anyone who even gives it a shot.

    WB5YUZ likes this.
  5. N6RGR

    N6RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Dave: Same scouting method here, but did not translate from visual to aural. So I failed 5 WPM section of novice test. Everything else in life happened until 2014 when I forced myself to listen and practice for 4 or 5 months and learned CW the right way (listen, listen, and more listening). Hardest part is copying callsigns! I now find anything slower than 15 WPM is too hard to copy. I guess the old brain cannot slow down.

    I used Just Learn Morse Code and developed my own QSO's to listen so I was able to copy the basics. Learning CW is different for everyone.

    Roger N6RGR
    W7UUU likes this.
  6. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I learned with a buddy, Dave, who became WN2WND when I became WN2WIK in 1965.

    We learned a unique way. Never listened to LPs or cassettes (which were a new thing in '65) and of course CD-ROMs, DVDs and personal computers didn't exist. We "mouthed" it, walking to school and back in 8th grade. School was a mile away, so it was a 15-20 min walk each way.

    We'd "dit-dah" all the way to school and back, just "sending" to each other by vocalizing the code. It got boring making stuff up so we started vocalizing the code for car license plates, street signs, anything we saw, and we'd take turns.

    After a few weeks doing this, we both knew the alphabet and the numbers and a few punctuations.

    We had no idea how to send with a key or how to copy the code with a receiver, but we got pretty good at copying "each other." The advantage to this approach is we never "saw" the code, just heard it, and we never wrote anything down, since we were walking. A few weeks later we made long sentences and just copied in our heads, like listening to someone speaking.

    We took our Novice tests together a few weeks later after my contacting a guy I could hear well on 40m AM using a cheap SW receiver...W2NVA (who became W2NR), Frank. He agreed to give us the tests and ordered them from the FCC (everything by mail back then).

    We showed up and Frank sent to us at 5 wpm and we both cracked up because it seemed so slow -- we didn't know we were probably copying code at 15 or 20 wpm. It was our first experience "writing it down," but we did that. Then, we had to send! We had never actually done that, but we muddled through it and passed.

    The "written" part seemed much harder (although the Novice was never very difficult -- just the code seemed a lot easier). We got our licenses about six weeks later by mail.

    But our way, which is weird, worked very well -- especially since we "grew up" never writing the code down on paper, just listening to it like a language. I think that helps a whole lot. I was doing 25 wpm within a couple of months, as a Novice. Couldn't wait to upgrade, get a VFO, and use the "faster code" parts of 40m and 15m.
    US7IGN and W0GSQ like this.
  7. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

  8. US7IGN

    US7IGN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't know about PC but my mcHF can do it

  9. HB9FXW

    HB9FXW Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is, but you need some additional hardware (some kind of adapter). A much easier way is to use the sidetone of your transceiver (without transmitting!) or CPO with a laptop's, tablet's or phone's mic and one of the many software decoders.
    N2SUB likes this.
  10. KB1CKT

    KB1CKT Ham Member QRZ Page

    My K40 keyer will display what I've sent from my paddles or keyboard. I don't know about decoding what was sent from a straight key though. I wonder if one of those CW decoders would work--I've seen some cheap ones on Ebay--might have to rig up an oscillator for it to work, but with no QRM/QRN one of these standalone decoders might work "good enough" for displaying what you are sending.

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