Reasonable amount of time to learn CW for a working adult

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by WA7ANT, Oct 15, 2017.

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  1. W4SRE

    W4SRE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Greetings.. I learned Morse Code in the mid 70s - South African Navy - became a Ham last year and took up CW as my mode of choice... yes, back then it took 6m of 1h/day, 5 days / week .. . reading(mostly) and some sending to get to 22WPM. but that is not needed to carry out a Ham QSO .... 12WPM will be fine ... and a QSO follows a pretty narrow script... so, don't be afraid ... I wouldn't worry with having something decode your practice sending ... you know when it sounds right ... and .. on air . .you are going to meet / hear many varying levels of sending .. jump in... The Straight Key Century Club ( SKCC) community has been very welcoming and encouraging to new CW'ers.. Wishing you the best .. and hope to catch you on the air....
    N2SUB and W5BIB like this.
  2. W4SRE

    W4SRE Ham Member QRZ Page

    a few more musings... while driving (provided you feel safe doing this ) .. sound out in your mind the morse code for the license plate in front of you .. or the road signs. .... use your phone to access W1AW practice files and copy them in your mind ( I wont list here what I did in addition to copying in my mind .. hi hi )
    KA0HCP and N2SUB like this.
  3. KE8EAS

    KE8EAS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I’m 30, have a wife but no kids and a full time job. Practicing about 30 minutes 7 days a week, it took me about 2 months.
    WB5YUZ and N2EY like this.
  4. W2OZB

    W2OZB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I had to reread the OP. The word competently is nebulous word and opens up the concept of interpretation even when injecting a speed to the equation. At 67, I've been studying for about six months an hour and a half every day and enrolled in CWacademy level one. I can send up to 23 WPM, but copy? uh, no not even close.

    Competent? Not in my eyes, Oh, if the Farnsworth is set at around 13, I can copy GREAT code at 18WPM. But, on the air, a different story. You have to deal with QRM, QRN and QSB. One also has to meet folks who haven't had the advantage of something like CW academy that stresses not only the dits and dahs, but the importance of "the space" between, consistent timing of "space" between letters and words. Ever try to read a book with all the letters run together?

    Fortunately, the folks out there have patience and want you to succeed. My first QSO was a gentleman who had the patience of Jobe, and even sent me a card. Also, a standard QSO has only 3 elements, call sign, signal report, and location, so there are some "tricks" one can use to help: knowing when a number should come up on a call sign, knowing, "stone cold dead knowing" your own call sign when you transmit (really? you can't send your own call sign without a mistake?. c'mon.....). These are tricks and Elmer or several Elmers associated with groups like CW academy will teach. Oh, I, like other newbies have asked that question, of course. The problem is that line of competency keeps moving, and its the new op that is learning that will always be tossing that "competency" line higher and higher......

    An old, grizzly faced pilot years ago told me once:" If all you ever do is all you've ever done, then all you'll ever get is all you ever got."
  5. NB8F

    NB8F Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have been doing Morse for about 2 years now off and on. While I can participate fine in contests at 25-30 wpm and simple exchanges, conversations are definitely still hard for me. It depends on what you want to do with the mode. I have Tx8 on SKCC even, but still cannot ragchew well. It is something I definitely want to get better at, but each person takes a different amount of time to accomplish the same thing.

    I agree with the above as well, each person sends differently. You may get someone with a key that is new to them, or band conditions or just poor FIST. If you can follow W1AW and use that as competence than I think you would be doing well.
  6. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Remember there's no cash prize for solid copy.

    Don't write anything down, just listen.

    You'll get there.
  7. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Remember, there are no QSL's or awards for missed copy and broken calls! Ahem.
    N2EY and N8XTH like this.
  8. NM7G

    NM7G Ham Member QRZ Page

    I totally agree and endorse WIK's advice. Put the pencil/pen down and just listen, to long transmissions if possible, such as W1AW practice or two strong stations rag chewing. Use stations sending faster than you easily copy, by 20-40% or more. Focus on comprehension, not characters. The single biggest boost to my copy speed came when I closed my eyes, relaxed my hands and listened as I would to a favorite song.
  9. N8XTH

    N8XTH Ham Member QRZ Page

    hooo boy, this is some motivation. learned code as a kid to pass the test. copied all perfectly, walked into the tests and they might as well have read me my last rites walking in the door. This 12 year old couldn't do it no matter how hard I tried. Had to settle for the nocode tech. I felt like a failure, a second class citizen in the local Y's radio club. :( LOL

    Now, pushing 40, I bought a really nice vintage vibroplex key that I found online and pulled out the old cassettes that I had, converted them to MP3 and need to get busy.

    Winter project?
  10. NM7G

    NM7G Ham Member QRZ Page

    Excellent. If you get tired of the same texts from cassette, the last I knew ARRL has 5-40 wpm practice files online for download in both .mp3 and .wav formats. A funny memory of the last time I sat before a FCC examiner (1969): I copied 20 wpm just fine, but I'd failed to give enough effort to my fist at 20+. He made me repeat sending three times before I would pass. Have fun. It's a blast.

    One more tip: I had to force myself to stop anticipating the next character. Anticipating was evidence I was still copying characters as opposed to meaning.

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