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. N8XTH

    N8XTH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you for the advice! I'm excited to try it.
  2. M6GYU

    M6GYU Ham Member QRZ Page

    To get out of the habit of guessing letters I'd suggest trying to copy a foreign language and/or read groups of random 5 letter groups. This is exactly what the military did to prevent us from ever guessing anything - although anticipating what might come next may help sometimes......
    N2UHC likes this.
  3. KD8ZM

    KD8ZM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have been learning CW since early July. I work a full-time executive level job, have a family, etc.
    I used Android apps mostly to learn CW, especially Koch Morse Trainer Pro. I use the "1000 words" mode, as well as the "QSO" mode, and I add some QRN in via the program's option to do this. which makes the transition to actual QSOs a lot easier.
    I practice a lot in my drive time, exercise time, or whenever, using my Bluetooth earpiece for my phone.
    I first went live on the air with CW August 5th. I forced myself to complete at least one QSO per day, which was at first exhausting. However, by working myself pretty hard I am now up to copying 18 wpm on the App, and about 16 wpm on the air. It's not speed-demon territory, but I find most ops are operating at speeds around that level, which is fine for my goals. I am only learning it because I'm interested in QRP and QRP with SSB doesn't work very well at least in today's conditions.
    The best thing you can do is to put your microphones in a drawer, and do only CW. And whatever you do, learn the letters and numbers only by listening to them, don't ever look at dits and dahs on paper! If you do, add a couple of months onto your learning curve because it will take you that long to un-remember the written representations of each letter on paper.
    The above are only my opinion, as a person who recently has done what you're contemplating. Good luck!
  4. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think that's a terrible way to learn code for amateur radio use.

    The military (at least ours) doesn't use CW anymore, and there's no cash prize for solid copy. We don't copy random 5-letter or any-letter groups, we copy English (or "American" anyway) and the better you become at recognizing words and abbreviations the better you are.

    Although I can copy at least 50 wpm very solidly, who cares? The real culprit is QSB/QRM/QRN that can often delete half the letters in a transmission...if you get used to copying words, you don't need all the letters to have a very fine QSO with half the letters missing.
  5. M0LEP

    M0LEP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Aye, callsigns and grid locators are as close as amateurs usually get to code groups. Any time you put into reading callsigns, Q-codes, common abbreviations and short words will be time well-spent.
  6. K4EI

    K4EI XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Steven, and the rest of you very good CW operators... when you're copying do you hear words - the combined pattern of all the characters - as opposed to hearing individual characters and then quickly (and, I'm guessing, subconsciously) translating those into a word?

    I'm only about eight weeks into my CW journey and have learned all the letters and numbers. Alas, I still struggle mightily with copying (sending I find largely to be muscle memory, very similar to touch typing... and much easier!). At 20wpm I recognize the pattern of a few words... like "rst," "qth," and "name." But mostly I find that I'm still at a stage of only recognizing individual characters. I'm hopeful that at some point that morphs into hearing complete words, and that the individual characters then disappear... much like how we read.

    If one does make that leap, I could imagine that hearing words might actually become difficult at slower speeds.
  7. NM7G

    NM7G Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes. That's just how it is. Make no mistake about it, I'm not saying this is the way to go for everyone. If reception is not R5 (e.g., in heavy qsb, qrm, etc.), I subconsciously revert to character mode with call signs, qths, and foreign names. As for "how long": I transitioned from writing to listening in my twenties. An employer was taking 40-45 hours a week, and there were night classes and family. Radio time was limited to weekends and some weeknights. At 20 wpm (+/-), the change happened in about a month. I'm guessing about it, because I didn't think about progress or a schedule, but just enjoyed every minute on the air. 73
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2017
  8. M6GYU

    M6GYU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I was suggesting an easy way of avoiding anticipating wrongly the next letter. Guessing is not always possible, or necessarily always accurate as the person I was replying to had noticed. I was not suggesting, and nor was the OP asking for, a method of learning learning CW.
  9. AA8NN

    AA8NN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've been learning the code since February and have had a great time. I used the g4fon program for 20 to 30 minutes every day. On air copying is good too. My first few "qso's" went OK. The satisfaction from the first contacts was unforgettable! I'm hooked for life.
    N2UHC and M6GYU like this.
  10. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I agree. But for ham radio purposes, it also doesn't matter.:)

    Not long ago someone answered me on CW and sent NAME I jotted down "Charlie" in my log. That was wrong, her name was CHARLENE. But that doesn't happen often, and that's why we have erasers.:p

    I write down very little when operating, usually just date-time-band-callsign-RST-and short notes like the other operator's name, and those all go directly into the log. I don't even use "scratch paper" for much of anything. If I make a mistake, I sure don't care and the other op won't know until I call Charlene Charlie.

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