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Trouble differentiating "H", "S", and "5"

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KC3HUM, May 12, 2019.

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  1. KC3HUM

    KC3HUM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi guys. Been at the CW pretty consistently the last 2-3 weeks. Practicing every day is making a big difference. I can see myself instantly identifing certain letters and I think that this practice every day is just ingraining it into my head. :)

    Anyway, I get to the letter "H" on my Morse Elmer app on my phone and at first I'm like, "is there a error on the app? Its a "S"??? " I had to compair it to the "S" to figure out that there was indeed a difference. Just one more dot compaired to the "S".

    This seems awefully stupid that the code would have characters comprised solely of dots and the only difference is one dot more than the other one. Could they not have found another combination of dots and dashes for "5" and "H"????
    All the other characters do indeed have a unique distinguishable sound and I have no problems. I found myself writing down "S" multiple times on my last test when it was indeed a "H".

    Has anyone else had this problem??? I'm at 20wpm character and 2 wpm farnsworth spacing.
  2. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    The distinction will likely come when you gain some more CW experience. The other aspect is that copying random letters is different than copying actual words which give the letters more context. Always encouraging to see a new CW operator making progress...stay with it.
    KK5JY, K9ASE and W5BIB like this.
  3. AE8W

    AE8W Ham Member QRZ Page

    I used a program (that I cannot remember the name of at the moment) that plays back CW from text the user enters was quite valuable for me. I had the exact problem.

    I entered long sequences of H H H H H ... with short groups of H S H S and S 5 S 5 and so on. Total list of 100 characters somtimes all H or all S or all 5 and occasionally list with an I tossed in.

    I didn't try to write the lists. Too boring. I just wanted to instill the sound. I would play one of those long lists with absolutely no distraction initially then take a break ...maybe for a few minutes, maybe a day. It worked. I redo this again as I push my speed up and occasionally have have a relapse, for lack of a better term. Current speed is pushing 40 wpm.

    I am currently using a sideswiper and have the occasional odd (I think) challenge sending the letter "F". Drilling myself in a similar as the receiving drill appears to be working.
  4. KC3HUM

    KC3HUM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Should I reduce my training speed to 18wpm? I noticed that at that speed I can id the h better from the s. I have my keyer on my radio set to that so I've actually been practicing copying at 20 and sending (the characters) at about 18.

    Ne1u. If you think of the program post it up here. Thanks.
    AE8W and K3XR like this.
  5. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Slowing down a great idea. 18 wpm is a nice relaxing speed.
  6. KC3HUM

    KC3HUM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Okay k3xr, I'll give it a try. Just was worried about ending up counting dits and dahs instead of the sound of the characters. I've read a few placed that you should learn code at 20 wpm etc. But all I can do is try it out and find out how I like it right?
    K3XR likes this.
  7. M6GYU

    M6GYU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Practice will make perfect. If you can get the difference between S H & 5 most of the time you are at a good speed. Less than that then drop a WPM until you get more than 50%.
    The reason they are like that is because S & H are common letters in the English alphabet, which is why the are so short. - E being the commonest letter.
    W9RAC likes this.
  8. W6MK

    W6MK Ham Member QRZ Page

    20wpm character speeds are clearly too fast for you to distinguish between similar characters.

    The "shoulds" about "fast" learning can be very problematic and can make learning much more difficult.

    One of the worst things to do when you are learning almost anything is to worry about how you are learning.
    Learning is an automatic process for the human brain. Human brains are NOT like computers. Computers must
    be given instructions on how to put information into memory. Human brains are different.

    The huge disparity between your "Farnsworth" copy speed (2 wpm) and your character speed (20 wpm) tells
    the relevant story for you.

    I suggest chosing a character speed, say 12 wpm, at which you can clearly distinguish between all characters 100%
    of the time. Work on getting your "Farnsworth" speed somewhere near your character speed (e.g. 10 wpm) and go
    from there, increasing your speed by a couple of wpm each time you master a slower speed.

    Learning Morse Code is for most people a very simple learning task which, under normal circumstances, occurs very
    quickly. When Morse Code was taught to hundreds of thousands of new soldiers and sailors during WWII, competent
    ops were trained in very few weeks. When I, and my schoolmates, learned Morse Code (without any instructions on
    how to learn) we got the alphabet and numbers down solid in a couple of weeks.

    It's a simple learning task. Simply immerse yourself in it. If it isn't working (which is clear in your case) then adjust
    what you do until you are no longer confused.
    W5BIB and M6GYU like this.
  9. W7UUU

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

    As others have said, it just takes practice.

    I have been doing CW for many many years and have no issues whatsoever with "S", "H", and "5" as is the case for most all ops who run Morse on a regular basis.

    One local repeater drives me NUTS with the CW identifier having one extra dit in the "7" of the call sign. I can't stand to hear it! Obviously the person who programmed it doesn't actually know Morse so it sounds just fine to him but to me it's like fingernails on a blackboard.

    Just keep up the practice - at some point it will all "just make sense" if you keep at it

    N7BKV, W9RAC and K9ASE like this.
  10. WD0BCT

    WD0BCT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    While learning I found 20wpm frustrating. Slowdown....get confidence and then return 20wpm copy.
    I found 13-15wpm great for learning.
    Back in my novice days I found working 5wpm was much too easy for reinforcing counting the dots and dashes. Definitely not good for learning. I would not attempt practice below 13-15 wpm. But then gradually increase your speed.

    For grins along the way...attempt 30-35WPM listening now and then.
    W9RAC likes this.

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