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Using CW converters

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by AC2MM, Nov 22, 2019.

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  1. AC2MM

    AC2MM Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I received my Extra in 2014 because I could never pass the Morse Code requirement.
    Being 65 back then wasn't the biggest hurdle, it was the chemicals involved in my stem cell transplant that was the primary cause of loss of my short term memory, about 85+ percent. I did try, many times, using different techniques I found advertised, but could never get beyond 4 characters. It just wasn't a goal that I could make.

    I do like CW, it's clear to hear, even with low power and long distances and the usual noise involved. Lately, I see that there's a couple of transceivers that can translate incoming Morse, and i can, using my keyboard, produce Morse using this same transceiver. MFJ makes one for a couple hundred.

    I wondered if this could be a possibility that would work for me, as obviously a lot of people use it. I wondered what you guys thought about it, and if you could recommend a brand / model that would work the best.
    I realize there are the "purists" out there who are against it, and I truly "get it". But for those of use who would not otherwise have a chance, this seems like a fair alternative.
     
  2. W7UUU

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

    As long as the sending is absolutely perfect, with clear perfect signal strength and excellent S/N ratio, they will work "OK"

    But Morse is not really conducive to "computer decoding". It's a "human mode" not a "computer mode"

    Most likely though the device (software, decoder device, whatever) will miss a large part of it and you'll just frustrate the other station (and yourself :( )

    Give it a try and see what happens.... As long as your expectations aren't too high, you could probably make a QSO here and there work OK if conditions are really good.

    It's CERTAINLY worth giving it a try IMO

    Dave
    W7UUU
     
    W9RAC likes this.
  3. N8DAH

    N8DAH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I use a K42/44 from hamcrafters. Works about 10x better than MFJ's option and cost a lot less. It helps fill in the blanks. I do suggest trying to learn CW so you don't rely on a decoder 100%. Morse Machine phone app has been a big help for me as well as K4FON's CW learning software.
    73
    David
     
  4. W5WTH

    W5WTH Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you have a PC try "fldigi". It is free and works on perfect code with a good sig. It could get you started. But.... like others have mentioned; decoders are hit and miss.
     
  5. K7TRF

    K7TRF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    There probably are purists that reject CW decoders on principle but my issue is the same as what folks have posted above, they don't work very well unless the situation is near perfect. Near perfect means very well sent code a strong signal and clean band conditions without much if any QRM, QRN, QSB, etc. I've run fldigi in the past and the HRD Digital Master does CW decode on the fly but both struggle unless the situation is ideal.

    I was just thinking about this last night as it took me a few passes in a pileup to dig out a DX station's call. I got it after maybe three or four exchanges, worked him after a couple of tries and then glanced up at the HRD screen as I went to log the QSO, nothing but gibberish and the strongest stateside stations calls up there. It might have been useful to pull out the calls in the pileup that were 20 over S9 but no way it would have pulled out the call I most needed to copy.

    I can't speak for the hardware based decoders like those built into the K3 ot the TS-590SG but in my experience the CW decoder apps don't work as well as the human brain in tough conditions and that's where a little help would go a long way.
     
  6. K5TSK

    K5TSK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Here's hoping the absolute best recovery possible for your condition.
    Wondering if you have tried to copy over a period of time since then, or what I would probably have done, which is, go do something else.
    You may be surprised how wonderfully adaptable the human brain is. Lots of times when I'm trying something new, first failure, but after a rest of a few days, the ole brain has wired a few connections and things are a little better. Repeat. Repeat. Success.

    To the point, lots of us older guys have short term memory problems and that's why a lot of us take notes in QSO. As for readers, go for it! I only use them as a practice tool to monitor my sending from time to time, but here's something positive along that line. Yesterday morning while in a Marathon qso, out of curiosity, I grabbed my old iPhone and opened an app for decoding and held it up to the speaker.
    Signal was loud to be sure, but the op was using a cootie and/or bug. I was surprised that the app was able to copy well enough to get the jest of the conversation. Hope you find one that does the trick for you.
    Give me an email and I'll hook up my unused keyboard and we can play at slower speeds (cuz that's all I can do). Good luck.
     
    N2AMM likes this.
  7. N5CM

    N5CM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I just got a new Kenwood TS-590SG a few weeks ago. It has a morse decoder. I've tried it a few times for grins, and it kinda works if characters and spacing are just right. There are some adjustments cited in the owner's manual for the rig, but I haven't really pursued them.

    I'm thinking it might work reasonably well in a rag-chew situation with an op that has a good fist or is using a keyboard.

    Good luck. I think your quest is a worthwhile effort.
     
  8. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    A few decades ago, (maybe 5) a local friend was bragging he had the lateat and greatest morse decoding program on his computer, so I had to go take a look.
    Every time there was some QRM or QRN the decoder faltered, I was copying in my head and told the owner the Exact text the machine failed to decode.
    Anyway maybe they are better today. I would have no problems catching A QSO with you.
    I can send some pretty clean Morse with my old MFJ Grandmaster keyer, at ANY speed, I just can't type fast enough to keyboard a QSO...:eek:...ever !
    I can reach TN on 160, 80, 60, or 40 M most of the time. E-mail me for a sked.
     
  9. W9RAC

    W9RAC Subscriber QRZ Page

    Bob your post caught my eye mostly out of curiosity, likely because I am misreading is intended understanding. I do not know anything about short term memory deficiencies but I do know a bit about CW, readers and keyboards. I'll make some relevant comments on the readers/keyboards that may help you, or not Dave's comments overall are a very accurate depiction of them. I am uncertain if your are still in the possible learning stages or have you decided it is completely not possible to learn?

    In either event, the keyboard/reader combo I believe is something a competent CW Op may want to mess around with. I do not see it as a learning tool. I do not see much fun using it otherwise. I would liken it to listening to a foreign broadcast station in a language you do not speak but being translated onto a screen to read. The foreign language would to me get annoying pretty quickly and the novelty would also. The fun lies within the skill of being able to decode it. Then there is the sending. You will be sending with a keyboard but will not be able to understand what it is sending, just being able to read it. Also, I believe unless you are a touch typist, that is a trained typist who can type without looking at the keyboard, that's a issue also.

    I am a 21ish wpm OP, head copy OR pencil. I use straight key, bug, paddle, keyboard. In a rag chewer OP, at 20/21 slow by standards of many. I have readers in my TS 990 and FTDX 101d. Both pretty new technology. I have run them alongside hundreds of QSO's. As Dave has mentioned they required near perfect code, good copy code without extreme QRM/N, QSB,. It is my opinion you can forget ever trying to copy a bug or straight key. In 100's of QSO's I have yet to see a bug or straight key either can decode with any consistency. They will copy paddles if the Op has even a halfway decent fist. Keyboards always provided the copy is decent.

    I use a MFJ 452 keyboard to play around with. I have a buddy 150 miles north of me who has a keyboard also. Sometimes we will mess around sending with them. I am a touch typist but he is not. Sometimes if the speed exceeds 18ish its a problem for him. While I am using the reader/keyboard I have the volume at ZERO. I would not suggest you ever on air call CQ since you have no control over who may respond. I believe getting on air with a reader/keyboard in any case is a err unless the OP can decode mentally also. So Bob I would suggest against the reader/keyboard in a effort to learn Morse or as a fun device unless you know Morse. Not knowing your condition therefore not knowing your abilities I will not comment further or hound you to learn. Considering entering a different digital aspect of the hobby maybe in order for you rather than Morse Code. 73 Rich
     
  10. K1LKP

    K1LKP Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    HI BOB,

    I AM JUST FOLLOWING UP ON THE WONDERFUL WORDS FROM THAT OLE CW RASCAL - K5TSK

    YES,, YES,,, Here's hoping the absolute best recovery possible for your condition.

    BOB, HAVE FUN WITH CW AND GO FOR THE GUSTO WITH HELP FROM K5TSK.
    WHAT EVER MAKES YOUR BOAT FLOAT.jpg
    USE ANY AND ALL THINGS AVAILABLE TO HELP WITH YOUR CW.

    N9HI Have a Nice Day.gif
     

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