Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KG7WGX, Jan 4, 2021.

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  1. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I found that I can send OK at 13 wpm, but I have to just bash the [ ] keys according to the timing required to generate the desired character and ignore the sidetone. It also helps to not watch the decode window, either, as that can have even more latency.

    I understand the solution for high speed use is to mute the audio for your userid and use an external keyer in straight key mode, with one of the USB adapters. Then you can send 25-35 wpm.

    I was having a "QSO" with someone who did just that, to see if VBand could handle it.

    If a newcomer is directed to Channel 5, you can send QRS to them and they have to write it down (or use the "scratchpad" area) as they hear it. No decoder on Channel 5, so they can't "cheat". I've worked with half a dozen new VBand users this way and they say they find the receive practice useful.

    If you are new, you can use VBand by yourself on the Practice Channel to practice sending. If you can find a partner, by prior arrangement or by calling CQ, you can also use it for receive practice.

    A very neat learning tool.

    Hopefully it will attract some experienced operators to help the newcomers.
  2. N8AFT

    N8AFT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Roger; I have never encountered any delay when using the CTRL key or the USB adapter and my straight key.
    You may want to connect with the Vband folks for some tech support to de-bug with you...
  3. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I find that if I assume the correct forearm posture I learned many years ago I can send legible CW in straight key mode at around 10 WPM by pretending there is a knob on the control key. I suspect I might get to 15 WPM eventually, which is about top speed for me on a straight key.

    Cannot find the "dummy load" setting under the "settings" tab. Perhaps it has been replaced by the practice channel?
  4. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yes. The developers expanded the information under "Support", (which should be "Help") and cover most of the VBand features, including how the Practice Channel works.

    The Practice Channel cannot be seen or heard by other users. So, if you want to practice with someone else, perhaps concurrent with a Zoom conference, you need to use one of the other channels.

    It was hoped that casual visitors would use the Practice Channel to tap randomly on a key.....;)

    You can still mute other users and "multiplex" QSO's on a single channel, so VBand isn't restricted to 5 QSO's. And you can still mute casual visitors, one at a time, as they pop up.

    Also, they moved "Straight Key/Bug/Cootie" to Mode.
  5. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just had my first VBand QSO. The other op had a fair fist, and I don't think he would have any trouble being understood on the air.

    One thing needs to be stressed for newcomers: just because the decoder missed a few characters you sent doesn't mean the op on the other end missed it. I understood everything my contact sent, but the decoder missed some of it. That shouldn't discourage him from getting on the air!
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2021
    N8AFT likes this.
  6. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Not too hard to use, is it?

    Newcomers are encouraged to use Channel 5, which keeps them from cheating and looking at the decoder for the other users. (They can still enable their user's decoder to check their sending, if they prefer.)

    I am glad that the decoder isn't to CWGet standards. A really good decoder doesn't help you check your fist.

    However, one newcomer I worked with seemed obsessed with speed. He was sending 50% character errors at 12 wpm, and horrible timing. I suggested he slow down, and when he slowed down to 8 wpm he made almost no mistakes and his timing improved, too.

    "Slow is fast."
  7. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Update: Replacement adapter arrived and has been working for 2 days now. It is a pleasant experience now instead of work.

    I am using my Bunnell straight key. Lots of straight key practice over the last two years apparently developed "muscle memory", because I send cleanly now at 12 to 13 wpm without thinking about it. And the sidetone latency, while noticeable, doesn't bother me. I'm not really using it for timing -- it just confirms that I sent the correct character.

    Also, users should be aware that latency is not a constant. It is a function of the entire Javascript execution - audio driver - sound device chain. Some users report very little latency, and others have reported 160 msec. So, if your latency is too high to be tolerable, you need to consider implementing a separate keying device with a separate sidetone. (This is the "workaround" suggested by the info on the VBand site.)
  8. VA7RLX

    VA7RLX Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is a great resource for practice. It's a lot less challenging than an on-air QSO, simply because you're not "on the air"! it's a bit like WiresX for CW learners........ I found it yesterday through this forum and had my first QSO with KE8AQW this afternoon. Gotta practice more :)
  9. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I didn't make a note of the callsign, but I think I heard the end of that, then "tail-ended" KE8AQW when you signed off.

    Yes, you can make the practice QSO's as realistic as you like. I generally use BK for handover, unless the newcomer is using [call1] DE [call2] K, in which case I just mimic that. Same goes for <BT> vs periods.

    It does feel a little silly giving a 599 report, but I do that, too, if the other person sent his RST.

    I never learned to send with a straight key under 12 wpm. I'm afraid to try it. Instead, if we're using Channel 5 and I have been asked to send slower than 12 wpm, I use Farnsworth timing. It seems to work.
  10. N8AFT

    N8AFT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello Dean; Saw you on this morning early while I and Matt, W7MDN, were enjoying his vy first CW QSO... Vband is a real blessing for new ops to get exp before going on air.
    Yes, besides ch 5 one can also click on the upper right corner of his channel on the blue 'A' to switch off the decoder from spelling out the code for head and paper copying.

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