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This is a simple discussion forum for LCWO users. Feel free to use it for any kind of discussion related to this website.

Thread: Moving away from Farnsworth|: taper or cold turkey?

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Posted: 2017-07-04 19:45
I started learning code about 5 months ago. I chose to use LCWO and set my character speed at 20 wpm from the start with a slower Farnsworth speed of about 5 wpm. So far I've learned all 40 of the Koch characters while gradually decreasing the Farnsworth adjustment to a current effective 12 wpm. My dilemma is that I now I have to make a decision about how to move to higher speeds. I'm enrolled in the CW Academy Level 2 course this autumn, so I'm trying to do whatever will help me use that course most effectively.

My starting goal was to be able to have QSOs at 20 wpm, so the original idea was to keep the characters at 20 and slowly taper the Farnsworth factor until there is no adjustment at 20/20. This turns out to be more difficult than I had anticipated due to the increasing difficulty in writing or typing to compare results with the program as my speed increases.

However, in addition to the Koch drills, I also started trying to build head copy skills. I've been using Ham Morse on my iPad listening to common word lists, call signs and news clips at 12 wpm. That's going well, so I now have an option about how to leave the Farnsworth adjustment as I progress further. Is it better to continue with a slow taper to increase speed by keeping my character speed at 20 and gradually adjusting down the Farnsworth adjustment, or should I move now to uncorrected 12 wpm and gradually advance at unadjusted speeds?  I've tried both 20/12 and 12/12 and they feel very different.

Most of the speed advancement software that I've seen and expect to use such as RufzXP and Morse Runner seem to require that you're no longer using any adjustment, so I expect that I'm going to be going cold turkey on the Farnsworth this summer.

Your wisdom and experience are most welcome - thank you in advance.

Posted: 2017-07-05 00:04
Give cold turkey a try.

If any trouble try to write behind a bit.

Good luck

Posted: 2017-07-06 18:14
Ag7dt Ed Walker: Test user does't help you much.

In general level of discussion is low due to moderation of this forum by Colin Tuckley G8TMV who uses no published rules to wipe out messages. I am sure.

Experience with learning Morse code the way you did I don't have because I learned the code in another way.

However I can give you a proposal

==Keep your writing speed the same, while narrrowing the gap.==

The writing speed is W words per minute (wpm)
The character speed = C wpm
The effective speed = E wpm

So notation on this website 20/10= C/E

You can calculate your writing or morsespeed W from
37.2/C + 22.8/E = 60/W

It turns out that when you learned 20/10 your Morse speed W=14.5 wpm

Wen you learned 20/5 your Morsespeed W=9.5 wpm

So you have to exercise with lesson 40, starting with 20/10
After that calculated from the formula:
Go over to the next line when your score is >=90% and you have to round off the E speed, I guess.

When you finish the course with 20/5
exercise lesson 40 with the following speeds
(go over to the next one when your score is >=90%),


Posted: 2017-07-07 21:59
Give cold turkey a try.

Set character speed to real speed, then find a speed at which you can copy. Don't be concerned about the speed you are at.

Spend your time training with this speed rather than make calculations as suggested in previous post.

Simple train enough, and see how you progress in speed while keeping accuracy.

Good luck

Posted: 2017-07-09 19:26
The reason for Farnsworth is so you can get used to the sound of faster characters at the expense of maybe getting used to having more time between characters / not getting used to the sound of real morse spacings.
If you find it easier to get quicker at whatever letter speed you choose, by reducing the gap in small increments, then this if for you.

If you find it easier to learn slow characters with the right (slow) spacing and speed up by changing both together, then this is for you instead.

Some people (most maybe) who start with slow characters (say 10 wpm) find they almost have to learn again up get up to 20.

You have chosen to move to a morse course which doesn't use Farnsworth - so of course you are committed to trying to get away from longer spacings by this time
none of us can advise you, except to suggest you try both and see which gets you to the fastest morse with correct timings . . .

I tend to side with Brushup's view of things mostly,
then "test Test user." says give it a try, so he/she/it/them/etc is right as well.

"Head copy is the way to go - writing things down and testing your speed all the time is tedious and not as far as testing is concerned not very "real world".

Two bits of advice ( free, from me )you might consider are
1/ buy an mp3 player and make up some practice files to use on the train or when the kids/wags etc are occupied
2/ be sure to try a few different audio frequencies, in case your ears don't have quite a flat response ( brushup doesn't agree here, but he might have canine hearing - so not like the rest of us, or me anyway . . . )

good luck - enjoy - keep going


My own view is that you need to listen to lots of code yourself, and then you will improve proportional to your efforts.

Posted: 2017-07-10 19:33
Thanks to everyone for the advice - much appreciated. If I've learned anything in this Morse journey it's that everyone has to experiment and find his or her own way, so I tried various combinations of your advice.

My goal is instant recognition and well-timed sending. I've found that I'm a serial "dit counter", so I do better when the CPM is fixed around 20. That means I need to leave it there. I'm much more likely to hear the sound pattern that way, which is a good investment in speeding up later on.

That means I'll need to march through a steady Farnsworth taper, but so be it. There are well-considered concerns about timing and spacing with this approach, but that never has seemed to be a challenge for me, so I'm pretty sure I can adjust. The big challenge now is simply insisting on instant recognition.

One of my concerns which seems to be diminishing is how to record (either type or paper) as the speed goes up. Right now I'm at 20/7 and I can feel the beginning challenges of keeping up with the typing. Sometimes I know the character, but the cognitive-motor step of finding the key is just long enough to be distracting. The good news is that I'm getting better at head copy, so I think I'll move to parts of the site where you can copy words and call signs by memory for verification. I've also been using Ham Morse on my iPhone and iPad which is a great adjunct.

I've also discovered the value of overlearning. The 90% criteria is ok for the initial acquisition phase of the letters, but once you know them and are trying to speed up there is a more pressing problem which is diminishing the latency between your response and where you need to be for instant recognition. That takes overlearning practice so that the sounds are reflexive. It's all well-described in the TSART and ZART manuscripts.

One other important insight. Some of you may know about the Yerkes-Dodson curve - basically a bell curve with performance on the Y axis and stress on the X axis. The key is moderate amounts of stress for best performance. I make my best progress when I don't feel anxiety or pressure, just a bit of a concentration challenge. This speed is a little slower than I'd like (i.e., patience), and I end up doing more practicing in the long run because I don't dread it.

Finally, distributed practice sessions are better for me. I will usually do a set of 1-minute runs (may 5 or so) and then do something else for an hour or so, returning to do some more sets later. Retention seems to be better this way compared with longer sessions.

Posted: 2017-07-10 22:20
Ed, I am in exactly the same boat as you! I am also enrolled in CW Academy level 2 this fall, and am working to get up to speed so I wont be the class dunce. I am using Farsnworth and slowing trying to creep up to and beyond 20/12 and having some difficulty. But I just keep at it every day and see small improvements. I don't write anything down except for call signs and such when practicing with QSO files. (Note that the QSO files that are available from CW academy use the same 'weird' speed definitions as this site, due to the software that was used to create them.. so 20/10 on there is actually more like 20/15, see Brushups post above!)

For me, I don't want to slow down the CPM for the same reason you mention. If i had a chance you can bet your life that I would count 4 dots for h and 5 dots for 5 rather then try to hear the sound. (The h/5 confusion is still one of my biggest issues!) . I am thinking of speeding up the CPM actually, as I think i am learning to count dits at 20 wpm sadly!

One thing I am thinking of trying is "Wordsworth" which is something I read about in QST. I have not found any software to support it yet. The idea is to send words at full 20/20, but with longer inter-word gaps to give you chance to keep up . But even without software I sometimes try 20/20 and just skip words.

Good luck, and maybe we will be in the same session!

Posted: 2017-07-10 23:56
Ron N1ZTY, I'm glad to hear you're in the same place - the company is comforting.

I have another trick that is really helping. Whenever I change speeds I run Koch from both ends. If you go to setup and add boxes one at a time starting from the end and then run custom characters from Code Groups you can get a "reverse Koch" to do in parallel with your forward process. The advantage of this is that with the reverse sequence you get a break with some longer characters (I love 0!) to rest your brain a bit. The problem with the forward sequence is that the short characters whiz by pretty fast, and it's tiring. I usually do a few rounds from the front, a few from the back and then do a middle section. I haven't seen any difficulty in running the whole set of 40 when it stitches together, and the variety is refreshing.

Also, cannot say enough good things about Ham Morse if you have an iPhone. It lets you sneak in some exercises when you have a few minutes here and there. It's has a lot of the same function as LCWO, but it's in your pocket all day.

One last idea... I'm 66, and as much as I'd like to do this continuously, I fatigue much faster than I'd like. Many people have compared learning Morse to learning to read, and I was recalling how I used to read to my boys when they were little. Last night I tried having Ham Morse "read" to me, just watching the letters appear as the code sounds. You can do letters, numbers, words, call signs, etc. You can even have the letters appear immediately or up to several second later. Sounds passive, but the brain learns in lots of ways, and it seems to be a good thing to do when I'm just too tired to tackle the speed gauntlet. I used to use Morse Machine for this, but I've decided that my dit-counting addiction is supported by that approach, so I've banned it.

By the way, don't worry about being the class dunce in the CWA this fall. I've already reserved the seat and the hat! :)

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