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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: Why is this so hard

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Posted: 2012-06-04 23:21
Why is this so hard to learn. Every time you add a new letter you seem to loose everything. Why????

Am I the only one hear having an impossible time with this. ????

I just do not understand. I am sorry.

Posted: 2012-06-05 11:52
You're not the only one. I wonder whether the trouble is that, with each lesson, one builds up a complete set, and everything one hears belongs to that set. Then the new character is thrown in, and one tries to figure out which of the known characters it is. Of course, it is none of them, but it take a while to work that out...

Posted: 2012-06-05 12:46
Hi Lynn,

I think Rick is right. And in addition to this, my impression is that each new letter has to be 'squeezed in' between the patterns you already learned. E.g. dot-dash translate into A and dot-more_than_one_dash translate into W. Until you add J...

I'm not sure it is hard, but it does take persistence to learn the code. If you got this far in two months (as your registration date suggest), you're pretty fast!


Posted: 2012-06-05 13:43
Good analysis of jsujis !

Keep going, and you understand the real difference between CB like - extra licensed-appliance operators and the real hams. Don't tell them they don't appreciate that because it is the bare truth.

Women are tougher is always said, so Badger don't break that general believe.

Has nothing to do with bright minds, just everybody has to sweath it out. Just as running a marathon. Exercising and perseverance is the only thing needed.

But just as a chicken egg has to be breeded at 100 degrees F for 21 days, don't try to do it at 200 degrees in 10 days, Badger.

Posted: 2012-06-05 21:03
Twentytwo lessons in two months I think are too many. Don't be in harry.
Ciao de IV3GSO

Posted: 2012-06-06 06:32
I think ABC is easy. I think ABCD is harder. I think the more you might add the more complicated it gets. It is more for your mind to handle and sort out.

I seem to have reached a place where my mind is having a hard time sorting it out. I am forgetting letters I had down. The G has caused this. It seems to be just one to many.

I have gone to MorseMachine for repetition. I am hoping that this will help.

I am moving along at a good pace I feel. Perhaps you are right and it is to fast. I will stay where I am until it gets easer for me.

Twenty two is much harder than three. I expect nothing less than 98% of myself. I know this is expecting to much . I have never had this hard of a time doing anything.

This is a brain training exercise. I do not feel it a memory type thing. One must train there brain to do this automatically like one talks.

Time is what this needs. Thank you all for your help.

Posted: 2012-06-06 18:09
professionals dont learn it in the order of the alphabet. (ABC...)

they start with the most commonly used letters, or the most difficult ones, or those which are easy to confuse.

i.e. EISH5 TMO(ö)9

is this the essential turning point for you?
likely not.

Just dont give up.

I had the priviledge of a classroom training
that gives me a huge advantage.

Posted: 2012-06-07 15:12
My advice: keep practicing. I also have difficulty forming words in my brain. But it takes perseverance to get this win.

Posted: 2012-06-07 16:48
Best thing Badger can do, is go on with exercising but don't add any more new character for at least a month.

Guys that learned code with eish5 are fabulously good and extremely experienced dit-counters.

Military classes are sorted out, with a simple test, the guys that were less adaptive for code learning, so experience with classes in military environment don't proof that "anybody" can learn the code.

And o yes, the professional radio officer was made the cook and a professional cook was made a telegrapher, both with green colored underwear. Why?

Because when your pants are shot off your ass you are still camouflaged, en when the telegrapher is shot the cook is able to take over his task.

Clever, Isn't it?

Posted: 2012-06-07 19:47
On my unit we had blue pants. there is no point in green wear on a ship on high seas:P

and i shared my deck with the cook, proofed to be smart. He was protective, and 2x2 meter in size
not even the commander messed with him:)

Posted: 2012-06-08 02:10
I agree. I will not add any more until I am quite good at these 22 letters. There seems to be something about the G that has caused a problem. I did not expect this. I am trying to go to fast. My brain wants to shut this off. I think the next one is a number 5. Very different but just to much for now. I am doing 9 rows of 6 letters at 17/11. I have been at it for 2 months. I am hoping to get this down in 6 months. After that perhaps I can pick up the speed. I guess we will see. I will not give his up.

Posted: 2012-06-08 04:50
I'm stuck on lesson 22 as well....the "G" has me whipped for some reason. I've been at it for a few months now...but I'll stick with it....just a little frustrating. I find it interesting that we both hit the wall at the same time...maybe it is the way the letters are arranged in training program? Stick with it! We'll be on the air in no time!

Posted: 2012-06-08 08:55
I was also stuck on G for three weeks. I finally moved on yesterday. I was finding that the slight pause it was causing me meant several other letters ended up being wrong.

Having moved on I've found that 5 is so different from everything else so far that it isn't making things worse. So maybe moving on will ease the frustration. I'm begining to wonder if adding H in later lessons will be hard though.

Posted: 2012-06-09 06:34
It is so great to hear that others have had the same problem. I feel I am not alone.

I have learned this is at times hard for all. Something about this goes down hard for each of us. It makes it easer to know you are not struggling by yourself.

I am going to work through this. I expect it to take a few weeks but I can already see it getting better. There is hope.

Posted: 2012-06-09 16:53
If any consolation to you Badger, we Brazilians have to learn the accents of the Portuguese language. You will get it! 73'

Posted: 2012-06-09 21:47
Thank you. I have never heard anyone say this was easy. We all seem to be having both good and bad days. Still, I think it is worth it in the end. It is important to keep learning about new things in our lives. It can keep us young thinking.

Good luck to all of us. Keep at it.

Posted: 2012-06-12 14:59
I am on Lesson 3. Only just beginning.

Rushing head first towards the WALL!

Posted: 2012-06-13 17:10
I find it to be a battle. Others not so much. I hope it will be easy for you. I feel the forum helps. You can vent to people that do understand. Some are nice and helpful. Others not so much. But for the most part this is the place to learn this. I have found nothing better. The only way to learn this is by sound. I try to think of it as little tunes.


Posted: 2012-06-15 00:04
I understand what you are going through. My grandaughter , who is 11 was here yesterday and was sending her name in a few min. At 69, these old ears and brain work slowley. I am at 14 and it has been a long time since 1977 when I first learned it and then let it go. Hang in there and WE will make it!!!
de n4awp

Posted: 2012-06-15 21:34
I must have spent two years stuck on lesson 20. Then I just said, heck, I want to have fun. So I went to 40m 7.114 and started having QSO's at 3-5 wpm. People were incredibly nice. There were plenty of ham's that slowed down for me. And it was FUN! It was great fun. So every night I go look for slow cw people calling CQ. Half the time I just listen to the conversations. I am finding that I am understanding better and better and getting faster on the air, and having fun at the same time! Then I come back to LCWO and now I'm going through the lessons at 22/10 all over again. I'm on lesson 14 now. (ps I'm 66 years old). So if you can only receive at 3-5 words per minute, go have some fun! AND do your LCWO lessons at 22/10 or so too. (so you learn by sound and not by repeating dahs and dihs in your head). I agree with Art, hang in there. 73 K6GIG, Steve

Posted: 2012-06-16 11:25
Disadvantage of a forum is that when you ask a question, you get probably the right advice and also probably the wrong advice.

Because there are in every field of knowledge more people that don't know (the nitwits) than there are people that know where they are talking about, the wrong advice is numeric overwhelming the correct advice.

This is a warning, I am a nitwit and I gave the wrong advice, so this makes it easier for the questioner to decide.

Posted: 2012-06-16 18:41
I have moved on to lesson 23. I have also gone up to 18/11. I was on 17/11 Once one goes to a faster speed it is hard to go back. It is a bit funny. You struggle at 17/11 and move up in speed then try to go back. It is just to slow. When you start this at12/10 it is just to fast. In time it is so much to slow. It seems like this makes you speed up with time.

Another thing which is interesting is that the F has seemed to have slipped out of my mind at times. It just stopes me cold. I do not understand this at all.

I can also study this for a longer period at one time now. My mind does not go on overload so soon. I have been working on this for about 10 or 11 weeks now. The more one works on this the more you do it by sound. Not by dit and da. The more you realize you are hearing it and not counting it.

Now that I am on lesson 23 I think it is going to slow down even more. The dit's are coming so fast. Also there are so many of them.

I hope this will help someone as you all have helped me.

Posted: 2012-07-02 03:49
Koch Method CW Course
is available for download
for Microsoft OS.
From a website. Runs OK.
look for /CW 20Trainer.htm

Say you drop the "F" from your mind ?
I have one that drops, also ...
don't remember which one, though :)
After 50 years, you would think
I could remember which one it is, ha.

Morse Code is like music,
simple music.


Posted: 2012-07-10 18:48
Hey, guys and gals.....just came across this web-app and am going to recommend it to one of my students.

Learned code several years ago for ham radio and really enjoyed it. It is another language, just like french/spanish/latin, with its own cadences, rhythms, syntax, and musicality.

Had my ups and downs, especially when trying to get the 20wpm that was required for the extra license. I found that once I was able to get the basics down, then turn on a radio that was able to receive CW and let it play in the background while I did other things around the house, I was able to learn it a lot quicker. Yeah, sounds strange---wife and kids thought so, too.

I know it can be quite frustrating when trying so hard and it just doesn't seem to come as quickly as we would like, but persistence pays off especially if you keep the practice to 2 sessions per day...about 30 minutes each. You will find that your brain doesn't throw up so many barriers to the "strange sounds."

Hang in there....it will get easier.

Posted: 2012-07-12 20:22
>Morse Code is like music,
>simple music.

That's where the problem is. My wife has banned me from singing in public. Actually I get the 'look' even at home. 20 years ago after being dragged out on to the dance floor I had a female friend say "boy you really can't dance can you". Picture Herman Munster on a bad day. After taking the Extra class examine we were sitting around chatting. The topic of CW came up. A lady there said she learned it in a weekend. She was a professional musician and said it was no different than playing the flute or other instrument. She was using the same skill set.
At that time I had spent 2 years just go pass my 5 WPM barely (had to answer the 10 questions)
First time I heard 10 WPM from a beacon I realized 5 WPM sent at 5 WPM had no relationship with 10 WPM. One was math the other was music. If I test 5 WPM on my android phone I am good for half the alphabet 98% copy. Here set for 20/7 I'm on lesson 3. Different animals.

Posted: 2012-07-13 11:03
And so the tale, that CW has something to do with the ability to make or appreciate music, is held alive.

CW has nothing else to do with music, then that you need ears to hear the tone, and you need a learning period to copy it fast, just as you read printed material.

CW has NOTHING to do with music, I am personally an example that proofs that.

Furthermore you have only one tone, important when your brains have to filter out a signal from QRM of other CW stations, and the time pattern is 1/3/7 which has nothing to do with 1/2/4/8/16

It are even (odd) prime numbers.

CW is just a single tone prefarably machine generated staccato of tone bursts.

Posted: 2012-07-13 11:51

I agree, with Wolf quinten you can glue everything together and important: words like "tomato" are full of them and just easiest to copy QRQ

Posted: 2012-07-13 18:10
CW has NOTHING to do with music, I am personally an example that proofs that.

It has, however, a whole lot to do with rhythm...

Posted: 2012-07-13 23:41
Musicologist Jean-Jacques Nattiez summarizes the relativist, post-modern viewpoint: "The border between music and noise is always culturally defined—which implies that, even within a single society, this border does not always pass through the same place; in short, there is rarely a consensus ... By all accounts there is no single and intercultural universal concept defining what music might be."

Based upon my experiences with different cultures, I concur with Nattiez. 

Based upon my experience with listening to morse code, I cannot yet hear any music.

However, based upon my experience with sending morse code, I do play music on my straight key. 

The reason that I cannot hear music, but do send music is due to the nature of the code.

While sending, I break apart the code into two groups: the down strokes and the up strokes. The time between down strokes is 2/4/6/8/10. Likewise for the upstrokes.  Thus, the code is actually a linked-polyrhthym, due to the physical linkage between up and down. While sending, I consciously play the down beat, and subconsiously play the up beat. In this manner, two songs are weaved together to produce information.

This information, however, is imbedded in the superposition of these two rhthyms, producing the traditional 1/3/7 timing of the code.  Thus, in order to comprehend the code while listening, one must focus on this superposition, which explains why I do not hear any music.

The debate regarding music and morse will live on perpetually. However, I personally think there is reasonable justification that an intercultural community amongst us consider morse as music.

Posted: 2012-07-14 15:52
It has, however, a whole lot to do with rhythm...

You have a fixed time division, with unit one dit, every mark and space is a fixed integer multiple 1,3 or 7 of them. Irregular repeated in order to transport information. You can call that 1,3,7 rhythm?
Wik says: Rhythm, a sequence in time repeated.

A sequence in time repeated can't transport information, the way you want. Just as a continuous wave can't. It is present or not that the only information you pass with rhythm


Thanks for dealing your interesting thoughts. I will analyse them, but not right now.

Posted: 2012-07-14 21:24
it is a fact, that most cw operators who have a quality fist are also musicians, or have a good feeling for rhytm.
That is no "rumour" - and just because there are people not matching the rule, it is still true that it helps.

Yes, everyone can learn to understand morse with just enough of hard training.

mut the musicalic/rhytmic person has it easier than the one without. Its a fact, no myth. I am the proof, my dad is the proof (merchant navy telegraphist >20 years - also plays violin, trumpet, jazz guitar and piano.. i dont play anyhthing, but i have the "musicalic ear" i hear mistones immediately, and misrhytms. And people say my hand sending is excellent.
(Navy gave me a certificate about it, A grade... best in my year who graduated from academy hearing sending)

- it is true, its not a must
- it is also true, that it helps.

Doesnt match your personal case? entirely possible.
How is your hand sending?

Posted: 2012-07-19 19:09
Hi Lynn,
I'm almost 59 years old and started the Koch method about 2 months ago. First with a program at home and got up to 8 charactors. I read that Koch method is to start at a faster rate than learning slower and then trying to increase speed. Makes sense to me. However, after wind storms and not having much time at home, I discovered this site and started this week during lunch. The charactors here are different than at home, but I had already familiarized myself with the alphabet with another program.
Bottom line, each time I add a letter, I have a couple days of getting it all wrong. It does come together. I don't expect I'll be on the air for a few months, but I am not in a hurry. There is still phone.
I'm not a professional or a ham with decades of air time and experience, just someone enjoying the learning part.
I think it will come, just don't be discouraged.
Pat, K8PWG

Posted: 2012-07-20 00:49
I've been wondering what drawbacks the "add one character and then work at it until you know it, then add the next" approach has. Instead, one might, say "learn N new characters at once, then learn another N, then put them together", or even plain "learn them all at once". The difference in sound between characters is almost as important as the sound of a character, but you don't learn the difference until they're both in the list and you hear them one after the other...

Posted: 2012-07-20 12:36
That is recently discussed at

Posted: 2012-07-22 07:53
I was stuck on lesson 34. Attempted it 33 times in a row and could not get it. Then I took a break and also went on a vacation where I did no morse code. It's been two weeks since then and I just came in today and not only passed lesson 34 with over 90%, I was also amazed that I easily passed lesson 35 with over 90% in only two attempts. So I seriously think it helps to take some short breaks to clear your mind when you're stuck.

Posted: 2012-08-21 02:30
I am 11 years old and going 15 wpm. But stuck on lesson 3. I am getting the letters U,K,and R mixed up. I find it strange, I had no trouble in school and no trouble whatsoever learning Spanish. I am a fast and brilliant learner in everything, but just can't seem to figure out the mischevious ways of Morse Code.

Posted: 2012-08-21 13:24
Put the speed down to 20/5, when 100% go over t0 20/10 when 100% go over to 20/15

I was stupid in school, dropped out, but Hey I can learn Morse code, so I did. Completely senseless, has no use anymore, even not in archeology, such as learning linear B.

Posted: 2012-08-22 00:01
Lea don't say you were stupid, if you were you would not be able to learn Morse code. You were probably just not interested in the subjects offered in school. Interest plays an important part in what we learn. And what we say about ourselves can become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Posted: 2012-08-26 23:15
In addition to this site, I started fooling around with a program called Morse Academy (http://www.ah0a.org/AH0A.html) at around lesson 20. Rather than slowing down, I've been ramping the transmit speed up to 25/14~20. It's very hard to sustain for any length of time, but following a 15 minute session (consisting mainly of 1, 2 and 5 minute drills) I've found myself able to score 100% on a 50 character, 20/10 "test' on this site using in only a scant few attempts. Since it's been working for me so far (I'm now up to lesson 25), I thought it might work for some of you guys as well.

Still, if you get frustrated, do what everyone else has been saying: take a break! Avoiding fatigue is absolutely critical.

Posted: 2012-08-26 23:52
The idea is to make the sounds reflexive, so you comprehend without thinking. It becomes automatic. Touch-typing is also reflexive and automatic. For CW, Patience, Practice, and Persistence!

Chuck, K6ZIZ, building reflexes with every practice.

Posted: 2012-08-27 13:59
word. just dont give up folks - there is great revard for those who stick with it.

Posted: 2012-09-10 19:48
This thread is like a breath of fresh air for me. I have had that thought of why is this so hard many times and I just discovered this forum yesterday.
I was first licensed in 1974 and had to pass 13 wpm for the general. I let it go for 35 years and just a couple of weeks ago decided to renew my code proficiency - such as it was.
I am working at 20/12 and just passed lesson 17.
I think I am ready for a break :) This is bloody hard work.

Posted: 2012-09-10 20:24

The "secret" is just exercising each and every day 10 minutes. Thats all. It is so minor, but people starting, are exercising for 3 hours, get exhausted and stop definitely.

So, just do the first thing in the morning after teethbrushing and washing what is necessary in order to prevent smell, that betrays other nightly activities, your LCWO exercise of 10 minutes, and within an unbelievable time (afterwards looking backwards) you are just as proficient as I am in the mean time.

Posted: 2013-07-30 22:25
Put the speed down to 20/5, when 100% go over t0 20/10 when 100% go over to 20/15

I was stupid in school, dropped out, but Hey I can learn Morse code, so I did. Completely senseless, has no use anymore, even not in archeology, such as learning linear B.

This is a very good advise. Thanks! I feel better after I got a 100 in a slower speed! moving to 20/10 lesson 5 now.

Posted: 2013-07-30 22:58
min tks fer the feed back rafiks.

Prevents me to get the feeling to talk to a brick wall, as usually.

Posted: 2013-07-31 05:20
I started LCWO one month ago and I'm on lesson 6. I'm using speed 17/10, copying by hand. When I get 90% or higher score twice I move to the next lesson. I practice 1/2 hour per day. Skip a day not more than once a week. It's important not to get burned out. My brain freezes on "R" sometimes. Don't know why.

Posted: 2013-07-31 13:43
Hi Steve K6GIG,

Cheer up.I have been in CW for 40 years.
As they say, no gain without pain.
Apart from LCWO,you can use G4FON and Just Learn Morse Code software.Both are free.
And you can join us at SKCC,Straight Key Century Club.Lotsa of friendly guys.And possibility of daily QSOs with speed at your convinience..
Good luck to all.
Best 73
SKCC #8988

Posted: 2013-08-20 11:28
I started a few months ago with learning cw, but it is very hard.
At one point i couldn't follow the letters, i lost track after two letters, so had to start all over again, and again.
I haven't been doing any practicing for weeks now, so i am going to start at lesson 1 again :-)
I still have to find the best speed to start with, otherwise i loose track again.
It is so irritating when you hear other people doing cw, and that you are just struggeling to keep up.
It's annoying !!! I want to learn it.

Posted: 2013-08-20 13:57
Don't give up! I took many months but I am now lesson 40 at 20/19, slowly working up to 20/20. A month ago I would not have believed 20/19 was possible.

Just slow your speed down first. Try 20/5 to begin with. I always start a new lesson at 20/5 first then slowly work my way up.

Invent a short hand system for yourself if your handwriting is too slow.

Posted: 2013-08-20 15:56
I'm just at 12/10, otherwise i loose track like i said.
Later i will put the speed up, but for now i think it's a right speed to start with.

Posted: 2013-08-20 18:48

Try 20/5 when ok 20/10 . 12/10 is a a less good choice because you minimalize reaction time after a complete character.
Try as fast as possible (after lesson 6 or 8 AFAIK) "words" Try to decode them in your mind before jotting them down or typing them out.

Danger is that you quit due to frustrating results in that case of 12/10

Posted: 2013-08-20 19:46
Thanks for your reaction. I spoke to someone a few moments ago, who said the same thing.
So i changed the speed up to 20/5.
I'm going to try it out right away.

Posted: 2013-08-21 13:18
The "secret" is just exercising each and every day 10 minutes. Thats all. It is so minor, but people starting, are exercising for 3 hours, get exhausted and stop definitely.
Thanks Lea for this posting.

That is the truth and the real key to success! Don't press yourself, keep relaxed, have FUN - and no stress. And don't change the parameters so often. And keep in mind that Mr. KOCH originally didn't use any Farnsworth at all! And this is the the best way. Real life normaly has no Farnsworth. ;-)

Anyway, keep going on and enjoy positive results. All people have good times and some bad times. Don't care about some mistakes. They will pass soon.

Again: CW IS fun. Relax, have FUN!

Posted: 2013-08-23 18:19
I put my speed up to 20/5, wich seems to be very good to follow for me.
Once i have completed all the 40 lessons, i will start over again, but with the letter speed up to 10.
At this moment i am at lesson 16, it goes very well, i am even enjoying it :)
So there is hope that in the end i will learn cw.
And that is exactly the point where i want to get.
For everyone who struggles to learn cw: keep on going! don'tgive up.
I can recommend the 20/5,it is possible to keep up.

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