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Thread: Uneasy feeling & your training regimen

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Posted: 2014-05-15 15:30
Sometimes when copying as I get a letter or so behind, I start to feel like I'm losing it and am making mistakes--but often as it turn out I only miss 1 or 2 letters, if any, when copying code groups.

I've set the speed at 25/15 (character speed/effective speed) since 25/25 at perfect or near perfect copy is my 1st goal.

Anyone else experience this uneasiness as you begin to lag in your copy?

Seems like this uneasy feeling is not a bad thing, and I should just persist at that setting rather than slow down. When I do 15/15 I often get perfect or near perfect copy.

Interested in hearing what sort of training schedule people have who've achieved good results in my target speed range.

Posted: 2014-05-16 00:05

I'm still learning. I'm at lesson 30 and I'm using only 20/12 speed settings. My initial goal is to operate at 15/15 and hopefully progress in speed using a combination of real life QSO's and additional LCWO training.

I think I understand what you are saying about lagging behind in your copy. I liken it to drowning. At times my head is above water and I'm keeping up. But other times, I feel like the code is pulling me under water, my lips and nose are just barely above the surface. I'm paddling as fast as I can, but sometimes I just go down and I lose the rest of that code group. I can usually recover and pick up the next code group. I always use 5 character code groups.

I do about 1 hour a day on LCWO, broken up in 2 or 3 sessions depending on my schedule. I was doing pretty well the last few of weeks but the number 8 is killing me. It has caused me to loose confidence in not just similar elements like Z, but I also lost some ability to differentiate S, H and 5. The letters U and V are also giving me trouble. I've dug in and I'm working through this momentary setback. My progress has not been linear and I fear these last 11 elements are going to be tough to assimilate with all may previous lessons.

Good luck.


Posted: 2014-05-16 02:19

Sounds like you've got a good training schedule that's giving good results. I think the key is to relax and have fun.

I can sympathize with your number 8 issues. I'm just doing the letters, and will add some numbers soon.

I just got 100% from 20/20, and it did feel like it was falling apart in a few places as I was copying several letters behind.

I used to have this weird thing with the numbers 6-9 where I would subtract the dits from 10 to get the number. Very weird and time consuming.

Must add the numbers soon.

If you go to my QRZ homepage, you'll see the bug I use. My call is AE7US.

I'm a former low-speed US Army radio operator and have known the code for years, upgraded my ticket several years ago, got some new gear, took a year off, and now am back with it.

In the Army we spent 10 weeks, 4 hours a day studying code. The people at the school really did not understand the best way to learn.

I passed the course requirement, 15 wpm, in just two weeks, the first person in the class to do so. and then just languished stuck at 18 wpm and never got beyond that.

I copy with a keyboard and no longer use the Bencher.

I'm a member of FISTS and SKCC both of which are great organizations I'm sure you've hear of.



Posted: 2014-05-18 21:55
I had the bad habit of counting numbers when I passed my 5wpm and 12wpm which got me onto the HF bands, I have been paying for that mistake for many years and have only just returned to CW to learn it correctly after 14 years.
I am learning at 20/10 lesson 40 at the moment and want to be consistent above 90% before I increase my speed but some days are great and some not so good but I have bad habits from learning the wrong way that will only go with practice.
Have had a few QRS qso's but am still trying to stick to the practice schedule of at least a half hour per day plus on air receiving.

Keep practicing !
73 Dean

Posted: 2014-05-19 21:27

Thanks for the words of encouragement. I got through the number 8 and now on with the letter B. I haven't started using the paddle that I got off eBay other than to make sure it is in good working order. My goal is to start of with a paddle in iambic mode as that's the way I plan to operate once I get on the air. It's great that there are so many different options for people to send CW.

I really look forward getting on the air, but first things first. I gotta get through the last 10 lessons and then eliminate the 12/20 Effective Speed/Character Speed gap to 15/15 and then start practice sending with the paddle with proper 3-to-1 spacing at 15wpm. At this stage I'd pivot away from random 5 character blocks to actual reading text and ARRL bulletins. Once on the air, I figure I'd operate at this speed a while to gain experience and then come back to LCWO to work on my next speed target, 20wpm.


Posted: 2014-05-20 01:09
I have those up and down days, too. I used to try to just push on through those dark times--but more recently, I will either just do something else and come back to the code later, or try something different with the code

Last week, I was down in the dumps a bit after trying to copy 20/15, a speed a can usually get perfect or near-perfect copy, and it just wasn't happening. I was getting runs with 4 errors, so I tried something different: 30/10 which I think I bombed, so I slowed it down to the speed where I could do better, around 30/5 to 30/6, and over the week-end I did very little with lcwo, but did do some listening on the air and had a few QSO's.

Today, I'm happy to say I got 100% on 25/20, 30/10 and 30/12, and I think it is because I'm hearing the letter better. Those letter seemed a bit faster last week.

There seem to be a couple of schools of thought on when you should push on to a higher speed.

I prefer the accuracy and don't like 90% copy; however, I think a little pressure can be exciting and enjoyable.

I'm trying hard to end my practice sessions on a high note--even if it means I must slow down a bit.

I'm also practicing sending which I understand will help me copy better. This may not be unlike playing the piano. It sure can be fun!

Posted: 2014-05-20 01:30

Good deal on the letter "8". One of my warm up exercises with the bug is to send the letters 1 through ten with very short spacing between each number, and when I get to 10, I go backwards down to one trying to keep good rhythm all the way. It's fun to do.

Yes, the ARRL bulletins are great--especially because the ops have good fists, sort of like listening to National News.

I've had my eye on a Begali Intrepid key which to me is the Holy Grail. To me, it's the Lamborghini of Semi Automatic keys.

Maybe next year... I told myself I would wait till I get solid with 30 wpm.

Yes, 5-letter groups are very predictable--especially if you suppress or exclude the numbers and punctuation.

Qualifying Runs this month ar on the 24 of May and are transmitted from both coasts. One minute from 10 to 40 wpm, so I may try it this month to see how I do.

I spend a lot of time listening on the air. I will usually answer a CQ, and

Posted: 2014-05-20 02:33
...try to break some new found beyond the usual stuff people tend to talk about...

Posted: 2014-05-20 02:33

I appreciate hearing your exercise/practice drills. Right now my routine is pretty basic, 3 minute drills with 5 character words with a little Morse Machine as warm-up and cool-down. I need to focus on just learning the characters right now and once that is accomplished at 20/12 and I'm able to compress the gap to standard 3-to-1 timing, then I'll starting mixing it up with random length words. Only after I got that mastered do I want to begin using the paddle. I've read on some forums that a good number of people say sending helped them learn the characters, but the little work I did with the paddle I got off eBay really affected my instant recognition of the first 30 characters I had learned. I made the mistake of plugging in my transceiver into my laptop with fldigi running to see if it could recognize my sending. I played around sending my call sign and my name and QTH with proper 3-to-1 spacing as if I was a "real operator". When I was satisfied the paddle was in good working order I went back to LCWO and really had trouble recognizing the code. It set me back a couple of days! I learned that I need to focus on one thing at a time. By synapses just can't keep up with too much new stuff at the same time.

I've put the paddle in the draw and I'm not going to touch it till I can copy real text and QSO dialog at 15/15. Learning to copy and learning to send is not a good combination for me. Maybe for other people, but not me.


Posted: 2014-05-20 20:32

Yes, well you're probably right. I think learning morse is like many many other things: just when you think you have it figured out, things go awry, so I'm a little wary of anyone who thinks they definitely know the answers as to what works for everyone.

The main thing I'm trying now is to be nimble so that I can work on improving my morse by doing various things: lcwo and its various exercises, on the air operating; on the air copying, sending practice, recording myself and others and even finding unusual material to listen to such as Shakespeare's sonnets which are available in morse for free on the web. Since I mostly do QRP, I will now say, "72's!"


Posted: 2014-05-20 21:35
When im practicing I like to do the recieving part first then sending as my spacing and speed is better after listening to it done "correctly". When I was first learning CW I used to echo the characters so I would set my Datong D70 at 15wpm sending but give enough of a gap that I could send the same character back just so I could get my letter spacing right.

I have a paddle too but im still concentrating on the straight key for sending at the moment and don't want to complicate things too much as I can send anything written down automatically but get taxed when In a QSO and am sending from the top of my head but I am getting better with....Practice :)

As someone who has tried a few short cuts and many methods of learning the only one that has worked for me is consistency in the practice.
I also use Morse machine as the warm up for practice or to go on the air, It seems to help tune the brain into CW mode.
I try to listen to faster than I can copy CW on the air too as even though I miss a lot its a great boost to be able to follow a QSO just by the few words you do catch, You do start to hear the common words like RST FER BTU QSO TNX and others too after a while which helps.

My main thing is I am not in a rush this time around, No end to the training planned or date to work up until just a dogged requirement to be able to enjoy CW at a decent speed no matter how long it takes.
I have a couple of letters/numbers that still make me stumble on bad days but they are getting better, Now if I could manage to stop myself procrastinating (by visiting the forum) and get on with the practice I would be closer to my goal.

Have fun !

Posted: 2014-05-21 19:52
I think a relaxed approach will serve you well. I'm a firm believer in trying softer. When the going gets tough, I will go take a nap.

Ran in to an old buddy last night on 40 meters, N7HRK (Rick) and he is my favorite person to send and receive cw because his emphasis is to make his code as easy to copy as possible.

He's got some good tips on his QRZ page. He recommends to practice sending by recording what you send, and then some time later come back to it and try to copy.

One of the best complements I've got is that the person copying my morse could not tell that I was using a bug. Some people I know avoid bugs cause they can be tuff to copy when the sender does not have a clean fist.

I don't think it matters so much what you use to send with, though I find straight keys to be a little tiring after a while.

Speaking of straight keys, I have a one from a WWII British Field Telephone/Telegraph. For a photo of this key goto: http://www.pbase.com/fosofos/image/147571414

Once mounted to a good base, I'll be ready to use this little guy for Straight Key Night coming up the first of each month with SKCC.

Recent test results for me from this morning are:
25/21 19.1 wpm 99% 1 error
30/20 21.3 wpm 90.8% [levenshtein] 10 errors
30/15 18.8 wpm 99% 1 error

Progress is steady, and this entire experience of copying morse is most enjoyable--especially when every now and then while copying I will notice that it is becoming more natural. I'm not just listening to the morse but "hearing" it, and as I hear a character, I will type the corresponding letter on the keyboard without thinking about it almost as if it is an unconscious process.

I find with 5-letter groups I focus my attention on the keyboard so as not to do typos. When copying plain text or in QSO's I will look at the screen to read the content while I type. Anticipating the right letters as you type along is a fun challenge.

Posted: 2014-05-22 22:23
Rocky I should of taken a nap yesterday, Hectic work week until after this (holiday in the UK) weekend and My brain just shut off half way through practising so instead of getting frustrated I turned it all of and went and watched a film with the kids.
Today im back to normal and still struggle with my numbers which isn't so bad in a QSO as you can tell when numbers are coming and can slip your brain into number mode where in random text you cannot.

Thats a nice looking straight key, Glad you get on with the bug ok as I have heard some strange sending with incorrect timings on bugs which throw me right out for receive.
I have a Kent straight key and a Kent paddle, I do pull the audio from my TS590 when im sending and record it to play later on to check my sending however some of the time I tend to send too fast for me to read it comfortably although I do seem to have a readable fist even if I do say so myself...Must remember to send myself QRS PSE now and again ;-)
I try to send some random text and also fake QSOs made up in my head as it is those that slow my sending and brain down when I am trying to ragchew on the air and not just read from a couple of prompt sheets I made up.

Instant recognition is what im aiming for too, At the moment my letters are almost there but some numbers hold me back and they are what slow me down, Very bad habit of counting the dits and dahs when I was first learning is making me pay big time...Oh well it is slowly improving and as you say it starts to feel more natural and so more enjoyable.

Keep practising

Posted: 2014-05-23 15:36
Hey Dean,

Good for you dropping the code practice after hitting an impasse. The nite before last my code work was getting a little stagnant, so I dredged up an old 1942 British propaganda film called , "Went the Day Well?".

Seems like I saw a remake of this file, and it's a interesting story about how a group of Germans come to a small English village impersonating British troops.

I found a 1939 MGM film yesterday all about ham radio called, "Radio Hams," and you can watch it on YouTube at:


In addition to doing code practice when conditions are right: when I'm reasonably alert and there's not too many distractions, I look back through recent lcwo test results, and see what I've done recently and decide what I want to try.

This morning I got what may be a personal best: 30/17 with 3 errors which nets out to 20.2 wpm at 97.1% accuracy.

Previously the best I've done at this speed was with 8 errors, so it is a psychological victory. I think it is important to track progress because otherwise there is the danger of getting demoralized thinking you're not doing well.

When I hit an impasse I will often call it quits and go do something else, but not until I reduce my speed to see at what point it is that I can copy 100%.. Yesterday that point was 20/20 which nets out at 16.7 wpm. This I believe is good information since it tells us that even if we are captured by the Nazis and are being tortured, we'll be able to copy at that speed. Never know when that will come in handy! Naturally this lower threshold will increase, too, as we improve. I call it my torture threshold when my code sucks so bad I want to do almost anything else.

40 meters was pretty noisy as usual this morning. One of my projects next year is to install a receiving antenna, and I've got my eye on one called a Shared Apex Loop Array (SALA). Stations are reporting impressive results with this antenna which can lower the noise floor 10-30 dB making it possible to work stations they could not hear before.

This antenna consists of four (4) loops that electrically rotate and null out unwanted signals. The SALA covers 160 through 10 meters.

I need to improve/upgrade my transmitting antenna, and also install a sub-receiver, more filters, a 100 watt Power Amp and a digital recorder. I want to get the rig calibrated so that I know the accuracy of the RF milliwatt meter readings.

Lots of funs stuff on the horizon. Have a good week-end. It's a 3 day holiday for me, with Monday being a National Holiday (Memorial Day). Hope to get a lot of operating done.


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