Something I am still struggling with is finding use for the ARRL CW Practice files. Same problem --- snip
We both appear to be in about the same positions in our journey's to learn CW. So, I'll share with you my experience and thoughts of what may or may not be working.
I began my quest about six or seven weeks ago.
I got though the first hand full of lessons fairly quickly. About by about the time I was introduced to lesson 7 or 8, I had to slow down. I was convinced that I couldn't type that fast. So, I tried to hand copy, and I see that I can type faster than I write. So, I stayed slow and happy until I got to lesson 29. I was doing 20/3 with good accuracy. Then, I figured I was only fooling myself at that speed so after playing around a little, I settled on 20/6. I could not clear my 3 minute runs at 20/6, and I got really tired of being introduced to all these numbers before I finished knowing the letters. Of course, I see that CW tend to involve a lot of numbers.... So, finally, I just opened the thing up and went to lesson 40. And, I switched to Morse Machine. It takes me about an hour to clear all the green bars in the morse machine. I have done that maybe 3 or 4 times this week. I don't trust the speed scores in that program, and sometimes, there is a big delay between hitting the right key, and hearing the next prompt. But, by now, I'm just tending to think that any exposure is good exposure. Sometimes Morse Machine reports my speed as low as .1 wpm, and other times I have seen 4.6 wpm. Always with a character speed of 20. Up until a few days ago, I would not allow myself to listen to a character speed of less than 20.
A few days ago, I discovered the ARRL code practice files that you speak of. Yes, I like them. At 5 wpm, I find that I can sit at the keyboard and copy without even thinking about it. There is so much time between letters that I actually caught myself daydreaming. At 7.5 wpm, I can still do it fairly accurately. At 10 wpm, I fail every time.
Those files are a real stroke to my ego. But, the speed at which the characters come at you, are not what I'm used to hearing. My goal is to hear everything at 20. So, I grabbed the text of one of those files, and I converted it here in LCWO to be 20/6 It produced at 6 and a half minute file that consisted of 64 words. So, Looks like 10 wpm. If I do not try to copy, I can get pretty much every letter. If I try to copy, at this point, I think my accuracy is about 40%. I have trouble concentrating, and forcing myself to continue. Seems like my mind really wants to pause and congratulate itself after every correct word. I'm working on now allowing myself to do that. It is hard to do. But, every time I hear a character, I have to force myself to type something even if only to take up space. Sometimes, I actually type the right thing. Usually, my A's come out as N's and my N's come out as A's
At 7.5 wpm, I believe that I can be at 10 wpm by the end of this weekend..... That is, if I can force myself to keep doing this. After I complete this 20/6 file with some degree of accuracy, I am going to go back to the ARRL files and see if I can do their version of 10 wpm. If so, I will attempt the 13 wpm file.
Additionally, I have one of those MFJ code generators. And, I have it set to words. I adjust the speed between 20/10 and 20/20 and I try to sleep with it in my ears. Although, I have yet to wake up with the ear buds in my ears. But, I have noticed in doing this a lot of patterns. Often after words that begin with the letter C, you will have an O or an M or even both following it. F's and R's like to go hand in hand. Often L's are followed by other L's
I am a senior. I have been told that my age is working against me in this, as in with all other things. It is my self challenge to get to 20 wpm as quickly as possible in spite of the odds against it ever happening.
I will add that I am a new ham. I do not yet own a radio. And, I only just recently discovered that much of a CW conversation is taken up by procedural talk and abbreviations that I am totally unfamiliar with. When I started this, I was thinking that a CW ragchew was something more or less like sending text messages to my telephone contacts. But, since I have been trying to learn this, I see that much conversation is devoted to exchanging call signs and talk about radios and antenna. This is a rude awakening. I hope when I meet you guys on the radio, we have better things to discuss than the weather.
73 de steve km6vov di-dah-dit-di-dah-dit