Posted: 2020-02-04 12:09
Hello all. Looking for some advice on how to overcome an annoying problem. I can do code groups at 25/5 with letters and get above 90% with no problems. When I do numbers by themselves in code groups, same thing. When I do lesson 40 or mixed groups (letters, numbers, and punctuation), I struggle. I can get above 90 only by going back and listening to some areas over.
Part of my problem is I count the dits and dahs in numbers. They are really giving me a hard time to not count. I practice them at 25 WPM but it's still hard to not count. Any advice on how to best practice to get over this?
Posted: 2020-02-09 14:02
I wasn't going to answer this as I'm sure there are far better qualified guys on this forum. But I don't like to see a posted question go unanswered, so here goes...
I absolutely understand the problem with counting dits and dahs. Here is what I do to focus on the sound instead:
** "H" is the key. If you listen to it in a certain way, it sounds like two double-dits "dit-dit dit-dit". So start with 6, which sounds like a dah followed by H. It has a very distinctive sound and I find it easy to recognise.
** Then 5. Thinking back to 6, 5 should sound like dit followed by an H, or H followed by a dit. But it sounds like neither of those. It's just a mess of dits - so its 5!
** Count the dahs (yes, I know I shouldn't be counting but...dahs are easier to count than dits or dits+dahs). The most dahs is a letter is O, which has three. If its got more than three O's in a row, its 0.
** I found 8 easy because it was three dahs then two dits. It had a very distictive sound for me.
** 8 led me to 9. They should sound very similar (in fact, they start off very similar) but with more dahs and only one dit at the end, 9 sounds completely different to 8. But 8 does lead towards 9. If there's a whole bunch of dahs and a dit at the end, it's 9.
** If it starts with a dit and then has a whole bunch of dahs (you don't even have to count them), its 1.
** The CW "goodbye" is 73. This was a revelation to me the first time I heard it because 7 and 3 run together has a very musical sound. It's more that just 7 and 3 as separate numbers. It's sent at the end of every QSO, so you're going to hear it a lot. This will drive 3 and 7 into your mind.
** Still counting dahs only (...yes, I know...), we come to 2 and 3. By the time you've realised that this character is a number it will be too late to count the dits, but the dahs will linger in your head. You know it's not a letter so you just have to count the trailing dahs. If there's lots of dits and just two dahs, it's 3 (which you should be familiar with anyway from "73"); if there's only a few dits and three dahs, it's 2. 2 and 3 look similar on paper but they sound completely different. This is what I love about the sound of Morse - magic happens when you hear it.
** Finally, there's 4. Ughh. I hate 4 - when it starts it could be E, then I, then S, then H, and it ends up sounding like utter rubbish. But it's not one of the other numbers so, by a process of elimination, it must be 4.
From the above, it appears like there's a lot of thinking going on. But the above is just a way of thinking about the numbers. Listen to each number a few times whilst thinking about the above and use that to imprint the sound in your head. When you're listening to code groups or text or QSOs, just let it happen in your mind. Easier said than done, which is why we spend so much time practicing.
I've deliberately left out the possibility of a character being punctuation. If you are listening to plain text, there will be a lot of punctuation and very few (if any) numbers. If you are listening to a QSO, there is likely to be some numbers (context will tell you when they might come up) but there will be very few (if any) punctuation marks.
Just my thoughts. YMMV and you may have to approach it differently.