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Thread: Help on copying in your head?

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Posted: 2020-02-05 19:08
One goal I have for learning from this fantastic website is to be able to copy code in my head. So the tool "convert text to CW" is helpful here.

To start, I set the character speed at 25 and the word speed at 5. I am able to copy in my head OK, some of the time.

I wonder if others have advice on how best to learn copying in your head. I took a text from the newspaper on a political issue. I got the gist of what was written, but failed to understand maybe 25 percent of the words.

So what is the best way to continue? I think going ahead and repeating this text till I get a higher percentage of the words. Or maybe doing one sentence at a time until I get it all right, then going on to the next sentence? Have others had experience with learning this and can offer useful suggestions? Thanks.

Larry, KF6NCX

Posted: 2020-02-05 21:56
Hello Larry,

I started to head copy when I could comfortably decode CW at 35 wpm effective. At this speed writing / typing was not so practical, head copy was the better option.

Problem with doing head copy at low speeds (say 15 wpm) is that text goes slowy and you need to memorize it - the experience is similar like when starting to read. Reading slowly it is difficult to recognize whole words. Same goes for CW head copy at low speeds, IMO.



Posted: 2020-02-06 08:55
Hello Larry,

I started to head copy when I could comfortably decode CW at 35 wpm effective. At this speed writing / typing was not so practical, head copy was the better option.

Problem with doing head copy at low speeds (say 15 wpm) is that text goes slowly and you need to memorize it - the experience is similar like when starting to read. Reading slowly it is difficult to recognize whole words. Same goes for CW head copy at low speeds, IMO.



I think Gerd pretty much said everything there is to say.

There is really not lot of point in starting head-copying at 25/5 as it is not a realistic working speed.

You should be aiming for a realistic working speed, say 20/20 which can be maintained sending and receiving for a long period of time, in a relaxed fashion, with few errors and then you might consider starting to train with head-copying.

In my own case, I started head-copying at 20/20 and found it very tedious, I then graduated to 26/26 and am now at 31/31.

Now, when I try to listen to books at 26/26, I find it almost insupportable: it's like watching paint dry or a little child read a book one word at a time.

Frankly, for most people, head copying tends to happen by itself, when it becomes impossible to write everything down.

Posted: 2020-02-06 17:50
Thanks for the suggestions, guys. I think you are right and that I am probably wasting my time trying to head-copy at 25/5. I was thinking head-copying was necessary because it seemed impossible to write even 13 or 15 wpm. However, I'm realizing that is probably wrong. It sounds like you two are able to write (or type) fairly high speeds like 25 wpm. How fast have you been able to write or type code?

Thanks again!

Posted: 2020-02-07 06:11
I can take down text at 31wpm, but I have a backlog of 2-3 words in my head. This comes from my days at university where I had to take notes and I would easily be one-two sentences behind.

You let your hand do the writing while you ears are listening to something else.

Posted: 2020-02-07 17:23
That's pretty amazing, taking down text at 31 wpm by hand. Actually, I should be able to do OK at that, since I worked as a newspaper reporter and was used to taking notes fast while I listened. I'm trying to type what I hear while listening to code. The CWops club wants you to be able to be "conversational" in CW at 25 wpm to qualify for membership. That's where I thought headcopying was needed, but it may be quite possible to "converse" at 25 wpm while writing down what you hear. Thanks again for the advice.

Posted: 2020-02-08 07:59
You can't write one letter at a time, when copying text this way: you have to write one word at a time. While you're writing the first word, you're listening to the second or even the third.

I should also point out that I was trained in both the Cyrillic and Roman alphabets and my handwriting in Roman characters is quite affected by Cyrillic in which all the characters are joined. When I write, I don't lift the pencil off the paper.

Obviously, it would be much more difficult to do this with mixed groups of letters and numbers.

Works just fine with QSOs, since, again, you have a pretty good sense of what you are receiving.

Posted: 2020-02-09 00:30
good suggestion from ID - you may want to try writing with backlog. For a starter try just to copy a letter or two behind what you hear. 1 character backlog is easy: just wait with writing/typing until you hear the next one.

Great fun and makes writing much easier.
Then try to get away from the 5 wpm effective speed, that is a bit slow. And if you need to lower character speed a bit for that to below 25 don't worry about that. Just find out what is working for you.



Posted: 2020-02-09 15:41
Beware of increasing effective speed upwards ( 5 to 6 )without decreasing character speed,

When you don't you will finally end up with 25/25 in the year 2061

Posted: 2020-02-09 22:34
Thanks for the ideas, guys. I'm actually working at 18/14 right now on the lessons and gradually want to move up to 18/18. I was just trying 25/5 to experi
ment with headcopying.

Posted: 2020-02-12 16:53
Learning to copy cw occures in stages, some can be frustrating time traps.
Koch teaches the sound of each letter, once you get through it at 90% at 17/5 or 20/5 you are done as in finished. But you will not be able to copy code. I went through Koch over and over but still couldn't copy a QSO. It was frustrating and I wasted a lot of time. 20/5 is fine, you know each character, time to move to words.
Becareful trying to type each character, you can develop a "ear to finger" path leaving out the brain. You do not know what you copied until you go back and read it. This is more of a problem at 20/20 than 20/5. Ear to finger is a great skill for copying 5 character groups of random encrypted code where the brain has no purpose.

Once past Koch move on to 3 letter words at 17/17 or 20/20. Once that is easy go to 4 and then 5 letters and call signs. Beginners can often copy CQ at 30wpm because they learn it as a word and not two characters. There are 100 and 500 most common words at 15, 18, 20 wpm on YouTube and text at ARRL.

As your vocabulary increases listen to plain text at 17/17 or 20/20. You will find the code seems to slow down as you recognize words. You'll hear T H E and it will seem like a long time as you wait to see if the next letter is a space or M, or a R.. etc. With time you will relax and just hear THE or THEM or THERE etc.

In each stage the load on the brain decreases. As common words flow by you have time to see where the message is going and often anticipate the next word buying you even more time. Once you are following the conversation it is easy to write notes of key items like names, or items you want to comment on.

This was my progression for what it is worth.

Posted: 2020-02-14 16:39
Thank you, Hamilton, for your helpful post. I found those word-practice sites on Youtube. Very good. The goal of being able to recognize words and not just letters is a good one. One question: Did you just give up writing down code, word for word, once you started doing the short words? Or did you keep practicing with writing as you listened? My old Elmer told me it didn't make any difference whether you tried to copy in your head or wrote down what you heard -- you'd learn at the same pace. But there's a code-demon who frequents 40 meters in the morning (California time) whose mantra is "Drop the pencil or you'll NEVER make a CW operator!"

Posted: 2020-02-14 18:43
I just wonder if these 100 or 1000 most common word-practice files really help in real life on-air QSOs. Most CW traffic nowadays is rubber stamp "xxxxx de yyyyy ur 59".

Posted: 2020-02-14 23:24
I worked through both the 100 and 1000 most common words practice files (G4FON has some and I found several lists on the web and generated the others).

I found the 100 really quite helpful and would recommend memorising them.

The 1000 were basically useless in real life: there are too many so you can't remember them and as oc was saying, you simply don't encounter them during real life QSOs. It makes for nice word practice!

Then, frankly, as you start listening to books and texts (which I cannot recommend too highly), you will encounter all these commonly used words and will learn them naturally.

What is very helpful for QSOs is to make up a file of the commonly encountered abbreviations (CQ, DX, OM,TX, de, etc) and working through them.

And then drill the call-sign training and mixed letter and number groups because that is what you meet a lot of and that's what can be really difficult to copy (the less said about some of the East European call signs, the better!)

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