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Thread: WPM effective speed for learning

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Posted: 2020-09-17 23:53
So I'm just getting started. So far I've done all 40 lessons on the Morse Machine at 30 wpm. Except for some of the punctuation I've got them all.

I've started working through the lessons now. I can recognized the letters at 30 WPM but I can't copy them fast enough at any speed higher than 4 WPM effective speed. I need to do it at 3 WPM effective speed when I introduce a new letter. (Currently on lesson 14)

So here is the question. Should I go through all 40 lessons at 3 or 4 WPM effective speed then come back and go through them again at 5? Then 6? and so on. Or should I increase speed at each lesson?

Advice appreciated.

Posted: 2020-09-18 10:04

The first bit is to learn the characters.

You would be better trying 20/20 if you are in a hurry.

What's the fastest that you write it freeform with a gap between code groups to allow you to catch up ??

You can change the group length . . .


Posted: 2020-09-18 10:29
Don't make the same fundamental mistake I made, that is, going below 5 wpm effective. It's a black hole from which there is seldom a way back.

Posted: 2020-09-18 19:14
Hi Chris,

My experience, I started this year.

Farnsworth is good for learning the sound of letters. Otherwise Farnsworth is a dead end.

I guess you want to do real QSO on air?

There the speed is x / x. It is worth more to do a QSO with 12/12 than hearing the individual letters with 30/2 and understand nothing.

For me it was a waste of time to do all 40 lessons with Farnsworth.

Rüdiger DD5RK

Posted: 2020-09-19 14:10
So 20/10 is better than 30/5? Everything I'm reading says don't learn the letters slower than 20 and 30 is better. (Pete Hadley (K6BFA)from 2015 video on YouTube recommends 30)

20/20 gets overwhelming quickly. I'm looking for practical usage advice. Would I be better off to grind it out at 20/20 or drop it to 20/10 or 20/15?

I guess I'm asking what is a practical speed goal to set to be able to get on the air? I want to do this right the first time but I tend to set my goals and expectations too high when learning something new.

Posted: 2020-09-20 09:03
A practical speed goal is 12/12. That will enable you to do QSO on the bands.
30/5 or so is of no practical use: (1) On the bands few use 30 wpm outside contests (2) effective speed of 5 wpm is not practical for any exchange of information.

The main problem for you to solve is to recognize characters faster (and not recognise characters at faster speed). You have to bump up the effective speed.
Using 30/5 is just a cheat to yourself as you create more time between characters. The oposite is what you need to do - try for example 12/5 and work your way up to 12/12.
And if you must - as you feel obliged by others recommendations . Try 20/5 and work your way up.
At the end try out work works for you. But if - just in case - 12/5 to start with works for you don't feel bad about it.
Why? Because there is no scientific evidence to defend a 30/5 approach.

Good luck & enjoy

Posted: 2020-09-20 20:51
Thanks for the responses. They have helped me wrap my head around what were probably some unrealistic expectations on my part, and the resultant standards I set, that were getting in the way.

Also I was "listening" to a CW conversation (using CWGet to decode). The op stated that he was 71 years old and had been a HAM for about 60 years. He said that he ONLY uses CW. According to CWGet he was having this conversation at 14 WPM.

Again thanks for the encouragement.

Posted: 2020-09-29 12:17
I would not even start with 20. Start with 15/x and go up until you reach 15/15. From there you can still achieve 30/30 one day. But you don't want to train for years while not being able to use it...

Posted: 2020-11-10 17:43
I went through all lessons and practiced with Farnsworth. Somehow, I always felt insecure and could not follow even the slowest QSO on the bands. I have restarted with K,M and am up to K,M,U,R,E now. What I do differently this time is that I do not use the Farnsworth spacing anymore but doing it 15/15.

I feel this makes much more sense because there is no time to think between the artificially long breaks between the letters and I feel that my hand automatically writes down the correct letters without me thinking about what that didahdidit might have been.

Besides, I feel that Farnsworth is not really beneficial for developping a sense of the correct rhythm and spacing between letters and words.

And 15/15 *feels* fast – but at 15 you get the "sound" of the letter as a whole and cannot count dahs and dits anymore – which is the whole idea behind Farnsworth.

Let's see how it works out...

Posted: 2020-11-11 20:04
I think your approach is not bad but unusual here.

It should be nice when you will report your progress/

In fact a lot of people start learning and drop out, so they have no result at all brecause the learned 10 characters at 20/10 and quit.

In your case however, yoy learned first all characters with wide character spacing. So you ARE able to use Morse code in an emergency or as a ham.


Now yo/

My advice:
Start at lesson 1 at 20/7 and go to next lesson when you claim the first time 90% or over correct.

When you reach lesson 40 keep using lesson 40 lower the character steed and go with effective speed one higher (from 20/7 to 19/8) because you have to build up speed and pipelining.

Posted: 2020-11-12 06:40
Very good advice from nonagenarian.

You have already learned all the characters at 30 wpm, but they sound quite different from the way they sound at 20 wpm and 20 wpm is what you will meet on the bands.

If you can recognize characters comfortably at speeds between 20-30 wpm, you are set for most real life situations.

Character recognition is easy, pipe-lining is difficult and that is the issue for you at present in copying.

Pipe-lining can only be improved by listening to a lot of morse at speeds slightly above the speeds you are training at.

You should therefore be listening to a lot of morse at speeds of 3wpm or so above the speed you are training at in LCWO's lessons, exercises, etc.

In addition to what N. suggested, I would therefore propose that you convert some ebooks into morse using one of Fabian's apps and listen to them at, say 22-23 wpm (i.e. 22/22 or 23/23) for at least 30 mns/day.

Do this with a relaxed, loose mind, listening and trying to recognise individual characters without forcing.

Initially, you won't recognise anything and that's just fine.

Keep in mind that your brain is a parsing machine, just keep providing the data and the meaning will start to coalesce by itself. Initially, you will find that you can recognise some characters, then syllables, then short words, such as "and", "the", "but", punctuation, etc.

Once you start getting 5 letter words fairly consistently, it is time to increase the speed of the ebooks you listen to by 3 wpm.

A big mistake beginners make on LCWO is not to listen to enough morse "free" and just train the exercises.It is not enough to gain proficiency as it induces what I have come to call the "Farnsworth syndrome": can copy morse at 20/x (with x < 20) but seems to be unable to ever copy at 20/20.

Posted: 2020-11-13 02:38
OK since N asked for an update I'll provide one.

Settled in with a goal of 20 WPM character speed as that speeds seems to be both a useful speed and an achievable goal. (by useful I guess I mean not mind-numbingly boring to listen to)I vary between 15 and 20 WPM in exercises just for exposure to both.

Working on Lesson 40 and Code Groups (Letters) at 20/8 at the moment to improve the pipelining. Starting to learn to settle into it and let it flow. I won't say instant character recognition on ALL characters yet but it's getting there.

ID as you suggest I've started trying to listen more. I am using Morse Code Ninja videos at 20 WPM to listen and trying to head copy.

I see a lot of people compare learning Morse to learning music. Well I'm lousy at music so I had to figure out how was going to work for me. Since I have studied a foreign language before I'm attempting to apply that study to Morse Code. I'm now at the point where I know the alphabet and can "pronounce the words" so I'm now trying to build up a vocabulary. In reading it's called "sight words" but since Morse is a strictly auditory language I guess they are "sound words". I'm trying to step away from the write down portion and learn to head copy at least as the word level. Seems counterproductive to introduce a written component to an auditory language.

Starting to add send practice as well using the rig's side tone. Gotta be able to speak the language as well as hear it. :)

Of course I don't know enough about it to really know what I'm talking about yet. I'm at least at the point of Knowing What I Don't Know I guess. Feedback and suggestions are appreciated.

Posted: 2020-11-13 10:59


I see a lot of people compare learning Morse to learning music. Well I'm lousy at music . .


They do say it's musical . . .

They say that to beginners who are trying to get used to the strange sounds.

You just did that bit . . .

There is much else to it though . . .

You need to pick out the sounds through QR[MN] - not very musical - though you can use the timing to help.

There is no melody to help - if it's musical then it's the background sound.

The pitch is to help you filter out some other "music" . . . you nead a strange beat not a tune.

When you've heard the "music" in detail, once, you need to remember it exactly; both of these whist you are decoding what went before.

You also simultaneously need to remember what you just decoded . . .

And you need to be putting it together and understand the meaning, then remember that and consider it . . . for a reply.

Eventually, if you become really proficient you may well not hear the "music" at all;
in fact you may well just find the meaning popping into your head as if by magic.

This is achieved by practise + practice and greatly helped by aptitude
( mainly I guess hearing and letter/word proficiency rather than musical ability )

So don't be to concerned about music (IMNSHO YMMV etc )



listen to lots of morse - eg. mp3 on your cellphone whilst on the train - etc

Posted: 2020-11-13 17:07
A few other approaches to getting used to head copy of words. There are just
SAMPLES generated for "words" in a file, and speeds and other features by options (everything is the users choice).

You can cut and paste anyone into "Convert text to CW"; click convert, and play.

If you need more info, private mail me, or use the user group morse_code_pract_text MCPT.

If something really helps, please share with the Forum.

The first one was |W1 at the beginning, that causes the LCWO 1 extra word spacing - delte it or change it as you like.

|W1 |e0 |w21 HE HE HE |w17 THE THE THE |w15 OK OK OK |w19 THE THE THE |w17 SHE SHE SHE
|w21 OK OK OK |w19 AND AND AND |w17 OK OK OK |w21 HE HE HE |w19 SHE SHE SHE |w15 AND
|w19 RST RST RST |w17 OK OK OK |w21 HE HE HE |w15 OK OK OK |w17 SHE SHE SHE |w19 AND

This one does NOT repeat each word between speed changes. And does NOT have the
extra word spacing.

|e0 |w19 SHE |w17 OK |w15 SHE |w21 HE |w19 RST |w15 SHE |w19 HE |w21 RST |w19 THE
|w21 USE |w17 RST |w15 SHE |w19 RST |w21 THE |w15 THE |w17 OK |w21 USE |w15 SHE |w17
SHE |w19 RST |w21 SHE |w15 RST |w21 HE |w15 OK |w19 AND |w21 AND |w15 THE |w19 USE
|w17 HE |w21 AND |w15 OK |w19 HE |w17 AND |w21 RST |w17 AND |w15 USE |w17 HE |w15
RST |w21 USE |w17 HE |w15 THE |w17 AND |w21 USE |w19 AND |w17 THE |w21 OK |w19 THE
|w15 OK |w17 USE |w15 SHE |w21 OK |w15 RST |w21 HE |w19 SHE |w17 OK |w15 SHE |w17
AND |w19 HE |w17 AND |w19 THE |w17 OK |w19 HE |w17 OK |w21 SHE |w17 AND |w19 THE |w17

This one does each word at WACH of the increasing speeds, then resets the speed
for the next word.

|e0 |w15 AND |w17 AND |w19 AND |w21 AND |w15 OK |w17 OK |w19 OK |w21 OK |w15 SHE
|w17 SHE |w19 SHE |w21 SHE |w15 AND |w17 AND |w19 AND |w21 AND |w15 HE |w17 HE |w19
HE |w21 HE |w15 AND |w17 AND |w19 AND |w21 AND |w15 USE |w17 USE |w19 USE |w21 USE
|w15 USE |w17 USE |w19 USE |w21 USE |w15 RST |w17 RST |w19 RST |w21 RST |w15 RST |w17
RST |w19 RST |w21 RST |w15 OK |w17 OK |w19 OK |w21 OK |w15 OK |w17 OK |w19 OK |w21
OK |w15 OK |w17 OK |w19 OK |w21 OK |w15 SHE |w17 SHE |w19 SHE |w21 SHE |w15 THE |w17
THE |w19 THE |w21 THE |w15 SHE |w17 SHE |w19 SHE |w21 SHE |w15 OK |w17 OK |w19 OK
|w21 OK |w15 OK |w17 OK |w19 OK |w21 OK |w15 HE |w17 HE |w19 HE |w21 HE |w15 AND

Posted: 2020-11-14 03:13
CB - I am not musical so I'm not attempting to apply musical theory or trying to hear a musical beat or anything. It's straight up memorization and association for me. I believe I'll get it if I keep at it but I've also come to realize it's gonna be a marathon not a sprint. Most things I have learned to do I've picked up quickly and then once I've , I won't say mastered but gotten proficient, I've moved on due to boredom. It's the challenge of the pursuit of knowledge that drives me. I'm constantly looking for that next subject to study. Morse Code is gonna take a while and I like that.

Bill- I'm familiar with your product and I've used it. Problem I'm having is I have an iPhone and getting MP3 files imported into those things is a royal pain. I don't know how they can make a product that is so easy to use (iPhone) then turn around and make one that is the devil itself (iTunes).

Posted: 2020-11-14 13:54
There is only a week correlation between musicality and ability to learn morse code

Test N Correlation with Code Achievement

Pitch (Seashore, Series A) 59 .49
Pitch (Seashore, Series B) 59 .56
Loudness (Seashore, Series B) 59 .33
Rhythm (Seashore, Series B) 59 .55
Time (Seashore, Series B) 59 .64
Time (Earlier Seashore, Series A) 59 .49
Timbre (Seashore, Series B) 59 25
Tonal Memory (Seashore, Series B) 59 .56
Rapid Spelling (Karlin) 27 .35
Haphazard Speech (Karlin) 27 .42
Singing (Karlin) 27 .38
Signal Corps Code Aptitude 59 .52

The Learning of Radiotelegraphic Code
Author(s): Donald W. Taylor
Source: The American Journal of Psychology, Vol. 56, No. 3 (Jul., 1943), pp. 319-353


Posted: 2020-11-15 03:25

Bypass itunes ;-)

Either starting with practice generated from MCPT or directly in LCWO's "Convert text to CW".

1- open the file
2- convert to cw
3- Download MP3 - LCWO will put the file in Downloads folder.
4- Open you email app in the browser
5- Attach the MP3 to email, mail it to yourself
6- On Iphone the email will include a widget that says tap to listen ;-))

There is probably a way to get it saved in a os folder, but I don't know how.

If you have gmail, you can make a folder and just keep all the emails with MP3 in one spot.

Anyway if you used MCPT you know making fresh material takes very little effoer to do.

Hope this helps you


Posted: 2020-11-15 03:31
Chris - more on Iphone

When you open email, it says Tap to Download.
After its downloaded. Tap and HOLD.
A menu choice comes up to share, copy, one is to "Save To Files" thats nore permanent then leaving in email I guess.

Posted: 2020-11-15 14:00
Good advice. I'll look at it. Thanks Bill

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