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LCWO Discussion Forum [Atom LCWO Forum Feed]

This is a simple discussion forum for LCWO users. Feel free to use it for any kind of discussion related to this website.

Thread: IARU R1 conference: "Farnsworth vs Koch"

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AuthorText
Administrator


Posted: 2020-09-27 08:35
Hello all,

I know that this topic has been discussed here plentiful, and some of the forum members have strong opinions on this. In the upcoming IARU Region 1 conference (which will be an online event this year), there's a paper to be discussed titled "CW Beginners: Problems with Farnsworth?" by DF5JL. You can have a look at it here: https://conf.iaru-r1.org/part-1/documents/ under C4 -> NS20_C4_10 CW for beginners

I quote from the paper:

df5jl:

“Farnsworth” vs “Koch” - what would be the solution? Should IARU officially recommend a method? Or should we introduce a shortcut in order to communicate to your counterpart: Please give “Farnsworth”?
The goal should be not to frustrate or lose a beginner in telegraphy on the bands during the first attempts at walking. Any ideas?


I invite everyone to post their opinions here, which I can then bring into the discussion as statements from the community of people who really care about these topics.

Thanks!

Fabian


Posted: 2020-09-27 11:16
“Farnsworth” vs “Koch”. Isn't this site built around the idea that you can do both?

And didn't the IARU remove the Morse test requirement many years ago?


Posted: 2020-09-27 14:14
I have learned CW a long time ago, the course was organized by the local P12 radio club. The methodology was not my choice - this was pre-Internet times - but amazingly it worked for everybody in our group of around 10 aspiring CW ops. We all passed the W 12 wpm exam after a year.

In contrast in this forum I read stories of members that teach themselves CW for years.

So how did this P12 course go:
Our teacher started character speed at what must have been 8 wpm or so, and for the first couple of weeks kept just enough addtl. character spacing so we could cope. We learned about 2 new characters per week.
After a month or so we were tought in effective speed 8..10wpm, with a bit of additional word spaces. The teacher tried to get the effective speed up without Farnsworth as much as we could cope. None of us learned during the week, it was just the 2 hour weekly get together where we learned CW.
Most of the course time we spent rehearsing & learning CW at around 10 wpm, and finished at around 16 wpm after a year or so.

So this was about the opposite methodology to learn CW than what is currently promoted everywhere. I would call it learning CW the classic way. Remember that generations of ham ops have learnt it like that.


All I can say is that this method worked for me and all in this particular P12 group. Other methods may work, too. But what makes us think they are superior and should be recommended? Is there any evidence to that other than cheerful books and articles full of one-sided claims not proven in a scientific way?

I am following this forum since its existance. My subjective impression of member's experiences told in this forum with Koch & Fanrsworth: Easier in the beginning, more difficult later.

With Internet and its ways to resonate and amplify opinions there seems to be a opinion trend towards Koch & Farnsworth. Before recommending those I woul hop that the IARU bases its recommendation on facts.

Whenever I read here a story of someone stating he is learning CW for years I feel sorry for him. Often speed expactations (beginners jumping right into 20 wpm or more) seem exagerated to me - there may be peer pressure involved. I have good CW buddies in their 70s and 80s who all their life did CW at 15 wpm or so happily.

Anyway I am happ that the IARU will look into how learning CW can be promoted, one way or another. It will forever be my favorite mode.

As closing remarks I would hope the IARU not only looks into how best OMs can learn CW, but also how they can best be guided to have fun with CW on the bands and be active. I may be wrong, but see a tendency that people stay in the learning cycle too long, afraid or not knowing how to go to the bands. The classic approach was to listen on the bands ASAP. While computer training listening is easier, but listening on the bands is afterwards ever more complex. We see here OMs stating they can do 20 wpm and still training on LCWO, waiting to become better at CW before going to the bands. I was on the bands with 10 wpm, a nuissance to all, but it helped me progress.

I wish the IARU well in their move to promote CW.

73

Gerd.


Posted: 2020-09-27 17:21
df9ts:
Whenever I read here a story of someone stating he is learning CW for years I feel sorry for him.


This is the kind of negative and condescending attitude that drives people away from learning morse. This is the equivalent of bullying.

Some people are faster at learning some subjects and slower at learning others.

I have no problems admitting that it takes me long time to metabolise morse code. You can say I'm slow and it would be right. I have stopped and restarted a million times. I started in my teens and I quit. Then again in my 30s and now in my 50s. But this time I'm not quitting, even if it should take 10 years, because I don't want to make my bullies happy.



Posted: 2020-09-27 19:04
oc,

Let's move this back on topic:
Question to you with your decades in experience of unsuccessfully trying to learn morse code: what would be your recommendation to IARU? What are your experiences with the different methods you tried?
Which fail experiences of yours are relevant for others.

73

Gerd.


Posted: 2020-09-27 19:51
IMHO - the brief paper is misleading and in favor of Koch to start out.

Do beginners or strugglers benefit from some clear recommendation? Absolutely.

Do we all learn or struggle the same way? No, or their would be a clear approach.

So the label Koch or Farnsworth, means a lot more than speed.

-The order and particular characters taught are not the same. Code groups vs early introduction or words, etc.

- Fransworth ( I had his Revolutionary Code Course on 3 LPs many decades ago) may never had said 90%, but he expected you to continue to repeat until you had good copy. (IMHO the paper makes it look like he didn't care about accuracy).

- I think the uniform WORD speed (we'll call it Koch), is better than the stretched Farnsworth, but a real plus is the Fabian-Kurz ability to increase the INTER word space. You get word think time, but not distorted word sound.

- Koch is not the only one to have you learn at or near target speed, with uniform char/word speed (This is a plus IMHO, but doesn't mean that you have no issue with much slower speeds.)

Beginners would also benefit from the list of fairly undisputed DO NOT DOs:
- count
- vocalize or sub-vocalize
- have ANY type of look up table (pictures, dots/dashes)
- any memorization gimmick that compares or contrasts characters (e.g. N is a reverse A, etc.)
- starting too slow
etc.

I think prior to WWII and the Cold War, the US Military (maybe others as well) probably spent millions to come up with optimum method, yet here many of us are still trying to find the magic bullet.

wa2nfn



Posted: 2020-09-27 21:22
df9ts:

Question to you with your decades in experience of unsuccessfully trying to learn morse code: what would be your recommendation to IARU?

The morse test should be made compulsory (never going to happen).
df9ts:

What are your experiences with the different methods you tried?
Which fail experiences of yours are relevant for others.


3 years ago, I restarted with the Chuck Adams Code Course but it didn't work for me because I repeated the same exercises and started memorizing the text. When I moved to LCWO, I made the terrible mistake of going below 5 wpm effective speed and I got stuck in there for too long. I am now stuck at between 7 and 14 wpm, depending on tasks and I'm considering starting all over again at 20 wpm/10 wpm effective but I've read that restarting from scratch is a possible recipe to failure, so I try to increment gradually.


Posted: 2020-09-27 21:41
OC (off topic to Koch vs Farnsworth)

You may want to try 20/20 with SHORT words or code Groups 1-3 characters but with the Extra Space, on the CW setting page to 2 or even 2.5.

YMMV but I seem to do better if the speed is fast enough that I hear the code and then can barely get to write it before more comes, anything less lets my mind stray to how am I doing, what was the letter I missed etc.

Again I have not found the magic bullet yet, variety of techniques help to find what works for you.


Posted: 2020-09-28 08:48
It seems a bit "dated" as a debate.

The hybrid approach proposed by Fabian on LCWO which enables one to opt for pure Farnsworth, pure Koch or any hybrid of the two which is of benefit to the individual trainee seems to be the optimal approach.

Then, frankly, as Gerd Df9ts pointed out, with the Internet, expectations have become quite unrealistic: it is not with an hour or less of practice a day that one can become consistently able to read code at 30 wpm in a year or two.

As I pointed out in my post of 30/01/2020, 50% of the candidates dropped out or failed the 05H morse intercept operator school.

As Wyant & Creel (Kerry W. Wyant & Stephen M. Creel: "Predicting Success in Morse Code Training", in "Military Medicine", Volume 147, Issue 7, July 1982, Pages 564–567
) state quite clearly:

"It is noteworthy that the strongest
loadings for reasons of student failure appeared to be a combination of adaptational and motivational factors, particularly a sense of depression and lack of personal control
in their life."

In other words, the issue is not so much the learning technique (as long as one avoids the classic pitfalls wa2nfn lists), but motivational and psychological factors.

The excessive focus on a supposedly "magical" learning technique is often , in my personal experience in academia, a clear sign of just those psychological issues.

There is no magic, just hard work and perseverance.



Posted: 2020-09-28 16:54
Hi,

DF5JL is a DARC official:

HF-Referat
Thomas Kamp, DF5JL
E-Mail: df5jl(at)darc.de

he hardly seems to be active in CW.

The DARC is the association that considers Morse code obsolete and no longer up-to-date. So it was communicated over radio. "We have to get away from the old grandpa image".

(Zitat: Morsen ist nicht mehr zeitgemäß und obsolet, wir müssen vom alte Opa Image wegkommen. Wir fördern den Nachwuchs und digitale Modes).

This is open discrimination against older OMs.

The DARC does not support CW, but wants to regulate the training via the ITU.

> The goal should be not to frustrate or lose a beginner in telegraphy on the
> bands during the first attempts at walking. Any ideas?

What hypocritical care.

In our case, every effort was made to do this, but we will go our own way, we will proceed with Morse anyway in our own way.

Before the DARC wants to regulate Morse Code training, he should think about whether there is a clear commitment to it.

Then there would be a work and definition phase. This could include something as follows:

A clear commitment to the world cultural heritage Morse

An independent (not subordinate, but on the same Level as other Referate) Referat Morse in the DARC

Promotion of Morse code activities in the association.

Development of training documents, training guidelines, and trainings on basis of scientific findings.

Training of Morse Code teachers based on these quidelines, phsychological and didactic principles.

Establishment of Morse courses at the local association level. Establishment of Morse courses on air and internet.

Establishing contacts between Morse students and Morse Elmers

Local rounds, country rounds and international rounds in CW on air on a regular basis. CW-Contesting.

International Standardization

So the standardization is the end of work.

“Farnsworth” vs “Koch” is not the question, we need both. But I started Morse this year...

73
Rüdiger DD5RK







Administrator


Posted: 2020-09-28 21:12
Thanks to all for your responses. As expected, it's a topic with lots of opinions, and I appreciate every one of them.

Regarding the DARC and the "Morse question": In a club of 30k+ people, it'll always be very difficult to please everyone. There's still a strong support for CW within some branches of the DARC (DX and contesting departments), but it's probably not considered to be one of the driving factors of acquiring new members and radio amateurs in general any more (stating a fact - which doesn't mean that I approve of it). Rüdiger, I really appreciate that you have not simply given up and resigned, but are actively contributing ideas as to what can and should be done!

To expand a little on this paper linked to above, and how the IARU policy making process works: Every three years, all the national IARU member societies of Region 1 meet for the General Conference. There are several committees coming together in this conference, and one of them is C4, which covers anything related to HF, i.e. up to 30 MHz. This paper is presented in C4.

Any member of a IARU member society may submit proposals to their national groups, which will then be consolidated and submitted to the conference for discussion and/or voting (if they contain a concrete recommendation). Topics in C4 often revolve around band planning, intruder watch, beacons, but also general recommendations regarding operating practices.

In the case of the paper cited above, a DARC member felt that as a beginner on the bands, he couldn't properly communicate his wish for the other station to slow down, not by reducing the character speed, but by adding more spaces, i.e. going Farnsworth. The usual Q groups like QRS may be adapted to be used in such a way (e.g. QRS 20/5) but surely almost no one would understand this. Adding a new Q group would probably not succeed either. So what Tom, DF5JL made out of this input and the following discussion is this paper, which does not contain a concrete recommendation to be voted on, but rather a problem statement and a number of questions, with the wish to start a debate about this on the next conference.

As one of the delegates for the DARC, I have my own opinions, but I also love to hear what others think, that is why I posted the link to the paper here to solicit your opinions.

From this, I will try to distill a list of arguments, thoughts and opinions and try to bring them into the discussion that will happen at the conference in October (which will be held online this time, for obvious reasons).

Since the paper contains no concrete proposal, the best that can happen is that we decide that we want to take action, and bring forward something concrete to be voted on the next time. If no consensus can be found, this may just as well die and disappear.

Yes, the policy-making process on the IARU level is slow and difficult. Often, reality overtakes this process and people just start doing something good and it gains traction without any policy-making - and in many cases that's great. But sometimes, like in the case of band-planning, which require complicated world-wide coordination, such bureaucratic processes are needed.

OK, enough for today, again, I appreciate all inputs.

73
Fabian


Posted: 2020-09-29 17:31
Hi,

dj1yfk:

Regarding the DARC and the "Morse question": In a
club of 30k+ people, it'll always be very difficult to > please everyone.


not long ago, it was a club of 50K+

I think, supporting hams which want to learn Morse code is more core business of a association, than wasting money of members in a hotel (Hotel Baunatal).

I think there are more competent associations with members on air every day and committed to cw. Perhaps it would be good to discuss the this item with them.

ID:

Then, frankly, as Gerd Df9ts pointed out, with the Internet, expectations have become quite unrealistic: it is not with an hour or less of practice a day that one can become consistently able to read code at 30 wpm in a year or two.


not 1 hour an day, 2 hours weekly:

df9ts:

None of us learned during the week, it was just the 2 hour weekly get together where we learned CW.
Most of the course time we spent rehearsing & learning CW at around 10 wpm, and finished at around 16 wpm after a year or so.


Perhaps the following could be a practical solution

[quote=Paul M.Segal, W9EEA, in 1928]
The Amateur's Code

Friendly...
slow and patient operating when requested; friendly advice and counsel to the beginner; kindly assistance, cooperation and consideration for the interest of others. These are the hallmarks of the amateur spirit.
[/quote]

But in reality nearly no one slows down if you ask. Nobody will read the regulations.



Posted: 2020-10-09 16:57
Reading the above comments, I don't believe it should take anyone more than 3 months to learn CW at good speed, or even 6 weeks, and only doing 5-15 minutes per day or twice a day. It will be an interesting experiment as I'm going to be teaching students of all ages, on my above predicted principle, and using Koch and Farnsworth, basically Morse Machine, to begin with. Today was the first lesson for the first group, and an hour later, one keen student had learnt 9 letters to approaching 90% reliability. And this with voiced sounds such as dah-di-dah, and also receiving from a straight key via beep oscillator. Whether they do the daily homework will be the determining factor for short term memory to become medium and long term. I will report back the findings, sorry if it is a little off topic.


Posted: 2020-10-09 21:22
Lou:

Should be interesting. First IMHO, I expect your students will do better than some of the off the cuff time estimates, by having an in person instructor during the learning phase. I did better 50 years ago with one-on-one with my uncle as my instructor because his "farnsworth" was him watching me write. As soon as I started to move the pen, he sent the next character. If I hesitated too long, he resent, and on error and resend. With this type of feedback the progress was very good. (Unfortunately we couldn't keep at it on a regular basis and it ended too early).

Keep us posted, maybe I'll join your group HI HI.

73
wa2nfn


Posted: 2020-10-09 21:53
Hi Lou,

VZ5LU:
Reading the above comments, I don't believe it should take anyone more than 3 months to learn CW at good speed, or even 6 weeks, and only doing 5-15 minutes per day or twice a day.


what is the definition of "learn CW at good speed". Are the students ready for QSO on air ?

73
DD5RK





Posted: 2020-10-09 22:36
DD5RK:


what is the definition of "learn CW at good speed". Are the students ready for QSO on air ?

73
DD5RK




Yoy have tp lern with a pencil/pen writing on paper.
When you have learned all characters 41 on this site, with normal speed, the definition here 12/12 NOT 30/12you are all sat. Write down all you hear, name and qth are repeated, as are call signs.

No need for something else. Proficiency grows with practice especially during rag chew QSO's.


Posted: 2020-10-10 05:16
Thanks Bill and Ruediger:

Bill: Yes, once a week is in-person mentoring. I give people a "test" on the spot before joining, giving them two letters verbally dah-di-dah and dah-dah and see if they can pick them up. 90% (?) do immediately. Then I speak about something else for a minute then come back -- what is dah-dah? And give them another test. From two very elderly gentleman I found problems from the start. Both also used to know CW in their youth.

Rüdiger: YES, that will mean ready for QSO on air. The idea is already QSO in the class room. With speeds of at least 16/16 upwards, depending on the student. I'm not going to force any "one size fits all" but explain how LCWO.net options and settings work, so they know their way around and can vary/go faster.

ALL: Also, we'll be using SIDE SWIPERS from the get-go, and this will be interesting, NOT starting with straight keys. There are many reasons for this "experiment" in forcing the use of side swipers:

1. After the induction this week, next week we will build each a side-swiper key. It is the simplest key to make that will work properly with cheap parts.

2. This will be hooked up to pixie's with dummy loads. And on ISM bands. The QRM from the direct conversion receiver off set will be interesting and terrible, so skill to tune etc. We'll see how this works!

3. They will only be allowed to receive at first, and they'll be copying my fist, which will deliberately have some variations, not perfect as on the LCWO homework at home.

4. Later, when sending, the key will allow them to tap it side ways in whichever direction they choose, and I'll also teach them how to use it both ways as intended, and later, they can use it as an electronic keyer if they wish with simple kit addition.

5. The QSO's will have all sorts of fists, so they'll be able to copy all sorts of CW. I intend to use the "let if flow over you and don't try hard" technique.

The intention of this course is not to create DX or Contest QRQ operators, but, accuracy and fun and QSO and rag chew capability. After the course, we will have a club station QRO, and continued QSO between those who qualified, and further develop skill and techniques in a second 6 week phase, with more advanced materials.


Posted: 2020-10-10 07:23
To the topic of this thread:

The station wanting QRS and addiitonal spacing, can always send QRS and LEAD BY EXAMPLE in SENDING with long gaps, so the other station gets the message to do the same, PSE QRS is widely understood that a beginner is on the other end, and experienced and helpful CW Ops will all be happy to slow down and adjust.

ON4UN did possibly irreperable damage to Amateur Radio CW via mischevious promotion of false operating procedures, mischevious since he did not retract them when it was shown. In addition, he has been heard using highly unorthodox "CQ" methods, and the traditional ending "K" or "PSE K" is absent, while ending with + , or just silence, does not invite to transmit. IRA is dealing with this in some damage mitigation in one of the proposed Recommmendations. In this context, we already have problems with new comers, and sometimes it feels CW operators should start a NEW system given the many challenges we now face, but that is a wider topic.
Specifically regarding the proposal regarding please send Farnsworth there are many problems:

1) Only a minority of CW operators know what Farsnsworth means

2) Introducing a new Q code would be difficult, why not introduce one for Local Noise, for example, a common problem for all, and replace the T with an N for noise level?

3) It seems more practical to foster on air safe havens and assistance and mentoring for new CW operators to get on air CW practice. In VK this was done around 7050.

4) CW operators should be reminded that the ENTIRE bands are available for CW (with the exception of beacon bands)

5) A much more important thing for the future of CW is to EXCLUDE at the LICENSING LEVEL the access to the bottom 30kHz of all HF bands to those who have not passed a CW test to gain access to those frequencies
5A) this would create employment to existing retired CW operators to carry out those tests, similar how Volunteer Examiners operate FCC licensing tests

6) The use of automatic means for CW (not the SENDING but only the automatic RECEIVING OF CW) severely impacts the pleasure and efficiency of those using aural CW reception, and this issue also needs addressing, via 5) above, which would solve the problem as well as other modes occupying "Gentlemen's agreements" to NOT operate in CW bands, in an era where Gentlemen have all but died out.

7) The 30m band protection from contests is good but split frequency DX operations when they occured occupied the entire small bandwidth when two major ones operated simultaneously. The use of SPLIT operation WITHOUT listening on your OWN frequency and announcing an EXACT receive frequency also puts into danger 30m being removed at future WARC because we are a SECONDARY (not shared!) service on 30m, and primary services cannot contact DX Pedos to QRT from QRM.

8) Contests are actually LESS HARMFUL than DX pileups for QRM, because, they listen on the same frequency, and will not come onto occupied frequencies, unlike pile ups which in their excitement and inability to operate dual RX on split, cause existing QSO to be interrupted, even on 30m.

All of the above are in my view more important issues which should be addressed but are not being addressed.


Posted: 2020-10-10 20:20
VZ5LU:

ON4UN did possibly irreperable damage to Amateur Radio CW via mischevious promotion of false operating procedures, mischevious since he did not retract them when it was shown. In addition, he has been heard using highly unorthodox "CQ" methods, and the traditional ending "K" or "PSE K" is absent, while ending with + , or just silence, does not invite to transmit.


why has the paper not been withdrawn ?

https://www.iaru-r1.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/1-Eth-operating-EN-iaru-PRINT-1july2008.pdf

From DARC you can download in German:

https://www.darc.de/fileadmin/filemounts/gs/Funkbetrieb/ETHIK_UND_BETRIEBSHINWEISE_rev3__3_.pdf

From ARRL:

http://www.arrl.org/files/file/DXCC/Eth-operating-EN-ARRL-CORR-JAN-2011.pdf

73
Ruediger



Posted: 2020-10-11 17:22
Hi Fabian,
quite cool from DF5JL to think about the CW newcomers. In my opinion IARU/DARC should not support the method of learning CW. If someone is interested to become a CW operator, there plenty of options to listen to practical Morse code on the amateur radio bands or in the internet.
Vy73 take care de HB9CSA / DL4FDM


Posted: 2020-10-20 13:38
Hi Fabian,
would it be possible - given that there are no privacy issues - to analyze the data which was gathered by lcwo? Maybe this could help to have a more data-centric discussion?
I was quite impressed to see Koch's work and how he used data and not just his gut-feeling to come up with his ideas.
Administrator


Posted: 2020-10-24 08:43
Hi Christoph,

I think it should be possible. The privacy policy states:

pp:
The operator of the site reserves the right to use the data that reflects the progress of learning the Morse code of all users in a completely anonymised and normalised format (e.g. no absolute dates, no usernames) for research purposes and share the results with the public.


So it would be possible to write a little script that extracts all Koch attempts from the database in an anonymized form. Currently the database table has the fields "user id", "lesson", "wpm", "wpm effective", "percentage", "date". It would be possible to anonymize the user id and change the date field to a relative time, counted from the first attempt of that particular user. Then it should be nearly impossible to guess the user name from the resulting data set.

Would you be interested in analyzing this data? If so, let me know and I'll extract this for you.

73
Fabian

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