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Thread: Headcopy or not, thats the question...

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Posted: 2020-12-17 00:37
Hi all.

When we reach 1.1.2021, I will have been practicing CW each and every day for 2 years now.

I think I can call my self an CW OP now, but I know that I'm still "crawling" not "walking".

I can conduct a ragchew QSO with a straight key at speed 12-13 wpm on any subject, but I still have to write everything down.
With paddles I can do maybe up to 19 wpm standard QSO (call, name, rst, qth), and I am still improving.

But, although I practise headcopy everyday, it seems to me like I'm still far from getting there!
It would improve my receiving speed a lot, if I could just headcopy in stead of writing down.

When I practise I listen to 25-30 wpm random english words. But when I operate on air, I never come near those speeds. Therefore it feels like my training and actual on air CW QSO's, are two different things.

So my question: Should I just keep on making QRS QSO's and forget about headcopying, and focus on writing down faster on paper?

I'm OK/FB if this is going to be my way of doing CW. But maybe some of you guys here that do headcopy, can remember when you were exactly where I am now, and what you people did back then, to reach the next level.

My proplem is also the local QSO's that I have with other danish stations, where the language is danish of course. I haven't been practicing a single word in danish. But with speed 12-13 and writing down, again, no problem.

Posted: 2020-12-17 06:38
2 years is a very short period of time to hope for true headcopy.

Having said that, what stands out in your statements is that you practice something basically unrelated to your CW QSOs.

So your practice will not help your QSOs and your QSOs will not help your practice.

1. Regarding practice speed: words at 25-30wpm sound totally different from words at speeds of 12-13 wpm and 19 wpm which still allow counting.

2. Regarding language: if you are only communicating with Danish ops, you ought to be practicing Danish words and the generic CW abbreviations, not English words.

So, to eventually attain headcopy you should bring practice and reality together.

Since you can recognise words at 25-30 wpm in English, my personal suggestions would be to beef up your speed of transmission with a paddle to reach 24-25 wpm. With a straight key, you should be able to reach 15-17 wpm with no particular effort, after that it is a matter of personal dexterity.

Then, to be frank with you I am unable to headcopy under 20-21 wpm and above 31-32 wpm, so for a given op there is a range in which headcopy is possible, at least from myself. Below 20-21 wpm, I lose track of the characters because it is too slow and above 32 wpm or so, it becomes to fast for my pipelining.

At lower speeds (below 20wpm), I always use a straight key.

So, therefore:

1. train and practice at approximately the same speeds (practice speed > QSO speed + 1-2 wpm)

2. Listen to a lot more morse. You don't seem to be listening to ebooks, etc which is the best way to gain the capacity to headcopy.

Posted: 2020-12-18 00:13
Thanks for the advice ID.

I will try to bring my practising and on-air activity closer together. Maybe somewhere in between I can find the sweet spot for my level right now.

I can't say I'm doing more danish QSO's. I definitely have more english QSO's, but ragchews are more often in danish, but I have had some in english and german also. I do speak spanish and some french too, but if I had to reach a level where I could do headcopy in 5 languages, it would be a tremendous task...!!

What I was thinking, was to simply settle with a speed of maybe 20, and then being able to do ragchew in more languages, but by writing down everything...

Posted: 2020-12-18 06:23
Good luck!

Posted: 2020-12-19 14:52

I started this year with Morse code. I have to write down the QSOs. You can see my training program up to now in my profile.

Now I reduced this dry training. What I now do:

hearing most common 170 QSO-words, abbreviations, Q-Codes in English and German without writing, in all speeds you find on air.

Listening to real rc QSOs on air.
Making (few per day) real QSOs on air.
At the weekend listening to contest QSOs (cs training).

Because there is a big difference between computer generated code and man made code on air (of course you know this), I set the priority to on air.

Now I can hear more and more abbreviations, Q-Codes, words. But I am still far away from head copy.

For me important: I am on air. On air is much more fun for me than dry training.

73 Ruediger

Posted: 2020-12-19 15:41
Hallo Rüdiger.
Vielen dank für dein antwort.
Und du hast recht, es macht viel mehr spas mit QSO's als mit nur training, aber ich finde es auch schwieriger, wegen QRS, QSB, verschiedene geschwindigkeiten und sonst... Aber es ist ganz sicherlich auch was ich machen soll zum erfolg...

73 de OZ1SPS

Posted: 2021-01-02 18:50
Hallo Rüdiger.
Vielen dank für dein antwort.
Und du hast recht, es macht viel mehr spas mit QSO's als mit nur training, aber ich finde es auch schwieriger, wegen QRS, QSB, verschiedene geschwindigkeiten und sonst... Aber es ist ganz sicherlich auch was ich machen soll zum erfolg...

73 de OZ1SPS

Hallo Sebastian,

schön, dass Du in Deutsch antwortest. Ich werde dennoch weiter in Englisch schreiben, damit die anderen Teilnehmer die Beträge lesen können.

Yes, real QSO are much more difficult than training with machine generated code. But we learn Morse code to communicate on air.
I can hear machine generated quite well to a certain speed, but when I go on air, sometimes it is frustrating.

Head copy or not, that's the question...

I vote for head copy and head sending. Two weeks ago, I stopped writing in exercise. On real QSOs I write of course cs, name, QTH.

I defined 170 English QSO words, abbreviations, RST combinations and made mp3 files in 8 different speeds. At lowest speed a file has 9m, at highest speed it lasts 3.5m in total 45m. I hear them with an audio player with increasing speed with headphones, one after each other, laying with closed eyes.

At low speed, I nearly get them all. But I'm astonished, that I hear some items also on the highest speed.

I listen a lot on air to QSOs, and I can now hear some words immediately
without thinking about. But sometimes the man made code is very creative like handwriting. But I think that will be a question of air time to get better.



Posted: 2021-01-02 19:42
Hi Rüdiger.

OK, lets write in english then. I also believe that I make fewer mistakes in english, compared to my german.

I think you are a fast learner Rüdiger. You are at my level if not further, in much less time. Maybe you have just been more devoted in your training than I have been.

I have more than 100 cw QSO's in my log now, but until now I have been writing everything down. Maybe it's lack of memory, or maybe speed.
Just recently, I have been training like you, at home with my eyes closed, and tried to headcopy.
Actually I am impressed by how good it's working!

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