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

Thread: Slower speed or stick with early lessons?

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Posted: 2022-08-24 06:13
Hi, I've been practicing Morse for quite some time and it isn't coming very naturally. For many months I've been using the Android "Morse Machine" (which is similar idea to the one of the same name here) and then was using the AA9PW site for a while.

I've always kept the letter speed high (15-30 wpm) but somehow it still sometimes takes a whole second or two or more to remember what a letter is. I try not to think in terms of dots/dashes although admittedly when I draw a blank on the sound (which is often!) then I used to resort to "decoding" the parts instead. That works with Morse Machine which waits, but it doesn't work when new letters just keep coming like the Koch exercises here do (or a real QSO would)!

So anyway, my question is whether it might be better to:

* stick with 16 wpm effective speed and just keep working against lesson 3 again and again until I finally graduate to lesson 4, then after more weeks lesson 5, etc.?
* drop to 5 wpm effective and try pass all the lessons at a speed I can keep up with, then start the lessons over at 8 wpm effective, then 12 wpm, etc.?

My goal would be to pass the FCC telegraphy tests ("16 code groups per minute" and "20 words per minute") although maybe that's crazy given my apparent lack of natural talent. Or at least to be able to have a QSO on the air that wasn't tediously slow....

Posted: 2022-08-24 10:24

We can't tell you what to do - only point out problems other people have had . . .

One of these is - not making continuous progress -> disillusionment -> giving up as a waste of time

This can be caused by a number of things eg.

Proceeding to the next lesson too soon - it didn't sink in - stall at lesson 11/12 typically

Not making progress at all - too fast - not enough time/effort - not concentrating - concentrating too much


The most important factor in learning morse seems to easily be aptitude.
Most people seem to have low to medium aptitude - so learning morse is not a trivial event in these circumstances.

You learn by repeated decoding - hear morse think of character - repeat until it becomes an automatic reaction.

This means you need a way of associating morse -> character whilst you are learning.

The most used method is - a bit at a time i.e. learn a few and then add-to

If you have higher aptitude ( we don't know anything about you ) you will probably start picking up these associations quite quickly
at the speed at which you want to actually be using morse ( see https://www.g4fon.net/ )

If you are not high aptitude you may have to learn at a slower speed - to allow you to actually practice decoding the code.

Probably you will then be able to speed up . . .

Based on the reported giving-ups of previous ex-students ( lots of whom seem to try again a couple of years later )
I, for one, would advise getting yourself through all the 40 "lessons" as soon as you can, but keeping the character speed at least above 10wpm and pref 15wpm but dropping the overall speed to allow you time to actually decode and make the association.

I also advise making sure you can hear the code properly by effecting any necessary adjustments in your head-phones, environment and also the audio frequency you are using.

And - run more shorter exercises rather than fewer longer ones. A couple of minutes is good when repeated say 10 times with 2 min rest gaps.

The old professionals used to say ( and still do ) :- accuracy first - speed second


let us know how you are getting on


Posted: 2022-08-24 13:03
This question gets asked a couple of times a week. Everybody will give you different advice. I speak out of my own experience. Start with a high effective speed and hold on like a trooper. I am on 17 wpm effective, yet I can't copy real life QSO yet. Any speed less than 15 wpm is a waste of time.

If your goal is 20 wpm then start at 20 wpm.

Posted: 2022-08-24 21:14
Hi, I've been practicing Morse for quite ....

I'm new here (a couple of days) and in general I only have 2 lessons. The speeds are very high and it is inconvenient to change. I don't have a key, and it's very difficult to work with a mouse (TX training). Maybe I'll make a key, but the point was just to try Morse code. I noticed the benefit of trying Morse Machine in parallel. This is the ideal for learning, since the point is not to slow down, but the point is to re-listen to confidence. Since in the lessons they give 5 characters at once, and while the brain has not yet deciphered 1 character, 2,3,4,5 are already superimposed. In Morse Machine, you can train exactly on the symbol and test yourself in the lessons. In TX training, type any text, practicing the entire alphabet in advance. So my advice is to just try everything at once. I also have no musical ear, so I don’t know how it will be there. I liked to listen and view the word from the exercise in the free audio editor Audacity (the exercise was downloaded in mp3).

Posted: 2022-08-27 07:16
Thanks all for the feedback. I tried setting the speed *up* instead of down and couldn't even get the number of groups right to get it scored, but maybe I'll try it a few more times before giving up entirely. I somehow need to kick the habit of falling back to "decode"/"stop and think" when I don't "recognize".

At most any speed, I can hear the letters fine sometimes but then sooner or later my brain inevitably hiccups and the letters stop registering. And when that happens, even just the mental effort even of deciding to skip the letter or mark down dashes or whatever gets me behind on all the next letters too!

Posted: 2022-08-27 10:16
I have about the same problems: I seem to know, but sometimes I get confused. I train more on https://lcwo.net/morsemachine, because if you mix it up, you need to press the spacebar 3-5 times so that the brain gets used to hearing the desired sequence. In this case, you need to imagine the letter in your head. When performing, you must be able not to think! Yes, just don't think. When you hear a sound, you have to wait until the letter itself pops up in your head. I just have experience from blind typing on the keyboard and this should be applied here. Perhaps I will introduce Morse code into my keyboard trainer :)

Posted: 2022-08-28 00:05
Don't exercise characters with 30 wpm, you learn a sound pattern, that you will never need in practice.

When the 'effective' speed of Koch lessons is too high, lower it to 5 wpm.

So use 15/5 speed. Better progress with lower speed than wasting your time with working to quiting half way due to frustration.

Posted: 2022-08-30 15:51
I have to agree with nonagenarian.

I was excited that I found I was getting char speed up from 25, to 30, even some 35 BUT my quality of copy is NOT improving. So as he says, who cares about if I still miss to much at 30/18 to be useful for a QSO?

I'd rather do 8/8 like I did 40 years ago and converse on the air, than just sit every night listening to my PC.

(yes I know 8 is wrong, but I didn't know that years ago) Time to drop to 20/15 (for me) and work to get that to 20/20 with 95% accuracy and get on the air.

BTW off topic, but LICW suggested a method for building head copy of words. I built it into MCPT
and and you can ply it back with LCWO. Does seem very helpful.

73 wa2nfn

Posted: 2022-08-30 17:31
Who/what is LICW? Where is this method?

Posted: 2022-08-30 19:17


Posted: 2022-09-01 04:49
OC: they take practice words (for example: school)
and play it like: s sc sch scho schoo school
so build up your ability to decode by assembling the characters, but also for head sending to mentally spell the word to yourself as you send it and still keeping good rhythm/spacing.

They have many canned files of words which they play via a trainer by S. Phillips.

In MCPT you choose words yourself or have them selected by a matching criteria (characters of interest and length) and the sequences are saved in a file that you can give to LCWO's "convert text to cw".


Posted: 2022-09-18 16:54
I would advice sticking with the defaults of LCWO which is 20 words per minute and 10 words per minute effective speed.
Too fast will kill your progress, too slow and you will hit the CW glass ceiling when speeding up.

My personal experience was to start at 15 WPM speed as well as effective, considering my musical background I was still able to subconsciously count dits and dahs making it impossible to change from training to practice.
Now several years later I'm re-training at 25 WPM and 20 effective, raising effective speed up by 1 every 5 lessons until they are equal. I'm also setting 5 character groups and have set the word spacing longer so I force myself to listen to all 5 characters before typing them out.
Whilst I don't recommend this approach, as it's unique for my challenge, for those with a similar issue it may help.

Also this e-book is a good read.

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