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Thread: Made it to lesson 6 at 20/20...keep at it?

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Posted: 2023-02-03 16:38
Greetings! I'd like to learn CW for outdoor QRP/POTA action.

My goal is to at least be able to get on the air for basic QSOs in a few months. Callsign, RST, QTH, 73 - and I'd be happy. I'm a full time IT professional so I usually have a little time throughout the day for some CW practice.

Anyway, after practicing on this site for about 30-60 minutes a day, I made it to lesson 14 at a speed of 25/10 in about a week. My biggest issue is struggling get into a rhythm because I constantly stop to overthink a missed character so I fall behind and eventually have to stop the lesson and start over.

Yesterday, for the heck of it, I changed the speed to 20/20, and as long as I use a 3x space between words, I'm somehow able to (barely) keep up most of the time. I started back at lesson one and by this morning I'm up to lesson 6 and most of the time can get through a 1 minute lesson with between 4%-8% error. Sometimes I bomb and have to start over. I don't progress lessons until I've had at least a few sessions of consistent success.

I think whats happening is the more rapid pace makes it impossible for me to over-think the errors so I'll just mash a random key and keep going. It feels completely different because instead of thinking, I only have enough time to react on instinct.

Should I try to power-through the lessons at 20/20 and see what happens? Is it okay to have the 3x space between "words"? It seems to be necessary to keep from getting overwhelmed by the torrent incoming of code.


Posted: 2023-02-04 11:01

yup - basically

Generally the faster the better up to 20/20
lots of people can't manage that - so then the priority for most people who wash up in this forum is probably
getting through the 40 "lessons" before you get fed up and then give up.

Really - only you can decide what's best for you - because we have no idea what your aptitude is - and that is the main factor in learning to decode morse.

Be aware of two possible ( main) gotchas.

1/ typing - you can hit the right key as you hear the code - but you don't remember what you are decoding
you have formed a direct link between morse and which key.

This means you will need a keyboard - probably not what you want . . .

2/ Moving on to the next "lesson" too early - it didn't sink in - you get to "lesson" 10-12 and find you now forgot some of the earlier exercises

3/ I wouldn't keep starting again (YMMV) nor would I look for any secret methods to speed up learning.

You lean all this by lots of repetition until it becomes an automatic reaction - forming a link between:-

hear morse -> the letters just pop into your mind from somewhere without you thinking about it

You can then focus just on content.

This is not a trivial or quick exercise for most people . . .

Good luck with it anyway.

Let us know how you are getting on.

Don't give up, overdo it, underdo it etc


Posted: 2023-02-04 19:22
Typically, keeping normal spacing btw words/groups and characters, and typing all of them in for verification at the same time is only possible at the speeds of 10/10 or only a bit higher. So we, mere mortals, must compromise with Farnsworth and/or Wordsworth. But both have the nasty side effect of getting used to longer spacings.

In my current practice, I managed to eliminate Farnsworth at the cost of long spaces btw words (Wordsworth) and shorter groups. But my brain just goes completely blank when I hear words/groups going one after another w/o additional spacing at more than 10/10. Well, nothing I can do about it, I guess. I just hope my copying becomes more automatic with time and practice.

Dear W3DRK, 14 lessons at 25/10 in one week shows excellent aptitude, IMO. And if you can remember and type in random 5-character groups at 20/20, your short-memory buffer is perfect. So you probably don't even need any advice to become a proficient OP shortly, my OM. I'll give you some anyway because...

Maybe you can practice different options to get used to variety. For example. 20/20 (or more) with Wordsworth for random groups. 25/25 (or...) for Word Training. 15/15 with normal spaces with Plain Text (for head copy practice). I dunno, just guessing.


I forgot you need to learn all 41 Koch characters first. This is your priority right now. Well, just do it any way it works for you. MorseMachine with custom characters was my favorite for more difficult cases. You can notice which characters you confuse/miss most and practice them separately in MorseMachine, if you find it useful.

As Chris wrote, developing an automatic link between Morse and keyboard is a real danger. It might become a difficult obstacle in learning proper head copy skills later on. A while ago in Word Training I noticed that I needed to read what I wrote in order to understand what I just heard. So now I'm trying to say the word first before typing it in. It's not so easy with random groups though. And it adds time between words/groups because, in learning Morse, no good deed goes unpunished. :)

Posted: 2023-02-05 14:07
In my experience the main thing is to keep at it - so if that means 20/20 with an increased word spacing then so be it.

It took me a fair while to get from 20/15 up to 20/20 going in 1 wpm increments, so IMO you probably shouldn't underestimate the time it might take to reduce the word spacing down to standard.

Sounds like you are doing well, so, as I said, the main thing is to stick with it.

Posted: 2023-02-08 00:14
Thank you for the advice everyone! As of today I'm at lesson 10 at 20WPM, and probably safe to move to lesson 11 tomorrow. As I'm progressing, it seems like I need to lean on Farnsworth a little to bring the effective speed down to 18 or 19 for the first exercise or so until my mind can find the rhythm, after that I do okay at 20/20.

The ear -> keyboard link does sound like a real risk. I may try writing, then typing back into the site to check my copy. But yeah-trying to memorize the blocks of 5, then typing...no way. Maybe once I get to real words I'll try that.

In any event, I'm most certainly going to be keeping at it. I've got a 270Hz filter sitting in the box for my TS-890, I plan to install it as a celebration once I make my first CW contact. Pretty nerdy, right?

Posted: 2023-02-08 17:34
Excellent idea with using Farnsworth only at the beginning of learning each new character and then getting again to 20/20. This way you will avoid unlearning a bad habit after you finish lesson 40 in the Koch school, which is usually quite painful.

Unlearning Wordsworth is also a pain, but the good thing is that in QSOs you don't have to copy exactly everything. At the beginning you just need to catch the essentials like callsign, RST, name, maybe QTH... And there are sites to learn it.

Posted: 2023-02-08 18:45
The real Koch method worked without Farnsworth and with 12/12.

Farnsworth is a trap.

No real QSO is done with Farnsworth.
Farnsworth hinders the instant recognition.
Use Farnsworth only for the first pass through the course to learn the characters.
Then avoid F and train instant recognition.
My experience.

73 Rüdiger DD5RK

Posted: 2023-02-09 20:59

Farnsworth is a trap.

Yes, it's true. But counting dots is also a trap. And for me it is even worse than Farnsworth. Currently, I am doing Word Training at 40/40 and still I catch myself sometimes thinking "was is 3 or 4 dots?" Not melodies, not letters, but dots. Deep habit from my teenager times when I exchanged written "secret" messages with my schoolmate.

So, in learning Morse, we can only chose our favorite traps. :)

Posted: 2023-02-10 09:02

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