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Posted: 2024-01-14 18:20
Just sharing a tip:
I find it helps me if I listen to a few of the one-minute transmissions prior to starting to type in the box. Just doing the listening (without typing) seems to speed up the point at which I develop accuracy when I begin to type in the sounds.
I am also making sure I don't go onto the next lesson too quickly....I prefer to stick with increased accuracy and wait until I only make 1 or 2 errors, before moving onto the next lesson. I do this in order to really let it settle down in my hearing/memory, even if it takes a few days.
Last one: I try to do a practice session first thing in the morning and again, just before bedtime (when sleepy). I am assuming (hoping?) that these are the times when the subconscious mind is a bit more open to acceptance of the sounds/correlation of letter, into long-term memory. Other sessions during the day are fitted in, as and when.
I hope this is helpful to others.
If not, please share your own tips :)
Posted: 2024-01-15 05:49
Thanks, I'll definitely try this!
Posted: 2024-01-15 13:21
Can confirm that
"... making sure I don't go onto the next lesson too quickly"
"... try to do a practice session first thing in the morning and again, just before bedtime"
also Worked very well for me.
Posted: 2024-01-16 19:34
Thank you, Gregorito.
Do you also have any tips to share?
Posted: 2024-01-16 19:41
One other thing: A while ago, I learned shorthand and there are similarities. I recall my ability to incorporate new symbols scrambled my brain, but which un-scrambled as I practised. Same with the speed development - it was as if I knew nothing, when I first tried that extra 5 words per minute. I learned not to fret, just to go with it and plough through until clarity returned, then became easier, then easy, then ready for the next speed increase.
I have noticed that my brain goes to blancmange when similar sounds are introduced in the Morse, i.e. the root sounds for A are similar to R, and L and inititally, can get confusing (I'm sure you can think of others). I do find the more I relax about it, the faster it clarifies.
Does anybody else find this?
Posted: 2024-01-17 11:16
Hi Aetherea, pretty much mirrors what I have found as well. I'll also download and play a lesson in the car while driving to work and just say the letter out aloud. Must amuse the other drivers when I'm parked at the lights and they hear CW on the sound system ;)
Posted: 2024-01-17 17:09
These are great tips with which I agree. I download code groups in mp3 format and then play them on headphones when walking the dog. Cannot write them down of course but I can mutter the letter as I hear it. Both the dog and I are learning quite quickly with this extra practice.
Posted: 2024-01-17 20:01
Stephen - Bwahahahaaa - clever doggie !!! :)
Posted: 2024-01-18 12:53
your observations [i]"I learned not to fret, just to go with it and plough through until clarity returned, then became easier, then easy, then ready for the next [step]."[/i]
about the "brain blancmange", relax and clarification process.
I can only underscore that twice.
It is the same experience for me and I guess this is also the same for many.
You asked for further tips, here my thoughts:
I learned the code mainly through lcwo going through the lessons, using mp3 files (I have a notebook full with copied code groups) and the Morse machine (which I liked very much).
For a change I sometimes read longer texts (15 -30 mins.) while listening to the code and following letter by letter.
At the beginning I expected that once I learned the code at 30 wpm I would be able to head copy on the radio. This expectation was naive and I had to learn that too.
Eventually I found that the Morse M. trained my muscle and character location memory and the mp3 files (also very good practice) did not contribute much to approach head copy. So eventually I moved on.
I looked for ways to improve instant character recognition (Word training is a good tool for that). Here I found myself like at the very beginning: "Is this possible at all? No way!"
While traveling / commuting (public transport, not driving by myself) I listen to mp3 as concentrated as I can.
While sticking to the regular use of a particular lcwo tool, I also looked for other approaches. Mainly to get some variation and avoid ending up knowing the mp3s by heart or the position of keyboard keys within microseconds and developing a great muscle memory.
I found that while listening to code closed eyes, I would picture the position of the letter on the keyboard automatically in my head. I found this was wasted effort, better have just the character appear in front of me rather than the position it has on a keyboard. So I tried to visualize the characters I heard in front of me and forget about their position. Worked well but I became slower at the Morse M. :-)
Each learning stage has its tools:-).
I also searched the web for experience reports from others.
My take aways (many I can endorse today by own experience):
- Strictly avoid seeing or hearing single dots and dashes, only the sound and rhythm matters. Focus on that.
- Go for speed (try learn the characters at 20 to 30 wpm). Seems impossible at the start but it is amazing what perseverance can do. (I found this practice increased the ability to differentiate sounds e.g when listening to music).
- Practice different learning approaches now and again to avoid boredom and gaining expertise at one practice method alone. The goal is not to master the tool but to learn CW :-)
- Practice regularly, if possible every day.
- Be patient and kind to yourself and try to HAVE FUN while practicing.
Above is probably just a reiteration of what has been said here and there many times in this context along with:
Practice, practice practice :-)
After writing all this I realize someone could think I am a proficient CW-er but that is not true, I am still learning to read the code and have not yet practiced much transmitting.
Some folks say it is good learning both in parallel some say the contrary. I opted for first learn to read and then to give. Starting slowly on that path now..
Sorry for the lengthy text.
All the best on the way to everyone!
Posted: 2024-01-19 20:41
Thank you so much for the informative and interesting post.
I will look at the .mp3 files - that sounds like a good angle to explore.
I do find myself wondering how the Army taught it in wartime, as it was such a key skill, and they needed it to be highly accurate, with lots of proficient people.
Presumably, most were taught from scratch.....? And no .mp3 files for them!!!
Posted: 2024-01-19 21:22
I guess some people have more affinity to learning CW than others, much like with languages, math and other topics and possibly in those days they had methods to pick those more suitable from the rest...
They would have done much better if they had lcwo back then ;-)
You may want to check out some of the mp3s provided by Kurt Zoglmann. He has put a wealth of material for CW practice online and some of it I find great for complementing my learning at different stages (specially when on the go).
Also I found this video quite interesting:
and this is also good as a companion when on the go, for reading along (text is to be found online as well) or just before sleep with no ambition but to fade away:
If you can record just the sound and listen to it even if you don't get a single letter -at first.
I found it good for getting accustomed to the sound. Like listening to a foreign language just to get to know the accent :-) if you know what I mean.
Posted: 2024-01-20 19:31
I do know what you mean, yes, and I will check those out.
I think you may be right about the affinity, but perseverance probably gets people a long way, too. I suppose the ideal is to have both :)
Posted: 2024-01-22 01:25
I can agree with the orignal OP of this thread, that listening to a few 1 minute lessons before jumping in is a real help. I also listen to MP3's 30 minutes a day, 15-20 minutes of LCWO Morse Machine coupled with practicing the lessons trying to advance, but sometimes I can advance quickly with 90% accuracy but some lessons I am stuck on for a few weeks. I just have incorporated sending to my routine and this seems to be adding to my recognition of characters. I have found learning CW is much more difficult than I ever imagined, but I find it fun, rewarding and I like the challenge but I truly believed this would be a lot easier.
Posted: 2024-01-22 17:16
[...] but I find it fun, rewarding and I like the challenge [...]
-> Best ground to stand on!
All the best!
Posted: 2024-01-23 19:45
Thank you Carlos. After all this time I would have stopped if that quote was not truth....
Posted: 2024-01-23 20:09
Hi Frank, it certainly isn't easy, but I think it makes it easier to be at peace about that once we accept it. I suspect that for most of us, we're not in a race.
Like you, I welcome the challenge.
I have found myself replaying the morse letter sounds through my head during the day, too, which I hope internalises it a little bit more, each time.
I agree, some lessons take longer, but then it'a all the more satisfying when the harder ones are achieved.
My plan is to complete all the 40 lessons first, and then do some of Zoglmann's word recognition training. That sounds as though it really embeds into one's subconscious, which is where the Action is.
I am assuming when he talks about "head copy", he means 'decoding letters, etc. in your head without writing them down".....?
Posted: 2024-01-23 21:29
Good afternoon Aetherea...Yes, my understanding of head copy is just that, you hear the sound and decode the letter or word in your head. I started doing this with morse machine and it seems to work really well. I feel I can visualize the letter when I first see it in my mind before striking the key on my keyboard for the feedback if its right or wrong. IMO it reinforces the lesson, hopefully engraining it to permanent memory and instant recognition. My recent addition of sending is also IMO helping me to clarify letters in my head. You are correct, once I break a barrier and the letter , number or prosign becomes clearly understandable it is satisfying for sure. All the best in your CW journey....
Posted: 2024-01-24 15:10
Hi Aetherea, Frank, reading your posts I got inspired...
Some further (personal) thoughts:
In the beginning, a YT video introducing how to go about learning CW convinced me I had to learn the characters at 20 to 30 wpm. I went for 30 because I was able to "see" dots and dashes at 20 wpm and -as someone else put it- if you count dots you are dead meat.
Because I had a certain idea of how things would evolve while learning the code, I found myself correcting that idea again and again. (It is a blessing I never knew better, otherwise I might have thrown the towel).
First I thought you learn the letters, numbers and some signs and you are good to go. As I mentioned earlier this turned out to be quite wrong :-) but I was not discouraged. I was able to type all characters of the 40 lessons relatively fast and write them down by hand while copying from an mp3 file but I had no clue what I was typing or writing until I read it.
I realized the Morse machine would not get me there.
Then I thought that hearing a character and immediately recognizing it would be it.
Here the meaning of immediately is somewhat inaccurate.
When I mastered that to some degree, I found again I was wrong. I could "immediately" say the letter I heard the code of (even while doing other things, like a robot) but there had to be a pause (at least 4x longer than the corresponding for the wpm speed) before the next letter, otherwise my brain would go blancmange ;-) and further head reading failed.
I realized that it is necessary to be ready for the next letter the instant the one just sounding has finished. So those comfortable spaces between letters must be removed (progressively) and listening to the sound of a character had to be grasping the character at once.
This becomes possible once the brain is doing the recognition/decoding effortlessly. You hear it you know it, no typing no writing.
At next it became necessary to put those characters together to form a word. This is what I practice most of the time now.
Sometimes it happens that the sound of whole word is recognized without the need to get every letter in sequence. While other words are still difficult to get letter by letter, e.g. many dots in it :-) e.g. "behind".
For the sake of practicing instant character recognition, I try not to learn the sound of the word before I am not able to get it letter by letter. Not sure if this is good or bad or if I am even capable of such avoidance since the brain gets it anyway.
In the end it may mean a delay but as Aetherea said, there is no hurry and as Frank says it is fun, rewarding and we like the challenge.
Posted: 2024-01-25 01:14
Thank you Carlos it is good to hear from someone who is further down the road learning CW. I see you were QRT for a long time but are now back in it. This is great. I cannot wait to start listening to words, unfortunately I am just not ready yet. Once I get the 40 characters down I will begin on this part of the training. I, like you have gotten some good advice about not listening to dits and dahs and to keep the speed up to not hinder my learning. I have consistantly stayed at 20 and 15. The dits and dahs do not appear clear in my mind until I start to master them and then they ring clear in my head as I commit the cadence of the sound to memory. I recently bought Begali's Morse Machine along with a Begali Key and started my sending part of this journey. The Begali CW Machine seems to have a great word training selection, which incorporates sending in what the inventor of the CW Machine calls Flashcard mode. Allowing you to hear a word in an attempt to recognize it, pausing, then the word comes on screen allowing you now time to use your key to spell it out, and then it will give you a beep if you wrote the letters correctly and the timing was correct, and then goes to the next word. I have been using this for letters so far and making some progress fairly quickly on my sending which does seem to help my head copy. The only downside to this device, IMO, is the cost as it is quite expensive but in my short time with it I feel it is worth it. Thank you for your advice regarding word training I find that very helpful. All the best!
Posted: 2024-01-25 12:43
Hi Frank, thanks for your kind words.
Yes, it has been a long time since I made my last voice contact over the air on HAM radio frequencies.
The move to Germany, the work, then family and last not least the very restricted possibilities to set up an antenna, made it very difficult to spent time for this wonderful hobby.
I tried learning CW before. No PCs/internet for the broad public back then, let alone SW like our beloved lcwo, only tapes... It was not easy to keep a steady training schedule mainly because of the new situation and frequent travels. No steadiness no CW learning. So I gave up.
Time has passed and conditions for learning have improved dramatically, privately and technically. I did not know this until after putting together that regen receiver and listening to the sounds of HAM activity with a piece of wire (got me thrilled this thing). This made me search the web for learning CW and landed here :-)
I am a QRP fan and since putting up an antenna at home is still not viable, portable QRP CW operation out in the countryside is another goal that may come true some day...
Begali's Morse Machine is sure an outstanding piece of gear that I'd like to test along with one of those legendary Bengali keys but I did not dare the expense uncertain of my capabilities for learning the code.
Having had some experience with Arduinos, stumbling on K3NG's Arduino keyer was like finding a treasure. I put one together and I am very pleased with it. Not having plunged into TX practice I can't report about the learning features it has.
Once in a while I have tried composing characters with the paddle and my old straight Junker key (bought when I had my first attempts in learning the code in another life) and found it much easier that RX practice -admittedly at lower speeds (17-20 wpm).
So far the paddle seems the better choice for me and I can agree with you that TX practice can improve letter/word recognition given the tool and having more stimuli.
Experience taught me that perseverance and repetition mixed with a bit of variation while being kind to oneself (patience) and having fun with it, are key for advancing on the path (no matter what speed one advances) and that the brain "does its thing" opening unexpected and at first seemingly impossible perspectives.
By the way, in case you don't know it, "The Art and Skill of Radio-Telegraphy" by William G. Pierpont NØHFF is great reading and it is available online for free.
For the transmitting practice you may find K7QO's article on Iambic Sending a good read too, although he suggests to learn RX before doing TX. The article is available online just search for "K7QO Iambic Sending Article" if you don't have it yet.
Posted: 2024-01-27 18:06
Greeting Carlos. Well we have more than morse code in common. I too am a big fan of QRP, in fact almost all of my contacts have been with 5 or 10 watts on SSB. It is still amazing to me when I am able to reach a contact 4 or 5 thousand miles away with a compromised antenna and such a low wattage radio. Though difficult, very satisfying when it's accomplished.
I did quite a bit of research regarding tools for CW and never heard of Arduinos until you mentionted it, I am going to look at it closer. I almost purchased a Morserino 32 before my purchase of the Begali CW Machine, but ultimately decidied to buy the Begali. What solidified my purchase was my multiple conversations with Ulrich who is the German creator of the CW Machine plus the many EHAM praises of his device.
"Time will tell what my experience will be, but so far it is very positive.
Experience taught me that perseverance and repetition mixed with a bit of variation while being kind to oneself (patience) and having fun with it, are key for advancing on the path (no matter what speed one advances) and that the brain "does its thing" opening unexpected and at first seemingly impossible perspectives". That is a wonderful paragraph that could only have been realized through wisdom. And wisdom only develops with time and experience allowing patience to be developed as well. I am getting there...Patience has taken me a while but I am finally getting more of it....lol
Thank you for the recommendations of reading material. I will definitely look them both up and give them a go. All the best.
Posted: 2024-01-28 09:33
"The brain does its thing" - yes, indeed. I suppose we are opening new neural pathways as we learn. Also, new listening skills.
I read a while ago that of the five senses, hearing is the first to develop in the foetus, and the last to go when we pass (assuming no damage to the body, of course).
Very good to get a 'hearing workout'..!!
I am sticking to learning the symbols/sounds whilst receiving, and will move onto speed development, and then try Transmission skills whilst I am also doing that. I have little doubt the two play into each other, and re-inforce the mental acceptance.
My original plan was to just 'learn Morse' but reading this Forum, it makes sense to do more than that - especially whilst we are being warned of possible cyber blackouts, etc.
Way to go!!
Posted: 2024-01-28 13:11
Nice to learn you are also fond of QRP Frank!
Also I have never been on the air with more than ~10W PEP (Ten-Tec Argonaut) and have had SSB contacts --using a 1/4 wave home made antenna for 10m fixed on the balcony-- that I could hardly believe I was having them.
3000 miles with less than 0.5W PEP on 10m and talking as it was next door:
With a friend living 400m away we used to ragchew past midnight and we turned our mic gains as low as practical so that very little power was being radiated.
Once we were surprised when this fellow Ham called in and realized the distance. That was back in the 80's. Today I know propagation was exceptionally good at the time. Contacts over to Brazil were business as usual. But I am digressing, a weakness of mine...
BTW because you mentioned it earlier me being further down the CW path, it is only a tiny bit. I guess a likely just few months.
Learning CW is somehow also learning about oneself, how one learns and devises ways to stay at it and move on, how to deal with lows and highs and understand that sometimes you taste a peak and then fall back to an earlier stage and all the rest of it.
I find this process quite interesting and Aetherea's words in the OP triggered me to jump in, seeing a similar interest.
In case you have not discovered it, this other thread I recently found, deals to some extend with the same topic:
Yes, opening new neural pathways!
By the way, I recently learned, that in Cuba they learned to build QRP transceivers using the two transistors found in the socket of energy saving bulbs. While the rest of the infrastructure was down they could use them to establish a rescue network. Now the government seems to encourage this practice ...
All the best!
Posted: 2024-01-28 14:55
Goodness, sockets...!! People's ingenuity never ceases to amaze me.
And, Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say.
I don't suppose there is any info online about the sockets thing?
By the way, I apologise about calling you Gregorito above - I had not understood the naming order, and your name is Carlos, which I now understand :)
So, Carlos, I agree that this is simultaneously a process of learning about oneself. It is an inner journey, for sure.
When I started, I allocated two months for the learning of the symbols but now, I have let that timescale go in favour of learning it properly and well. If I achieve that within the two months, all well and good, but if not, the priority is instead now about standard of attainment, thoroughness of embedding the info into long-term memory and building a solid platform for further learning along this road.
And so, sharing all this info on the forum is invaluable.
Thank you for all you have shared.
Posted: 2024-01-28 17:24
:-) Sockets yes and we usually throw these away...
Unfortunately I can't remember where I picked it up, I think it was somewhere in the
but it did not contain any details about the circuit used. I believe the circuit comprises two mos-fet transistors a coil, a rectifier and a small chip to make up a buck converter -which is not far from an oscillator- switching current through a coil to obtain a needed voltage.
There are however plenty DIY circuits presented by many ingenious people in the net that contain no more than a handful of components to a QRP TX and even comprise a receiver. These are of course not super stable oscillators and not necessarily the most sensitive ones but contacts are perfectly doable with them, with little operation comfort but plenty of fun.
Sharing is the future ;-)
Never mind the names :-) both are fine with me.
Posted: 2024-01-30 03:21
Carlos I have never tried less than 5 watts for SSB but that is amazing 3000 miles on .05 watts. My wife is from Cuba so I am fully aware of the ingenuity of the Cuban people. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. All the best!
Posted: 2024-01-30 22:11
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