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Thread: Words or random letters?

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Posted: 2010-03-12 10:14
Hello all,
First of all, compliments and thanks to the site makers for this amazing tool, the best I have found for really learning code! Your investment is much appreciated!

I have a question:
In the great Pierpoint book on learning code, he mentions the following:
"Random character practice at speeds above about 15 - 20 wpm is of questionable value unless you are planning to do a lot of copying of enciphered messages. It tends to prevent the development of the important sense of word recognition, something that we must develop for normal use of the code in communication. Practicing with words spelled backwards is a good substitute for random groups: it eliminates anticipation, yet gives give normal letter distribution and the feeling that one is dealing with words, not nonsense. Foreign language texts may also be used profitably, where no special characters used diacritical marks, etc."

I keep wondering about this, since the recognition of the words can really help, instead of hearing just strings of letters.

Do you guys send more time on word recognition or writing down chains of disparate letters?

Posted: 2010-03-12 11:19
= It is in practice impossible to start a course with 2 and 3 characters, and make words of them.

= I estimate that below 15 wpm it is hardly possible to recognise word patterns.

= Furthermore you get a copy block if an existing word that you are copying is different from what you expect after copying the first part of it.

= A lot of hams are very interested in call sign copy, they use that for contesting purposes. Call signs are pretty random sequences, especially the suffix of the call sign.

= you don't want the normal character distribution in a course, because you want to recognise each character instantly, it makes no sense to exercise with the Q less than with the E, when you are exercising to recognize them instantly.

I think, for those reasons, it is the best choice for a learning course to use random characters.

When you reach the speed of 25 wpm, the commercial speed in the past, you have a speed that you can copy with a low error rate, normally zero, and you can also copy random mixed character streams. Furthermore it is about the starting speed to exercise copy in your head, which is a necessary method in order to reach high speed conversational information exchange.

Most commercial stations transmitted random streams probably a result of encryption of plain text.

For word recognition the word separation is very important. When you start your course it is best in my opinion to make fixed length sequences of 5 characters, later on in the course start with random sequences in order to exercise detection of the word spaces.

You have two main streams of cw operators. The guys copying call signs piecewise at dizzling speeds, driven by the desire to outperform each other,

and the second group, that make communication with morse, just as I am writing here. They call that rag chewing. Low speed rag chewing is rather boring, but high speed surely not.

To compare performance on an international level is is easy to do that with call signs and random sequences, it is not honest when using plain text due to differences in word patterns in languages.

The call sign specialists fall back up to 50% when they try to copy text and the ragchewers, who cannot recognise word patterns in the call signs, even so: 50% back on their usual rag chewing speed.


Posted: 2010-03-18 09:04
good explanation, and food for thought - thanks, I found it helpful.

Posted: 2010-03-18 10:49
Thanks for your feedback Allan, and taking the honors for PA1Z, who was asking the question.

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