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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: Suggestion:

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Posted: 2010-11-09 10:49
Actually a couple...

Firstly: a downloadable 5 char three colum sheet in pdf format or javascript printpage call format

Secondly: How about when adding a new character for the first time, not telling the user what letter it is - just give them the sound. Reason?? well, one of the biggest hurdles is forcing yourself to just put a dot and move on to the next char when you hear something you dont recognise. If you didnt have a "letter" to put down the first time you heard a new char you would be forced to treat it as an unknown character and put a dot instead. This would re-enforce the habit. I have a feeling I read that Koch tested this as a theory at one stage but Im not sure of the results.

Im guessing a single extra flag in mysql or a cookie could decide if you had already done a lesson with this character before so its probably not too much work in the php to implement and could be option based.

Hope thats of some interest.

Regards - chris w - g7nbp

Posted: 2010-11-09 13:54
Oh boy,

You are eligible for the price of the worst idea of the last 5 years. With honours.

I explain it to you in words you hopefully can understand.

When you learn the character b and after that you are presented a 6 without telling you it is a new character, your brain adaptation pattern recognition mechanism start guessing it is a b, because it is closest to the known pattern b, and after that you have problems longer than you will live distinguishing a character b from a figure 6 because your brain was trained to adapt that pattern in the group of noisy patterns to be recognised as a character b.

How bad, how sad, your dad.


Posted: 2010-11-09 14:25
No, re-read what I proposed.

Im not suggesting it doesnt tell you it has inserted a new letter, I am suggesting it tells you there is a new letter, and allows you to play the preview of the new letter so you know what to listen for, just that during the first practice with the new letter it doesnt tell you what that actual character letter it is - so you are forced to just put a dot each time you hear it during that first lesson with the new character.

At the end of the first lesson it would assess the dots you placed against the newly introduced character and would then tell you what the new one was. All subsequent lessons would then be as normal.

And yes, after a quick spot of googling this is EXACTLY how koch conducted his sessions with a number of groups of students.

Prof. Christopher J Williams MSc, MEng.

Posted: 2010-11-09 14:34
(An excerpt from http://www.9h1mrl.org/ukrae/arc_cd/extra/morse/html/c29.htm - which gives a brief and easy to understand outline of some of Kochs work)

A) This begins by introducing the two first characters just as sound patterns - without identifying what letters they are. They are to be sent separately and at random until the student definitely recognizes and distinguishes their individual patterns (pattern one and pattern two, or whatever). At this time they are not yet to be identified with their printed letters: they are simply recognized as different patterns of sound.

B) Only after he has become accustomed to distinguishing the first two letter patterns from each other, and to the rhythm groups as they are, and writing dots in the little squares, is he to be told the names of these first two characters. He should from then on have no difficulty in writing their letters down in the little squares whenever and as he hears them.

This is to train him during these early stages and later on that he is to recognize and react to the presence of each and every acoustic pattern, either by identifying it or by a dot in the square, and of the larger groupings of letters identified by the longer space.

It is obvious that, especially in the learning stages, there are going to be acoustic patterns passing by which he may or will not be able to recognize immediately and automatically. He must get accustomed to giving such signals no thought at all (except to put down a dot), so that he can give his undivided attention to the next incoming sound pattern.

Otherwise, during the all-too-short pause after each signal which he does not immediately identify and before the next one is heard, he is going to try to think about what signal it was. But while he is thinking about it the next signal arrives, tending to upset him and cause him to lose the flow of the rhythm. This interruption must from the very first be stopped. His teacher must insist that whenever the student does not immediately and automatically recognize a sound pattern, just to put a dot in the corresponding square, then immediately let it go, and continue on with the rhythm. This action must become habitual, and this technique has been devised to develop it from the very first.

Now as he identifies the acoustic patterns he will write their corresponding letters in the little squares. If the teacher chooses to mix into the 5-letter groups code characters which the student has not been taught, there should be dots to correspond with them.

After one or two short (about 10 min.) practice periods this way, the relationships between the acoustic impression and the letters they represent should have become so closely knit together that there is an immediate transition from the acoustic sound pattern to the letter (or a dot). Only when this point is reached is a third letter to be added to the first two.

3) Only one new letter at a time is to be introduced and added to those already known. The criterion for adding a new letter is: when at least 90% of the letters already well known are correctly identified. Each new letter is added to the group of recognized sound patterns in the same way as the first two were:
first by simple recognition of the pattern without knowing what letter it is, and in contrast with the previously known ones, and only when he readily recognizes it its individual sound pattern is he to be told what letter it is.

Posted: 2010-11-09 22:55
Sri Sir,

I did't know you are a professor, so you must know I am a postman, two days before lay-off I made a promotion to chief-postman under the condition that I took the rest of the time (2 days) that I was on the pay-roll as vacation.

When I had known in advance your high ranked academic position, I should certainly not have doubted the point you made.

I wonder: when you are a professor in my country you have to have at least a degree Ph.D. and a few hundred publications in leading scientific periodicals. Not so in good old England I suppose, noticing your masters degree.

You know I learned high speed copy by head in another way, it was classified military material at that time. They started about the same way but with syllaby instead of separate characters, at high speed estimated abt 70 wpm, and the tone of dits and dahs was different. A guy of chinese origin was the teacher, I remember that. The class was learning the syllabe as one sound, and afterwards they were narrowing the gap between the dit and dah tones, but the speed was so fast that we, the class, learned it as you learn to talk.

The result of the three month during course (4 hours code a day) is that you listen to the HSTcode and you know instantly what is being sent. You do not glue characters together to words but you hear the words in the same way listening to people talking to you. I don't know how it works, but I just know what is being sent.

It does not work for coded messages, only for plain text. As far as I understand coded messages were packed in plain text. I don't know any details abt tt.

Afterall, when I am used to listen to a, b, c and someone says: Now I introduce a new character, insert a dot when you hear it. I guarantee you that when a 6 is the new character, I am absolutely sure I will jot down B and not a dot. That is what I meant to explain to you. The reason is that the audio pattern of the 6 will be recognised as a b because the b is known stuff and the unknown 6 is too close to it. The negative result is that your brain classifies the patterns of 6 and b as the same, b.

73 Moron 30

Posted: 2010-11-10 01:04
Yes, I also agree that for speeds of above 25wpm there will be better techniques than Kochs for learning from scratch, eg whole words at a time - but in reality few amateurs I know venture much above 25wpm for day to day traffic, or can offer the level of dedication that higher speed initial learning requires.

I feel that in a lot of ways it is important to differentiate between those who are ultimately aiming for higher speeds (as an interest in itself) from those who are simply looking for a simple reliable method of gaining good copy proficiency for day to day use. If you look at the stats of most of the 20k users of this sight they fall into the latter category.

My observation is ultimately that for those learning from scratch, or as it is in my case - very rusty and keen to get speed back to something usable on air without shame, that one of the biggest hurdles is the problem of missing five chars while wondering what the one you initially missed was - Hence looking at ways of promoting the mindset of "ignore and move on"

[quote]That is what I meant to explain to you. The reason is that the audio pattern of the 6 will be recognised as a b because the b is known stuff and the unknown 6 is too close to it. The negative result is that your brain classifies the patterns of 6 and b as the same, b.[/quote]

Indeed.. which is exactly the point Ludwig Koch addressed with his studies, introduction of the new characters in a specific order with emphasis on listening closely to the pattern - especially when similar to other characters.

I agree that yes, initial introduction of 6 will be confused with b and the same for other close combinations. But what is proposed is that at first pass as the learner does not yet have a name for what they hear it will simply be a case of hopefully putting a dot for the new unrecognised character - assuming they do actually spot it is different. Either way the learner will still be wrong if they put a b. Should they have written a dot or a 6 makes no difference to the overall accuracy when they write a b by mistake. BUT, with the "proposed dot for unrecognised and new chars" does do however, by not instantly giving a name to a new character, is continually re-enforce the behavior of instantly putting a dot and moving on when the learner DOES spot a character they recognise which they will do on all of the non-close patterns which if the chars are introduced in a selected order should be the majority.

Posted: 2010-11-10 09:38
Missing a group due to thinking abt a missed separate character, or missing a cluster of characters due to the fact something else is received that you didn't expect in plain text is something that disappears automatically with growing proficiency.

Mni years ago I calculated the cross correlation matrix between all possible pairs of characters on dit level. The characters just taken as Hadamard functions. The way the characters were introduced was the sequence of maximum to minimum cross correlation. Or I forget it, the cross correlation from the Waslh-Hadamard transform of the signal set.

But Christopher, you are subsribed here, more than 2 years ago, and did only 66 exercises, stopping at lesson 12 and lesson 10 starting 2 times all over again. As far I can see you better don't stop and just proceed, according to Kochs rule: 90 percent incidentally correct: proceed to the next lesson. Don't bother and just proceed according to this algorithm.

I am watching you.
dr P. Faust

Posted: 2010-11-10 12:17
Interesting points Marco... errr.. Faust.... even

Yes I was quite an early signup with LCWO. I signed up fundamentally for reasons I will outline below - hence my sporadic nature on here.

I first tried learning morse when I was a teenager around 30 years ago from tape and off air. Progress was slow, building speed slowly produced the expected plateaus, the technique was fundementally wrong. I struggled to reach about 15wpm. Did so, was ready to earn my ticket - and then as now, college, university and work then took me away from radio for a number of years.

I was eventually licence as a "B grade amateur" (second class citizen?) ten years later. By that time my morse was pretty much back at zero, and with the addition of learning it badly in the first place, it was clear I had my work cut out for me if I wanted to get back on the key. Over the subsequent years - where time has allowed, I have tried a wide variety of learning techniques. Often as much from the point of interest in observing my actual progress based on the learning technique used rather than with the ultimate goal of reaching 35+wpm. One of my particular areas of interest and skill is in the design of self-learning AI systems which often follow spookily similar paths (and have even more spookliy human hangups!) as we do. I know exactly the technique I would use to train a non-human system to learn morse, and its not a million miles removed from what Koch suggested. The power of simple step iterative learning, and recognition of errors is amazing. Sadly Its a little harder to dump a poor learning path from my own neural net (I guess I could try more alcohol and loud music??), than it is in some of the lab toys which never complain when I "re-educate them".

LCWOs interpretation of the Koch technique was just one of the many techniques I have tried - and as it goes from my personal observation did produce really very good results in a small timeframe, and is certainly worthy of much more time than I was able to give it then as I was in the middle of a fairly intensive research project which didnt allow much time to even chat on the local repeater, let alone set aside long periods for morse study. The availability now of an internet connection and a few quiet minutes during the day, coupled with a good basis in learning psychology make it a winner for most people. Actually if Im honest I tend to prefer the "morse machine" interpretation as a true introductory tool, with a view to progression to the more recognised koch technique - but thats probably because it feels slightly more game like and offers good positive visual feedback during the learning experience... but I digress...

My personal observation is that there is now and always has been a typical distribution curve of those with an aptitude for something. My main leisure activity these days isnt amateur radio, its rock climbing. I am lucky that I have a moderate natural aptitude for it, and therefore despite being in my mid forties still outclimb lots of dedicated people half my age. Im not however ever going to win one of the worlds indoor climbing contests because aside from getting "a bit old for that sort of thing", I have reached the point where no amount of extra strength and technique training will produce measurable gains. I have started from a particular (and slightly advantageous) point on the ability natural distribution curve, and through hard work and a lot blood sweat and tears, moved up a few climbing grades. Learning morse is much the same, correct learning technique helps maximise returns, just as the correct training program helps olympic athletes to reach the upper limits of the outliers on the curve, but its important to remember that similar "extreme" training would do nothing for those at the other end of the curve. The training needs to match the natural aptitude of the trainee to maximise returns over a realistic range.

These days I help coach my daughter who hopefully will be one of the world champion climbers one day fairly soon. It is well accepted though, that in a lot of cases those who are particularly good at something, while being a good trainer for someone with a natural aptitude, are not always the best people to directly train those who fundamentally are not naturally good.By their very nature they will sit in a different place on the distribution curve of natural ability, and therefore will not suffer from the same setbacks as those who struggle. They will find translation of skills difficult unless they are prepared to take an extremely subjective point of view - and as I recognise - this is sometimes difficult.

So, I can only partially agree with your assertion that learning to ignore a missed char builds with experience - as I am one of the people for whom this is definitely a very very slow process, and by far the biggest single stumbling block is not being able to let go of the need to correct missing data. I am one of those people who even after many weeks of truly dedicated practice sessions twice a day, still find themselves struggling beyond 15wpm - and on the learning aptitude normal distribution curve I live somewhere near the bottom end. No offence to those who do take 50+wpm cw, but you share few learning characteristics and higher brain functions with me, so what works for you almost certainly isnt going to match well my specific best learning methodology "as a one size fits all" solution.

I recognise (and embrace!) my shortcomings when learning morse, and also have some of the tools needed to analyze why that may be at a variety of cognitive levels. My comments which seemingly do echo those of Kochs original study - based on his observation of the stumbling blocks of those with a wide range of natural aptitudes - was that a method was needed for a sizeable cross section of the observed groups to help with "miss and move on" positive re-enforcement. In my opinion not giving a new char a name straight away, simply recognising it as "unrecognised" and putting a dot goes a huge way towards building on the skill of (excuse the expression!) "wazzat????-Sh*t-nevermind-keep-listening" :)

At present I find myself at the end the research project and with a reasonable amount of free between now and next research commitments in new year, so I have decided to give a couple of techniques another go with the view of not only enjoying studying the learning process, but actually getting my speed back to around 20wpm for use on air.

I feel I may now however end up being sidetracked into a small project writing a simple morse tutor with the above listed feature to see how if it makes as much difference as I expect. Doh!

Posted: 2010-11-11 17:37

Believe me, I was pretty stupid in school but I know the facts of life, and due to early leaving school I have experience in life in the years one adapts experiences best.
As Chief-postman (yes, I am proud of it) I have certainly a lot of children, I don't know how much.
"Hi postman", beautiful breasted young women with crying children and husband not at home, because doing important research at the University "Do you like some coffee?" Sure I like, and you know or you do not know what happens than in a breeze, that what the woman really wants to offer me and herself.

Well when I see the data "Number" produces and you confirm, I know everything.

You were easy learning at school and at college and university, so you don't know the way John Doe acquires his knowledge and abilities.

Believe me: that is sweat and blood and tears and willpower and time.

So when you acquire Koch 12 characters in a few exercises and start having problems, you can't compete the right way.

Learn from me, a guy that knows the right way due to lack of success in school the next:

You do not know what persistence is in learning because you was an easy learning guy. Now in Morse code you experience the same as John Doe experiences, You are looking for an escape, studying the original work of Koch, starting all over again, trying to critisize, adding ideas etcetera,

What you have to do is follow my advice, the advice of the laid off chief-postmaster:

Start with lesson 2 or 3 or what have you: do the lesson 50 times before you go to the next lesson
Put the speed on 25 and 12 effective. Only proceed to the next lesson when you have 90% correct AND you passed 50 exercises for that lesson. That's the way to do it. Too easy? very good, go to 25/20 or even 25/25 the state where you finally want to arrive.

Do it every day for at least 15 minutes. Everybody even Obama can plan 15 minutes for such a simple task.
In exceptional circumstances that you are missing a day catch up the next day.

Stop messing around with scientific comments on Koch. Just DO IT, You will not only learn morse but also you will get respect for the people surrounding you, when you know this is the only way for them to reach a goal by persistent exercising.

When you know that,you burn your mike in a ritual fire, and you want only to QSO people that does the same, with the result that you are a honorable bearer of the classic communication language of wireless communication, which is the highest honour you can bear. Just as the gifted youth studying classic Greek and Latin as an extra in their schools starting at age 11.

Be a man, to easy learning is weakening your character, DO IT.

Posted: 2010-11-15 00:23
during the all-too-short pause after each signal which he does not immediately identify and before the next one is heard, he is going to try to think about what signal it was. But while he is thinking about it the next signal arrives, tending to upset him and cause him to lose the flow of the rhythm.

This almost perfectly describes the most significant problem I'm having with learning CW...

Posted: 2010-11-16 17:06
Hi Chris,

been away from the site for some days, sorry for my late reply.

Firstly: a downloadable 5 char three colum sheet in pdf format or javascript printpage call format

Not sure what exactly you mean by this? Blank, to copy the groups, or filled, with errors?

Secondly: How about when adding a new character for the first time, not telling the user what letter it is - just give them the sound.

Interesting thought indeed, and not difficult to implement. It'd be optional, and the user should be able to chose when he advances from using the dot to learning which character it actually is (by means of a little button to press, or so).

Posted: 2010-11-16 19:45
Hi Fabian,

No problem. Sorry, Yes first suggestion was a blank sheet.

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