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LCWO Discussion Forum [Atom LCWO Forum Feed]

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

Thread: real vs. effective speed

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Posted: 2011-04-05 20:21
I am doing my lessons at 20wpm character speed and 10wpm effective speed. Is there any particular significance to the "real speed" displayed when I submit my lesson results?

I know the 10wpm effective speed sets my "thinking time" between letters and by progressively increasing the effective speed I get more reflexive in my responses to the code. So what additional meaning is the "real speed"? Any thoughts?

Posted: 2011-04-05 20:50
Hi Steve,

there are always several definitions of "speed" in Morse code. The most common one is the PARIS standard, which takes the word "PARIS" as a reference. Sending PARIS x times in one minute equals to x words per minute.

The PARIS standard is fairly accurate for text in most languages (English, French, German, ...), but when you use completely random characters like in the code groups, it doesn't do a good job. In the languages mentioned, the letter probability is well defined; E occurs much more often than Q. It's no surprise that Gerke (who improved the original Morse/Vail code) chose a single dit for the most common, and --.- for a very rare letter. Depending on the text sent, the PARIS speed may differ widely from the "real speed", which is simply the number of letters per minute.

Imagine your text happens to consist of zeros only. "00000 00000 00000 00000 00000". At "5wpm" this would take almost two minutes. Now what if the text consisted of Es only? "EEEEE EEEEE EEEEE EEEEE EEEEE" - that's a mere 30 seconds or so!

LCWO's implementation with Farnsworth speeds (i.e. effective speed different from letter speed) is not very accurate, to be honest. But even if it was, or if you'd just listen to completely random letter groups at a fixed speed, there'd be a difference to the "real" speed due to the different letter probabilities.

Fabian DJ1YFK

Posted: 2011-04-06 14:11
I've got my Koch exercise speed set to 20/9 and it's generally reporting something around 11 to 11.5 wpm when it checks the results. I guess the effective speed reported after each exercise is more accurate?

Posted: 2011-04-06 14:29
Yes, the "real" speed reported at the end should be very precise, because it does nothing but calculate how long the generated file actually was and calculates characters / time.

Fabian DJ1YFK

Posted: 2011-04-06 21:46
Thanks, Fabian. You are doing a great service to the amateur community!


Posted: 2011-04-07 14:20
Thanks. I don't feel quite so hopeless for having turned the speed so low now...

Posted: 2011-04-25 21:07
There does seem to be some trial-and-error in picking a setting that'll give you something challenging enough to be worthwhile, while still being attainable.

I now pay some attention to the actual speed reported after an exercise is checked, so that it doesn't get too far away from the speed at which I'm aiming. At one point I'd set the WPM to 12, but the figure reported at the end was nearer 16 or even 17, so it wasn't (I guess) too surprising that I was struggling. At present, setting the WPM to 9 gets me a reported speed somewhere between 12 and 14, which is probably fast enough to be useful (if I can ever get past lesson 3...). Setting WPM lower than 9 was counter-productive; my attempts were actually worse than at WPM 9 because I started dissecting each character into its component dots and dashes.

If I ever get past lesson 3 (I'm back on lesson 2 at present because my attempts at lesson 3 were getting worse and worse) I expect I'll need to adjust the WPM setting to keep the actual speed where I want it.

Posted: 2011-05-08 21:51
A thought... When the site records the result of a Koch lesson it'd be useful if it also recorded the actual WPM speed of that lesson rather than the WPM setting it was aiming at.

Posted: 2019-03-01 18:50
I want an 8 wpm so I set both the character speed and effective speed to be 8 wpm. But the real speed says 6.4. I want to receiver 40 characters in a minute. But this is giving me only 30 characters per minute. How do I change that?

Posted: 2019-03-01 20:35
I want an 8 wpm so I set both the character speed and effective speed to be 8 wpm. But the real speed says 6.4. I want to receiver 40 characters in a minute. But this is giving me only 30 characters per minute. How do I change that?

Your chosen 8wpm is the rate for sending the word "PARIS" ( which has 50 elements ) 8 times in a minute.

The "real speed" in characters/sec in a RANDOM set of letters will tend to be slower than this because
the % of longer characters will tend to be higher in a random set - as explained above . .

The speed in terms of ( dot ) elements will be the same . . .

Have you tried 9wpm instead ?


you could make up some mp3 files with an average mix of letter "e" etc for normal text ..

Why do you want 8wpm ?

Have you done your background reading ?

e.g. http://morse-rss-news.sourceforge.net/artskill.pdf

enjoy anyway . .


Posted: 2019-03-10 08:52
pls inform s the recomended wpm, etc settings for a real beginner

Posted: 2019-03-10 12:54
pls inform s the recomended wpm, etc settings for a real beginner

This is impossible without knowing your aptitude for morse

The answer really is :-

Learn as fast as you can go, provided you continue to make progress

I expect lots of people start out quite fast and seem to do OK . . .
. . . but then find out that it hasn't quite sunk in as much as they though so they have to start again at a slower speed . .
. . . so they give up.

There is some reason why most people give up - lack of progress would be my best guess.

Normally we would expect you to take some time to become proficient and so would advise
15 or 20 for Character Speed (wpm) and
5 for Effective Speed (wpm)
until you have got used to doing morse and have picked up the characters.

This choice is designed to allow people with lower aptitude
( almost everyone I guess )
to continue to see progress and so be encouraged to continue
rather than
losing heart like about 90% of starters and then give up through boredom.

And you can try speeding up if you are doing OK and enjoying it all . . .


You may prove be one of the lucky winners who gets to 25/2 in a couple of weeks,
in which
case this advise would hold you back and stop you joining the local QRQ club after a month or so.


how much staying power and motivation do you really have?

Which of these two sounds the most boring ? . . .

1/ Trying first at a faster speed but finding it's too fast after a couple of weeks and having to start again.

2/ Learning slowly and not being proficient for a few months.

Maybe neither are too boring and you can happily spend your 15 mins a day between now and summer . .

If you don't get to 25/25 in a few weeks then you will be learning by lots of repetition
repeat, repeat, repeat and don't give up.

I'm not a great advocate for measuring your speed all the time - instead I suggest listening to lots of quality morse from your cellphone mp3 player in odd moments.

You need to hear the morse decode it in your head, repeat, repeat etc
after a period of practice/practise it should become automatic so you just "hear the characters"

Did you read Pierpont


Might help you along . . .

good luck and enjoy anyway


Posted: 2019-03-11 11:43
Thank you very much

Posted: 2019-03-23 13:45
pls inform s the recomended wpm, etc settings for a real beginner

The answer is simple: start with 20/5 or lower (20/4)

Reason: Lower start gives you faster pregress, so you learn all 41 characters in a shorter time altogether.

After that you are able in emergencies to help yourself and others and you are free to work you up from a low speed to higher.

Advantage above 20/10 is that the chance on quiting, and hence wasting your time, is much many much lower.

Posted: 2019-03-26 13:42
Thank you very much

We can't say without knowing your aptitude.

Some people get to 25/25 wpm in a couple of weeks . . .

Some people take years . . .

Most people seem to decide it's not worth the effort and so they give up . . .

If you go too fast, you may think you are doing OK, but then find you are half way through but it hasn't really sunk in.

If you go too slow than you waste a bit of time but don't suddenly find you are faced with starting again.

The consensus seems to be 20/5 for a 15 mins session every day, which is based on keeping the char speed fairly high . .

Some people talk about

"no gain without pain"

- but you don't have a morse muscle

- you will learn by repetition and
- speed up by speeding up and repeating at the faster speed

and you need to avoid overdoing it as much as not doing enough - so do more shorter sessions rather than fewer great long ones if you are keen . . .

You may find your hearing is a factor.

The speedy correspondents in this forum don't have this sort of problem,
so I think they tend to ignore it a bit too much when advising people with lower aptitude, but you need to make sure you are hearing code clearly at whatever audio frequency you choose.

You should beware of measuring your speed over actually learning ( unless you have high aptitude )

You should beware of typing the results into the box as you listen - unless you can already type - else you run the risk of being tied to a typewriter instead of hearing letters/ words popping into your head automatically.


How much staying power do you have ??

Will you give up in a month if you are only at lesson 10 ??

Try making up some mp3s and playing them on your cellphone in spare moments or instead of watching TV . .

enjoy anyway

good luck with it


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