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Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics => The HAM Radio Board => Topic started by: Smurf Hunter on April 13, 2018, 09:51:58 AM

Title: CW: the whole thing
Post by: Smurf Hunter on April 13, 2018, 09:51:58 AM
As I attempt to learn CW, not just memorizing the letters, but practice copying, using an iambic keyer, operating the rig appropriately, etc. I am realizing there's a lot of not so great advice on this subject.

1) learning to copy/send at slow speeds is learning a different language
It's the difference between me speaking english at a normal pace, vs. spelling out the letters of each word with a half second pause between them.
Honestly my hope is to learn the common Q codes, signal reports and make sure I copy callsigns.  If I fail to copy a paragraph about someone's grandkids, I'll just say FB THX for QSO 73

2) learning the ergonomics and muscle memory of your keyer is huge
So about the most common thing you would key is: CQ CQ DE <call sign>
"CQ" actually works really naturally for me on the iambic keyer.
I use my left hand, thumb on dah, middle finger on dit. You can tap this on a table top easily this way.
-.-. --.-
However at 20 wpm "DE" is actually tough with the keyer as I can easily get an extra "dit" like so:
expected:
-.. .
actual:
-... .

The practice keyer I'm using may be a factor.  If I hold the dah for the complete duration, it seems to "time" correctly and I can count off how long 2x dits will take, but if I left off the dah too fast, I get only part of a dit and over shoot it.

I get a similar problem with the first 3 letters of my call: W6V

 .-- -.... ...-

W to 6 is ok, but letting off the dit paddle precisely after the 4th dit on "6" is tough. I either get -... or -..... lots of the time

Basically any time I have a letter ending in dit followed by a letter starting with dit, I can get in trouble.
A work around is to let up my dit finger and tap out each, but that's not using the keyer properly.


 There's a lot of advice out there about people "just getting it", but that's not really actionable.  I hope my diving deep with the keyer will force me to learn proper rhythm, and send/hear more in words for common things like Q codes.
Title: Re: CW: the whole thing
Post by: armymars on April 13, 2018, 10:22:44 AM
  Sounds like your off to a good start. I still use an iambic keyer like a single paddle key. My trouble is I use a straight key, bug, and paddles. Can you say confuse yourself. Grin
Title: Re: CW: the whole thing
Post by: Smurf Hunter on April 13, 2018, 10:46:30 AM
Thanks.  As info this is the practice keyer I got.  Shipped it was $20 and good soldering practice.

https://qrpguys.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/trainer_030918.pdf
Title: Re: CW: the whole thing
Post by: Smurf Hunter on April 19, 2018, 10:13:43 AM
I found this fascinating too:  http://kambing.ui.ac.id/onnopurbo/orari-diklat/teknik/cw/doc/LEARN%20MORSE%20CODE%20in%20one%20minute.pdf

For folks with a computer science background, they may be familiar with data structures known as trees.  The idea is you can store nodes along the tree in an ordered way and VERY quickly access the desired node.

Someone got the idea to populate a tree structure using the CW alphabet:

(http://www.learnmorsecode.com/pix/learn.gif)

For example, you hear "- .." 

The first sound was DAH, so from the root (start) you go left.  There's another sound, and it is DIT, so fork right, and finally the last DIT is another fork to the right. You find "D".

Morse developed the code so the more frequently occurring English letters were simpler.  It's no coincidence the bottom nodes of the tree have the less common characters. This concept is used regularly in computer software for optimizing cached data (common stuff is closer). PSK31 does similar, we just can't discern it audibly (at least most of us cannot).
Title: Re: CW: the whole thing
Post by: armymars on April 19, 2018, 12:53:51 PM
 I remember using the tree from ARRL code practice records that my friend loan me. It slowed me down because first I'd copy in my head a "T" then  "M" then a "O" and so on. It's best to lean the sound like a new word. You can teach me a new word or maybe a letter in a foreign language.
Title: Re: CW: the whole thing
Post by: Smurf Hunter on April 19, 2018, 03:09:22 PM
Yeah, it remains to be seen how this works in practice.  It was just a clever organization of things.