CW practice tools now, and in 1966

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Fred Kemmerer Fred Kemmerer 1 year, 11 months ago.

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    Back in 1966 when I was trying to learn code the options were limited to straight keys, squawky oscillators, code tables, and expensive but short reel to reel tapes which in no time you knew what the next letter was going to be. Today the tools are much improved.

    For sending most HF rigs allow you to use their internal keyer for code practice, without transmitting. Either Iambic or single paddle keys can be used with the keyer removing the challenge of achieving dit and dash length and spacing. I use CWget (free download) or CW Skimmer ($75) as a decoder when I practice sending, you can see if the character to character or word to word spacing is correct. If EA ( . ._ ) is decoded as U ( .._ ) or vice versa you have a spacing issue that needs work. Note, check the decoder text after you have completed sending, not during. After a few short weeks of sending text from anything on my desk, especially junk mail, I’m comfortable up to 15 wpm with clean decodes and 20 wpm with extra dits and multiple spacing issues.

    On the receive side there are even more learning advantages today. There are numerous free programs that offer the Koch method, some with Farnsworth capability. The one I like is Ham Morse on a iPad. Other programs generate random character sets with or with out punctuation and some generate QSOs using your call sign. Layne has listed a couple of great programs in his post.

    One of the best tools today is the ability to translate text to code and generate MP3 or wav files. These can be played back using a smart phone, iPod, or similar devices. Even as a ring tone on your phone. Initially I generated over 2 dozen files ranging from 13 to 20 wpm and selected shuffle on my phone’s music player. Recently I started pasting the daily news into the translator. I listen at work with buds, in my car through the hands free system, and while setting on airplanes. More and more I find I’m listening to the words and no longer the characters.
    Even my Yaesu FT450D produces random 5 character sets at the touch of a button.
    I wonder if I can return those reel to reel tapes for a refund??

    Hamilton (K1HMS)
    Amherst, NH

    Fred Kemmerer
    Fred Kemmerer

    Great article Hamilton, thank you! I like your approach of using a CW decoder to check the accuracy of your practice sending.



    - Fred (AB1OC)
    President, Nashua Area Radio Society
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