- April 13, 2016 at 11:11 am #1996
I am slowing learning CW and I have a question about making QSO’s. I am using G4FON and LCWO.com and am learning to send and receive at 20 wpm, but with a lot of space between characters. If I set my transmit to 20 wpm and try to make a QSO will people realize I am a “rookie” and send slower? I’m actually doing okay recognizing characters at 20 wpm if I have some time between the characters. If I ask someone to QRS to match my speed will they increase the spacing or slow down the characters?
Jamey (AC1DC)April 13, 2016 at 11:19 am #1997
Great questions Jamey. Others who are more experienced with CW than I may be able to answer your questions better. As a beginner, I would try to work near the top end of the CW sub-bands. This is where the folks who are learning CW tend to hang out. If you send at 20 wpm and space you letters out, I think you might get a similar response from folks who answer you. The 20 wpm rate may be too fast for other beginners even with the added spacing. If that happens, I’d suggest trying sending at 12 wpm and spacing things out as this is probably more likely to be a speed that other beginners can handle. You’ll definitely want to send “QRS” if someone comes back to you too slowly. Once you have a QSO going, you can explain to the other OP how you are learning and they will probably match your speed and spacing if they can.April 13, 2016 at 7:04 pm #2000
The method used to learn CW is intended to help you avoid the old mental speed limits that almost everyone encountered. The original Novice and Technician licenses required 5 wpm CW, the General and Advanced License required 13 wpm CW and the Extra class required 20 wpm CW. Natural “learning speed” limits were encountered at about 1 or 2 wpm below each speed required for a higher license. These “plateaus” were a serious problem that the CW operator had to deal with. The learning process can be thought of as learning a “fresh” set of characters at each new operating speed.
Many learning methods evolved to try to improve learning CW and improving newcomers skills. By learning characters at higher speeds with larger spacing between characters should make it easier to learn the unique rhythm or sound of the characters at higher speeds. Slowing the character rhythm down should help avoid the traditional learning problems with starting to learn at 5 wpm and having to grow from there.
Characters are combined to form words and you will eventually recognize the words without hearing or focusing on the indvidual letters that make up the word. Again, it’s all about learning to hear the rhythms – so I would encourage you to turn your keyer speed control down when engaged in a lower CW contact or if you receive a QRS request. There is somewhat of a “balance” where the method you suggest would work – perhaps at average speeds of 16 – 18 wpm or higher… but for now, I would strongly suggest you turn the keyer speed knob down.
A good CW operator will always accommodate the operator on the other end! If they send very slowly – you should try to send in a similar manner – don’t need an exact match… but caution if your speed makes it easy for you, but hard for them.
Exchanges can be difficult sometimes given the “texting” style shortcuts that are taken during a QSO. Example: “R R tnx fer the call es wx hr is vry cold. QRM and QRN makes cpy difficult.” Can be a challenge sometimes – number 1 rule – have fun.
Hope this helps – but don’t be afraid to experiment some as well. Lets see what other opinions are out there.April 13, 2016 at 7:24 pm #2001April 14, 2016 at 10:39 am #2008
Hi Jamey. I concur with the responses to your question regarding CW speed and rhythm. Over time, you will automatically recognize certain words that you have heard over and over, such TEST, CQ, TNX, ES, and so on. I would recommend trying your hand at CW during Field Day with an experienced op on hand. You will find yourself getting into the rhythm of “CQ FD DE N1FD”. You will pick up “N1FD” quickly when someone comes back to you. The exchange is simple – as in any contest – so, again, repetition enables speed improvement.
73 de TE (not “N”)April 14, 2016 at 12:02 pm #2010
Thanks for all the advice! I like the suggestion of trying it at field day with an experienced op. I also saw a slow speed cw contest (I think it was by fists). Am I wrong in thinking that a slow speed contest would be good (and fun) as it would limit the amount of conversation and mostly be signal reports, call sign and name?
Thanks again for all the responses. I’m really liking this website!
Jamey (AC1DC)April 14, 2016 at 6:51 pm #2012I thought I would share some Morse Code links with some others exploring the CW -questions forum who want to explore the process further. I have added a couple of “fun” links as well.1) “ how it works: Morse Code (720p) ” – early ARMY training tape– some good details2) “ technique of hand sending “ – 1944 NAVY training film– using a straight key, explanation of timing for good sending.– good background information4) “ abbreviations used in cw communications “ – by Ray Anderson– discussion of the many abbreviations that are often used for CW mode5) “ five tips for learning morse code “– thoughts on good and bad learning techniques.6) “ DA operating W6CF ” – enjoy7) “ the rythem of the code ” – morse code set to music– fun introduction for the younger crowdNOTE: There are lots of other CW training sites out there – but this should help wet the appetite of those interested in exploring this medium. Members that discover other helpful sites are encouraged to share there links with the forum.April 14, 2016 at 8:51 pm #2013
Thought you might enjoy a link on Straight Key Night (SKN) operations. The videos demonstrate a variety of vintage radios and keys. Note the general speed of the contacts… The operator must form each dit and dah by closing a manual key contact. This requires better dexterity and control than that needed for an electronic keyer.
CAUTION: those early key contacts had over 300 VDC on them (keyed cathode operation). And the real early vintage equipment was often built on a wooden frame (and quite exposed).
Some of the setups also show “rock bound” (crystal controlled) setups using FT243 crystals. These could often be obtained as Military Surplus ( slightly below the bands) and then the crystal could be ground with an abrasive to move the frequency higher and into the CW band. The quartz crystal required care during the grinding process as they can be rather fragile. I saw a video on youtube for those interested in the crystals history.
ARRL Straight Key Night – another side of CW operations
– Mike gave the club an excellent presentation at the April 2015 club meeting.
Quartz Crystal Documentary – Crystals go to war
Fabrication d’un tube Triode – Bonus video
– (hint: it’s a hollow state transistor with a filament) 😉
EnjoyApril 15, 2016 at 12:03 pm #2014
I think a slow-speed contest would be an excellent form of practice for you. One of the most important skills to learn early is how to accurately copy callsigns. A contest such as the one that you mention should give you some good practice in this area and will be a lot of fun!
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