CW training

Paul Butzi (W7PFB)

Yesterday after I shared that I was working on learning Morse Code on the newbie net it seemed there might be some interest among other non-morse-enabled folks.

My experience so far:
* I have tried learning it just with a code practice oscillator and some recordings of groups, and been hopelessly unsuccessful.
* I have tried the Skilman method and been unsuccessful (but I have the discs if anyone wants to borrow them).

The things that finally have been successful for me were:
* buying a paddle and hooking it up to my transceiver (with built in keyer), dialing the power down to zero, and practicing *sending*.  I have my radio set up with a computer and fldigi, so what I’ve done is set fldigi to read the morse I’m sending, which shows me when I get it right and when I get it wrong.  Just starting with the few letters/numbers I had managed to memorize, over and over, then learning new symbols, until in fairly short order I found I could read a printed line and send the morse.  The first time I successfully sent “What hath God wrought” I felt pretty good.  When I successfully sent “Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz” I felt even better.

* using the website  It has the 40 lesson Koch method, which is what I’m using now with modest success.  I’m using the Farnsworth method, where the symbols are played at 20wpm with the intercharacter space extended to slow it down to an effective speed of 5wpm.  The big breakthrough for me is that playing the symbols this fast means there’s just no way to count dits and dahs.  You just let the sound wash over you and trigger the ‘letter’ in your brain. also has a great practice tool called ‘morse machine’, which I find is really helpful for me.  Basically, it will play a single symbol, you type the symbol on the keyboard of your computer.  When you get it right, it plays another symbol.  This takes the ‘Oh, no!  I got behind and now I’m lost’ stress out of it.

I know for sure that what works for one person may well not work for another, your best hope seems to be to keep trying different methods until you find one that lets you make progress.

Also, if you have little kids, teach’em morse code when they’re little.  For sure this would have been a lot easier for me when I was five years old and my brain was a bit more flexible.

-p W7PFB
73, Don’t forget to smile and have fun!

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