Relearning Morse Code
I passed my 5wpm CW code test to get my novice license in 1990. Then in 1997, by a miracle, I passed my 13wpm test for my General. I did not upgrade to Extra until the 20wpm requirement was dropped. Anyway, I was taught with flash cards first, then with a human sending morse code at a real 5wpm. I was taught if I miss a character, write it down and go back to fill it in. As you can expect, I’ve hit a cap at about 12wpm, which is pushing it. 10wpm is more comfortable.
I was into QRP for a while but gave it up as I became frustrated with CW, even though I really liked CW. I became frustrated because I couldn’t advance. Well, I have set a goal to bust through my cap and become comfortable with at least 20 wpm.
Of all the programs I have tried, I like Chuck Adam’s K7QO Code Course the best, however… the code is sent slow enough that no matter how hard I try, my mind reverts to it’s previous teaching and I dissect each sound into dah’s and dit’s. This is what is killing me. Thus, I’ve created my own plan:
- Follow the idea of K7QO that you listen to a single character all by itself for the first time which builds a muscle memory of sorts. When I hear the sound of a “D”, my reaction should be to write “D”.
- Use the program “Just Learn Morse Code” to send the code at a speed fast enough that I am not counting dits and dahs. For me, I set the character speed to 30 and the overall speed to 12 to start with.
- Just Learn Morse Code will not automatically introduce the new letter by itself. It mixes the new letter in with the previous letters you already know. I believe this to be wrong and against the K7QO code course. What it does is makes you question each character heard trying to dissect the sound to determine if it is new or not. Thus, I use the “Source > Selected Characters” menu option and enter only the new character. This will send only that character until I become comfortable with it. I then use the menu option “Source > Character Set” and quiz myself over the entire character set of my current level (12 at the time of this writing).
That is phase one in which I will use until I get 95% score consistently on all letters, numbers, the symbols “. , / ? = +“ and SK.
Phase two will be two independent actions:
- Get on the air and enjoy the fruit of my work! I should be able to communicate at a speed of at least 12 wpm with comfort. I believe my speed will come up pretty quickly at that point.
- Use the G4FON software with options such as noise, signal level being less than perfect and adding in more options making the “QSO” more difficult such as QRM, QRN, simulated straight key, chirps, etc…
If necessary after a few months of operating on the air and with the G4FON software, start drilling myself with the G4FON software and the “Just Learn Morse Code“ software pushing the code speed past the level I am comfortable with for on the air QSOs.
Once I hit 20wpm comfortably, I will probably relax my training a bit. I would be happy to be able to achieve 30 wpm but my immediate goal is 20wpm.
I will blog about my progress using this method and go a bit more in depth as to my method choosing as well as software choices.