Panafall code

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I am working on getting my code copy speed back up.  I used to do about 30-35 but I'm way way out of practice and I'm struggling at 20 or so these days.  I'm doing lots of practice and I have the radio on most of the day just watching signals and copying a few.

I came across this guy on 20 sending at about 10 WPM and doing such a beautiful job of it that I could easily have used the waterfall to copy his code... I find that fascinating.  I realize to you flex-pros this is nothing new but to me this is wonderful to watch.

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Mark - WS7M

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Posted 3 years ago

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Walt - KZ1F

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A guy or did you find the w1aw code practice? Not to be a buzz kill Mark, but the best thing you can do to increase code practice is to forget associating the visual dah di di dah dfit with a slash. You want to convert the sound directly to the letter and skip the intervening -..-. I forgot the name of the format Heil something or something Heil where watching the waterfall you can actually see the text form, e.g. 73 de kz1f in the waterfall... Completely wild!!!
(Edited)
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Mark - WS7M

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Hi Walt, not a buzz kill, mind you I "used* to copy 30-35 no problem.  I got koch and I do lots of training.  I'm just not used to the panafall and when I saw I could see the code right there it was a kick.  Anything faster than 10wpm and the dashes and dots run together on the display.  I just thought it was cool. 

This was definitely some guy as they were asking questions back and forth.

Yes I have seen that mode with the stuff in the waterfall. I've never run across such a signal but it sounds like a poor mans SSTV kind of... Send a low quality pick to be shown in the waterfall sweet.

To tell you how much I'm practicing code I put my headphones on last night and was practicing lesson 5 at 25 wpm in my head trying to picture each group of letters that was sent.  Well I fell asleep and woke up a few moments later wondering why I was hearing code with a start.  Guess I was tired!
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Walt - KZ1F

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FB, sorry.
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Mark - WS7M

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Nothing to be sorry about... You've given great advice!  I downloaded the koch for iphone.  Years ago i did a koch based training on computer and on tapes (yes tapes cassettes for real!)
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Walt - KZ1F

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Well, frankly, I got 23 at 33 and the reason I wasn't licensed at 16 was I could not get 5, Can you believe it? I couldn't get 5 for love nor money. I'd love to be solid at 35, I'd love to be cw op on a dxexpedition. I don't think, at this point, 35 is in me. so when you expressed a desire to be back at 35, it was like.yeah!
So I wanted to encourage you to go there.
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Doug Hall

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I honestly believe that the problem with listening to code practice media (tapes, MP3, software, W1AW, or whatever) is that most people don't have the self-discipline to endure the pain of trying to copy code that is faster than they are comfortable with. It's too easy to stop the recording or program and go get something to drink, or fall asleep, or just walk away from the receiver and come back later. If you have that kind of self-discipline, more power to you, (and you don't need to read any farther) but many of us don't. The best way (speaking from experience) to achieve proficiency with fast CW is to get on the air. I know, it sounds trite. But it works. Instead of listening to code practice, call CQ at a speed a little faster than you can copy, or answer such a CQ. Yes, it's uncomfortable to get into a QSO and struggle with copy or to have to ask the other guy to QRS, but once the QSO starts you're committed. Alternatively find a CW mentor who will get on the air with you and push you along. For the first 15 years of my ham career I rarely operated CW and was convinced that it just wasn't for me, and that 20 wpm (needed to get my Extra) wasn't in the cards. But one of my elmers spent time on the air with me nearly every night over a period of a couple of weeks, pushing me to go faster and faster, and that month I passed the 20 wpm test and kept going. I now very much enjoy ragchewing on CW, and playing in CW contests, and I've had several opportunities to operate the other end of CW DX pileups from the Caribbean. I have an HF mobile setup and most of my activity from the car is on 30 and 40m CW.

Good luck with your effort to go fast again, Mark. Use whatever method works best for you, but I encourage you to spend more time on the air and less time listening to code practice.

73,
Doug K4DSP
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Mark - WS7M

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Hi Doug, thanks!  All excellent points.  I will spend more time on air and I am pushing myself when I do.  I regularly set the key at 25 these days even though I am not copying solid at that speed.

My "off the air" learning is when I can't be on the air.  Yes I don't think it is quite as good but what I have found is that the more I hear certain words the quicker I get them when on the air.  So I'm using my morse trainer which has QSO mode to send me what are typical QSOs just so I can get very used to the sound again of words like RST, name, QTH etc.  Then I'm branching out to try and get the name and qth data.

If I could be on the air all the time I'd probably just do it there as it was how I learned it years ago.  I had friends that drug me into CW contests where the speed was easily 30 and I think I was copying 12.  You are absolutely right... yes for a while you are WAY behind but it begins to get easier.

When I was at about 30 or so I could sit back and copy in my head with comfort and it was fun.  I didn't have to struggle to have a pad to jot down something.  Even if I didn't quite recognize a word I could remember the sound of it and my mine was sharp enough to work it out.  That seems to be gone due to lack of practice.  But I think I can get some of it back.

But absolutely your advice is spot on.  Rag chew is the best and not just the standard RST, name, QTH, reg etc.  I had a guy staring to tell me about his yard, what trees he planned to put antennas in and it was fun.  All at 25 so I was working to keep up and admittedly had to look at the decoder for a few things.  But even that one QSO helped me a lot.   I found the next one easier.

Tomorrow night I will do some hours in the QRP zombie contest on CW.  I think that will be a kick.  I'm not a big contester these days but I think this one is just what I need!