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#71 - CW Code Progress Update

It has been awhile since I did an update on my CW code progress, and that is because I had to stop taking the CW class and step completely away from CW in April. Unfortunately I suffer from frequent debilitating migraines which hit me several times each week on average.

When one of them decides to pay me a visit I am down for at least a day, or more. Such was the case during the CW class that I was attending. I ended up missing two classes in a row and with the pace that the class keeps, I just could not catch back up with what I had missed so I had to drop out of the class and hang up my keyer for awhile.

I have decided this week to give it another try, on my own this time, insead of participating in a scheduled class. This way I can work at my own pace, and if I have to miss a day from a migraine, I am not holding up the rest of the class or falling behind them.

I am trying it a little different this time though. After listening o advice from several sources I have changed the way that I am practicing now. I noticed that I was picturing in my mind the dits and dahs that form the letters as I was hearing them and as I was sending them, which slows you down.

I am now practicing listening to the code at 30 words per minute with a Farnsworth speed of 20 WPM instead of the slower 20 WPM and Farnsworth of 15 that I was using in the previous class, and it seems to be working. The code is coming at you so fast that you do not have time to count the individual dits and dahs and think about the letter, thereby creating a picture of it in your mind, but it forces you to recognize the sound of the letters instead. I know it sounds crazy to be trying to learn code coming at you that fast, but it does work.

Think about it this way, how did you learn to speak? Did you read a book and then picture the letters and words in your mind as you spoke them? Of course not, it was all done by listening to the letters and words, and mimicking them. You didnt learn to read a bok until years after you learned to speak.

This process uses the same method that has already worked for you in the past. You yourself are proof that the process works. But there is a catch with learning CW now that we have to overcome. Chances are that you have already at some point looked at a chart of the CW letters and numbers, trying to memorize them. That is what is going to hold you back in learning to send and copy CW code quickly, at conversational speeds.

You have turned copying code into a three step process without realizing it. First you hear the code, then you look up that code in your mind to match it to the photo of the letters that you memorized, then you write down what the letter was. We need to have you bypass that middle step and go straight from your ears to the paper. When someone says "car" you do not picture a car in your mind first, and then write down the word "car", it happens automatically without you having to index the memory section of your brain. We need to apply that same process in learning CW as well.

By listening to the code at 30 WPM, your brain does not have time to count the tones then access your memory and lookup the image of the letters for you to know what the letter or word was. It forces you to recognize the sound of the code, the rythem of it, just as if you were listening to music.

I just started two days ago using this new method of re-learning CW and I can already see a difference. I am picking it up much faster now than I was when I was looking up the image in my mind before.

I am still much faster at sending code than I am at copying code, but I am getting better at recognizing the sound of the letters and words. Before I could not copy at all, the dits and dahs all sounded the same to me. Now I am starting to hear and recognize the subtle differences between them as the code flies by me.

I am taking it slower this time, instead of forcing myself to complete two sessions each week, I am only working on one session a week. This way I am spending more time practicing each letter and word in a session before going onto the next one. It also allows me time in case of a migraine attack to miss a day or two and not fall so far hehind in my "schedule".

Until Next Time

Aloha & 73 from Hawaii

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