Hi Joe,

As I recall, yesterday you asked me how I practice sending high speed code. First off, the sending is by far the hardest thing to master in having a high speed QSO. The copy by ear is only a mental exercise and
hours of listening at higher and  higher speeds will usually bring that
in. The reason that there are so few high speed operators is the
inability to send high speed. Achieving that requires lots of hard work,
both mental and physical. You must of course be able to type fast by
touch only, no looking at the keyboard. You must be able to get the
spelling correct quickly and get your thoughts in order quickly enough
that you don't run out the buffer and create choppy sending. There is
only one radio operator who sought my advice on getting to QRQ speeds
that was limited by not copying high speeds well, yet being able to send
it well. All of the others were capable of copying the QRQ but not
sending it.


When younger I found it rather easy to increase the sending speed as I was already a 100 wpm transcription typist at work. I would type my own scientific papers as the Department secretary was so unpleasant to have
to deal with. As a side note, both Chuck, Thom, and I were piano
players when young and that sure helped.


That was then and now is now. I am almost 80 now and the fingers and hands are no longer capable of playing the piano and without lots of daily practice I would never be able to type over 100 wpm. To achieve
that here is my session: First, I form a large list of words that are
difficult to type using QWERTY. I then incorporate them into an
imaginary conversation. I form the conversation around things that I
would typically say on the air. A discussion of the current weather,
work I am engaged in, important world happenings, etc. The point here is
that you are pushing your brain to move fast on providing real
information and converting it into perfect code, or as perfect as I can
achieve at speed. The speed that I practice at should be faster than I
will use on the air. Let's say you can send very well at 70 wpm. You
should be practicing at 80 wpm, making errors and being choppy at , but
always pushing yourself to improve. When you drop back down to 70 wpm
you will find that it is becoming much easier to send good code. When
you achieve good code at 80, move the practice up to 90 and start using
80 wpm on the air. In my case I practice at 110 wpm and drop down to 100
on the air. I am starting off each QSO on Chuck's Saturday schedule at
100 and sending it at present for the first 10 or 15 minutes. Doing that
is hard work and the fingers tire after that time and the errors start
creeping in so I drop down to 90 and so on. I practice about 20 minutes a
day, mostly at 110, dropping down to 100 at the end. It is ALWAYS hard
work. If it isn't hard work, you are loafing below your capabilities! If
I find it possible to send good code at 110 my practice will shift to
120 wpm.


In order to send good quality code you must always be fully alert an concentrated, whether at 60 wpm or 100 wpm. Even though 60 wpm is very easy for me to send, if I am not paying full attention to my sending I
am going to make sending errors. The tendency is to relax too much at
low speeds like 60 wpm and the concentration is gone and the errors fill
the vacuum.


Well, that's how I practice, Joe. I suspect that the same approach
will work for you.

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> In order to send good quality code you must always be fully alert an concentrated, whether at 60 wpm or 100 wpm. Even though 60 wpm is very easy for me to send

Fred, that's so true -- and not only for sending, but receiving as well. I've tried to practice by having CW playing in the background but find that it's 100% useless. Must be concentrating fully. Anyone else notice this, or do you find there's still some benefit in QRQ RX practice at less than full attention? Might work for some (wish it did for me)
Thanks for the advice, Fred. I am going to incorporate your recommendations into my daily practice routine. I have already started to compile a list of my difficult 'QWERTY' words.

I agree with you, Andrew, about trying to learn QRQ with 'background' code. I used Fdligi to make mp3 files of the 3000 most common words and some of the advice given by Fred and others on this website. I listen to these mp3 files during my daily walks around Maui. I have found that listening is really useless unless I concentrate. Otherwise, it is just background noise.

Joe KH6/W3GW

I too have noticed that when using a text file of common words, sent to G4FON or more recently FLdigi, that the only real practice value occurs when I am paying attention to each word as it flows out of the stream of cw.  The moment I cease focus on the sounds, I stop comprehending the word which is being sent.  There are some exceptions, words which I've practiced and heard so much in real use that I can "feel" their patterns reflexively, but this is rare for me. 


Sometimes I listen to code practice while excercising/working out.  The minute I begin to daydream about something else, I found I've missed 4 or 5 words or part of a QSO.  The same thing is true with me during keyboard sending, especially when trying to keep the thoughts coherent, flowing, and natural...not choppy.  Of course, you never want to run the buffer out and leave space.  As good as I thought my typing was, it was still a major challenge to organize thoughts conversationally in real time.  73




I'm quite sure I am the one operator Fred was talking about in the first paragraph (Hi Fred!) who sought his advice on reaching QRQ speeds and was hampered only by his receiving speed.  Of course this was simply because I had only been a CW op for about a year at the time and a ham scarcely over a year.  During that time I had achieved a shaky and nervous 35-40 wpm, which only worked when I felt relaxed and confident...when I joined a net or tried to perform my cw in front of an elmer or mentor, I would often lose concentration and miss a lot. 


I lacked the experience of my fellow cw ops, most being decades my elder and very accustomed to QRS QSOs all over the bands for years and years.  Experience counts for quite a bit, and lately I've been focusing on filling in those gaps, and just pushing my accuracy at sending and receiving between 20wpm and 40wpm.  Relaxed concentration and focus precipitates accuracy, which in turn paves the way for subsequent speed -- at least in my case.




-Brett  KI4DBK


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