Thomas Martin, DF7TV, Stuttgart, Germany.

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Morse Code Training (25+ wpm)

PacmanDit by DF7TV


Abstract

This is a work in progress.

By the end of the year 2020 I felt comfortable at Morse Code speeds up to 28 wpm. I enjoyed conversational QSOs lasting 15 to 60 minutes at 28 wpm. Presented here are some of my experiments on exercises to get (1) to higher accuracy and (2) to higher speeds. Keep in mind that I am just sharing my experiments and that ideas presented here are not based on a long-term experience.

Morse Code Training Setup DF7TV

One of the main ideas behind the kind of exercises I am doing is to keep them as close as possible to a real-world QSO situation. During a conversational QSO you will not be reading your message from a screen or from a sheet of paper while sending. While receiving, you will not type a received message into a keyboard. Exercises presented here are a kind of "audio-only" and seem to lead to improvements in Morse Code proficiency.


How I proceeded so far

I fixed a mid-term goal to become comfortable at 35 wpm. As a long-term goal I would like to feel comfortable at a speed of 40 wpm in conversational QSOs. For both goals I think it is a good idea to have a safety margin of about 10% for the speed. So to be able to work real-world QSOs in a relaxed manner at 35 wpm, I'll try to get comfortable at 39 wpm under the (ideal) exercise conditions.

For training receiving I have chosen a fixed speed at about 15 wpm above my comfort level and started to listen to a file containing the most common 100 English words. After a while I felt that I would like to increase the range of words, so I went to the 200 words file ...and so on. The speed for training receiving will stay fixed at 45 wpm until the long-term goal is reached. My intention is to increase the range of the instantly recognized words (vocabulary building).

For training sending I started at my comfort level and slowly increased the speed by steps of 1 wpm.

During receiving and sending exercises I only listen once to / send only once each word. If I miss one / send one not accurately -- it's o.k. I try to be glad about the words I get or I send correctly -- not to worry about the others.

As you already know: The key to improvements in Morse Code proficiency is DAILY practice (QSOs) and/or DAILY exercises.


Lists of Words

To support the training of Morse Code at speeds above 25 wpm for receiving words (Instant Word Recognition - IWR) and for sending code at these speeds, randomized lists of common English words (txt-files)[1] are provided. These lists contain up to 4000 words. They are based on the vocabulary provided by "The New General Service List" (NGSL)[2] and "The TOEIC Service List" (TSL)[3].

Please note:

1.) The files named "A-...", "B-..." and "C-..." contain increasing numbers of words according to their frequency and give the highest possible coverage of English texts with the fewest words possible.

2.) The files named "A-...", "B-...", "C-..." and "K-..." contain ONE WORD PER LINE. They are based on the NGSL list only.

3.) The files named "D-..." contain ONE WORD PER LINE and are based on a combination of the NGSL list and the TSL list.

4.) The files named "D-..." and "K-..." only contain words of a certain minimum and maximum length (number of letters) as reflected in their names.

5.) Some of the files named "T-..." contain MORE THAN ONE WORD PER LINE as reflected in their names. The files named "T-..." are based on the NGSL list only and are primarily destined for training sending.

If you like to modify these files or to build your own ones, an editor like Notepad++[5] by Don Ho with its column mode and powerful functions/plugins may be very helpful. Notepad++ is a Windows code editor.


Training Receiving Morse Code

Claus' Morse Trainer[7] by Claus Niesen, AEŘS is an Android App suitable to train the receiving of Morse Code up to a speed of 100 wpm. The files named "A-..." to "K-..." of common English words (txt-files)[1] may be used as practice files in this App. These files contain one word per line. During the installation of the App a folder "Claus' Morse Trainer" containinig practice files is created on the mobile phone -- just store the txt-files in this folder.

During a training session I listen once to the code, try to get the word as quick as possible during a short pause and then Claus' Morse Trainer will speak out the correct word.

Here is a short recording of the output of Claus' Morse Trainer. Practice file is "A-100-WORDS-NGSL.TXT" from [1] at a speed of 35 wpm:


Training Sending Morse Code

Reading tip: Chuck Adams, K7QO (2013): "Using a Dual–Lever Paddle"[8] (Article retrieved 2021 from https://k7qo.com/).

To prepare for the (daily) training, a Morse Code Sending Practice Warm-Up file[9] may be used.

The file (e.g.) "T-3-TO-8-LETTERS-2256-WORDS-IN-2256-LINES-OF-1-WORD-NGSL", a file of the randomized lists of common English words (txt-files)[1], may be used to train sending Morse Code.

Sending Morse Code may be trained by listening to a spoken word and then send it. This can be accomplished by using a Text-To-Speech (TTS) program like Balabolka[4] by Ilya Morozov. Balabolka allows to save audio files in your preferred audio format (wav, mp3 etc.) and allows to insert pauses before each word (like in "AWFUL{{PAUSE=5000}}ENORMOUS" for a five seconds (5000ms) pause before the word "enormous"). As examples, input txt-files "DF7TV-T-3-to-8-Letters-2256-Words-NGSL-Balabolka-Input-Files" (zip archive of txt-files)[6] for Balabolka are provided, which include pauses.

Audio files generated by Balabolka may be stored on your preferred playback device. In my case it is my mobile phone and the Android player App is Maple Player JB by SQR5.com.

During a training session I listen to a single word (or a sequence of up to four words) and, during a long pause, I try to send it (or them) as accurately as possible using my dual-lever paddle, electronic keyer and side tone oscillator (The Idiom Press (W9KNI, W7GH) Logikey Model K-5 keyer shown in the picture includes an internal speaker providing a pleasingly sounding side tone).

Here is a short sample audio file for single-word training. Words are separated by pauses of five seconds:

And here is a short sample audio file for training sequences of four words. Sequences are separated by pauses of twelve seconds, words by 300ms:


References

[1] DF7TV-Randomized-Lists-of-Common-English-Words-ESL.zip

[2] Browne, C., Culligan, B. (2013): The New General Service List (NGSL)

[3] Browne, C., Culligan, B. & Phillips, J. (2016): The TOEIC Service List (TSL)

[4] Ilya Morozov: Balabolka -- Text-To-Speech (TTS) program

[5] Don Ho: Notepad++ Windows Code Editor

[6] DF7TV-T-3-to-8-Letters-2256-Words-NGSL-Balabolka-Input-Files.zip

[7] Claus Niesen, AEŘS: Claus' Morse Trainer (Android App)

[8] Chuck Adams, K7QO (2013): Using a Dual–Lever Paddle (pdf)

[9] DF7TV-Morse-Code-Sending-Practice-Warm-Up.pdf


Modified: May 11, 2021.


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