Shown is a way of training Morse Code at speeds above 25 wpm. Illustrated is the application of some files and tools in exercises to get (1) to higher accuracy and (2) to higher speeds in conversational QSOs.
The main idea behind the training that I am doing is to keep exercises as close as possible to real–world conversational QSOs. While sending, I am not reading my message from a screen or from a sheet of paper. While receiving, I do not write down a message sent to me. Consequently the exercises are "audio–only". An audio stream of one or several spoken words is used when training sending. A stream of Morse Code audio is used when training receiving. Once an exercise is started, it will continue until stopped — there is no need for any user interaction.
To support the training of Morse Code (sending/receiving), Randomized Lists of Common English Words ESL are provided. "ESL" stands for "English as a Second Language". The files "A..." to "T..." in the zip-archive are plain text files.
The lists are based on the 2800 words of "The New General Service List" NGSL by Browne, C., Culligan, B. & Phillips, J. (2013) and on the 1200 words of "The TOEIC Service List" TSL by Browne, C., and Culligan, B. (2016).
One of the goals pursued during the creation of the NGSL was "...to create a list of the most important high-frequency words useful for second language learners of English, ones which gives the highest possible coverage of English texts with the fewest words possible."NGSL.
- All files, except files named "T...", contain one word per line.
- The files named "A..." or "C..." contain increasing numbers (100, 200, 300, ..., 4000) of the most frequent words.
- The files named "A...", "G...", "K..." or "T..." are based on the NGSL list only.
- The file named "C40..." and the file named "M10..." are based on a combination of the NGSL list and the TSL list.
- The files named "G..." contain 400 words each. They are organized according to the range of frequency of words contained, as reflected in the complete names of the files (rank).
The complete NGSL list (2800 words) is mapped onto seven "G..." files.
- The files named "K...", "M..." or "T..." only contain words of a certain minimum and maximum length (number of letters) as reflected in their complete names.
- Some of the files named "T..." contain more than one word per line as reflected in their complete names.
The files named "T..." are only used for training sending.
- Training sending is destined for achieving accuracy and a pleasant flow of the code. Accuracy in sending means to strive after a neglegible error rate and to strive after the standard timing of Morse Code. Listening a lot to error–free and perfectly timed code, gives a hint to what should be achieved.
- One part of training receiving Morse Code is vocabulary building. To increase the range of recognized words, I first listened to a file containing the 100 most common English words "A01...". After a while I felt that I would like to increase the range of words, so I went to the "A02..." file ...and so on.
The "G..." files are highly efficient for training specific segments of the NGSL vocabulary.
The "K..." files are easy to handle in comparison with the general files "A06..." to "A28...", which include some relatively long words.
Another important part of training receiving is to listen to continuous texts. Morse Code audio books (E-books) or high speed CW QSOs are suitable for that part.
- Training Companions (example shown) accompany me during training periods of up to eight weeks (WK). In the top table the status at the begin; in the lower table changes to speeds are marked down. For each day of a training period, the central table contains three cells — a first to indicate a sending exercise, a second to indicate a receiving exercise, and a big one for a check mark. A Training Companion is set up before the begin of a training period. Challenging, but not frustrating exercises and training speeds are chosen according to the present skills. The main area of interest for the training period — accuracy, vocabulary building or speed — being considered as well.
- The archive DF7TV Morse Code Training Companion contains blank templates of various file formats and a sample for the Training Companion. A printout is placed on my desk as "gentle reminder". It's a daily pleasure, after having done the planned exercises or after a number of QSOs at the present speed limit, to insert a check mark 😇
- A training session consists of 15 minutes for training sending and then of 15 minutes for training receiving. I begin with a preparatory warm–up exercise for sending for about 3 minutes; afterwards I train sending with one of the "T..." files (converted to speech–files) for about 12 minutes. Then I start training receiving using one of the files "A..." to "M..." for about 15 minutes.
- When I go for a walk I listen to one of the files "G..." to "M...". In that case I let repeat every word once after a short pause to have a second chance in the noisy city environment to copy words which to me are unfamiliar in Morse Code.
- Regularly I listen to Morse Code audio books (E–books). Plain text files are converted to Morse Code audio files using ebook2CW by Fabian Kurz, DJ5CW.
- I enjoy attempts to copy Audio Recordings[7, 8] of high speed CW nets provided by groups like CRSnet, CFO and FOG.
To prepare for the daily training, a Sending Practice Warm–Up file is used. An improved sending of the sentence "The quick brown fox..." when it occurs for the second time further down the document — That's the main purpose of this preparatory exercise.
After the warm-up, I continue to train sending Morse Code by listening to a spoken word (or to a sequence of spoken words) and then sending it. Speech–files DF7TV-T-2256-Words-NGSL-Spoken-MP3 are provided for that purpose. The speech–files include long pauses foreseen to practice sending.
For playback of these speech–files, an audio player saving the playback state (currently played track and position) when closing and resuming on next startup is advantageous. During a training session, I first listen completely to a single word or to a sequence of up to four words. Then, during the long pause, I try to send it (or them) as accurately as possible.
Here is a short sample speech–file (from "T01...") for single–word training. Words are separated by pauses of five seconds:
And here is a short sample speech–file (from "T04...") for training sequences of four words. Sequences are separated by pauses of twelve seconds; words by 300 ms:
The article Using a Dual–Lever Paddle by Chuck Adams, K7QO shows some techniques that can be used for sending the International Morse Code with dual–lever paddles.
Ditto CW Player by Billy Francisco, WB1LLY is an outstanding Android Morse Code player app to train the receiving of Morse Code. The files named "A..." to M..." of Randomized Lists of Common English Words ESL are saved as "ADDED" files via Ditto CW's menu "Exercise selection - ADDED - ADD NEW FILE".
During a training session I listen to the code, try to recognize the word, and then Ditto CW Player will speak the word.
Here is a short recording of the output of Ditto CW Player. Practice file is "A01-100-WORDS-NGSL.TXT" at a speed of 35 wpm:
Apart from the training of single words, listening to a continuous and meaningful stream of high speed code (QSOs or Morse Code audio books) is a very rewarding exercise.
A short text passage of the book "The Art and Skill of Radio Telegraphy"
by William G Pierpont, N0HFF (2002) concerning "overlearning" has been converted
to Morse Code audio using ebook2CW.
This audio file is an example of a continuous and meaningful stream of Morse Code at 35 wpm:
There is no magic bullet for improvements in Morse Code proficiency.
So I enjoy having QSOs and doing exercises presented here.
I would like to express my deepest appreciation to Keith Chambers, G0HKC and Christian M Bravo, W4ALF for being my advisors in CW Academy courses in 2020 and to Christopher Mason, G4UZE for proofreading of the August 2021 version of this page.