Here is a way of improving Morse Code proficiency at speeds above 25 wpm. It involves 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 is to
keep the 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 don't 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 improvement in Morse Code (sending/receiving), the Randomized Lists of Common English Words are provided. The files "A...", "K..." and "T..." in the zip–archive are plain text files.
The lists are based on the 2809 words of "The New General Service List"NGSL by Browne, C., Culligan, B. & Phillips, J.
The NGSL is a "...word list of the most important words of general English and daily life for second language learners."NGSL.
- The "A..." and "K..." files contain one word per line.
- The "A..." files contain increasing numbers (100, 200, 300, ..., 2809) of the most frequent words.
- The "K..." files only contain words of a certain minimum and maximum length (number of letters) as reflected in their complete names.
- The "T..." files form four different arrays of 2400 words of the NGSL. The "T..." files are used only for training sending.
- Training sending is aimed at achieving accuracy and a pleasant flow of the code. This involves maintaing a negligible error rate and standard Morse Code timing. Listening to lots of 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 frequent 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.
From "A04..." on, the "all-inclusive" files "A..." of most frequent words contain already some quite long words (like the 11-letters word "information") — the "K..." files allow to select the maximum length of 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 of use shown) accompany me during training periods of up to eight weeks (WK). In the top table the status at the start date of a training period; in the lower table changes to speeds during the period 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 start date 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.
- A training session consists of 15 minutes for training sending and then 15 minutes for training receiving. I begin with a preparatory warm–up exercise for sending for about 3 minutes. I then continue with exercises indicated in the Training Companion for the present day. I work on sending with one of the "T..." files (converted to speech–files) for about 12 minutes. Then I train receiving by one of the files "A..." or "K...", or by listening to a continuous Morse Code audio book (EBK) for about 15 minutes. For the exercises indicated by "EBK", plain text files (edited passages of books etc.) are converted to Morse Code audio books using ebook2CW by Fabian Kurz, DJ5CW.
- The archive DF7TV Morse Code Training Companion contains blank templates of various file formats and a sample for the Training Companion. A printout of my present Training Companion 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.
- When I go for a walk I listen to one of the files "A..." or "K...". The code of a word is repeated once after a short pause. In that manner I get a second chance to copy words which to me are unfamiliar in Morse Code.
- Steven G Steltzer, WF3T is so kind to provide twice daily recordings of the CRSnet high speed CW QSOs. Steve's recordings are a welcome change to the "standard" receiving exercises.
To prepare for the daily training, a Sending Practice Warm–Up file is used. After a while, I knew all lines of the Warm–Up file by heart (except lines 5 to 10; "XXXXX" to "B67X/"). Since then I do this exercise without looking at the document. 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-2400-Words-NGSL-Spoken-MP3, based on the "T..." files, are provided for that purpose. The speech–files include long pauses for training 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 start–up is advantageous (e.g. foobar2000 for Android). 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:
This is is a short sample speech–file (from "T02...") for training sequences of two words. Sequences are separated by pauses of eight seconds; words by 300 ms:
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 "A..." and "K..." files of Randomized Lists of Common English Words may be 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 "A02-200-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:
And here is a snippet from a QSO. The speed is up to 50 wpm. The operators are WF3T, Steve and N1KW, Bob. It's a good example to perceive the differences between high speed code sent by a keyboard (WF3T) and by a paddle (N1KW). This is a part of a CRSnet recording of August 13, 2023:
There is no magic bullet for improvements in Morse Code proficiency.
So I just enjoy having QSOs and doing the 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 2023 version of this page.