PA3CLQ's Leuke Linken Nr. 370


Conversational CW

I shy away from rag chews Why?

I cannot keep up with long CW contacts.

I dont mind rag chewing, but my mind tends to wander and Id like to know why.

I spoke with another SKCC member yesterday and he said he has the same problem.

Conversationally, Im at about 15 WPM.

For quick contacts, I can keep up with about 18 - 20 WPM *if* the other station sticks to the format of TU ES GA (GM, GE, etc) RST QTH NAME NR. For contests, I can go a bit faster up to about 23 WPM.
    I have bought headphones that keep out extraneous sound.

I have closed the door to the hamshack, but I dont want to be rude to my family either - I have a wife and three teenage daughters with whom I must keep a relationship. :)
    So, dont get perturbed with me if I just move along from one contact to the next.

Im not trying to be rude, but I dont want to be rude in that you will send a lot of stuff and my mind will wander.

I also know its hard to slow down a bug.

Ive done so by putting two 1.9 oz weights on mine.

I use a bug because I have CTS in my right hand (actually both hands, but worse in my right) and after 10 or 15 minutes of using a straight key, my right thumb and forefinger get numb.
    I am going to work on that this year.

Im trying to decide if I want to go 100% CW this year.

The problem with that is it will preclude me from some of the other activities I enjoy - namely chasing SOTA summits.

Some of those guys only activate on phone.
    I know I can copy for short bursts, but Id like to extend that.

Look, I have a personal goal of being able to join CWOps.

That means you get three people to verify you held a QSO at 25 WPM or better.

I get really frustrated with the fact that I cannot do that.
    Do I just need to listen at the speed I want to copy for long periods of time?

Does this really work?

I mean, if I listen to MP3s at 30 WPM for days on end, will it eventually make sense?
    Yeah, Im sorry, Im a bit frustrated that Im not further along than Id like to be. Its my fault, I get that
Thanks for letting me rant about my lack of CW ability for a bit.
    Happy New Year.
73, Joel - W4JBB

I saw your post on SKCC and felt I just had to drop you a line.

As well as being a ham (With a real passion for CW) I work as a psychological therapist and use hypnosis and NLP techniques to help all kinds of people with focus and performance issues.

I also used to have real problems with wandering thoughts while copying Morse.

But no more!
    You may find that banishing all extraneous noises and other distractions actually makes it worse in the longer term.

Much of the drifting away from the Morse is down to your conscious thought processes and having less stimulation will often cause the conscious mind to choose drifting or day-dreaming more quickly and more often.

    Reading Morse is, in an accomplished individual, a subconscious process just like listening to a speaker.

And when you listen to a speaker your subconscious is able to filter out all the unimportant sounds, make all kinds of tweaks to the incoming sound and deliver to your conscious mind as a fully processed meaning.
    You've probably heard stories of ships' sparks, dozing in the wee hours and copying CW faster than they ever imagined possible.

That is achieved because the conscious mind is drifting off somewhere, dreaming
or sleeping and all the reading of the Morse is done by the unaided subconscious.

It is also that subconscious processing that makes it possible for some individuals to copy perfectly at high speeds while conducting a spoken conversation or making a cup of coffee.
    In the same way, try watching an skilled touch-typist when copy typing
and quite possibly talking to the person sitting beside them. Or
yourself, listening to the radio while driving a car.
    All these examples are to try to highlight that what you described in your SKCC post isn't about the distractions but about your tendency to pull copying code back from your subconscious and into your conscious thoughts, which is when you loose it.

If the reading of Morse is in your subconscious realm then nothing on earth can distract you.
    The best way I've found - and very quick, too - to overcome this mistrust of your own subconscious mind is to settle down for about twenty minutes or half an hour, somewhere quiet and where you won't be disturbed and to relax very deeply.

Then to listen to Morse.

No pens. No paper. No pressure.

There are some recordings around that do this very specifically.

I've prepared CDs for a dozen or so hams who have overcome the problem - it usually takes about three or four weeks at half an hour a day.

It also usually improves your speed but that's just a welcome side effect.

Have you ever had any hypnotherapy?

If you have you'll know how wonderfully relaxing it is, just like day-dreaming really.
    I use some very similar techniques with musicians, again with good results.
I hope this is useful to you and might lead to a painless and effective improvement in your enjoyment of CW.
Happy new year
Chris G5VZ / WG5VZ

I understand, Joel, and you have no reason to feel sorry or apologize for being YOU.

Every one of us is an individual who looks at things differently, who does things differently, and we're not exactly like anyone else.

There are some in ham radio particularly, and in life generally, who seem to have a problem accepting this.
    I have been licensed since 1967, so I've been at this hobby for a while now.

For many years I loved to ragchew, starting off quite slowly as a Novice and eventually building my speed up to where I could comfortably do so at around 30+ WPM. I have found that now I just don't want to have the long QSOs any longer, especially if they are a really slow speeds.

My mind also has a tendancy to wander and I lose interest.

Sometimes I find myself getting sleepy.

That is in no way speaking ill of the other "guy" with whom I'm conversing.

Certainly I realize that we all started out slow and that everyone takes time to build up their speed.

Some really never do.

I accept the fact that I have changed, not just regarding ham radio, but also in other aspects of life.

I'm retired now after a career of dealing with people a lot, mostly over the phone.

I've always been rather introverted, and now I find myself being that way to a great degree.

Does that mean something is wrong with me?

Perhaps, but I accept that and I hope that others will, too.

I also worked phone quite a bit in the past but now I don't at all.
    I have made it sort of a goal or resolution to try to have a few more longer ragchews this year, but I'm not sure how I'll do with that.

And, I'll be doing that for ME, not for anyone else.

I've run into some in SKCC who are ragchewers and who have openly criticized us "number chasers".

Well, let them.

They won't bother me.

Don't let the criticizers bother you either.

Some within the hobby have also spoken negatively of me because I'm just really not into "public service" or emergency communications such as ARES, SkyWarn, etc.

Well, after nearly 40 years of involvement in government communications of one sort or another, all that stuff is too much like work to me.

I want to leave that sort of thing behind.

That isn't saying that I'd refuse to assist with my radio in an emergency, but I'm not one whose needs such things to feel useful or fulfilled.

Ham radio is something I do for ME, and when I get weary of it I go read a book or do something else.

    So, I say to enjoy the hobby in whatever way does that for you and don't worry about what others may think or say.

If some look down on you because of that then they are the ones with the problem, not you.
73, Wes W1LIC SKCC#1142S


HNY Joel-

I completely understand and am in lock step with you, which is interesting since we took the CWOps course together a couple of years ago.

I know a lot of it is not enough BIC and time on the air, but so often life just keeps jumping in.

In many ways I've decided to just enjoy the journey I have and if I get to that magical 25 wpm conversationally for CWOps or an "S" for SKCC then I'll rejoice.

For now it is more important for me to enjoy my family including my first grandchild.

I don't have CTS but more than an hour of SK and I'm toast. SKCC has brought me the most fun in ham radio and CW - I can do a quick sprint contact, a short QSO, or a 60 min QSO - it is all there waiting for me when I'm ready at any speed I can achieve.

Just keep enjoying what you enjoy - including your family.

Goals are important but shouldn't drag you down, just make it more fun.

Keep having fun Joel and hope to work you more in 2015

HNY to you and your family

73 de chuck ka8hde SKCC #6913T


Key contacts

While adjusting my key and aligning the contacts I noticed the lower contact on my straight key had mushroomed from many years of use.

The contacts have a very small contact point when they come together.

My question is to the contacts need to be filed?

If so what would I use to do this?

Would a Vibroplex contact file work?

Or do I just leave them alone?

73, Joe


[slowspeedwire] MTC Web Page - NOTICE

I've put up a collection of books on the SKCC website for international morse code teaching here:

I've just started converting some books into American morse for myself so I can practice and learn this "new style".

The books I've put up are in a progressive format where each chapter is sent at one word per minute faster than the previous one.

By the time someone finishes the book "War of the Worlds" they have gone from 5 WPM up to 36 WPM and most people who have done it tell me that they weren't even aware that they had progressed that far because the change is so gradual.

I'll be glad to contribute several dozen more books if you would like them.

John Dunlap KF7BYU


Problem decoding CW

I am 70 years old and have been trying to learn Morse code on and off for about 60 of those years.

I passed the UK 12 WPM code test, which was a fairly strict test of code at this speed, back in 1974.

I passed the 20 wpm code test for an extra class license, which was more of a logic test than a code test, in 1977.

My problem is that for some reason, either a deficiency in my brain or purely bad learning methods, I do not seem to be able to get over listing to code as dits and dahs and not as sounds.

I tried to improve my abilities by learning to type , for which I am very grateful, and using the computer for practice.

I was amazed to find that when needing to look at the keyboard while coping code I needed to read what I had typed to know what I had received.

I was told that one really needed to copy code without writing anything to be successful.

At first this seamed imposable for me, but with practice I have begun to be able get parts of a conversation.

I recently realized that I was using a process of decoding the dit and dahs into letters and then trying to form the words, a little too much for my brain.

I have been trying to use the Farnsworth method with various settings and 25 wpm speed and 40 wpm characters seems to help.

I have now come to the point where I realize that I must stop listening to dits and dahs, but that seems exceeding difficult for me.

On very rare occasions my brain switches to listing to the sounds and I can read code a 35 wpm with no trouble, its like magic, but most of the time I cannot read code at any speed without writing it down or typing it.

Does anyone have any methods for breaking down the instance of the brain to listen to dits and dahs that is likely to work after 60 years of the bad habit?

    As a by the way my father was a radio operator on a motor torpedo boat during wwII, was never a ham, but on the one occasion he came with me on a contest I realized was probably as good as the best CW operators I have met and I have met some incredible CW operators.

73 KF6C Brian


Hi, Brian.
You are not alone at this stage of CW copying.

Many/most of us learnt Morse CW the wrong way, including myself.
Understand, Morse CW is like any language.

As it appears your birth/native language is English.

To learn to speak, say Spanish, you listen to the sound of the word(s), not spell it out like a-m-i-e-g-o.
Morse CW should be learnt the same way.

At 20 words per minute character speed, it is difficult if not impossible to count dits and dahs.

Each character has a sound as a whole.

Re-learn your code, each character must be sent at 20 to 25 WPM, minimum.

As you learn the letters/character at this speed, words sent at this speed will, in time, be copied as whole words, not even individual letters.

Many people do this and don't think about it, but hear DE as that, not D-E.

Posted by: Joseph L Pontek Sr


? Problems DeCoding CW ?
So, " Do Not Decode" it !
10wpm is slow enough to make each letter pop out, not each word.
Try listening above 20wpm and listen for words ... only words.
Listen for Word Groups in a Coherent Message.
Carpe Logos ... Grab the Words .... hear the Message.
That is my advice:
Grab the Word ,,,,,,, and let the letters fall by the wayside.
So, I suggest you try reading "words" at 10 wpm and then try at 25 wpm.
You will find that reading "words" is easier if the whole word comes across in less than 2 seconds.
That is about 7 letters in less than 2 seconds and you brain can probably handle that easier than 7 letters in 5 seconds.
As usual, I offer a "Money Back Guarantee" on this method.
But, I would bet that Ted McElroy did not care how you spelled the Words, just as long as you were sending Words in a coherent message.
    I started back in 1958, visiting the ham radio club on the Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.

There were a dozen CW ops there, only 14 years out of WWII in the Pacific.

They could and did work 65 wpm at each meeting. Just a Buzzing good time.

The guys gave lessons and did demos from paper tape machines.

It was an amazing time, for this young ham.

You become a believer in CW as the Real Thing in Ham Radio.
It was years later that I realized that their native talent, their opportunity to work as Navy radio operators , and the Motivation of Incoming Torpedoes had a lot to do with their skills.
I have two Heil mikes in a box in the attic. Good place for safe keeping.
I prefer my 1940 Bug, and a straight key.

Posted by:


Anyone looking for a telegraph desk?

I just tripped across the following listing, item: 291343687447 .

The only issue is you have to pick it up at the sellers.

They are located more or less in the southwest corner of New York State.

 I don't have the room for it but it would make a nice display for a museum.

73, Chris Hausler


Here's a pic found on Ebay showing a Telegraph Dept. car #23447 taken I presume in the late19 teens or 1920's.

Note these two fellas with their gaffs on their legs, their handcar with coil of wire and they helping to keep the wires strung for the period.

Evidently the "meth heads" were not yet dreamed of to rip off their coil of wire...THANK GOD!!


That's an early car .... missing the safety appliances that came in about 1905.

(Note absence of steps on other end of car, grab irons missing, and few ladders.)

Of course, being an M of W car it might be OK. Or, the photo is older than it seems.
Thanks for the great pic.
73, Skip Luke



No trees or animals were harmed in the sending of this message; however, a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.


Hello TJ, Pete, David and the group,
TJ, you wrote:
> When i asked a lady to dance i would dance to the beat, Not the stiff
> George Washington look.
> When i copy code, I hear musical notes (words) Most ops i guess dont.
Well, when I copy cootie sending from K9TJL, the sending is so musical, I can't help dancing to the rhythm of the code...;-)
TJ, thanks again for converting Chip to the Cootie cult.
Pete, hope you'll have more free time ahead of you in 2015, BCNU when my antennas are OK.

I enjoy reading your (and TJ's) Navy stories.
David, alias the "Bonne Maman" jelly gourmet, guess you are right, some quince jelly in the traps up there, same stuff in my ears I think... Station and operator here have seen better days mon ami.
Thanks fellows, a very happy and healthy year 2015 to you and yours, BCNU, take care!

73, Yann, F5LAW.

My simple website about Gigantic DF-Antennas

Part 1 "DF-Antenna Wullenweber Array"

Part 2 "DF-Antenna USSR Variants"

Part 3 "DF-Antenna USA Variants"

Next Part 4 "USSR OTHRA DUGA 1,2 & 3" at: