In reply to MM0FMF:
Hi Andy & all,
Chasing SOTA has done wonders for my CW & I would heartily recommend it to anyone wishing to improve their speed, either sending or receiving. Typical SOTA QSO’s are usually very brief & as a chaser you will have plenty of time to listen & understand what is going on. If you recognise your own callsign coming back to you & can send / receive a signal report you are pretty much there.
Of course, if you have never used CW on the air before then those first contacts will be very nerve-wracking & you will make mistakes & get flustered. Don’t let that put you off, the more you use CW the easier it will become.
I remember the pain I went through to get up to 12WPM for the test so I do not mind slowing down for those just starting out with the mode. To continue at 30WPM+ when it is clear the other station is having difficulty reading you is bad operating. I find that sending at few WPM faster character speed than the slower op, but leaving longer gaps makes it much easier for the slower station as their brain has that little bit more “thinking time” before the next character is coming at them. This is what is referred to as “Farnsworth” method for those who didn’t know.
For a new operator every dot & dash counts & is a big step, but as time goes on you will start to relax. Let your speed increase at its own rate & don’t be tempted to try copying at 30WPM if you are just getting comfortable at say 15WPM. Move up in small steps & you won’t even notice you are improving. Then one day it dawns on you that the speed that seemed so far away not so long ago is now actually making sense to you.
You will hit barriers, more than once, but eventually with perseverance you will reach a speed you are happy with, whatever that may be. It may be your goal to be a world leader at 60WPM but let’s face it, you won’t have many people to work at that speed! I seem to recall that when I was learning CW 22WPM was quoted as being the average for Amateur Morse. That is not too far off to this day.
With regular SOTA chasing & regular participation in short CW contests I am now quite comfortable with SOTA / Contest type exchanges well above 30WPM, but as with other’s I could not rag-chew at that speed. However, by default, the ability to copy short exchanges at faster speeds means that rag-chewing at say 25-30WPM is now a much easier prospect. I am not really a rag-chewing type of operator on any mode, but to able to chat as easily on the key as I would on phone has always been a goal of mine & I am now starting to answer CQ’s at 25WPM+ knowing full well that the calling station wants to rag-chew
I am still learning & improving & my current target is to be able to rag-chew at 30WPM. I no longer hear dah di dah dit & convert it the the letter C before righting it down. My hand now writes the letter C automatically when I hear the sound, as if Morse was a language of it’s own, which of course it is
It has only taken me 20 years Hi Hi!
If only I get my fingers to type like that!
I am now getting the pleasure from Morse that many experienced operators have told me about over the years, there is something magical about it
Best of luck to all of you currently learning Morse & I hope to hear you on the air soon, at whatever speed you wish to use
Thanks & best 73,