Most people who learn the Morse code seem to hit an upper speed limit as they progress.
Here is the reason and how to overcome it.
Receiving High Speed Morse…
Here is what I have found during my Morse life time and you have probably heard it before,
But I have to emphasize it: Copy Words - Not Letters. Receiving HSM is like playing an anticipation game in your brain.
M1EYP has it correct…
You have already learned how to do that for many words at slower speeds and your Google Search engine does it all the time with its auto completion program. When you do a Google Search, and type in… ‘Indianap…’ Google brings up ‘Indianapolis’ before you can finish typing the word, ‘Moorest…’ brings up ‘Moorestown’, ‘Camd…’ brings up ‘Camden’, ‘Wheel…’ brings up ‘Wheel of Fortune’. When you copy some one sending ‘Missi…’, You say to yourself, I know he is going to send ‘Mississippi’, why can’t he just send MS.
Your brain does this when you are receiving Morse.
This is not cheating, it is just how your brain completes the missing elements.
Remember the old FCC “Fill in the Blank” Morse code tests. It had partial sentences to complete like “My _______ is in a tree”. The answer was “Antenna”. HSM requires that the anticipation game extend from just words now to common phrases. The phrases are common sayings or Clichés frequently used in the TV games like the Wheel of Fortune.
You already intuitively know all these phrases, you only need to practice them on HSM.
Like “The XYL has…” The anticipated phrase is going to be: Called me to dinner, Come home and I have to QRT, etc…
or “I am really out on a…” Limb.
When you begin copying HSM you will immediately hear the words like: And, The, Good, You, plus your Call, Name, QTH, etc. It may surprise you that you already know a lot of words and that should encourage you to listen more. This process has been taking shape ever since you started using Morse.
HSM can be like the 'Butterfly of Love’ that will gently land on your shoulder after you quit pursuing it. HSM begins differently for each person but it should begin at a speed that is more than you can write down. If you are still writing you are probably copying letter by letter.
You have to learn to copy Words and now Phrases in your head.
The High Speed I am talking about usually starts between 30 and 40 ‘Words’ per minute.
Obviously, the Morse word sounds can not be deciphered this way if they are sent slowly and letter by letter with big spaces in between. The Farnsworth method (Bless him) which uses fast letter speed and wide letter spacing does not allow Word recognition. You have to learn the common words, but there will always be some that will not be in your HSM vocabulary… yet, like “Poughkeepsie”, unless you practice it. (If you live in Poughkeepsie please send your QTH as NY.)
After you become proficient at HSM, Slower speeds and Farnsworth reception will be like riding with a teenager who is learning how to drive a stick shift automobile.
Your manual dexterity or typing skills will probably be the limit to your manual sending speeds.
You can’t send 40 WPM on a CW keyboard for very long if your typing speed is only 20 WPM.
If you know how to “Touch Type”, you probably know that the typing becomes a hand movement pattern routine.
The hand typing patterns get hard wired into our body after we practice them enough.
A CW keyboard will allow you to send great CW, but the outgoing CW speed is limited by your typing skills.
Using a Bug or Paddle will also have manual dexterity limits but you don’t have to send as fast as you can receive.
I use a single lever paddle when I am operating Pedestrian Mobile and find it better for HSM. I have also noticed that if I forget what I am sending or get distracted my words can be completed automatically by my repetitive hand motion pattern. When I send my call sign, it has a definite pattern and that pattern is never broken. If my brain sends a priority interrupt message (Like: “BALANCE!”, “You Are Falling”) as I am walking along on a trail, I re-balance my body and my hand keeps sending what ever word I am sending without me thinking about it. (You can send and receive HSM while you are out hiking on the trails).
Why Operate HSM?
It is really easier and more conversational.
It allows you to send more information or make more QSO’s.
It saves energy, (important if you are operating on a battery).