CWA Beginner – Session 3

Session 3 introduced the letters D, H, L (my favorite Morse letter), R and the numbers 2 and 5

In the official CWOPS Beginner Book, it’s divided into copying segments: O, I, S, R, H, D, 1, 2, 5 (five times each)

all, tell, tall, deal, the, their, doll, dell, hall, hill, hole, load, lead, late, later, seal, sell, sole, she, shed, her, hear, DL1AT, HH5H, HS1TD, ND2T, NA4T, 142, 451, 1425, a tall hill, she is here, he is late, 4 sheds, 12 hills

And sending segments: all, tell, the, lead, late, she, her, DL1AT, HH5H, HS1TD, ND2T, NA4T, 142, 451, 1425, she is here, he is late

For the bonus homework, (same as last session, and will be the same for a few more weeks) be prepared to send two groups from the “Sending Segments” and three words (or a short phrase) of your choice from the letters we’ve learned (they can be your own or from the list).  I appreciated folks giving nudges for “two words” and sending again with a breath between words.  

Some of the questions that came up:
1. Practicing without transmitting will vary by radio.  Bill had some good insight for the ICOM 7300 – if you want to send some notes to the group, it would be appreciated.  I also found this tutorial on the 7300.  On my KX3, I set the transmitter to PTT instead of VOX. A panadapter or phone-based CW decoder will be a useful tool to gauge your timing. 

2. Timing.  We want the characters to be fast enough so your brain hears the sounds and resists the temptation to count dots and dashes (hard to unlearn later when you want to improve speed).   Since everyone is new at sending, we try to send letters at the 20, but we add exaggerated spacing between them and (especially) words because we want our classmates to be able to copy what we send. 

3. The fastest CW speed.   This StackExchange article has some interesting history.  As a practical matter, if you can work at 18-20 wpm, you will find plenty of opportunities to “rag chew” and participate in events like Field Day. If you want to hear faster sending, CWOPS runs CWT each Wednesday at 1300Z, 1900Z and 0300Z, their not-a-contest event. It’s interesting to listen to because the band explodes with activity during that hour. Some stations will “run” (they’re staying on a frequency and people come to them) at 30-35wpm.

I mentioned a tool used in the Basic through Advanced classes — “RufzXP” — used to help you practice copying random call signs. If you ever want a CW butt-whipping, this program will do that for you.  When you get a call sign correct, it increases the speed for subsequent ones a little bit.  There is a contest with the program and the record holder is a lady who hit 195wpm.  

4. Single vs Double paddle – this is a personal preference.  With a double paddle, you can squeeze both and send alternating dots and dashes (depending which one is squeezed first).  Done fluidly, this can save you some time and movement. Here is an example of someone working a Kent double paddle up to 60wpm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHqi6y9nrc8   

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