So what were your expectations with CW Ops Academy?
Was your expectations that you would have an instructor with you and you would be in a class type environment during the Skype sessions? Was it that you would be proficient at Morse code once the class ended? That you only needed to practice 30 -45 minutes a day? Was your expectation that you would be able to get on the air at the end of the class and have contacts at 20 WPM?
I had some of those but in realty none of those were feasible. The instructor was there to make sure you stayed on topic and to answer any questions and to send you some code over Skype to see how you were doing. He also had us send code and gave us feedback on how we were doing. We are sort of proficient at code but it will take a lot more work to get comfortable enough to get on the air with someone that you don’t know. You really do need at least 45 minute’s a day but most likely you will need much more. It takes you 60 minutes just to get through some of the lessons. I don’t think the time is as important than just working your way through the lesson at a pace your comfortable with and hat you retain it. Sure you can get through a lesson in 30 minutes but I found myself listening to some letters or words 10 or 20 times to get it to sink in and that adds to the time.
It is important that you listen to the letters and words at 20WPM but slow the Farnsworth down to 5, then to 8, then 10 and higher as you get better. Just don’t slow the WPM down so much that you can count the dits and dahs. You will get frustrated and think you will never get this and just want to stop the waste of time. DON’T GIVE UP! You are investing time in yourself and you are important.
I have recapped all the tips I came up with during the class: (some are still valid for me and some are not – Practice and Patience are the main themes)
- You have to practice at least 30 minutes a day, and for me I need about 60 minutes or more. You don’t have to do it all at once but find a quite place and put in the time.
- I put a 3×5 card over the computer screen where the next letter or word would show so I could not see it. (You can also just scroll the screen up so you don’t see the text) This made it harder but I was able to concentrate more and not knowing what was coming next is like being on the air and not knowing what the other operator would send.
- Make practice a priority.
- When you get tired and lose concentration, stop practicing for a while.
- Practice sending after each word. It helped me! (I would not do this until about lesson 3 or 4, learn the sound of the letter, not the dits and dahs)
- Find something that motivates you and do it! It could be a saying you tape to the wall or it could be a friend that challenges you, whatever works. This blog helps as well. I have to keep going so I can finish this series.
- Go back and repeat the past lessons until you have them down and do not miss any letters or numbers.
- Wear computer headphones when practicing.
- Don’t get frustrated! If you find that happening then I recommend you take time to walk away and come back 10 or 15 minutes later. Frustration will hinder you from learning.
- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you have to put in the time to get better. I don’t think I could do this if I was only doing 30 minutes a day. I would not get through a session in a day. You have to make it a priority.
- Try something new in your practice session to change things up. I tried to not write down what I was hearing and the results were interesting. I bet Alan would be happy to hear that.
- A day of rest is a good thing!
- As a newbie I found it was helpful to warm up by sending before getting started. I don’t know if you need to do that but it seemed to have helped me.
- We can all use encouragement at times. Doesn’t matter what we are trying to accomplish. Reach out and encourage someone that you might think needs it. I know I have needed it during this course.
- Don’t give up!
I hope this blog has helped you to think about getting started or encouraged you to keep going. It doesn’t matter if you are learning Morse Code or doing something else that is hard. You are doing it for a reason, when times get tough, remember that reason and keep at it.
I hope to work you on the air and be kind to me, I am extremely slow and if you repeat the words a few times, you will not hurt my feelings but you will be helping me.
Aloha and 73!