QRQ From Paul (see Tommy's long piece below).
lot of my problems are to do with typing into a QWERTY keyboard!!! I
just can't top 50wpm on the keyboard, but I'm copying the QRQ CW maybe at 60wpm+. It's claimed you can help this by
using a Dvorak keyboard. Except that takes months of practice too and
then you can't come back from using one!
They are expensive and hard to find. However, you CAN try this one. If you're determined, it may be worth trying. Now, onto the main piece...... Notes on QRQ borrowed from W4BQF, Tommy [SK 2022-01-25]
Quite often I am asked "How can you
copy CW at 70 wpm and higher?" Since it's pretty insulting just to
answer by saying "Practice, practice, practice", I normally wind up
e-mailing back a synopsis on how I learnt to do it. Others have used
different methods of achieving QRQ copy by ear.
What I have to say on this subject is only my personal opinion,
which normally does not agree with everyone else!
I really don't believe in the various methods of learning morse code. I think
learning to copy high speed morse code is much simpler than following someone
else's method of learning to copy QRQ. What I am sharing with you is
things that I found to work for me.
There are some basics I think one MUST learn and the very first one is
you must learn to copy ONLY in your head. That's very important! From
there you can begin to increase your copy speed. So copying in your
head is a MUST. Jotting down notes or 'key words' is fine to remind you
of something you want to respond to during your QSO.
QSOing at 70 to 120 wpm is literally no different than having a
conversation on the telephone; you are just doing it using a different
language! No sending call signs (except as required) and no sending
'bk'. You don't do that on the telephone! Speaking on a telephone is
operating duplex, therefore why not do the same thing on CW?
A second most important thing you must do is have a radio that has
excellent full QSK at high speeds. Simply because when operating QRQ,
you MUST do it in duplex! You don't stop and take notes when you're
conversing on the telephone, so why do it when your operating QRQ? The
radios that I know of that can run full QSK at speeds over 100 wpm are
the Ten Tec Corsair II and the Icom IC-781 and they do it flawlessly.
In my opinion, full QSK is not at what speed you can hear another
signal between dots, but at what speed can you hear your fellow ham
trying to break you! Hearing between dots is a fine criterion for
speeds below about 40 wpm, but is inconsequential over 60 wpm.
Unfortunately the more digital circuitry that is added to modern
transceivers, the less high speed QRQ capable they become.
All high speed morse code (above about 55 wpm) is sent with a keyboard/keyer
or a computer keyboard, simply because one just cannot consistantly
send 'clean' morse code by hand on a key. Consistently 'clean' morse code makes for
easier copying! I've been a CW operator for over 55 years but I am not
one of those 'old goats' who claim that sending CW by any other means
than using your hand is not 'real' CW. 'Real' CW is a dot and a dash, no
matter how you send it. The idea here is how you copy QRQ, not how you
Most computer programs that are capable of generating CW are, for some
reason, not designed to exceed about 99 wpm. And most computer programs
generate CW either via a serial port or a parallel port. Using these
I/O ports causes an inherent problem for smooth CW generation. A
computer's CPU produces random (to us) interrupts which almost always
stops activity in any I/O port FIRST! This leads to a 'stutter' sound
in generated CW coming from these I/O ports. VE6YP, who is the author
of the program I've been using for close to 10 years, is the only
program author I know of who has found a solution to this problem. In
his program, YPlog, he generates CW via the computer sound card, which
is never interrupted by a computer's CPU 'house-keeping'. The user
builds a very simple audio detector and transistor switch to key his
radio. This system works very well to over 160 wpm.
The reason you first want to learn to copy in your head only is because
when you get to speeds around 50 to 55 wpm, you have to teach your
brain literally to change it's method of interpreting morse code. It takes a
while to do this! Below about 50 wpm, you are still hearing a dot and a
dash to form a word. When you are copying at 60 wpm and higher, you do
not consciously hear a dot and a dash, you literally hear a word. At
that time too, you begin to have to be in, what I call, the 'flow of
the conversation', just like you are when you're talking on your
telephone. If you send me morse code groups at 70 wpm, I could not copy most
of them, but if you and I are in a converation at 70 wpm or higher,
THEN I can copy pretty solid.
To increase your copy speed, I recommend a morse code reader...and don't be
shocked by that! The reason I recommend a morse code reader is because the
process of learning to copy from about 50 to 60 wpm is where you
literally have to teach your brain to copy morse code in a different way. The
problem at these speeds is if you miss a word, your brain automatically
freezes and tries to 'guess' at what that one missed word is. While the
brain is trying to decide what that one word is, many more words go
flying by, and you actually get very confused and lose track of what is
being sent to you. When you start using a morse code reader, at first you're
going to just read the screen, but subconsciously the brain is
associating the dots and dashes with what you're reading on the screen.
The more you do this, you will find that the less you read the screen,
but only glance at it when you miss that one word! This gets you over
that 'brain freeze' that is caused by missing just one word! Once you
get to copying around 60 wpm, when you DO miss that one word, your
brain realizes it, but then just continues to copy, ignoring or filling
in that one missed word.
Don't worry about a morse code reader being a crutch, simply because when you
get to where you can copy around 60 wpm, you will find that you can
then copy morse code better than a morse code reader! A morse code reader is not very
good at handling high speed morse code in the presence of normal band noise
of your receiver. About 60 to 70 wpm and they are not capable to keep
up anymore because of noise crashes, but your brain can easily filter
out the noise. A morse code reader is an 'aid' to helping one learn to copy morse code faster, it is NOT a crutch!
[[just for info: Although you will not be conscience of copying dots and
dashes, if the sender mis-spells a word, somehow your brain will notice
that. Say the sender sends the word 'will' as w'E'll, your mind will
notice that one dit that was missed, but you will have trained your
brain to ignore that one missed dit, and it will continue copying. I'm
not truely sure of this but I think somewhere above about 70 or 80 wpm,
since your mind is now really in the 'flow of the conversation', you
probably are not literally copying every word that is sent to you, but
your brain is copying enough to make sense out of what is being said!]]
Two big things about QRQ: 1) You HAVE to make it just another FUN thing
you want to do with your hobby. 2) You are not going to learn to do it
overnight! But anybody can learn to do it.
I got started doing QRQ sometime in the late 60s when I heard two hams
talking to each other on their regular skeds on 40m at 100 wpm. I
thought it was very fascinating and just decided that it was something
I WANTED to do. It took me about a year to go from 30 wpm on my keyer
to over 60 wpm. That includes the time it took me to change from a
QWERTY keyboard to a Dvorak style keyboard. The neat and fun thing I
found, is that once you get to where you can copy between 60 and 70
wpm, your mind seems to just open up to copying QRQ. Going from 60 wpm
to, say, 100 wpm seemed to be a breeze compared to retraining my brain
to get through the 50 to 60 wpm 'brick wall' we all have to go through.
I really don't know how fast I could copy, but I used to have QSOs with
KB9XE and NU2C at about 120 wpm and could fully understand what they
were saying. NU2C tested me once and he would send me two questions,
which I had to answer both, then he would go up about 5 wpm . Finally
at 145 wpm, I got only one of his questions! I have read that recently
a German ham did copy a call sign being sent by RUFZ (a high speed
competition program) at 200 wpm! Copying CW at high speeds, either 145
wpm or 200 wpm, is one thing, having a conversation at those speeds is
something quite different.
Again, two things. You have to make this a fun thing, you have to want
to do it, and it can get pretty frustrating at times. You have to be
willing to spend the necessary time on the air working at improving
your copy. That is the only way I know of that you can do it, as there
are no short cuts. Interestingly, of the maybe 10 hams that I know that
operate at high speeds, none of the have any interest in records or
reconition for their QRQ ability. They all simply do it for the
enjoyment of it.footer