Monday, May 1, 2017

The Struggle Is Real

I am fortunate to have many fellow amateurs encouraging me in my quest to learn code. Many have offered to meet me on air and have a qso but I feel I am far from that. I have one elmer that offered to trade mp3 recordings with me so that I could practice decoding his and he could critique my sending skills. Every new ham should be so lucky as to have elmers who help explain whatever new mode that is being tried. We should all be willing to help in this way.

But, back to me. I am frustrated. Part of me says to give up. In my head I hear, "You will never get it." I am struggling. I received an mp3 a week or so ago and it was way too fast for my skill level. So, like a great Elmer, Brian sent me another. This time I heard the first part pretty clear. W9BRI de KB9BVN. That much was easy because I use my friend's call signs in my sending practice often. After that I continuously hit rewind to try and decode each word. Even more discouraging is the speed he sent it seems, at least in my mind, to be about 5 wpm. And I am struggling!

Tell me to send a letter and I can do it no problem. To ask me to decode a letter I struggle. I do not understand. Am I counting? Am I anticipating the word? I don't know, all I can tell you is that I am not hearing the sound even on letters I have worked on for quite some time. The struggle is real.



  1. Stock with it'll come. Maybe take a break for two days and then hit it again.

  2. Like you, I always found it easier to 'send' (if only in my head) than copy. Couple tips that helped me were:
    - trying to learn the letters at 5wpm and speed up later is hard. Imagine trying to learn to talk that way. Much better plan is to pick a reasonable speed (somewhere around 18-20 wpm give or take), and learn the sound of each letter at that speed. It sounds crazy at first, but it's actually easier to learn that way. I think it's something to do with the fact that you learn the letter as a distinct sound, rather than memorizing combinations of dots and dashes.
    - find some code practice software you like, and use it a few minutes every day. The computer doesn't care how well you do, and is very patient.
    - as soon as you can, take your friend up on the offer to QSO on the air. Even if you miss half the conversation at first, you will build confidence with every QSO
    - try to copy in your head and jot down only the stuff you need to remember for your log. As crazy as it sounds, this is easier at 15 wpm than 5, because you start hearing common words and abbreviations as a unit rather than as individual letters.
    - when you find that you can copy faster than you can reliably send, congratulate yourself and concentrate on practicing your sending!

    Keep at it and good luck!

  3. W0ZF
    I am taking your advice and running with it starting tonight. I changed the settings on my phone app and an online source already and just worked through some letters and call signs, By the time I get one call sign figured out it is already started on another so I definitely need some work! Thank you for the tips and I am going to work hard on them.