Greetings! Lesson 4 is in the books and with that we are 25% done with the course. During these first four lessons I have discovered what may be my biggest obstacle in learning the code. During copying, after the first couple of letters in a word are keyed, my mind immediately races to what I think the word is going to be. When the third or fourth letter is not what I expected I quickly try to regroup but then multiple letters have passed as my mind is still trying to process what the letter was that was not what I expected. At that point I am lost. So, this is a habit that I need to try and break over the next couple of lessons and train myself to copy one letter at a time.
When I signed up for the academy I had looked all over the internet for reviews or experiences from other hams. I did not find many and I really wanted to understand what it was all about. How it functioned, how you studied, how you met up for class, what you studied, etc. That is why I decided to blog my journey and I just hope that some of you reading this are finding the answers you want and I hope others are being inspired to give morse code a shot. I can not tell you how much fun I am having and I know that the fun I am having now will not compare with what is ahead once I start making contacts.
So, this week seems to be more of a review week covering the letters and numbers introduced in the first three lessons but, we do have two new letters, U and C. With that we are now working with half the letters of the alphabet and four numbers. Last week I struggled to find quality study time for lesson three but was able to find a little more this week. Remember they suggest one hour per day minimum at no longer than 30 minutes per sitting. I believe that my pre academy attempts to learn morse code were doomed from the start as I found most of my free time during my commute back and forth to work. Driving takes a ton of concentration and, at least in my case, I was not "hearing' the letters. I heard them but I did not hear them. I hope that makes sense.
Attendance this week was down. Our N. Indiana student was absent as was one of the Tarheels. We did have an issue this week with one of our students having bandwith problems and he dropped out of the Skype call multiple times over the 45-50 minutes we were in class. We started out this week in much the same manner as the others, copying words sent by the instructor. I did pretty well on this but still struggle occasionally with a and n. The problem with this is that if you think about it you will miss the next couple letters. When we practice copying the instructor will send the words, and phrases for that matter, 2 or 3 times. If we all get it faster then he queries one of us for the translation. It is mixed whether I get it quickly or not at all sometimes. Next we moved on to copying three word phrases. This was my best week yet on phrases. If you stop to think about a letter in a phrase your are really setting yourself back as you will miss words instead of letters while you think about it.
Our third task of the evening involved copying call signs. I have work to do here as my mind is locked on the US format of a one or two letter prefix, a number, and a one to three letter suffix. My mind immediately looks for that pattern and when a DX call comes around I question what I heard. I will focus on this going forward.
Next we were told to send our call sign followed by three word phrases. My fingers decided to disrespect me tonight. I am usually much better at sending but tonight got me. I was not alone as the other students had their fair share of problems as well. I have been focusing on copying and barely putting the time in on the paddles so I think I may need to allot a little more time each lesson to sending as well.
After this we finished up with both copying and sending longer phrases. We were sent a few seven word phrases and I did well. On one in particular I missed a letter in the third word and was able to shake it out of my mind and begin copying again. I picked up the last three words which helped me not bomb the entire phrase. I need to continue to condition myself.
Well, this is long enough so I am going to stop here. Lesson 5 coming up and things are going to start heating up a bit. I hope you all are enjoying the blog and if you are thinking about trying CW I encourage you to do so. It is rewarding and a load of fun!!
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