CW Practice With RufzXP
Lately I've been playing with a very helpful piece of CW-training freeware called 'Rufz', an abbreviation of a German word meaning 'Listening to Callsigns'. Rufz is the brainchild of Mathias Kolpe (DL8MM) and Alessandro Vitiello (IV3XYM).
RufzXP is the latest version, compatible with most operating systems from Windows 98 to Win 8.1.
RufzXP is not a contest simulator with QSB and QRM. The program simply sends 50 calls at random, one at a time, starting at your chosen speed. If you correctly type the call, it will increase speed slightly to send the next call. The speed will continue to increase as long as you correctly copy and type the call ... if not, the speed will decrease to the previous level.
This pattern continues until all 50 calls have been sent. The program then displays all of the calls sent, along with the calls that you typed, as well as the speed. You very soon realize the threshold level between copying comfortably at near 100% and where you start to drop off quickly. It really is a great eye-opener and a wonderful way to increase your copying (and typing) ability.
The highest that I have been able to log a few correct calls is at 54 WPM but I can see that with a few minutes of practice each day, this number should continue to improve. Hopefully my ability to type the calls will also improve as my present keyboarding skills are probably being stifled by my 'hunt and peck' style of typing ... I really should have taken typing in high school and have regretted it ever since.
The website for RufzXP contains a wealth of inspiring data, from sound files of various speeds to lists and photos of various high-speed aficionados ... with an impressively large number being European teenagers. It seems that High Speed Telegraphy World Championships are very popular in Europe and many of the champions are quite young. Have a look at some of the teens, aged 16 or younger (both boys and girls) who are copying over 100 WPM ... several of them not even hams.
A particularly interesting page lets you play the word 'PARIS' at various speeds.
Here it is at 20 WPM:
... and again at 50 WPM:
... yet again at 100 WPM:
Now....listen to 'PARIS' being sent at the present record-holding speed of 200 WPM:
I have no idea how anyone could copy CW at this speed but apparently YT7AW was able to correctly copy one call out of seven, sent at this speed ... incredible! Perhaps it is the subconscious mind operating at this level.
You may be interested to see someone copying at just over 140 WPM!
If your CW skills need honing, RufzXP might be just the thing you need.
I’ve been using it for a year, typically twice a day, and it has done wonders for my speed. (Met goal of a 20 wpm ARRL sticker but I’ve kept going for fun and just to see how far I can take it.) Am just getting to the point of cutting out the brain entirely and typing sounds without even consciously thinking of them. The only problems are that the number of callsigns seems somewhat limited, although it is quite large. (The first time I copied a station I’d actually worked was a surprise.) Also the format is set–you expect a number typically 1 or 2 characters in–but these issues aside it is a smooth and very helpful way to practice.
I think you are right about the brain thing. On more than one occassion I have noticed at 54 WPM that I had typed the correct call without conciously being aware of thinking about it. I’ll have to observe this more carefully and see what is happening. I’m sure that those at >100WPM must be doing some sort of subconcious thing. ‘Savants’ have something similar happening but I would never suggest that these people are ‘savants’.
Tried it yesterday, not bad but not the best.
Frank … what didn’t you like about it?