Listening to code practice

I like to listen to W1AW code practice.  Not only because it helps me in my never ending battle to improve my code speed; but also it helps me with sending at the code speed I am at right now.

"Whoa! What's that now? How can listening to code practice help improve sending?" you might be asking yourself (and me).

By listening to the timing gents (and ladies) ...... it's all in the timing - and the spaces.

Too many times I get carried away and ignore my spacing. Spacing between individual characters and spacing between words and even spacing between sentences is critical.  Ignore spacing and I'll bet you dollars to donuts that you leave others scratching their heads trying to figure out what you're sending. You probably run into a lot of "Gotta QRT now" scenarios, too.

By paying attention to your timing and spaces, and you'll be that guy that everyone wants to QSO with - you'll be that guy with the "good fist". Run on sentences and run on words are not only hard to read - they're also hard to hear.

So I listen to W1AW to remind myself from time to time what perfect code sounds like. The more often I hear perfect code, the better I am equipped to emulate it. Oh, and this doesn't apply only to the QRQ guys, although I suspects it's more important for them. Proper spacing applies to the QRS guys as well - no one is exempt.

Do yourself a favor and tune into W1AW every now and then - especially if you feel you don't need to.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!
Larry Makoski, W2LJ, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Jersey, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

4 Responses to “Listening to code practice”

  • peter kg5wy:


  • Richard KWøU:

    You’re right, Larry, it’s a good mental exercise to practice even if you don’t use CW. I set myself a goal of the ARRL 20 WPM proficiency certificate (got 15 almost 3 decades ago) and got into a steady listening habit. It helps a lot. But what also helped me make this goal was downloading the free RUFZ software that lets you interact with code–hear a callsign, then type it in, with the speed increased after you get it right. So I combined the two, and still keep it up, doing a couple sessions of the RUFZ in the morning, then listening to the AA9PW daily news (at higher speeds) in the afternoon. And occasionally I plug into the ARRL bulletin (18 wpm) and just listen to that too.

    It’s fun to hear CW in a movie, or just tuning the band, and be able to copy in one’s head. On the other hand, telling people you get the news by Morse Code leads to some funny looks.

  • Bill W5NI:

    Good article Larry,

    I agree with all of what you said and would like to add my 2 cents worth. A while back I was listening to an operator that I thought was a real CW LID until I noticed that his spacing and characters seemed to be pretty good and the problem was that he/she couldn’t or wouldn’t spell correctly, and not even close to correctly. When you send garbage, that is exactly what is received.

    I’ve also noticed these spelling and grammar faults when reading comments such as these in other articles; it really takes some serious concentration to get some of the words into the correct context to understand what the writer meant without guessing too wildly. No wonder people go to war, they can’t communicate very well. We, as hams, being in the communications business we should set as good an example as we can. We have Q signals to abbreviate whole thoughts, but in just plain old conversations, we should try to spell out what we want to say correctly when we can. I certainly don’t claim to be expert in this endeavor and I make plenty of errors, but I do try.

    In the USA educational system the neglect of spelling and grammar has been atrocious, and the youth of today are quite lacking in these communications skills, speaking and writing. I suspect texting on a cell phone does not enhance these skills. I wonder what language will look and sound like in a couple more generations.

    I enjoy listening to various conversations on CW as I drive down the road on a trip. I like to tune in the faster operators in order to challenge my old slow working brain, and that tends to help me keep my speed up. However, I think it would be an excellent idea that if you desire to enter into the conversation that you should pull over to the side of the road rather than try to send and drive at the same time; it might extend your life and the lives of those on the road around you. Same idea as with cell phones.

    73, Bill

  • Ernest AA1IK:

    Good post Larry! GIGO, garbage in, garbage out! I like what you said about ‘the never ending battle to improve’! Same here. I’ve been a ham for 24 + years and I still listen to W1AW and I practice off the air.

    73 de AA1IK

    Ernest Gregoire

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