Episode #9 - 0 to 20 WPM in Nine Months

Many amateur radio operators share a common experience. They become interested in the hobby, get licensed then, for any number of good reasons, take a break from their radio activities. Sometime later (sometimes years later), amateur radio catches their interest again and they jump back in. More often than not, when people come back to amateur radio they do amazing things... and Richard Carpenter, AA4OO, is a great example of someone doing amazing things!

Richard was first licensed in 2000 and currently holds an Amateur Extra license. After taking a break for several years, his interest in Amateur Radio was rekindled and in August 2015 he jumped back in with both feet into Morse code, QRP and CW. 

During the next nine months he went from 0 WPM to 20 WPM, made hundreds of QSOs and collected a pile of awards. 

Richard writes about his Morse code and QRP experiences on his excellent blog, hamradioqrp.com which he updates regularly.

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Listen to on air QSO's. On air learning is superior to computer or machine learning.

Plateaus are more common than not. Almost everyone experiences plateaus while learning morse code.

Break through plateaus by stretching. Listen to QSOs that are a couple wpm faster than you can comfortably copy.

Everyone you work on the air is an 'Elmer'.

As soon as you know all the letters, numbers and prosigns... get on the air! Doesn't matter how slow you are, as soon as you know the basics, get on the air.

Get a list of the 100/500 most common words and listen to them in the background as you're doing other things. 

If you have a local radio club, find the 'CW' person and schedule regular QSOs with them. Having a local person you can work with over the air will boost your learning tremendously.

Proper inter character and word spacing can be the difference between a successful QSO and one that isn't. Don't run words together. Record your sending as you practice and play it back. Can you copy your own code??

Find a net and check in.

Get on the air and have QSOs at whatever speed you can comfortably copy. Have fun. Don't stress out. You will improve and get faster just being on air operating the best you can and having fun!

If you send a CQ and nobody answers, drop your speed 2-3 wpm and try again.  Keep dropping your speed until someone answers.



Hamradioqrp.com - Richard Carpenter's excellent blog

Learn CW Online (LCWO)

Knightlites QRP Association

Reverse Beacon Network

Straight Key Century Club (SKCC) Monthly Sprints

List of 100 Common Words

QRP Kits - Pacific Antenna

Vibroplex Semi-Automatic "Bug" Keys


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Bruce PeaComment