Information on this page is provided by Brion VE3FUJ. Contact Brion at with any questions or comments.
Sending good code. I think we all like to listen to good steady code with proper spacing and character length, I find it enjoyable to listen to W1AW Code practice sessions, or any other good Fist.
We should all strive in that direction, and try and heed " accuracy first and foremost " superceding speed. I can think of no reason why we shouldn't try as hard as possible to achieve that.
To send correct code, two very good reason may be that it is so much easier to interpret, even under adverse conditions, and it sounds so much better. It is also a very personal achievement that one can be proud of, even if it is a ca. 150 year old technology.
However, before you get too far practicing you need to look at you straight key adjustment, for that have a look at the Army Video's for which links are provided after the paragraph. Its not as simple as you would suspect. All three Video's pertain to the straight key, its adjustment, its use, and how not to use it etc.
For the semi automatic key, or " Bug ". Pick a speed at which you like to operate. Then make the dah's to suit that speed, 2. adjust the weight on the DIT lever to slow down the DITS to fit your dashes. I say----- S---L---O---W ----- down the DITS, there is a 225 1/2 % chance they are too fast. I have yet to hear an Op that sends dits slower than dahs. The most often made mistake is DITS waaay too fast. Second mistake follows thatthe dit to dash spacing in a "V" is much too long and comes out "S T" rather than "V". Or perhaps the number "3" which then comes out as " S T T " or " S M " and the "U" like " I T "not good operating practice. Confusing for most Op's to say the least. Be careful in changing speed that both dashes and dits get the same rate of change. The space just mentioned maybe due to --- too great a spacing of the contact on the dash lever, so it needs to be reduced. I'm sure there is an adjustment for that. If not, then you'll just have to slow down the dits to fit the speed of that space, and accordingly the dashes, but do NOT slow your hand movement as that would lengthen the space even more, and your sending would still be bad. I dare say that your Code characters should sound so, that only the keenest of Op's can tell whether you are using a Bug, Keyer or a Straight Key. ----- A very tall Order. However perfect you send, an experienced Op can still Name you by your Fist if he has had contact with you before. There is very subtle variations in every ones Fist, regardless of how hard you try to eliminate them.
I would also like to impress that one should always send a few wpm slower than one can receive comfortably, in other words, leave a little "headroom". That, however does not lend itself to increasing ones receiving speed, for that, one should pick a speed slightly faster than ones receiving speed, and keep doing that, eventually ones speed will show improvement. Sending faster than ones receiving speed should be an automatic NO-NO.
So that leaves a couple of questions, we have already touched on increasing listening speed. Now for sending speed. For those of us who is more or less dedicated to the Straight Key ( I don't know what the upper limit may be or though + - 25wpm comes to mind ) for one or the other reason. Mine is, I don't seem to be able to get along with a Paddle, no matter how hard I try, and I simply refuse to even consider a "Bug" it's just too darn easy to fall Prey to the "Sloppy Bug " Syndrome. So if you are insistent on using a bug on a regular basis, and find perhaps your Qso's are a bit on the short side, when you'd rather settle for a rag-chew, do take a good listen to yourself ( as outlined in learning aides), you may not sound as good as you think you do, even if you been using a Bug for many years. Paddles are a different story all together. They do have something in common with "Bugs" though, very, very easy to be sloppy with. You know an extra dot or dash here and there, or even a missing dot or dash, then try and fake it with the result of way off spacing. Or for some to run words together in one loooooooong sentence like, -- someliketorunwordstogetherinonelooongsentence. Hard to read? that is exactly my point! ----- Now for the Bug Op. You know the one that sends dashes at 13wpm and dots at 40wpm.---- Or the one who sends dashes and dots of nearly the same length interspersed with whatever other mistakes he's capable of. All of which should be Capital NO-NO's. So to end this, if you need more practice with either Bug, Paddle or straight Key to be reasonable proficient, please do it off the Air, if for no other reason than to give everyone else a "break", and by that I mean, you do not need to be fast, if you can send near perfect code at 3 Wpm that's perfectly alright to try Qso's. It's the one who constantly make mistakes in almost every word and I might add the same mistakes over and over, that should take a good look at himself, and practice off the Air, by methods suggested in another CW help section, " Practice Programs " and " Learning Aides ". It really doesn't matter how long you've been pounding "Brass" your code may need a bit of a " clean up " tape yourself and listen to it carefully, and above all analyze it without bias. BTW there is a "Morse code" term for ERROR that is 8 dots or ........ Do use it, that is the one and only term for error. However it seems that a lot of Op's use a " pregnant pause " as an error sign, and it seems to be generally accepted. That is incorrect. So try and be as proficient as possible so you won't need to use ........