Some more steps forward in the CW learning in the last week.
And I did have a tears of joy moment when I realised that I just understood a couple of words without trying at all. Wow.
And this makes all the difference. Learning now seems easier. I still can't head-copy continuous words or transmissions though, still need to stop between words for long enough to make it hard to get the next word. The struggle to learn seems to have reduced a lot. It seems now that just listening to lots of CW will do it.
I listened to a fair few CW QSOs last weekend and my pickup of what is going on has improved radically, and the learning of the structure of CW contacts with it.
I've upped the speed a bit. During my commute I'm listening to English words, callsigns, my CW QSO words list and also just numbers with 20/25wpm Farnsworth. The gaps between words aren't big enough for me yet. Still, that feels like the right way to do it.
And breathing, clearing the mind and relaxation makes it so much easier.
What if feels like
I want to record how CW now feels different in my head and body before I forget. I can now start to feel the beginnings of my own autonomic or involuntary recognition of bits of words. First shift was that while concentrating on the first few letters of a word, I would start to find myself getting the ends of words when my focus was on the start. So that was the beginning of the involuntary recognition -- common suffixes seem to emerge sometimes.
This is all only sometimes. Sometimes it is a bunch of noise and I need an anchoring letter to get started. Like C or W, which seem to be that for me. Haha.
And I'm now increasing careless - in not trying to remember everything and kind-of assembling words from part memory, part guess and often enough getting it right.
Basically, it feels very different. CW head copy has shifted from a 'maybe never' to a 'when' in my approach.
I'm mostly listening on the walking part of my commute, without headphones, keeping the volume level as low as possible, so allowing the ambient traffic etc noise around me to play a part. I guess I'm thinking I want to learn to copy with background (band) noise as well (read that somewhere). Something about a generally low audio level seems to makes copying easier. Not sure why that is. I guess I'm regularly doing 20-30 mins listening per week day spread over morning and evening. For months I was doing a lot less, maybe 10 mins every second day. The increase is basically about it becoming more possible and fun. Note I'm just listening, not writing stuff down at all except when in front of the radio at home.
I've hardly done any sending practice at all since my ZL2 days (> 30 years) so have started that, with a paddle, using my right hand rather than my left that I write with. Much more to do there. It is easy to follow in the flow of some sending but when I first start I'm not sure which way to squeeze for dits and dahs. More practice needed.
Still need to make the first on air QSO after 30 years. I've fully run out of excuses :-) Might have a go at the CQ WW CW on Sunday, but very slowly.
Tools and tips
I mostly practice with Morse Trainer/CW Trainer on my android phone.
I keep re-reading Zen and the Art of Radiotelegraphy which is a revelation and a masterpiece.