A useful tool for improving Morse code proficiency CW Operators Club Newsletter Article – August, 2014 Jack – WØUCE While I am proud of every student I have had the privilege of teaching and Elmering in Morse code over the past forty years, two have truly excelled. Mack NM4K and Paul K4JAZ were in my Level III class during the January – February 2014 semester. Not only did they excel as students, they became CWops Club members before the end of their Level III class, went on to become Associate Advisors helping me with classes during the April – May semester and will be CWA Advisors teaching their own classes starting in September. During their eight weeks as Level III students Mack and Paul worked on homework assignments together, held one-on-one practice sessions and started using a new free training tool named CW Player created by F6DQM for which they created practice files following the teaching method, drills and letters and word grouping and sequence described in my white paper “Learning Morse code as a Language. Their efforts and creativity paid off and they now enjoy using Morse at speeds above 35 words per minute. I asked Mack and Paul if they would write an overview of CW Player and their opinion which is presented below. Text files they created will be made available on the Morse Code Page on my website – www.w0uce.net before the start of CW Academy Classes in September. CW Player by F6DQM An introduction to CW PLAYER Mack - NN4K (CWOPs 1227) and Paul - K4JAZ (CWOps 1260) Introduction Having just completed a very successful Level III CW Academy course led by Jack, WØUCE, we felt it might be useful to share a tool we used in addition to those suggested by Jack to help us gain speed and accuracy. “CW Player,” written by F6DQM is a freeware program that reads files written or captured by programs such as Windows Notepad as .txt files. CW Player can be downloaded from the following website: http://f6dqm.fr/software.htm The following paragraphs expand on some of the features and configuration options we used to customize the program for our specific needs as we progressed in our CW Academy class. In addition Appendix 1 contains some of the files we collected or generated that we used by CW Player to help us in the learning process. Features Text Entry In the top left corner of the screen is a box labeled 'Enter Text'. Type with the curser in this box and you hear code sent at the speed set in the 'Speed wpm' rate. Messages There are 6 messages that can be programmed and replayed. Right click on one of the messages boxes and enter the message you want played when that message button is clicked. This is a good place to create the letters or numbers you are having trouble with so you can play them repeatedly to hear the differences. For example, the letters S and H, or numbers can be practiced until you master them. Choice Under the choice area of the display are 7 choices. We will describe three of them that we found most useful during our CW Academy course. Random Clicking the 'Random' option allows you to choose how many random characters are in a session as well as the lesson number to be run. One of the pre-programmed lessons or one you have either added or modified can be chosen from the 60 that are available. Noise, QSB and QRH can be added to the CW practice as desired. Clicking the 'File ' option opens a window in the CW Player folder which allows you to select one of the .txt files available for transmission. We opened a sub folder named Practice Files and stored all the files we generated for practice here. The files are played at the 'Speed wpm" rate as modified by the character and word spacing options described above. Monitor The monitor function listens to an external code practice oscillator and after adjusting the oscillator volume and "Decoder Threshold' printing out of the code heard is seen in the Monitor window. We found this feature quite helpful in getting word and character spacing timing down. (I'm not there yet!) We think this feature helps develop a good keying fist, especially while monitoring “The Quick Brown Fox” as you send it. It has extended capabilities to interface with your computer and transceiver to monitor real time CW transmissions if you want to adapt that later. Configuration This section acts as instructions to customize the features of CW Player discussed in the next section. Under Tools Local Lessons Choosing the local Lessons option under Tools opens a window that allows you to customize any of the 22 already programmed lessons or add new ones up to a total of 60 lessons. Each lesson can consist of up to 55 characters. All of these can be customized by selecting the 'Local Lessons option under the Tools tab. In the pop up window a lesson number can then be chosen and the contents of that lesson can be modified as desired. Enter and Exit close the modification window. Then with 'Random' selected under Choice the lesson number can be changed to play the newly modified lesson. . Under Options Spacing between characters Spacing between characters can be set from 1 (full rate CW) to as much as 17 spaces. When spacing between characters is increased and the speed is increased characters are heard at the WPM rate but time between characters provides a much lower real speed. Spacing between words Spacing between words can be set between 1 (full rate CW) and 4. QRI (pitch) Pitch can be changed with this option from 100 to 1500 Hz and there is a check box to add harmonics to the sine wave output if desired. Noise Noise can be added to the output if desired by right clicking the 'squiggly line' box just right of 'Hide' and selecting both level and bandwidth in the pop up window. The selected noise level can then be turned on or off by clicking the 'squiggly line' box QSB Fading can also be added by right clicking the QSB box and selecting the depth of fade desired. Noise can be added to the output if desired by right clicking the 'squiggly line' box just right of 'Hide' and selecting both level and bandwidth in the pop up window. The selected fading level can then be turned on or off by clicking the QSB' box. Conclusion We found that in addition to the other excellent tools suggested to aid us in advancing our CW proficiency CW Player was a valuable asset to include files from WØUCE's excellent white paper "Learning Morse code as a Language." We programmed files such as: • Two Letter groups • Three letter Groups • Three letter words In addition we found files containing the most used 100 words at the following web site: http://www.duboislc.net/EducationWatch/First100Words.html This site also has the second and third hundred up to the tenth hundred most used words. Other files can be copied from numerous sources into Windows Notepad then edited to remove stuff like quotes and hyphens. One neat source is the ARRL practice files. These are found here. http://www.arrl.org/code-practice-files Saving these files in a CW Player subfolder Practice files can provide you a bottomless source of practice text. We hope you find CW Player as valuable as the other tools suggested for use in CW Academy courses.
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