Tag Archives: CW Innovations

Beyond the Basics with CW Innovations

Many thanks to Brain (K3ES) who shares the following guest post:

CW POTA activations can be enjoyable, and theraputic.  This photo shows the me activating from a picnic shelter on a beautiful spring day.

Learning CW:  Beyond the Basics

by Brian (K3ES)

I just finished my last class ever for learning Morse Code.  It was a lot of work, but it really improved my ability to communicate using the CW operating mode.  More importantly, this class taught me how to actually learn CW, by diagnosing the problems and barriers that inhibit improvement.  Then it gave me tools I can use to overcome those problems and barriers at any stage of my CW journey.  You see, I am not yet where I want to be, but I have made a giant leap forward, and I now know what I have to do to keep improving.

I guess it might help to tell you a bit about myself as a radio amateur, about the start of my CW journey, and about what motivates me to improve.

I got licensed in 2020, when I was working from home, and spending way too much time locked away from the rest of the world.  I saw a video about amateur radio, and thought it might provide an opportunity for increased personal contact despite social distancing.  I studied during my plentiful spare time, and passed the Technician, General and Amateur Extra license examinations in short order.  Once I was licensed, Elmers at Skyview Radio Society near Pittsburgh, PA helped me to learn and explore the hobby, encouraging me to be radio-active.

I found a compelling niche hunting for Parks on the Air (POTA) activators, and I started hearing about all the benefits that CW brought for activating parks:  tiny radios, efficient use of power, and automatic spotting via the reverse beacon network.  That motivated me to work on learning Morse Code.

A full CW station packed for a hike weighs just a few pounds.  This kit, based around an Elecraft KX2, fits in a small shoulder bag, includes all needed components and some spares, along with creature comforts for the activator.

I started my CW journey using a variety of apps and online tools.  I practiced with club members.  Thomas Witherspoon’s YouTube channel became a staple in my CW diet.  Every character copied was a victory.  All of this helped my ability and confidence.

I completed my first CW-only POTA activation in July of 2021, and have not looked back.  But, during one of my early park activations, I had a defining experience.  I could copy callsigns and standard exchanges with ease, but something off script would throw me off balance.

When a hunter finished his exchange and sent something followed by a question mark, I was lost.  We worked through it, and after several slow repeats, I understood that he had sent “COUNTY?”.  He wanted to know what county I was operating from.  I easily sent him the name of my county, but the experience left me certain that I needed to improve my copy skills.

It doesn’t get much better than this.  Operating CW under my favorite tree duing an activation of K-1345, Cook Forest State Park, in northwest Pennsylvania.

That certainty started me on a new phase of the journey, one involving formal training classes.  I took a few classes, and each class helped – I could look back and see the progress.  But none of them left me ready for CW communication beyond predictable exchanges.  I knew there had to be an approach to me get there, and there had to be something more efficient than working endlessly to copy code bulletins or on-air QSOs between other operators.

CW Innovations provided just that method with their Comprehensive Instant Character Recognition (CICR) Course.  CICR is not just a class, but a structured process for improvement, which includes self-diagnosis, targeted practice, a supportive learning environment, and partners working together to put new skills into practice on the air.

This figure provides an overview of the Comprehensive Instant Character Recognition Course.  Modules focused on each of the elements are introduced as the 10-week course progresses. (Click image to enlarge)

Instantly recognizing a received character is liberating.  Rather than performing mental translation, you learn to recognize each code sound pattern as a letter, number, or punctuation mark; in much the same manner that you immediately recognize the printed symbols making up the text on this page.  CICR provides the tools and methods for achieving instant character recognition, but also emphasizes that new weaknesses in character recognition will continue to appear as your copying of code becomes more challenging.  When that happens, it is time to circle back and further improve your recognition skills.  The same tools continue to work. Continue reading Beyond the Basics with CW Innovations

Limited openings for a free intermediate CW class via CW Innovations

Many thanks to Andrew (K0AWG) who shares the following news about an upcoming intermediate CW class via CW Innovations.

Andrew writes:

The class will be 10 weeks starting March 13. There are a limited number of seats for this round, but we hope to have many more classes in the future too.

The class is currently free of charge. It will be held on Monday and Thursday from 7-8pm central time. We’re looking for ops currently operating from about 10-15 wpm and having a simple on-air presence. If you are making POTA and SOTA contacts that’s perfect!

This class is a great way to really nail the characters down so that you can start to build speed with head copy in mind. One perk for POTA and SOTA is this skill will really contribute to being able to go “off script” when activating. It will help ops follow along when things aren’t quite what you expect.

Here’s the full press release:

CW Innovations presents The Comprehensive ICR Course

Dated Jan 25, 2023

Imagine being able to advance your present CW proficiency without facing the prospect of getting stuck on a plateau. Imagine too that the characters you hear become easily familiar to copy and send, as familiar as the alphabet itself when you were first learning language.
There’s no need to imagine any of this: An independent, new Comprehensive Instant Character Recognition Course delivers this as a reality, delivering the best of CW training techniques while helping operators understand their own best way to learn, progress and further challenge themselves.

Announcing CW Innovations. This is an independently run course that is module-based. It is built on scaffolding in which each successive module provides a gentle ramp upward through the learning process. This methodical process is created to address the mental and emotional roadblocks that have typically halted learners’ progress via other teaching methods.

Introduced to students in October 2022, CW Innovations has been further refined by a highly skilled and experienced team of operator educators. While there is no “magic pill,” CW Innovations provides a breakthrough process that is unique. Students have gained proficiency beyond their expectations. These results are unprecedented.

The 10-week course is designed for those currently operating with 10-15wpm proficiency, at least a simple presence on the air, and eager to improve both.

See w4yes.com for details.

A few students have shared these thoughts with us:

“I almost gave up. Stuck on a plateau for a frustrating stretch of forever, I had very little proficiency and even less confidence or hope that I could be a decent operator. After receiving 10 weeks of coaching and support from this terrific team, I have all the tools I need in order to teach myself. I can help myself make progress, sharpen both my listening and copying skills and most of all, I can have fun. Being able to do head copy was an unexpected bonus. Plateau? What’s a plateau??”
Licensed Operator since 2014 – New York

“It’s no longer learning dits and dahs…. It’s allowing yourself to hear and comprehend the sound of the characters subconsciously that will allow you to move forward in your CW skills and goals. You’re learning how to learn CW all over again. I’ve made more CW progress in the past 2.5 months than in the previous 6 years.”
Licensed Operator since 2017 – Missouri

“Why should anyone take the Comprehensive ICR course? Because if you put in the time and effort, your CW skills WILL improve. This course enabled me to go from 10 to 15 wpm copy speed as well as begin head copying my QSOs. I also, now, have the tools I need to reach any of my CW goals including listening to books in morse code, something which I never dreamed would be possible for me. The icing on the cake? The friendships I formed with facilitators and team members alike as we shared our successes and difficulties and helped one another find solutions. This course is a game changer for the world of CW.”
Licensed Operator since 2022 – Georgia