Many thanks to Steve (MW0SAW) for the following guest post:
CW OPS Academy – a great route to CW skills.
by Steve (MW0SAW)
I had tried twice before to self learn CW and failed to stay motivated past learning a few characters. If you can talk, you are capable of learning CW like any language. But as most CW operators have already discovered, most of us need to put the hours in, it’s a journey and an investment.
So about two and a half years ago I decided to have a go at learning CW for a 3rd time, my interest in DX chasing was strong and I met with a now good friend Kevin who introduced me to SOTA. I started using the G4FON windows application, using the Farnsworth method. After a few weeks I got to the point where I felt I knew most of the letters. I started operating basic DX <callsign report TU> exchanges and before I knew it my country count was increasing as I realised there are a lot of stations out there that only operate CW.
So the months went by, I got my first DXCC and I was content with my progress. I even tried to activate a few sota summits. Which was a bit of a baptism of fire I might add! I became interested in Thomas’s QRPer blog and YouTube channel, finding listening to the CW activations very helpful practice.
So after 18 months I was happy I hadn’t given up, but I couldn’t really have a rag chew and my biggest mistake I had realised is that I had become dependent on a cw decoder on the background of my PC. When listening to CW and looking at the decoder, your brain takes the path of least resistance. This totally bypasses your ability to decode CW in your head.
As it happened Kevin was fascinated to see a couple of my CW SOTA activation efforts. In the coming months he signed up for the beginners CW Ops academy course. Kevin encouraged me to join him and before I knew it I was on the course about 4 sessions into the semester.
CW ops academy has been created by some wonderful folks whose passion is to spread the joy of CW to more operators around the world. Each level is an 8 week, 16 session semester, with a bi-weekly zoom call with your fellow students. If you are serious about making a 1 hour per day practice commitment then you will be rewarded with new friendships, progression and motivation on your CW journey. It really is a great way to keep pushing forward and improving.
I decided to join the next level (fundamentals), but after participating in the first 2 sessions, Bob at CW ops, moved me up to the Intermediate class. I just successfully completed this, ended at 25wpm characters with QSOs and stories at 20 Farnsworth. All the CW ops levels can be found on the CW ops academy website.
So I guess I have to try the Advanced level next to see if I have what it takes lol.
Every day each QSO I make and each YouTube video I hear gets that little bit easier, and I pick out more and more of the conversation. I would like to give a big thanks to the administrators and instructors of the CW ops academy. Also of course a big thank you to my fellow CW ops students and new friends