I’ve been fascinated by Morse code for a long time and remember playing with my dad’s straight key that he had from his brief stint in the army signal corps. I first learned the code as a teenager to pass the Romanian amateur radio exam. It took two attempts but I eventually managed, then promptly proceeded to forget it all – mostly due to never using it, but also due to what was likely learning it the wrong way and at too slow of a speed.
I started studying it again last year, using the very nice lcwo.net. The Koch method, Farnsworth timing, and daily practice had me knowing the alphabet within a couple months. My first CW QSO happened in April 2017, with the very nice and patient ON4IM. More followed until mid-June, though most of them were contest-style rubberstamp exchanges that didn’t improve my copy skills much. Not much other CW practice to speak of for the rest of the summer…
At the end of September, thanks to HB9DDO, I got to visit the HB9CA contest station. It was very nice, and I got to make a CW QSO with HB9EXR helping (I handled the paddles and he did the copying ). This whet my Morse appetite again, so I restarted practicing daily on the commute to work. I was using Koch Morse Trainer Pro in QSO replay or top 100/1000 words mode, starting at 15 WPM with normal (not Farnsworth) timing in order to get used to what things feel like during a regular QSO. By the time the weekend came I was up to 20 WPM with 90+% accuracy on copying words (less so for QSO text) and feeling confident, so I got on the air again and had a few QSOs. Since that went reasonably well, I also did my first CW-only SOTA activation.
I continued practicing and having QSOs, but soon realized that what I really wanted was to have fluent conversations without having to struggle to write things down. The prevailing advice seemed to be “throw away your pen and have more QSOs”, but I wanted to do more and also make use of my commute time (where I can’t have QSOs). KMT Pro is a nice app but was not getting me any closer to head copy, and just listening to Morse didn’t feel like much progress.
Thus, an early version of Morse Camp was born, for personal use. Inspired by PA0WV’s kujer2, but built with modern technology so I could just use it on my phone.
I’ve been practicing daily at 30 WPM and while I still have a long way to go, it’s noticeably improved my copy skills at the more usual ~18 WPM I use during QSOs.
I’ll keep this topic updated with my progress