My CW Learning Journey #1

I figured i’d document my progress (and setbacks) since i’ve taken on the task of enrolling in the CWOps CW Academy Level One course. All I can say is...

I figured i’d document my progress (and setbacks) since i’ve taken on the task of enrolling in the CWOps CW Academy Level One course. All I can say is that my previous attempts at learning CW have been met with frustration, curse words, and every excuse I could think of to operate voice & digital. But deep down inside – I knew that I wanted more than anything to become proficient at Morse Code. First impressions of the course (i’m only on session 2) are absolutely amazing. The instructor Ken Mills is top notch. Teaching the course in a way that’s comfortable for everyone, and giving us real world operating tips. Ken adjusts for each operator if he has to (there’s only 4 students in my group). The 20wpm rate seemed daunting at first, as my attempts on the LCWO website usually were geared around the 10-15wpm range, and even then I found that tough. At one point it all almost seem overwhelming & I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to keep up with the course. Ken encouraged me to stick with it.


I’ve been practicing casually for about a month, but only just recently started to hit the practice hard every single day since the course started for about an hour a day.  Again, I was initially met with frustration – my brain just wasn’t associating the tones with the letters. I knew that if I looked at a CW chart for reference – i’d be doing myself a disservice. All the best CW operators have told me, that learning by sound is the absolute best way. So… I just kept at it, kept playing the tones over and over, almost to the point to where my brain was repeating the tones in my head. Sounds monotonous – but something seemed to click today… my brain suddenly started to associate the letters with the tones. During the course, the 20wpm rate sticks, but the instructor is initially putting some bigger spaces in between to allow us time to decode, and for the first time today, I had one of those ‘aha’ moments! The feeling was exhilarating and i’m only on 9 characters, LOL! It just takes persistent practice, every single day as a matter of fact. I’ve set aside an hour every single day on my calendar to allow for CW practice using the Morse Trainer website & practicing sending the characters afterwards on a key. Big thanks to KB5RF for lending me his paddle key! My key from Begali has been delayed a bit…

I had to remember to tell myself to have fun throughout the whole process – and that if you do get frustrated, just get up & walk away and get back on the key after you’ve had a chance to refresh & reset! The initial part of trying to exercise your brain in that way can wear on you IMHO!

At this point, I can’t wait to learn the next character!



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CWCW AcademyUncategorized
9 Comments on this post.
  • Bruce Malo
    22 September 2017 at 3:11 PM

    your last paragraph is most important ! yes, you have to know when to stop and walk away in order to have a brain reset ! …well, as long as you’re not an airline pilot 😁

  • Bas PE4BAS
    12 September 2017 at 6:50 AM

    Good luck Johnny, I am struggling with it myself. Do know about this course as it can be joined in the Netherlands as well. I might join it in time. For now I do some practice with LCWO and Morse Toad on my phone. 73, Bas

    • K5ACL
      12 September 2017 at 6:12 PM

      I use LCWO from time to time. The morse trainer website combines sending on lesson 1, which has actually helped me learn the letters faster surprisingly! Best of luck w/ your journey. 73

  • jmundy
    12 September 2017 at 1:52 AM

    Hey Johnny. Nice job getting picked up on the QRZ home page. I too am enrolled and taking the CW OPS level 1 class. Similar story to your in struggling and avoiding CW even though I’ve been active on other digital modes. It is very challenging and absolutely requires the associated practice. Lesson 3 was this evening.

    Hope to catch you on the air soon on one of the CW OPS activities once we graduate!

    Thank you for your service – particularly appreciative to all who serve and have served as I reflect on this “9/11.”

    Jim, KE4GVO

    • K5ACL
      12 September 2017 at 6:10 PM

      Thank you Jim! & best of luck to you in the class. The instructor is just awesome. Surprisingly everyone is sending very well at this point, it’s the decoding, and the difficult letters at this point. But yes, consistent practice… even if I slip and miss a day, I notice it the next time I practice… 73!

  • Scott, AK5SD
    8 September 2017 at 8:22 PM

    Keep up the good work. When you’re ready, I’ll be happy to warm you up with a QSO or two, as long as you don’t go 20WPM. 😉

    • K5ACL
      11 September 2017 at 1:33 PM

      Haha, i’ll probably start out verrrrry slow at first, and then hopefully with practice! 73 Scott!

  • Bruce Malo
    8 September 2017 at 11:32 AM

    cost of this course?

    • K5ACL
      8 September 2017 at 12:13 PM

      Free! It’s provided as a service to the Amateur Radio community – but there is a CWOps Store & Club you can join if you want to support the cause! Checkout their website :


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