I´d add: use a CW simulator software. It´s not the same, but it helps
2008/10/31 Randy Thompson K5ZD <email@example.com>
> "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" the guy asked his cab driver. The
> "Practice. Practice. Practice."
> I think we all can acknowledge that practice is an important part of
> learning and improving any skill. Sports players practice, sometimes for
> years. Kids learning musical instruments practice. Very few people are a
> "natural" who can just pick something up and be instantly good at it.
> Why does no one ever talk about practice with regard to radio contests?
> I find the SS CW contest is the best single thing I can do to be ready for
> WW CW. Why? Because it lets me practice my SO2R techniques. After doing
> SS CW, I find I can sit down in WW CW and immediately go into SO2R mode
> without much thought or effort.
> Other ways to practice in radio contests:
> - Start at the bottom of the band and see how fast you can search and
> your way to the top. Then go back to the bottom and do it again. The
> time is about knowing how to acquire the next signal and dump in your call
> (or decide to keep tuning). The second pass is the valuable one. It helps
> you practice call sign recognition, duping skills, and how to dig between
> the fast loud guys.
> - Work a QSO party or smaller DX contest that is focused on one area. See
> if you can work every station you hear from that area. Again, this helps
> practice recognizing signals from a target area and duping skills.
> - Work Field Day running high power. No better simulation for practicing
> running skills. :)
> - Work RTTY contests to learn SO2R skills. In RTTY, the computer is doing
> the brain work and the QSOs have a fairly consistent timing and pattern.
> This frees you to practice the keyboarding skills of jumping between the
> logging windows. For even higher level of practice, try running on two
> bands at the same time (while never transmitting on two bands at once).
> goal is to do it so smoothly that no one listening can tell what you are
> - Search and pounce in a contest using low power. Almost everything I
> learned about busting pileups came from my early years in ham radio with
> watts and wires in trees. You take a different approach when you are not
> the loudest guy in the pileup. Learn that different approach and then be
> amazed when you apply it while running a KW!
> - W4AN used to do work in his shack with two radios turned on listening to
> two different stations. He would practice copying both. You probably
> be able to copy solid on both, but you will learn how to quickly shift
> back and forth. The goal is to get this skill happening without thinking.
> - Get on the air between contests and make some QSOs. Nothing helps your
> sending more than having to think and send at the same time. :)
> Most of all, have fun!
> Randy, K5ZD
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