How to identify a decoder user on the air

For just fun, I have posted to a CW operators' group in facebook regarding how to know someone using a decoder. It says as follows;

1)A few seconds delay to change from reception to transmission. 

2)Often omitting name etc, the ordinary format of QSO. And ending transmission with BK. 

3)In addition, using a key board. 

4)Impossible to communicate other than exchanging call sign.

I was a little bit kidding and added that I would quit there as soon as I identify the guy in QSO using a decoder. Rather, he or she would touch and go before I do that. 

There were a lot of comments, pro et contra, as usual for such a post. Beginners seemed to be irritated by such a comment. I should have behaved more courteously. But this thought is still what I think in the usual QSOs.  

My reply to the comments is here; 

Wow, lots of comments! 

I just wanted to let you know how I judge certain operator is a decoder user. I won't hate new comers or even decoder users. When I have time free, I would slow down and try to make an ordinary QSO in "traditional" style. I am not very happy to work anyone who just hits and runs. Whenever I read various posts/comments here, there are different kinds of topics by CW operators with different background. I hope you to mix them up. I believe, when you would be a CW operator who could communicate on CW fluently, there are 3 steps. 

1) Remebering code 

2) Getting used to QSO in traditional style 

3) Talking freely on this mode with the skill of head copy. 2) and 3) often goes at the same time in a person. 

But 3) is difficult to achieve without being conscious of head copying. If you are accoustomed with writing down message or even with using decorder, it bothers you to accomplish this step. One additional and most important point is that only when you could get through 3) step, you may have pleasure of CW communication. It is related with rewarding sense in your mind which comes from reading the message through expectation in head copy. This point is regarded needless to comment by old timer with proficiency. As the other easy going communication modes are accessible among new comers, this point should be emphasized. Only grinding away at head copying would give you the real pleasure of CW communication.


  1. I did not read the post, nor the comments to the post in CW operators reflector. Reflectors have digressed somewhat over time to become antagonistic in general. Seems little can be posted that does not solicit an angry response from someone. Things are typed into the reflector that would never be said to someone in a face to face conversation. One thing that needs to be shared with those that are moving from readers and hand written copy to head copy. Head copy is not, nor ever will be perfect copy. Do not think that every letter and every word will register. It is the practice of listening and following the context of the conversation. Missing small words and such means little to understanding what is being said. Head copy is also the reason that correcting errors becomes less regimented. Just restating (resending) the correction flows significantly better to the recipient that the traditional eight dots or some other combination. In normal speech, one does not say, whoops, I made an error, the correct word is......, one just restates the correct word and proceeds with the conversation. The recipient understands.

  2. Hi Don,

    It is not the CWops reflector. I have withdrawn from that meaningless talk forum long time ago. I agree with you as for what you have written here. Most of all, following the context of conversation is the clue to be successful at head copying. We should take the meaning of each word and, subsequently, each sentence of the message. We could hardly remember 5 or 6 letters at a time. But it is easy for us to remember what the other says. Understanding the context is quite important. An I believe it is the origin of pleasure in CW conversation. When we expect it right in the conversational QSO, it will give us rewarding sense as if we are listening to a music and expecting the tune/scale/chord following. We, the old timers, should be aware of what brings us the pleasure of conversational QSO on CW. Young new comers won't come into this art of communication if they won't hear what pleasure we have in this art. It takes a bit time and energy to master the art but is still rewarding later when you master it.