This brings back memories when I moved from Glasgow, Scotland to Lincoln, England in 1963 the first English word I learnt was “Pardon” and seemed the standard reply to any question I asked. I soon learned that I needed to think and slow down when speaking to get any reasonable answers. I now speak Lincolnshire with a Scottish accent which most people seem to understand.
Do I send perfect Morse? To be honest I would have to say “NO” I send readable Morse and do make the occasional mistake but the most important thing about my sending is I can relax and enjoy it as it is my hobby.
What do I class as “Good Morse”? Being able to copy the station in a relaxed mode without having to concentrate too much.
I am certainly not a Purist where Morse is concerned, if I was I would only send computer generated morse as I would be to frightened to use the key. My incorrect spacing would cause my message to become scrambled on a computer recieving my signal DISASTER!!!!! You can imagine the reply “SORRY OLD MAN WAS UNABLE TO COPY YOUR MESSAGE ON MY COMPUTER PLEASE TRY AGAIN”. I will leave it to your imagination what my reply would be.
Although computers today can be useful in the learning and practicing of Morse Code, I think they should be restricted to the digital bands if used on air.
Your readability is the most important thing to consider because if other operators can’t read your Morse they won’t work you. Readability is your own responsibility to determine as no one will tell you your sending is rubbish unless specifically asked off line, what you will find is that band conditions will dramatically get worse for the other operator and he will quickly finish the QSO. I myself have been guilty on several occasions blaming band conditions and in a survey conducted by FISTS on this matter 100% of operators said the would not tell the other operator he was a LID (poor operator). Where does this leave you? Shorwpm ve your sending.
Being from the old school where the view was not to touch a Morse key until you were able to read 12wpm, because at 12wpm you had the sound of the character in your brain and you would then try to match this sound with the key. On reflection if you are using the Koch Method of learning where the characters were being sent between 12wpm and 18wpm I see no problem of practicing on the key at an early stage.
The Pump Handle or Straight Key to the uninitiated, is my main tool for sending Morse, and quite happy to pound away at 18wpm with it. I have not had any complaints about my sending, but the occasional compliment has filtered through which is nice but I do not take my sending for granted and check it with a Morse reader some times and adjust accordingly. (I am sorry but I have lied to you, I often get complaints that I am sending too fast from slower operators who are stood or sat near to me when I am operating)
Paddle Keyers are getting more widely used as they can be easier to use than the pump handle and you can send faster using them. Some people have to use them because of a physical disability prevents them using the pump handle so be careful before you start knocking them. The readability issue with them is caused by the operator setting their operating speed of the keyer higher than the actual speed they are sending and their characters get disjointed. If you are going to send at 12wpm then set your keyer to 12wpm.
Semi Automatic Bug Key a true master if set up and used properly but absolute rubbish if used by someone who does not know how to set them up or sets them up for sending 18wpm and uses 12wpm OPERATOR BEWARE. I have never used one so can not say to much on this subject, but my friend was very competent on his Vibroplex weighted down with an old penny. If you noted the “was very competent” he moved to a paddle keyer and now finds it difficult to operate his Vibroplex.
Remember that Readability is your own problem and you may be complemented about your Morse sending but you will never be told you are rubbish unless it is someone training you who mentions it. Ask an experienced operator to assess your sending and they will be pleased to help you out and put you on the right path.