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Old February 14th 08, 08:46 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default CW Skimmer

Has anyone tried out CW Skimmer?

This looks like a product that could really change the way contesting
and DX is done.


http://www.dxatlas.com/CwSkimmer/



This software can be used with a wideband SDR radio such as one of the
"SoftRock kits to read a band. It can also be used with your own radio
if you care to do a little surgery.

It will "read" the CW signals on a band, and sift through them to find
the call signs, and display the same.

It probably will not appeal at all to the purists out there, but at
least for myself, I find it an intriguing bit of software.

- 73 de Mike N3LI -


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Old February 15th 08, 02:39 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default CW Skimmer

Michael Coslo wrote:
Has anyone tried out CW Skimmer?


I have to admit that I checked the calendar to be sure it wasn't April
after reading about this.

I did a little searching on the web and found the same sales pitch
repeated several times. I did find an article by Pete Smith N4ZR at
http://www.pvrc.org/~n4zr/Articles/Skimmer.pdf that had some real-world
data.

My question, based on limited experience with the ability of computers
to copy CW in less-than-ideal conditions, is how many of the signals on
a crowded contest band it would actually be able to successfully decode.
Maybe this technology has made great leaps forward since I last tried
to use it, but I just can't see it being effective enough to dig the
signals out of the QRM and parse out the callsign.

I didn't find any actual use in a contest, so such real-world experience
would be most interesting.

73, Steve KB9X

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Old February 15th 08, 06:28 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default CW Skimmer

Steve Bonine wrote:
Michael Coslo wrote:
Has anyone tried out CW Skimmer?


I have to admit that I checked the calendar to be sure it wasn't April
after reading about this.

I did a little searching on the web and found the same sales pitch
repeated several times. I did find an article by Pete Smith N4ZR at
http://www.pvrc.org/~n4zr/Articles/Skimmer.pdf that had some real-world
data.

My question, based on limited experience with the ability of computers
to copy CW in less-than-ideal conditions, is how many of the signals on
a crowded contest band it would actually be able to successfully decode.
Maybe this technology has made great leaps forward since I last tried
to use it, but I just can't see it being effective enough to dig the
signals out of the QRM and parse out the callsign.

I didn't find any actual use in a contest, so such real-world experience
would be most interesting.


Hi Steve,

I've been experimenting with some of the CW reading and sending
software. due to my hearing issues. Background is that I have profound
tinnitus, don't hear much of anything over 2KHz, and weirdly enough, my
brain processes all sounds with equal weight. Noise is given equal
importance to what I actually want to listen to. So I can work CW if
condx are perfect, but most of the time I don't do very well.

Enough of my whining...


There is a new engine out there, of which I think Skimmer is using. I
have another program called MRP (something)that looks very similar. It
works very well indeed. It has that visual dot/dash display on a
horizontal waterfall, (also a big help) and the interesting thing is
that it seems to be doing something where it "looks behind" and will
sometimes correct itself as it goes along. I think that the software is
operating more akin to how humans decipher Morse.

- 73 de Mike N3LI -

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Old February 16th 08, 09:55 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default CW Skimmer

Michael Coslo posted on Fri, 15 Feb 2008 13:28:37 EST:

Steve Bonine wrote:


I didn't find any actual use in a contest, so such real-world experience
would be most interesting.


There is a new engine out there, of which I think Skimmer is using. I
have another program called MRP (something)that looks very similar. It
works very well indeed. It has that visual dot/dash display on a
horizontal waterfall, (also a big help) and the interesting thing is
that it seems to be doing something where it "looks behind" and will
sometimes correct itself as it goes along. I think that the software is
operating more akin to how humans decipher Morse.


Well, I'm not going to re-interpret how the
human brain works, but I think the operative
phrase is "adaptive re-programming" (more or
less). Some of that "adaptive" stuff has
been operating in sonar electronics for over
two decades. Sonar apparently used the first
"waterfall" displays to interpret sounds
under water...in order to separate 'fish
from foul' (so to speak) of all those low
frequency sounds.

I look at this new product as a very nice
peripheral to interpret on-off keying for
those of us who don't really care to bother
with audible on-off keying communications.
Since my human brain is highly adaptive to
visual input, I think of it as a good
adjunct to 'see' what PARTS of the [HF]
ham bands are doing. Also, radio contesting
has no personal interest to me so my
interest would only be in 'reading the mail'
to find out what is going on in the low
ends of the HF ham bands.

I have a fondness for electronics aids to
human senses and appreciate my Icom 746's
audio filtering. The old BFO in superhets
might be the very first 'aid' to hearing
on-off keying signals...compared to the
hiss and noise from old crystal sets!

The 746Pro also includes a little 5-level
('Baudot') teleprinter reader, apparently
included as an afterthought in Icom's
control system. A single line tiny display,
it isn't much, but their internal control
micros probably had enough program code
space to include it. Too bad (for me) that
Icom didn't also add the 8-bit ASCII TTY
decoder. :-)

Personally, I LIKE to see these new aids
to anything. About 35 years ago I got to
use the equivalent of VNAs for RF
measurement (HP Network Analyzer using
an ancient HP 16-bit minicomputer) at work
and thought it a FANTASTIC improvement
over the grunge-work manual measurement
on RF. Now I can get (if I want)
reasonably-low-priced VNAs (with precise
frequency control) from two amateur radio
companies and Antenna Analyzers (with
internal VNA) from at least six others.
Antenna Analyzers beat the heck out of
using a Noise Bridge and a scientific
calculator to interpret the Bridge reads
into meaningful complex quantities. :-)

73, Len AF6AY


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Old February 17th 08, 03:17 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default CW Skimmer

On Feb 16, 4:55 pm, AF6AY wrote:


The 746Pro also includes a little 5-level
('Baudot') teleprinter reader, apparently
included as an afterthought in Icom's
control system. A single line tiny display,
it isn't much, but their internal control
micros probably had enough program code
space to include it. Too bad (for me) that
Icom didn't also add the 8-bit ASCII TTY
decoder. :-)


at the risk of an OT digression who does this work, that is do you
have an opion on how well the machine does as this sounds neat to me



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Old February 17th 08, 04:53 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default CW Skimmer

On Fri, 15 Feb 2008 09:39:13 -0500, Steve Bonine wrote:
My question, based on limited experience with the ability of computers
to copy CW in less-than-ideal conditions, is how many of the signals on
a crowded contest band it would actually be able to successfully decode.
Maybe this technology has made great leaps forward since I last tried
to use it, but I just can't see it being effective enough to dig the
signals out of the QRM and parse out the callsign.

I didn't find any actual use in a contest, so such real-world experience
would be most interesting.


W4LT tested it last night on 40 meters. After the contest is over I'll
see if I can find & excerpt his post. He seemed fairly impressed.

I wonder to what degree the improvement in Morse sending has made this
kind of project more effective? The quality of transmitted Morse (in
terms of spacing & element lengths being correct - and in terms of fewer
errors) has improved considerably since I got my license in 1973.

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Old February 18th 08, 07:41 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default CW Skimmer

Doug Smith W9WI wrote:
On Fri, 15 Feb 2008 09:39:13 -0500, Steve Bonine wrote:
My question, based on limited experience with the ability of computers
to copy CW in less-than-ideal conditions, is how many of the signals on
a crowded contest band it would actually be able to successfully decode.
Maybe this technology has made great leaps forward since I last tried
to use it, but I just can't see it being effective enough to dig the
signals out of the QRM and parse out the callsign.

I didn't find any actual use in a contest, so such real-world experience
would be most interesting.


W4LT tested it last night on 40 meters. After the contest is over I'll
see if I can find & excerpt his post. He seemed fairly impressed.

I wonder to what degree the improvement in Morse sending has made this
kind of project more effective? The quality of transmitted Morse (in
terms of spacing & element lengths being correct - and in terms of fewer
errors) has improved considerably since I got my license in 1973.



Certainly the ascendancy of keyers has helped, but even then, older
software had some issues with noise, signal level, and adjacent signals.

I'm a real dilletente on the subject, but I think that the older
versions of CW decoding software relied heavily on timing to try to
emulate the human brain's decoding of Morse. Trouble is, I don't think
our brains work that way, because humans can decode some Morse that is
sent pretty badly.

But the old software could have big problems when the sender didn't use
the proper space timing, or when the dashes or dots were significantly
long or short. The human just adapted in real time.

I think that is what the new software is starting to tackle.

- 73 de Mike N3LI -

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Old February 19th 08, 06:50 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Default CW Skimmer

On Feb 18, 11:41 am, Michael Coslo wrote:
Doug Smith W9WI wrote:


I wonder to what degree the improvement in Morse sending has made this
kind of project more effective? The quality of transmitted Morse (in
terms of spacing & element lengths being correct - and in terms of fewer
errors) has improved considerably since I got my license in 1973.


Certainly the ascendancy of keyers has helped, but even then, older
software had some issues with noise, signal level, and adjacent signals.

I'm a real dilletente on the subject, but I think that the older
versions of CW decoding software relied heavily on timing to try to
emulate the human brain's decoding of Morse. Trouble is, I don't think
our brains work that way, because humans can decode some Morse that is
sent pretty badly.

But the old software could have big problems when the sender didn't use
the proper space timing, or when the dashes or dots were significantly
long or short. The human just adapted in real time.

I think that is what the new software is starting to tackle.


Available softwares for such time-related, adaptive programming have
been aided by technology such as flash memory and larger memories
in microprocessors (as stand-alone decoders). Adaptive programming
has been known in computer programming for at least 50 years but
hasn't had a resurgence until about a decade ago. The main thing
about its 'non-use' for morse code is that there really isn't a big
market for it outside of amateur radio.

Elsewhere there is the speech decoder used with a very few telephone
menu robots that can recognize numbers and certain letters or words.
A bundle with my WordPerfect 8 upgrade word processor (slightly over
8 years old now) was 'Dragon Naturally Speaking' which would process
word sounds and convert them to text. 'Naturally Speaking' would
'learn' the sound patterns associated with a particular voice
(repetition
required to have the adaptive programming do the 'learning'), then go
to a look-up table in memory and do the conversion into speech.
Outside
of trying out, I found that my faster typing skills (learned over six
decades)
would serve me better...the little free microphone was useful for
other
things...:-)

Adaptive programming is found in some higher-level visual graphics
processors used in motion picture and television production around
this corner of the USA. Those allow 'in-between' frame merging of
movements similar to what was done in cartoon animation in the
early 1930s. [lower-rank animators were assigned the tasks of
making the 'in-between' drawings of major animator's drawings
for the final inking and painting, hence the name 'in-betweeners']
There has been a MAJOR field of work in motion graphics software
in the last couple of decades, but that is a niche activity, although
a much more profitable one.

The little credit-card-sized MFJ 'morse reader' is more of a toy since
it has rather simplistic adaptive programming ('learning' involved
only in setting the approximate rate of words sensed) but is somewhat
successful in that. More advanced adaptive programming would
require more memory and processing of relative space-dot-dash
sensing on-the-fly to determine the 'bad fists' of certain morse
senders. As of the end of 2007, Microchip has brought out several
newer microcontroller models with much more memory and
faster operating clock speeds for those wanting to experiment with
useful adaptations.

It is less of a 'softwares' comparison of 'old' v. 'new' but rather an
intellectual experimentation project of applying adapative
programming methods to such 'learned human' activities. It is
probably NOT 'the way the brain works' (nobody is really certain of
that anyway) but that is irrelevant in the task of determining the
time-related sound patterns of on-off keying beeps and translating
that back to some form of text that anyone (who knows the western
alphabet) can read. It is an eminently POSSIBLE thing to do and
I'm glad that some are willing to tackle the task.

73, Len AF6AY



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