About Iambic Master
Iambic Master is a free program intended to be used as a training aid for sending CW using an iambic keyer, specifically a Winkeyer from K1EL Systems.
Since most Winkeyers will be connected to a transmitter, please take care to avoid transmitting over the air when practicing with this program.
Minimum System Requirements
Windows XP Service Pack 3 or Later
Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0 or Later
K1EL Systems Winkeyer
The system has been tested on Windows 7 with .NET Framework 4.5 and two hardware configurations: WinkeyerUSB and MicroHAM MK2R+.
1. Download the latest version of Iambic Master here.
2. Upzip the files to any desired location on your computer, but keep them together.
3. Ensure that your Winkeyer is powered on and connected to the computer.
4. Ensure that other programs (such as a logger) that may control the Winkeyer are not open.
5. Run IambicMaster.exe
6. The first time the program is run, the Serial Port Error window is displayed. Select the serial port used by the Winkeyer and then click Retry.
7. When the main window is displayed, click the Winkeyer button and make sure the settings are appropriate for your configuration. The settings take effect immediately, so you can experiment with sending while this window is open. Close the window when finished.
8. Enter your call.
9. At this point the program should be ready for use.
Iambic Master operates as a game. The objective of the game is to send the text in the Target box as accurately as possible. What the Winkeyer decodes is displayed to the Echo box. Each game, or run, consists of a fixed number of trials. Each trial consists of the user attempting to send the Target text in the form of a contest exchange. A trial goes on until the Echo Text matches the Target Text perfectly.
To begin a run, click the Start button. All controls are locked during a run. The Abort button is available to end a run prematurely. At the end of a completed run, the Scores window is displayed, with the latest run highlighted (although the highlight may be hard to see depending on your Windows theme).
The Controls group on the main window is used to configure a run.
Use Your Call to enter the call sign of the user. This information is logged in the Scores table.
Use Speed to set the Winkeyer speed in units of words per minute.
Use the Display check box to show or hide the Echo box.
Use Mode to choose which type of contest exchange to use: Sprint or Sweepstakes. The Sweepstakes exchange tends to be longer and more difficult. Practice modes Mixed, Uniform, and Clipboard have been added as alternatives.
Use Run Length to set the number of trials for the run: 10, 25, or 50. If you are a beginner, start with a length of 10, as even that may be difficult to finish.
Practice Modes (New in September 2022)
Mixed mode is based on random groups of mixed characters (e.g. XE87/ 2=WG3). Uniform mode is based on random groups of a single character (e.g. RRRRR RRRRR). When either mode is selected, there are additional controls to select the number of groups and the length of each group. The previous two examples show 2 groups with a length of 5 characters. The number of groups may be automatically reduced to make sure the Target Text length isn't too big. The list of characters used in Mixed and Uniform mode may be restricted by clicking the Edit button. The list of characters in the Character List box will be included (or excluded if Invert Selection is checked). Any custom character list is cleared out by restarting the program, and the defaults can also be restored via Restore Defaults on the editor form.
Clipboard mode creates the Target Text based on whatever text is in the clipboard prior to hitting the Start button. Any invalid characters are automatically removed. If there is not enough text to cover all of the trials, some of the text will be repeated.
The practice modes are scored normally during the run, but there are currently no plans to keep track of the scores as is done for Sprint or Sweepstakes mode.
A perfect trial is worth “CW Speed” x “Length of Target Text” points.
When there are errors, the score is further reduced. The additional scale factor is 0.9 x “Length of Target Text” / “Length of Echo Text”. As a result, an error at the beginning of the exchange is not too bad, but an error at the end can be quite painful. This quirk of the scoring system adds pressure as you get toward the end of the exchange. Note that it is best to restart at the beginning of the exchange as soon as you detect an error.
The Scoreboard section of the main window gives feedback on the current run.
The Score is shown followed by the percentage of available points in parentheses.
The number of Perfect trials is shown followed by the percentage of perfect trials in parentheses.
The Current Streak and Longest Streak of perfect trials are shown.
The current Trial number is shown.
The Scores window is displayed automatically at the end of a run, but it call also be opened by clicking View Scores on the main window.
Use the buttons on top to select the contest type and the run length, and the scores are tracked separately for each combination.
The last run is always highlighted (although this may be faint depending on your Windows theme).
Each column may be sorted by click on the heading.
Efficiency is the percentage of the total available points.
Perfect is the percentage of perfect trials.
The Winkeyer configuration can be accessed pressing the Winkeyer button on the main window.
Winkeyers come in many forms, so this program may control all or none of these settings.
When the program closes, all settings should return to the stand-by mode values.
You may right click on the main window (outside of any controls or control groups) and select Help to access this website.
My practice routine has changed after reading "Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise" by K. Anders Ericsson. The idea is that you want to do deliberate practice in order to improve a skill like sending CW, as opposed to naive practice. Naive practice is basically just going through the motions, maybe just playing Iambic Master or having ragchews on the air. This might help you to maintain your current skill level, but it will probably not help you to improve upon it. Deliberate practice is more along the lines of figuring out where you need to improve, and focusing on those specific areas that are holding you back. For example, I noticed when I was using Sprint mode that a large number of my mistakes were related to sending 6's or 7's. So, instead of just playing the games and practicing a lot of characters that were already easy for me, I did a lot of training just by sending series of 6's and 7's. Another concept of deliberate practice is that you want it to be just the right level of a challenge, not to easy and not too hard. One easy way to adjust the challenge of sending CW is to increase or decrease the speed.
My current routine is to warm-up using the Mixed mode with one group of five characters. When I am done with that, I use Sprint mode for one round (currently just 10 trials). If I my score is 95% or above, then I increase the speed by one WPM for next time, and if my score is below 85%, then I decrease the speed by one WPM for next time.
Iambic Master Freeware License Agreement
All copyrights to Iambic Master are exclusively owned by the author - Patrick Korkowski (NA0N).
Anyone may use this software. The Iambic Master software may not be rented or leased or sold.
The Iambic Master freeware version may be freely distributed, provided the distribution package is not modified. No person or company may charge a fee for the distribution of Iambic Master under any circumstances whatsoever.
Iambic Master is distributed "as is". No warranty of any kind is expressed or implied. You use at your own risk. The author will not be liable for data loss, damages, loss of profits or any other kind of loss while using or misusing this software.
You may not reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble the software, except and only to the extent that applicable law expressly permits, despite this limitation.
All rights not expressly granted here are reserved by Patrick Korkowski (NA0N).
Installing and using Iambic Master signifies acceptance of these terms and conditions of the license.
If you do not agree with the terms of this license you must cease to use the software.
Patrick Korkowski 4/19/2015