Home Brew Straight Key

I am not much of a straight key user, but I am building one anyway to be a park of my novice station. The hinge is brass, the arm brass, the knob is a a button i found in the wifes sewing collection and the spring is one i picked up from the hardware store and the base is red gum.

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A little progress, using the cnc, routed down the board, retaining a plinth at the rear to mount the arm to. Need to drill out a recess to house the spring, and also another for the contacts at the front. I have some Copper rivets on the way to use as the contacts and some longer brass bolts for other side of the contact, with tapping the bar and a lock nut, the contact gap will be adjustable.

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Portable CW Key

So i have one of those god awful chinese cw keys designed for the FT817 that I use portable so i do not have to take the Begali with me. Expensive key being bashed about does not sound appealing to me. Anyway, i have used tape and all sorts of methods of holding this thing in place for use. But the other day I finally made up a suitable base for it to make the worst key in the world almost usable.

I routed up some bits of 6mm ply on the CNC and did a quick dry run to see if it was going to work.

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Next i droped the rig in place and all seemed to be good.

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Gave it a good sanding and then glued it all together with some 5min epoxy

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The end result, the weight of the light weight rig is enough to hold the key in place and make it useable.

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CW Crash Course

So i like to CW. Its a great mode, but it is also one take takes some skill and practice to be good at. I can send ok, but my receive skills generally revolve around a decoder doing most of the heavy lifting. Now, this has its limitations obviously, weak signals are hard to decode, bug and straight keys are hard to decode, QRM makes it hard to decode, if the other person is pretty crappy at sending it is hard to decode and the list of things that make it hard to decode go on and on. So, obviously, if one is going to be serious with CW, you better get the skills needed to receive using your ears and your brain.

With this in mind, a local ham put together a 6 week challenge designed to get your reception skills working. The program itself is not revolutionary, but it has inspired me to bite the bullet and for the next 6 weeks really put in some effort into getting my reception skills to a place where i would like them to be. During the day, I will be immersing myself in the numbers and letters that I will be working on that week and using a couple of android testing apps to test my progress as well as nightly send and receive sessions with a ham mate of mine who is also working on his rx.

Week 1: Numbers, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0

Week 2: Letters, E,I,S,T,M,O,A,N,U,G

Week 3: Letters, H,D,W,V,J,B,C,F,K,L

Week 4: Punctuation, ? , . / ERROR = P,Q,R,X,Y,Z

Weeks 5: Words and Call Signs

Week 6: QSO’s and Sentences.

Doing this for an hour or more a day, 5 days a week, should indoctrinate me in somewhat into getting the receive skills working much better than they currently are. I am looking forward to the challenge and the outcome at the end.

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LEARN CW WITH 3AFW

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Universal Memory Keyer

I have almost completed the Universal Memory Keyer kit from Kits and Parts. The kit goes together well, is well designed and uses quality components. There are a couple of things are can be confusing, like the 4 different types of keying output or the 2 different power inputs. But once you get past those hurdles it, it does everything you expect.

Programming in the memory’s is not something for the feint hearted. To be honest its an exercise in futility, almost. Firstly after pushing the function button then the memory button you are then able to key in what you want in memory. However, its slow on the upload, so, you have to go one word at a time and pause. cq, wait till the keyer beaps e then cq etc, but when you get to your callsign, mine is 7 letters vk4ffab, you have to triple space the letters. V   K   4   etc, which is not something that most of use do, we are so used to keying off our call at whatever speed we normally operate at, that doing this, seems, well unnatural.

Anyway, i am happy with the keyer even with its quirks, and will likley buy a couple more, one to use at home permanently, one in the portable station box and another in the homebrew station im working on. Happy days 🙂

IMG_20151020_195908IMG: Assembled Universal Memory Keyer

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