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RB211
05-04-2011, 07:39 PM
I just passed my General class license about 3 week ago and now teaching myself morse code. I know it is obsolete with all the new digital modes that completely blow it away, but I like nostalgia.
I also like to build things. I want to build a CW keyer. Think I will build a Straight key first.
Here is a picture of a cheap one, http://www.hamradio.com/images_manuf/H0-004926A.jpg

First question, what is the smaller black knob used for? I've seen the same thing on the WW2 military keys.

Second question, anyone here build there own?

fredf
05-04-2011, 07:48 PM
I just passed my General class license about 3 week ago and now teaching myself morse code. I know it is obsolete with all the new digital modes that completely blow it away, but I like nostalgia.
I also like to build things. I want to build a CW keyer. Think I will build a Straight key first.
Here is a picture of a cheap one, http://www.hamradio.com/images_manuf/H0-004926A.jpg

First question, what is the smaller black knob used for? I've seen the same thing on the WW2 military keys.

Second question, anyone here build there own?


The lever on the side shorts the points for tuning, etc. In the case of wire telegraph, all keys and sounders were in series, so would have needed to be closed for the loop to work.

N1ONU -- advanced

rmw
05-04-2011, 07:52 PM
Congratulations on your General. I believe that lever is a release, so the key cannot be pressed inadvertantly. I never made one, but it would be an interesting project. I bought an iambic key from N2DAN 20 years ago - he made them to order.
Greg
K4OY

rmw
05-04-2011, 07:54 PM
Whoops, N1ONU is right about tuning.
Greg

rdfeil
05-04-2011, 11:14 PM
Fred is exactly right. In the days of telegraph the lever was closed to allow the loop to operate. When the operator at a station needed to send a message he would open the lever and then send the message. When the message was sent he would close the lever and that would allow the circuit to be used by other senders. Now in the ham radio arena, the lever is used to key the transmitter for tuning. This way your hands are free to tune the knobs and you don't have to keep the key pressed. The downside of this type of key is that it is very easy to accidentally bump the lever with a book and key the transmitter continuously. This is very hard on tubes if it happens when you are leaving the shack....... Don't ask :mad: .


W7MSE extra

PS: Congrats on the General, Now work on the Extra :D

Gary Gill
05-05-2011, 05:53 AM
Several years ago, I earned my General class ticket with the exam and copying 13 wpm. I never used CW.
73 de N9ZYE

Your Old Dog
05-05-2011, 06:44 AM
Congratulations and I'm very pleased you see the value of CW. It is a great form of communication in my mind and it works when little else will without computers connected. Don 't give up on the CW and you'll find a new world of hamming out there.

That side arm on the key is very helpful with older style transmitters when you want to dip and load the tank circuit quickly so as to reduce out of resonance situations on your finals. But, admittedly, you could use a brick as Alpha products does to accomplish the same :D

Keep in mind if you do build a straight key, that the long arm is better if it has a very little spring to it. Some homebrew straight keys I've seen you too heavy a stock for the key and it feels like sending CW with railroad track. No "feel" or "finesse" to it. A bit of spongy feel is nice on a straight key.

If you haven't done this already Google - images "straight key" for some other ideas on what's been done.

Ray.....NV2A

George_Race
05-05-2011, 09:23 AM
I have seen a lot of home built keys at various hamfests over the years.
You will have a lot of fun building and using a home made key!

73...George...WB8BGY...Extra since 1970

RB211
05-05-2011, 11:32 AM
I like this design, think I will draw it up later...
http://a1club.net/je1trv/skcc/index.htm

73 KB1HRG

wlpier
05-06-2011, 09:29 AM
Congrats on the General! I still can't get used to it! WA2ZTH, Advanced, and got mine in the days when you had to pass a Morse code test first. I haven't been active for nearly 30 years, but I still keep my license renewed. Who's got time to sit around and gab on the radio..LOL. I got discouraged back in the late 70's when, like so many hobbies, it evolved from grabbing your soldering iron to grabbing your wallet. There is total enjoyment in being able to make things with your own hands and I get annoyed at those that throw money at it and call themselves hobbyists. It's a good thing that you're contemplating building a straight key, often thought about it myself. Saw a real old antique one built on a small block of slate that was really neat. Go for it!

toolmaker76
05-06-2011, 10:20 AM
WB9DL, extra class, passed it before they removed the 20 wpm test. Started out as a novice 30 years ago where morse code was the only way you could get on the air!

Was broke as could be back then, made my first key out of some scraps and a set of automotive contact points (remember those?). Over the years I have seen a number of other keys, I think there is a Kent key that is even sold as a kit. It is basically a momentary switch, the rest is up to you and your preference and imagination!

I'm also one of those who enjoy the tinkering and building aspect of the hobby. I knew a fellow who spoke to Japan from here in the Midwest on just 4 watts- using Morse code and his own home brew antenna!

If you type ham radio in the search, you will find some posts from hams who have built their own stuff, some fascinating antennas and so forth. Good luck on your new ticket! 73 de WB9DL

Greebe
05-06-2011, 11:28 AM
I just recently got my Tech. I have been waiting for a general exam to be put on so that I can take it as well. I have a TS-820S and I am still in the process of learning CW. I think it is really cool. I would rather use CW than just going digital as you don't need to be a ham to get on the computer and talk on forums or other things. CW is cool because is is very efficient and only really needs low power. I like the fact that if all communications in the entire world were down we would still be able to communicate with amateur radio.

Another neat area that I would like to try is QPR CW. One of these days if I have a little extra cash I want to buy one of the QRP rigs to take out to some of the fire towers around here and see how many contacts I can make overseas.

Greebe

Greebe
05-06-2011, 11:37 AM
Back to CW. I decided that I wanted to get into the sideswiper crowd. I like the operation better than a straight key. It is a bit faster, and easier on your wrist. I am not to big though in the Iambic style paddles.

Here is the sideswiper that I put together one night.

http://i141.photobucket.com/albums/r58/GreebeDBS/KD8PMKSScTS-820S.jpg

http://i141.photobucket.com/albums/r58/GreebeDBS/KD8PMKSS-4s.jpg

http://i141.photobucket.com/albums/r58/GreebeDBS/KD8PMKSS-5s.jpg

http://i141.photobucket.com/albums/r58/GreebeDBS/KD8PMKSS-1s.jpg

I made this sideswiper as a proof of concept to learn how to build a nicer key that will be made from 304 stainless steel and brass. Since this is my first key, it is made from scrap materials that I had laying around the shop. This key is made from non-conductive PVC conduit, some miscellaneous screws, a piece of wood, and a section of metal strapping used in shipping.

The upright pieces that hold the contacts and the metal strap are made from 1/2" conduit that has an outside diameter of 7/8". The base plate and finger piece were made from a 2" piece of conduit that I cut, heated in the oven, and then rolled out flat.

The brass connectors for the contact screws were turned on the lathe and threaded to fit the contact screws and the screw that makes the connection on the bottom of the key. It also acts as a clamping device to hold the pieces to the base and to provide resistance for the contact screws, keeping them from moving during operation.

The base is made from wood and was milled out to allow all the wiring to be out of sight and to allow the cord to enter at the back for a clean appearance.

Overall, I am happy with my first homemade sideswiper and think that it will serve me well. At some point when I am not lazy I will start on a nice stainless steel and brass sideswiper.

Greebe

kf2qd
05-06-2011, 02:49 PM
I started out back in 90 and passed my 5 words and got my Novice - was KB2KKJ - took the test and got my Code Tech and did a lot of playing around with a Uniden President on 10 Meters - several contacts in Argentina, and did a lot of 2 meter work chatting with a group of guys on my way to and from work. Worked forever on my 13 WPM and took 2 tries (first one I could copy nothing...) and passed my General & Advanced tests without a problem - KF2QD came out of that. Didn't bother trying to get my advanced back then as I was not getting anywhere on getting my code speed up.

Moved from Western NY to Kansas and was traveling and never did get anything on the air. Kept my ticket up. but the internet has taken over a lot of the functions of Ham Radio.

Live down here in South Texas now and what with Hurricaines it might be worth it to get funtional again. Electricity goes down for a week and no internet and you get rather isolated...

ckalley
05-06-2011, 04:14 PM
N1ABY here - first liceneced in 1977. Got my Extra in 1988.

Have fun with making your straight key. I think you'll find that making all of the adjustments as fine as possible will make a big improvment.

Also, use some small ball bearings for the pivots to elimnate as much play as you can. A Navy-style knob helps a lot also.

I have a WW2 surplus Canadian AF key that I really like. I attached it to a pieec of 1/2" thick by about 4" square SS plate to keep it from moving around while sending. I covered the bottom of the plate with some soft rubber also and it sticks like glue!

73
Craig

The Artful Bodger
05-06-2011, 06:24 PM
I always used one of these keys:-
http://www.electronics-radio.com/articles/ham_radio/morse_code/post-office-key.jpg

...screwed to the desk. Except that some of us used our own private 'bug' keys.

http://www.morsemad.com/vib_files/076.jpg

wb2vsj
05-06-2011, 08:44 PM
You'll notice that some of the older straight keys are covered with a plastic shroud - some of the old boat anchors used to give quite the "tickle" due to the type of keying circuit they employed!

Ham since ~1977. Vibroplex iambic paddle with Logikey K-5 (and I still have my 1st straight key)

Walt
WB2VSJ

Shuswap Pat
05-06-2011, 09:20 PM
Congratulations on your licence. I have had mine for about 15 yrs (although I don't use it much), and belong to the local club, because the are an eclectic bunch. I love the fact that 2m has way better coverage tha a cell phone in rurral areas.

VE7BWT

gunbuilder
05-06-2011, 10:51 PM
N0PTW /AG clear, no traffic,
Just got the general passed first try a few weeks ago. Missed too many on the extra, didn't study for the extra.

I have been a Technician for nearly 20 years, just didn't see a need for HF until ServSD started wanting to use HF for emergency communications. Now I can help out if needed.

73,
N0PTW (Paul)

RB211
05-07-2011, 01:46 AM
I am happy to see so many hams on this board, congrats on passing your general as well. I wish I still had my Icom 706mk2g, sold it over 8 years ago.
I have a very strong interest now in doing QRP with cw, and I want to try making my own qrp rig.
SWMBO has already killed my plans of buying a Yaesu 817! Back in 2003 I was very active on 2m/440, and DX on 6 meters.
I also have a strong interest in vacuum tubes all of a sudden... Weird...

Bob Farr
05-07-2011, 06:46 AM
Shouldn't this thread have started with "CQ CQ CQ ..." ?

Bob here, N8NCD code tech from early 90's. Played on 2M a bit then found the internet and went no further. I should have stuck with it: you should too. I remember logging some beautifully rich/warm sounding AM coms around 50M IIRC. Those gents knew their stuff!

73, Bob :D

fredf
05-07-2011, 05:08 PM
Shouldn't this thread have started with "CQ CQ CQ ..." ?
73, Bob :D


if a mod wants to change it it should be "CQ CQ CQ de KB1HRG" :D



de N1ONU

Pherdie
05-07-2011, 05:47 PM
N6QO here.

I've been a ham a year or two shy of 50 years. Took all my tests (Novice excepted of course) in the FCC field offices, the last being my Extra in 1972 while still in the military.

That being said, I owe a lot to Ham Radio. I learned a lot about electronics and radio at an early age, all of which impacted my life's course significantly.

Just as important, I learned just as much by talking to people, lots of people, different than me, that lived in different places than me, that saw the world differently than me and knew of things that I had no idea of. Furthermore, as a young boy, I learned the art of 'verbal' communication; how to be a good listener, how to respond appropriately, and how to 'strike up' a conversation, great life skills.

Fred

AD5MB
05-07-2011, 05:55 PM
73 DE AD5MB Amateur Extra

straight keys led to a new malady known as "telegraphers wrist." now known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I avoid straight keys, which is irrelevant since I also avoid CW.

DFMiller
05-07-2011, 06:29 PM
VE7PKE CN89
Congrats on getting licensed.
Been a ham for more that half my life.
I have had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people. Many have been major influences both personally and professionally.
My career and my wife have both been a direct result of Hams.
de Dave

The Artful Bodger
05-07-2011, 07:52 PM
73 DE AD5MB Amateur Extra

straight keys led to a new malady known as "telegraphers wrist." now known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I avoid straight keys, which is irrelevant since I also avoid CW.


Some keys are worse than others and the UK Post Office key is the best at avoiding 'glass arm'. In my opinion any position that allows the forearm to rest on the table is bad news, as are springy type keys. The best position is with the Post Office key screwed to the edge of the table. I do dits with my fingers and dahs by dropping my wrist.

Magnum164
05-07-2011, 08:43 PM
Congrats on your lic... Nice work in the key. My dad did code in the Navy and we have tried several times to learn it, I was close to 5WPM when I got my Tech Lic but never took the code test. Would still love to learn it, but time is not so free today. Seems like we do more now that back in the 90s when I started with HAM.


73s... KD4VCU - General about to move to Extra.

Smokedaddy
05-07-2011, 08:52 PM
I have a few older radios ...

http://www.pbase.com/smokedaddy/image/103741563

http://www.pbase.com/smokedaddy/image/103741562

http://www.pbase.com/smokedaddy/image/86381604

http://www.pbase.com/smokedaddy/image/123146603

-SD:

gunbuilder
05-07-2011, 10:30 PM
N0PTW /AG clear, no traffic,
Just got the general passed first try a few weeks ago. Missed too many on the extra, didn't study for the extra.

I have been a Technician for nearly 20 years, just didn't see a need for HF until ServSD started wanting to use HF for emergency communications. Now I can help out if needed.

73,
N0PTW (Paul)

Not ag, got my ticket in the mail today.
Thanks,
Paul

Don Young
05-08-2011, 09:02 PM
W5QPB, first licensed as KN4DHG in Lakeland, Florida about 1954. Worked the world on CW as a novice, using a Johnson Viking Ranger, Collins 75A4, and a Windom antenna. Good times!