Ever since I got licensed as a ham radio operator, I have only used CW during the testing portion of the my license and really never used it again. More out of laziness, but I see that there are many operators who are making some great contacts and I have been wanting to get back into myself. I used to have a straight key which I gave to a friend of mine before leaving Florida. I used that straight key while learning code initially and had a great time with it. Another ham who has been SK for quite a while now gave me the Heathkit CW Paddles which double as a training keyer and a working radio keyer.
I just saw someone on Facebook who said the following “Learn the Ancient Language of the Ascended Master” hahaha…Awesome stuff, so I am doing something about it. I did some research on how ham radio operators built there own keys and paddles and found some great ideas, so this past weekend, I decided to build my own straight key. Now there ended up being an alpha 1 and beta 1 release this weekend. As a ham radio operator, we can usually build things that we use from pretty much anything in the garage. That is the case with this project. The alpha 1, as shown below, worked but had no tension on the key handle, so there were some issues with using it as intended. The design use a bracket that I found the garage which I drill through and attached to two brackets for support. The back of the keyer has a standard screw with the washed which is where the shield or black wire would connect and is used to adjust the spacing on the key. Under the front is another screw where the positive lead would connect for the cable going to the radio. The handle is just something that had laying around. Keep in mind that you can use anything to build a homebrew keyer as they are just an on / off switch which will key the radio.
Now a few hams gave me some ideas on how to improve my design. Some mentioned using springs while others mentioned using magnets. While I didn’t have any springs around, the use of magnets intrigued me. I was told that some keyer companies are going to magnets now which I found interesting. I looked around my garage and found a could of old cabinet door magnets which I knew I would not use for anything and pulled the magnets from the casing. Now the important part of this is to make sure that you turn the magents to where they repel each others. The need to be strong enough to keep the keyer handle in the air. As you can see above, the alpha release, is sitting on the front screw. If you look at the picture below, the handle is now in the air enough to allow for a cleaner key down. I attached one magnet to the board and the other to the botton of the handle part of the keyer. This helped so much more and is more comfortable. Now it is time to attach a contact screw and the cabling.
73 to All,