CW Touch Keying
I have always preferred the old fashioned "pump" key for sending CW - in particular the Junker key. They are light and very responsive - easily adjusted, and don't suffer wear and tear as some others do. I have a collection of about ten - all in various states of disrepair - just waiting for the time to spend on them. Below a couple .... the second in army livery, new polished knob, with its lid missing.
Having had a double carpel tunnel operation on my hands I find using the old pump key very painful so looked around at the options available. The obvious choice was to go iambic with paddles and a Begali Magnetic Classic was aquired. This is a wonderful piece of precision engineering by Begali in Italy.
But, the dabbler/experimenter was unleashed in me and I started playing with capacitance touch keyers. I had one from the distant past designed by Bob G4EEM - it had lain in the junk box, hardly used for about 20 yrs. Now re-housed - the paddles are angled, seperated by wood and glued.
A more updated version is sold in the USA by Sumner at www.cwtouchkeyer.com - these little kits provide the electronics and board - all that is needed are the touch paddles to go with it. The following are a few pictures of my efforts. Most of the paddles are shaped single sided pcb glued into suitable boxes. Why so many? I was experimenting with the finger piece spacing 2.5cm to 0.4cm.
Above - the undersides, filed, shaped and glued into place. Banana sockets to the rear. Below - a close up.
Above - a set of paddles linked into the keyer module by back to back banana plugs.
Above - I was experimenting with just the banana plug inserts in the keyer module. Filed them down a bit, squashed and soldered the ends. They work well, however, they now have a springy feel - which is totally opposite of the fixed version.
So, what happens if you take a couple of brass picture hooks, solder them to banana plugs and plug them in? Well, actually they work really well. The springyness seems to enhance them. Below a close up.
The lastest bit of metal filings (below) are pieces of brass shaped as finger pieces - soldered onto banana plugs and fitted below the bench. A white fabric material and a cocktail stick provide the gap between the paddles.
Above - a longer range shot of the operating bench with the paddles under the desk. When keying I tend to rest my wrist on my knee. Very relaxing.
The buttons next to it are for remote operation of the ATU.
Above a keyer kit (about 1inch square) mounted on pcb with connect block for ease of experimentation.
The paddles then feed a microHAM - micro KEYER 11 interface via PC - then rig. A neat by-product of the keyer is that it gives a readout of the morse you are sending. An absolute boon when first getting to grips with paddles.
More dabblings to come.........