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Key Cover

from Mike Higgins, K6AER on September 6, 2017
View comments about this article!

Key Cover (Cheap)
By Mike Higgins K6AER

Most of us have our ham stations located in a less than sterile situation. Pet dander, pollen and general road dust can leave quite a coat of micro undesirables (dust) on our ham equipment. One item that is very dust sensitive is a precision code paddle key. Bearing movements and microcontact spacing makes the key sensitive to dust.

I just got back from Dayton Ham convention (Xenia, OH) with my prize purchase. I noticed one vendor that made key covers for a bit over $35. Ouch. Other than using a plastic bag I wondered what else would work. I could build a cover from some heavy-duty material but it would look more like a wheel chock than a precision key cover.

Going to the local grocery store that night the solution appeared on isle 11. A plastic food container sold in packages of two looked to be a good solution.

Good thing I had two to work with. I cut a relief notch in the back for the cord with a dremel tool and found the plastic to be a bit brittle. A solder gun was tried for the second try and worked very well. The cover sits flat with a smooth cutout for the cord. Total cost is under $3.00. These containers come in many sizes and finding the right fit should not be much of a problem.

Member Comments:
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Key Cover Reply
by W1JKA on September 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Great idea but will probably never catch on because it's to practical, cheap and no Bengali logo on it.
 
Key Cover Reply
by K2MMO on September 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Been using cheap Tupperware for years.I got mine in dollar general store 3 for $1.00.I cut mine out with a box cutter so the wire would not touch now I just lift them off and I am ready to go. I also have larger ones that I store spare parts under the desk very durable
 
Key Cover Reply
by W2EJG on September 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
For years I have used the plastic box formerly containing blueberries purchased at the local market.
Cut a notch in the side and you are good to go.
Cost $0
 
RE: Key Cover Reply
by N4RSS on September 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"Begali"
 
Key Cover Reply
by W2EJG on September 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
For years I have used the plastic box formerly containing blueberries purchased at the local market.
Cut a notch in the side and you are good to go.
Cost $0
 
Key Cover Reply
by K6UJ on September 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Great idea Mike.
Thanks for sharing.

Bob
K6UJ
 
RE: Key Cover Reply
by K3SZ on September 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I use the clear round cover from a stack of blank CD-ROMs to fit over my Bencher paddle. Required some trimming to fit the round cover over the square base of the paddle plus I can operate the paddle. Not completely dust proof but the price is right.
 
Key Cover Reply
by K8QV on September 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I was never very anal about dust, but the best solution might be simply cleaning the keys once in awhile, unless you live in a lumber mill or on a sand dune. Of course cleaning and lubrication products don't count as more ham gear but they're probably more necessary to mechanical maintenance than Tupperware. To each his own.
 
Key Cover Reply
by AB0RE on September 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I took the author's advice, but now my Kent paddle smells like left-over meatloaf. Any suggestions?

:-)
 
RE: Key Cover Reply
by W1JKA on September 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Put some A1 sauce on it and it should be ok.
 
Key Cover Reply
by K0FL on September 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Maybe it's just me but seems like what looks like a fairly expensive key should be displayed and protected under more than $2 Tupperware. I'd be embarrassed to have such a nice key under that. Do you not have visitors come to your shack? I would almost understand if it was a Ham-Key paddle or something cheap for field day.

Just saying...
 
RE: Key Cover Reply
by WB4M on September 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"Great idea but will probably never catch on because it's to practical, cheap and no Bengali logo on it."

I have a Bengali and love the key, but the cover that came with it is an absolute joke. This homemade cover is much sturdier and covers entire key, not just the top half.
 
Key Cover Reply
by VA1TIM on September 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Great idea: cheap but robust!

Thanks for sharing!
 
RE: Key Cover Reply
by W8QZ on September 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Life is too short to worry about displaying pretty pieces of radio equipment. Just use it, make some contacts, and who cares about a little dust!
 
Key Cover Reply
by KB6QXM on September 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I think that the reason for the expensive commercial covers is that of the whole amateur community, how many actually use CW anymore? With the lowering of the license standards world-wide not requiring a proficiency in morse code. Therefore, small audience. (Supply/Demand 101).

The reason why I think this will work is that most hams that I have met over the decades are all CHEAP.

My thought is if you have an expensive key, then protect it. I would like to see a rectangle high impact acrylic cover, but not for $35.00.

The same goes for the expensive equipment covers for radios and amplifiers. Protect your investment and stop being CHEAP when it comes to that.
 
RE: Key Cover Reply
by K8QV on September 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
BEGALI.

I know photographers who don't obsess as much about their $9,000 cameras and $3,000 lenses.
 
RE: Key Cover Reply
by K1PJR on September 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Good idea Mike. I have one of those $35 covers. I think it was made by an op in Spain. Next time my wife drags me to the supermarket I'll have to check out the food storage container aisle. :)
 
Key Cover Reply
by KA3JLW on September 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Can I get one of these in a size suitable for an operator sitting in a chair?
 
RE: Key Cover Reply
by SWMAN on September 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I use a piece of Saran Wrap.
 
Key Cover Reply
by W8LV on September 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Isn't it curious how the German/East European keys (Junkers, etc.) always enclosed the contacts in a metal case, but ours did not. I wonder why that caught on there, but from the (Vail) "Camelback" and onwards, our contacts are always exposed, with the exception of the "flameproof" key.
 
Key Cover Reply
by KD6HVT on September 10, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I think it is a great idea. I do not cw often but have a couple of nice keys waiting for me to improve my skills! I dont mind covering them in this fashion. Looks like it will work.
 
Key Cover Reply
by HA7WX on September 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Very good idea. Thanks for sharing.
Somebody worried about the possible shame with the visitor seeing that nice key hidden under a cheap cover.
That makes sense, although nowadays everyone will give a call prior to their visit.
Just uncover that key before the visitor's arrival and there you are, it will be nice on the desk and without any dust.
That's what i used to do.
Just saying.
 
RE: Key Cover Reply
by K3FHP on September 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
They look pretty, but spending $200+ for a paddle is IMHO for floks who have more money than they know what to do with or just succumb to snob appeal. Maybe it's just because I'm old and have been around for a while and paif $59 for my Original Delux bug NEW, but maybe thats the reason I have never been able to send accurately over 25wpm. Tupperware or clone covers sound great but I picked up a used codewarrior jr used(very good price) with a hkme made cover made of small plastic cut pieces glued together. But yes, if I paid $300 for a paddle, 45 might be reasonable for a cover, but I might buy a Pelican to protect it first(one came with the good priced codewarrior too). But IMHO having fun and spending what you can afford to enjoy CW is always a worthwhile endeavor, YMMV.
 
Key Cover Reply
by KI4ZUQ on September 13, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Pure, practical genius!

 
RE: Key Cover Reply
by K8PC on September 16, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I made the cover for my Begali from stained glass with gold patina on the solder. The care and feeding of a Begali does not allow for plastic.
 
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