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Author Topic: Purpose of shorting bar?  (Read 1690 times)
KB3KYO
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Posts: 74




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« on: December 10, 2005, 03:24:31 PM »

What is the purpose of the shorting bar on a straight key?

Mine is made by Signal, and I think most if not all the keys I've looked at have them.
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N7DM
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Posts: 671




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« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2005, 04:04:45 PM »

Well......'in the beginning', Morse was American Morse, not International [as we use].  And it was used for Rail Road comm's... between stations [not trains]. There was/is no 'tone', going  dit-dah. Rather.. there are CLICKS, made on a 'sounder'. Interesting to listen to. I had a Ham Pal that WAS a  R/R station master/telegrapher and I watched him. [drove ME nuts]. But he had it down, 'pat'.. and as a result never did well on Ham CW.

{back to the point]  The circuit for the sounders and keys....plus 'relays', if necessary for one circuit to actuate another... was  D.C. Closed.  Current flowing all the time, resting. The operator's key.. or bug.. was sitting there with the shorting bar closed. To go 'on-line', the OP would manually close his key..THEN.. unshort the bar. When he let off  the key, the circuit was opened, and his first character would close the circuit, produce the On-Click of a DOT...That was the convention so all the clicks would be in the right order.

The only American Morse I can remember is "C", which looks like: Dot, Dot..pause Dot.   A.M. has as few Dashes as possible; they are 'slower'. Remember, a Dot is a Click-Clack. A Dash is a Click [pause] Clack. Therefore "C" sounds like: Click/Clack/Click/Clack/Click[pause]Clack.

That's all the truth, and likely more than you really wanted to know... but FONT is cheap and maybe I answered your "Q" better...

DM
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AA4PB
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Posts: 12696




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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2005, 04:37:07 PM »

Land line circuits were a series circuit so everyone except the sending station had to leave their keys shorted.

Radio operators later used the shorting bars to lock the transmitter in transmit for the purpose of tuning.
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KB3KYO
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Posts: 74




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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2005, 04:38:06 PM »

I really appreciate your thoughtful answer.  Now I know!   I would not have guessed that... pretty interesting.
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K2MTW
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Posts: 1




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« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2005, 04:30:41 PM »

I was a commercial CW radio operator for the Buffalo NY Police Department. My boss who was an old timer when I started in 1962 and he knew American Morse. He told me that 'CQ' was:  dit dit pause dit (C) then dit dit dah dit (Q).  Apparently you can still use A.M. but I don't think anyone will know what you are sending.  I used to close the shorting bar while tuning up my Xmtr final.
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KA2JIZ
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Posts: 105




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« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2005, 05:27:12 AM »

I believe the shorting bar was left unopened in order to slide in a "wedge". A wedge being a length of metal attached to a conducting cord and that cord to a "bug". The bug then became the source of code transmission. I used to get old bugs with that sort of assembly still attached, but very worn and rusty.

But, I could be wrong.
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N7DM
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Posts: 671




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« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2005, 07:33:59 AM »

Nope...just about right.  In the Northern Pacific station in Puyallup, Washington, the Handkey and Sounder were bolted down to the operator's desk. When my Pal, K7AFU [SK] operated, he opened the contacts of the Hand Key a little wider, slid his 'wedge' in the space, closed his bug's 'Bar, opened the Hand Key's 'Bar and was ready. To operate he held a 'Dah' on the bug as he slid open the bug's 'Bar.
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WR8D
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Posts: 165




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« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2005, 05:23:03 AM »

Lots of memories and history here guys. Really nice thread, wish we could see more like this online. Merry Christmas!
John WR8D
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AK2B
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Posts: 94




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« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2005, 01:25:33 PM »

I would have jumped in and said it was for tuning. I had no idea it had any other use. Very interesting.

Tom, AK2B
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K8AG
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Posts: 349




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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2005, 11:52:20 AM »

FWIW, I use the shorting bar for my key into my FT-920. Of course it serves as my code key (I still like straight keys) and also it serves to key my rig in SSB. I don't have a foot switch. I simply short my CW key and the rig is transmitting.

Good post.

73, JP, K8AG
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N9ESH
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Posts: 27




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« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2006, 07:16:23 PM »

Also, aboard an aircraft, the shorting bar was to be switched on prior to ditching (after the location was sent).  When rescuers heard the transmission stop, they knew you went in.

Jim (old SP-2H Neptune sailor)
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