Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net

   Home   Help Search  
Pages: [1] 2 Next   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Another "Novice" here... Questions:  (Read 5210 times)
KJ4VPJ
Member

Posts: 7




Ignore
« on: March 26, 2011, 05:03:36 PM »

Okay, I'm getting closer to being ready to try this CW stuff. I'm working on being able to receive, and I'll soon build the courage to transmit.

I built a simple oscillator to test my "fist" and I'm sure I'll sound like a beginner, but I'm okay with that.

Here are the questions:

1) I've got an Icom IC720A. It has a "Key" jack on the back, but I don't know what size jack it is. I assume a "mono" style plug is necessary, but what size? I can't find the answer in the manual.

2) I'm using a simple momentary pushbutton switch for my key on my homemade oscillator. Why not use that instead of a $50 key? Is the answer "feel" or "sound" or "because real keys look nice on your bench"?

3) When I press the "Transmit" button on my rig while I'm in CW mode, am I transmitting a carrier? My thoughts are that I'm transmitting nothing until the key is closed, but I'm not clear. Am I correct in believing I'm not transmitting USB or LSB when using CW, I'm simply turning the carrier on and off with the key?

Thanks for the replies,
-KJ4VPJ
Logged
KJ4VPJ
Member

Posts: 7




Ignore
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2011, 07:26:23 PM »

Okay, I'm feeling a bit smarter now, and a bit silly for asking some of my questions.

1) When I first looked at the back of my rig, I thought I had a 3.5mm plug in my hand. When I attempted to compare it to the "key" jack, my plug was way too small. As it turns out, I had a 2.5mm plug in my hand. And what do you know... A 3.5mm plug fits into a 3.5mm jack. Problem 1 solved.

2) I used the sidetone built into my rig and I sounded good. I practiced my callsign and the word "test". After a few dry runs, I hit the transmit button and gave it a go. Sure enough, my $0 pushbutton sent my carrier fine. Although it sounded a little "warbly" in the sidetone. I'm not sure if that is normal.

3) Why I asked question 3 I don't know. But pushing the transmit button gave me the answer. No movement on my power supply's ammeter told me no carrier is sent. Press down my "key" and up jumps the ammeter.

Now... to learn the rest of the alphabet... then find a patient compadre that can put up with my QLF.
Logged
AE4RV
Member

Posts: 934


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2011, 08:03:45 PM »

You have taken your first step in to a larger world. We're here to help.
Logged
N6GND
Member

Posts: 332




Ignore
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2011, 08:13:23 PM »

A real telegraph key, like a J38, will be a whole lot easier (and more fluid) for sending than a pushbutton switch. A big part of the skill of sending code that someone else can understand is getting the rhythm right.

Sending at a few words a minute may be feasible with a pushbutton, but it is not feasible at the ordinary modest speeds of 10 to 15 wpm. These are speeds you should be able to achieve in short order once you learn all the characters, using a real telegraph key.

Your goal is not just to be able to create code characters, but to be able to send the characters in a manner which can be instantly and comfortably read by others.

If you listen around on the CW bands, you will hear a number of people sending code which is largely incomprehensible however slow the speed. You will also hear people sending code characters at relatively high speeds that are well-spaced and very easy to read. When I hear someone who can't send code properly calling CQ, I am not inclined to reply because I know the QSO won't be much fun.

The bottom line is that you need to be able to hear the difference between characters that are well-formed and easy to read and those that are not. If you can hear the difference, then you can improve your sending skills.
Logged
AE5QB
Member

Posts: 265




Ignore
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2011, 08:20:33 PM »

Congratulations, you are learning!  As a teacher I love it when students answer their own questions. We have become accustomed to instant answers like we have with everything else.  The learning comes from trying, making mistakes, and trying again.

I don't believe you will be satisfied with the push-button key for very long.  Yes it is about feel to a certain degree.  Do you need a $200, $300, $400, or even $500 key?  Absolutely not, those are beautiful works of art but are not a necessity.  But a push-button is not going to allow you to develop much of a fist and you probably will not build up your speed and smoothness as quickly as you will with some kind of "key."  Keys don't have to be real expensive, a really smooth classic key can be had for under a $100.  A very very usable good key can be had for under $50.   And a plastic and metal but adequate key can be had for about $10 plus shipping.

I recommend that you get something that resembles a real key as soon as you are able to do so.

Good luck!  I am not even close to be good at CW yet, but I am having a fun time with it.

Tom
AE5QB
Logged
AA4N
Member

Posts: 108




Ignore
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2011, 08:36:13 PM »

Nice job on the push button idea!  After all, it's just a switch.  But, I would suggest that key collecting is part of the joy of CW.  And, as you may have already guessed,  he who has the most keys when he dies,...    Wins

73 AA4N mike
Logged
K7KBN
Member

Posts: 2762




Ignore
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2011, 09:07:02 PM »

Nice job on the push button idea!  After all, it's just a switch.  But, I would suggest that key collecting is part of the joy of CW.  And, as you may have already guessed,  he who has the most keys when he dies,...    Wins

73 AA4N mike

He who has the most keys when he dies, is still dead.
Logged

73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
W0WCA
Member

Posts: 33




Ignore
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2011, 09:46:20 PM »

The push button switch deal leads me to wonder how many QSO’s have been completed by striking two bare wires togather..
Logged
KJ4VPJ
Member

Posts: 7




Ignore
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2011, 05:41:45 AM »

And a plastic and metal but adequate key can be had for about $10 plus shipping.

Any advice on where I should be looking for such a key?

Also, I'm not money constrained, I just don't like paying $50 when I could have been just as happy with the device that cost $10. I don't consider myself a picky person either. Am I going to be happy with the $10 key? Yes, I realize that's an opinion question. But you can base your reply on the fact I am currently using a pushbutton, which I think is fine for now.

Thanks in advance,
-KJ4VPJ
Logged
KB3TXH
Member

Posts: 44




Ignore
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2011, 06:48:10 AM »

As a ham who has been on the air for one whole year, I feel qualified to answer your key question.
Yes, get a real key. It will add to your comfort level as you send, and you will be able to send much better sounding code with it.
The inexpensive Ameco will work fine for you. But it will not last a lifetime, like the military surplus J-37, J-38, Navy flameproof, and many others.
 You will not regret spending $30-$50 for a quality military key. And I bet that before long you will be spending lots more than that for a really high quality new key.
Logged
K7KBN
Member

Posts: 2762




Ignore
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2011, 09:07:42 AM »

The push button switch deal leads me to wonder how many QSO’s have been completed by striking two bare wires togather..
I wouldn't want to guess, but I've heard many CQs that sounded suspiciously like that might have been the keying mechanism.  I haven't ever answered one, though.  At my age, it isn't worth it.
Logged

73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
K8AXW
Member

Posts: 3651




Ignore
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2011, 09:18:31 AM »

As a ham who has been on the air for one whole year, I feel qualified to answer your key question.

As a ham who has been on the air for 55 years I also feel qualified to answer your question.  Indeed, spend $10-20 bucks for a key.  You will send code easier, better and the whole CW experience becomes more enjoyable.

You can check online for CW keys or prowl the ad in QST (You do belong to ARRL, don't you?) or if you wish we can suggest outlets for you to call.

If you do get on the air using CW with a real key and find you enjoy it your speed will steadily increase and I predict within a year you will be shopping for a good keyer and set of paddles! 

Push buttons CAN be used to send code but their contacts ususally don't create a clean make and break and the button travel is too long.  If you get a key, set the contact spacing with a single sheet of postcard.  No more.

Enjoy!
Logged
K8AXW
Member

Posts: 3651




Ignore
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2011, 09:22:24 AM »

I wouldn't want to guess, but I've heard many CQs that sounded suspiciously like that might have been the keying mechanism.  I haven't ever answered one, though.  At my age, it isn't worth it.

You got that right man!  Especially the "age" part of it!!  I'm 75 and simply don't have time left to deal with QLFs!
Logged
AE4RV
Member

Posts: 934


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2011, 09:55:36 AM »

Plastic and metal practice key, perfectly serviceable for use on the air, $10.95. You will want to mount it on a base of some sort, a piece of wood (or metal) with felt or rubber feet on the bottom.

http://www.morsex.com/ameco/keys.htm

Be careful, buying a collecting keys can be addicting. If you wan to spend a little more, haunt eBay for J-37 or J-38 military keys.
Logged
VA7CPC
Member

Posts: 2357




Ignore
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2011, 02:54:44 PM »

1.  I suggest that you spend an extra $10 and get the Ameco K4 (the "AM-K4" key on the same page as the K1).

The K4 _is_ a "lifetime key"; you may get tired of it, but you'll be dead before it breaks or wears out.  It has adjustable bearings, tension, and gap, and has been in production for at least 50 years.

2.  The best source of inexpensive, "good" keys is probably eBay.  An old Signal Electric, or Nye, or "Navy Flameproof" key, can be bought for a reasonable price.

3.  In case you think you're the first person to use a switch as a key, see here:

http://www.eham.net/articles/13722

and I'm embarassed to say that I took the idea of using "tactile switches" from an old file in the Yaesu FT-817 Yahoo! mailing list.   You'll also find some Whiterook mini-keys have microswitches embedded in them.

4.  Yes, the difference between "good" and "primitive" is _feel_.   Believe most of us -- a switch isn't as nice as _any_ "real key".  And using a switch won't help your sending.

Welcome to the club!

           Charles

Logged
Pages: [1] 2 Next   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!