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Author Topic: External keyers, helpful or not?  (Read 5501 times)
WX2S
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Posts: 685




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« on: September 19, 2012, 09:20:47 AM »

Hi, all,

Two questions.

I've seen in a few places, mostly by people who sell external keyers, that the keyers that are built into transceivers aren't very good. Do the CW gurus here think that's the case?

In my previous 1970s interest in ham radio, I had a Vibroplex bug, which I got along with quite well. I also had a keyer (I think it was a Heathkit) which I never used much because it was lightweight and slid all around the desk. Now I'm finding that, with my K3's built-in keyer, I'm fairly frequently putting in too few or too many dits. Could it be the keyer, or is it my lack of practice?

Thanks and 73,
- Steve (WX2S.)
« Last Edit: September 19, 2012, 09:23:50 AM by WX2S » Logged

73, - Steve WX2S.
I subscribe to the DX Code of Conduct. http://dx-code.org/
K3STX
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Posts: 961




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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2012, 11:25:24 AM »

I suspect the extra dits from the K3 keyer are a combination of practice and your paddles. Never heard anyone blame a keyer before, that's a good one. I do remember a QSO I had (might have been with K0RS) saying that many internal keyers are deficient in that you really cannot control many of the parameters you might want for QRQ. But I don't think that's what you are talking about.

For me, I use an external PicoKeyer. It works well, was a cheap fun kit to build. My new rig also has an internal keyer, but to change speeds requires pushing menu buttons (what a pain). My PicoKeyer has a 2 inch knob on it, it is sitting on top of my rig, and goes into the "straight key" jack in my rig (along with a couple of bugs via Y connectors). I think it is just easier to spin a big knob that is NOT a part of my radio.

paul
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KB2FCV
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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2012, 11:59:12 AM »

I like the internal keyers of most transceivers. They seem to work just fine. My friend likes his external keyer as he can adjust some of the parameters of the cw note, but I find listening to it that it's almost a little harder to understand sometimes. I guess that's just my preference. I never seemed to have trouble sending with a good set of paddles and an internal keyer.
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20545




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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2012, 02:18:26 PM »

I've never had any problems with the internal keyers in any of my rigs.  Some of the more modern rigs display the keyer set speed in WPM, so you not only have an internal keyer but you know what speed you're set to, and it updates the display as you turn the control.  My Ten Tecs do that (probably others do, too).

However, "extra dits" etc. can sometimes be caused by very close spaced paddle contacts with nothing more than dust between them.  The input circuit can be very high impedance, so almost anything will cause it to "trip."  Make sure contacts are clean and free of dust or moisture, and if they're set very close together try separating them slightly to see if that matters.

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VE3WMB
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Posts: 282




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« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2012, 09:49:53 PM »

Elecraft rigs typically default to Iambic Mode A. If you used a Heathkit keyer (specifically the HD-1410)
then it is likely that you are used to MODE B. Try changing the Iambic keyer settings on K3 to Iambic B
it may fix your problems. If not then why not turn off the keyer and go back to using a bug if you are
more comfortable with that ?

Michael VE3WMB

Hi, all,

Two questions.

I've seen in a few places, mostly by people who sell external keyers, that the keyers that are built into transceivers aren't very good. Do the CW gurus here think that's the case?

In my previous 1970s interest in ham radio, I had a Vibroplex bug, which I got along with quite well. I also had a keyer (I think it was a Heathkit) which I never used much because it was lightweight and slid all around the desk. Now I'm finding that, with my K3's built-in keyer, I'm fairly frequently putting in too few or too many dits. Could it be the keyer, or is it my lack of practice?

Thanks and 73,
- Steve (WX2S.)
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K7MH
Member

Posts: 328




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« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2012, 07:49:05 AM »

Maybe it is set up for too light a touch.
Try widening the gap a hair in your key contacts and clean them as well.
Maybe increase the spring pressure.
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PA0BLAH
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Posts: 0




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« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2012, 07:52:36 AM »

Hi, all,

Two questions.

I've seen in a few places, mostly by people who sell external keyers, that the keyers that are built into transceivers aren't very good. Do the CW gurus here think that's the case?

The guru's are just guru in CW not in commercial appliances.
As a matter of fact a home build keyer just using a K12 programmed 8 pin PIC sold by K1EL for 5 bucks, is very versatile, you can adjust it at your personal wishes. Last week I saw a commercial Japanese appliance, TS480 or something fancy number,  that just offered an electronic keyer without mentioning any specs like Iambic A or B. Not adjustable in those.

Quote
In my previous 1970s interest in ham radio, I had a Vibroplex bug, which I got along with quite well. I also had a keyer (I think it was a Heathkit) which I never used much because it was lightweight and slid all around the desk.
Never thought fixing it on the table, with glue, double adhesive tape, a brick or screws? Also never cleaning up spilled coffee or especially Cola Heavy is very effective,

Quote
Now I'm finding that, with my K3's build-in keyer, I'm fairly frequently putting in too few or too many dits. Could it be the keyer, or is it my lack of practice?

Don't worry, that is a sign of distinction and called "Lake Erie Swing" together with your 1x2 call you will experience you are approached with honour. It is specially interesting and style in combination with the consumption of (too much) alcoholics.

But no kidding, you can easily find out. connect the DOT contacts of your paddle with an external keyer, that generate dashes. During the dash your K3 will generate dots. The number must be constant. By changing the speed of the dashes of the external keyer you can even find out, what the mode of the K3 is Iambic A or B, and what the exact decision point is where is decided an extra dot or not.

Remember we got our license to perform technical investigations. Well this is an example.

Bob

« Last Edit: September 20, 2012, 08:01:16 AM by PA0BLAH » Logged
G4LNA
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Posts: 26




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« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2012, 12:48:48 PM »

I have tried to use the keyer in my K3 and I find I can't get on with it very well at all. Like Bob I've got the K1EL keyer and I find it's wonderful, I can set it up just like my old home brew keyer I used for about 20 years.

Having said that, I find I use the straight key more these days for two reasons, it's more of a challenge and the elbug sounds too much like a computer sending for my liking, I tend to use the elbug if I run out of speed on the straight key at more than 20WPM.
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WX2S
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Posts: 685




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« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2012, 01:21:54 AM »

OK, I increased the gaps and tension, and that seems to help the extra dits. The key is brand new so I don't think the contacts should be dirty. Chalk it up to operator error. :-)

73, WX2S.
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73, - Steve WX2S.
I subscribe to the DX Code of Conduct. http://dx-code.org/
PA0BLAH
Member

Posts: 0




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« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2012, 01:50:16 AM »



the elbug sounds too much like a computer sending for my liking, I tend to use the elbug if I run out of speed on the straight key at more than 20WPM.

Omitting word spaces and a "style" lowers your copy speed sincerely. Just like fancy fonts and handwriting lowers your reading speed from paper. Lot of people try to sent as ideal as possible, with a straight key, so do I.

But when you desire a personal touch your keyer is able to adjust the weight.
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PA0BLAH
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Posts: 0




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« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2012, 04:04:25 AM »

OK, I increased the gaps and tension, and that seems to help the extra dits. The key is brand new so I don't think the contacts should be dirty. Chalk it up to operator error. :-)

73, WX2S.
I don't sufficiently understand the halloween cheese :-) that you use. We are not apes, at least I am not,  that conversate with 16 different halloween cheeses to chose from at the top of this text-entering-window to express our emotional feelings.

Always nice to be sure about formed hypotheses.

Did you read my answer on your question (of course you did, thanks for reading, writing was more time consuming, you bet) and did you understand what I wrote?
(Excuses for my bad use of the  English language, it will require a lot of ham spirit, as K8AXW wrote in this forum, to decipher it) :

-quote of my words-
"you can easily find out. connect the DOT contacts of your paddle with an external keyer, that generate dashes. During the dash your K3 will generate dots. The number must be constant. By changing the speed of the dashes of the external keyer you can even find out, what the mode of the K3 is Iambic A or B, and what the exact decision point is where is decided an extra dot or not.
"
-end of quote-

I am not sure about the level of your ability to understand written text, because  the handing out of a call to a person by the FCC in the USA does not certify he even can read. The ability of comparing remembered pictures of text with pictures of text presented at the examination suffices. Even so, when a guy is proud on obtaining a call, and using it as a user_id on a website, in order to proclaim his ability to pass the difficult Extra exam, is a negative sign.

Frankly I am ashamed to admit that I am a ham, and I cover up the fact  as far as possible by never using my call elsewhere when not required by law, hence only when starting and ending my short CW transmissions.

Bob
« Last Edit: September 22, 2012, 04:25:19 AM by PA0BLAH » Logged
K3STX
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Posts: 961




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« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2012, 12:34:37 PM »

Boob,
There is no reason to be rude. Steve asked a nice question, it was answered and unlike you I am happy he got it all working fine.

If you are so ashamed to be a Ham then don't get on the air. In America (the land you hate so much) we have a saying "If have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all." I suspect the Dutch have the same. Most of what you have to say is not helpful, it is simply mean. I read this forum to learn things and try to help people, you seem to use it as an opportunity to insult the intelligence of the audience. That is not very nice. You should go back and read some of what you write.

Paul (a CW-only Ham and proud of it)
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PA0BLAH
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Posts: 0




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« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2012, 03:12:10 PM »

Boob,
There is no reason to be rude. Steve asked a nice question, it was answered and unlike you I am happy he got it all working fine.

No intention to be rude. Yes I agree Steve asked a nice question, but Steve ended up with thinking he probably is himself the reason for his Lake Erie Swing, because his key is new and  no guys are complaining about the internal keyer of the K3.
However anyting that's new can be defect, you have to find out. By asking on a forum? May be, I handed a secure method to find out, but I am not sure he understood what I wrote, because I missed any sign of  comprehension.


 I gave him a simple method to find out exactly, with technical investigations the license is issued for. Not for performing contests giving untrue 5nn tu rprts. Sure not.  That  is even explicit prohibited in WARC bands, isn't it? That 5nn is kind of scientific falsehood.  When you refuse to give unrealistic signal reports, you are a LID; does me thinking when there is a traffic sign, indicating a speed limit, trucks are pushing me up  (tail gating), by driving one foot behind me, while my speedometer is electronically calibrated and just above the announced speed limit.

I wanted to know if my cripple described method was understood. Perhaps you can translate it for Steve  in English so even Al polland K8AXW has no problems  to understand it.

When you connect the dit contacts of your paddle, you get a series of dits. TS complains that it often are to much or less then desired. Lake Erie Swing in short. However when you put an external keyer on dashes the duration of the dash is known as function of the speed of the keyer. When you hook up  the external keyer output such that he makes the described contact of the dot paddle of the K3, that happens periodically during the dash time of the external keyer. Hence you have to get a constant number of dots during each dash of the external keyer. By changing the speed of the external keyer. You can find out what the exact decision point is of the K3 internal keyer.

Quote
If you are so ashamed to be a Ham then don't get on the air.
I get on the air in order to do technical investigations with home brew equipment my license is meant for.

Quote
In America (the land you hate so much)

I don't hate America, Just opposite. It is a splendid country. I only think often:  pity it is inhabited with Americans, hi. Just kidding, Select yourself the required halloween cheese to ascertain that.
Quote
we have a saying "If have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all."
Criticism keeps people sharp. Learn from your errors, other people notice you about. So I learned right here my use of English language is cripple and K8AXW wrote it requires a lot of ham spirit to decode it. Very good. Working on it. Read my first post and this one and you may notice the difference, about the same speed as increasing CW speed by persistent daily exercising.


By the way: Your proverb "If have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all." is certainly not practised by Romney and Obama, is it?
 
Quote
I suspect the Dutch have the same. Most of what you have to say is not helpful, it is simply mean.
"
It is just the boxing, when you buy a Benelli Graziosa, for 400 bucks, you only want the key, but the packing is threefold, to emphasize the high value due to the profits, of the desired containment.

Quote
I read this forum to learn things and try to help people, you seem to use it as an opportunity to insult the intelligence of the audience. That is not very nice. You should go back and read some of what you write.

All I wrote is true, in my opinion. Just pick the present license requirements with pre-published questions and accompanying answers, that even does not require that you can read when you recognise and memorise the character patterns of the questions and answers. An ape (monkey) can be trained in a week to pass the test. I expect the next step will be omitting tests, and requiring that only sealed commercial equipment may be used, no home brewing, kits or modifications at all allowed.  

I read sometimes US political speeches in order to exercise reading perfect English, may be they influence the way I answer questions. I am not aware of that.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2012, 03:23:19 PM by PA0BLAH » Logged
W5DQ
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Posts: 1209


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« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2012, 08:34:45 AM »

I've seen in a few places, mostly by people who sell external keyers, that the keyers that are built into transceivers aren't very good. Do the CW gurus here think that's the case?


I'm no CW guru but for the record, I use a homebrew memory keyer based on K1EL's K10 keyer module. My TS940S has NO internal keyer and the one in my FT-100D is sorely lacking in my opinion.

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
VE3GNU
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Posts: 83




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« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2012, 10:08:58 AM »

When I returned to CW after many years of neglect---and after building a few kit QRP rigs, I opted for the Idiom Press CMOS-4 keyer and have found it really excellent----it has the memory functions, but it required that I keep its manual handy.  The next keyer I bought was the Palstar CW50A keyer---also an excellent and well-built keyer---one with very accessible functions right 'up front'---i.e. 'Speed', 'Volume', 'Pitch'----as well as 'Tune' for the transmitter.  Both external keyers easily surpass the expensive keyer-board in my Icom 740---
73---Ernie
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