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Author Topic: A little help with the Keyer part of CW  (Read 10327 times)
KG4PES
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Posts: 21




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« on: October 10, 2013, 11:27:36 AM »

I am slowly working on trying to get CW as part of my operations.  But I have what seems like a foolish question.  I know what the key/paddle is but what exactly is the extra piece of hardware I see referenced as a "keyer".  When I read and learn it seems like this is not manditory but a fairly essential piece of gear to use in conjunction with a key.  So while I focus on learning, listening and hoping to decode the dits and dah's I would like this last bit of insight as I plan for the pending purchase of my CW gear.

Thanks for enlightening me on what seems like a simple thing I just don't understand.

73's,
Adam
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N6GND
Member

Posts: 347




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« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2013, 12:23:57 PM »

A keyer is an electronic device that produces dits and dahs automatically following the input of a paddle (of which there are several types). Many if not most contemporary transceivers have keyer circuits built-in. Keyers can be set to respond in differing ways (iambic etc.) to paddle inputs as well as adjusted for speed and other sending characteristics.

You don't need a keyer to send code and I prefer not to use one. You can send code with a straight key, with with a semi-automatic bug which produces multiple dits mechanically and manual dashes and also with most, if not all, types of paddle when they are appropriately wired to function as sideswipers.

Some would say that learning to send code correctly without a keyer produces greater telegraphic competence. Others would say that keyers help produce higher-quality code. I think that both are useful perspectives, depending on one's skill and depth of interest in using code.
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KG4PES
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Posts: 21




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« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2013, 12:28:48 PM »

GND, thank you very much.
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KF7ATL
Member

Posts: 51




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« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2013, 01:51:47 PM »

I think it is a good practice to learn on a straight key before using a paddle, but a keyer and paddle make life much easier and less tiring once you get above 10-12 wpm. The important thing with a straight key is to listen to properly sent code first so you know what it should sound like, and then try to emulate it.

Garth, KF7ATL
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M0LEP
Member

Posts: 200




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« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2013, 03:15:45 PM »

Quote
learn on a straight key before using a paddle

It seems to me that straight keys, side-swipers, bugs and paddles are different instruments; in their way as different as, say, trumpet, flute, piano and violin. Some folk may play them all, while others will stick to one, and they're different enough that skill learned on one isn't necessarily particularly transferrable to another.
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N6GND
Member

Posts: 347




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« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2013, 05:15:55 PM »

It seems to me that straight keys, side-swipers, bugs and paddles are different instruments...Some folk may play them all, while others will stick to one, and they're different enough that skill learned on one isn't necessarily particularly transferrable to another.

By trying different keys you may discover that a certain setup is both really easy to use and allows you to sound your best. For example I like using the somewhat unusual combination of a double paddle with a keyer set for "bug mode."
This is much easier and quieter than any other setup I have (including several bugs, single-lever paddles and straight keys). For sending slowly I prefer a cootie.
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N4OI
Member

Posts: 200




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« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2013, 02:53:07 PM »

I think it is a good practice to learn on a straight key before using a paddle, [...]
Garth, KF7ATL

Why?
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K7KBN
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Posts: 2782




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« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2013, 11:00:18 PM »

I think it is a good practice to learn on a straight key before using a paddle, [...]
Garth, KF7ATL

Why?

So you learn how to form the elements properly for each letter/number.  Listen to the lousy fists sending "h" or "5" when they are trying to send "e" or "i".  When you, as a beginning code user, KNOW what sounds you should be making, and you KNOW how to actually make those sounds, and you gain several months' experience doing just that, then make the switch.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
M0LEP
Member

Posts: 200




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« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2013, 01:20:26 AM »

When you, as a beginning code user, KNOW what sounds you should be making, and you KNOW how to actually make those sounds, and you gain several months' experience doing just that, then make the switch.

...and then have to learn all over again because you're now using a different instrument that requires different skills...
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N4IAG
Member

Posts: 49




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« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2013, 04:12:32 AM »

Nowadays with all the free and paid computer programs available for monitoring ones code sending, there's really no excuse for poor sending, regardless of the type of key or paddle used. I wish more hams would use one to occasionally practice with. Wink
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I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers.
K7KBN
Member

Posts: 2782




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« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2013, 07:18:28 AM »

When you, as a beginning code user, KNOW what sounds you should be making, and you KNOW how to actually make those sounds, and you gain several months' experience doing just that, then make the switch.

...and then have to learn all over again because you're now using a different instrument that requires different skills...

...but in the end you're making the same sounds as with the straight key, only faster, and you know what they are supposed to sound like, having "hand-crafted" them.  Most of "my" era learned on straight keys simply because the only choice was a bug ("iambic", at that time, was a word used only by professors of Elizabethan poetry). None of us had any problem switching to a bug.  Half an hour practicing (off the air) was all it took.  You don't really "have to learn all over again"; you have the skill.  The bug or paddle just augments what you can already do.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
M0LEP
Member

Posts: 200




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« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2013, 10:59:32 AM »

You don't really "have to learn all over again"; you have the skill.  The bug or paddle just augments what you can already do.

I personally found that an iambic paddle required a set of movements very similar to those needed to operate the computer trackball/mouse I've been using for a decade or more, while a straight key required a completely new and unfamiliar set...
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N4OI
Member

Posts: 200




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« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2013, 02:22:31 AM »

When you, as a beginning code user, KNOW what sounds you should be making, and you KNOW how to actually make those sounds, and you gain several months' experience doing just that, then make the switch.

...and then have to learn all over again because you're now using a different instrument that requires different skills...

...but in the end you're making the same sounds as with the straight key, only faster, and you know what they are supposed to sound like, having "hand-crafted" them.  Most of "my" era learned on straight keys simply because the only choice was a bug ("iambic", at that time, was a word used only by professors of Elizabethan poetry). None of us had any problem switching to a bug.  Half an hour practicing (off the air) was all it took.  You don't really "have to learn all over again"; you have the skill.  The bug or paddle just augments what you can already do.

This argument seems to support starting with a paddle and keyer.  Once you understand what good code sounds like from the keyer, then move on to "handcrafting" that sound using a straight key or bug....

73
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