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Reviews Categories | Keyers & CW Keyboards | MFJ MFJ-492 Menu-Driven Memory Keyer Help

Reviews Summary for MFJ MFJ-492 Menu-Driven Memory Keyer
MFJ MFJ-492 Menu-Driven Memory Keyer Reviews: 10 Average rating: 4.2/5 MSRP: $99.95
Description: 4- to 8-memory position memory keyer with variable speed, code training feature, etc.
Product is in production.
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K4LRX Rating: 4/5 Dec 3, 2014 03:36 Send this review to a friend
MFj 492  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have had mine for about five years and use it just about every day on the air. The only problem is the buttons do not always make contact when pushed. Sometimes it requires a harder push to initiate a response, the first button seems to be used more since I have my call letters programmed into the first memory. I like the weight adjustment it smooths out the sending and is not as choppy as the keyer in my Yaesu rigs. If you are a cw man I would certainly give this item consideration. Once in a while if I have a power outage and that is rare, the keyer requires a reset. Turn it off and then back on, you are ready to go again. We give this one a 4 rating due to the intermittent buttons.
WW2JS Rating: 5/5 Apr 22, 2008 04:44 Send this review to a friend
I like it!!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I purchased this keyer with the expanded memory for $50.00 on Ebay.At first it worked well then a week later it would not hold anything in memory. When I would power up I would hear a ""GRRRRR" noise and I would have to press the power and menu buttons for default settings. I fired off an Email to MFJ and surprisingly they answered within 24 hrs. The email was clear and helpful and stated that I should replace the lithium battery. I spent the 5 bucks and guess what? The unit works great. I own 3 MFJ products, all 3 are more than 10 yrs old and they work fine. I am very happy with this product and the service I received from tech support.
KJ4TQ Rating: 5/5 Mar 23, 2008 19:47 Send this review to a friend
Great contest and daily use keyer  Time owned: more than 12 months
I use this unit with the Vibroplex paddles for regular use and for contesting (light weight contester).

The only trouble I have is when the contacts on the paddles get dirty or my timing gets off and I don't release the paddles on time. I also used Iambic mode B. I know many local hams using this unit and their recommendations got me to buy this one and I have not been disappointed yet.
PA3HCM Rating: 4/5 Mar 7, 2007 07:55 Send this review to a friend
Nice general-purpose keyer  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
After my PIC-based keyer died, I've been looking around for a new, more serious keyer. A memory keyer would be very nice. Here in PA most shops sell keyers from MFJ, so I decided to buy this little beauty.

I'm using it now for almost 6 months, together with my IC-730. I'm quite happy this keyer. All settings are easily accessible, memory operation is simple too. It actually does everything I want. In a few clicks every setting can be modified. It has a 1-minute tune function to set your tuner, paddles can be swapped (very practical in a multi-operator environment), etc.

I haven't tried all features yet. For example, I still have to find out how it handles serial numbers during contests.

There are only 2 remarks:
- In the beginning the buttons didn't work reliable. Since I'm using it more frequently, the buttons were getting better and nowadays I have no complains about it anymore. This box has probably been stored for a long time, resulting in oxidized contacts?
- When turning the volume dial to the left, you still hear the sidetone. If you want to disable the sidetone for a while, you have to disable it using the menu system.
VA3UT Rating: 1/5 Mar 31, 2005 20:29 Send this review to a friend
Another disappointment  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I bought this keyer second hand because I wanted to use a memory keyer for contest. It died all of a sudden in the middle of a QSO. Now it is in my junk box and will be on sale at a fleamarket as parts only unit. This the third MFJ keyer died and I won't go back to MFJ again, at least for a keyer.
KZ3J Rating: 5/5 May 17, 2003 15:25 Send this review to a friend
Very good keyer  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is my first memory keyer. (Frankly, being a QRP operator, I do not know how I ever got along without one for all these years). Out of the box -- as is a common complaint with this MFJ keyer -- it would not work (two or three raspy tones and then nothing). After resetting it, I got the proper ON signal, and all seemed to work fine. I stored my CQ messages, and then used it with my rig. Again, all seemed to work fine while on the air. However, after turning it off for a few hours, it would always loose its programming completely, and all I got when turned on were the raspy tones back again. I was about to send it back to MFJ when I noticed that the little Lithium button battery mentioned in the instruction manual was not installed in my unit (MFJ QA problems, I would guess). This little battery appears to keep the volatile memory refreshed when the unit is off. MFJ immediately sent me one, and all has been working great since then. The unit is definitely a lot of keyer for the price, and does everything I need it to do, and more. (BTW, the instruction manual states that you MUST use an iambic squeeze paddle to complete any of the programming of the unit. This is quite incorrect. Since I have a single lever paddle, I thought I was out of luck, but to finish each programming sequence simply re-press the proper red button switch that was used to start the programming sequence).
KE4HBE Rating: 5/5 May 15, 2002 18:10 Send this review to a friend
Nice keyer  Time owned: more than 12 months
Purchased this keyer about 3 years ago and as other posts here it would not accept any commands straight out of the box, after looking over the manual, I reset the keyer by holding the menu key while powering up the unit and has worked flawlessly ever since.
A ham friend of mine had the same problem with his keyer after a few years of use,he did not have a manual for it so I told him about the reset and he tried it and it worked for him also.
I like the keyer and have bought the memory expansion, works great and would recommend it.
AA8YO Rating: 4/5 Jan 30, 2002 21:02 Send this review to a friend
No Problems - With The Second One!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought an MJF-492 Keyer in the spring of 1997. The first one I received - brand spankin' new from AES - would not accept anything I tried to insert in the memories. I returned it and received another one which has worked fine since day one. It comes in real handy for contests, field day, and special events I have participated in. Worth the money - the only reason I didn't give it a '5' rating is because of the quality issue with my first unit. Martin needs to SERIOUSLY turn around the quality problems he has at his company. MFJ makes some really nice products, but their QC really leaves a lot to be desired.
NV7E Rating: 5/5 Jan 16, 2002 17:01 Send this review to a friend
Feature-Packed and Easy to Use  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I was looking for a memory keyer with advanced features but simple enough to operate without looking up each command in the manual. I recently bought a used MFJ Memory-Driven Memory Keyer with the expansion memory (the MFJ-492X version) and added the MJF-78 Remote Control Box with which I place next to my paddle to control the keyer remotely.

With this setup you can record and play up to eight messages totalling 8,000 characters, which may be accessed either through the buttons on the keyer itself or the Remote Control Box. Within the messages you can include special commands such as an incrementing contest serial number. Recording of messages is word by word. If you make a mistake as you are recording you can correct the last word you sent. Operation is reminiscent of the fabled Kansas City Keyer by Lance Johnson Engineering, which is no longer in production. If you have ever used a keyer before, you will be able to use the basic features of MFJ-492 right out of the box with no instructions. With all the commands available, it will probably be the last keyer you will ever buy.
KD7KGX Rating: 4/5 Oct 11, 2000 08:35 Send this review to a friend
My experiences...  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
As a new ham, and new to CW, I need all the help I can get. The MFJ-492 looked like the help I needed... and it was, and is. Up to a point, that is.

First, understand that ANY keyer works only with a key or paddle that has separate contacts for dots and dashes. The key I started with, a Vibroplex Original Deluxe, can only be used if the dash contact is isolated from the dot contact by removing the contact strip on the underside of the base plate, and running a separate wire from your 3-wire cord. This is not explained in the manual. I figured out what the problem is by noticing that a two-conductor cord plugged into the MFJ-492 caused it to continually send dots. An examination of the schematic showed that the 14" input plug was a 3-conductor plug. Upon reflection, it seems obvious that unless some serious computing power was contained in the $99 box that was capable of differentiating dots and dashes, the simpler approach of letting the key differentiate was going to be used.

I purchased the MFJ-492X keyer along with the optional MFJ-78 remote (giving me 8 memories with 8k of storage). The total retail price was $134.90, although I purchased everything used on eBay for about half the price.

The keyer generally works as advertised, except for two points... one minor and one a little less minor.

First, the keyer's sensitivity to intercharacter spacing during message creation can be bothersome to those not used to it. You enter messages word by word, and the keyer replies with either a 'W' (in Morse) or a blitz of 8 dots, indicating that the word was understood or not understood respectively. If your intercharacter spacing is too short, the keyer becomes confused and either blitzes you or interprets your entry as some strange combination of two or more characters. If your intercharacter spacing is too long, you get the dreaded 'W' and must erase the word (via sending 8 dots) and re-entering it. Best results occur when using slightly more intercharacter spacing than you would normally use (and that the keyer uses when playing messages). The keyer replays the last valid word entered upon deleting words, so it's helpful to send a single character (I use a 'T') after each word, then delete it to verify that what the keyer heard was what you intended.

The second and far more serious problem that I encountered indicated a bug in the keyer's firmware. A neat feature of this keyer is the ability to embed messages into other messages, i.e., embedding your callsign in a CQ as in 'CQ CQ CQ DE KD7KGX KD7KGX KD7KGX K' via the '/#' command, where '#' is the memory location of the embedded message. Assuming your callsign was in Memory #3 and 'CQ' was in Memory #2, the sequence of characters to store in Memory #1 would be '/2 /2 /2 DE /3 /3 /3 K'. This resulted in a very strange message indeed when I played it back. I finally figured out the problem by putting each memory location's number in it's memory, i.e., '6' in Memory #6, and discovered that the keyer reverses dot and dash recognition for embedded messages. In order to get the message above to work, it had to be changed to '/7 /7 /7 DE /8 /8 /8 K'. I emailed MFJ to report the problem but have yet to hear from them.

I use this keyer every time I sit down to my Heathkit HW-9 and attempt to contact someone. Calling CQ is made easier, and I can respond to a CQ by sending the other ham's callsign followed by 'DE' and then pressing the Memory #3 button on the remote control. As my equipment expands (as I get a better antenna!) and I start competing in contests, I will be able to more fully exploit the capabilities of this unit.

In summary, I would give the unit a 4/5, and if the problems I mentioned were fixed I'd give it a 5/5. I have no experience with other keyers so I can't say if the intercharacter spacing problem is unique to MFJ or is common to all memory keyers. The dot/dash reversal is more serious, because although it can be easily worked around, I wonder how many hams will feel as I did (like an idiot because I couldn't seem to send the correct '/' and '#' symbol) and trust the machine more than they trust themselves. Although I've only been a ham a short while, even my ears can identify keyer users on the air... and quite honestly many hams with general and extra licenses could benefit from a keyer! I would buy the unit again.

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