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Reviews Categories | Keyers & CW Keyboards | K1EL K-20 CW keyer and keyboard Help

Reviews Summary for K1EL K-20 CW keyer and keyboard
K1EL  K-20 CW keyer and keyboard Reviews: 25 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $25
Description: The K1EL K-20 is a minature PCB that uses TWO PIC computers and includes a full featured CW keyer for use with a paddle AND a full featured CW Keyboard.
Product is in production.
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NG9D Rating: 5/5 Sep 8, 2007 06:11 Send this review to a friend
Very Nice Project  Time owned: more than 12 months
I assembled a "spare" K20 kit purchased from a friend, and like it a lot. I haven't gotten around to building the K40 kit that sits on my shelf ...

I packaged in small aluminum box which hold the 9V battery and has a jack for a paddle and is tethered to a Dell keyboard I found a quality keyboard is worthwhile, a cheaper one gave me problems ...

I wasn't clever enough to stuff it inside a keyboard, but it is compact and portable. (May try that again with the K40.) Very fun to use with Ten Tec T1380 / T1340 / T1330 / T1320 sitting out on the deck.

So many ways to kew CW ... so little time.

Only negative - I forget to turn it off and there goes another 9V battery. Wall wart or rechargable battery fixes that problem.


DH5AK Rating: 5/5 May 28, 2006 11:55 Send this review to a friend
Great when using, easy to build!  Time owned: more than 12 months
This keyboard controller kit was VERY easy to build and is VERY small. I own two of these. One I built by bending most parts down to the board and soldered the ICs without their sockets to keep the heigth as low as possible. Then I integrated the board into an elder XT/AT PC-keyboard. One may think of integrating a K-20 board into a transceiver and using one of these extremely small Cherry-Keyboards of operation.
Yes, operation with this keyboard is VERY straightforward. With its 10 memories, online speed tuning and several MORE capabilities it has more bells and whistles than a normal CW-operator uses under normal conditions(e.g. high speed for MS or EME).
At the moment these kits are sold out but you surely find these kits at such forums like QRP-L, you just need to ask ...
KC7ULI Rating: 5/5 Jul 13, 2005 15:45 Send this review to a friend
More than expected!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
First, this keyer has been discontinued. But in its place is the K-40 keyer with an LCD display to let you see what you put in the 200 character buffer!!

Steve still advertizes K-20 chipsets for those who want to roll their own K-20 clone. But, in my case, at least, and perhaps for others, he has sent along a "seconds" board that has flaws in the silk screening and couldn't be commercially shipped in his kits. He sent the very usable board along for free with my chips, totally unsolicited. For that, this product gets a 5 rating from me -- Steve is one of those who subscribes to the small business adage that you should always delight your customer by giving him something more than he expected.

I have completed the build up of the K-20 using chips and board from Steve, and all other parts from my junkbox. The board is a little too large to fit directly in my keyboard housing, but I will use a project box to hold it and the necessary jacks. The only complaint, if I could call it that, is that the board does not use plated though holes and needs to be carefully soldered to keep the pads from lifting. This is just good workmanship practice anyway.

I don't expect any troubles when I fire this board up in the next day or so, the project is too simple for that. The documentation is also top notch for this type of thing.

Hats off to Steve and I think his products and business practices are top notch.


K9OSC Rating: 5/5 Dec 23, 2003 10:58 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Keyboard Keyer  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is the second time that I have ordered a keyboard keyer from Steve. My first one I sold along with some other equipment as a “deal clincher” and planned on ordering another one. To my dismay the older unit had been discontinued. When a review was provided on eham recently I immediately ordered a new unit. It arrived within six days!!!

As in the past, the unit was assembled easily. There are only 13 assembly instructions including checkout of the voltage regulator and final testing. At each step everything went smoothly. The final checkout went perfectly. I built my unit into a small aluminum Radio Shack project box. It easily accommodated the circuit board, keyboard plug, on/off switch, keyer output jack and power plug.

The keyer is fantastic. For CW operators it provides effortlessly perfect CW. For ragchewing it is the perfect accessory for any shack and really enhances QSO’s because of its ease of operation and perfect code making it easy listening for everyone involved. Purists may feel that this is not real CW, but after 45 years on CW I can say it is fun to use and makes my more lengthy contacts much less fatiguing.

One word about the keyboard. Select a quality keyboard. Don’t settle on a cheap one no matter how attractive the price. I learned this the hard way. I bought a new Belkin keyboard Model F8E206-PS2 called a Classic Keyboard at a local office supply distributor. It was terrible. Only one small ferrite bead on the cable inside the box for RF suppression. When I transmitted over 30 watts with either of my rigs (an IC-746 or TS-570D) the keyer either locked up or transmitted random characters. I tried RF suppression chokes externally to the cable but that still didn’t do the trick. When I opened the keyboard assembly it was very cheaply constructed and had no internal shielding nor was it possible to add any. When I substituted a quality keyboard that came with one of the computers I had in the shack the problem totally went away. Look for an external choke on a keyboard cable and that it assembled with only a couple screws holding the keyboard covers together. That will tip you off that the board has ample room inside for shielding (either already provided or that can be added) and that the manufacturer has made a serious effort to eliminate RFI problems. It also tips you off that the keyboard won’t “fall apart” at the keys when the unit is disassembled.

The circuit as designed has ample RF immunization measures built in to the kit. You should not need more.

The keyer is a joy to operate. All kinds of features and memories along with embedded commands that you can use to customize the way you like to operate. There are even plenty of options for contest operators. This is great accessory and a quality kit. Fabulous support and on-line information is provided by Steve. At $27 it’s a steal in today’s market.
JACQUES_BELDEROK_EX_WV0Q Rating: 5/5 Dec 1, 2003 15:57 Send this review to a friend
VERY COOL!!!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
This is a great kit.
Goes together very easily!!!

This is one of the most fun kits I have built.
Integrated it with a Input/Rig box that I fabricated to switch between SK/Paddles/KB/CPU to 4 different rigs. It works GREAT!!
Love to play with all the neat features particularly the beacon. TOO COOL!

Get it while you can. They run out FAST and Steve was very cool to bring it back due to the demand. I got 2 and I am keeping both!!

Steve is real good about corresponding with you with any questions. And yes I had a few but once answered all went well.

VK2QF Rating: 5/5 Sep 17, 2003 05:27 Send this review to a friend
Simply Brilliant Tool!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Steve's K20 is a masterpiece, I have built and sold numbers of them. So simple and rugged they can be relied upon for the DxPedition or home rag chewer alike.

Absolutely a breeze to build and they always work with any keyboard. My latest one's have been built very neatly into the body of some Compaq 101 keyboards that were surplus to my business.

As an example of how rugged these units are, on my recent expedition to East Timor as 4W/VK2QF a burst of earth leakage went down into the keying line of a K10 [predecessor to the K20] that I was using. Now the mains leak was about 85VAC Chassis to earth around the shack at times. The device was sick after this and was key down all the time, simple turn off, reset and back to Morse!

I totally recommend and sell these keyers.

Nev VK2QF/ANZ ex: 4W/VK2QF.
KC7MM Rating: 5/5 May 20, 2003 22:14 Send this review to a friend
Incredible Value  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I was lucky enough to get one of the last of Steve's K-20 kits. I have finally gotten around to putting it together and am having a ball with it. I still need to find a case for it, but once installed it will be ready for use with either the inexpensive CompUSA keyboard that I got to go with it, and/or one of my iambic paddles.

With all the memories available, this key should really make Field Day and other Contests a lot more fun.

If you can find one of these, grab it!
AA7JC Rating: 5/5 Jan 21, 2003 07:49 Send this review to a friend
Great Product (best!)  Time owned: months
I bought one of these kits last year after listening to one over the air. You have to hear one of these things for yourself.. It really sounds great.

All you need is a common computer keyboard... no computer!

It has TONS of features. You could tweak the way it sends code to any style. The owners manual has the best CW crafting information I have ever seen in writing anywhere. Steve (K1EL) is obviously an engineer, he wrote the manual in a clear concise format..

It has a place to plug in paddles.

It is easy and fun to give this kit a "finished" look.

It has a PTT circuit that can be used to close antenna relays a fraction of a second before sending the code..

It has an off the air code practice mode that is excellent.

All in all, I would say that this is a Gem. Well worth twice the price and certainly worth all 5 stars in this rating.
K0KP Rating: 5/5 Jan 15, 2003 16:32 Send this review to a friend
K1EL Strikes Gold!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Have been using the K20 for two months now. It went together very fb. Tons of features, easy to use, and a joy! Best $25 I've spent in a long time!

KT6LN Rating: 5/5 Dec 27, 2002 23:18 Send this review to a friend
Works like a champ  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The instructions to build this kit are clear and accurate. Building it is as smooth as one of them great Ten-Tec kits in a smaller scale. It is a pleasure to hear di-da-dit da-dit once you apply power. The rest of the programming sure works nicely, too.
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