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Reviews Categories | Keyers & CW Keyboards | K40 CW Keyboard Kit Help

Reviews Summary for K40 CW Keyboard Kit
K40 CW Keyboard Kit Reviews: 26 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $32.00
Description: The K40 is a small low power PIC based CW keyboard that is packed with features and is inexpensive.
Product is in production.
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K9PU Rating: 5/5 Jan 8, 2009 22:06 Send this review to a friend
Exactly what I needed  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Nice simple plug-in your own keyboard circuit board makes cw. Exactly what I needed. Have to start a "straight keyboard night," you know why? Perfect code.
K2HN Rating: 5/5 Nov 7, 2008 22:06 Send this review to a friend
Excellent  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Received the K40,LCD and Enclosure in a reasonable amount of time. Had it running flawlessly in abt 4 hours. Dollar for dollar it can't be beat. My only complaint is they do not answer emails. Very frustrating when you buy on line with no phone or email contact. Questions get answered on their forum but are short and abrupt. A little common courtesy would go a long way for this company.
K6WHP Rating: 5/5 Jun 25, 2008 19:42 Send this review to a friend
A lot of far!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I got this beast -- K40 keyer, CW reader, and enclosure -- because I grew weary of dragging a PC and my K2 into the hinterlands. Now I can operate everything off of one battery with a small keyboard, keyer and rig!

I would like to echo what N6VCW said about the K40 and the CW reader. My check-out was not as arduous as 'vcw's so that augers well for those of you out there who are less technically accomplished or do not possess a wealth of gadgetry.

Both assembled in a virtual "soldering-iron-pliers-snippers-and-DVM environment" and, after a brief reverse polarization caused the 7805 regulator to blow a gasket, was on the air without incident. (Sunday afternoon trip to a down-market Radio Shack and purchase of a $1.59 replacement.)

There are tons of features in this device as I imagine K1EL has crammed more of them into the firmware than the law allows. Heck, there's even code practice -- including a listen-and-repeat game with code groups that is very infectious.

Unfortunately, the bands have been a steaming pile at this writing and, with my vintage IC-745 and no decent filters, it has been somewhat dicey pulling out clean signals for the reader to work effectively. But when it locks on, IT LOCKS ON.

I compared it against the surprisingly-good-but-oft-panned MFJ reader and I give it a slight edge. FD is this coming weekend so that should provide an opportunity to really wring it out.

I found the enclosure a bit tight as the top was not quite bent to the shape of the bottom, but this is a small complaint. I recommend it be purchased along with the K40 and reader boards as it does make a sweet. professional looking package.

A final tip: the AFSK RCA plug on the back is unused if you install the CW reader. I wired the AF in to the AFSK out plug and used that at a speaker feed instead of building one of those cumbersome tees. Hell, all you have to do is take a small patch electrical tape and mask out the "SK" on the AFSK label and you've got an "AF.. Out" plug.

Pretty slick unit.

N6VCW Rating: 5/5 May 23, 2008 11:57 Send this review to a friend
Just added decoder board to my keyer.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The kit went together in about 30 minutes. It's very easy to build. I tested the audio filter with some generic "AF Function Generator" software on my PC and then sent a WAV file of some CW from the same PC to test the decoding. All worked perfectly the first time.

On-air tests also went well, once I got the hang of tuning the radio to a point where the decoder liked what it heard. With its Gain and Filtering adjustments, it needs little AF Gain or precise tuning to receive CW on the display. I placed a DSP CW filter in-line with the audio output from my receiver and that certainly helps the K40 do a great job.

I also set the CW tone on my transmitter to match the 690 Hz frequency that the K40 likes, so I can easily match the received audio to the same frequency. Tuning is much easier for me that way.

I'd been used to a decoder from another manufacturer that requires lots of AF Gain and precise tuning to get it to work. The K40 is a pleasure to use in comparison. The price is right, too (even when buying new PICs for "Rev. G").

K1EL did an excellent job with this add-on board. It sure changed the way I thought of decoders and it enhances the enjoyment of CW for me. I don't have to concentrate as much when I can just glance at the display to check my reception accuracy. Even after 20+ years as a CW operator, having a display available to fill-in some of the rough copy is a nice feature.
W3DEX Rating: 5/5 Feb 29, 2008 08:42 Send this review to a friend
Great product and service  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just purchased the K40 CW keyboard kit with the new CW reader. The reader works much better than I expected based on results with other products. This will certainly help me bring my rusty CW up to speed.

Everything went together without a hitch with no missing parts and good instructions on putting it all together. When I first turned it on, the display did not work. A quick email to K1EL resolved the issue, even while he was away on vacation. The contrast adjustment for the display needed to be turned all the way CCW and not CW as indicated.
VE3XDB Rating: 5/5 Jun 29, 2007 19:55 Send this review to a friend
Excellent keyer  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Bought a K20 from Steve several years ago, and during a moment of weakness, I sold it. So, I purchased a K40 and put it together this week. Didn't buy the enclosure, just put it in a Hammond project case, with the encoder on the front, and the power, paddle, keyboard and rig connections on the back.

In spite of my ham handed soldering skills, the thing worked first time. I was amazed, because a big glob of solder fell on the 7805 pads when I was soldering the voltage regulator in. Thought for sure I would never be able to clean it up. Spent about an hour cleaning it up, finished soldering, and did the smoke test. The thing worked! Put it in the case, and have made several qso's with it.

Loaded the memories, and learned a couple of things. I think you have to let the memory complete its sending before using the keyboard. As well, use Shift-F1 P to preserve your settings once you have it all set up. If you want to check status, make sure the side tone is on! I had set the keyer to turn off the side tone, then when I checked status (Alt-Home) the keyer seemed to freeze. Actually, it was just doing its thing, only I couldn't hear it. During a qso, it started sending what seemed to be contents of the memories when I didn't hit the F key. I think that was because I wasn't following the instructions not to type until the memory message had been sent. But I also put a piece of ferrite on the keyboard cable, right near the keyer, just to be safe.

In terms of it's operation as a keyer, seems to work very well. I also have an Idiom Press CMOS4 keyer, and they are very comparable. The keying note on the K40 is good. Memories are very good - you can carry on an entire QSO without using the keyboard (other than the function keys) or the paddle, if you choose to do so. Lots of memory in the 12 F keys.

I got a black mini-keyboard, and put it in front of my TS-570. It looks like it came with the rig. Very nice looking. The keyer is beside the rig, close to the back.

Another nice keyer from Steve K1EL. Thanks, Steve!

Best regards,

Doug Behl VE3XDB
K3GK Rating: 5/5 Feb 1, 2007 05:46 Send this review to a friend
Neat and powerful  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have built two K40's and the RTTY filter. I learned a lot from doing it, and has been a great experience; really fun! The RTTY filter has added countries to my DX list using the ARGO V. This may be the greatest value dollar for dollar of any kit on the market, especially if you buy the handsome enclosure and LCD. Make sure you have component test leads for checking resistors with your DVM, watch the soldering on the encoder, and if you run RTTY start with diddle on. Books and manuals may explain RTTY but until you do it yourself, it doesn't come alive. Great for QRP and very low current drain. I skipped the LCD backlight wiring, as the LCD is very clear.
K1DWZ Rating: 5/5 Nov 30, 2006 19:39 Send this review to a friend
Can't be beat  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I thought I would like to have a keyboard keyer without having to use my computer. So I looked around and ended up looking at the reviews here. The K40 has the best reviews so I purchased one. I also bought the display and the enclosure. Now----I have built many kits including 20-30 Heathkits and some Elecrafts so this wasn't a challenge. But-----check and re-check your soldering. I do think that the users manual is confusing in some places so read and re-read it. After I determined where I was in the attempt to test it I didn't have any problems. The Bill of materials had a couple of errors from what I actually received. I didn't receive a 100ohm resister but did receive a 1000ohm resister( which isn't used) Also there was plenty of hookup wire included but not enough of one color called for. These minor things aside, the circuit board is of good quality as are the components. I would suggest purchasing the display and the enclosure for a real professional appearance. The unit has so many features I am still learning at this time. For the price and fun the K40 can't be beat.
KW4N Rating: 5/5 Jun 10, 2006 08:41 Send this review to a friend
Don't look anywhere else!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought mine when they first came out, so there were some MINOR startup problems with kitting, but Steve was very quick to respond.

MANUAL: Very well written and comprehensive. Educational. Updates can be found at his website. All the answers are in it.

FUNCTION: Everything you could possibly want in a keyer. Even has a trainer with an Echo feature. If you think your fast, try it for a humbling experience.
I probably wouldn't buy the LCD readout again as it doesn't provide much value to me. It doesn't work with a paddle. You could use it to verify your output messages or have someone next to you read it while your sending? Looks nice all lit up.

MECHANICAL PACKAGING: I built mine in a X-mas candy tin because nothing else was available at the time. When his box came out I was reluctant to buy it because most electronic engineers do such lousy packaging with aesthetics and fit. Or get suppliers that smudge the silkscreening and/or screw up the paint job. Not this one though. The fit, silkscreening, and paint job are perfect. And I'm picky because I can't do it either.
There's a yahoo group for this jewel with a great bunch asking good questions and providing supportive answers.
Steve works hard at his craft and it shows in his products. I trust him enough that I might let him count my money in the dark :)
73's, Dave, KW4N
K2AQ Rating: 5/5 Jun 2, 2006 11:12 Send this review to a friend
Super Kit  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Absolute super kit and product. Worked upon completion and has great flexibility for the CW op. Purchase with enclosure and RTTY option. Recommend to anyone who desires excellence!
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