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Reviews Categories | Keyers & CW Keyboards | SMART KEYBOARD by N4YG Help

Reviews Summary for SMART KEYBOARD by N4YG
SMART KEYBOARD  by N4YG Reviews: 6 Average rating: 4.3/5 MSRP: $60
Description: A keyer/Interface consists of a host program prividing Graphical User Interface (GUI) along with a interface unit. These two functions together provide keyboard as well as traditional keyer functionality. Thus the interface is a complete keyer in itself and has an integral low-speed USB port to allow it keyer characteristics to be controlled and enhanced by the host computer. The host computer may send keyboard characters to the interface/keyer which in-turn sends Morse elements (dits and dashes) to the transmitter. Thus the SMART KEYBOARD interface unit serves as both an interface between the host computer and the transmitter and as a stand alone keyer so on those occasions when you do not want the computer turned on you still have a usable keyer with paddles. Power for the unit is provided by the USB port on the computer.
Parts package available at
Product is in production.
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OZ8MS Rating: 1/5 Aug 18, 2009 10:20 Send this review to a friend
OK -BUT!  Time owned: more than 12 months
The Smart Keyboard is indeed smart - in the USA.

If one has to use other regional settings than "English (USA)" on the PC in Windows, this product simply does not work. Can be "solved" by changing regional settings to "English (USA)", BUT that will just lead to problems in other programs, run at the same time.
Regionals setting have to be set, and reset
after each use - not very funny!

But for you guys living in the USA (I'm only "made in USA", but lives in Denmark :-)
it's indeed a great product.

So therefore I will be selling my Smart Keyboard,
fully assembled and working, for the same price I bought it for, 60$ - but with free shipping
to USA.

Best regards, OZ8MS/Jan

P.S. I have now switched to SmartKeyer that also
works correctly with Danish regional settings.
K4TER Rating: 5/5 Jun 18, 2008 15:28 Send this review to a friend
You won't be disappointed with SMART KEYBOARD by N4YG!  Time owned: more than 12 months

The Smart Keyboard CW interface, together with the Smart Keyboard or Smart Key-n-Log software, is really S-W-E-E-T. And you don't have to pay for anything except the interface parts!

Lucky for me, one day I happened to have a QSO with Joe Lunsford—N4YG, of Huntsville AL—and he proposed a solution to a problem I had been wrestling with.

I explained to him that I was using an MFJ-495 Memory Keyer but wanted to enhance my CW operating with several features it lacked—a larger, more readable display; a larger character buffer; and the variable control of letter space.

Joe said “it just so happened” that he was finishing the final prototype of a CW computer interface and the GUI software that went with it!

He said that his “Smart Keyboard” setup would provide all of the features I was looking for—and more!

When I offered to help “proof” the GUI’s help files, he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse—he would let me have his “next-to-last” interface prototype (at a “fire sale” price) and use the software right away!

Features about SMART KEYBOARD by N4YG that I especially like...and why!

• Uses one of your computer’s USB ports. My bare-bones notebook doesn’t have a parallel or a serial port.

• Hard keys your rig. I wanted to use the dual 250-Hz narrow CW filters on my IC-765 for selectivity on receive rather than DSP filtering by a sound card.

• Provides variable letter, as well as word, spacing. At speeds over 25 wpm wider-than-standard letter spacing is easier to copy. (And in my opinion, at any speed, wider-than-standard word spacing is easier to copy.)

• Hook-up is simple. A maximum of just three lines is needed: one OUT to your computer’s USB port, one IN from an electronic key and/or one IN from a straight key. A straight key isn’t mandatory—if you use only an electronic key, a straight key would only provide key-down for tuning, and pressing the ALT key on the computer’s keyboard does that.

• I never knew how much embedded logging and macros that import tags--features of the GUI--could enhance my cw operating experience. For me, this software (like Digipan, HRD DM 780, et al.) adds to the elegance of operating cw. It reminded of how much more I enjoyed flying in Alaska after I got my first GPS!

• By checking Joe’s website——you can download updates to the free software and order updates to the firmware as they become available.

Yes, Joe Lunsford spreads “sweetness” around. He really is one of the “good guys” who through their contribution of expertise, time and effort, truly exemplify the spirit of ham radio.
W2BXR Rating: 5/5 Mar 2, 2008 12:13 Send this review to a friend
Well worth it!!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The Smart Keyboard Interface is easy to build and easy to use. I agree with all of the comments of the previous reviewers. One thing they did not say is that this device will help you increase your code speed. Since I started using it my code speed has increased from about 12 to 18 wpm and climbing. Additionally your "fist" gets better because you start to send the same way without the interface as with it. When you match the character and word spacing as best as you can your fist starts sounding better very quickly.
I like to not tell the person I am in qso with that I am switching back and forth using a key board. Several times I have had the comment, "I could not tell the difference" or "wow that sounds great". Also I can only type with 2 fingers.
I did have a little rf in the shack which caused the unit to stop on occasion. A few RF chokes solved the problem. I still rate this a 5!
K9MRA Rating: 5/5 Dec 9, 2007 17:17 Send this review to a friend
Terrific small project  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Everything is right there in the package; cable, box, parts, IC and instructions. Watch out for putting the LED and electrolytic cap in with the right polarity. Maybe a note in the structions about the length of leads and what the square solder point means. My interface works fine. I took it to our monthly club meeting and demostrated it. Lots of ohs and ahs. 73, Steve
W9KX Rating: 5/5 Sep 22, 2007 10:16 Send this review to a friend
Put this on your short list!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I would rate this product a SOLID 5!

I’m a "dyed in the wool" CW operator and for the past number of years I have been looking to replace my 17+ year old Coleco ADAM CW Keyboard (June 1989 issue of QST). When I read Joe’s, N4YG, article on his Smart Keyboard (July 2007 issue of QST), I thought this was what I was waiting for. I was right… The Smart Keyboard met all my expectations and then some! You can control the weight, spacing between letters and words, etc. The Smart Keyboard has two programs… one with logging and the other without logging. Also you can use its keyer on the fly. You can check Joe’s web site at ( to see if new software versions are available.

The kit contained all good quality parts and even contained a template for drilling the holes in the enclosure! The hardest part to building this kit was to file a square hole for the USB connector. The next hardest part was to make decisions on what changes to make. I decided not to connect the negative keying circuit to the jack on the enclosure. I also elected not to mount the supplied speaker. However, I did connect the speaker wires to a small jack mounted on the enclosure.

I loaded the software on two of my laptop computers. The keyboard worked great on my new, high-speed computer that uses Windows XP Professional. However, I had problems with my 7+ year old laptop that uses Windows 98SE. Unfortunately, this is the computer that is located in the shack. After telling Joe ( of my problems, within a few days he was able to resolve the software issue with the old computer. The Smart Keyboard now works great on both computers.

Am I happy with The Smart Keyboard??? YOU BET! If you are looking for a good CW keyboard (and keyer) and top-notch support, this keyboard/keyer should be on your short list!

Dean, W9KX
NA9F Rating: 5/5 Feb 7, 2007 07:09 Send this review to a friend
Fantastic Keyboard and keyer  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
If you are looking for a keyboard keyer while maintaining paddle use, you need to check out the Smart Keyboard by N4YG. The Interface Unit, which uses one of your computer's USB ports, is offered in Kit form. The software for the GUI is free. Look for N4YG's article on the Smart Keyboard in the May 2007 issue of QST

The keyer/interface is controlled by a well laid out GUI which resides on your computer. Connection to the unit is by way of a USB port on your desktop or laptop. This system has fantastic cw keying and has ample RF immunization measures. I place mine right next to the 100 Watt transmitter. No need for a separate power source because it gets it power from the USB port.

A Well laid out GUI (Graphic User Interface) consists of:

Word spacing
Letter spacing
Sidetone volume and tone

12 Message Composition linked to keyboard F1-F12 keys
or mouse selectable. All messages are easily created and can be edited. Included are special formats for insertion into the messages such as:
(Repeat#) replace # with the time in seconds before the message is repeated.

Setting up and saving different operators each having their own operating parameters.
Editing of keyer features such as
Iambic Vs Dash override
Left or Right paddle use.
Dot/Dash memory.

Help is just a click away for Documentation of:
Instructions for use.
Schematic of the interface/keyer unit.

You are provided with two windows one for typing in your text and one for text that has been sent. The typing buffer will clear itself in three ways; The text has been sent, Esc key has been pressed or a paddle press or the Clear Keyboard command is clicked.

Further control has been provided by offering pause feature in the typing buffer so you can enter from the paddle then continue with buffer transmitting. You have the provisions for clearing the keyboard type in buffer and the sent window text.
Entry of the station being worked is offered with the Capture Call button. When this feature is used you will be asked for entry of the station's call being worked which allows any of the 12 memory messages access to the station's call.

In summary this is a very easy kit to build and is simple to use.

Although the QST article relates only to the keyboard, Joe has another GUI (Not quite ready for release) , also free, which integrates a nice logging program with the keyboard. I have used both and I like both. I recommend both GUI programs.

Ron NA9F

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