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Reviews Categories | Keyers & CW Keyboards | Begali CW Machine Help


Reviews Summary for Begali CW Machine
Begali CW Machine Reviews: 47 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $295
Description: The CW Machine is a unique software-defined keying device which combines the functions of an advanced iambic memory keyer and a keyboard keyer with the functions normally performed by a logging program. The CW Machine will collect the information for a log record from the signal that you are sending out and store up to 12,000 log records. The firmware in the device can be updated with a few mouse clicks in a Windows program to let you stay up-to-date as enhancements are provided. This update capability also lets you load the optional CW Trainer, a combination of Windows software and firmware that runs on the CW Machine device. It lets you improve your copying skills, no matter what level you are currently at, with a great variety of techniques, and the CW- over-IP function even lets you connect to another CW Trainer over the Internet to practice QSOs off the air.
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.i2rtf.com
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HB9BMY Rating: 5/5 Nov 19, 2014 10:24 Send this review to a friend
A unique and most clever way to make and log CW QSOs  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Preface

Over the last two decades both portable radios and portable computers became more and more compact. This is especially true for QRP transceivers. Since a netbook computer loaded with a logging software is extremely convenient and saves a lot of work back home, they became the technical standard of people who are going portable or on a DXpedition. Even those who climb on mountain tops for SOTA and are real experts in avoiding any needless additional weight carry a netbook with them.

Unfortunately I can not log my QSOs with a netbook. As I have very poor eye-sight the screen of a netbook is far too small for me for logging purposes and I need a screen of at least 17”. I have got a 17” notebook, but together with its power supply and protective bag it weights 5 kg.

In a review of the Elecraft KX3 Ulrich Steinberg (N2DE) mentioned that he went on a DXpedition to Lesotho and logged all his QSOs with a Begali CW Machine. The manuals of the CW Machine (CWM) are available as free downloads from the internet. By reading the manuals I got the impression that the CWM was exactly what I was looking for:

1) With the CWM you can make 12'000 QSOs and log them without a computer. You can enter all the needed information of a QSO with your paddle and an additional keypad or keyboard with 102 keys.

2) Your callsign, name and QTH can be entered either by the paddle plus keypad/keyboard or by the CWM Manager running on a computer.

3) Date, time and many other settings of the CWM can be changed by paddle plus keypad/keyboard or by the CWM Manager.

4) In order to program the memories the CWM Manager is needed.

5) The CWM features all needed audio feedback in order to work and log other stations.

6) With the CWM Manager you can load the QSOs at any time from the CWM to a computer and vice versa. The file can be converted into an ADIF.

Since the display of the CWM is quite small, I was not sure if I would be able to read it with my weak eyes. But I was lucky! The small display of the CWM is just big enough and the contrast is strong enough.


First steps

The CWM is quite robust and built of first class materials. Connections are gold plated. The speed control has a notch in the middle. This is very convenient, since you can go to the middle of your programmed speed range with closed eyes.

The CWM is a kind of computer and behaves accordingly. As soon as it is connected to power, its connections are “hot”. The CWM must be started exactly as described in the manual. When you finish you must press the small RESET key on top of the CWM before removing power or turning off your power supply. If you only remove power, you risk some of the settings of the CWM getting corrupted. In this situation you can get the default values without the help of a computer and you can adjust the CWM to your personal needs. But if you make a mistake you also lose the content of your memories!

It is not a good idea to press keys “intuitively”. If the CWM is not connected to a computer, you must enter the actual DATE and TIME with your paddle or keypad. A few times I pressed the ENTER key instead of the joystick. When I pressed the memory key containing my name later in a QSO, the CWM sent the numbers I had entered for DATE or TIME.

There are several manuals you need in order to operate the CWM. Because of the complexity of the CWM, and because they are very detailed and precise, the manuals have a lot of pages. Studying them can become very tiresome and frustrating. But there is no way of avoiding to study the manuals in detail!

Audio feedback of the CWM is crucial for operation. As you can enter commands with your paddle, you need audio feedback. When you enter the call of the other station and press ENTER the CWM responds with a special beep. There are other most helpful beeps. In order to use all of these most helpful audio feedback, it is best to connect the Tone jack of the CWM via a Y-cable to the headphones of your transceiver. As the K3, KX3 and other modern radios feature pseudo stereo effects or a second receiver and therefore have stereo headphone jacks, a stereo Y-cable is needed. As the Tone jack of the CWM is actually a mono jack wired as stereo jack, you must switch the corresponding configuration switch inside the CWM to Mono. Then you hear the CWM with the left earpiece of your headphones.

Before I went on a small DXpedition to the Island of Crete, I made some 40 “off the air” QSOs in order to get used to the CWM. However, when I wanted to load them onto my computer I failed. I wrote Ulrich an email. I did not expect immediate help from him, but already within the next few hours he wrote two new versions of the CWM Manager and solved the problem!


On a amall DXpedition to Crete

It would lead too far to describe all aspects of operating the CWM. I confine myself to the most important issues:

a) The \C command stored in one of my memories: In order to store a callsign you have to send it with your paddle and press ENTER. When you have entered a call in that way and then press a memory key containing the \C command the callsign will be repeated. In order to be sure that the call that I had entered was correct, I pressed the memory key with the C\ command and checked it by listening. The other station heard its callsign twice. When it was incorrect it came back with a correction. Then the whole process was repeated.

b) NumLock: By toggling this key I could switch between “on the air” and “off the air”. This was especially convenient when I was tired or got so nervous that I failed to enter the correct call of the other station for several times.

c) Edit Mode: Sometimes I was not sure whether the details of the last QSO were correct right after I had stored it. In this situation Edit Mode was very convenient.

d) Possibility to enter name, QTH and individual signal reports: As I was working QRP with my KX3 (5W) at a dipole antenna, I was interested to store the RST I got.

It’s not at all easy to copy a callsign and send it with your paddle without writing it down. I realized that I had not trained enough with the CWM in advance. Before I go on the next DXpedition I shall get far more training.
I made 320 QSOs in seven days and brought theme home safely.


Conclusion

The CWM offers a unique and most clever way to make and log QSOs. Its functions and possibilities for individual adjustment and programming memories are elaborate, very well-thought-out and highly sophisticated. The CWM has been available for a couple of years. Although it is a very mature product, Ulrich is improving existing functions and adding new ones.

Is the CWM the best keyer in the world, as some say? The answer to this question depends on what you need as a CW operator. You can find out easily by reading the manuals. There you will find information I could not mention in my review.

Peter, HB9BMY
 
KF6PKG Rating: 5/5 Oct 16, 2014 22:53 Send this review to a friend
Great Support  Time owned: more than 12 months
Have had my CW Machine for a little over six years now. I recently had a software problem and emailed Ulrich on a Sunday afternoon, not really expecting to hear from him anytime soon. To my surprise he was back to me in a few minutes with updates to my outdated software. I can't ask for better support than that.

Thanks Ulrich for not only a great product, but great support as well.



 
K0QD Rating: 5/5 Aug 21, 2014 15:34 Send this review to a friend
Superb device.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I am an old timer that had been off the air for several years and needed both sending and receiving practice with cw. After reading on the web the accolades given the Begali CW Machine, decided to give it a try. It has exceeded my expectations on all fronts. It is a remarkable training device, includes an outstanding electronic keyer together with a sophisticated logging program. Anyone seeking to improve their cw performance will not be disappointed with the Begali CW Machine
 
K6LPQ Rating: 5/5 Apr 30, 2014 10:45 Send this review to a friend
Wonderous  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Several months ago I discovered that a shaking in my 79 year old hand made my signature almost unintelligible. The only handwriting I did was write a few checks from month to month. My computer keyboard did most of my writing for me. What to do? I started with Morse CDs and filled many, many pages of decoded random letters. When I used my straight key, my sending sounded OK to me.

I heard about the Begali CW Machine and thought it might help speed my keying. Little did I know! My Morse was filled with timing errors that the CW Machine pointed out to me immediately. With practice, I am now using a bug at 27WPM and Mr.CW Machine tells me that timing is nearly perfect. Apparently my brain speed is improving also, although my wife might beg to differ. HI HI

I did find one random problem with my sending. Words ending with 'Y' would be sent with sometimes. In FlashCard mode key sending would be blocked until the end of the file requiring a reset if I was in a hurry. It was a small annoying problem for me. An e-amail to Ulrich resulted in an immediate program fix. Now I can inadvertently send all the s I want in FlashCard mode with no problem. The CW Machine simply ignores them and continues on.

Thank You Ulrich for your excellent friendly service for an excellent piece of hardware.

I'm not quite ready to use it as a real time on-the-air logging program, but I am eager to do so. Maybe I'll become a light speed contester when I grow up. ;-)
 
KD2FIP Rating: 5/5 Apr 17, 2014 08:42 Send this review to a friend
If you do CW, this is an invaluable tool  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have been interested in CW for many years but never really took the time to learn properly. Finally, I decided to buckle down and get this learned. I tried every method known to man and kept stumbling until I got the CW Machine. FINALLY SUCCESS! Ulrich was very helpful and the customer service (when I had a question or didn't understand something) was incomparable. You can see that virtually all the other reviewers are giving a "5" and with good reason. This machine does so many things that I have yet to explore every aspect. Suffice it to say that with this machine, and a very short period of time you will be copying and sending Code naturally and with great proficiency. CW isn't hard when you have a CW machine as your teacher. It will continue to provide value after you're code proficient as a logging tool as well, and let's face it, few of us will ever be copying/sending at 35 wpm, but with the CW machine, you can practice, practice, practice, with perfect code being sent to you. It will also help you refine your hand so that YOU will be able to send code that others can read!
 
VK2CRI Rating: 5/5 Jan 8, 2014 18:49 Send this review to a friend
Really surpised at the design   Time owned: 0 to 3 months
VK2CRI Ex Zl2AGE
I have been QRT for 20 years , this time back, very keen to become more proficient in CW.I purchased the CWMachine.It was fascinating to see my CW appearing as text displayed on an LCD Screen with a Yellow Background .
Another portion of the screen enabling one to type in Black text with white baground which can be sent out on a keyboard.Another feature enabling adjustment of the key This one feature I like the best of all,(results( Just try Tuning a key this way) I feel my Cw has improved There are so many other good features which I have seen in reviews.I contacted Ulrich,about a small problem .He replied the same day,with info to apply an external DC PS Which on doing so led to a fault in the PC connection .Well done Ulrich The CW Machine has enhanced The Hobby of HamRadio 73s John






 
BWOETTKE Rating: 5/5 Oct 31, 2013 02:07 Send this review to a friend
My most important accessory  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have been a user of the CW Machine for many years, and I have become accustomed to the logging function which lets you create log entries almost automatically by just sending your normal QSO exchanges. However, until a few weeks ago, the CW Machine logging served mainly as a data collection front-end for a "real" logging program, in my case DX Keeper. I would run my QSOs for a couple of days and then upload them from the CW Machine into DX Keeper, mainly for statistics (DXCC etc) and some final editing before submitting them to LotW.

Several weeks ago I challenged Ulrich to enhance the CW Machine so that I would not need an additional logging program, and I offered to serve as a beta tester for the many improvements which are now part of the product. The goal, to eliminate the need for an additional logging program, has been fully accomplished for me.

The latest version of the CW Machine lets you submit logging information directly to LotW and eQSL, which give me all the statistics I want. It also directly interfaces with QRZ.COM to show you the information for the other station. The real-time display of my most recent QSOs lets me see what is in the log, and the greatly enhanced editing functions let me correct errors or omissions right away.

I always use the CW Machine in combination with a computer. But the enhanced log editing functions come in handy also in stand-alone operation without a computer. When Ulrich is in Africa early next year, operating as 7P8US and 3DA0US, the CW Machine will again do all his logging without a computer connection - like in early 2013 when he gave me my first QSO with Lesotho as 7P8US.

The CW Machine is easily the most versatile accessory on my desk, and I would not want to be without it (after having grown so accustomed to it, I probably COULD not be without it ;-)
 
KD8RQE Rating: 5/5 Sep 19, 2013 19:10 Send this review to a friend
Great Tool  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I learned CW about 10 months ago (after 45 years of procrastination). The CW Trainer software was invaluable in this process. I used G4FON to copy and the CW Trainer to practice sending. It is RELENTLESS and unforgiving of any mistakes in spacing. You get immediate readout of what your are sending, or you can record and play your lousy CW back, repeating the process until you get it right. It will be just as valuable as I transition to a paddle.
 
KA2Z Rating: 5/5 May 28, 2013 16:33 Send this review to a friend
The Best!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have been using the Begali CW machine for about two years now and it is far and away the best keyer I have ever used in my 25 years plus as a HAM. It has so much versatility, and is so easy to set up and use-- a sheer joy! I have a Logikey that I was using with another radio. It works OK, but I work a lot of CW, and when I bought my Omni VII I wanted the best keyer I could get. I wanted something that would deliver superior performance and be versatile to my needs. I use Bugs, Paddles, and straight keys. I use a lot of memory messages. The CW machine handles it all! If you want the best-- this is it. You will not be disappointed! Also, great customer support from Ulrich if you have any questions.
 
WY2E Rating: 5/5 May 14, 2013 16:49 Send this review to a friend
A great, high quality product for anyone interested in CW   Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This is a great, high quality product for anyone interested in cw operating. Just learning? You will find it makes it much easier then other methods. Want to increase your speed? This is the tool for you! Send code and you will see how well you do. It copies what you send and displays it as you go. If you have a poor fist you will know it. Try all your keys and compare the results, to see where you need work. The mill is certainly better then paper copy. It seems to me it makes learning easier.

73 de Fred WY2E
 
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