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Reviews Categories | Keyers & CW Keyboards | K1EL K42 CW Keyboard Help

Reviews Summary for K1EL K42 CW Keyboard
K1EL K42 CW Keyboard Reviews: 39 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $92.00
Description: The K42 is the Swiss Army knife of CW keyers, it will provide many hours of CW operation and enjoyment. A
CW keyboard interface, CW reader, iambic paddle keyer, LCD display, and optically isolated keying outputs
are all presented in one compact box. In addition, the K42 will operate many different modes including
QRSS, HSCW, and conventional CW up to 140 WPM.
Product is in production.
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W3KHQ Rating: 5/5 Feb 19, 2017 10:15 Send this review to a friend
A fun project  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Here in Pennsylvania January is one of those months your normally house bound, what a perfect time to build a kit like the K42.

This CW keyer is all that has been said about it.

Read the assembly instruction and follow them exactly and you'll have no problems. Foremost take your time in assembly and make it an enjoyment. Now that I've broke the ice of kit building I'll need to look for my next project.
KC2ZXL Rating: 5/5 Feb 18, 2017 15:11 Send this review to a friend
Perfect CW Trainer  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just bought this CW Keyboard keyer from few days ago. First time assembled my own ham gear and was slightly nervous but once I started getting into it, it was so fun, now looking for another kit to assemble.

Now the review. First and foremost, this is a high qulity kit. If you follow instructions exactly, this product can be built better than a lot of commercially built units. It is very polished cosmetic wise. Functionally, it performs beyond expectations. I always had the archilles heel for CW but now with this device, it can teach me to memorize and read/copy with confidence instead of getting nervous.

LCD's contrast is adjustible once you remove the cover, and it's backlit (default) and can be turned off.It works with my USB keyboard called Rosewill using the PS/2 cable. There are so many functions, it's vastly customizable -- I need to study the manual.

Steve provides good suopport and very prompt for questions. If you're procrastinating, don't, this is truly a remarkable device that belongs in every hamshack!
KZ1G Rating: 5/5 Jan 28, 2016 10:17 Send this review to a friend
Great Kit; Needs Keyboard Template  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Other reviews offer good information. I like this decoder and keyboard-CW "sender." One suggestion: a keyboard template that notes the various function keys and what they do. Lacking that from the kit manufacturer, make your own. A file folder does the job. Just cut it to fit their keyboard and write the functions above the Fx keys. Or, make a cheat sheet as shown for the Command Chart in the manual, but keep it simple. You don't need all the functions to get a good start.
AD0BL Rating: 5/5 Dec 15, 2015 22:32 Send this review to a friend
What a marvelous device!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
When assembling, there are some some small resistors that look very similar. You have to be careful with those. I got a couple mixed up so I had to do some rework.

The device does a very good to great job at decoding, even straight key sent CW. One thing that really degrades the performance is band noise. If the band is noisy, I turn up the noise reduction on the rig and the good decode performance returns. I have a TS590s and I set NR1 to 10 and that seems to work very well.

I set the cw side tone on my rig to 700hz. The decoders frequency is peaked at 690hz. When I hit CW tune, the decoder is automatically peaked for me when the cw signal is zero beaten.

The operation is a little complicated. I'm sure I will master it. It takes a little bit to get used to.

The macro capabilities are awesome. I really like K1EL keyers. I also have the WinKeyer USB.

Amazon has a good deal (about $15) on the PS2 keyboard that the device uses.

I can see that this will be an indispensable tool for CW operation.
WB8DQT Rating: 5/5 Nov 17, 2015 09:13 Send this review to a friend
This is a really elegant product that you can build!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I don't know how you could add any more superlatives with respect to this product! The circuit board is totally integrated and the only wires are the ones that connect the front-panel speed encoder to the board. It is a very sophisticated design but the build instruction documentation is superb and you can do it if you organize the parts and take your time!

As an experienced builder, I chose to dive into the deep end of the pool. I spent an hour of so with parts inventory and getting everything organized by value using small paper envelopes. The next evening I populated the board and the following evening I did the final assembly, testing, and set-up, including message memories. No glitches or problems, and the evening culminated with the first QSO. It all could have been done in a single day, but as I get older I find that it is helpful to break up the work so I don't get overly tired.

All the K1EL kinds are superbly engineered and this one is no exception.
KQ4BX Rating: 5/5 Oct 14, 2015 07:03 Send this review to a friend
Great Kit, works really well  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I built the kit in an afternoon, and it went together with no problem. If you build this kit, position the LCD on the board and into the case with a screw to insure perfect alignment. Then solder the LCD from the top as it sits in the case, then remove it and insure solder went through to the other side of the board. This is to insure that the LCD fits properly, and does not have any stress on it as it is screwed down. You will crack the display if you do not align it properly before soldering it.
As for features, be sure to print the manual, the keyer is loaded with options and features that should satisfy anyone. This product is a five star product, and blows away my Nano-Keyer in many ways. The CW reader has a tunable front end filter, to insure a good match for your rig. Once you have it setup correctly, it will copy CW very well. Steve K1EL is very responsive to email requests for help, or questions on installation and use of his products. Again, print the manual and read it, it covers everything you would want to know about the keyer.
DJ0RD Rating: 5/5 Oct 10, 2015 06:34 Send this review to a friend
DJ0RD UPGRADED REVIEW  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I hereby revise my review. After installing toroids on both the keyboard and power cables the K42 works as promised. The last test was passed at 1.3KW with no problem.

Vy 73 DJ0RD/WU5T
KQ4BX Rating: 5/5 Jun 15, 2015 06:19 Send this review to a friend
K42 is Best in class  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I started out trying to get the Nano keyer parts, but a friend had the K42 and could not say enough good things about it. I bought the kit, and it was back ordered due to high demand for field day.
I spent a weekend putting it together, and learned a bit from the parts it used, and the procedure for testing it as you progress through the kit. The instructions are excellent.
The parts are of the highest quality, and one thing struck me as brilliant. The power of the K42 is in the design, it uses two PIC processors, and a processor for the tuning circuits. So the abilities of the K42 are enhanced by the multiple processor design. For those that don't understand what this means, it means that the keyer can multitask, and not depend on one processor for everything, such as the way a nano keyer works. The K42 has a tuning circuit, which is checked in the later stages of assembly. The tuning circuit is to make sure that you can tune the received CW easily, it is set to 690 Hz, so the bar graph of LED's goes higher as you approach 690 Hz in received audio.
The LCD display of the newest model is back lighted, and that is good, as I would have trouble seeing the display if it were not. the back light is controlled by the rotary control that has a duel function of adjusting CW speed. That is the speed that the keyboard will send CW. That control uses and encoder, not a potentiometer, so settings are recorded in memory and don;'t depend on the knob position. You may also use your own key to send code, either a paddle iambic key, or a straight key. The keyer is mostly controlled by the PS2 keyboard, which you have to supply. There is a warning about using a USB to PS2 adapter, and the power it will use, as it may over heat the 5 volt regulator. This is not a big deal to most Hams. The keyboard controls are entered using codes supplied in the user manual, and that is where the beauty of this keyer shines. Download the user manual and take a look at all that you can do with the keyer. if you are not fond of building kits, you can buy it already built and tested. If you loved the Heath kit days, then build the kit, it is excellent.
G3XYS Rating: 5/5 Mar 6, 2015 06:14 Send this review to a friend
What a gem!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is a brilliant CW product, and you probably already knew that. This keyer is for keeps as it answers all of my operating requirements as it does not need a PC/Laptop. It codes/decodes, interfaces to my KX3 and with an S3 signal does a great job. A true 'Swiss Army Knife'.

The documentation is excellent as is the quality of the kit of parts which all went together even without doing the intermediate testing. Powering up for the first time, it was ready to go on air. I adjusted the LCD display, connected a PS/2 keyboard, set up a few stored messages with limited reference to the documentation. During the build I changed the 2.5mm PWR Skt for my standard 2.1mm with no mods to the top cover. I also used DIL sockets throughout, as I do for all of my builds.

Overall, this build put a big smile on my face and will add another dimension to my straight key operating. I have looked (briefly owned) at another comprehensive CW Keyer which was far too demanding to use but the K42 from Hamcrafters is in a class of its own and deserves a 5 Star rating.

NG9Z Rating: 5/5 Feb 27, 2015 06:54 Send this review to a friend
Great kit, great product  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I haven't built an electronic kit in many years, and it felt great doing it again. Fun stuff.

I bought the product to relieve me when I get tired in long rag-chew QSOs. And it works seamlessly going between paddles and the keyboard. The cw reader is very good, and allows me to have contest contacts at high WPM speeds. Fun addition to the shack.
By the way, the guys at K1EL were very prompt at responding to emails with questions about shipment and types of keyboards to use.
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