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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: 33 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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WB8BIL Rating: 5/5 Jun 18, 2013 19:47 Send this review to a friend
Exactly what I needed  Time owned: more than 12 months
The K42 was purchased to overcome a latency problem that my Flex 5000A used to have, making keying more difficult that it had to be. The current version of PSDR software does not have the latency but I still use this keyer.

The only thing that is needed is a jack for audio output, I added one easily with a little thought and effort.

Overall this is a great keyer, the keyboard feature is nice too, at times my keying goes from fair to horrible and the keyboard bails me out. I don't use the reader feature, but I have tried it and it does work ok.

A great keyer.
KD0UEZ Rating: 5/5 Apr 14, 2013 15:53 Send this review to a friend
Dynamite!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Count me in as being very satisfied with product.

The K42 BOTH "talks the talk", and "walks the walk", in documentation and performance.

Obviously, one can't expect the device to decode a rotten "fist", and the user is expected to feed the K42 a precise 690Hz signal to decode from their receiver. However, I had no problems tuning my Yaesu FT-817ND QRP rig to do such, even under noisy conditions, with practice.

Upon mastering the tweeking of the K42 gain, filter, and ISP settings, the device surprised me and decoded everything that resonably would be expected.

The keyer side (for sending) is also very flexible and has almost any option a CW op may desire. Given that the market is SPAMMED with a multitude of keyer products, it is refreshing to see one that actually keys intuitively across various modes.

All and all, if your receiver has enough selectability to fine-tune or match the K42's 690Hz input signal specification, I would HIGHLY recommend this kit. However, if you are using something like a homebrew crystal reciever without enough selectivity, the decoder probably wouldn't meet expectations.

Being a newbie to CW, I find this package to be indispensible for learning. Morse sending can be quickly mastered by setting the receiver to decode the user's paddling or fisting. The K42 also has a Morse tutor mode to practice drills.

Entirely and absolutely an awesome product.

The only issue that I can address is that the box does radiate little noise, which I can mostly controll by applying a heat sink on the DCV regulator.

However, being that the K42 is quite thoroughly documented, with a well designed board containing test points, etc.... It was quite easy to locate the cause of the minor annoyance. K1EL also advises the user to investigate the potential for this issue in his documentation. The K42 is a great economical, educational, and useful tool for picking-up CW training, in both theory and practice.

As far as I'm concerned, if you want to quickly pick-up CW hardware theory and application, have no doubts, this would be the "nice little honey" you've been looking for.

My take: The K42 "says what it does", and "does what it says"!

Sincerely, "Paul" - St. Paul, MN

73, KD0UEZ
VK4APN Rating: 5/5 Mar 10, 2013 22:59 Send this review to a friend
Supberb mature product - clearly a huge design effort taken   Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have many keyers inc cmos superkeyer, picokeyer, heathkit & older curtis chip based units.
This keyer seems to have combined all the benefits of others, refined them, added in other features and then fine tuned the lot.
The kit is simple to put together, all parts were correct for the footprints, the mechanical parts all fitted perfectly. It is easy to see that this is a very mature product, having gone thru a period of development with thoughtful additions and improvements. The CW read function works surprisingly well and is at least as good as the many I have tried. The supplied (on CD) documentation is very thorough and complete and amongst the best I have seen.
AE7VT Rating: 5/5 Mar 2, 2013 21:24 Send this review to a friend
Top Quality Kit  Time owned: more than 12 months
My first K42 was the original design and I really enjoyed using it. When the "new and improved" version 'C' came out with the improved decoding and backlit display, I knew it was only a matter of time before I upgraded. Not recommended for the first-time kit builder it is a bit tedious for 'old eyes' to ensure they have the correct value parts installed. But, this one went together well. There are some small improvements physically, the case now fits the keyboard connector very nicely. Be sure to pay close attention to every detail in the assembly instructions as well as the parts list as some components may differ slightly from what are in the instructions due to availability in an ever-changing electronics supply world.

I didn't buy this for it's CW decoding capabilities but mostly for it's keyboard CW capability. The decoding ability does help when receiving well-sent CW but, nothing can decode human sent CW and all it's variables. So, don't expect 100% solid copy as there is no such thing. The K42 does a very good job with that and I do use it as a back up to my hand written copy. I get about 90% good copy even with perfectly spaced CW simply due to QSB and noise. It is a good tool and really helps at speeds over 25wpm. I still copy my CW on paper but, using a keyboard is much easier for me than sending with a key as my wrist is only good for a few minutes any more. I still enjoy my bugs and the occasional straight key and still use my paddles most of the time.

Whatever your reason for interest in the K42, you will not be dissatisfied. It is a neat package that performs well and building it yourself provides an addition sense of pride when you use it. You are welcome to contact me with any questions or opinions on the K42.
W9CW Rating: 5/5 Feb 11, 2013 06:51 Send this review to a friend
The Only Keyer You Will Ever Need!  Time owned: more than 12 months
This is a great, and very versatile, keyer. The kit went together very well over a few evenings. Due to my failing eyesight and some very small parts, I had to purchase a pair of magnifying glasses for the build and soldering process. There were a few glitches in the assembly manual relating to the color dot "color" on certain ICs. One specified an IC with a red color dot in the parts inventory, whereas in reality it was a white color dot. Other than this, the assembly manual was very well written. The typos in the manual were easily overcome, as the build is very intuitive.

The keyer itself is wonderful. Extremely versatile, and you can tell it was designed by a CW op. I occasionally use a keyboard, but most often a paddle. But, it's nice to have both options available. The CW reader works as expected, but I never rely on such a crutch anyway. Writing code to decode CW is extremely difficult, given varying fists and irregular character spacing.

The user's manual is very informative, and gives you all this information you need to set up and use the keyer. If you're a CW op, you need this keyer - especially if you are into contesting.
N4YX Rating: 5/5 Jun 10, 2012 14:25 Send this review to a friend
Two Thumbs Up!  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I've built, bought & owned just about every major keyer & the K42 is top notch. There are a few programming changes I've suggested (nothing major; show default toggle-state first for example) & the unit can be affected by stray RF. I use it cw/m too running from a 9 volt battery. Ahh .. paddles only while driving in case you were wondering.
VE3EGA Rating: 5/5 Feb 24, 2012 17:33 Send this review to a friend
Buy one!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just finished building this awesome little kit and wanted to share the experience with anyone contemplating buying one!

Kit of Parts: all the parts are supplied pre-packaged and sealed and the documentation is on mini-cd or you can get it ahead of time from the K1EL website.

Assembly: It goes together extremely well, by just following the instructions and the images.

My build time was about 4-5 hrs (two evenings)including the tests that the builder is encouraged to make at certain stages.

It worked first time - although I thought I'd done something wrong when I didn't see a message on the LCD - derrrr - I adjusted the 'contrast control' and there it was!

Build Quality: Excellent - congratulations to the the designer on a well thought out pcb (no jumpers!)and great parts kitting.

The keyer works as it should and the little reader is a definite plus, making this kit VERY USEFUL!

I concur with the other reviewers and its a joy to own and operate and a winner in my eyes!


Terry, ve3ega
WA2ASQ Rating: 5/5 Feb 24, 2012 05:21 Send this review to a friend
Wonderful!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is a great kit and product! It is very accurate to call it the "swiss army knife" of keyers. I have yet to spend enough time to unlock all the functions and abilities of this equipment, but I will in time. I found it to be a very easy kit to assemble ( Disclaimer: I do have a lot of experience and worked a professional tech for many years) and the test points along the way make it easy to catch an error. Highly recommended,you cannot do any better and you will have fun putting it all together.
N3HEE Rating: 5/5 Jan 24, 2012 05:52 Send this review to a friend
Well Done !  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is a great little kit. Easy to follow instructions with quality parts. The kit is very small and built like a tank. I built the kit in a few hours and was on the air with it that evening. The cw reader works OK once you learn how the tuning and filtering works. I didn't buy the kit for the reader though. I'm only using it for the cw keyboard. This unit is extremely flexible as far as features and functionality. You may need a little cheat sheet until you learn some of the more commonly used keyboard commands. You can program a whole simple QSO into a few memory keys!
DL2KMK Rating: 2/5 Jan 10, 2012 05:14 Send this review to a friend
Good, but some problems with higher power  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I am on the air since 1961 and built my first SSB transceiver in the mid-sixties with a filter, homemade of surplus quartzes. But normally I use CW. I am graduated by university in electronics and I had an interesting professional life in research and development of measuring equipment.

I assembled the K42 kit during one evening. The package included all parts and the instructions are good with lots of pictures. Only one of those did not match, I think it shows an older version of the PCB.
Then I connected a 9 volt wall power supply, a paddle and the keyboard to make a first test. All input worked fine and I saved some texts in the memory and recalled them via the sidetone speaker. After this I connected the K42 to my IC7000 and tested the recognition of CW signals. It also worked very well. Then I tried to transmit one text out of the memory, but only the first “dash” appeared, then the memory was empty! After some kind of testing various filters I used a 9 volt battery like K1EL himself. Now I know why he writes this in his text.

Normally I use my FT847 for CW operation, so I connected the K42 to this radio but it did not work properly. My first posting to this forum was the question, if anybody out there has experienced a similar problem, but there came no answer and eventually my posting disappeared from the forum !!! I found the solution for the problem with K42 and FT847 and posted it here for other hams. This (my second posting) is still here but nearly useless without the first.

The K42 seemed to me a good tool for contesting and so I tested it with my PA ZZ750. Normally I use it with only 500 watts because of the intern heating. But the K42 did not work with this power, any text in the memory was always lost after the first did or dash. I tested and filtered a lot but it was unsuccessfully. Therefore I sold the K42 to a fan of QRP operation who is not as good in CW speed.

vy 73! Manfred, DL2KMK
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