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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: 37 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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KF4HR Rating: 5/5 Mar 15, 2014 08:21 Send this review to a friend
Nice kit  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
It took about 2 days to complete my K42 kit. A fair portion of those 2 days was spent inventorying and identifying the small parts (1/8 watt resistors & micro-small labeled parts). If you haven't built a kit before, or for you old timers... perhaps not since the Heathkit days, get ready for some really, really small parts and parts labeling! I found it took almost as long to inventory and identify the parts, as it took to build the kit. Plan to use a good magnifying glass. Initially I had problems due to the PS/2 keyboard I used. The first keyboard I tried wouldn't allow the unit to decode more than a few minutes, then the decoding would lock up (the rest of the unit continued to work perfectly), and the only way I could get the unit to decode again was cycle the power. The 2nd keyboard I tried wouldn't allow more than 2 presses of the Page Up buffer before I started getting crazy characters on the K42's display. Then finally the 3rd keyboard I tried worked perfectly, so you may find not every PS/2 keyboard will work with your K42. I also noticed the 5v regulator was hot to the touch, so I added a heat sink which cooled it down considerably. The K42 is full of nice features although an on/off switch isn't one of them, so I added a micro-toggle switch to the front (left side of the display) which looks great. There's a long list of menu features, and at least for awhile you will no doubt be referring to the instructions. Perhaps the next generation (K43 ?) might include a larger display so the menu's could be scrolled through and changed. Overall I'm very pleased. And customer support is very good.
AD7QQ Rating: 5/5 Dec 24, 2013 20:44 Send this review to a friend
Fun Kit, Works Well  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
My Father and I each built one together as a holiday project and the kits went together without much difficulty in about 8 hours. The keyer works quite well and we had 100% copy on W1AW 20 meters by the decoder. The construction instructions were easy to follow. The keyboard operation is so simple that it is tempting to give up the straight key and paddle. The memory macros are easy to make and use. It is hard to imagine how this could be improved. The finished product looks like a well build commercial project.
W8FA Rating: 5/5 Dec 1, 2013 13:10 Send this review to a friend
Very Pleased  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I built this K42 is two evenings at a slow-but-sure pace. The instructions were easy to understand including pictures. I was so sure of the building progress I did not do the recommended tests during construction and it fired-up first time upon completion. I believe a first-time kit builder could do this if they take their time. This is a high quality kit including good metal enclosure mechanical fit and store-bought appearance. I did add an on-off microswitch to the upper left corner on the front face of the unit because I use a single power supply to turn on all of my station rigs and accessories. Also, just for good measure, I added a heat sink to the voltage regulator. But seeing how little current this unit draws, that was unnecessary.

I have not had a problem with any of its functions or features. I don't use the decoder but it does work as well or better than anything I've seen. It will decode a reasonable fist that is clear of noise, QRM or excessive QSB.

I like this unit because it is stand-alone. Now I do not need a computer for common CW functions.

I use this unit with my paddle. However, if my wrist gets tired and I am making too many paddle sending mistakes I change to the keyboard.

Customer service is beyond expectations. I have not had any problems with this unit but I contacted ART at K1EL with some off-the-wall questions and he exchanged several emails with me even on the weekend.
NA5AR Rating: 5/5 Sep 6, 2013 15:28 Send this review to a friend
Great Service  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I bought this unit used and it worked fine for about 3 months and then had problems. E mailed Steve and explained the situation,,,said to send to him. I don't think they usually do this but I was very happy to have the unit back,,,,but then I found my keyboard was bad. Might be it was the keyboard that made the K42 go belly up.Bought a new keyboard and now all is working fine. Thjis little black box just blows my mind, hard to beleive all that it will do.
At any rate, these guys are the best and price can't be best. rest assured they will take care of your needs. Thanks for your help.
ZL3DW Rating: 5/5 Jun 29, 2013 01:14 Send this review to a friend
Better decode than my KX3  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Just finished it and it works very well. Very good kit quality and case quality. Well thought out message macros very flexible for contesting etc. I like the way each message can use others like the callsign and contest number and the pause during message function is neat too. The CW decode will decode on weak signals when the KX3 will not, but it does like the CW to be noise free, no problem with the KX3s filters. I wish it had a power switch as I run it off the station DC supply. I will have to add one.
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.
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