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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: 30 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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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
N3CAL Rating: 5/5 Dec 31, 2011 07:14 Send this review to a friend
Outstanding  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Ordered the latest version online just before Thanksgiving. I wanted to have something to build over the holidays. Kit went together in a day without any problems. The manual covers everthing very well. Quality of parts and case are great. This unit now sits on top of my TS-590s. The back lit display matches my rigs display. Everything works great. I have a PS2 Keyboard and my Bencher Paddles hooked to it. It's a great tool for the beginner to learn on. You can practice sending as the display will show you what you are sending via the paddles. It's a great way to polish your skills.

All in all a great tool for the shack.
AE7VT Rating: 5/5 Oct 16, 2011 10:33 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Design  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought one of the earlier K42 kits but, just never found the time to assemble it until now. With a lot of kit-building experience, I tackled this project with enthusiasm and was very satisfied with it. My problem was 'old eye' that can't see the tiny resistors or capacitors to read the values without a magnifying glass! :)

The tests were perfect and the kit completed without any hitches at all. It was easy to set up and use the first time. I was really impressed with the reading ability to display received CW on the readout. Now, I would like to have the upgrade kit so I can have a back-lit display.

It certainly is not a kit for an inexperienced builder at all. A fine tip temperature controlled soldering station is a must to assemble this kit. I would certainly recommend it for anyone interested in a CW reader. By the way, the keyer itself operates better than the one built into my rig.
VE3JLC Rating: 5/5 Sep 16, 2011 14:04 Send this review to a friend
Excellence in Kits  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The K42 is an excellent kit and an amazing keyer/reader. I could really rave about this keyboard-kit. Every detail has been attended, making it an almost possible first kit. Also performence is just delightful. A PS/2 cable for my radio with a mini-phono and at power up with a stroke of the keyboard the K42 was happilly displaying good copy. One thing I would like to mention is the CW training feature that makes code practice really fun.
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