- Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Friends Remembered
Survey Question

DX Cluster Spots

Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement

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

Reviews Summary for K1EL K42 CW Keyboard
K1EL K42 CW Keyboard Reviews: 42 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.
More info:
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to this review.

My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

You can write your own review of the K1EL K42 CW Keyboard.

<— Page 2 of 5 —>

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.
N6PG Rating: 5/5 Jan 8, 2015 16:38 Send this review to a friend
Great kit and a great product  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've built a fair number of kits, and this one was great! Solid documentation, nice snug fit for the enclosure, very high quality PC board.

Once together, up and running with a bit of help from the manual. There is a lot of good information, and I had to make a cheat sheet for all of the different options. I had to play around with the correct col setting and gain to get a solid copy of cw, but now it's easy a quick to tune up a station. After 20wpm, I'm challenged... So I got this to help. I didn't want to have to use a computer on my desk, so this small box does the trick! I ordered a mini PS2 keyboard off eBay, so overall footprint is small.

Quality product.
N5RWK Rating: 5/5 Aug 19, 2014 13:46 Send this review to a friend
Fun build, useful device  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The K42 kit was fun to build, and the instructions are very clear. The device itself is very useful and works as advertised. It is a 'swiss army knife' for sending CW, especially those who are paddle challenged like me. There are lots of options for configuring it, so you do need to read the manual until you get familiar with the various commands. Great product.
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.
<— Page 2 of 5 —>

If you have any questions, problems, or suggestions about Reviews, please email your Reviews Manager.