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The 'Mouse-Keyer':

from Wayne Gunnell, KB1JQX on May 15, 2003
View comments about this article!

The "Mouse-Keyer":

I have tried/built several keys and just wasn't satisfied with what I had found.

I tried several straight keys, single and double paddles but nothing felt right to me.

I was cleaning out a drawer and ran across and old computer mouse and while deciding if I wanted to keep it or toss it I found myself playing with the buttons. Right, right, right… left, left, left …right, right, right, I tossed it into the trash can amused at myself for clicking Morse code on a mouse. (Yeah I just got my technicians license and am now trying to learn Morse code)

Then it hit me - That felt right!

I disassembled the computer mouse and using the switches for the mouse right and left buttons I wired it for a CW keyer. It works great! Spending a lot of time on the computer, I am really comfortable with using a mouse so this was perfect for me. I have attached some photos of the device.

Enjoy, and please feel free to share this article and email me with any questions!

Momentary Contact Switches On the Mouse Board

The Wiring of the Switches. (I cut the traces on the board so no other components affected interfered the switches.)

The Completed Unit!

Member Comments:
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The 'Mouse-Keyer':  
by K1RFD on May 15, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Nice idea! I assume you turn the mouse around with the buttons facing you when you're using it.

It may not be quite the ideal paddle, but it's probably good for portable or mobile operation where the "paddles" might get knocked around. I imagine the mouse is a little more durable than the typical set of paddles.
RE: The 'Mouse-Keyer':  
by KC7MM on May 15, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Neat idea! Some of the mice on the market are a bit more ergonomic, cupping the palm of the hand and giving a bit more support. Have you played with trying to lighten up the pressure requirements of the mouse buttons?
The 'Mouse-Keyer':  
by KG4SUF on May 15, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Interesting....I was just looking at making a straight key out of a mouse last night. I don't know anything about paddles, but dead mice are pretty neat for the parts within...
The 'Mouse-Keyer':  
by N7NBB on May 15, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Hey good idea !
Many "mobile" HF rigs (like the Icom 706) have a keyer built into them that allow the use of the microphone UP/DOWN buttons to simulate a keyer (for easier mobile CW operation) so what's the difference, other than the "shape" of the hand-held unit... I think you had a good idea, and "ran" with it...

It takes a bit to get used to (trained) to use this type of keyer, but once you get the feel of it, it is a good way to operate CW... espicially mobile (which I have NOT done as yet.)

My first thought after reading your article, was there are several micro sized circuit boards that have a keyer chip and support componets that would fit nicely into the mouse body... and still leave room for a small battery. Of course many of today's rigs have built-in keyers too, so this point might be "moot".

However, the circuit borad in the mouse would then be a complete stand alone keyer - to key almost any rig, or for practice.

I built mine into a (weighted)ALTIODS(tm) box, with plenty of room to spare, so I know it would fit in most mouse bodies.

HAVE FUN with the hobby - Keep trying new things -Don't let the purists get you down... it doesn't have to work "PERFECTLY" to be useable and have many rewarding contacts.

The 'Mouse-Keyer':  
by N8XMS on May 15, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
This is a clever idea and is a good representation of the kind of innovation that fills the history of ham radio.

I actually have a faint memory of seeing this idea before, possibly in a QST article a number of years ago. I also recall seeing a key made with some sort of touch sensors that was also operated with the first two fingers of the hand in the same way that this one is. Personally, I don't think that the "feel" would be very good for me, but just like the adjustments on a straight key or paddle, it's all a matter of personal taste and what you get used to.

Keep "pounding the brass" (err. "plastic")!

Paul - N8XMS
RE: The 'Mouse-Keyer':  
by W3NRL on May 15, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Wayne very good idea!!! i use my mic (the up and down buttons) on 706mkiig, as i too am studing for general.
good luck and have fun
the best of 73
de w3nrl
RE: The 'Mouse-Keyer':  
by W9JCM on May 15, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
What a great idea!! I am tearing a old mouse up now this is great thanks..
RE: The 'Mouse-Keyer':  
by KC8WCW on May 15, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
A pretty creative and inventive idea. Even if it's less than ideal, it's the root of what Ham radio is all about.

Just an observation however. I would imagine that even with the ball removed, it'd move around a bit too much for comfortable operation. Could I suggest some velcro on the bottom to better secure it to the surface you're working on?

The 'Mouse-Keyer':  
by AD8A on May 15, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I too made one of these recently - I was using the MRX software (really trying it out, it had too many errors, maybe my setup) and first tried a mouse. It didnt feel right at all, and did NOT help my carpal tunnel. Squeezing seems to me to be a much more natural and less stressful action. I DO think that there is something that can be done to make a more ergonomic iambic key (more like a joystick or game controller), but a mouse isnt it. Still, it is fun and amusing, and if your hand tolerates it, quite a compact solution. Put an island keyer in there and have the whole noodle, and other ops will CERTAINLY stare at field day...
The 'Mouse-Keyer':  
by K3ZD on May 15, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
CW for the computer generation!
RE: The 'Mouse-Keyer':  
by N6AJR on May 15, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I have a wireless mouse (logitech) and I bet I could fix the out put of the reciever to work the same... wirless keyer??? You can find wireless mice on ebay cheep! 73 tom N6AJR
RE: The 'Mouse-Keyer':  
by K5LXP on May 16, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
When I built mine a couple years ago I used a 3-button mouse, and integrated a TiCK keyer chip. Used the middle mouse button for the keyer's function input. I mounted the piezo squeaker in the hole where the ball formerly resided in. So my mouse became a full function memory keyer that runs on a lithium battery, no power switch required. See it on my website:

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM

Didn't like the double clicking -  
by KF6IIU on May 16, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I tried using a microswitch (which is what is used inside mice also) as a key and was highly annoyed by the click on both down and especially on up-key.

For less than the cost of a $1.99 mouse I built a micro-key out of an old relay contact and a piece of plexiglass (the #2 nuts and screws were the most expensive part):

<a href=>
RE: The 'Mouse-Keyer':  
by AA8RF on May 17, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I think this was first done about 20 years ago. Still works pretty well.

RE: Didn't like the double clicking -  
by K3BU on May 18, 2003 Mail this to a friend!

Mouse paddle/key is "brilliant" idea until you try to send CW with it, at least to this OF - very awkward. I tried it, didn't like it a bit. Then I went back to the old idea, used old relay/vibrator contacts, double sided tape, piece of plexiglass and I am enjoying mobile and lil paddle computer keying. Much better. Mouse paddle is resting on the bottom of the drawer waiting for the pussycat :-)
RE: The 'Mouse-Keyer':  
by N2CKH on May 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I actually did the same thing back in the fall of 2001 when I first got my FT-817, I also took a CAT-5 cable and cut it in two to make my combination PSK31 interface and hand switch for reig keying.

Anyhow, the mouse-key will work ok, its cheap, light and usable, its in about the same category as the up/down keys on the mic for CW. The clicking of those switches and the fell does not make for a good fist. I went and bought one of the new Vibroplex Racer keys for the 817, love the bencher paddles for all other operations, including HF CW mobile, but they are too big and heavy for TDY ops, the Racer is much better.


/s/ Steve, N2CKH
RE: The 'Mouse-Keyer':  
by N2KIN on May 20, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Got a question about the hook-up wire....Where can I find the wire for the mouse and 1/4 jack? I would like to make this keyer my first ham radio project!
The 'Mouse-Keyer':  
by K4DFH on May 21, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for a GREAT idea! I was just getting ready to rebuild my old Hacksaw blade Iambic paddle. Looks like this will save me the trouble as well as being more ergonomic and portable friendly! Hi 5's!
RE: The 'Mouse-Keyer':  
by GM0KMA on May 22, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
oh dear, I've just turned this one inside out..

hmmmmm ... thinks ..... maybe hook up a REAL key to your PC ... some software to turn this into encoded sound pulses ... use the NET rather than HF to contact your pals with MORSE! Save on bandwidth .. relive the early days .. .. think about the brevity of language .. program in some QRM / QRN .. learn REAL CODE on the web! .. retro-engineer that over-clocked 3MHz processor .. OK, don't tell me this has already been done....

cheers folks from Scotland!
--. -- ----- -.- -- .-

RE: The 'Mouse-Keyer':  
by W3DCG on May 26, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I just got done with a Qso using my Speed X key, stumbled upon this, first thought this is nuts, but then put the pointer on some blank part of the page and tried it, mouse faced toward me, and holding it in place with my other hand, and I think the feel may be better than my Speed X. I don't use it really except to tune up. But this mouse thing...

great idea, mice are virtually free these days at any of those hole in the wall little computer stores.

And it'd be fun working people via mouse clicks too.

Very cool, very practical, everyone has an old mouse, so inexpensive, and it actually feels good.

HA! Bravo! I love it!
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