Archive for the ‘Keying Devices’ Category

What is a Code Practice Oscillator

Friday, February 19th, 2016

A code practice oscillator or “CPO” is a simple tone generator that is turned on and off with a telegraph key. The telegraph key can be any straight key, or hand key, or semi-automatic key (bug).

A CPO cannot be used by a paddle, which is designed to operate an “electronic keyer,” not a CPO. An electronic keyer generates one or more dots when the left paddle is pressed and one or more dashes when the right paddle is pressed. If you do connect a paddle to a CPO, both left and right levers will act as straight keys. This is something you want to do only if you are using a single-lever paddle as a cootie key.

Sometimes you can connect the output of an electronic keyer to a CPO but be sure to check that the polarity, voltage, and current of the key line on your CPO are within the limits of your electronic keyer output.

Not all CPOs are created equal. The least expensive and easiest to build use a simple LM555 IC as an oscillator, and the resulting square-wave output can sound a bit harsh. Also there may be “key clicks” or other spurious emissions which can cause problems with (for example0 a repeater’s control circuitry. A sine-wave oscillator sounds much better and haS no bad effects on other equipment, but a sine wave is not actually the best for listening. A shaped side-tone oscillator will have a slightly more “mellow” tone than a sine wave, and is more pleasant to listen to.

Can I use my electronic keyer like a bug?

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

“Bug” is a nickname for a semi-automatic mechanical key. Dots are made automatically by the device, often with a pendulum bouncing a movable contact against a fixed one as long as the lever is held. Dashes are made by hand. Electronic keyers make both dots and dashes automatically, but many of them allow for a “bug mode” or can be set up as “e-bugs.” So look for that terminology– bug mode or e-bug– in your keyer manual, and if you can turn it on your paddle will work just like a bug. But if your keyer doesn’t offer that feature, don’t despair– there’s more than one way to skin this particular cat.

Is a single lever paddle a “sideswiper”?

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Can a single lever paddle be used as a sideswiper or cootie key?  And if so, how would you wire it? (more…)

If you could only have ONE key…

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Which one would you choose?

Whoa, what a question!  I mean, what is the REASON that I can have
only one?  Is it because all the key makers have gone out of business, so I get to buy one, at any cost and then never any more?  Or is it because I’m moving into an apartment and only have room on the desk for one key?  Or is it because I can only afford a few dollars for one key? And do I get to keep my paddles and bugs? [g]

What’s a “cootie key?”

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Some of the other names for a cootie key might be more familiar– sideswiper, double-speed key, and slap key. The simplest definition is a double-sided straight key, operated horizontally. (more…)

What is meant by “Beacon Mode”

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Beacon mode, a feature of many electronic keyers, is the continuous repetition of a message until the operator intervenes. (more…)

Why does my key have a switch on it?

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

My Ameco K-4 key has a thing like a switch on it. It’s a thin metal piece with a small plastic knob and it can be rotated in underneath a flange on the lower contact. What exactly is it for?


How do I wire my new Bencher Key?

Sunday, April 2nd, 2006

I do not understand the wire conenctions located under the base that face in opposite directions? What is the light green plastic loop for? Also,the slip-on connections are not the most convenient. Where do I get replacement slip-on connections (more…)

Straight Key or Paddle, which should I start with?

Thursday, January 12th, 2006

That’s a very good question because there are two contradictory schools of thought, and you are likely to encounter both of them before you ever send a dit. (more…)

What are American and European “styles?”

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

American and European (or British) “styles” are techniques for sending Morse code with a telegraph key, but they can also refer to the design of the key. (more…)