Going to try CW. Question about the hookup

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by K2FR, Nov 14, 2009.

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  1. K2FR

    K2FR Guest

    Alright, so im slowly slowly =) trying to feel out morse code.

    Im going to buy this keyer as its the cheapest thing I could find and if i dont like CW, im not out much

    Plastic Practice Key AM-K1

    My question is I have an FT-450.

    I do not have a back panel hookup for a keyer. my only spot is the front.

    from the manual.

    This 3.5mm 3-Contact jack accepts a CW key or keyer paddles.

    Key up is 5 volts, and key down current is .5Ma

    What type of cable/plug will I need to hook up this key? and where might I find such a cable?

    Thanks! looking forward to trying this out.
    -Andrew K2FR
  2. K7KBN

    K7KBN Ham Member QRZ Page

    The manual I just looked at online says it's a 1/4" jack rather than a 3.5mm jack, but the circuitry is the same. The manual shows pretty clearly how to connect the key.

    The plug is just a standard 1/4" (or 3.5 mm) - you'll have to determine that from your rig - stereo plug, just like what you'd use for stereo music with headphones.

    If you're just going to use that cheap Ameco key, you only need to use two of the three connections. If you're using an external keyer with paddles, you'll need to use all three. Same thing if you want to use the radio's built in keyer - for that you need all three. Again, the manual shows the connections.

    ON EDIT: If you're using the straight key, you can use a mono plug rather than a stereo plug.
  3. N9XV

    N9XV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Page 2 in the manual shows a 1/4" stereo phone plug for the CW key connection.

    "TIP" is the key contact connection.
    "RING" the center part is NOT connected to anything.
    "SHIELD" the long part of the stereo plug is the ground connection.

    here's the FT-450 MANUAL

    CW is alot of fun with a descent set of paddles and the built in keyer also.

    Good luck,

    --... ...-- / -.. . / -. ----. -..- ...-
  4. NN4RH

    NN4RH Subscriber QRZ Page

    NO. You cannot.

    It must be a stereo plug with the "ring" not connected.
  5. K2FR

    K2FR Guest

    I just got this one from the Yaesu website.


    it fits my standard headset plug.

    is that 1/4th or 3.5mm?
  6. KC0W

    KC0W Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    1/8" is 3.5mm.

    Tom KC0W
  7. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I hope you spend a lot of time listening to the slower CW QSOs on the air before you try to start sending it.
    Get to know what is going on in a typical QSO so you will be able to join in on the fun of CW QSOs and be understood..
    I run into a few green CW ops who don't know what to say or how to say it. I have to spend a lot of time with them just trying to get a QTH or name out of some of them.
    Some of them just have first CW nerves and I hear them a few days or weeks later doing OK.
    Good luck and look for me on the air, give me a shout !
    I spend a lot of time on 3550 or 7114-7120, where slower, new ops gather, in the evenings.
  8. W5HTW

    W5HTW Ham Member QRZ Page

    The graphic posted certainly shows it is a 3.5 mm plug/jack. You MUST use a stereo plug there, The 'ring' cannot be shorted to the shaft, which would happen if you use a mono plug.

    If you are using a straight key (and I advise all new comers to CW to use a straight key first) you connect one of the terminals of the straight key to the wire that goes to the 'tip,' and the other to the wire that goes to the 'shaft.' Nothing is connected to the wire that goes to the ring.

    Why do I suggest newcomers use a straight key? Because you learn what characters sound like. You learn that "V" is diididitdah, and not dididididididdahdah." The problem with using a keyer to start is you can't 'hear' your actual charcters so you can't figure out if you are sending three dits or four dits or three dahs or four dahs. If you use a straight key (and you have one) to learn to send with, you will KNOW how many dits and dahs you are sending. Then when you graduate to a keyer, it will be far easier to send characters correctly.

    A lot of newcomers, and even a few not so new, stumble around on the air with "I sent a few dits and a few dahs so You know what I meant to say." It ain't so. That is usually caused by those who start off with paddles.

    Good luck, welcome to the world of CW.


  9. WA9ZZZ

    WA9ZZZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's 3.5mm (not 1/4 inch)

    This is interesting. I was puzzled as to why you claimed the CW key required a 1/4" plug, so I downloaded the manual pointed to. Sure enough, it shows 1/4" for both the key and the headphones.

    But it is wrong.

    Maybe Yaesu ships FT-450 radios with 1/4" jacks to Norway (or that version of the manual has a typo), but the ones sent to the US use 3.5mm plugs. The manual downloadable from the Yaesu site shows 3.5mm jacks and the FT-450 that I recently purchased myself has 3.5mm jacks.

    The plug required is a very ordinary 3.5mm stereo phone plug. You could use a shielded cable with it, but that is probably not necessary. Try a local electronics store or maybe some store that sells audio gear. Or just ask some local hams. Someone should have a couple of spares and a little wire.
  10. W9IUF

    W9IUF Ham Member QRZ Page

    When I need a 3.5mm stereo connector, I go to Radio Shack and buy a cable with 3.5mm stereo male connectors on both ends. Then I cut the wire in half and now I have 2 3.5mm stereo connectors with wires.

    Take one of these wires, strip them, connect them to the key and you are ready to go - and you have a spare wire for when you decide to get paddles after finding that CW is a whole lot of fun.

  11. K7KBN

    K7KBN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Mea culpa. My Icom accepts mono OR properly-connected stereo plugs.
  12. N9XV

    N9XV Ham Member QRZ Page

    "ZZZ" thanks for the clarification. I wonder if that is a misprint of if like you say, maybe they make both versions. Need some ops to verify the jack size :cool:
  13. K2FR

    K2FR Guest

    I have a few of those laying around, ill try cutting one up once my Keyer gets here and see if I can make it work =)

    thanks for the idea you saved me a bit of time trying to solder and piece a thing together
  14. W5ALT

    W5ALT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I usually just get a stereo audio cable with the correct jacks on both ends - 6 feet is a nice length. Cut the thing in half and you have 2 cables to connect keys or paddles to your rigs. It might be slightly cheaper to buy cabes and jacks, but I'm lazy.

    Walt, W5ALT
  15. W0IS

    W0IS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Actually, the cheapest way to get the plug is to go to the dollar store and get the cheapest pair of stereo headphones you can find. Cut off the headphones, and you have a cord.

    The cable isn't always the easiest stuff to work with, but it will work.

    I would use a stereo plug (among other reasons, because it's easier to find), but I think a mono plug would work. I'm not positive, but I think I've used a mono plug with my FT-817, which I suspect is wired up the same. But you need to make sure the internal keyer is turned off before plugging it in. If you don't, it will start going "dah dah dah" (or was it "dit dit dit") as soon as you switch it to CW. But if I recall correctly, once you switch the internal keyer off, it works for the straight key.

    But I'm not positive, so if you need to go buy the plug, you may as well get the stereo one.

    (By the way, with the FT-817, it's possible to send CW from the microphone, but I wouldn't recommend it. You can send using the "up" and "down" buttons. It's OK in an emergency, but I can only send about 10 WPM that way. I would certainly advise against starting out that way.)
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2009
  16. W4HAY

    W4HAY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Welcome to the world of real Ham radio! We'll be looking for you on the air.

    Spend some time getting the "feel" of the key and finding the contact spacing and tension that best suits you. A good starting point would be to set the contact spacing so that you can just slide a strip of doubled-up notebook paper between them. Set the spring tension so that placing about 10 quarters on the knob closes the contacts. Play around with the settings. Everybody has their own preference.

    The key will "handle" better if mounted on a sheet of 1/4" plywood about 4" X 8".

    Record your sending and compare it with that from a code learning program or W1AW. Also consider joining the Straight Key Century Club -- it's free. Hang out around the SKCC frequencies, expecially 7.114 MHz. You'll find plenty of folks who'll be more than happy to QRS to your speed.

    See ya on the bottom 100 KHz of the bands!
  17. KB9BVN

    KB9BVN Ham Member QRZ Page

    K2FR...what you bought from Ameco is a STRAIGHT KEY. Not a keyer.

    A keyer allows you to use a set of paddles instead of a straight key. The keyer is an electronic device that creates the dits and dahs depending on what side of the paddle you push.

    Here is a keyer that NORCAL used to sell:


    Once you have your straight key screwed down, wired up, and ready to go, get yourself a SKCC number and join in on the fun. The Straight Key Century Club is a few thousand CW ops that use a straight key.


    73 de KB9BVN
    Brian Murrey
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