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"Break In"

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by N2EY, Aug 28, 2019.

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  1. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Recently, I came across the manual for a vintage rig which claimed "full break in" when in CW mode. Yet a check of the actual circuit revealed that this was not the case for CW of more than a few WPM.

    Other discussions revealed that some folks had very different ideas about what "break in" really means.

    So, here are the definitions I've learned and used for more than 50 years:

    MOX/Manual TR control : Transmit/receive controlled by throwing a switch, pressing a button, stepping on a footswitch, etc. (In voice operation, this would be equivalent to PTT, manual TR, or talking on an intercom)

    Keyed VOX/TATOO/Semi-break-in : Transmit/receive controlled by a circuit which puts the rig into transmit when the key is closed, with a slow-release feature that keeps the rig in transmit until a certain amount of time has elapsed with the key open. Typically the delay time is long enough to keep the rig in transmit between words. (In voice operation, this would be equivalent to VOX)

    Full break-in/QSK : Transmit/receive controlled by circuits that switch so quickly that the receiver is fully operational between dots and dashes, enabling the operator to hear what is happening on frequency while sending. True full break-in/QSK allows hearing a weak signal between dots at 40+ wpm. (In voice operation, this would be equivalent to talking on the telephone)


    Full break-in/QSK isn't new; the Ancient Ones were doing it in the 1930s if not before. But AFAIK no manufactured ham gear did QSK right out of the box until the Heathkit HW-16 appeared in 1966. A few years later, Ten Tec led the way.

    Some folks find full-break-in/QSK distracting, others wouldn't be without it.

    What do others think?

    73 de Jim, N2EY
    K7MH, N2AMM and WA7PRC like this.
  2. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    My first rig was absolutely full break-in. Separate receiver and transmitter, and associated antennas. Since an ARC-5 has no AGC, there was instantaneous recovery. Full QSK before I even knew what QSK was. :)
  3. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    How did you achieve receiver muting?
  4. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I favor semi-QSK and adjust the dropout delay based on keying speed. At 35 wpm, it's very short so "almost like" QSK, but not quite. At 13 wpm it's a lot longer.:p

    Even with semi-QSK I can and do break into ongoing QSOs if I recognize one of the stations and want to say hello, and if I can hear both stations.
    N2AMM and WA7PRC like this.
  5. K7MEM

    K7MEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I bought a Heathkit HR-1680/HX-1681 in the early 80s that had full-break-in/QSK. When I put it on the air, I was totally amazed. I had never operated full-break-in/QSK before then. Now, all I had to do was tap my key. The only way you knew you were transmitting was the side tone from the HX-1681. There were no ticks or pops from the receiver. Just the normal background noise and associated QRM. That took a little getting use to.

    I don't have any problem working without it, but I find full-break-in/QSK very relaxing.
    KS4W, N2AMM, W5BIB and 1 other person like this.
  6. AA8TA

    AA8TA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I use semi-QSK. I don’t remember what the hang time is, but at about 20 WPM the receiver opens up and I don’t like it. I think full break-in is annoying but if I’m running in a contest (at 30+ WPM) there is enough of a break after my call that I can tell if somebody is there. Just because I don’t like it, however, for those who do, more power to them.
  7. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    My KX3 has some DSP that's always on, and this introduces a tiny bit of latency in the audio, enough to make an audible gap between the end of transmitting an element and the beginning of reception. I can hear between the dits at 20wpm, but the audio doesn't quite start immediately.

    My simpler KD1JV tri-bander has no such lag, and QSK is very responsive.

    With either, I can tell if someone is there while I'm transmitting. I like the nice filtering options in the KX3, but I also like the perfectly transparent QSK of the KD1JV tri-bander.
  8. WA7PRC

    WA7PRC Ham Member QRZ Page

    My first rig was separate TX (Heath DX-60B) and RX (National NC-183). T/R control was MOX using a coaxial relay. I added RX gain control.

    Except for my current rig (Kenwood TS-850S), rigs since then have been transceivers w/ semi break-in. I found full break-in to be annoying and unnecessary. I don't use VOX on voice (I have several other ways to control T/R). My WinKeyer USB (an excellent programmable keyer in its own right) "talks" to my contest logger program, and interfaces (using optocouplers) to my rig's KEY and T/R inputs. It has outputs for TWO rigs, allowing SO2R contesting. The T/R control works in all modes. :)
    N2EY likes this.
  9. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've never cared for QSK on my full size radios. However my Elecraft KX-1 portable is so fast and noiseless that I actually enjoy QSK on it.
  10. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I didn't.

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