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Ceramic tile base for a J38 straight key

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by W0RIO, Jul 19, 2018.

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  1. W0RIO

    W0RIO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I recently built a new base for my J38 key which uses a piece of ceramic tile that I found at the local
    recycled building supply store for $0.25.
    The tile measures 6"x3"x0.5" and has nice smooth edges and sides all around the top.

    I heated the tile up on the stove and used hot glue to attach the key to the tile.
    Three of the four screws are just for show, they are also hot-glued to the key.
    The fourth hole holds the strain-relief for the wire.

    Drilling four holes into the tile would be a better solution than glue, but I think a diamond-tipped
    drill would be required for that and it would be difficult to do the job correctly.
    Hot glue can easily be removed by heating should I decide to move the key to another base.
    For the bottom of the tile, I cut a piece of 40 mil PVC rubber shower pan liner material
    and attached it to the tile with silicone caulk.

    I really like the feel of the key on the new base, it is small but heavy enough that it doesn't move around
    and the height is perfect for me. The smooth edges are easy on the fingers.

    K2CAJ, VK4HAT, VE3CGA and 1 other person like this.
  2. KC9YGN

    KC9YGN Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Great idea! You're right about trying to drill tile. You need a special bit and even then it's easy to end up shattering the tile. The glue should work just fine.
  3. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    You found my missing tile!:eek:
  4. N8AFT

    N8AFT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Could also stick it on there using RTV silicon as a removeable glue...
  5. KC3RN

    KC3RN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Brilliant idea!
  6. W0RIO

    W0RIO Ham Member QRZ Page

    For almost all construction projects, I find that version 2 comes out better than version 1.
    I have a few more un-mounted straight keys and several spare tiles. I need to shell out some $
    for a proper tile drill.

    I found a bunch of videos on drilling into ceramic tile, these have some good tips and tricks on
    doing the job right:

  7. W0RIO

    W0RIO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ok, here's version 2 of the ceramic tile key base.
    The key is a Skillman Deluxe H.S.K (Japan).
    This time, I used 6-32 hardware to fasten the key to the tile base.

    I drilled the tile out from the bottom using a 1/8" concrete drilling bit.
    The holes were very easy to start because the back side of the tile was relatively soft.
    That turned out to be a mistake, however because on both holes, when the drill hit the
    glazed part of the tile (top), it broke out a small circle of the glazing around the hole.

    If I can get another tile, I may try drilling from the top next time.
    I also used a 5/8" concrete drill to cut recessed holes on the back of the tile, that
    holds the 6-32 x 1/4" nuts. I had to cut and file the ends of the screws so that they
    did not protrude out of the bottom of the base.
    As with version 1, I used silicone glue and rubber held on with silicone for the bottom.

    The key has a really nice feel now.

  8. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    J38 Info
    I see WB0RIO has not reversed the original black base,
    that HAS to be done to keep the key from tipping forward when used.
    I still have only the original black base that I reversed to make the key usable without any additional base under it.
    I did add a sticky adhesive black rubber pad under it to keep it from skating around my desk when in use.
    I see the shorting bar was removed, This is one of the first mods I made in any key, starting in 1960 when I accidentally stuck my Novice transmitter on the air with the shorting bar. OFF IT CAME !
  9. W0RIO

    W0RIO Ham Member QRZ Page

    The third time's the charm.

    I managed to drill a clean hole in a test piece of ceramic tile using the
    method shown in the first video above (Uncle Knackers).

    That involved putting masking tape (blue painter's tape in my case) on the top of the tile.
    I marked the hole location on the tape and gently tapped the mark with a center punch.
    The carbide-tipped drill (a dull one) started the hole nicely and went through without any
    trouble. The bottom of the drilling produced a wide and thin chip-out area, but that would be hidden
    by the rubber mat. I used a spray bottle filled with water to cool the drill and used a drill
    press for stability. The hole was nice and clean this time.

    Now, I need to start practicing using the straight keys, it's been a long time..
    KC3RN likes this.
  10. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I used to be able to put pictures on here but they changed it on me and now I have to use words to describe images...:eek: .

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