Cootie keymagnets

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by G0ILN, Sep 19, 2017.

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  1. G0ILN

    G0ILN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have started to assemble all the parts I need to make a Cootie Key.( Side swiper).
    I have now obtained some Neodymium magnets for the spring return but have realised I am not sure
    sure of the principal of how they work!
    I imagined that you would have a magnet on each screw and a steel button on the arm.
    But now I am thinking maybe I need another magnet inset in the arm to centralise the key?

    All help gratefully received,
  2. N3HEE

    N3HEE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Richard. I built a cootie with magnets. You will need two sets of magnets. One magnet on the arm and one on the screw for each side of the lever arm. These magnets will oppose each other and create the arm tension. Adjust the spacing between the opposing magnets to increase or decrease the tension. The arm will center itself when everything is adjusted properly. Just takes some playing around with. Truthfully though I did not like the feel of that cootie and designed one without magnets. It is the cootie pictured on my QRZ page. I call it the heavy duty cootie. -Joe N3HEE
  3. KF5FEI

    KF5FEI Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you look long enough, you can find small round magnets with a countersunk center hole that will work well. I think the last set I got were about 3/8" or so in diameter, although you may find some smaller.
  4. G0ILN

    G0ILN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Joe and KF5FEI,
    Many thanks for your replies. Joe I have looked at your web page and I am listening to your web cast as I type this message! "Copying in your head"
    that is just what I need to come to grips with!
    Thanks for the info regarding Magnets and Cootie keys. I might be more of a work of art rather than a practical key but I am enjoying the build.
    KF5FEI I have bought some small magnets from Ebay but I can see the advantage of a counter sunk hole in the middle many thanks.

  5. N3HEE

    N3HEE Ham Member QRZ Page


    Good luck with your cootie build. In the end I settled on a cootie build that was very simple. A hacksaw blade mounted on a solid block of 3/4 inch thick brass weighing in at over 3 pounds. I can move the blade forward and backward to adjust tension. The contact gaps are also adjustable. This works very well for me. I get lots of enjoyment using the keys I have built.

    Head copy is as simple as gradually writing down less and less until you are copying everything in your head. Next time you have a QSO simply try to just listen and take limited notes. Name, QTH, RST, etc. Do not write down every word such as "my name is" or "my QTH is" etc. This gets you into the habit of not writing so much down. Rinse and repeat often. Once you can head copy your speed and proficiency will increase dramatically. Everyone can do it including you !!

    Last edited: Sep 20, 2017
  6. G0ILN

    G0ILN Ham Member QRZ Page

    hi Joe,
    Thanks for the reply. I was taught when copying to write out the qso. but I notice that hams who have been in the forces always print out relevant
    information and just scribble odd notes on the side. I can do it but it does not come naturally to me! I tend to be a 20wpm straight key man but
    have recently been rag chewing using a Bencher paddle trying to keep my brain active! I am a keen supporter of Fists CW club.
    If you have looked at my QRZ web page you can see I have been given a small lathe and am enjoying myself as much building the Cootie key as I will using it!
    Thanks again,
    Richard Fist 398
  7. N3HEE

    N3HEE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Richard. Yes, it will take time to break your instinct for writing the code down. Take it one step at a time. Write less with each QSO. Before you know it you will not be writing anything down. Trust me on this ;) I had a terrible writing habit and it took six months to break the habit. Once I did I rapidly progressed.

    Nice little lathe you have there. You should ask for small milling machine next ! I have a Grizzly G-0704 mill. Perfect size for key making.
  8. G0ILN

    G0ILN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Joe,
    Sorry for the delay in replying. Thanks for the words of encouragement. I was in a Fists activity at the weekend and already with your advise I am getting more QSO's per page. Now to clean up my writing. I do find the faster the CW the larger the writing and it becomes a scribble!

    I am actually machining up parts now for the Cootie key .I have even managed to use it as a very crude milling machine.
    73's & thanks again,

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