CW equipment for someone new to CW

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by K1IGS, Jun 13, 2018.

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  1. K1IGS

    K1IGS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hey Folks, I've been trying to learn CW since the summer and I'm coming along slowly. While I'm still a way from being able to get on the air I would like to start looking for a keyer for my Yaesu 857d. I know there are a couple different kinds (keys vs paddles), are any of them more or less recommended for a new guy? Any particular thing I should look for with my Yaesu? I assume they'll plug into the port on the back and work as they should - I really don't know that much about them.

    Is the keyer really just closing and opening a circuit - could I build one?

  2. KF6KAT

    KF6KAT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have a paddle and a J38 straight key. The straight key is harder to use, but the places that favor new/slower folks like me prefer it. It also forces you to key slower. I like the paddles more, but I can key way faster than I can copy with it.

    A J38 is neat, and not very expensive, any straight key will be less expensive. Maybe start there. Your radio appears to support either keyer (paddle/straight), look here -

    Building one is also very ham, and would be fun.
  3. WD0BCT

    WD0BCT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Generally speaking a keyer converts momentary motions from a key (sideswiper or iambic) into a dot or dash of predetermined length. A keyer is an electronic device. A key is the device with the contacts in it and may be a straight key or a paddle. A straight key needs no keyer as the operator determines the length of the dots and dashes. For a beginner a straight key will suffice and I would not spend a great deal of money initially.

    And then we have the electromechanical device built by Rube Goldbergs younger brother. The bug supposedly determines the length of dots and dashes mechanically but many people copying a bug have doubts about that.
  4. K1IGS

    K1IGS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Great, thanks!

    Ok, my Yaesu has a built in keyER if I want to use that feature, but I can use a regular KEY and send the dits and dahs myself. OK, that explains that.

    Thanks for the link!
  5. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Most start out with a straight key (up and down, manual) to get the feel of it, then switch to a keyer and paddle a bit later. The "threshold" for most (including me) is at about 20 wpm, when using a hand key just becomes painful and tedious and a paddle/keyer is just so much easier -- and easier to send "better code" also.

    While there's CW activity at all speeds from quite slow to quite fast, IMO the majority of QSOs are at about 20-25 wpm; during contests, where it's all brief exchanges, more like 30-40 wpm. But there is definitely "slow speed" activity, and some QSOs are at 5 wpm for those just starting out.

    You can use your Yaesu as a "code practice oscillator" by plugging in a key, setting it to CW mode, and turning off the break-in (VOX) function. Then you'll hear the sidetone generated by the rig, but you won't be transmitting.
  6. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have a LNR MTR-4B which can auto-detect a straight key wired to a 2-conductor plug, but my Elecraft K1 and K2 require a stereo plug. I believe your Yaesu 857D is similar to the Elecraft rigs I have.

    Connect the straight key to tip and sleeve and ignore the ring contact.
  7. KF6KAT

    KF6KAT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am having trouble finding activity at slow speed, is there a net I could join, or some scheduled group? Things I have found on the internet are out of date. Prefer other new folks so I am not pestering faster folks with my awful copy accuracy.
  8. W7UUU

    W7UUU QRZ Lifetime Member #133 Volunteer Moderator Life Member Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Have you visited 7.112 or 7.114 in the evenings? LOTS of slow Morse on those frequencies, at least around here (Seattle area)

    Get on when it's clear and call CQ at a speed you know you can copy if you get a reply. Folks looking for slow Morse will often peruse those frequencies.

    Just never send faster than you are able to copy!! It can be tempting but it's a big trap to fall into.

    AE7BT, K8AI and KL7KN like this.
  9. W9RAC

    W9RAC Subscriber QRZ Page

    7.114-7.117 all morning and evening, also SKCC has a live chat contact board where you can request a learning QSO, 73, Rich
  10. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Also...on 20m I see slow speed CW every day above 14.050 MHz...usually 14.050 to 14.060 or so. LOTS of slower speed CW there, and better "DX" than 40m.:)

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