Switching quickly between SK and paddles?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KD8ZM, Dec 10, 2018.

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  1. KD8ZM

    KD8ZM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have always used a straight key up to this point, but in the past week I have learned to send using a paddle, and that's going very well I would say.

    However, I would sometimes like to easily switch from a SK to a paddle and vice versa quickly, without having to dig into the radio's menus and select hand key vs. paddle while I'm operating.

    Can anyone please tell me the easiest way to do this? I have both an IC-7300 and a KX3, but the question could apply to any radio I suppose.

    73
    Brady
     
  2. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The only way I see to do it is to use an external keyer. You can then just parallel your straight key across the keyer's output contacts.
     
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  3. VE7PJR

    VE7PJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    That's the best thing. Rather than paralleling contacts I prefer to have some way of bringing those pesky little jacks up to the front of my Icom IC-7200. I like to switch things around often; I usually have both a SK and a bug hooked up all the time and just use whichever fits the speed I want to go. You COULD do that with a small plug-board that had at least two and maybe three jacks on it. With common plugs installed on all your keys, you could then swap one in whenever the mood struck.

    The way I actually did that is detailed in this thread: https://forums.qrz.com/index.php?threads/make-a-wedge.602002/

    Works for me.

    73,

    Chuck VE7PJR
     
    KD8ZM likes this.
  4. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I do the same thing with my KX3, using its internal keyer with paddles or a straight key.

    I assigned the menu item CW KEY1 to one of the programmable function keys. This menu item has three values, so you have to turn the VFO A knob to select the one you want. If you want TIP=DOT, just spin it to the left -- it won't "wrap around" to a different value. If you want HAND (for a straight key), just spin it to the right, skipping TIP=DASH.

    I believe it is possible to write a macro which will toggle between two desired values on each press of the PF key, but I haven't done this yet. It is fairly easy to just push the PF key and spin the knob.
     
    KD8ZM likes this.
  5. NG5O

    NG5O XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    If I understand what you'd like to do, to have both keys at the operating position and active simultaneously, you're right, it would depend on the equipment available.

    My IC-7410 has two key jacks, one on the back, another in front. I have keys plugged into both, and could use either any time. I don't know how many other transceivers have two jacks, but there are probably others.
     
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  6. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    There's another possibility for the KX3, which uses the connections for CW KEY2 (intended for Elecraft's KXPD3 paddles).

    Pignology used to make a 3.5mm adapter for this which used the KX3 tapped holes, but they are no longer available.

    However, there is this information - straight key adapter - which provides a partial solution. While the 2-pin header won't permit using paddles, it will work with a straight key. Fabricate the adapter, then set CW KEY2 to HAND.

    If you have your paddles connected to CW KEY1, you can instantly switch between the two keying devices without using the menu, because the KX3's settings for CW KEY1 and CW KEY2 are independent.
     
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  7. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    For the KX3, it's easy enough to connect both simultaneously. I provide details on this web page:

    https://ag6qr.net/index.php/how-to-use-a-straight-key-and-paddles-together-on-a-kx3/
     
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  8. N5CM

    N5CM Ham Member QRZ Page

    That's the way I do it. My ancient rig does not have an internal keyer. I use two "Y" connectors (1/4" phono plug) on the back of the rig. My Brown Bros. CTL-B (paddles+ straight key) and my dad's old J-38 are at the ready.
     
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  9. KD8ZM

    KD8ZM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Many thanks guys! If I were to use an external keyer, do you have any recommendations for a good, but simple, keyer? I don't want one more thing to have to program, so the simpler the better!
     
  10. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    There are many. In fact, it's hard for me to think of a keyer that wouldn't work.

    If you can solder at a basic level (or if you know someone who can solder and you think you can bribe him to do an hour's work for you), the Ultra Pico Keyer by HamGadgets is a very nice, simple, small keyer, available in kit form. I believe it's also available assembled, for an extra charge. I have a couple, and my only complaint is that the sidetone is too quiet for use in a noisy room. The MFJ-401D is another keyer which I have, and it has a nice loud sidetone, but it's a bit bigger and more expensive than the Ultra Pico Keyer. Either would do a fine job.
     
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