About 25 years ago I was an very active CW operator. Here in the Netherlands we worked a lot on 3553 KHz. I passed my CW exam in 1981 and since then I was hooked to Morse code.
I loved the rhythm of it and the magic of the dits and dashes in the noise. Just like music!
I usually used the homemade elbug or my old Junker key. Some people could send QRQ by hand and I never understood how they did that with a straight key?! Later I understood that they were sending with a double speed or sideswiper key.
In the following years I had not much time for my radio hobby but ever now and then I worked a station. [PA3BYW].
Homebrew S-Wing Sideswiper.
The last years I re-discovered my old radio shack and of course my old keys. On YouTube I saw some video's by Sandy, G0VQW using his sideswipers.
I then thought: that is something I want to do as well. So Sandy thank you very much for your interesting video's!
But I had no Cootie key so I had to make something to work with. I made a very simple (and ugly..) key using brass strips and wing screws for adjusting the contacts.
I heard that some people had a 'nickname' for their cootie so I called mine: "S-wing" referring to the wing screws.
This is recent history: all this took place about 4 weeks ago. I first practiced an afternoon before coming on the air. My first QSO's my sending was not very good but I am getting used to it now. It is just like learning to play guitar (like I do).
I was not very pleased with the looking of the key so I am making another one now which will look better (I hope). [PA3BYW].
Homebrew De Kaai Sideswiper.
The base is made of oak wood (100x50x20 mm). I putted some polishing wax on it.
I am using a custom made brass clamp witch can secure the key to the table. In the front of the base there is a hole for the clamp. This means, that I can't rest my arm on the table but I don't care.
All parts are made of brass witch I bought in the local hardware store. The central pillar actually is a brass water pipe fitting witch is modified for the purpose.
It was a lot of soldering, sawing and filing.... The spring blade is a piece of an old hacksaw as you can see.
The length of the lever is about 100 mm. The finger pieces are guitar picks (distance 14 mm). This time I used tension springs instead of magnets. This far I am satisfied with it.
The contacts came from an old telephone from my junkbox.
I'm damping the contacts with a small piece of rubber, witch gives me a very quiet key and a smooth feeling. The contacts on the backside are for connecting the wires. They were connected from the inside by drilling a hole in the wood. So you can't see any ugly holes in the bottom.
Well about the nickname: Kees, PA3DEB gave me the suggestion to call it "the Brass-key", because I play the flugelhorn in a brass band, but I rather give it a short Frisian name. So here it is: "de kaai" (tr: the key). [PA3BYW].
Homebrew Travel Cootie.
Well it's a homebrew again. This time I wanted to have a very small key which I can use during my holidays and also in the shack. The base is made of meranti wood (I believe) measures: 70x35 mm. All parts are brass. The lever is a small brass strip of 70 mm. The leaf spring is a modified piece of an old hacksaw.
The finger pieces are guitar picks witch were trimmed to become a small key. The contacts came from an old telephone from my junkbox. To prevent excessive vibration I mounted a small piece of baize (felt) beside the lever. The wire connection is on the backside. In the front you see the custom made clamp which can be used to secure the cootie to the table. [PA3BYW].
Here is another homebrew key: the "Combikey".
I used brass again. In the pivot point I used a small ball-bearing which I found in my junkbox. The contacts are from an old bipolar relay. They are damped by a small piece of rubber. The fingerpieces are guitar picks.
With a small switch I can use this key as a sideswiper key or as a single lever elbug. For elbug use I make a very small contact gap and for sideswiper use I adjust the contacts a little wider. [PA3BYW].
My new key is designed as a bug which can be used as a sideswiper as well.
For that purpose I wanted to have flexible contacts for Dot and Dash which should be placed on about the same position beside the lever.
Therefore the Dash contact is not placed on the short lever at the hand side of the key but beside the pendulum.
The Dot contact is not placed on the moving pendulum but on a fixed position on the base.
The Dot contact is conical for the right flexibility and hand wounded. I used a piece of phosphor bronze from the winding of an old guitar string (low E string). So never waste old stuff..
The pendulum has to be damped on its resting position. Therefore I used two dampers, one at the end of the pendulum and one next to the Dash contact. These dampers again are mounted on a spring.
In the pivot point I used an ball bearing which came from an old computer hard disk. On this short lever I glued two guitar picks. The one on the left is an authentic Jimmy Hendrix pick.. On this piece of computer hardware I mounted a piece of brass rod (6mm). In this rod I mounted a piece of baby iron saw, which is connected to the pendulum (5mm rod). I first squeezed the spring blade into the slits, I sawed there, and later glued it with superglue. The Dash contact is made with the pendulum resting on the damper and by a slide bending of the spring blade.
The weight on the pendulum is a brass nut, which is filled with a piece of brass bolt and then soldered together. In the middle there is a small hole with a small piece of plastic to fit the pendulum lever perfectly. So I don't have to use a screw to secure the weight. With this weight the bug is able to send from 20-35 wpm.
The pin on the short lever for getting the pendulum to motion needs to be electrical isolated, as well as the tension spring on this lever.
At the end of the pendulum there is a second pin which can lock the pendulum more or less. With this locked pendulum and a good contact adjustment I use the key as a sideswiper. The motion pin on the short lever has to be set in a free position then.
For bug mode, I adjust the swing of the pendulum to a minimum to avoid bouncing contacts. This small motion gives me a better readable CW (I hope). With the bending of the dash contact the dashes are much smoother. Many bug operators have choppy dashes, in my opinion due to the rigid dash contacts used in most bugs.
The setscrews for all adjusting points have large brass knobs. In the screw-thread of the pillars I have putted a small piece of nylon wire, so that the setscrew does not damage the adjusting pins.
The base is a piece of floor laminate. On the bottom side of the base I glued two iron strips (140x30x6mm) to become more weight.
The Cootie-bug is an easy to operate key, both in bug-mode and in sideswiper-mode. Adjusting the contacts is a matter of trial and error; the Dot contact has a certain sweet spot. [PA3BYW].
Homebrew Ultex Sideswiper.
Hello Friends, hereby I want to present my latest sideswiper: the Ultex. In this design I used two pivots. One at the hand side and one at the end of the lever. I never saw a design like this and wanted to give it a try.
In the middle of the lever I used as a spring leaf which is actually a piece of baby hacksaw. Therefore, the lever nods in the middle. The two pivots are handmade. I used two small steel balls which were glued on the bearings top and bottom. In between there is a piece of brass rod. On the ends of the brass rods I mounted two small Phillips screws for the right center. With the adjusting screws I can adjust the bearing for the right friction. In the middle of the spring leaf I glued two small magnets. With two adjusting magnet I can set the desired tension.
The contact are hand wounded (coppered steel wire) and placed on the backside of the lever. The finger pieces are guitar picks as in all my keys. [PA3BYW].
Homebrew Keycord Key.
I have made a new key.. again.
This key is called the Keycord Key.
I want to use this key with my QRP radio's. The size is about the size of a matchbox. On the small lever I mounted a double set of contacts.
The ones in the front are stiff contacts for electronic keyer use. The contact gap is narrow for electronic key use.
The second contacts are flexible and are intended for sideswiper use. The gap between this contacts is a little wider.
When using the sideswiper mode the front contacts have to be loosened. In the back is a small handmade switch for sideswiper or el. key. The fingerpieces are shirt buttons which I got from my XYL's sewing box HI. They were glued together. On the bottom is a piece of Iron strip and 4 rubber feet. When using the el. key function the key is hardly moving. On sideswiper mode the key has to be hold with the left hand. I mostly use it on my knee for an armchair QSO..
The little key sends above expectations. I now attached 4 mini magnets on the bottom. This way the key can be secured on a metal surface.
BTW the material cost is much less than the shown ten Euro's note. [PA3BYW].