|Finished K1EL Keyer with Ancient HamKey|
HK-1 Iambic paddles.
I remembered that Curtiss used to make a keyer chip. But a quick search found that the original Curtiss devices were no longer available, although MFJ purchased the rights and offers a slightly updated chip.
Honestly, at the time I looked at this, the chip was $45, which seemed way more than I wanted to spend on a "temporary" keyer. A bit more searching brought me to K1EL's web page.
|K12-BAT kit, as it comes from K1EL.|
But that would be a project for another day. Today, I just needed a simple keyer. And I found it. The K1EL K12 keyer chip filled the bill nicely, and had 6 programmable memories and a host of other features to boot. All for less than $10!
Even better, there was a kit -- only $17. I quickly ordered the K12-BAT and within the week had the package pictured above.
|There's not even two dozen components.|
|Finished circuit board.|
However, it is quite a serviceable keyer. But, I can't just have wires strewn all over the bench. (Well, actually, I can, but that's not how I like to operate) Digging through my junk box I found a used cast aluminum box that might make a decent cabinet. The hard question was -- what to use for the seven pushbutton switches I needed? Nothing I had in the junk box was small enough to fit in the aluminum box.
|Wiring was easy.|
Drilling out the enclosure took a more time than building the board. But the wiring was very straightforward.
|All done but the hard part.|
The best treatment, I've found, for stout aluminum like this is wire brushing. The oxide and other compounds come off easily, and the steel bristles of the wire wheel score the aluminum just enough to give it a nice texture. Best not to do it in a hurry and don't use too much pressure. I did both and ended up with some deep scratches in the top and a wire-brushed left index finger.
Of course, I had to wire brush it again. I painted the enclosure with the same flat black paint I used to repair the R7000. The end result is pretty sweet.
I'm still trying to figure out how to use the K1EL K12 keyer. In trying to program one of the memories, I have found it is very, very sensitive to character timing. I probably need to read the manual again. In any case, I am very happy with the K1EL K12 Keyer kit. I would highly recommend it to anyone who needs a sophisticated, yet inexpensive keyer.