CW Keyers and Voice Talkers

I have tried all sorts of different keyers over the years from the early Hallicrafters W9TO tube design in the early 1960s to the latest Winchip designs. My take below:

K1EL USB Keyer.

The K1EL USB Keyer

The K1EL USB Keyer

Reliable, easy to set up and personalize features, A pain in the ass when the internal battery runs out, Works well with DX4WIN, N1MM and others, crappy buttons and poor design. Should have more dedicated, marked buttons for ease of operation. The WinKey Manager software excellent. Overall it still rates about 8/10 and its still in my shack and also used at our ZM4T Contest team.

Hamgadgets "Masterkeyer"

Hamgadgets “Masterkeyer”

Hamgadgets Masterkeyer
Nice construction and design. The engine is the Winkeyer chip and it works with all the popular logging programs. The buttons are more substantial and clearly marked for operation without referring to a manual. Some operations required double buttons to activate the feature. It does work very well but I did eventually end up selling it.

RigExpert TI-5

RigExpert TI-5

Rig Expert TI-5
This unit is primarily a deluxe sound card interface for all digimodes with an inbuilt Winkeyer chip and an inbuilt CAT facility for most radios. In fact, you can order “plug and Play” cables for popular Yaesu and Icom models. I do like the level controls on the front panel for digimodes and also the knob control for speed. Sadly, there is no program or facility to adjust the parameters of the inbuilt Winkeyer chip. I do have one problem with it in that it seems to be a bit susceptible to RF if you are running a KW. Maybe the cables should be shielded better or the unit have better bypassing. I have tried the usual suspects such as external bypassing, toroids and grounding straps but can’t completely eliminate annoying “dropouts” in the middle of a hot and heavy pileup.

LogiTalker Voice Keyer

LogiTalker Voice Keyer

This unit has nothing to do with CW but you can see the design genesis. It is a four message voice synthesiser that you plug your mic into and then plug into the radio. The quality of voice is excellent as is the construction of the unit. You can do the voice equivalent of the Logikeyer. It offers a huge variety of connections with jumpers on the internal board for every type of radio and microphone. Strangely, it also has a plug on the internal board that, when one of each the four pins are grounded will set of any of the four recorded messages. It seems to me that the unit is crying out for a DB-9 connector on the back panel to plug into your logging computer and when N1MM is run, the “F” key will control the message. At $150.00 USD it is a better unit than the DVS-2 that we use in contests and is far more controllable and useful.

Begali's "CW Machine"

Begali’s “CW Machine”

I haven’t tried the Begali electronic Keyer, but I did buy a gold plated Begali “Signature” paddle a few years ago.

The Begali "Signature" Keyer Paddle. Simply a joy to use!

The Begali “Signature” Keyer Paddle. Simply a joy to use!

CW is a joy with the Begali and it leaves my Vibroplex Vibrokeyer and Bencher in the dust. It just has to be the best keyer around to use for hours and hours without tiring. I would have never believed any manufacturer could have improved a paddle more than the Bencher. The Begali is a whole new level. Maybe their Begali keyer is just as good. I am tempted 🙂

Just some thoughts

73, Lee ZL2AL

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