Dead Electrical Dudes No. 3 – Armstrong

Dead Electrical Dudes No. 3

This Month’s Stiff: Major Edwin Howard Armstrong
Entered Mortal Coil: 18 December 1890
Assumed Room Temperature: 31 January 1954

Major Edwin Howard Armstrong

Major Edwin Howard Armstrong

Major Armstrong: Inventor, Ham, Patriot

We radio amateurs (and the rest of the world, for that matter), owe a great debt of gratitude to this month’s Dead Electrical Dude, Major Edwin Howard Armstrong. Howard’s inventions form the basis for all modern radio communications devices. Indeed, the list of Howard’s accomplishments is impressive. Unfortunately, Howard spent the latter part of his life in endless patent battles. In many people’s opinion, including this writer’s, these battles ultimately drove Howard to commit suicide.

An in-depth discussion of the myriad legal wranglings is beyond the scope of this discussion. However, we will touch briefly on the landmarks of this pioneer’s career and his troubles:

1913: Armstrong modified Deforest’s triode amplifier tube circuit by feeding the output into the input, resulting in amplification of a radio signal thousands of time. If driven still further, the circuit acted as an oscillator. Armstrong termed this method of amplification as regeneration. Deforest sued in court and ultimately won via a faulty ruling after 20 years. However, the scientific community generally regards Armstrong as the true inventor of regeneration.

1917: Armstrong joined the Army’s Signal Corps in World War I as a Captain, ultimately being promoted to the rank of Major. Armstrong developed the superheterodyne radio circuit as a solution to the problem of intercepting German tactical communications on the battlefield. Armstrong applied for a patent of the revolutionary superheterodyne circuit in 1919. All modern radio receivers utilize some version of this circuit.

1933: Armstrong applied for and was granted four patents on circuits that established wideband high fidelity frequency modulation, or FM. RCA and other manufacturers began using many of Armstrong’s circuits after World War II without permission, resulting in an unbroken string of patent infringement litigation.

1954: Armstrong, in the pit of despair after being left by his wife following a violent argument, commits suicide by walking out of a 13th story window.

1967: Marion Armstrong, after many years of litigation, wins a legal settlement against Motorola. This was the last lawsuit. Marion and her lawyers won every suit that was pending after Edwin’s death.

It is interesting to note that Armstrong was quite a fixture at RCA prior to the start of his patent troubles. Armstrong once climbed a radio tower on the corporate headquarters building and did handstands on the large globe on top in order to impress Marion; he loved heights and was temporarily banned from the property by the head of RCA, David Sarnoff. Sarnoff was annoyed at what he termed “damn fool” stunts. Sarnoff befriended Armstrong, and had earlier introduced the inventor to his secretary, Marion, whom Armstrong would later marry. Little did Armstrong know that Sarnoff would in later years figuratively stick a knife in his back for the sake of corporate profits and convenience.

Philip Neidlinger (KA4KOE) on December 7, 2003

References: Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio. If you can get a copy of this book, do so, as it is fascinating reading.

Postscript: The intent of this series of articles is to present biographical information in a humorous manner. However, Armstrong was such a tragic figure that no attempt was made in this article to be funny in any way. Sorry boys and girls, my heart just wasn’t in it.

Dead Electrical Dudes No. 2 – Tesla

This Month’s Stiff: Nikola Tesla
Entered Mortal Coil: 10 July 1856
Assumed Room Temperature: 7 January 1943

Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla

“Sparky” in a thoughtful pose.

I present to you this month’s Dead Electrical Dude No. 2, Mr. Nikola Tesla (i.e. “Sparky”, since he had an affinity for large electrical discharges) Mr. Tesla invented many of the electrical devices and systems in widespread use today. It is interesting to note that the man started out his professional career as an electrical engineer with Budapest’s version of Ma Bell. Tesla’s contraptions and wild ideas resulted in some amazing toys being thrust upon mankind. Note the following highly abbreviated list of just a small sampling of his innovations-

Alternating polyphase current distribution: Tesla’s AC system won out over Thomas Edison’s DC system. In retaliation against his former employee, Edison staged public demonstrations of the lethality of alternating current by electrocuting dogs. If Edison’s DC system had won out, we’d in all likelihood still be in the dark…literally. Imagine huge storage batteries surrounded by fences every few city blocks. Tesla joined forces with Westinghouse and the rest is, as they say, history.

Induction motor: This item is considered to be one of the greatest inventions of all time.
Fluorescent light: Fluorescent lighting is now considered the standard for energy efficient illumination, relegating incandescent sources to secondary status.
Tesla coil: versions of this device are used in your television set’s high voltage deflection coils. These coils are responsible for moving that little electron beam around ever so FAST. Really large Tesla coils can generate impressive artificial lightning bolts. Cool stuff.
Tesla held patents for elementary radio apparatus, in particular, the use of tuned circuits. Marconi built the first viable radio system using technology described by Tesla.
In all, Tesla held 700 U.S. patents for his devices. Note, however, that the inventor did have a weird side. Some of Tesla’s quirks included the following-

Tesla claimed to have received signals from another planet using one of the devices in his laboratory. Sparky never married. How many homely geeks do you know who fit this picture? Tesla also claimed to have invented a “death ray” that could destroy 10,000 enemy aircraft from a distance of 250 miles. We may never know the veracity of this claim, since all of Tesla’s papers were confiscated by the Feds at the time of his death during World War II.

Tesla lived the last 10 years of his life in a two room suite on the 33rd floor of the Hotel New Yorker, Room 3327. Edward Armstrong, the inventor of the superheterodyne receiver and FM, said of his colleague, “The world will wait a long time for Nikola Tesla’s equal in achievement and imagination.” I agree with the late Mr. Armstrong. As a final tribute to the man and his achievements, the unit of magnetic flux density, the Tesla, was named in his honor.

Philip Neidlinger (KA4KOE) on November 25, 2003

The Nikola Tesla Memorial Website,

Dead Electrical Dudes No.1 – Maxwell

This Month’s Stiff: James Clerk Maxwell
Entered mortal coil: 13 June 1831
Assumed Room Temperature: 5 November 1879


Jimmy boy, wife Katherine, and unidentified dog.

The homely individual pictured above is none other than James Clerk Maxwell, father of all that we hams hold sacred. Jimmy’s mathematical formulas, which had as a foundation earlier research by Faraday on electricity and magnetism, predicted the existence of electromagnetic waves, i.e. radio.

These formulas are quite complex, and even I, with a full year of college calculus under my belt courtesy of a questionable institution of higher learning (after all, they DID admit me, didn’t they?), have difficulty digesting them. Here are the formulas below for your enjoyment

1. div E = 0
2. div H = 0
3. curl E = c x dH/dt
4. curl H = c x dE/dt
Where E = electric field strength,
H = magnetic field strength,curl = rotation (or rate of change and vorticity), div = divergence, dH/dt and dE/dt are partial differentiations with respect to time. x = multiplication

Okay, you may ask, what does all this gobbledegook mean? Simply put, a changing electric current in a conductor will set up an expanding electromagnetic field propagating outward at the speed of light (this is the foundation on how transmitters work). Conversely, an electromagnetic field intersecting a conductor will induce a varying electric current (this is the foundation on how receivers work).

A few years after Jimmy’s death, all of this mess was proven to be true when a particularly bright German researcher, Heinrich Hertz, demonstrated the existence of radio waves via experimental means. Our hero was vindicated!

Maxwell was not a particularly good teacher at St. Andrews University in Great Britain. Maxwell did other important work on the orbital dynamics of Saturn’s rings and developed the kinetic theory of gases. Maxwell’s theories on electromagnetic radiation, however, were later considered to be the greatest contribution to science in the 19th century. Jimmy died quietly in bed, at peace with himself and his Maker.

© 2007 Philip Ashley Neidlinger
Originally Published: November 11, 2004

Introduction to the World of DXing


DXing is addictive
The greatest lure in amateur radio is to contact someone else in another country. When you first start out into the world of DXing, DX may be 100km but later you will work into every corner of the planet. With some hams, it becomes an absolute obsession and they will go to any length to contact that country they haven‘t worked yet. For others, it is a pleasure to rag chew with an amateur in a foreign country and to learn more about that country and its culture. DXers often end up meeting other DXers when they travel and many lifelong friendships are made this way. DXing is a competitive sport. You will find out the moment that you hear some rare DX that a thousand other hams heard that same station and are also calling at the same instant. The problem is that many of your competitors are outstanding operators with high power, excellent antenna systems and vast experience. Most of your competitors are average operators with average stations and antennas and they are easy to compete with. You just have to be a bit more cunning with your skills but eventually you can work up to competing with the top group. That rare DXpedition will usually work the big guns first and then you can easily make the contact at the end of their stay at the rare location.

Currently there are 340 DXCC “Entities “eligible for the ARRL DXCC award program. DXCC is the premier award in ham radio and entry to the “Club” may be gained by working and confirming 100 entities. An Entity can be as large as Australia or as small as St Peter and Paul Rocks out in the South Atlantic Ocean. There are rules that govern what constitutes an “Entity“ and they may be found on the ARRL Website where you can find the rules for the various awards and download the application forms. CQ Magazine in the USA that runs the Worked All Zones awards program and sponsors major contests throughout the year has the rules on their web- site also. Usually you start off with trying to work the first one hundred countries or entities and that will be a milestone for you. It will teach you how to get involved with a pileup and how to be a bit cunning when you do. It will teach you that other DXers in other countries may not have the same sense of fair play as you do. The second 100 countries are a little more difficult to work. Achieving 300 countries is very difficult and will usually take many years for a variety of reasons including sunspot cycles, the rarity of the country and how often its government will allow amateurs to operate there. Currently (2013) there are 340 DXCC Entities and the last 40 entities are extremely difficult to work. Very few ZL amateurs have managed to do lt. But the challenge is always there and it becomes a passion to achieve lt.

Strategies for successful DXing
There are some proven strategies that work. Listen to the operator and find out where he is listening and if he is working split frequencies. Working “split is not difficult, just different. lt‘s a new skill for you to learn. Find out where the thousands of other operators are transmitting and avoid the pack. Position yourself just off the edge of the pack. Refine your timing so that you will be heard in a “gap” rather than in with the pack. Placement and timing is everything. Your signal should be slightly out of the pack so you will be noticed and your call should be slightly out of sync with the pack and just delayed a bit so that he will hear you start your call but not delayed long enough that you are calling on top of the guy the DX station has already decided to work and is answering. Successful experienced DXers are extremely skilful with their timing and consequently work the DX. You may not be heard on your first or second call or even after a few hours of calling. Be patient! Sometimes it‘s an exercise in pure frustration but persistence usually wins and it‘s an absolute joy when you snag that new country. Top level DXing is not easy but you will learn that amateur radio is more than inhabiting your local 2 metre repeater. You will also be rewarded with friendships around the world and an understanding of other cultures.

Is CW worth the effort?
lt really is true that it‘s easier to work DX on CW than on Phone because there are fewer stations clamouring for the attention of a DX station on CW. CW will still be around for the foreseeable future in spite of recent changes in amateur licence regulations around the world. Weak CW signals are more readable than weak Phone signals. Hone your CW skills. DX stations often run 20 wpm or more and while most of them are courteous and will come back to a station calling at 12 or l5wpm, it‘s very satisfying to be able to work them at the speed they‘re calling CQ. Life is much easier with an electronic keyer as it takes the work out of sending your call over and over. There is nothing worse than operating with a pair of uncomfortable, ill fitting, harsh sounding headphones. Invest in a good set of headphones to help you dig out the weak ones and avoid fatigue, A better idea is to buy a quality boom microphone headset with a good sounding microphone cartridge.

Work the contests
Contests can be intimidating, but your best chance for working new countries is often during the DX contests. Contest groups often will activate multi-multi stations in rare countries and they are easy to work. I recall working CN2R in Morocco on 80m a few years ago. Re was S9+ and begging for 80 m contacts and very easy to work. You don‘t do not have to work the entire contest, nor do you have to send in the logs for scoring. Figure out what information they‘re expecting you to exchange with them, either by listening to several contest QSOs or by reading the contest rules on then just jump in and start working stations.

What bands to operate
The seven popular amateur radio bands offer the DXer propagation to most parts of the world most of the time. When the sunspot count is between the eleven year peaks, the higher bands like 10, 12, 15, 20 M are poor and opportunities are limited. 40M and 80M come into their own and some excellent DXing abounds providing you have good antennas. DXing is more difficult on 80 and 160m because the ambient noise levels are often intolerable in urban areas. When the propagation is right and the bands are open at sunrise and sunset, 80 and 160m can be extremely rewarding with worldwide contacts. We are fortunate here in the Asia Pacific region as many rare DXpeditions take place and are easy to work on the lower bands. When the sunspots reach maximum every eleven years the higher bands are magic. The next peak will be in 2012. 10, 12 and 15m will often be open 24 hours a day and lt is relatively easy to work 100 countries during a weekend contest. Having a ZL call is a wonderful asset. ZLs are reasonably rare in other parts of the world and there are not that many ZL DXers to compete with. ZLs are often the first “real“ DX station that Europeans work. ZL DXers are respected around the world and we have some world class Kiwi DXers amongst us. It is not uncommon to call a CQ on 15 or 20M and generate a pileup of Europeans or North Americans that may go on for hours.

Operating aids
The DXer has far more tools at his disposal than he had 30 or 40 years ago. Then, you heard a rumour, read monthly DX magazines or received a phone call from a trusted friend. You listened daily, you waited and finally you would hear that weak rare station and attempt to work him with primitive valve equipment. Today‘s modern DXers have computers with the Internet based newsgroups, real time packet clusters, propagation prediction programs and information not dreamt of by old timers in the game. Today one knows where and when the rare DX will operate. With a few mouse clicks the modern well equipped station will change the radio to that frequency and mode, track the amplifier to the right band, select the correct antenna system, turn the beam to the heading and set his call up in the logging program in a few seconds. Sounds easy! The reality is that you still have to use your skills to get your call in his electronic logbook. And it doesn‘t get any easier as thousands of other hams have the same technology. Below are some web links to programs and services that will help you work DX. -The definitive reference site for ham radio— Over 6000 links. – DX Atlas—A great program for DXCC, WAZ, IOTA info plus brilliant Grayline and path headings. – The online address and QSLing data base for most hams around the world. – A great source of info on general ham radio – Keep up to date with international contests – Excellent logging program. – Excellent contest logging program. – Free but very good logging program. – Some great logging programs. – Propagation prediction (and it‘s free!). – DX Cluster program (and it‘s free!).
Subscribe to the KiwiDX List Newsgroup You will be in touch with other keen DXers around New Zealand.
—The CQ Magazine awards and contest website.
www.arrlorg/awards/dxcc/ The ARRL DXCC awards and contest website. – The K1BV Awards directory listing for 3227 awards. dxs/ – The DX Summit – Live DX cluster spots 24 hours a day. – The definitive web page on Morse code—worth going to even if you don‘t understand it or use it!

Packet cluster networks
Packet clusters have been a phenomenon of the DXing world over the past 10 or 15 years. Basically lt works like this. There may be a local Internet based Cluster or VHF packet channel Cluster in a city in Europe somewhere and a group or cluster of hams are connected to it. When someone in the group works a rare station he types into his cluster software the details in the following format: DX 14015 ZD9BV Calling CQ. The last comment is optional. The message or “spot“ immediately appears on the screens of all connected to that cluster. Most clusters are now linked to the internet and there are more than 1000 of them around the world in every populated area. As soon as that spot hits the internet it spreads to all the cluster nodes and you will see it on your screen in your shack. In fact you will see a continuous stream of DX stations, Announcements and WWV information on your screen 24 hours a ay. There are many free programs available. DX packet clusters are a wonderful tool for chasing DX

Minimum-maximum Station gear
There are some facts to consider when you are thinking about investing in equipment for your station.

(1) The Operator on the other end can‘t tell whether you have the latest all singing, all dancing multi featured transceiver costing in excess of $8K or a 30 year old valve radio you picked up at a junk sale for $300. 100W is 100W. Both are equal. The only difference is that the older radio may not have all the latest modern features.

(2) The stations with the 30m towers and stacked 5-el monobanders driven by very large amplifiers will often beat you in a pileup. These are the guys that work the rare DX first and they love doing it. After they have done lt … they go away and let the rest of us work the station. As long as you are aware of the big guns, it‘s not a problem because time will be kind to you.

(3) The stations that have the “best“ sounding audio will always win in a pileup. It is human nature that the DX station will always take the path of least resistance and work the station he can understand and clearly hear the easiest. Best means clean, punchy and standing out from the rest. Commercial broadcast announcers are picked because of their mellow authoritative voices. Be aware of your own limitations and strive for the best audio you can generate. An authoritative voice helps!

(4) With CW – You will need an electronic keyer and clean keying set a bit below the pack‘s general speed. This is better than trying to impress the DX station that your electronic keyer can do 45 wpm with ease. He can‘t! – Well, actually some DX ops can but they are rare.

(5) At the end of the day everything helps, but don‘t get hung up on particular antennas or brands of radio equipment. They are only part of the picture. A good antenna is the second best investment you will ever make. The first is taking the time to learn the techniques and skills of how a rare DX station thinks and operates. A cunning operator will outwit a big antenna every time!

Computer logging
Computer logging programs are almost essential for those who have a large number of QSOs. Over time they become one of the best tools around for keeping things in order. Don‘t start out with a cheap shareware logging program. A key factor in a logging program is to be able to display various award details in DXCC entity order as one has them worked or confirmed. The main prestige awards are DXCC, WAZ, DXCC Challenge, WAS, WAC, IOTA There are thousands of others. When you want to see how your goals are being met, you can look at your statistics right on the computer screen. Computer logging programs are a great time saver because most of them generate data and address labels that will save hours and hours of handwriting. Computer logging can keep track of QSLs sent and received with just a click of the mouse. A really good computer logging program will do all of the above and control your radio, send CW, display your local packet cluster DX spots and print the QSO information directly onto your QSL cards with no labels involved.

The process of QSLing
If a newcomer to DXing starts out by working DX stations during contests he will quickly learn that he will work key countries multiple times. I would make the bureau one of my first choices The QSL Buro Service here in New Zealand is excellent and lt will save you postage costs. If you use the NZ Buro a lot make a donation every now and then! My best advice is to save your postage dollars and greenstamps (One US Dollar) for your rare station direct QSL requests. Confirming DXCC takes time and by the time one gets close to 100 different confirmed countries, several months or years will pass. There are several systems of filing, and the one that is probably the most common is to keep QSLs in order by DXCC entity. Shoeboxes help and they are inexpensive. There are some neat boxes sold buy the big chain stores here in New Zealand to file photographs in and they are excellent for QSLs. Keeping QSLs in DXCC entity order is the first step in being able to find and sort cards for awards later down the line. Believe me, it is not an easy task to sort a couple of thousand QSLs from scratch. Be smart and start sorting at the very beginning.

Awards and rewards
The ARRL DXCC Program

ARRL DXCC Honour Roll, 5 Band DXCC, WAS, 5BWAS, the DXCC Challenge Award and the CQ WAZ awards are the most prestigious awards in ham radio. Actually, there are over 3200 awards available to wallpaper your shack. Only the above few really measure how well you compete with other DXers around the rest of the world. In fact the list of awards that can be earned for working certain collections of DX stations is almost endless. will give you a link to the universal awards page. We have some world class DXers in New Zealand but only a few ZLs have managed to achieve the ARRL DXCC Honour Roll award. We now have a authrized ARRL DXCC Card checker in New Zealand which means you do not have to send your precious cards to the USA for verification. Contact Lee ZL2AL [email protected] for further information. Your DXCC QSOs may also be verified online on the ARRLs website LoTW (Logbook of the World)

If DXing is an obsession, then DXpeditioners are the lunatic fringe of the DX world. At any given time these are hundreds of amateurs operating from rare locations around the world. You can be assured that there are thousands of others actively planning a DXpedition somewhere and hundreds of thousands of “armchair DXpeditioners“ who would love to go. Planning a major Dxpedition is almost as com- plicated as a NASA mission. Large scale modern DXpeditions can chew through $400,000 or more in no time so it isn‘t a project that can be taken on lightly. New Zealand just happens to have ten or more of some the rarest DXCC entities islands within its territory. ZL7 – Chatham Island, ZL8 – Raoul Island
and ZL9 – Campbell and Auckland Islands are usually in the top 25 most wanted entities. The demand continues unabated and opportunity abounds for ZLs to organize more trips to these desired locations.

It is the experience of a lifetime to participate as an operator on a DXpedition. The camaraderie und experience gained is incomparable. DXpeditions to ZL7 are easily organized, tremendous fun and are to be recommended for gaining experience. When you consider all these factors, it is no wonder that DXing is so popular even though we are at the bottom of the eleven year solar cycle in 2009 there are always rare DX stations around to be worked. As the propagation becomes better over the next few years HF DX will improve. When sunspot cycle number 24 peaks in a few years from now you will experience fabulous world-wide propagation. I am trying to provide tips and information in this section to help you succeed in DXing, whether you are a newcomer 10 DX or a DXing veteran. If you would like to find out more about DXing, contact me at [email protected] and I will be happy to put you in touch with DXers in your area. You should also subscribe to the Google Kiwi DX List reflector for up to the minute information.

The worst day DXing sure beats the best day working!

73, Lee Jennings ZL2AL

Radio Propagation Primer

What goes on in the sun affects our radio propagation around the earth. That is a give. We cannot do anything about it. We, as radio amateurs can only learn to use it or work around it. This presentation of how the sun affects us was presented at the Dayton Hamvention by Paul Harden, NA5N in 2005 and is well worth reading. Click on the link below:

Solar Activity Primer

73, Lee ZL2AL



Yaesu FT1000D PA Board Failure

Inspection of the PA unit revealed that in addition to the driver transistors Q7002 & Q7003 being short circuit, R7014 had disintegrated and that L11 had overheated. The finals were undamaged. I knew that this particular radio had had a long history of abuse which resulted in at least two driver transistor pair replacements in the past.

After fitting yet another matched pair of MRF486’s, I decided to replace anything else which might have caused the previous failures. I was mystified as to why L11 had been overheating and concluded that replacing the 8 volt bias supply regulator which is common to the pre-driver stage as well as the driver and final stages would be prudent. After some thought I decided that I would also replace both the biasing transistors and both pots (Q7006, Q7007, VR7001 & VR7002). All other components around these stages measured OK. R7014 was originally 0.4 ohm 2 watt mounted on the PC board, but a service memo shows it’s value as 2.7 ohm 10 watt mounted above the PC board.

Eventually with all new components installed and new thermal compound under the transistors, we were ready to switch on. The finals idle current was adjusted without trouble but the driver current was extremely high and would not adjust at all. After rechecking everything again and soldering on an odd pair of diodes in place of D7003 & D7004 everything worked. I mounted the replacement diodes in place of the originals and switched on again. (Image 1 & 2)

Mounting these correctly resulted in the original overcurrent symptom recurring. It turned out that the solder lug which holds down Q7006 was intermittent! Although it was firmly tightened down, gentle flexing caused the earth bond to come and go.

I soldered a short length of wire from this lug to the PC board earth plane and did the same to the diodes in the final stage as well. Switch on, press the MOX button and NO SMOKE! The idle current was adjusted to give 260 millivolts across R7014 (100 Ma) and now the rig worked just the way it should. (Image 3).

The driver idle current is measured by noting the voltage drop across R7014. If this is a 0.4 ohm, you should have a 40 millivolt drop. If it is a 2.7 ohm, you should have 270 millivolts. The final idle current is adjusted in the same way, measuring the drop of 6 millivolts across R7027 (0.025 ohm) while adjusting VR7002.

After this exercise I took a look at my own FT1000 PA unit so as to modify it before it was too late. I discovered that all the all the PC board mounting screws were loose. If the screw holding the diode network in the final stage were to fail, goodbye finals! I suspect that there are many more rigs out there with the same potential problem. While the covers were off, I checked the tightness of all the other PC board mounting screws.

If you have the ability and knowledge to carry out this modification and screw check – do it before it is too late. The rig has been tested on air for some time and has shown no sign of failure. As R7014 is higher in value than the original, it produces slightly more heat than the original 0.4 ohm resistor. This is normal.

The pictures show which screws need checking and where to fit the earth links. Do not attempt this procedure if you are not fully competent and do not have the necessary skills and tools.

Peter ZL2LF
[email protected]

Ft1000D PA Board

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