05 June 2014

Choosing a CW-Keyer for the Palm Radio Single Paddle

Well, Thomas (HB9RML) said, that my plans for the future SOLF+ were ambitious. He may be right, but part of the work is already done or needs to be assembled. But first the good news. My new Single Paddle from Palm Radio arrived today.

Palm Radio single (left) and normal (right) paddle.
Congrats Hannes (DL9SCO) and Dieter (DJ6TE): You did again a very fine job. But more on that subject in an other post. (You know I just got it about an hour ago and I have to do some fine tuning, which takes some time and of course I have to get used to it ;-)

 But let's come back to the main subject: Choosing the right keyer for SOLF+.

As you may remember, the SOLF+ has a PK-4 keyer build in from Jackson Harbor Press. I will not complain about the functions build in. There is nearly everything you want to have, but you have to get used to it. You can program that keyer with a button and the paddles. I could be done but without the handbook you are lost and the chip is not integrated into the control structure of the SOLF+.

But first some basic considerations about keyers for the casual user. the electronic keyer you find on the market have every option you could dream of and they are comparable. One has one option more the other does a certain trick. They are like these big transceivers. You have to read the manual, go through the various options and change them for your desire and forget them. Two weeks later you can do your dits and dahs, but what was in the memory bank one? Do I have switch to autospacing? RTFM. But were is this and where is the function and which button is to be pushed?

Talking about buttons which you have to use often? If you put them on the front of the receiver and push it, the whole altoid tin box will wander 10 cm behind if you do not hold it with the other hand. But this hand should give the commands with your paddle. So keyer push buttons should be positioned on the top of the box!

So for the casual cw-operator some visual feedback would be a good idea. If you are used to the K2 you will see at least the speed in the display. If you want to know what's in the memory, you have to push and listen.

K3NG CW-Arduino Keyer with RGB-Display
  So I wanted to give the K3NG keyer another chance. I had the Nanokeyer, hardware was developed by Oscar (DY0MY) but had not been in the mood to put it in a box.


One of the reasons was, that the Arduino Nano had not enough memory to attach the RGB-shield.

The code from Anthony has developed and majored over time. So e.g. you don't have to search the whole code (the main program has 9911 lines) for the options. They are listed in a separate file ( keyer_features_and_options.h) . This time I first wanted to try out all the options and took a Ardiono Mega.

Arduino Mega
No problems compiling the code. So when I began to assemble the parts I reconsidered all the options. They were not useful for me. I was not used to the Winkeyer, had no Keyboard attached, ...
So when I striped down the code it compiled to a comfortable 30 kB - time to retry the Arduino Uno.

I wanted to test it so It was a

  • Arduino Uno
  • Breadboard
  • Nanokeyer without Nano just for input and output.
Setup for Testing the K3NG-Keyer

It was a mess with all the connections, but that is a plus for the Arduino: Port numbers are the same and it was a one to one connection.

Connecting an Arduino Uno to the socket of an Arduino Nano.
The Adafruit RGB Display could not be connected directly to the Arduino (see above) but there are only 4 wires needed (5 Volt, Ground, I2C) . Be careful, you have to choose the right ground pad on the Arduino, just beside the Vin socket.

But I am not sure if I will stay with that arrangement. I have to check the options again, for there are sometimes slow reactions. These could derive from lacking of debounce code or some automatic space or word corrections.

Any way it works and I see on the display which functions I change, see my CW-code given and the tempo changes are displayed too. Nice done.

And when I still run into troubles? No problem: I have my over 15? year old CMOS Superkeyer II,  , which still works without flaw.

CMOS SuperKeyer II in an old and dust covered box
One last remark: With this keyer the Palm Radio Single Paddle I gave the CW-Code error free. Perhaps I should stick with this keyer ;-)

Stay Tuned!