A Small QRP Key

I enjoyed the drive to see the K-3 station of Art Ellis (W8PBO) in Ravenswood WV. I also enjoyed talking to Eric (AC8LJ) as we drove up the Interstate to Arts home. It was a very enjoyable trip and I was pleasantly surprised with the entire days events.

Art uses the latest Elecraft K-3 K Line gear at this home. A brief demonstration had me hooked with the first note coming from the speakers. I’m very impressed with the “graph” feature on this radio. Being able to visually “see” the signal on the band, and automatically “tuning” the radio to this frequency is VERY useful. With the accompanying “signal strength” displayed on the screen, it would be easy to spot “QRP” signals.

We chuckled when hearing “Bens Best Bent Wire” from a station near Chicago. 
I had no idea that Art (W8PBO) was a collector of many fine, and unusual Morse Code Keys. I plan to return here to take a closer look at them when the water situation returns back to normal in Charleston. This trip was a much needed refreshment from the chemical spill here in the valley. 
Although we visited Art to take a look at his fine station, both Eric and I returned to Charleston with one of Arts many keys. I chose the very small Vibroplex Code Mite. Most hams would keep this key just for the collectors value but I had every intention of using it with my QRP station. 
I’m not sure how many of these keys were produced but I have # 490 on the table alongside my Iambic paddle. I’ll use it for SKCC and slow speed NAQCC events. 

Every new day I spend on the CW portion of the bands makes me appreciate the development of Morse Code equipment. We’ve certainly advanced from the original “straight key” days of early radio.

I’m looking forward to another visit to Art’s radio shack. I had no idea there was such a fine display of both a good CW station and a collection of great keys in West Virginia. I’m overjoyed to find the small Code Mite key and Eric came home with a “Sideswiper” which has a very distinctive sound.

Art will be at the Dayton Hamfest in March; I’ll be looking forward to seeing him there.

Art and his wife were perfect hosts to our visit. His wife served us coffee, tea, and cookies before we left for home. They were both teachers before retirement. You won’t find finer folks anywhere in this state. They were both a real joy to meet.

John Smithson, Jr., N8ZYA, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from West Virginia, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

3 Responses to “A Small QRP Key”

  • Jeff KK4ETK:

    I have the same assemblage as far as your old antique key. Mounted on the wood and everything clear down to the look of the edge of the wood. I’ve been told it’s an old railroad setup. Do you know anything about yours? The configuration with the key and the receiver (is that what it is?) is to uncanny.

  • John N8ZYA:

    Art (W8PBO) would be able to tell you about it. I saw it at his home. It’s not mine. His e-mail address should be on QRZ. com

  • Jeff - KK4ETK:

    Thank you. I’ll look him up.

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