Posts Tagged ‘iCW’

All keyers are not equal

iCW is a system of CW using the internet. I’ve mentioned it before so won’t go into the edtail here, but, I like it and I’m sure others won’t, probably because it uses no RF. My counter to that is Morse didn’t always use RF so what’s the deal? Regardless of your feeling it is easy nowadays to pay little attention to tone as modern rigs have a user definable tone and they are generally a well formed sine wave. This, as I found out, isn’t the case when using external keyers.

I bought a K16 keyer kit from Kanga Kits for next to nothing in today’s terms with the anticipation of connecting it to iCW through the internal soundcard. perhaps using the computer as a kind of filter to keep some of the rough edges away. What resulted in iCW was the ‘sound of sanitation’ as we dubbed it. Basically it is a brilliant keyer and I’d recommend it to anyone but sounded like $hit when on its own. It probably isn’t meant to be used like that though so don’t pay too much attention to that.

Next up was a filter using the Sotabeams DSP audio filter, let’s not assume that I am using this as its intended purpose but there could be some mileage in having a play and seeing what happed. There was an improvement but not as much as the audio output from a rig. So to continue the sewage based analogy the attempt at polishing the turd succeeded only in rolling it in glitter.

Last up was the more elegant solution. A handy filter called the Hi-Per Mite. For the lazy it makes the squarish wave that comes out to the K16 a little more sine like. For the intrigued a greater explanation is available at the place where you can buy these, the 4 States QRP Club.

The audio samples and graphs go to show that with a relatively small interaction a filter is all you need to prevent your calls be ignored for any number of reasons except for perfect tone. I would be pleased if the two components could be easily integrated as not only an exceptionally competent keyer but also practice oscillator.


I wasn’t ure what I was seeing here. Apart from the fact that the tone is enough to make you want to turn it off!

Ah thats better…Just one signal and pleasureable to listen to as well

So, what have I learnt this time?

The K16 Keyer is excellent but needs some help to make it sound nice. The Hi-Per Mite filter is just the companion it needs.

iCW keyer

Around this time of year the kids finish school for the summer holidays and Mrs g7kse takes them for a week away with her before I get some time off myself. It’s a short break but the house is across the road from the beach and the kids love it. As does Angus (the dog). I then have a week at home / work where the place is a bit quiet. So time to catch up on a few loose ends and perhaps an evening mountain biking before I join them at the weekend.

This time I’m planning on building up the iCW keyer that I have. Well I say have, it’s a blank PCB that Chuck W5UXH was kind enough to give me earlier in the year. I can’t currently use iCW very effectively and my CW is suffering so this is somewhat needed. Now.

The keyer board is the full monty. It has all the bells and whistles and uses a new, to me, fubarino microcontroller. Slightly larger than an Arduino micro and with the provision for an SD card it offers the ability to store ebooks that will form the ability to play dit’s and dah’s as a stand-alone unit. The PCB is slightly larger than I’m used to but is well produced and uses professional parts all available from Mouser. It should take a few hours to build and test, perhaps an uninterrupted evenings work but we’ll see how well that goes and review the time at the end.

In summary….I need to turn this stuff into something useful. Wish me luck!

Practicing CW QSO’s without RF

The bands are starting to make my cw practice pretty heavy going. I got one contact over the Christmas period with my ft-817 and end fed antenna and to be frank I made bit of a hash of it. Lots of errors mainly caused by a lack of practice time on the key.

I’m sure that I won’t be alone in saying that practice software goes a long way to getting rid of those errors and helps you move up from glacial sending and receiving speeds but nothing matches on air work . But what can you do when there’s no chance of a decent QSO / Sked. Well there may be an answer in iCW. It is a Mumble based system that does away with all that pesky RF and simply allows you to connect you key (via a keyer or in my case from the audio out of my transceiver) to a computer and then hey presto you can practice with your friends to your hearts content.

There seem to be a couple of websites that cover the detail. The main one and a one that shows you a bit more detail. Its a bit confusing but having said that the setup is pretty straightforward and some really helpful video’s help get the finer points sorted.

So it dire times of s9 noise and no propagation. There’s plenty of opportunity to get some practice in.

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