Posts Tagged ‘ultimatic’
The ultimatic mode is an alternative to the iambic mode for sending Morse code from a dual lever paddle. When pressing both paddles the last one to be pressed takes control, rather than the alternating dit-dah or dah-dit of the iambic mode.
In the K1EL Winkeyers there are actually three ultimatic priority modes. This is shown in the table below that comes from page 9 in the specification for the command for setting the PINCFG Register. (K1EL CW Keyer IC for Windows Winkeyer2 v23 10/5/2010). This is a de facto standard for interfacing to and controlling a keyer, as an example it is used in the K3NG Arduino Open Source Morse keyer.
K1EL has defined bits 6 and 7 for setting this up by remote command. I propose that the last possibility, ’11’, presently undefined and unused, be used for a new mode. This mode is “First paddle priority” meaning that the last paddle which is pressed is ignored. It can also be interpreted as an emulation of a single-lever paddle. I and others have found that helpful in eliminating errors when keying. See for instance “Single Paddle operation with Iambic paddles” by Larry Winslow, W0NFU, in QST, October 2009 and the Iambic to Single Paddle kit from WB9KZY or my earlier blog post “Single-lever and ultimatic adapter“.
My proposal is that the bits for the ultimatic mode be used like this:
- 00 – Last paddle priority, i.e normal ultimatic
- 01 – Dah priority
- 10 – Dit priority
- 11 – First paddle priority or Single Paddle Emulation (New)
Here’s an adapter that emulates both a single-lever paddle mode and the ultimatic mode. It is meant to go between a dual-lever paddle and an iambic keyer. The adapter has been implemented in an AVR Butterfly in C and it is compatible with Morse keyers such as the one in the Elecraft K3 and the K1EL WKUSB. The single-lever emulation is probably the most novel part and it is meant to make it easier to practice single-lever keying on a dual-lever paddle.
When pressing both paddles in the ultimatic mode the last one to be pressed takes control, rather than the alternating dit-dah or dah-dit of the iambic mode. The five possible states are then (from “An ultimatic adapter for iambic keyers“, Kevin E. Schmidt, W9CF, 2008):
- Lin = 1, Rin = 1 => Lout = 0, Rout = 0.
- Lin = 1, Rin = 0 => Lout = 0, Rout = 1.
- Lin = 0, Rin = 1 => Lout = 1, Rout = 0.
- Lin = 0, Rin = 0 after Lin = 1, Rin = 0 => Lout = 1, Rout = 0.
- Lin = 0, Rin = 0 after Lin = 0, Rin = 1 => Lout = 0, Rout = 1.
The left and right inputs are Lin and Rin and an open input is “1” and a closed one is “0” since the key grounds the input. The output is “1” when it is on and “0” when it is off. The adapter makes it possible with this mode on your favorite keyer where you may have missed this mode.
When I implemented the ultimatic adapter after W9CF’s instructions, it struck me that it would be both useful and easy to add an emulator for a single-lever paddle also. When both keys are pressed in this mode, the last one to be pressed is ignored. This gives the following inverted outputs in states 4 and 5:
- Lin = 0, Rin = 0 after Lin = 1, Rin = 0 => Lout = 0, Rout = 1.
- Lin = 0, Rin = 0 after Lin = 0, Rin = 1 => Lout = 1, Rout = 0.
The code also has a direct mode that just sends the input unchanged to the output, as well as a possibility for exchanging the right and left paddles. The display may therefore show ‘ULT, ‘SGL, ‘DIR’ and ‘ULTx’, ‘SGLx’, ‘DIRx’ for these combinations.
The exchange mode is actually quite fun to use. In general for me it is easier to swap the paddles when keying with my left hand. I don’t think I am the only one with that experience.
The C code can be found below. These days I should probably have written it for the Arduino, but the code should be easy to move. Perhaps I’ll do that myself, now that I have an Arduino Mega on order.
Many keyers have the ultimatic mode and the possibility to exchange right and left, but no keyers have the single-paddle emulation mode as far as I know. I think it is quite useful. This summer when I implemented it I thought it was novel also.
But that was before I found out that this mode actually had been proposed by Larry Winslow, W0NFU, in QST in October 2009 and that one can get an iambic to single paddle kit from WB9KZY. Oh well, “there is nothing new under the sun” as the wise man of Ecclesiastes said some 3000 years ago. Just like the ultimatic mode has been implemented in many keyers these days, let me propose the single paddle mode for implementation as a new command also.
|Vintage Ten-Tec Ultramatic Keyer KR50. Nice name but the|
similarity to ultimatic seems to be coincidental.
Iambic keying with a dual-lever paddle is by far the most popular form for Morse keying. But in recent years an old alternative has reemerged. This is the Ultimatic mode which goes back to W6SRY in the 1950’s.
The experience seems to be that it needs less timing precision than the iambic mode for letters like A, N, R, and K (· —, — ·, · — ·, — · —). When both paddles are squeezed, the last one to be pressed takes control. So when right-left is pressed one gets a dah followed by dits, not the dah-di-dah-dit of the iambic keyer.
- Several of the keyers from Jackson Harbor Press, WB9KZY, like the PK-4.
- Several of the newer K1EL keyers, like the K14 which also has modes for dah priority, dit priority, and bug.
- The ultimatic kit from Elektor.
I have yet to hear of a single integrated keyer in a rig that supports the ultimatic mode, and that is probably why from time to time a request for a software upgrade to the Elecraft rigs is sent to the Elecraft reflector. If you really want that, and you don’t want to use a stand-alone keyer, then an alternative is to build the ultimatic adapter for iambic keyers by W9CF. It can be built with two logic ICs or with a microcontroller.
In “Using an Iambic Paddle” Chuck Adams, K7QO, compared the iambic paddle, the single-lever paddle, the bug, and the straight key with respect to number of movements. He counted the number of strokes if all 26 letters of the English alphabet and the numbers from 0 to 9 are sent.
I found it interesting to add to the analysis of K7QO by doing the counting for the ultimatic mode also. There are only 3 letters which have to be sent differently compared to an iambic keyer: P (· — — ·), X (— ·· —), and C (— · — ·). The P and the X are simpler to send with the ultimatic keyer, but the C takes more effort. A table of right and left movements and number of presses is:
L-R-L = 3
L-R = 2
R-L-R = 3
R-L = 2
R-L = 2
R-L-L = 3
Iambic mode, dual-lever paddle:
Ultimatic, dual-lever paddle:
It should be said though that in the ultimatic mode it requires much less coordination to send the letter C as if one is using a single-lever paddle and use four movements. Since three is the maximum number of presses for any letter in iambic mode, this may be one of the reasons why the iambic mode took over. But this was before my time, so I am only speculating.
Now that I have discovered the virtue of the ultimatic mode, I have used my K1EL WinKeyer with ultimatic mode more. I could need the greater tolerance to timing errors. So far I find it hard to remember to send the C differently and have a tendency to end up with a D (— ··) instead. The same goes for the letter Ä or Æ (· — · —) which we use in inter-Scandinavian contacts (as German-speakers also do) and which easily ends up as a W (· ——) instead. I’ll just practice P, X, and in particular C and Ä to build confidence.