K1EL Systems WKUSB-SMT USB WinKeyer                                                          February 2015

Most contesters, these days, use some form of computer logging.    Our club has done this at Field Day for the past number of years.   It is also common for CW contest operators to interface the computer logging program to their transceiver to assist with sending the CW contest exchange.   For those who have observed my Field Day set up, that is exactly what I have done.   For Field Day, we have been using the N3FJP Field Day Logger program.   With the N3FJP Logger and a CW Interface, the job of the operator is to copy by ear the call sign of the station to be worked and type the call into the logging program Call Sign Field.   Then, using pre-programmed function keys of the computer, sending the Field Day exchange is simply a matter of pressing a function key; the logging program does the rest.

In the past, my interface between the logging computer and the transceiver was a simple analog keying interface using a Serial Port on my computer.    The interface is shown below..

Designed and constructed by Chuck Bell, WD9BB

This scheme and interface worked flawless until recently.    The first problem that developed was that unless you are running an old PC like I am, your newer PC probably does not have a Serial Port.  It has USB Ports.   Secondly, with the update of the N3FJP programs re-written in a modern programming language, they no longer support Serial Interfaces.    The latter forced my hand into making my CW Interface use a USB port.

To solve this problem, my first attempt was the purchase of a simple USB to Serial Port Adapter.     While it technically worked, the resulting CW keying sent to my transceiver sucked.     The problem was the timing of dits and dahs; and the spacing between characters and words was all messed up.    I am not a computer guru, but my understanding is that, since so many computer functions are running over the USB Port, that unless you have a lightning fast computer, the USB Port cannot manage the Input/Output (I/O) with the needed precise timing.

Not to stress out.    There is a solution.    I recently purchased and built a WKUSB-SMT USB WinKeyer Kit from K1EL systems ($89).    The kit was shipped within a day of placing an on-line order.    Upon unpacking, I found the items shown in photo 1.    No printed copies of Assembly or Operating Instructions are included with the kit.    These are available for download at the K1EL Systems web site.       http://k1el.tripod.com/wkusb_smt.html

   Photo 1  Kit Contents

The anti-static bag contained the PC board which comes with all the surface mount components (SMT) components pre-soldered to the PC board.     The other bags contained through-hole switches and connectors as well as a battery holder and the single external component, a variable potentiometer.     The completed circuit board is shown in Photo 2.

  Photo 2 PC Board

 

Photo 3  Push Button Side

Total construction time was about an hour.    The only tools needed are a soldering iron with a small tip (there are some closely spaced, solder joints on the USB connector), a pair of wire snips and a small screwdriver.     The kit comes with a pre-drilled and decaled cabinet.    The completed unit is shown below.

       Photo 4    Speed and Push Buttons                                         Photo 5    Rear Connections

   

 

Connecting the WinKeyer to my equipment was simple.    My first test was with the keyer in a standalone configuration.   In this arrangement, with three AAA batteries installed, the WinKeyer can be used as a standalone memory keyer.    RCA style connectors bring out two key lines (selectable to interface with two rigs without having to move the cables), as well as two Push-to-Talk (PTT) lines that can be used to key an amplifier or other station accessory.     A 1/8th inch three circuit jack connects a standard set of Electronic Keyer Paddles.    The red button on the top is used to set the memories to a Record Mode.    CW messages are stored into three memories.    They can then be recalled and played back using one of the top three black switches.

For use as a Computer Interface or host mode, the kit comes with a mini CD that contains the necessary USB Drivers, as well as a cable to connect the WinKeyer to an available computer USB port.   With the software drivers installed, the WinKeyer is essentially plug and play.    There are a couple of simple Set-Up Screens to go through to make the proper COM Port assignment, and then you are ready.    The output of the WinKeyer, for use as an interface, is the same as if it is used in Standalone Mode, through the RCA connectors.

When connected to a computer, the WinKeyer is powered through the USB Port and no batteries are required.    I tested the WinKeyer with one of the N3FJP Contest Log programs.   The key timing was perfect over the speed range of the keyer.    A set of keying paddles can be connected simultaneously to the WinKeyer to use for Information Fills or other CW data that has not been programmed into a computer function key.    The speed of the paddles exactly matches that of the computer generated CW.

If you want to use computer generated CW from your logging program and are forced to use a USB port, I highly recommend the K1EL WinKeyer.      You can bet I will have mine at Field Day 2015!

Very 73,
Doug, W9PN

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    Doug, W9PN's recent (2013-2014) project!

"Granted that this is not very technical or complicated, but I got tired of fishing around behind my operating position

     looking for coax cables to change antennas or radios. 

I made up a Switch Panel on a piece of standard 19 rack stock. 

The four-position, Alpha Delta Switch on the left, selects one of four antennas and the four position switch on the

      right, selects one of up to four radios. 

The center-position of each switch grounds the input for safety.   

The two-position Daiwa Switch in the center is not connected and is available for future use. 

The top unit is a Nye Viking Antenna Tuner connected to a 204 foot dipole fed with 450 Ohm ladder line." 3-12-2013

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