SNEAK PEEK…The New Titan Keys are here!!

In the making for over a year, I finally had time to finish the designs for my new Titan Sideswiper, Straight key and Paddle. They feature a massive 3+ pound stainless steel base with a decorative border milled into the surface, and a very high quality 3.5mm jack built into the base. All keys are available with or without callsigns. All keys come with a very cool 30″ retractable cable and the Paddle includes a stereo to mono adapter to change the key into a cootie on the fly.

Titan SideSwiper/Paddle
Titan Straight Key
3.5mm Jack for both keys
Swiper wired as a paddle
Callsign option

Email for info until I get the ordering page up with the pricing

Got an itch to try a Cootie Key?

Many folks that have purchased W1SFR keys eventually get a hankering to use them as a Cootie key. There are a couple of simple ways to do that. The easiest way it to get a 3.5mm stereo to mono adapter. Of course you’ll have to consult your radio manual and do what is necessary for it to accept a key in straight key mode.

The other way is to simply short the two contact posts under the base of the key. That can be as simple as a couple of alligator clips to a hard bridge soldered between the two posts. Either way you will most likely want to increase the contact spacing a bit to give you a bit more room to get your swing going cuz it’s a different feel than using it in paddle mode.

Here’s my most recent key, the “Torsion Bar Cootie/Paddle”. It comes wired as a regular single lever paddle, but is easily converted. Because the action is low to the deck, and the key has some decent rubber feet (not those stick on jobs, but real rubber feet with screws tapped into the base) it’s pretty amazing how well it sticks when in use. The contact mechanism is also a big contributor to it’s smooth action.

Sending with a cootie key is so much more personal than a standard paddle. Because you control the spacing, duration, and timing of every dit, dah and in between, your messaging takes on a whole different “feel”. Now…I’m not talking about sending out a bunch of slop, but like listening to a good bug op, a good cootie op is a joy to listen to.

Want to hear what some great sideswiper ops sound like? Give a listen to the guys on the sideswiper net. There are several nets around the world at different times, so it’s best to go to the website and check out the schedules. I try to make the Thursday night net on 7044 at 8PM DST. Also on the site is an amazing compendium of information about swipers and tons of pictures of keys made by scores of cootie lovers.

See you on the net!

Steve, W1SFR

Shack/Convertible Key #54 out the door

I can’t believe I’ve made 54 of the “portable” keys with brass bases already. Seems like just yesterday I was noodling around with the design on a napkin at my friends house over the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanks to all for taking a flyer on something new and reports continue to come in praising the Torsion Bar action and the tactile feel of the hand formed wood finger pieces. Onward and upward!


The NEW Station Base for the TBP Portable Key is Here!

Many have requested a base for the TBP/Torsion Bar Portable key and now it’s here. The key base has been re-designed to accommodate screw-in rubber feet and to match up with mounting holes on the stainless base. The total weight of the key with the SS base is 13oz. Still pretty light, but because of the low center of gravity and the lightness of the key itself, it will NOT move during use. You can see the video here:

Nano Straight Key Part deux


Well, I added a small paddle thinking it would be cool as a swiper, but alas, the travel is too much to my liking. It sort of works as a paddle, but there are better alternatives out there. I decided to make it into a straight key so added clear rubber bumpers. It really works great now and just holding it down on any surface, the travel of the lever is just right. Had a few QSO’s last night to try it out and it works great. Please don’t ask me to make one for you though….:-)


Nano Straight Key

Well I just made this key yesterday and it turns out it makes a great straight key used on its side. My thought was that it might make a great sideswiper, but I need to do some work on the lever itself before that happens. I also makes a passable single lever paddle once you get used to the relatively long travel of the lever.


I did a search for “nano” keys and found

W4PAL straight key

Cut Numbers…Where Did They Come From

Here’s a little snippet from the Ham Radio History Yahoo Group about the origination of cut numbers.

“Cut numbers” were used extensively on the maritime CW bands:

Every ship at sea sent its weather observations (“OBS”) every six

hours (0000Z, 0600Z, 1200Z, 1800Z) to what ever shore station it was

in contact with. These WX OBS were encoded into 5-digit number groups,

always beginning with 99xxx.

After I had a dozen or so vessels lined up and QRV to work one at a

time, I’d only have to send AA NN, and the ship at the head of the

line would burst forth with their number groups, beginning with the

99xxx group.

These OBS were a perfect opportunity for vessels to use the

abbreviated cut numbers, and were very much appreciated by us shore

station operators.

73, Jeff KH6O

(formerly with NMO, USCG CommSta Honolulu)