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 http://www.sideswipernet.org 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!
Sneak preview….Will go up on the site for sale next week (After Thanksgiving Holiday). Check it out!
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!
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:
Well, I’ve done it now. It’s all new and as far as my research goes, it’s the first of it’s kind…ever. I will be making an initial run of 10 keys, so supply is VERY limited for now. Target date for first deliveries is DEC 1. Price is a low $175. Get all the info HERE.
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….:-)
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
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
These OBS were a perfect opportunity for vessels to use the
abbreviated cut numbers, and were very much appreciated by us shore
73, Jeff KH6O
(formerly with NMO, USCG CommSta Honolulu)