“Green Machine” Torsion Bar Cootie!

These are no longer in production. I will leave this page up for historical info.


As you may know, my keys have been rated as the best cootie by users in Mike Pilgrim’s (K5MP) SKCC “Cootie Corner” so I thought it would be nice to create a unique key for the club, but it had to be special, and it had to be made and sourced locally.

By the way, Mike’s page is an incredible gathering of all things “cootie”. Do yourself a favor and check it out when you have a few minutes. Look up his call on QRZ. You’ll be glad you did.

After making a key for myself out of a Verde Antique coaster I found in a gift shop, I’ve been wanting to make a key that I could market to other CW ops. I turned to Johnson Marble and Granite…only 15 minutes from my home and the same company that has supplied marble to many important monuments and buildings all over the world. Through another ham friend that laser etches lexan finger pieces for me, He had a ham friend with a killer laser in Ohio that could etch logos into stone at a price that made it possible to do this in the first place.  I thought it was a natural match with this beautiful Vermont Verde Antique Marble. 

This marble, which is carbon dated to 450 million years old is only found here in Vermont at a quarry just over the mountain from us. It is cut and polished at a nearby mill using machinery left over from the turn of the century.

This patent pending key uses the same proven torsion bar design for the mechanics that you will find on my other keys. The single lever is attached to the torsion pin and floats free at the base of the key while being held tightly by the lever carrier. The movement of the lever is barely perceptible but the tension when the lever is moved from side to side always brings the lever back to center even if it moves just a few thousands of an inch. The key is set with about 30 gm of tension using a dynamometer. Most users leave that setting and are happy with it.

Couple that with the soft landing of the contact screw on the nickel silver contact strip and it makes this key simple, reliable and much quieter than the typical key on the market.

This Green Machine is being produced as a cootie key, but can easily be modified by cutting or desoldering the jumper wire on the bottom of the key. That would allow you to use the key as a paddle and change it into a cootie by using a stereo to mono adapter.

The base of the key is 3 x 5″ and 3/4″ thick. It weighs 1 lb 11 oz and comes with a 3.5mm stereo cable. Dit and Dah posts are shorted together to facilitate cootie operation, but upon request it can be wired as a standard paddle. Just shoot me an email to that effect.