At the end of April, G0POT told the FISTS Yahoo! Group that he operated from his bed during the hours of the night. But, he explained, his Morse key dis-turbed his wife who prefers to sleep in silence. “What” he asked “are you other ‘nocturnal tappers’ using?”
And, as is often the case, a deluge of ideas, suggestions and oblique opinion was posted in response. Tony, G3ZRJ suggested trying—as he put it—“the psycho-logical approach”, adding “Make amorous noises in your wife’s ear, she will al-most certainly behave as if she is totally asleep, then commence using the radio and whatever key you want!”
I was persuaded by arguments favouring a touch keyer. I immediately discov-ered the web site cwtouchkeyer.com (A bit of a give-away as a url, maybe!) and almost without hesitation ordered a Model P1BS Touch Paddle Keyer. You may infer from this narrative that I crave instant gratification: since the delivery on the keyer was quoted as two weeks, I was motivated to also make my own. But that’s another story. (And which is the subject of another piece in this Key Note.)
As it was, the keyer arrived in a cube of brown corrugated card-board just ten days later, having made its way from the USA. The box contained the keyer, a 12-page user guide and a small bag contain-ing a 2.1mm DC plug and three, 3.5mm jack plugs. (A nice touch, supplying all the plugs you’ll need.)
The keyer is a substantial piece of kit! Solidly built and heavy, for sure. It does exactly what you’d expect it to do and the manual is comprehensive and accu-rate.
What’s it like to use?
It’s worth saying at the outset that touch keyers are, as claimed, easy to use and have a responsiveness you might not expect from paddles that don’t move as your fingers and thumbs do. But (There is always a but…) I discovered that I have a lazy thumb! As you can see from the photo, with paddles I send with my left hand and I have over the years taken to resting my thumb on the right-hand paddle, making dahs with a kind of thumb-twitch while my first finger moves on and off the dit pad-dle. On a touch-paddle keyer this counts as sloppy sending and, of course, generates spurious dahs. I have (Through plenty of mental anguish and sub-conscious retraining) now cured myself of this.
I put the touch keyer in front of G4FPO and he im-mediately began to send faultless Morse. And con-tinued to do so.
What’s the score?
So: it is heavy enough with stuck-on rub-berised feet and it doesn’t slide about on the desktop. It is solidly constructed and should survive most shack environments plus average portable usage. It’s straightforward to use and the manual explains what you need to know. (Everything I needed to know, anyway!) The P1 scores 4.9/5 on eHam and I just couldn’t understand why anyone would mark it down! The two scores that fall short of perfect 5/5 are given because of RFI issues: since I haven’t experienced either RFI generated by the keyer or transmitter-effects on the P1, I cannot comment. There are 76 other reviewers on eHam.com who haven’t noticed RFI issues, either. I’ll happily give it 5/5.
It is a gadget, true. And it is quite expensive. But unless you especially want to spend time building your own, if you want a touch keyer this should be close to or at the top of your list.