QRPGuys CW keyer

Although a Begali or Bencher (now Vibroplex) paddle was on my Christmas list, Santa must have felt that I wasn’t a good as I could have been. However, all was not lost. I did manage to snag a keyer kit from QRPGuys.com.

I enjoy building electronic kits, especially ones that can be assembled in a few hours or an evening. Kit building is a welcome change of pace for me and I love that near-immediate gratification that comes with a successful kit assembly.

The QRPGuys single lever keyer is a small and light-weight unit that runs on a single CR2032 button battery. The CW speed can be set from 6 – 45 words per minute and two message buffers, one non-volatile, for frequently sent text are provided. It is small enough to put in my pocket whenever I’m on the go and I want to practice my CW sending.

The keyer has an extremely low power consumption, especially when not being operated. In fact, the instructions say the unit can be left on all the time. A power on/off jumper is provided to be used when storing or transporting the key to avoid accidental discharge of the battery because of a paddle closure or if you want to turn off the unit to conserve a little energy.

It is a simple and fun kit to build and easy to follow instructions are provided. Basic soldering skills are required for kit assembly, which will take between 1-3 hours. Your order will contain everything you need except for a 3.5mm jumper cable to connect the keyer to your transmitter and a CR2032 battery.

I plan on making one enhancement. As shipped, four rubber feet are used to keep the printed circuit board from moving. However, they are not enough to do the job and I find that I have to hold the key in place during use on most surfaces. Not the best situation, so I’m going to keep my eye out for something to use as a weighted base.

Is it as good as a Begali or Bencher/Vibroplex paddle? No, but it works surprisingly well and I can definitely see myself using it when operating portable. For the Elecraft KX2/3 folks, QRPGuys has a single lever or Iambic mini paddle designed for especially for you.

Recommended for a fun project to build. Cost, as of this writing, is $30 USD.

2 thoughts on “QRPGuys CW keyer

  1. Ralph, Did you find a solution for the weighted base for the QRP Guys Iambic paddle? I have planned to purchase this for my QRP radios, and I noticed it was a too light for what I want to do eventually. I’ve seen others use leg straps, but that won’t work when I want to work inside my ham shack.


  2. I haven’t gone shopping for heavy plates yet, but I did try two different approaches that worked pretty well for me using items I had in the shack.

    1) A portable battery pack that can charge my phone as the base. Mine is 3 x 5 inches and weighs just under a pound. I attached some small rubber mounting feet as a good measure. When I;m operating portable, the power pack serves a dual purpose.

    2) A SDRPlay RSP2 Pro (metal case) also worked well (especially with the magnets). I don’t normally take this on the road but it is okay in the shack.

    To attach the keyer to the base, I glued three neodymium magnets that I picked up at one of our local big-box stores to the bottom of the keyer. It was rock solid with the SDR Play box and quite acceptable with the power pack. Since I was more likely to use the keyer in the field and the magnets are brittle and can chip easily, I opted for the next approach.

    I had some of the 3M fastener tape that is used to attach EZPass/IPass transponders to the auto windshield in my toolbox. Two small strips did the trick and hold much better than Velcro. The attachment is solid, yet the keyer can be disconnected from the base, when needed.

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