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Isn't She a Beauty?

A Begali "Pearl" with palladium plated base.

I don't know what possessed me. I mean, how many keys does one need?

I've heard that N3ZN keys were excellent keys and I heard that Begali keys were excellent keys and I decided that (despite the cost) that I'd get one of each and compare them.

This is my Begali key. And it's just....gorgeous.

I'm buying a key

Now that I have certain, um, financial transactions completed, I now have a little bit of spending money. I've sworn to not buy any new radios until the HF antenna is finished, which is a promise I have (mostly) kept. (I just couldn't pass up the Wouxun KG-UV8E that I found at the swapmeet a couple of months ago. Honestly, I didn't even try.) The antenna is mostly done, by the way. I'll talk about it when it's been used.

Starting to publish the keyer project.

A fully populated keyer dongle

Lots of things have happened with the keyer. I bought rotary encoders and had boards made and populated one and it works like a champ. Only one small error on the board, and it's in the silkscreen so I'm going to ignore it, although you can see it in the photo above. So, if you have an interest, how can you get your own keyer?

Well, start at OSHPark and get yourself some of the boards:

The source for the firmware is on Github

A "Magic Band" Antenna and More Keyer Progress

My six-meter quadrifilar helix antenna

Well, I finally went and did it. I built the 6-meter quadrifilar helix I've been talking about for years. Okay, it's not quite done, I'm waiting for a decent pair of wire strippers to arrive, but a week ago I took a four-inch PVC pipe, some 3/8 inch dowels, some Romex, and adhesive and fabricated a QFH antenna. I used a short Python program I wrote to determine the dimensions and, well, I did it wrong. The short wire in what I built should be the long wire at the operating frequency, so the whole thing is too long for the 52 MHz design frequency.

Update: Total light blink achieved!

See the little yellow wire, and how well it goes with the purple board.

The problem was that the emitter of Q16 wasn't grounded in the schematic, so it didn't get grounded in the board layout, so pin 2 of Q16 wasn't grounded in the boards I got from OSHPark, so the LED didn't turn on.
A little yellow wire fixed the problem.

And the lights on the keyer go blink, blink, blink

The lights on the keyer all light up, but one

I've been working toward this for a while. Since I last visited the keyer project, I rearranged my workbench so my work area is larger. My computer, which used to share half the table of the workbench now covers the entire table, and I got my microscope out and went a little nuts with the surface-mount parts. Having finished that, there was no reason not to put the through-hole parts on the board, either. And now, well, a picture is worth 1000 words, right? One of the red LED's doesn't light, and I don't know why, but there will be time to figure that out later.

Keyer Parts are HERE!

With the arrival of the 0805 LED's, all the keyer parts that I have been waiting for have arrived. A couple of weeks ago, I started to populate one of the boards that I had with the parts on hand, which were the MMBT3904 transistors. So, work can now begin in earnest. More events as they happen.

Keyer Parts on the Way!

UPDATED
A couple of years ago, I wote about a new keyer I was working on. What I meant by "working on" at that point was the software. I got a ways into that project and then essentially no farther. Life intervened and I got interested in other things and ran into some issues that I couldn't immediately overcome and a dozen other wimped-out excuses. So, it might come as a shock, assuming that there's anyone left who is paying attention, that I've not only continued to work on this project, but have actually made progress.

How about THIS antenna?

Here's what I want in an HF antenna. I want a compact antenna that I don't have to put high up off the ground. I want a low radiation angle. I want something that works for lots of different bands. I want something that's easy to tune up. I want decent efficiency. I don't want ground radials or, well, ground anything.

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