Key to the Kingdom…

…if the kingdom is actually the very narrow gateway of communication.

I ordered a 3d-printed iambic key from an Etsy vendor called The Cheap 3D Printer.

Had to take the cover off to adjust the contact points and return magnets. Also, this really depicts how straightforward and simple it would be to build a key. The magnets are arranged to oppose each other, providing the return force and the electrical contacts are nothing more than a few screws.

So, why pay somebody US$35 for this? Easy:

  • I don’t have a 3D printer
  • I don’t have the motivation to explore and experiment acquiring the parts to assemble one
  • Its creator already did all of the design and refinement work
  • Oh, and you can get one from a selection of colors — you have about 121 different colors to choose from

Also, the going rate for iambic keys is, frankly, obscene.

It’s more comfortable to use in my current state than the straight key that I had learned on previously. I’ve misplaced my own timing, so dots and dashes, currently, aren’t. The available alternative of using an iambic key is agreeable. Not perfect, of course — and the dexterity/timing problem is still around, but this does make CW more accessible.

It also helps to have a couple of 3M Command Strips under it to ensure I don’t slide it around the desk. In time, my sense of touch and dexterity will improve.

Same Project, Different Project

In fact, it’s something along the lines that I’ve already done.

IG2OH2hDQuO1kNhgjCVWowPreviously, it was the 20m QCX. Now it’s the 40m QCX kit:


I’ll be excluding the protective Schottky diode from the power input because of 1) the energy cost and 2) there’s little risk of reversing polarity. Why? Because I’ll instead use Anderson Powerpoles to greatly reduce the risk of inverting voltage. While I don’t like to claim anything is impossible, once configured, they’re rather idiot-proof.

While I’ve only just started on this, and have already completed its 20m equivalent, I feel that I crave a greater degree of complexity.

I should also see about perhaps an UltimateS3 or a Megaprocessor (more) or maybe something somewhere between the two.


Because I can.

Upcoming Work

Ordered another kit from QRP Labs, but the 40m QCX Transceiver because I’ve already assembled the 20m QCX Transceiver… because I really couldn’t resist. So, that’s coming up.

I’ll also see about capturing more photos, maybe even some video of the prep and assembly process when it arrives.

…and, if someone could find a way to make it a bit more work maybe add some frustration and inconvenience to readily spending money online… that’d be great.

𝒇(𝓧) = The Generation of Functions

I honestly don’t really have a need for a function generator. This was inexpensive and small enough to fill an hour’s time.


The most time-consuming part was understanding what orientation the electrolytic capacitors were to be installed. While the silkscreen on the PCB did have an indication that the capacitors had to go one way, there wasn’t a positive/negative marking. So I guessed that the white on one half of the circle must equal white on the capacitor.


Oh, and peeling off the protective coating from the acrylic parts. There are a few bits still inside of some of the letters.


There’s probably a slightly more elegant function generator — actually, there are several and more expensive — but this will do for now.

Before I build too many more things, I should see about building a power supply. Maybe the ubiquitous LM317 would be a reasonably inexpensive and capable project.

Also, it seems to me that I’m continuing to do things backward.

How so?

Because one would think that learning tasks would start with simplistic concepts and work toward more complex. I started with the complex (the QCX project) and moved over/back/into this, the simple.

Touch to send…

An assortment of parts that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike a key.


Not nearly as complex as the two transceivers and oscilloscope that I’ve recently assembled.


I suppose with the dexterity issue I currently have, it replicates closely enough an iambic paddle. I’d like a real paddle — but I have absolutely no interest in dropping the going rate for one.

I should also see about locating some hundred-plus year old tech and some robust wire to hook up keys. Hmm… or maybe there’s even a simplistic wireless tool that I can use to bridge the gap between devices. Yep, there’s something of a conflict in pondering the use of modern Bluetooth technology to interconnect tools, to then send nearly 200-year old signal (Morse Code) over a 125-year old (Radio) medium.

I am a bit of an anachronism.