I have built a Morse code straight key using brass plates, small bearings, brass shaft, and some brass screws from power supply binding posts. The key is mounted on the same aluminum plate with my home-brewed electronic keyer with paddles and desk microphone. With this customized straight key, I hope to get a better sense of rythm in sending Morse code.
To watch the straight key in action, along with the electronic keyer with paddles, click here.
I have built an ultra-compact DIY iambic Morse code keyer for a dual-paddle key based on the work of PA3HCM. The keyer uses an Arduino Uno and a few components such as a potentiometer for adjusting the words per minute (WPM), a small speaker, some resistors, and LED indicators. I housed the circuitry in a neat enclosure and added some terminals (for signal line-out and an auxiliary connection for a second key). I then attached a dual-paddle key onto the enclosure, making the keyer and key setup a very portable trainer for code practice.
I was testing my Morse Code transmitter last night by sending a CQ on 7.102 MHz using various transmit powers ranging from 5 to 10 watts QRP, up to 100 watts full power, using an ICOM 718 and a home-brewed antenna. It appears that 4 stations (one in the Pacific and 3 on the other side of the world—in the US) heard my signal, as reported in the Reverse Beacon Network (an automated system that receives and logs Morse code transmissions).
While this is probably the farthest distance to date that my signal was able to reach, this is just one-way communication. Probably as I improve my antenna, I’d also be able to hear the faint signals coming from the other side of the world.