Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday Afternoon Homebrew

I love Morse Code keys.  I have a small collection of keys that represent the different designs that have appeared throughout the history of telegraphy.  Because of this I am not an operator who is happy pounding away on the same old brass.  I am always changing out keys, using different ones on the air at my amateur radio station.  Reaching around to the back of the transceiver amid the jungle of wires to connect and reconnect key cables is a drag.  This project is something I have wanted to do ever since I got my second key.
The key junction box lets me connect four different keys to my radio at one time and use any of the four without interruption.  Luckily I have access to some light fabrication equipment at my screen printing shop.
I used 1/16" aluminum to make my juction box.  It's really not a box, more like a bracket to hold the four 1/4" mono jacks.  Using a manual punch press I accurately made holes in the aluminum panel spaced and sized just right to accept the jacks.  I changed out the punch and die to a smaller size to make holes for the mounting screws and the cable clamp at the bottom of the bracket.

The next step was on to the bending brake to bend the bracket to 90 degrees.

Here is the junction box with the four jacks installed.  I used solid copper hook up wire and soldered each of the jacks to the main cable.  Heat shrink tubing finished off the connections.

The opening picture shows the junction box in its final position at the back of the operating desk just behind the transceiver.  It is easily accessible from the left end of the desk yet out of sight from the front.


  1. Good idea, Mike. This way you can switch in the middle of a QSO if you'd like.

    I heard you on 40 meters the other night mentioning that you had more invested in keys and keyers than in your rig. Now you can make good use of all of them. You had a great signal here, 599 +10 to 20db.


  2. Hi Jack,

    Yep, I needed a way to quickly bail on the bug key when I make too many errors in a row Hi Hi! Things can snowball out of control quickly with the Vibroplex.

    Thanks for the report. Was running 40 or 50 watts.

    73 -Mike

  3. Wow, I'm impressed with your work. Almost feel like I need to design something and talk you into building it for me. I could only do it if I used tinfoil.