Here's my newest key (center). I cannibalized my old home-made straight key for the main piece of metal that I'd taken from a hunk of hose clamp. Than I hammered a mobile microphone clip into shape to clamp around the paddle itself, and mounted the entire thingy to the piece of 3/8 inch plywood. I also mounted my iambic paddle key to the same board (far left).
This lowered both keys to table top level to help save my wrist, as well as eliminate the "duct tape" mounting system, since now the weight of my forearm keeps the keys in place.
I wired both keys in parallel and run them both through an external keyer, so I can now switch between either key in mid QSO. The next step is to finish another hand-made straight key seen at the far right, and tie that into the jumper that exits the external keyer and plugs into the radio. The radio is set to "straight key mode" now and the external keyer handles the dits and dahs. Eventually I'll be able to use all three keys without having to mess with he radio's menu at all.
My motto is: "If it ain't 'Woodrat'... You spent too much".
Above here is a before cleanup shot and below is an after cleanup shot !!
Here are some Pictures of 2 of 8 - J 38 keys I am in the process of cleaning and refurbishing. They are all Lionel J 38's and they came with an Army Code Trainer Oscillator unit which I acquired. Unfortunately 3 of the bases got broken in shipment so they had to be epoxied back together.
I will post pics of the full unit when I finish all the refurb, or better yet maybe some before and after shots. I already have done 5 of the 8 keys.
Project boxes are often hard to find, especially for the frugal (read "cheap") ham. These Data Switch boxes are showing up in thrift stores and offer a sturdy solution to the quest for enclosures. (Did I mention cheap? Less than $3 for this one.) Removing 4 screws gets you a jumble of stuff like you see in the photo. (Clip the wires and save as hook-up wire for other projects.)
I cut new front and back panels for the enclosure from copper clad fiberglas I had in the junkbox. These panels can be cut from other metal flat stock found at hardware stores.
The encoder kit includes all the parts, including a unique knob. You can see a nut in the following photo which snugs up a tapered sleeve to grip the shaft. I've not seen this kind of knob before. Oh, those small parts in the container are surface mount, so no caffeine before soldering them in place!
Here are two pictures showing the completed install but no panel graphics. I plan to utilize my word processor to do a paper overlay with graphics then put a thin piece of clear plexiglas over that.