CW or Morse Code is a way ham radio operators send messages with a simple tone of two durations. It was a
must before the days of wireless voice communications and still remains
popular because it is a fun challenge. Like most things, Morse keys range from low cost to expensive. Generally speaking Morse keys come in three styles: straight key, paddle, and bug. Each has pros and cons requiring unique skills to operate with the "bug" typically being more expensive and requiring more skill.
To use this rig, you don't need a ham radio license unless you connect to an actually ham radio transmitter; which is kinda the whole point. My quick ham radio advertisement: Get a FCC Amateur Radio license; it's not hard and is an extremely interesting hobby. BTW, learning Morse Code is no longer a requirement.
We wanted to try a Morse bug key, but didn't want one 'forever' and didn't want to spend the money. Plus like most ham radio operators we think any project is a good project regardless of it's usefulness. Basically, with a bug key the dahs (dashes) are made manually and the dits (dots) are generated semi automatically via a spring mechanism. The design is mechanically challenging so we opted for a different method.
The dah (dash) part is easy. For the semi automatic dash (dit) part the traditional mechanical spring system was replaced with a $10 signal generator kit. Pressing the dit key powers up a 7404 and a square wave output is passed through the 7404 simply to provide the "umph" for the relay to open and close providing the dits. The signal generator frequency control allows for an easy way to adjust the sending WPM (words per minute).
The video shows our very first unpracticed test of the rig. After a bit of practice we put the key on the air for a few SKCC QSOs. Fun was had on our end and tolerance was shown by the OPs decoding our sig,
Here are a few pics of the rig on the bench:
And here's the schematic:
Of course, not the traditional Morse key bug, but a nice afternoon project diversion. 73!!!