Lose the radios & go anywhere you want to practice your CW…
Sometimes I get hung up on providing reviews of very popular equipment, especially radios & antennas. In reality, sometimes it’s the smallest items/gadgets in my shack that can make operating that much easier. I’ve been searching for a way to get away from my radio/computers so that I could just listen to code and practice without any distractions. Getting distracted during decoding practice is the biggest downfall for me, as this mode requires the utmost of attention if you’re going to be successful at it. Note that I’m still focusing more on my ‘listening’ than sending, but sending the characters repetitively helps me remember them easier.
Now there’s plenty of options if you use a straight key, since straight keys do not require the use of logic. A paddle key however, requires the use of an ‘electronic keyer’. There are several variations out there ranging from PicoPaddle’s ToneTube & Cube, or even a home brew arduino based electronic keyer. But after searching for a few days online, I found this very simple, and budget friendly electronic keyer built by HamGadgets called the PicoKeyer. A neat little compact keyer that would be perfect for home or portable use due to it’s durability & compactness. This device runs off a long lasting lithium coin battery, and will work with paddle or straight key. $34 in kit form, or $54 built, this was a no brainer, and would work great for contesting if your CW ever improves enough to that point because it saves up to 8 recordings for sending.
Finally… I can leave my expensive (and slightly heavier) radios at home, and practice anywhere on the go with just my cell phone, some headphones, a key and the PicoKeyer. I tend to be able to focus and concentrate better when I’m in ‘my element,’ which is usually outside!
Ok… back to practice!
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