Iambic to USB Hardware Working

Here is my Iambic USB hardware.
This little device accepts Iambic key input and sends it to the USB port on my computer. The Teensy 2.0 looks like a keyboard to the computer so no special drivers or software are needed for the key to work.

I have used Visual Studio a lot so it was a natural to go searching for a way to program the Teensy 2.0 board using the VS IDE. Folks have already done the heavy lifting so it was not hard to get Atmel Studio up and running. Atmel Studio 6 is free and works with all their AVR chips. I installed that and was able to compile the source code for the inspiration project right away.

The inspiration project source code has a bug in morse.h that makes the letter X not work. I fixed it by finding out how the Morse code was being encoded. The include file morse.h defines a look-up table that matches encoded Morse characters to keyboard codes. The Morse encoding scheme by Mark VandeWettering, K6HX, defines a binary sequence of 0 for dit and 1 for dah in left to right order. The sequence begins after a single sentinel bit set to 1. So the letter A sequence is 101. A 1 for the sentinel followed by a 0 for dit and a 1 for dah. The array in morse.h is written with hex codes so the letter A is associated with [0x0005]. I used the handy programmer view in the Windows calc program to translate the pattern for the letter X into hex; 11001 in binary becomes 0x0019. I found KEY_X in the table and changed the code to 0x0019 and got X when I keyed in X.

AVR chips are so much easier to program now. The entire Arduino phenomenon has made it easy to build your own embedded devices. I really like the Teensy 2 board from PJRC. You can hook it up and program the chip without serial drivers, the device is super fast, the internal software ‘magic’ is super small, and you can use the free Atmel Studio 6 development environment.

Next for the project? I’m untangling the code so I can figure out how to add a speed pot. Also, automatic spacing would be nice.

Iambic Key to Computer Project

I ordered one of these Teensy 2.0 boards so I could build this iambic key to keyboard widget. Making something with a PIC controller has been in the back of my mind for some time and the idea that I might be able to practice sending CW sweetened the deal.

Unexpected Morse

Even though it’s not ham radio related, I enjoy the Boing Boing podcast Gweek. I was surprised to hear a ‘secret’ message at the end of the show #39. It’s just a little quote.


Gweek show #34 featured Diana Eng, KC2UHB, who talked about her electified fashions and an interesting idea for a portable umbrella antenna. As far as I know, she’s the only ham featured on the show. It’s surprising where a little ham radio related entertainment will pop up.

Insomnia Has Benefits

I woke up in the middle of the night and worked Christmas Island and a couple other countries. Sleeplessness with benefits.

Mixing the K3, a K1EL keyer, and Writelog

I worked through the settings I need to get Writelog 10.83 working with my rig setup. For CW, I’m using a K1EL Winkeyer USB and for PTT for data modes I’m using a USB to serial adapter. Problem was that the computer would throw the K3 into transmit mode as soon as I started Writelog. I knew that Writelog was starting up with RTS on so I needed to figure out how to change that. I poked around in the Writelog setup menu and finally Googled for the right INI setting. Google didn’t find it but the Writelog help file described the COMx_RTS_INIT and COMx_DTR_INIT settings. I changed those to 0 and now everything works peachy. In the same section of the INI file, [RIGS], I had to set the speed of the com port I’m using to control the rig to 9600. Writelog talks to the K3 at 38800 baud by default. I needed 9600 to be compatible with my SteppIR controller.

K3 Smiley Face

I’m pleased to have my K3 back. Apparently a transistor in the I.F. stage failed. Rene at Elecraft called me and explained the problem and what was done to repair it. I look forward to many years of use ahead. One good thing is that everything is calibrated to factory standards now. All I need to do is set my preferences.

K3 Frowny Face

After only a few days, my new K3/100 pooped out. I got a HI SIG message even though there aren’t any other signal sources in my shack. I e-mailed Elecraft and got a nice message back describing some diagnostic steps I could take. However, the even if I completed the steps I was going to have to send the rig in for repair anyway. Off it went at more than $50 worth of packing and shipping costs.

This is embarrassing; I was extremely careful during the build, taking more than 9 hours over 3 days. Even if the problem is not build related, I end up feeling responsible for the rig failing because I was the last one to touch it. Of course it isn’t my fault; I carefully followed all of the instructions. Disappointing.

New Rig

My new rig is an Elecraft K3 s/n 5005. I bought the 100W version with antenna tuner, voice keyer, 400 Hz and 2.8k Hz 8-pole filters, and the transverter interface. This is only the 3rd rig I’ve had since I was first licensed in 1999 and I’m very pleased with it. I assembled the radio myself which took a little over 8 hours.

Not long after I upgraded to General, I bought my first HF rig, a used ICOM IC-728. The radio had no CW filter but I made due until one day the radio just quit working. Next I bought a used IC-718 on ebay. This rig was a treat with DSP and a 500k CW/Data filter. Before long I began dreaming of a new rig with adjustable filters, advanced DSP, and better roofing filters. At the time, I was interested in the IC-756 Pro III but never saved enough money to buy one. After using the K3 in two Washington State QSO parties with N7PP and more than one contest at N7BV, I changed my mind and began dreaming of a K3. In 2009 I had the money saved up to buy a K3 but fate struck and the furnace went out in our house. The money I saved almost exactly paid for the furnace. This year, I was fortunate and bought my K3 without incident.

The Salmon Ran: CW Report

The adventure is over but the record will stand for a while. At N7BV, the CW camp put up some big numbers. QSO count is 1,117 with 120 multipliers for a score of 535,680 on CW. We hit a fantastic run of Europeans on Sunday and that really pushed our multiplier number up. Not too surprisingly, we didn’t work all states or all counties on CW. There just isn’t enough interest or operators. 15 Meters was a bitter-sweet band; it was open both days but there weren’t many stations on.

Check out the CW statistics.