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 Post subject: Hallicrafters Compatibility Question- HT-40 >> HA-1 TO Keyer
PostPosted: May Fri 04, 2012 12:59 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 15, 2009 8:56 pm
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Hello -

I'm just getting into boatanchors. I recently scored a HT-40 transmitter and have determined to learn morse code and use it. After a wee bit of fixing up and securing the requisite license, of course.

Can anyone advise me on whether this transmitter is compatible with the HA-1 TO Keyer? I'm curious about the keyer because my morse may be a bit rough starting out until I get the hang of it like some of you old pros, and wouldn't mind having another piece of Hallicrafter's equipment for my rig.

Also, if anyone has a recommendation on a morse key, I'm curious to see what is recommended for a beginner who doesn't want to "outgrow" the equipment in 6 months time.

Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Hallicrafters Compatibility Question- HT-40 >> HA-1 TO K
PostPosted: May Fri 04, 2012 1:08 am 
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The TO uses a mercury wetted relay for keying. It can be used for most everything short of a spark transmitter.

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 Post subject: Re: Hallicrafters Compatibility Question- HT-40 >> HA-1 TO K
PostPosted: May Fri 04, 2012 1:24 am 
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The HA-1 has a mercury wetted relay and will key just about anything, it will work fine with the HT-40. (on edit, Jack-sorry I didn't see your comment first)

I am a traditionalist and started with a straight key when I got my first license. It takes some practice to become proficient with any keyer and in the meantime you will be subjecting the receiving op to extra dots, dashes, and general gibberish. I am sure some people started successfully with an electronic keyer but you are simultaneously learning the code and proper control of your "automatic sending machine" which does introduce more complications.

I have a Hallicrafters TO but I have not had a chance to hook it up yet. However I am pretty certain it is not like the more modern popular keyers which are referred to as iambic keyers which are designed to be used with "squeeze" paddles. If you use a set of Bencher or similar paddles with most keyers the dot or dash paddle will operate as you would expect but if you squeeze them together they will send a perfect intermix of dots and dashes leading with whatever paddle was pressed first. So for a letter C you lead with the dash paddle and squeeze them to send a perfect C releasing the dash shortly before the final dot. For the letter Q you hold in the dash paddle while tapping the dot paddle to insert a dot after the second dash. So although the TO keyer looks great with Halli (or other vintage gear) consider whether you are going to likely transition to an iambic type keyer and learn on whatever you plan to use long term.

My failure story is I am pretty good with a straight key, iambic keyer, and even an old style keyer but I bought a "bug" (mechanical key, sends dashes manually but dots are formed by a vibrating contact). They look cool and fit well with a lot of my vintage gear. After a couple of months I decided my sending with a bug will always suck and even worse I was loosing my skills with the keyer. I was concerned at this rate I would be lousy with a bug AND a keyer and would be forced to resort to a keyboard to send intelligible code so I am back to using electronic keyers and a straight keys while my bug just looks pretty and is a constant reminder of my failings :)

Make sure to get a good set of paddles and adjust them properly. I think the Bencher is a good set at a reasonable price but there are more expensive sets out there. Stay away from the cheapies, I won a MFJ knockoff of the Bencher design at a hamfest and they were not good. I don't know if MFJ still sells paddles but if so maybe they have improved but Bencher is a safe choice.

Rodger WQ9E


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 Post subject: Re: Hallicrafters Compatibility Question- HT-40 >> HA-1 TO K
PostPosted: May Fri 04, 2012 5:21 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 15, 2009 8:56 pm
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Ok, maybe a more appropriate question is what exactly does the HA-1 TO do?

My impression so far is that it evens up the dots, dashes and spaces to make the code more uniform... but what kind of buffer does it have?

What kind of key (morse-code-finger-tapper-thingie) is appropriate to use with this unit?

I was afraid the HA-1 would not work with the HT-40 because it (HT-40) does not have the multi-prong outlet on the back. Irrelevant? If so, what is that outlet on the HA-1 for?

I found this listing and was wondering if this kind of key is what I'm looking for.

http://vibroplex.com/straight_key.html

Thanks everyone.


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 Post subject: Re: Hallicrafters Compatibility Question- HT-40 >> HA-1 TO K
PostPosted: May Fri 04, 2012 5:37 am 
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bruss01 wrote:
http://vibroplex.com/straight_key.html
The HA-1 TO keyer is a nice tube type electronic keyer. It is used with the type of key that works left and right so that you send dits with your thumb pushing to the right and dahs with your fingers pushing to the left.

If you are just learning morse code, most people do that with a straight key. The one you pointed out would work fine. Many use something more simple. In my case it was the standard old J-38 pictured below.

I have one other weird quirk. I send with a straight key with my left hand (I am left handed), but with a bug or keyer with my right hand.

Here is a J-38
Attachment:
key_J38_by_Lionel[1].jpg
key_J38_by_Lionel[1].jpg [ 68.49 KiB | Viewed 666 times ]
Curtis Eickerman

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 Post subject: Re: Hallicrafters Compatibility Question- HT-40 >> HA-1 TO K
PostPosted: May Fri 04, 2012 12:10 pm 
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Curtis posted the class act of straight keys, the J-38. It often is a somewhat collectable on ebay but can be found for a good price at hamfests. Some straight keys have what has been referred to as a "Navy knob" which is a larger disc below the main finger knob, it provides a somewhat better grip and rest for your fingers. Several QST hints detailed using a poker chip to add this feature to any key. I have used both styles and it didn't make much difference to me but you are likely to see some set up like this if you go straight key shopping.

A good source on adjusting the various forms of CW sending devices is here: http://www.morsex.com/misc/keyadj.htm#Straight

The TO style keyer does a great job of forming perfect length dots and dashes with the proper spacing between these elements when holding either the dot or dash contact closed and it does so using fully electronic circuits which was fairly revolutionary for its day but it is very different from modern electronic keyers. I hooked my TO up last night to try it out and it does what it was meant to do without issue. But it is definitely not an iambic keyer, hold the paddles together and you get nothing but dashes. Keyer paddles designed for it and similar were a single lever held either to the right or left, modern paddles will work fine but don't squeeze them. There is no dot or dash memory or any buffer so your actual keying speed has to match the TO, otherwise you will either drop or add elements.

Current keyers are iambic, have dot and dash memory, and will provide proper spacing between both dot, dashes, and in combination when used in iambic or element insert mode. Many also have automatic character spacing so that within a certain manual length of time between characters it will automatically set spacing to the correct amount. Weighting (dot to dash length ratio) is easily adjustable in modern electronic keyers. Basically, if you learn with the TO keyer you will not be learning the style used with more current electronic keyers.

I would start with a straight key and become proficient with both sending and receiving and then probably move to a modern electronic keyer while saving the TO for fun operation with a classic vintage type keyer. Note that not all modern keyers are suitable for keying older rigs because they will exceed the voltage and/or current capabilities of the keyer's keying transistor. Your HT-40 is cathode keyed which puts a fairly high open terminal voltage on the keyer. MFJ used to rate several of their keyers for cathode keying but I don't know if that is still the case. Learning how to tune up a vintage transmitter doesn't make it more difficult to use a modern transceiver but learning on a keyer with very different characteristics from its modern counterpart will make the transition difficult because sending is a fairly cognitively involved process. Some would question why not just use a computer or keyboard (or even why use Morse at all). My view is code is fun and I enjoy the interaction with the mode that you cannot get through a keyboard. My Drake TR-7A came with the matching Theta 9000 keyboard which sends and receive Morse and RTTY and another group of gear came with a Hal keyboard and monitor and both are interesting but I don't use them often. I prefer to send my Morse somewhat manually and a keyboard takes away from that experience. You might find one of these code readers or your computer/soundcard with a Morse decoding progragm to be useful while learning to send with whatever you use because if the machine cannot read your Morse then it needs more practice :)


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 Post subject: Re: Hallicrafters Compatibility Question- HT-40 >> HA-1 TO K
PostPosted: May Fri 04, 2012 2:49 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 15, 2009 8:56 pm
Posts: 122
Ok, thanks fellas.

I scored the HA-1 TO... it'll make an interesting piece of period gear to go with the Hallicrafter's station I hope to assemble and operate.

I just started the Koch method yesterday. It's a little like learning to play a musical instrument, I think, because timing is so important. That's never been my strong point, but at least like the drums, there's only one note to play! I'm working on k's and m's right now, and have just gotten up to an effective WPM of 11 with average of 2 errors on a 2 minute string. It's very challenging and requires a lot of concentration. After I hit 15 wpm effective (probably tomorrow) I'll be ready to toss the next letter into the mix. Reading the code is challenging, I can imagine sending it is even tougher. Well, what's life without a good challenge now and then, eh? I discovered that there's a real difference between writing the characters on a notepad and typing them. I've been a touch-typist for 35 years so I'm not doing a hunt/peck routine. So I think I need to alternate between writing them down old-school and typing them, just so I build both skill sets.

Transmitting... whoo boy, don't even want to think about that one just yet! Baby steps, baby steps...


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 Post subject: Re: Hallicrafters Compatibility Question- HT-40 >> HA-1 TO K
PostPosted: May Fri 04, 2012 3:48 pm 
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I think it is great that you have taken on the challenge of learning Morse Code. It sounds like you are well on your way, and congratulations. Once learned, it is something you never forget (like riding a bicycle).

Curtis Eickerman

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