Tag Archives: Keys

Eric’s DIY Cootie: “Levon”

Many thanks to Eric (WD8RIF) who writes:

Well, if K8RAT is going to tout Hermione, I guess I need to tout Levon.

My cootie/sideswiper was inspired by an article (http://sideswipernet.org/articles/w9ok-modernization.php) by W9LA about how hams in the 1930s might have constructed a cootie/sideswiper using a ceramic DPST knife switch. I didn’t have a ceramic DPST knife switch, but I did have a nice Leviton ceramic DPDT knife switch which I used as the basis for my cootie/sideswiper. Instead of using tape for the fingerpieces as described in the article, I used Fender guitar picks.

This cootie is the key I use most often for home-based operations.

While operating in the field, I usually use an inexpensive and lightweight Whiterook MK-33 single-lever paddle as a cootie key.

Levon is a handsome sideswiper, Eric! Thanks for sharing his story and your photo!

Thanks to both of you, I feel inspired to make my own “cootie” this winter. Perhaps I’ll try to find some historic context/inspiration as well!

Any other homebrew sideswipers, straight keys, or paddles you’d like to share? Please contact me and we’ll feature your creations!

I’ve got a very special one that’ll be featured later this week. Stay tuned!

Alex builds a simple sideswiper

Many thanks to Alex (W3AVP) who shares this photos of his homemade cootie/sideswiper originally posted on the POTA Faxcebook page. Alex notes:

I didn’t want to lug my Begali key to the parks so I made my own using the plans from KA8VIT. Worked great! I had a little QRP key but my fat fingers would make so many mistakes. The DIY aspect of this hobby is extremely entertaining!

And I bet your “cootie” serves you well in the field! I love the simple design and the fact it even has an adjustable action. At the end of the day, keys are merely switches so are perfect for homebrewing!

If you have a sideswiper/cootie or any other key you’ve built and would like to share it here on QRPer, contact me (K4SWL at QRPer.com).

Thanks for sharing, Alex!

W1SFR’s New Portable Torsion Bar Key

TBP3qtrLftFront(Source: W1SFR)

New Portable Torsion Bar Key Announced by W1SFR
Jan 12, 2016—Sudbury, VT

Many of you know W1SFR from the End Fed random wire antennas that have become very popular with QRP ops around the world. The antenna design is not new and has handed down by many hams over many years, but Steve has managed to create quite a following due to his attention to construction and only using the best of materials…all at a very reasonable price.

Now he has applied that same attention to detail and high value to his new “TBP” (Torsion Bar Portable) key. Torsion bar keys use a unique combination of construction and design to provide the CW op with a different experience…one that users are saying very good things about. All of his keys feature a contact system that allows the key lever to make a “softer” contact allowing the very slightest movement when the contact post hits the stainless contact. That not only makes the key feel less “mechanical”, but also makes it much more quiet…a feature these keys are known for.

“ I make each key by hand and top them off with my trademark exotic wood finger pieces with a signature Mother-Of-Pearl dot on each finger piece…no CNC plastic here. The torsion system allows very close contact spacing and effortless CW. The TBP represents a much smaller version of my larger keys, designed to be at home in the field or in the shack.”

The new portable key follows W1SFR’s TBKII, a single lever key and the TBSK, a torsion bar straight key.

You can see all of the keys at W1SFR.com.

Note: Steve also tells me that he lowered his prices for the Christmas season and has decided to extend them for the month of January. Click here to check out his product line.