Getting started with Arduino: morse keyer


Close-up of the prototype keyer.

Using a paddle to operate in morse code is very convenient. But paddles don’t create dots and dashes on their own, so you need some electronics, called a “keyer”. You may use the build-in keyer of your radio, but most of them lack of functionality. You may buy a keyer at your local ham store, but these are rather expensive. So why not build your own keyer? It’s fun to do, and you learn new things. The Arduino prototyping board allows you to build the most advanced and personalized keyer that you have in mind! This article gives you a decent start for such a keyer, by implementing the basic functionality and learn a bit about the Arduino platform if you’re not familiar with this board yet. — more →

First experiences with my 30m QRP transceiver


Final shot of the rig, including labels, key and headphones.

This year I built a very nice 30m QRP transceiver, based on a design by Onno PA2OHH. Meanwhile I have used this rig a couple of times, and did some measurements too. This article tells some of my experiences with this great little box. — more →

30m QRP transceiver – Part 4


Inside view of the radio, including all modules built so far.

Since I finished all modules for the receiver part (power, LF, VFO and RX-board), it was getting time to put everything together and place it in a nice case. Onno PA2OHH (designer of this radio) managed to put the complete transceiver in a single Teko 4B case, so I ordered that same box. Actually I already bought it at the beginning of the project, to help me dimensioning the modules. With such limited space, planning the physical layout of the radio (both the front panel and the inside) is very important. — more →

Best dutch participant in AGCW contest


My Junker straight key.

The AGCW is a german club of morse code enthousiasts, maybe the best CW club in the world, with lots of foreign members as well. They organize all kinds of small activities, related to CW off course, one of them being the “HandTasten Party” (HTP, straight key party). In this contest the only way to make a QSO is by using a straight key. So no bugs, no keyers, no computers, just the classic way. There are actually two HTP contests, one is on the 80m band every first Saturday of February, and the other on 40m every first Saturday of September. This year I participated in the 80m contest again, as a nice warming-up for the PACC contest. — more →

30m QRP transceiver – Part 2


The finished VFO, just before closing the lid.

Building a stable VFO is challenging. Oscillators tend to drift away due to (very small) temperature fluctuation, or due to small capacitive changes in the direct environment (e.g. the frequency changes when you move your hand towards the oscillator). The VFO used in my 30m QRP transceiver is not different from others, so I had to deal with the same issues. — more →

30m QRP transceiver – Part 1


The first modules of my 30m QRP transceiver.

This summer I want to go walking in the beautiful highlands of Scotland, together with my wife. The mobile phone coverage in this desolate area is none or poor, but hey… I’m a radio amateur! For a daily “sign of life” I need a lightweight transceiver, and 30m (10.100 – 10.150 MHz) seems to be a perfect band for this purpose.

After browsing the web for designs, I stumbled on the website of Onno PA2OHH. Besides lots of other interesting QRP projects, I found his NiceRig 40-30 QRP Transceiver. I immediately fell in love with this design and decided to build this thing.

Building this rig takes quite some time, so I publish this project in different posts, showing you the progress of this project. — more →

Is our 80/160m HEDZ suitable to work Americans at 160m?

Adrian PA0RDA and his Drake TR-7

Adrian PA0RDA and his Drake TR-7

Last weekend was the yearly ARRL 160m contest. Adrian PA0RDA and I were still a bit in doubt about our HEDZ antenna for 80 and 160m: is it suitable to work American and Canadian stations at 160m? So far we never heard any station from that area on that band, so Adrian decided to bring his Drake TR-7 for the weekend and try to work these countries during the 160m contest, probably the best opportunity for this test. — more →

Bad luck

Since Adrian PA0RDA was ill during the contest weekend, and we were not able to setup all antennas due to poor condition of the field, we decided to skip the PACC contest. However, on Sunday morning I could not resist to give away some points, so I made a bunch of CW QSO’s on 15m. We hope for more luck in 2014.

CW keyer for foxes and beacons


Beacons and foxes have to identify themselves. Although I could sit along all day with my morse key, transmitting my call, I wanted to have some automatic keyer. Since I recently bought a PIC development kit (Velleman K8048), I thought that it would be a nice idea to create my first PIC application by building a CW keyer.

I never wrote PIC source code yet, but I have done some assembly for 68000 and x86 in the past. So it shouldn’t be to difficult to write a simple program, keying one of the outputs of a PIC. On the CD of my PIC development kit I found some sample programs, including one for a flashing LED (this appears to be the “Hello, World!” application for microcontrollers). I modified the source code and finally build the bunch of code which you can find on the bottom of this page. I’m sure that this code is not the best PIC program of the world, but it works and at least I understand how it actually works. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to send them to me! — more →

Fox transmitter for 80m


Fox hunting is one of the many aspects of ham radio. It’s some kind of game, where the “fox” is a little transmitter, and competitors have to locate it using a directional antenna and receiver. I already built a special receiver for fox hunting, and my wife (PD2W) built one too. So having 2 receivers it would be a nice idea to add a fox to these, to get a complete mini-fox-hunt-kit. One of the members at the club pointed me at the so-called “OXO transmitter”. I looked it up at the internet, and immediately liked its simplicity. So I started to build it.


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Pixie2 QRP transceiver for 80m


The smallest QRP transceiver for 80 meters, called “Pixie 2”, is a very nice project to start building your own equipment. Minimum components, maximum fun. The spec’s are poor, but what else might you expect for just a few dollars?

The G QRP Club compiled a nice booklet called The Pixie File, which includes the history of this little transceiver and some variants. — more →

Your first transmitter

my1sttxWith just a few components, you can make your own morse code transmitter. The output is only a few miliwatts, but this is enough to receive on any radio in your home.

In fact, it is only a simple Clapp Oscillator with the output directly driven into a few meters of wire. The transmitting frequency depends on the used crystal. This may be any crystal between 1 and 15 MHz, higher frequencies may perhaps work also, therefore you may lower the 2 capacitors a little bit.

The transmitting frequency is not only the one shown on the crystal, but also “harmonics”: If you have for example a crystal of 3.56 MHz, then it transmits (of course) on 3.56 MHz, but also a bit at 7.12 MHz (2 * 3.56), 10.68 MHz (3 * 3.56), 14.24 MHz (4 * 3.56), etc.

The operating voltage is not critical, a 9 volt battery will do the job.


  • C1 – 100 picofarad
  • C2 – 100 picofarad
  • R1 – 10 kilo-ohm
  • R2 – 1 kilo-ohm
  • S1 – Morse key or switch
  • T1 – BC547 or any other universal NPN transistor
  • X1 – Any crystal you like between 1-15 MHz