Capacitive CW Touch Key

With the continuing saga of the SoftRock still not playing ball it crossed my mind that getting the SoftRock itself to generate the CW signal, rather than from within software, might not be a bad idea. It’s got a socket for a paddle and attaching one and seeing what happens might not be a bad idea in the course of things.

Not owning a Morse key was a relatively easy situation to overcome until I realised how much these things were! I was gob smacked at the prices they commanded on both the new and used market. To own something that had seen service during WWII, combined with the nostalgia factor would be great, but at the end of the day my Morse ability is somewhat lacking and the furthest it has ever been pushed is the “appreciation of Morse” session in the Intermediate exam training. I needed a quick, simple and cheap solution.

A lot of internet research eventually landed me at M0UKD’s site. I’ve been here before and used John’s guide for modding my MFJ-971 ATU. In amongst a whole host of useful stuff on the site is the Capacitive CW Touch Key project in the homebrew section, which set me thinking that building one would be the way to go http://www.m0ukd.com/homebrew/capacitive-cw-touch-key-circuits/

I liked the idea of the project so ordered one of the pre-built boards. I’ve played with surface mount stuff before but I wanted something up and running quickly, plus by the time I’d bought all the solder paste and bits and loused it up a couple of times I’d no doubt have spent as much as I would have securing a WWII relic off of eBay.

Suitably armed with the tiny board, a cheap project box and a chunk of aluminium L-section from good old eBay I set about putting it all together. It took a little bit longer than I’d hoped to build, simply because my workbench is in the garage and with the soldering iron being the only source of heating, numb fingers meant my dexterity wasn’t what it usually is! I need to install some sort of heating in there but that’s for another day!

Anyway, with a few hours careful work, the majority spent drilling and filing down the plastic for the enclosure, its all done. It’s small, solid and functional. John quotes 3000 hours life from 2 x AA batteries so I’m not complaining.

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The board is available from http://www.m0ukd.com and for £20 including P&P you can’t got wrong!

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There’s a video produced by M0UKD of the circuit in use on YouTube if you want to see it in action

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