Thursday, 11 August 2016

A Morse Key Connection

Today..... 11.8.2016 .....  11th August 2016..... is 102 years anniversary of the Klopfertaste M99 key on the previous blog. dated on the side   11.8.14

As a tribute to the family that were the previous owners, I present a story about the history of that key, it`s connection to the family, and now connecting me with the family, and all the history, too.

At the end of the story, there is a short video of me using the key, to send the message that is mentioned in the translation of Georges Julien `s life, (By kind permission of Christiane Lesven ). The message would have been broadcast, in French, by an announcer before the 9 pm news broadcast  on Radio Londres, and not  sent by morse code.

Here is the story .....

                                                A Morse Key connection –

            a potted history of the life of a German Morse key known as the Klopfertaste type M99

This story has several starting points ! But only one ending.…

          It was on  Ebay France that I saw this dirty old uncared for part missing morse key.. I had no idea, at that time, of the journey it would take me on,.. But it was a “buy it now”.. So I contacted the seller, and they gave me a price to post it to England… but before I received that, I decided I had better “buy it now” … before someone else did !..

Original Condition as received from France

Refurbished, rewired, and a new longer base

          And so starts a remarkable story, of how the information came about, through the curiosity about the markings on the side… It took me quite a lot of searching on Google images, before I finally tracked down the  name and type of key… Until then, I assumed that, because it was coming from France.. That it would have been a French maker… the “crown” looked to me, as though it was a copy of a French Priests hat.. ! !.. What the French Religious Authorities were doing with a morse key , I am not sure ! ! !.

       First is the Historical start point, or the Date of Manufacture. The key has a date impressed  on one side which is quite clear 11.8.14…. I am assured by a German friend, who has done a lot of the research work behind this key, that date would be 11th August 1914. .. Which means it was made 2 weeks after the start of the First World War. … From the other markings on the other side, my German Friend, has found that the F over S insignia, refers to the company of…  Ferdinand Schuchhardt, Telegraphenbauanstalt, Berlin SO.16, Germany. Established in 1886.

         The second starting point, would be that of who it was made for, and where it was used.  There is a “crown” like “logo” on the side, and this was really tricky to track down, as it is not  easy to track a picture on google internet search for “images”… however,  Once again, my German friend used his “local knowledge”, and a lot of intuition and guesswork, I would think.. Eventually he found a picture of the “crest” on a flag of the Post Office !.. … an almost identical match to the one on the key !.. And by this means, we have now associated it to being an “ownership mark” to indicate that it was “post office property”..

Which brings us around to a third starting point… How it ended up in the loft of a French Family…... but more of this one later ! ! ..see the translation of the life of Georges Julien, Croix de Guerre with palms, Renaudin of the Resistance. 
( Original French version here…  )
 by kind permission of Chris Lesven.  (Merci Chris)

          All of the above information, was gleaned as a result of my interest in “old morse keys” and a daily search of morse keys for sale on Ebay… not satisfied with just the U.K. market, I also delve into the USA ebay, the SouthAfrican equivalent “bid or buy”.. And Ebay Germany and Ebay France.  

         However, it turns out to be of German Origin, as already mentioned,… properly identified as a KLOPFER TASTE.. Or “knocker key”, after the sound it made in use. And the model was a newer version of the original M99. The basic difference being the older version had a solid brass rocker arm, and the newer one, ( from 1906) was made with a “pressed steel” flat bar rocker arm. Interestingly, the design incorporates a “sprung steel” leaf under the contacts at both ends, this design “improvement” was to lessen the knocking sound, when the  key was being used… Imagine (say) 20 operators in the same room, bashing away at their morse key, sending those urgent telegrams, and messages across the Original Internet… … ..  What a noise it must have made…

Having received the morse key.. I decided to “give it a go” , in its present state of neglect, surprisingly, it had a very nice easy movement, and made good morse !.. I was expecting it to be a bit stiff with rusty pivot points making an uneven contact… So, off to the workshop, and the story about it`s refurbishment is on my blogsite

Meanwhile, I had again been in contact with the seller  ( Dominique Julien ) to see if he had any  more information  about where it was used, and by whom.. Etc. I was most surprised to find out that the key actually belonged to his Grandmother, who, together with her husband, the Grandfather, both worked in the French PTT, or Postes, Telegraphes et Telephones… ( about 1921 to 1930 ) . Which was formed in 1921,… some 7 years after the key was made, and 3 years after the end of World War 1…   
      Dominique Julien  also informed me that the Grandfather, was a member of the Resistance, in World War 2.

(see the translation of the life of Georges Julien, Croix de Guerre with palms, Renaudin of the Resistance. ) ( Original French version here…  ) by kind permission of Chris Lesven.  (Merci Chris)

  Dominque Julien does not know exactly the history of this key, but has said…..

“  1) my grandfather and my grandmother both worked at the PTT, the French position, (edit… French Poste, Telegraphe & Telephone )  and it is likely that it was a telegraphist in the 1920 or 1930 (I could be confirmed through letters I have ).

    2) my grandfather was a great resistance during WW2 (see website: and may be there is  many messages passed using this morse key.”

     3)  my grandfather was arrested at work on 15/12/1943, but due to the negligence of German, he managed to escape into the street and disappear in the Paris metro, and of course, German then went to the home of my grandparents where they waited in vain, in the presence of my grandmother who knew nothing, and finally departed leaving with his cat       ! ! ! .

Chris Lesven   ( cousin of the seller Dominique Julien )  says  “  The only thing we know for sure is that it was probably recovered from a job in France (probably in Paris rue des Archives)”     
……….  who knows  ? ? ?  It survived the war and remained with Grandmother Julien afterwards until it came up for sale

The following is a translation  of the page …. Supplied by Chris Lesven…..

Georges JULIEN

Grand Resistant
Officer of the Legion of Honour
Croix de guerre with palms

Georges Julien was born in Tours on March 18, 1902. His father was a watchmaker, his mother a teacher. They live in the center of town, rue Jules Moinaux. George is the fourth child of a family that will have six, two boys and four girls.
In 1921, George met in Rouen his future wife, Marie Gabrielle Lesven he married the following year. Both start at Rouen a career in PTT.
In 1927, Julien torque is transferred to Paris, to the harmonic station on Rue des Archives (4th).
In 1937, Georges Julien controller is in Paris Central, seconded to LSGD, underground lines at great distances, always rue des Archives.
In 1939, it provides a course in Brest telephone exchange.

Entry into Resistance

In the first months of 1941, through the French Red Cross, Georges Julien, Robert Keller and Robert Guillet contact with Vic Smith, co-founder of Vengeance network. The three men, apart from their activity in the intelligence network, recruit comrades among the two center staff, that of rue des Archives (telegraph), and that of the Rue de Grenelle (phone).

      Georges Julien had the joy of learning the announcement of the Normandy landings, hearing the night of June 5 to 6 personal message he had been waiting for months the broadcast, he has not been given to know the liberation of his country, for which he fought in 1941.

   The day before his death, aware of the dangers he ran in Bordeaux, despite his official mandate of representative of the National Committee of Resistance, he said to a friend: 'I do not fear death under German bullets, but I'm afraid of falling victim to those I defend'

     At the end of June 1944, Bordeaux is both a `magazine` (explosive place politically)  and a basket of crabs. Since the wave of arrests that have taken place since the summer of 1943, and who literally dismembered Bordeaux Resistance, a climate of suspicion reigns between the various resistance movements.

   What is later called Grandclément case there is obviously a lot. But this is not the only cause: after landing, this is the question of the future organization of France that is asked. Power issues, put into the background during the dark years, now taking place in the foreground.

     The power struggle being waged by General de Gaulle and his powerful allies, are not confined to the traditional  circles of politics and diplomacy, it also manifests itself in the field.

        And in the Bordeaux region, where the British Secret Service (SOE) have a determining position from the beginning of the Resistance, it is clear that London intends to pull its weight, even at the cost of a confrontation between networks.

    It is in this context that  Georges Julien, alias Renaudin, arrived in Bordeaux in late May 1944, with a mission to recognize the authority of the National Council of Resistance. He will face the suspicion and intolerance of uncontrolled groups.

   June 29, 1944, a group of four men, members of the Bordeaux region of resistance networks, Georges Julien was seen on the corner of Mouneyra Street and Heron Street. Without a word, they empty on him their weapons at close range and fled swiftly from the surrounding streets.

They just killed Renaudin, the National Resistance Council was commissioned to bring order in the dramatic situation of the Resistance in Bordeaux, where a fratricidal war in 1944 took over the arrests, executions and deportations that struck this region since the summer of 1943.

End of translation……..

Note… The message that Georges Julien heard on the radio, was probably broadcast by Radio Londres – a French radios station from the BBC to support the French Resistance by passing “innocuous”  seemingly meaningless “personal messages”.

The following is taken from Wikipedia
        Shortly before the D-Day landings of 6 June 1944, Radio Londres broadcast the first stanza of Paul Verlaine's poem "Chanson d'automne" to let the resistance know that the invasion would begin within 24 hours.[2]

    Les sanglots longs
    Des violons
    De l’automne
    Blessent mon cœur
    D’une langueur

Blessent mon cœur d'une langueur monotone ("wound my heart with a monotonous languor") was the specific call to action.

        It is, therefore, a Great Honour for me to be able to resurrect this key, with all its history, and use it in memory of Georges Julien (Renaudin), who was tragically murdered by his own people, after serving his country in the most difficult of ways during the second world war. ..

     I am humbled by his bravery, and will always be in awe of him, as I use the key to connect with my friends over the NEW Internet…. Just as he may have done,  ( just maybe, as there is no confirmation that he did use this key)  with the OLD internet during his lifetime.

    From now on, for me….  this key will be renamed, the Georges Julien Key, in his memory, as I feel that I am somehow connected by this Morse Key, with your family, and Georges in particular..

A very sincere “Thank you“ , to Dominique Julien, and Chris Lesven, for supplying the information and history, and  for allowing me to re-tell this story,  I shall treasure this Morse Key, as a memento of a Hero of the French Resistance. 


Saturday, 6 August 2016

German Klopfertaste ( knocker key) M99 1914- Refurbishment

A few weeks ago, I was trawling the French Ebay site, and saw a very dirty, rusty, looking object, that sort of resembled a morse key... It had no knob on it, but it did have some interesting impressions on the side edges of the triple "sandwich" wooden base  .. I couldn`t resist the "buy it now" offer, and contacted the seller for postal costs. Before he had answered, I decided that I had better press the "buy it now" button, before anyone else did.
Here are some pics that were shown on the Ebay Sales page.

As you can see, it was in a "sorry state"... and certainly was going to be a bit of a challenge to bring it back to a working key again...

Eventually, the key arrived at my house, and I just could not wait to see how it worked.. as I usually have CWCOM running when my laptop is on, I used a couple of croc clips and flying leads to attach it to another key, piggyback style, and did a quick test transmission.... It worked  !.. probably the first time it has done that for a good 50 years ! .. So.. next step... down to the workshop, and start to dismantle it.

I started by removing the very tiny screws holding the electrical contact spring between the rocker arm and the main "yoke" support columns.

It was a very tiny screw, and a bit tricky, with my big fingers and thumbs... !..

Once that spring and the two tiny screws had been safely put to one side, it was reasonably easy to remove the rocker arm   and the pivot yoke, to put in the vice to be "buffed up" with the electric drill and rotary wire brush.

I tried to keep all the bits and pieces in some sort of "exploded" order, so that I could easily rebuild the key, when all the parts, had been cleaned and buffed up with the rotary wire brush.   Having my camera handy, and taking pictures at each stage, will also help, if some of the parts have been moved !..
Once the rocker arm and yoke had been cleaned up, I was "on a roll"... and the next job was to remove the "eyes"  where the original screws would have passed through to secure it to the desk/work bench  went through... these were and extremely tight "push-fit".. so I had to use a "drift" ( a conveniently sized piece of round brass rod). to knock them through from the underside.. After them came the front and rear contact bars...

On this particular type of key, the German engineering used a sprung steel contact plate,... this was said to reduce the "knock" noise, when in use.. and that also gives the key it`s name. " Knopfer Taste"  (Knock Key). Being steel, with steel machine screws, and given the amount of time they have been together, it was not surprising that they had rusted a bit, and just would not move with a small screwdriver... and so I had to resort to "brute force"... well.. a gentle tap with a strong screwdriver against the side of the spring steel plate, soon shifted it enough to continue using the smaller screwdriver to remove the machine screw completely...

Once all the bits had been cleaned, including the heads of the wood screws, and all the screw thread fixings.

 it was time to consider putting it all back together, and  what to use for a Knob on the key, because, as you can see from the original, it had gone missing some time ago..

Looking on Google images for a similar key.. ( at this stage, I had no idea what kind of key it was, where it was made, or anything, except it came from France).. but eventually, I did find a pic that looked very much like my key, and that Identified it as the M99 Klopfertaste... and it had a "flat knob" on it... At first, I decided I would try to make one from an existing wooden knob, but that did not seem to come out right in the finish... so, once again, I used Ebay, to source the knob... I found a supplier of Black Plastic Cooking Pot Lid Knobs... and they were just the right size, complete with machine screw to fit !.. Not a "true" replica, but for me.. near enough..

Before I put it all back together, I gave all the bits, including the wooden base, as coat of spray lacquer, to try and preserve the nice clean brass, and also to preserve the logos on the sides.  Then left them to dry overnight, before the final re-construction began... 

So , here are some pictures of  the finished refurbished key...

So there it was... all clean and shiny as a new pin... and, to me,.. a joy to look at.... however.. I just HAD to wire it up again, piggyback fashion, and have some fun with sending some morse with it....

 It has a very smooth and very light "feel" to it, and it will definitely be used on a day to day basis... as all my keys do,

Satisfied that it was working properly, I decided that it needed a longer base, because, as you can see, the knob "hangs over the front end" of the base, which doesn`t matter if it is screwed down to the bench... but working "free" it is just not possible, unless held firmly with the left hand.. Using a longer base, and a foam rubber sponge material ( thin washing up sponge) the key is quite stable on the desk and is a delight to use.

I also utilised the "eye" holes, to feed a couple of stiff insulated wires to the necessary contact points, and under the key to the base, where a proper long lead and jack plug can be soldered on to the eyes on the underside of the long base.  ( I fixed the Key base to the new base by a couple of wood screws up into the underside of the key)..

I am very pleased with the way it has turned out,... and it is a joy to use.  I am sure that the original operators thought so too...

The SF logo, and the Date Mark, explained....

Well, since I started using this delightful little key, I was eager to find out some history about it, and first stop was the seller on ebay.... he informed me, that it had been in his loft for many years, but he did not know what it was, except that it belonged to his Grandmother.    I wonder if she used it   ? ? ?   he did not say...

EDIT ......... 10 August 2016.     This key has a very interesting history, and is associated with a Hero of the French Resistance during World War 2..    a story about it`s history, and that of the hero will be published on this blogsite , on the 102nd anniversary of this key date, entitled, A morse key connection.

    intrigued, I wanted to know more about the logos and the date mark on the sides. and, as luck would have it, a German contact on CWCOM came to the rescue.  Guy, did a lot of research into the M99 and advised me that the date on the side, would refer to 11 AUGUST 1914...(Just a two weeks into World War 1, but at that time France and Germany, were not actually fighting !)..   and that the key was probably made for the early ham radio market, ( but not in Germany at that time.) (see below  ***** for Guy`s explanation).... .

 Here is the information that he found out... for which I am eternally grateful, to my good friend Guy in Germany,... as it really "brings to life " this old key....

Date of Manufacture. The key has a date impressed  on one side which is quite clear 11.8.14…. I am assured by a German friend, who has done a lot of the research work behind this key, that date would be 11th August 1914. .. Which means it was made 2 weeks after the start of the First World War. … From the other markings on the other side, my German Friend, has found that the F over S insignia, refers to the company of…  Ferdinand Schuchhardt, Telegraphenbauanstalt, Berlin SO.16, Germany. Established in 1886.

Who was it made for, and where it was used.?
      There is a “crown” like “logo” on the side, and this was really tricky to track down, as it is not  easy to track a picture on google internet search for “images”… however,  Once again, my German friend used his “local knowledge”, and a lot of intuition and guesswork, I would think.. Eventually he found a picture of the “crest” on a flag of the Post Office !.. … an almost identical match to the one on the key !.. And by this means, we have now associated it to being an “ownership mark” to indicate that it was “post office property”..

At that time there were different systems and different Keys using Closed Current - or Open Current-Apparatus.
   The difference between the old and new M99 may illustrate that.

*****  The first Ham-activities of private nature were done in Germany around 1920, 6 years after your "new" key was made, and that not licensed by the Reichstelegraphyadministration. The Railway stations that used the old M99 were connected by wire and did not use the new M99, that was used for Sf or sans fils or wireless technic.
Older version of M99   note full brass rocker

 And Finally..... ! ... here is a short video of me using the key.... you can click on the square to make it full screen.. and you need your phones on, or your speakers active. !   


Monday, 18 July 2016

SPEED-X model 321 Straight Key by Les Logan 1937-1947 renovation

I saw this key on ebay.... as usual,... because I look on there at least once a day ! ! .. it had no information about makers name, or history, or anything... so , to me, that made it more interesting, and I just "had" to buy it...

When it arrived, it was in a filthy condition,

and so I boiled a kettle, put some washing up liquid in the bowl, and gave it a good bath ! ! ... Yes sir ! a good bath, and I also gave it a good scrub with a toothbrush to clean it up... After it was dried off, I put it back together again, and gave it a quick test... it seemed to be "O.K." and so, I took it apart again, to apply some black shoe polish to the black crackle finish on the base,

 and gave it a good brushing up. ... put it back together again. cleaned the contact point and "paralleled" them, to make a good contact.. and did the initial adjustments...  a couple of hours of testing and adjusting, and this key can really move along... it is a joy to use, and pleasing to look at... I am proud to have it in my collection.

I had to do some digging around for information , starting by just looking for similar shape keys on Google Images... These led me to the name of the present company that makes a "similar" key.. Wm Nye in the U.S.A.  the name of the key was Speed-X... but the keys I saw were not exactly the same as mine... as you can see from the key has a chromed edge, and a slight "lip" around the top edge of that chrome.  Other versions shown were all brass, all chrome, or had different knob and rocker pivot points...

The mystery continues...  I contacted a friend in the U.S. who did find out a lot more about the Speed - X keys, and some history,... eventually, after several emails between us, I found an exact copy picture  which finally identified the key as the title suggests

Speed - X model 321 Straight Key made by Les Logan from 1937 to 1947.

Here is a short video of me doing a test session ....  click on the [   ] bottom corner, for full screen... turn on your speakers, or plug in your phones...


Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Straight Morse Key - How to set up....

I have been asked, several times, to write a piece about how I set up my straight keys... and so here it is...

 A straight key, is a basic, ON / OFF switching device. used to transmit Morse Code using a Landline, or a Radio Transmitter, or a flashing light.  The principle behind the code is the length of the dashes and dots, and the relationship between the two ( long and short) period of time that the key is actually in the ON position.  A Dash, or "dah" is equivalent to 3 Dots, or "Dit" or "Di "as in the famous letter V used for testing the key... "Di Di Di Dah"... The space between letters in one word is equivalent to one dot... and the space between words is equivalent to one dash..

To send morse properly, requires some skill, and understanding of that relationship,  the more you use the Morse Key, the easier and more "fluent" the operator becomes, which increases his speed of sending.  However, it must be appreciated, that it is no good sending fast morse, if the guy at the other end, cannot receive it correctly , or understand it correctly, and at a speed that he is comfortable with receiving it.....
. ... also it is no good sending fast morse, and making lots of  mistakes, .. this, in effect, slows down the actual words per minute count, due to error correction.

 Therefore, it is preferable to make good morse slowly and accurately... or , as I was told by my instructors in the Royal Navy... "Accuracy is more important than speed"...  That was true in 1960 and is still true today.

With that in mind, it should be obvious that the settings of the key should be understood, and so, I shall try to explain what to do, and what each function does, and how it will affect the morse being sent on that key.

Here is a drawing of a straight key...  not all straight keys look like this, and indeed, some have different arrangements for the spring tension, and pivot point, but the basic information about the settings will become obvious, when compared to the key you are trying to set up, according to these instructions...

To make a start.... have a look at your key... and make sure that the rocker arm is roughly parallel to the base, or horizontal,... as in the drawing.     The next thing to consider is the actual front contact points...   Here you need to use some fine wet and dry paper, in a strip, to make the contact points clean. by just holding down the key and tightening the gap adjuster ( front or rear , depending on your key ). so that one thickness of the wet and dry paper is "just" gripped... draw the paper across the points and repeat about 3 or 4  times. ... , then turn the paper over, and do the same again...
This "should" make the contact surfaces "level" when the key is closed.... ... If the rocker arm is tilted forward or backwards,.... only one edge of the Rocker Contact, will make contact with part of the base contact.... then the contact points will not close properly on a level surface, and cause key chirp, or incorrect, unwanted contact, so that is why it is important to start with the rocker arm "horizontal" as in the picture.

Once you have done the initial clean,... slacken off all adjustments.... If your key has pivot points with a screw thread on the side ( as shown in the picture),... then you need to slacken them off too..  Your key may not have side screw adjusters,.. but you still need to make sure that the rocker is free to move up and down... Use some WD40 or sewing machine oil on all friction parts, where the pivot is making contact with the upright supports. If there is wear on your rocker pivot, you will probably have problems sending, even though you adjust the rest of the key properly, so you may want to consider how you can refurbish the worn rocker pivots, or replace the key with one that has no wear, or sideways movement on the pivot point.  (Check it by holding the key steady and trying to move the knob from left to right.... )

Set the front and rear contacts (A & D )  to make the rocker arm horizontal again...  then tighten up the side adjustable pivot points until they "just" grip the rocker, making sure they have enough "grip" to prevent a sideways ( left to right ) movement of the rocker arm... Any sideways movement here, can alter the gap on the front contact by a hairs breadth, and cause incorrect keying. .. This adjustment is important.... and although it needs to hold the rocker arm steady, it must also allow "free movement" up and down on the rocker arm... If it is too tight, you will need to have more spring pressure or spring tension to return the rocker to the "off" position quickly enough for the key to work properly. Too tight, and it will also tire out your wrist action, and make keying uncomfortable or hard work,  after a short time.   Too slack, and it will move from side to side, as mentioned previously.

To check the "free movement"... slacken off the Gap adjuster ( front or rear depending on  your key)... so that it has a LARGE gap... and just test the movement of the rocker by quickly tapping the knob and watching to see how quickly it returns  ( you may need to add some spring pressure/tension, but don`t overdo it... "Just Enough" is the motto ... )

 a word about the springs on straight key...

Front springs, are usually PRESSURE springs.. where you have to screw down  to adjust how much pressure is needed in the spring below, to force the key "off" and back to rest position.

Rear springs are usually TENSION springs, where you screw an adjuster "out" or "up" to increase the PULL down on the rear half of the rocker arm, to pull the key "off" to the rest positon.

The amount of Tension or Pressure, that you have set on your key, will decide on how quickly the key returns to the "off" position, and also will decide the speed at which you can send... If you have a "strong" spring pressure or tension, it will bring the key off quicker, BUT, it will also slow down your sending, because you need more pressure in your wrist action to make the key "on"... and that will make your wrist tired quicker, and make more mistakes... and so, it is a "fine" line to adjust the spring properly for your sending style.

The next thing to do is to set the gap.... Tear off a strip of paper from a normal A4 paper as used for printing out letters, etc...about 20 mm wide will suffice... and place it in the front contact gap, and then adjust the gap with the rear gap adjuster ( or front, if no rear one on your key ).. until it "just" nips the paper.... remove the paper and check the "free movement" by tapping the key...  now is the time for you to adjust the spring tension, or spring pressure, depending on which type B or type E you have on your key... ... Practice sending some words ( not connected to your transmitter).. to see how the key "feels"...  and adjust the spring tension/pressure according to your way of sending.

And that`s about it..  ... from this "initial setup" you should be able to make "fine adjustments" of the gap and tension/pressure, to suit your style of sending... 

Once you have adjusted the spring tension/pressure, and set the gap, even small adjustments on the size of the gap, can alter the timing of your sending symbols, and subsequently, the speed that you can send at...

 As a really bad example of this.... If you set your gap at ( say ) 5 mm  and you sent some symbols, it would be ( say ) 10 wpm maximum because of the actual distance the rocker ( and contact closing time ) arm has to travel.... now if you reduced the gap to ( say ) 2.5mm... and sent the same symbols it would ( probably) increase the maximum speed to ( say ) 15 wpm.... and so on... the smaller the gap, the less time the rocker takes to close and open during your sending of symbols, and consequently, the smaller the gap, the quicker you are able to send...

 This does not mean, that by setting the gap very fine, you WILL send faster, because, of course, it depends on your skill and training levels. You can still send slowly with a small gap though ! ! !...

Remember... Accuracy is more important than speed..... and try not to send faster than the other guy can receive accurately.... !

I hope it has helped you to set, and get the best, of your straight key

The video below, shows me using an Admiralty Pattern 7681 Straight key, adjusted according to the instructions above.... as you can see, I do not use the key in a conventional "Hold"  I just tap on the spark guard.... I got my knuckles rapped with a ruler, quite a lot, when I was in training,... but eventually, the instructors decided I could send better "my" way... than the "official" way ! ! !

 You can view the video on FULL SCREEN by clicking the square in the bottom corner.... Put your phones on,.... or turn up the volume...


I do not have a ham licence, but you can find me on CWCOM, using my keys ( as featured elsewhere in this blog) contacting people around the world, using the ancient, morse code, over the modern internet...   ( CWCOM is free to use and download from )

Hope to see you there, my call is GEMS       73  VA dit dit

Wednesday, 8 June 2016


This blog is about how I refurbished the points and adjusted the spring tension on my Chrome Covered NATO morse key.

This key, based on the swedish design key, ( Lennart Petersson )  ( also known as "the swedish pump key")  uses a spring plate for the support and spring tension on the main rocker/sending arm. There is a spring tension adjuster, using a spanner and an allen key, that can only be accessed by removing the cover.  

. The switch on the front of the key, is for switching the key "out of circuit" of any transmitter, thus giving the operator control, and can prevent accidental keying by knocking the key.

The key was made by  Marconi S & R systems Ltd, from the late 60`s onwards, and also by Pryce Edwards Ltd. The key is a heavy one !... it weighs in at about 3.5lbs ( or 1.6 kg ).so it "sits" well on the desk. and doesn`t move when in use ! ! ..

I understand that the key had several different types of cover made for it... consisting of mild steel, brass, and fibreglass.   As far as I know, I have the only Chromed Cover key.... I am assuming that some previous owner had it done. .The normal colour of the key would be "navy" eggshell pale blue, or pale green. as can be seen in many pics available on Google Images.

So, I removed the two small knurled nuts on the casing to reveal the key inside.....

 on my key, there is a missing part, which is a connection block, that sits behind the key at the back end.

The gap adjuster is the round black knob on the top. (If you remove the knob, be careful not to lose the "pin" that controls the gap adjuster)...

It is annotated with numbers from 0 to 9, and originally, 0 would have caused the key to be "on" all the time, so that would be the minimum gap... The rotation of the knob, increases/decreases the gap,... the position of the knob is held in place by a simple sprung "peg" underneath the cover, and locates in a slotted ring under the knob..

.(If you remove the knob, be careful not to lose the "pin" that controls the gap adjuster)...

To remove the rocker arm, only requires the slackening off, of the two screws on the main support,

and sliding the rocker arm back towards yourself.

 the spring plate has two cut outs for securing it when the screws are re-tightend.

Once removed, I noticed that the actual contact point, was worn, somewhat, so I decided I would have a go at rebuilding it using ordinary solder.... to do this, I employed the gas cooker method !. (because I don`t have a gas blow torch! ! !).....

. I set the rocker arm in my portable vice, for two reasons... firstly, to act as a heat sink, against the plastic "business end"... and secondly, just to hold the arm firmly in the gas jet to heat it up... I also used my trusty soldering iron, again, heated in the gas jet, to assist the flow of solder onto the end of the rocker..

. When I had decided there was enough solder, I removed it and cooled it under the cold tap.!.. then I carefully fixed it into the vice so that I could file the surface of the solder to level it out. and present a good level surface for the adjuster knob to make contact with..

 Some will say that the solder is too soft for the job,... but it won`t make "that" much difference, because when it wears down again, it will be a simple job to rebuild it again.

Putting it back together, was simple enough,... just making sure that the "tongues" of the spring plate were pushed home firmly, before tightening down.... then it was a matter of replacing the gap adjuster, and re-setting the spring tensioner with the allen key, before finally putting on the Chrome Cover, and doing a test piece...