With the heavy rain outside, I was never going to get much outdoor work done today, so I decided to take on a homebrew project. I need a second CW key for the shack because at the moment I have to switch my Kent paddle from the Yaesu FT-1000MP to the FT-897 whenever I am changing from HF to 6 metres.
So I took a trip to Homebase and had a look around for parts which might be useful in making a CW paddle. I purchased a box of hacksaw blades (for the paddle), a press latch (to hold the blades), two small picture hooks (to act as contacts) and the rest I had in the shack, including a block of wood, some wire, a small stereo jack and some lock parts to act as wire holders.
My soldering is not exactly wonderful so I found getting the wire onto the small 1.25mm jack a little bit tedious, but I got there. I did not make any solders on the CW paddle itself - rather I just made secure contacts with the wire using screws. I drilled all the holes for the screws after the first block of wood split!! (Lesson for you all maybe!)
After about an hour I had a completed homebrew single-paddle morse key. All I needed to do was test it, so I took it to the shack and plugged it into the back of the FT-897. To my surprise, it worked first time. I made some contacts on 15m in the WPX CW contest, so it's definitely working fine. It will take a bit of getting used to though. I am used to the double-paddle key, which is a lot bigger, heavier and more robust. The homebrew key is a little 'light' on the touch, but fine nonetheless.
Above is a photo of my creation. I shall call it the 'EI2KC CW key Mk I' (Prototype!). Total cost: Less than 15 euro.