Portable CW Keys
2019-05-02 After modifying my Whiterook MK-44 Mini CW key as described below I took another look at my home brew portable straight key and decided to rebuild it as well. It is now just 1-3/4" wide, 4" long and 1-5/8" to the top of the knob. It weighs 1.1 oz which is the same as the modified MK-44. That compares with 9.5 oz for a J-38 type key and a whopping 2.4lbs for my MFJ paddle! But most importantly, I think both the MK-44 paddle and this new straight key can go with me in my portable QRP bag giving me the options I like for operating anywhere. Plus it was fun to work on both. For me ham radio is a chance to do creative projects like this.
2019-04-30 for several years I've had a Whiterook MK-44 Mini CW key. I've used it off and on here in the shack. But I never took it outside with me in part because it was hard to pack in a small, tightly packed bag along with my other stuff without damaging it. Today, with my resurfacing interest in portable QRP operation including very light weight antennas, small radio, small battery, etc. I began looking at this key again. I had already home brewed a light weight straight key shown below as my J-38 like key was just too heavy and bulky to carry with my other small gear. But today it occurred to me that if I could mount the key levers inside the box-base of the MK-44 it would be much easier and secure to pack and might actually be easier to use. The photos below show the result. I think it has the possibility of being a good portable paddle to use with my Xiegu X5105 and other portable rigs. Time will tell! The photos below show it before and after my modification.