CW Key Adjustment

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CW Key Adjustment

Postby N5YOZ » Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:06 am

I've seen it mentioned on other forums but I thought I would start a thread on it to zero in on the subject.

Do any of you use a feeler gauge to adjust the gap on your key? If so, what setting do you use? Do you have a different setting for Iambic vs straight vs bug, etc?

THANKS IN ADVANCE
Ol' Kev
N5YOZ - Amateur Extra; First Licensed 1992
CW Wannabe
Yaesu FT-2400 & FT-7400
Signal Electric Spark Gap Key, J37/J45, Navy Flameproof, Vibrokeyer
Maybe today's my day . . . but with 5 billion people in the world, what are the chances?
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Postby va3sax » Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:02 pm

I always adjust the gap on my keys to feel. Measuring with a feeler gauge may give you a consistant measurement of the gap across the board with different actual key feel for each. Once I've cleaned it all and adjusted the spring I attach it to a practice oscillator and send a series of V's if the closure feels like it happens too early I increase the gap. If the closure happens later than it should I decrease the spacing
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Postby kb4qqj » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:14 am

Here is a generic place to start;
http://www.mtechnologies.com/misc/keyadj.htm
I personally use a sheet of lined notebook paper. One or two sheets thickness. Depends on your preference. That also is one of the best cleaning strips you can find. Just close the contacts enough to hold slight pressure on the paper and slide it back until it almost comes out of the contacts. Release pressure and repeat. Don't keep pressure applied off the end of the paper sheet. That traps lint between the contacts and defeats the purpose.

If you need a photo of the following parts, let me know.
They US Army says:

To adjust the hand key properly follow these instructions:

(1) Loosen the locknut on the space adjusting screw and turn the screw counterclockwise until there is approximately 1/4-inch of space between the contacts.
(2) Loosen the locknut on the spring tension screw and turn the screw counterclockwise until all spring tension is released.
(3) Loosen the locknut on each grunion screw. Adjust the two grunion screws until the contacts are aligned. The contact on the key lever should be directly above the contact mounted on the key base. Tighten both grunion screws simultaneously until the key lever remains up or in an open contact position. Loosen each grunion screw slightly until the key lever falls freely. Grasp the grunion screws firmly with one hand to prevent them from turning and tighten the locknuts with the other hand.
(4) Fold a sheet of ordinary paper twice (four thicknesses) and place this paper between the two contacts. Tighten the space adjusting screw until the contacts begin to exert pressure as you move the paper. Grasp the space adjusting screw with one hand and tighten the locknut with the other hand. Remove the paper. The space between the contacts should be approximately 1/32 of an inch. This setting applies to all keys. It is not a matter of individual preference.
(5) Turn the spring tension screw clockwise until the spring begins to exert pressure and raises the key lever. Turn the spring tension screw one and one-half turns clockwise. Tighten the locknut. A pencil mark on the spring tension screw will help you to measure the amount of turn. The amount of spring tension required depends on you. However, it should never be more than the minimum amount necessary to form clear and distinct IMC characters.
d. Improper adjustment of the hand key can result in one or more of the following conditions:
(1) Too much spring tension forces the key lever up before the elements are completely formed, causing short dits and dahs. In addition, you will be required to expend more effort while sending and will become tired after a short period of time.
(2) Not enough spring tension causes the elements of the code characters to run together or the space between elements to be irregular.
(3) Too much space between the contacts has the same effect on sending as too much spring tension. Too little space between the contacts has an effect similar to weak spring tension.
(4) Grunion screws that are too tight cause the key lever to bind. Grunion screws that are too loose might keep the contacts from meeting in proper alignment.
(5) Dirty contacts cause scratchy or intermittent keying. Keep the contacts clean at all times. Contacts may be cleaned by sliding paper between them while exerting slight pressure on the key button.
(6) Locknuts that have not been tightened cause the key to get out of adjustment while sending. Insure that all locknuts are secure after adjusting the grunion, space adjusting, and spring tension screws.


Randy_KB4QQJ
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Postby k8jd » Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:36 am

I used to use a 3X5 inch file card as a gap guide on my J-38 key.
. Now I use smaller spacing to go faster (QRQ).
73 from K8JD, SKCC 1395, Centurion 18, Tribune 12, Band Endorsements; 160, 80, 60, 40, 30M, 20, 17, and 10M

Ham radio is real Radio, CW is real Hamming!
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Postby kb4qqj » Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:00 am

3x5 stock is pretty wide gap. But I know some Chinese and Japanese operators that use a 1/16" gap and are pretty darn fast!! I don't know how they do it. Mine stays about .003" to .004". Slightly less than or same thickness of note paper.

Randy
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Postby KC9KHG » Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:11 am

Cool,a little action!! ha ha

This may sound odd,but,I am what I am!! I don't get on the radio much in the summer. When Fall comes and I start to get back on the radio,I open the gap up on my J-38. I guess I'm a little rusty and feel like I have more control. As I get more practice,I close the gap to less than notebook paper.

Is that odd?
SKCC #3687Tx6
WCC #281
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Postby kb4qqj » Sat Oct 23, 2010 6:03 am

I don't think so, of course the Chinese guy might! :-) mine is set less than notebook paper at .030" If you get to close you become what ole timers call a "tapper". Where you no longer grip the knob, but just tap the top of the knob. Then there is the "nipper". The guys who just "nip" the edge of the knob skirt. Each has a very distinctive fist.

Randy
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Postby k8jd » Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:24 pm

I used the file card when I was a novice 49 years ago.
Now I use a hair plucked off one of my family cat's tails.
73 from K8JD, SKCC 1395, Centurion 18, Tribune 12, Band Endorsements; 160, 80, 60, 40, 30M, 20, 17, and 10M

Ham radio is real Radio, CW is real Hamming!
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Location: Commerce, MI

Postby Guest » Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:05 am

poor Cat ;-)
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Postby k8jd » Sat Mar 12, 2011 1:59 am

Back before tube radios they used a "cat's whisker" thin wire probe to find a hot spot on a Galena crystal to detect radio signals !!
Poor cat indeed :D
73 from K8JD, SKCC 1395, Centurion 18, Tribune 12, Band Endorsements; 160, 80, 60, 40, 30M, 20, 17, and 10M

Ham radio is real Radio, CW is real Hamming!
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