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Founded, January 2006
25,190 members strong
as of 3-Dec-2021

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| Key Policy | Accepted Keys |Remote Station Operation Guideline |

SKCC Policy on Keys and Exemptions

Questions frequently arise over the SKCC's policy regarding acceptable key types for SKCC activities and awards.

In reading the following rules, bear in mind that the club operates on the honor system. The club also has an obvious purpose: to perpetuate the use of keying devices -- straight keys, side-swipers (cooties), and semi-automatic keys (bugs) -- that do not rely on electronics to form or space CW characters or weight their elements.

When questions arise about specific details that the following rules don't mention, consider the spirit as well as the letter of the rules. That spirit involves more than perpetuating CW. We aim to do that, but so do other groups. We also aim to perpetuate the consistent use of an historically important subset of devices for sending CW.

-- Accepted keys for SKCC activities are the straight key, semi-automatic key, and side-swiper only, as commonly defined.

-- All SKCC-related activities, events, sprints, awards, exchange of member numbers and any CQs seeking contacts within the scope of these activities, must be performed entirely with SKCC-accepted devices. The only exception is for members who are not capable of using an accepted device due to physical limitation.

-- Waivers due to physical limitation are to be self-granted. Members who exercise their right to such a waiver should first have made a good-faith effort to determine that none of the accepted key types provides a remedy to their physical limitation. Remember, bugs and sideswipers were originally developed to relieve the physical stress and pain many operators experienced after long periods operating with a straight key. Electronic keying devices may be used only if physical limitations prevent the use of any of the acceptable keying devices.

The SKCC Accepted Key Types

SKCC specifically promotes the use of manual keys and keying techniques that do not depend on electronically automated dits and dahs. Following is a description of the three accepted key types.

Straight Key

This is the common up-and-down action key that everyone recognizes as a classic telegraph key. Electrically it is a simple two-terminal momentary contact switch. A doorbell switch could be used as a straight key and would be acceptable for SKCC purposes.

The "modern" generic example of a mass produced straight key is the J38 model, but there are hundreds of other models from manufacturers past and present.

Various techniques are used for sending on a straight key but in all cases the duration, timing and spacing of dits and dahs is entirely controlled by the operator's hand movements and individual sense of rhythm.

Semi-automatic key or "Bug"

The bug is a side-to-side action key which features a spring and pendulum mechanism that generates series of dits when activated by the thumb; dahs are formed individually by the index finger. It is an entirely mechanical two-terminal key that is connected to the rig in the exact same manner as a straight key.

The most commonly available bug models are manufactured by the Vibroplex company. However, not every Vibroplex is a bug. Vibroplex also manufactures keyer paddles, which are not suitable for SKCC purposes unless adapted for use as a cootie or sideswiper key (below).

Important: Some rigs and electronic keyers feature a semi-automatic bug emulation mode. This electronically generated mode, used with keyer paddles, is not accepted for SKCC purposes.

Cootie or Side-swiper

This is also a side-to-side action key like the bug, but minus the pendulum assembly. Electrically it is a simple two-terminal momentary switch. It is connected to the rig in exactly the same way as the straight key or bug (i.e., using the same jack, plug type, wiring, menu setting, etc). It can be used "plug-and-play" interchangeably with those key types or connected in parallel with them.

There are various techniques for sending on a sideswiper but in all cases the duration, timing and spacing of dits and dahs is entirely controlled by the operator's hand movements and sense of rhythm.

Important. The sideswiper/cootie key resembles commonly available keyer paddles, but is wired differently. Keyer paddles can however be jumpered for use as a sideswiper, which would then be considered acceptable for SKCC purposes.

The essential distinction between sideswiper and paddles is that the latter is used in conjunction with an electronic keyer circuit to automatically generate perfectly timed dits and dahs. In contrast, a sideswiper uses no electronic keyer; the duration and timing of dits and dahs is 100% controlled by the operator's hand motion and individual sense of rhythm. If your paddle generates automatic dits or dahs it is not set up as a sideswiper/cootie and is not accepted for SKCC activity.

SKCC Guidelines on Remotely Operated Stations

In order to maximize the use of hand keyed CW while maintaining equitable and friendly competition in SKCC activities members are urged to abide by the following honor system guidelines:

1. Remote station operation should be limited to situations where it is not possible to use one's own rig: restrictive living arrangements (apartments, senior facilities, HOAs); while traveling; as a temporary substitute for an inoperative rig; when overwhelming local QRN prevents reception of signals; to activate specially requested SPCs (by prior arrangement with SKCC Board).

2. Remote transmitters and/or receivers should not be used in a way as to gain an intentional competitive advantage in the pursuit of SKCC awards, endorsements, contests and events.

3. SKCC accepted key types only must be used. The remote station must transmit CW signals exactly as keyed by the operator; in other words, the transmitted signal must fully preserve all the timing and spacing characteristics of the operator's straight key "fist".

4. Operators must provide the SPC (State, Province or Country) of the remote transmitter location, not their operating location, in the initial SKCC QSO exchange.

5. SKCC geographic awards (WAS, DXCC) may have additional requirements for remote station operators.

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