February 17, 2013

Project: PicoKeyer Plus Kit

Back in 2010, we built the PicoKeyer Plus (V3.8) kit from HamGadgets (N0XAS Dale).  We really enjoyed building and using this kit and wanted to share our experience and a pictures of the finished product.

What is a PicoKeyer Plus?

The PicoKeyer Plus is a diminutive Morse code memory keyer that comes in kit form.  The PicoKeyer Plus is available fully assembled too.  This photo provides a little perspective of the relative size as compared to a Hamkey.

NJ2X's finished PicoKeyer Plus connected to a Hamkey

Why the PicoKeyer Plus?

There are a fair number of keyers on the market.  We choose the PicoKeyer because it fit really well with what we were looking for.  Namely:
  • Value - Hard to beat this much keyer for under $20.
  • Code Practice Oscillator - The built-in speaker was attractive since the keyer could be used for learning Morse code.
  • Kit - There is nothing quite as satisfying as building your own device and then using it.
  • Appearance - We really like the quality looking finished product with its attractive and durable case.
  • MCW - The small size, self-contained power, and built-in MCW mode makes this a very attractive way to explore Morse code on FM HT's or mobile rigs.

The PicoKeyer Plus Kit

This is a very straightforward kit.  The kit comes with easy step-by-step instructions and an operations manual.  All the parts are through-the-hole so soldering is a breeze.

PicoKeyer Plus Kit

All the parts are mounted directly to a silk-screened board.  The board is easily fit into a nice black project case by drilling four holes and securing two screws.  Drilling templates are provided which makes hole placement easy.  We used clear tape to secure the templates to the face and end plates.  This worked perfectly the first try.

Templates secured to the face and end plates with clear tape
Face and end plates after drilling with templates still in place

PicoKeyer Plus board soldered prior to mounting in the case

PicoKeyer Plus Fully Assembled

We really like the how our finished kit turned out.  It looks great in its enclosure.  The quality is everything we had hoped for.  The board is held securely in place and is protected by the case.  There is no play in the controls or connections.  The knob on the front panel is used to adjust the Morse code speed.  The button is used for programming purposes.

NJ2X's fully assembled PicoKeyer Plus (front)

The PicoKeyer Plus can work with paddles or straight key.  It can even automatically detect when a straight key is plugged in during power up.

NJ2X's fully assembled PicoKeyer Plus (rear)

The code practice oscillator feature is very handy.  The audio volume is adequate when practicing in a quiet environment.  This is as expected considering the small speaker.  We haven't found the need to connect to an outboard audio amplifier so far.

If you enjoy kit building or are in the market for an excellent keyer do give the PicoKeyer Plus consideration.  All-in-all, it is a fantastic bargain.  We highly recommend the kit and N0XAS (Dale) is great to work with.

We hope to eventually interface our PicoKeyer Plus to our Kenwood HT and give MCW a try.  Stay tuned to NJ2X.COM for a future article.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

Other related articles on NJ2X.COM

© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.