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[WriteLog] Multi-Keyer Problems

To: writelog Reflector <writelog@contesting.com>
Subject: [WriteLog] Multi-Keyer Problems
From: "Richard L. King" <k5na@texas.net>
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2003 17:37:39 +0000
List-post: <mailto:writelog@contesting.com>
I bought a new W5XD/K5DJ Multi-Keyer before the 2003 CQWW CW and I am having some problems with it. I mentioned one of the problems here before but never got what I would call a true solution. I would like to ask if anyone else has experienced these problems or if you can point out something that I have done wrong.

I have used the keyer for two CW contests now (CQWW CW and ARRL 160 CW) and I am running Writelog version 1042C.

Problem 1. There seems to be a serious incompatibility between the W5XD keyer and the FT1000MP MkV PTT inputs.

When I first hooked the keyer up I found that the PTT line will drop the radio back to receive sometimes while it is sending. This happens whether I am sending from CW memories and/or sending with the paddle input. The problem seems to come and go and will drop out right in the middle of a string of characters.

I have two FT1000MP MkVs and the problem is the same on both the left and the right radio. So I don't believe the problem is one of the radios, unless it is a basic incompatibility problem between the keyer and Yaesu.

I also discovered that my footswitch, connected through the keyer, would also allow the radio to drop out of transmit while I was holding it down and not actually sending anything. Since this happens when I am not sending, I don't believe I have a RFI issue.

At one point the footswitch failure became almost solid and I was able to help matters by rewiring the 1/8in stereo plug that goes into the footswitch jack on the keyer. I soldered the cable shield that goes on the ring to the ground connection in the plug making the ring and ground common. This made the footswitch work much, much more reliably, but only the footswitch. The PTT generated by the paddle input and/or the computer through the keyer was still intermittent.

It was my understanding from reading the keyer literature when I was making the keyer cables that no grounds should be used at the keyer and the shield of the cable should go to the ring of the 1/8in stereo plugs. But maybe I missed something about that? But connecting the shield of that cable to the keyer ground certainly improved the reliability of my footswitch.

I am wondering if I now need to solder the shields of the cables that go from the two FT1000 PTT inputs to the keyer ground to improve their reliability? Or does that defeat the purpose of the opto-couplers?

I really need to stop the keyer from dropping the PTT line while sending and I need some advice as to the best way to do that.

Problem 2. When I occasionally use my paddle in a contest, it usually works as expected. This is a situation when I send a call again, or ask for a repeat, or send a repeat exchange using the paddle. However when I do a small ragchew, I have problems.

If I continuously send CW for longer that a few seconds using the W5XD keyer, it goes key down on me with a solid keyed output from the radio/amp. If I hit the dit key once or twice the radio will stop keying and is ready for me to resume sending.

I tried turning off the amplifier in case there as a RFI problem and the problem is still there running only 50M. That doesn't necessarily rule out RFI. And the problem was happening before I soldered in a ground connection back in problem #1. So that's not the reason.

I just paused typing this note, brought up WriteLog, tried to recreate the problem, and couldn't. I tried to do it with both a empty log and a full log with 1200 QSOs just in case log size was a factor. But no problem now. So unless someone has seen something similar to what I experienced, I will approach this as a RFI problem.

Problem 3. I seem to have a lot of trouble getting the Writelog program to read the frequency from both radios when I am setting up for SO2R. One radio is on com 1 and the other is on com 8.

The program will set up easily for using either radio without the other. But it is very difficult to make it use both radios at the same time with one as the left radio and the other as the right radio.

Usually I can get both to finally start working if I spend 30 minutes starting and stopping radios using the setup ports radio selection while selecting right and left radios. Finally after I have reached the point where there is no sense in the procedures that I am doing to try to make it work, it will suddenly start working.

Perhaps there is a specific procedure that must be followed to do this and I am missing it.

I would appreciate comments or advice from anyone?

73, Richard

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