[CQ-Contest] Key Clicks

Jim McCook w6ya at cox.net
Thu Jun 4 13:43:08 EDT 2020

This subject has been hounded in the past, but I think the problem is 
getting much worse.During WPX when conditions were good the entire 20m 
band was loaded with clicks.No, my NB was not on!Many stations louder 
than the clickers had NO clicks.Nearly every vacant frequency on my K3 
(rare) was filled with key clicks!It’s annoying to try copying a 4 digit 
number from a weak station with QSB when the clicks coming from way out 
of my passband, often 2-3 KHz away, are making it impossible.

This is also a problem with daily, routine operating.  Severe key clicks 
are common.  No, my NB was not on.

I wrote down 40 calls of obvious clickers and looked them all up after 
the contest to see what radios they were using.14 ID'd their radios.  
The result was interesting. Most were new radios.It became obvious that 
some radio brands do NOT routinely generate clicks.  Obviously there 
could be a problem with hot switching, but it's doubtful that would be a 
problem for an aware contester.

Many of those new radios have adjustable CW rise time.The manufacturer’s 
default setting with many of them is 4ms or lower!This means this radio 
is highly likely to be a key click generator!That setting should be at 
least 6ms and preferable 8ms to avoid clicks.My suggestion is to use 
Email to make friendly, non aggressive contact and explain the problem, 
offering help to ID and test after a fix is utilized.Sometimes there is 
a mod that can be installed to stop the clicks.People should be made 
aware of that when necessary.73, Jim W6YA

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