Tom Ogburn <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Wed, 05 Apr 2000 08:55:06 -0400
Need more space on your operating desk?
Are the keyboard, mouse, paddle, keyer, and microphone all taking up the
room that used to be for
your arms and wrists?
I found a solution to at least part of the problem. CompUSA carries an ACER
called the “Airkey”. It is a small footprint keyboard that occupies about
2/3 the space of a traditional
keyboard, plus, it is infrared wireless, so there are no wires directly in
your arm’s way. Part of the
reason for the small footprint is there is no traditional keypad on the
right-hand side. The keys are
reasonable size with an OK touch, not as good as the traditional key feel,
but not bad. It compares to the
so-called “chicklet” keyboard that came with the IBM PC-Jr. years ago (but
much better). Also, it has a
small “pointing device” wheel in the upper right corner that, in theory,
can be used in place of a mouse.
(there are pushbuttons on the left hand side that are “mouse clickers”).
The other end of the wireless
connection is a small infrared receiver that plugs into the keyboard port
and bus mouse or serial ports. I
put the receiver on top of one of the radios.
In real life how does it work? I’ve tried it in both Windows and DOS (using
NA). The pointing
device takes some getting used to. It will never replace a mouse for me,
but it works adequately well in
DX4WIN for logging purposes. I would never attempt any serious graphics
work with it, but it’s fine
for limited use. The keyboard itself is, again, not the best touch, but it
is fine once you get used to it.
In NA, not having the “+” key available (no keypad, remember) I thought
would be a problem, but
the “=” key works just as well. NA also has a KEYMAP function, so any
awkward keys can be re-
assigned. I played around with it in WPX Phone a bit, and found no problems
accessing any other
normal NA functions.
My other keyboard is a Keytronics programmable keyboard that has 10
additional function keys that
can be programmed. I have a number of ALT this and CTRL that functions
programmed in those keys
that make operating NA a breeze. (things like CW speed up down, special CQ
and TU QRZ functions,
toggle keyboard mode, etc. are programmed there so I don’t have to hit 2 or
more keys to perform
certain functions, only 1). The only problem with this keyboard is it takes
up SO much counter space.
My conclusion is that for day-to-day and phone contest operations, I’ll
probably use the wireless
keyboard, but for CW contests I’ll use the big one and work out the
For about $50, the ACER keyboard has proved to be a good investment. I’ve
noticed other wireless
keyboards at OfficeMax, but with a heftier price tag and larger footprint.
If anyone else has bought a
wireless keyboard or a small footprint keyboard that works for them, I’d
like to hear about it.
Tom Ogburn - Technician at WWBT Television, Richmond, VA
Amateur Radio Callsign N4ZJ (ex WB4BVY, AD4KE)
Administrative requests: na-user-REQUEST@contesting.com