K1EL Winkeyer and Morse Tutor and Begali Intrepid

K1EL Winkeyer USB Kit – why an external keyer?

The answer: two outputs for two rigs and no need for an external power supply

There are several other reasons for an external keyer – but the #1 answer is convenience. I will be using exactly two rigs for transmit – a NorCal 40A (or sometimes a Red Hot 40) – and an Icom IC-7300. My other two antenna switch positions are dedicated to the Collins 75A-4 or the National SW-3 for SWL.

K1EL PSB2 Morse Trainer Kit

The other thing I would like is a standalone Morse Code Tutor, and this fits the bill. I would like to use it at home and at work during lunch time. The bonus is that these are kits and also they use a PIC chip – and K1EL even sells a PIC Programmer if I ever want to try that some day. I thought about doing something with Arduino or Raspberry Pi – but these kits were inexpensive and had the packaging – which is very important for the shack.

Begali CW Machine with Begali Intrepid Bug

I tried the Begali CW Machine – and I can see why it is no longer sold on the Begali web site – its now out of date. It requires a separate dc power connection, it only has one keyer output for one rig, and its software is Visual Basic – which I have come to hate. VB was fine in 1989 – 1990, but its UI sucks compared to say a C++, C# or even a React web app’s UI. VB requires all kinds of very hokey controls (“ocx” files) which is  kludge – and besides the UI just looking “cartoonish”, these controls cause more software issues than they solve – not to mention they are a source of malware.

In its time, the Begali CW Machine was pretty cool – but I sold mine for what I paid for it. Its become a sort of collectors item, and the developer still supports it – so that’s all good.

The Begali Intrepid is pretty cool – there are two possibilities – you can use it either as a true bug OR a paddle! It is just plain fun. Its the kind of key to just have fun with – my N3ZN paddles are for “serious business”. You either set the keyer to Iambic or Bug mode. Its that simple – then you have two keys in one!


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