1935 Memory Keyer


1935CQkeyEighty years ago, the September 1935 issue of Radio News described this “CQ Key,” an early memory keyer, by Ed. Glaser, W2BRB. It’s driven by a windshield wiper motor acquired from a junkyard for a dollar, and can be used to repeatedly call CQ. In the illustration here, a disc sending TEST is installed, with the disc at the upper right used for calling CQ. If you read counterclockwise starting near the top, you can see that it sends, “CQ CQ DE W2BRB” repeatedly.

The author notes that he initially hooked the disk directly to the motor and tried to control the speed with a rheostat. The 6-volt motor performed well down to 4 volts, but below that voltage the motor ran unevenly or sometimes stopped. Therefore, he described an arrangement with a 4:1 gear ratio that proved satisfactory.

The author reports that the setup performed well, and that he had run the key for hours on end on 5 meters and 75 centimeters, presumably running early beacons on VHF and UHF.

The disc is made of 3/16 inch bakelite, 2-1/2 inches in diameter. The contacts were taken from an old relay and mounted so that they would be closed by the rotating disc. The author notes that this arrangement is sufficient for keying a couple hundred volts, but for higher voltages, a relay would be necessary. The keyer was “programmed” with a hacksaw and file, and the author reported that the process took a couple of hours, with the work on subsequent discs going much faster.

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