Build a Morse Code Keyer, by W9PPG, Bill Weinhardt

     Updated 26 September 2001. URL is


Ham To The Rescue

by Bill Weinhardt, W9PPG

Came a letter in the email that said:


I found you when I searched under Morse Code. My daughter has a science project she’s working on about Morse Code, and, although we have my husband’s 1960’s era electronic keyer, no electrical outlets will be available for her to use at the school.

I’ve looked around at all the "logical" places, i.e. Radio Shack… but no one sells devices to make Morse Code with anymore — much less battery operated ones or even the old electro-magnetic…… Do you know who sells such equipment? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Well, you know me. I’m sure everyone has a soldering gun hot on their desk, and so I sent this reply:

Hi…True that Radio Shack no longer sells a code practice set and Heathkit is out of business, however Radio Shack does sell components where a person could fairly easily build their own.

I took the following list of parts out of the 1997 RS catalogue so some part numbers might have changed but they should have enough stuff that substitutes could be found. So here goes:

Radio Shack Components
Buzzer (300-500Hz)

RS# 273-053


Holder for 2 D Cells

RS# 270-386


Lever arm microswitch

RS# 275-016


Then you will need two ‘D’ cell batteries and a foot or so of hook-up wire to hook the components together. The stuff can be mounted on a piece of wood.

The buzzer produces a tone in the 300-500Hz range which should be OK for demonstration purposes. If too loud, you can muffle it by putting something over it.

Use the microswitch as the code sending key. Use the normally open set of switch contacts (that is to say the switch is open until the lever is pressed, then the contacts close). It would be nice if the lever arm was longer but this should work OK for the demo. Some hams who operate mobile CW from their autos while driving have used similar switches as their code key.

Hook everything up in series electrically. You may need to observe polarity on the buzzer but I don’t know. If so, there should be plus and minus markings on it.

Hope that this helps. Good luck. If more questions, e-mail me back…..Bill


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