New kit build: The K1EL Winkeyer USB

wkusb_fJust a couple quick thoughts on the K1EL Winkeyer kit. I didn’t break out the camera last night to document the build because 1) this is a very easy kit to build and if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, and 2) since I started the build around 10:30 p.m. and finished the assembly around midnight, I was too tired to fool with dragging the lights and background out.

First off, I don’t intend to use the WK anytime soon, as I’m still a straight-key-5-WPM tyro. But I want to get to the point where this becomes an integral part of the shack when/if I ever decide to participate in a CW contest.

As far as ham stuff goes, it’s hard to beat the value and utility of the WK kit. I understand they used to be cheaper, but at $79, you get a well-spaced, well-labeled circuit board, along with a really nice enclosure. The quality of the components seems to be high also. I can think of many radio gadgets that do a lot less and cost a lot more.

Thanks to my recent kit builds, I felt well-prepared to construct the WK. I laid out all the parts in a tray to begin, and sorted the resistors using a VOM to check the values since I don’t trust my eyes. The parts come expertly packed in a compartmented bags, so there weren’t loose ICs rattling around with heavier parts and vice versa.

I decided to use a lower power setting on my soldering iron this time (20 watts) and I found that to be a comfortable temperature for working on kits like this. The solder seemed to flow in a more predictable, controlled fashion and the handle of the iron didn’t get hot. I was struck by how nicely spaced out the pads are on the PCB. I only intended to solder in the resistors, but I was moving along at such a nice pace that before I knew it, the entire kit was built.

Before mounting the gadget in the enclosure, I performed the recommended testing (install the serial driver, plug in the board, wait for Windows to recognize it). The pre-flight check went OK, so I dropped in the ICs, reconnected to the computer and received the satisfying dit-dah-dit “R” start-up chime. The board fit perfectly in the enclosure too.

A few moments later I configured N1MM and Ham Radio Deluxe and everything seemed to check out fine. I will perform the final test tonight after I build a few cables to connect the rig and paddles.

This kit is genuinely useful and belongs in the shack of any CW enthusiast. Mechanized Morse for the masses!

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2 thoughts on “New kit build: The K1EL Winkeyer USB

  1. Very nice work, I just got my Sawdust Regen Receiver & Matchstick Tuner in the mail, I also want to get the Splinter Transceiver. When all do up they really look nice. Thanks for sharing your photos, have a blast.

    • You’re very welcome! I highly recommend the Splinter. It’s a longer project than the Sawdust and Matchstick, but it’s relatively easy to assemble and get aligned. Thanks for reading and 73!

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