Remedies for Poor Notes and Key Clicks
May 1934 Radio News and the Short-Wave
the application is a bit outdated, the lesson presented in this
article about taming the chirps and thumps of keying Morse code
via pulse shaping techniques is still useful today. While fully
tamed commercial keys and keying circuits are available that require
no technical knowledge of how they work or how to fine tune their
operation, there are still many more older units operating that
might need some tweaking. This is part 3 of a multi-issue article,
so a couple references to nonexistent illustrations are not typos.
Unfortunately, I have not yet acquired those previous two issues.
May 1934 Radio News and Short-Wave
These articles are scanned and OCRed from old editions of the Radio & Television News magazine. Here is a list of the Radio & Television
News articles I have already posted. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
Remedies for Poor Notes and Key Clicks
The author shows the effectiveness of various key-filter circuits
by means of oscillographs
Fig. 1 - Plate current during key clicks.
Key clicks and thumps are produced
when suddenly applying a potential to a circuit which causes the
current to build up immediately to a maximum value. They may also
be produced when the circuit is opened if the current falls very
quickly to zero. If inductance is inserted in the circuit, a time
"lag" of the building up will result and eliminate or decrease this
undesirable effect on closing the circuit. A combination of capacity
and resistance will eliminate or bring to a minimum this interference
quality when the key is being opened. Figure 1, Cases 1, 2 and 3,
illustrate roughly some different possibilities.
"lag" circuit is used upon closing the key, the current suddenly
rises to its maximum value and quickly drops to zero when the key
is released. This condition is represented in Case 1 of Figure 1.
When suitable inductance is inserted in series with the key, upon
opening and closing the circuit the "lag" effect is produced and
Case 2 is the pictorial illustration. If it becomes necessary to
suppress arcing between the key contact points by means of a condenser
and a resistance in series and shunting the key or both the key
and inductance, the arrangement will give an exponential decrease
of current when the key is opened. This is also a time "lag" effect
and is shown in Case 3.
By placing a choke coil on each side of the key, a tapering
effect at each end of the signal is produced as shown at g and m
in Figure 2. In the wave, hg, the beginning shows a spurious oscillation,
but this is due to the relay which did the keying. Its spring was
not adjusted properly and therefore relay "chatter" resulted. The
choke coil effect, however, can be seen from the line drawn at h,
The "chatter" again appeared at cc, and by comparing it with that
at the beginning of the signal hg, we see that both are alike.
The dotted line b also shows effect of the choke coil. Note
the constancy of the wave's amplitude and frequency at f. The "lag"
effect at g is good, but it would be better if its duration were,
say, about .008 second instead of .014 second.
shows an oscillogram of a series of dots sent at a high rate of
speed. Circuit conditions are a little different from those just
discussed. That is, the resistance in series with the condenser
shunting the key is now replaced by an inductance. Note in wave
f the tapering effect produced at d, the end of the dot. The beginning
is affected by relay "chatter" and also by a chirp. These dots were
of very short duration and are shown to be about .02 second in length
(not counting the time of building up and dying out).
relay "chatter." as represented by g and e, is lasting .005 second.
It occurs about .004 second previous to the beginning of the signal.
Waves A and B of Figure 4 show very nicely the effect of
fair keying conditions, very good voltage regulation, and an excellent
plate supply filter. The choke in the key circuit smooths out the
power supply and also gives a time "lag" effect as may be seen by
c and e. There is, however, a slight modulation at the beginning
of the signal, but no chirp or key thump was present in the note.
The effect at c (lower wave) appears because the oscillographic
shutter opened and closed at this point. The end of signal which
starts at g is not shown. Also the complete beginning of signal
whose end is f is not shown.
The choke in the keying circuit
of Figure 4 was transferred to the left of the key and another oscillogram
was made. This oscillogram is not shown for lack of space, but the
negative showed a gradual building up - thus proving that the position
of the choke actually makes a difference in the time "lag" effect.
5 illustrates the bad effects one may get by using extra chokes,
condensers and resistances indiscriminately. The key circuit as
shown in the accompanying diagram has produced an unevenly modulated
wave, as may be seen by looking at N. The note of the signal was
"chirpy" with changeable frequency. At K and P there is a pronounced
change of frequency more than that of the general drift shown throughout
the wave. This can safely be blamed on the oscillator's instability.
There is a possibility that the a.c. voltage feeding the transmitter
was varying by a large amount. The interruption between g and f
of wave m, also between j and k of wave N cannot definitely be accounted
for; however. there is a possibility that the power feeding the
transmitter was off for that .007 second.
The circuit of
Figure 6 is responsible for the long-drawn-out ends of the signals
which are entirely too long. The beginnings of the dots build up
nicely, but are a little too slow in reaching their maximum amplitude.
A total of .012 second is consumed for the beginning of the dot
and .03 second is used up for the decay, while the dot's maximum
average amplitude consumes .043 second.
Looking at M, it
can be seen that the wave has a 60-cycle modulation; however, its
frequency from the very beginning to the end of the decay is constant.
This type of wave would not cause any chirps, key thumps or clicks,
but it may cause the note to have a slight "swing."
Keying the transmitter in the positive "lead" with only one
choke in this same line, the "lag" effect was again produced as
shown in the oscillogram of Figure 7.
Wave C is that of
a dot. The time "lag" is shown at d, which is affected by a change
of frequency, thus causing a slight chirp at the end of the signal.
Wave D is the same except that the key was held down a longer length
of time and the film was turning at a much greater speed; thus spreading
out of the wave resulted. As can be seen, its frequency is steady,
but the lower part of this wave is somewhat modulated. No definite
reason for this can be given.
The filter combination of Figure 8 is not very good, as can
be seen from the record of the wave.
In wave B, the cut-off
at c is much too long. If a smaller condenser were used, it would
be shortened. The wave has a 40-cycle modulation which is undoubtedly
due to causes at the receiving end and not at the transmitter. The
waves on the second line were made as a continuation of the same
signals (first line) , and these show hardly any modulation effects.
They do show very much better building up, as at o, in comparison
with the poor beginning a of wave B. It ought to be mentioned that
there would be no chirp in either wave, but a slight key click will
Figure 9 is a very interesting oscillogram, for it shows the
effect of the "decay" with two different values of resistance shunting
an inductance in series with the key. In wave M, the "decay" d is
due to a 55-ohm resistance in shunt with the 16-henry choke coil
while the "decay" z of lower wave is due to a 25-ohm resistance.
The better of the two is, of course, that of wave M, and even this
consumes too much time for the "decay."
Figure 10 exhibits a very good building up of the wave, but
the key circuit resistance is too low and thus a long-drawn-out
operator of short-wave amateur station W9FOK.