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Author Topic: Pico Keyer Woes.  (Read 1474 times)


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Pico Keyer Woes.
« on: May 28, 2015, 10:35:56 PM »
Now, here is something pretty weird, paranormal even... :o

A couple years ago after building my second Rock-Mite, the 40m model, I decided to get the Pico keyer chip from HamGadgets ( It has more features than the original Keyer from Dave Benson and two message memories. So I promptly swapped the chips and immediately noticed a problem. The chip would sporadically ignore a dit sent while the dah paddle was held down. So, trying to send "C" I would end up with ---. instead of -.-. :o Needless to say it made the keyer unusable. I tried different paddles, same problem. After swapping the Pico keyer for the old chip, all went back to normal. I sent the Pico keyer to the trash bin.

After getting my third Rock-Mite, this time from, I noticed that the RM was supplied with the Pico keyer right out of the box! I didn't think I'd encounter the same issue, but yep, exact same problem! Two different Rock-Mites (different PCB version and bands) in two different enclosures and wiring... The only constant, the Pico keyer, and, well, myself...

I got hold of Rex Harper from QRPme on the Rock-Mite Yahoo group. He said he had never heard of a similar issue and would check with Dale Botkin at HamGadgets. Here is the partial answer:

No clue why he'd be seeing that...  I don't remember ever hearing anyone complaining of it before.  Bad jack?  Oddball wiring?  Could be anything, but with a few hundred of those chips out there I haven't ever had that complaint before.

If Dale hasn't seen it in the hundreds/thousands of PicoKeyer chips out there... I don't know what I can do about it.

Humm... I don't know either, it's really weird, I told you...

Fortunately another group member, N3AAZ, graciously mailed me another Pico keyer and two old "Benson" keyers; for free! Thanks John! Rock-Miters are awesome 8) So I proceeded to first try the Pico chip. Guess what? Yep, same issue! The third Pico keyer I have a problem with! Out it went, replaced by an original keyer chip. Bingo! It works :o Flawless sending. Of course I no longer have the message memories :(

I will keep the Pico keyers in case someone comes up with a revelation as to why this is happening to me only, out of thousands of users, with three different chips on two Rock-Mites. Maybe I have too much Chi or something ::) At least I now have another original keyer for the RM80 I want to build next.

If you ever hear of a similar problem or a solution, please let me know, so I don't end-up in an asylum :o I suspect RF bothering the chip due to maybe my particular wiring, but it doesn't bother the original keyer... Anyway, I'll stop worrying about it. My BitX20 kit should be on the way, I'll be plenty busy pretty soon.