Help on setting up CW & iambic key for newbie

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I am very new to CW and learning CW.  I want to use an iambic key and also practice without transmitting on my Flex 6500.  I have searched the Smart SDR software manual and outside of how to select CW and plug in the key, there is not much info on what dropdown selections to use etc.  Is there a tutorial video on youtube on how to setup and get going?  Is there a way I can practice and hear the tone through my speakers or headset without transmitting? I'm fine using Digi modes and SSB on the Flex, but have never tried CW and want to learn. Thanks, Rob W2RCL
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Rob Laws

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Posted 3 years ago

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Andrew O'Brien

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You can select TRANSVERTER for your antenna instead of Ant 1 or Ant 2
Andy K3UK
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Steve W6SDM

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Welcome to CW, Rob.  I have been doing CW for over 50 years and still haven't gotten tired of it.

What you're doing is using your Flex as a code practice oscillator.  While that will work, you're using a lot of expensive equipment for something that can be accomplished with some very inexpensive and very portable circuitry.

If you do need to use your Flex, then use a dummy load and turn the power output down to nothing.  That will get the job done and everything will operate exactly as it does on the air.  Otherwise, look for a keyer or code oscillator that you can set up at the kitchen table or anywhere else you want to practice.  Google will yield a bunch of them, but here's one from MFJ that should work for around fifty bucks.
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Rob Laws

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Thats a great idea to use when I am not in the shack!  I need all the practice I can get!!  Thanks Steve!
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Rob Laws

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Thanks guys!  I have an MFJ 557, practice straight key, but I wanted to learn and get the feel for a nice key I might use for the rest of life like a Benchmark iambic key.  I have a dummy load I could use, didnt even think of that!  But selecting transverter for antenna would be easier.  Rob W2RCL
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Doug Hall

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Seems like there is an easier way. You don't need a dummy load, you don't need to select transverter, and you don't need to adjust your power level. Just select CW mode and turn off Breakin. You won't transmit, and you can hear the sidetone in your speakers or headphones at a level determined by the sidetone slider.
Doug K4DSP

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Rob, the Flex has an internal iambic keyer for use with a paddle which is selected by clicking "On" the Iambic button. If you do not select the Breakin button, the rig will not go into transmit but can be used as a practice oscillator with the internal keyer.

If you want to use either an external keyer or a straight key for practice, do not select either the Breakin or the Iambic buttons. If you want to transmit with your straight key or with your external keyer, just select the Breakin button.

As has already been said, its a good idea to use a dummy load rather than leave the rig connected to an antenna.

Good luck with the practice, do it little & often


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Rob Laws

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Thanks everyone!  This is good info!  Got to like the Flex Ham community for instant help!  Thanks and 73s , Rob W2RCL
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Walt - KZ1F

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You might want to stick with a straight key until you get used to cw. Why compound the learning problem? Think of it as learning to fly in a complex aircraft w/ high performance engine.