Is a Winkeyer even necessary?

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  • Updated 10 months ago
I'm new to the Flex Signature Series world, having bought a 6400 a few weeks ago.  I am a casual operator and want to get more into CW contesting using either HRD or N1MM.  I've used a Winkeyer 3 with my other radios, but with the Flex I'm not really sure it is necessary, unless I'm missing something.  

Can I configure SmartSDR to do what I would do with the WinKeyer, or should I go ahead and hook it up.  Pros and cons would be most appreciated.

73s de KT8DX
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Posted 10 months ago

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Photo of Mark - WS7M

Mark - WS7M

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WinKeyer support is built into the SmartCat interface/SSDR.  You can configure a SmartCat port to look like a COM port that accepts the WinKeyer protocol.  N1MM can talk to that directly.

That being said I have heard of a few people having some issues with it.  Search these forums for WinKeyer and SmartCat.   For me it has worked very well.

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Ray Andrews, K9DUR, Elmer

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I agree with Mark.  I use N1MM+ when contesting.  I created a port in SmartCAT that emulates a WinKeyer & tell N1MM that that port is a WinKeyer.  Works great.  I have had no issues.

73, Ray, K9DUR
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Steven Linley

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That's the I use it too.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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“It depends.”

CWX is the built in CW keyer. As mentioned there is winkeyer emulation in CAT. You can also use CATASC commands in N1MM and other software.

For casual use I just use CWX. For contesting I use the winkeyer.

An external winkeyer may be valuable from a reliability perspective.
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Andrew Russell

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That reminds me of an old joke.

"How many academics does it take to change a light bulb?"

Andrew VK5CV
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Duane, AC5AA

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One advantage to using the Winkeyer emulation as described earlier is that your keying speed stays in sync whether you use the built in keyer, CWX, or Winkeyer emulation thru your contesting software.
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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Oh this is a great point - actually a hardware winkeyer will not have any strange behavior changing speed mid-stream. Flex Winkeyer emulation does. 

For example in my contest macros sometimes I speed up 5nn and then slow down for the actual exchange. 5nn is just punctuation anyway and most people give 599 reports always. 
Photo of Bill English

Bill English

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I have used the winkeyer for many years. When I realized the Winkeyer emulation was available I switched to it. No problems whatsoever. Be sure to turn the sync on and you are go to go whether on the winkeyer emulation or CWX. My old winkeyer is gathering dust in a box somewhere. 
Photo of KT8DX


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Thanks for everyone's comments. Much appreciated.  I may still use the WinKeyer as I like control over character spacing, dot-dash ratios, and weighting.  I don't seem to be able to do this in SmartSDR.  Maybe a future enhancement?

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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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That is quite correct. You cannot do this in SmartSDR. The only control you have is over speed (WPM). That is IT. While the winkeyer emulation is great, a real hardware winkeyer is better. In fact the Maestro has a hardware winkeyer. 

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John G3WGV

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There is never a situation when it's a good idea to change mark/space, dit/dah or weighting ratios. There is only one correct setting. The principle advantage that an external WinKey gives you is a speed knob, so you can adjust your CW speed on the fly, while sending. This is such a valuable asset, especially in contests that I would never use the internal keyer for any serious operating.

73, John, G3WGV (100% CW operator)
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Dave Gipson

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As I was saying to Ria, the E and I in my call is often missed. HOWEVER... and one I'm sure you will appreciate.... the faster operators (read as more experienced) seem to hear it better, at the faster speeds. There is a moral to the story there someplace. :)
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Roger, W6VZV

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I am using the Winkeyer function with my Flex 6400 and HRD/DM780's Winkeyer function.  Seems to work real well.

de Roger W6VZV