Racal CW Encoder & Decoder

 

I bought the Racal units early in 2005 for around £40 for the pair; it wasn’t a bad price but it depends what you’re looking for.

The keyer unit is very usable which by default is at 15 wpm. There’s a fast option which sends at something like 60wpm I think but mine unit locks up if I try that. You can change these defaults but you need to change resistor values. It allows you to store messages and fire them at will or type and send in real-time. The keyboard is pretty small though and you can only see what you’re sending if you have the reader unit plugged in.

The reader works fine as it was intended but is difficult to use. It has a single character display (which isn’t clear on the pictures!) – I found I’d forgotten what the last letter was by the time the next came in and so I’ve now given up on the reader.

The two units and power supply are connected via specialised military connectors but there isn’t enough leads to use all the gear at once! The plugs were around £20 each so I did this:-

1. get a 5-pin DIN extension lead, chop it in the middle, drill both cases and solder the two ends in parallel with the connections on the expensive socket

2. solder another line in to operate the rig’s key (this will drive rigs with key down creating either a circuit close or an AF tone)

– this works fine!

Soon afterwards I bought the MFJ reader below, which is easy to use. In hindsight, I should have gone for something which takes a PC keyboard and will show you a line of message text. However I used the Racal gear in the IARU contest this year – it does work!

MFJ 461 Matchbox reader - very useable

 

Last updated: November 2005