Designing the TopHat cw practice kit. Harder that it looks.

When I started learning cw, or The Morse Code to non-radio folks, I thought it would be a relatively simple task of putting in some effort and working smart.

In a way, I suppose that has been true.

It has not, however been anywhere as fast or as easy as I had expected. The same could be said of my endeavor to create a fun, hackable, versatile cw practice board. About 6 months ago I signed up for a CWOps CW Academy class. I had been trying on my own for almost 2 years with very little to show for it. It was time to bring in some experts. One of the rules for CW Academy is you have to practice for 30 - 45 minutes a day, every day. Every day. Really. I have been suffering through a 90 minute commute almost every day, so that actually worked out pretty well.

There are plenty of choices for tools to help practive copying (listening to) cw available on mobile the platform of you choice. Practicing sending, however, was another matter. I decided I wanted to design a small device with lots of horsepower and several audio interfaces.

The goal

Coming soon

The design

Coming soon

The ToDo List

  • [x] Conceptual design
  • [x] Alpha build
  • [x] Lessons learned from alpha
  • [x] Design beta enhancements / adjustments
  • [ ] Beta component selection
  • [x] Decide to sell as kit on interTubes
  • [ ] Create Eagle libraries as needed
  • [ ] Build schematic in Eagle
  • [ ] Layout boards
  • [ ] Build and test beta
  • [ ] Beta lessons learned
  • [ ] Set up store
  • [ ] Profit!

libraries to create

  • [x] Speaker / Buzzer
  • [x] Audio Jack
  • [ ] Slide switch
  • [x] Tactile switch
  • [ ] Switch IC
  • [ ] Audio Amp

Lessons learned from alpha build

Coming soon

Lessons learned from beta build

Coming soon