Sunday, 14 August 2016

CWCOM - Getting Started - connecting an external key

This section covers how to connect a key, and what settings to use to get it working on cwcom .


If You use your key on a HF transceiver, it will probably have a line jack plug on it..... so you need to wire a Line Jack Socket ( stereo type) phone connector to the DB9 socket.... as shown below.   

If you use a Laptop as your main computer,.... you will need a USB to Serial Converter (as in pic below).  A DB9 socket, and an "In - Line Stereo Phones jack socket" 
"Plugable" USB to Serial Converter lead
 Most keys have a 3.5 or 1/4" jack already
 wired, and so,you will need to make a 
"rats tail" connector, rather than re-wire
your key to use on cwcom.  You will need a
 DB9 socket and a Stereo in-line jack 
socket  and a short piece of 3 core cable, 
as used on phones
(Click on the pics for larger view) 

It is important that you get the pin numbers correct, and you should be able to see them on the “face” of the DB9 socket.  Although you may need a magnifying glass ! ! It is also important to make sure the line socket connections are the same as the jack plug, otherwise your straight won`t work properly... You can use an unused jack plug into the line socket to check the continuity of the connections and all the way back to the DB9 socket, with a multimeter, ( or battery and bulb with a length of wire ! ).

Here is a pic of my "Rats Tail" connector
so that I can plug any key into it that has 
the same size 3.5mm jack plug

 Depending on the key you use, 
depends on the connections to the DB9…. 

Straight keys connect only two connections…( pins 4 & 6 ) ...

 Paddle keys require three….

DB9 – 9 Pin Serial Port Connection
  • Pin 6 - manual key or left paddle
  • Pin 4 - manual key or common
  • Pin 8 - right paddle
  • Pin 7 - Sounder Output (This pin - RTS - goes high with morse input/output)
  • Pin 5 - Sounder Ground

DB25 – 25 Pin Serial Port Connection (straight keys only connect pin 6 & 20 )
  • Pin 6 - manual key or left paddle
  • Pin 20 - manual key or common
  • Pin 5 - right paddle
  • Pin 4 - Sounder Output (This pin - RTS - goes high with morse input/output)
  • Pin 7 - Sounder Ground
If you are intending to use a "Sounder" as on the old "landline/railway telegraph" you can make up an interface from this circuit diagram ....

Sounder Interface
The serial port provides output pins that can be connected to a Sounder (early Morse receive device) or used for an external flashing light. Here is the interface Circuit you can use:
Setting up the computer....

Once you have done the soldering... ( and checked all the way through!).. 
You need to set up the laptop to recognise the USB to Serial converter.
(this is normally automatic when you plug it into the usb port.)
It should automatically find the driver and install that too !!
Setting up the COMPORT number 
 (Linux and Mac users see your special pages on this blog) 
After plugging in the USB converter, it should be automatically recognised,
however, in the settings on the Configurations window, you need to specify
COMPORT on the Morse Key tab... it may not "recognise" it, so you will
need to find out which comport number is allocated.  

 so here is how to do that....
  Finding the COM port number.....
 Plug in the USB/serial adapter

 go to "Start"  > Control Panel > Device Manager > Ports (COM & LPT) 


Expand that ( click on the + sign)... and, hopefully, you will see
your USB /Serial adapter ( mine is listed as Prolific USB-to-Serial
Comport (COM2)  .. you may have a different number assigned, 
but that is the number you will need.. 
Go to the CWOM configuration window click on the Morse Key 
tab  , and set that number in the   COMport window'
Note... Any number above 14 will not work.  So you may need to
reset the COMport number..... as follows...
Resetting the COMPORT NUMBER 
  as above.... START > Control Panel > Device Manger > Ports ( COM & LPT)

Right click on Prolific USB-to-Serial Comm Port... 

and then click on Properties

 Click on the "Port Settings" tab. 

 then on "Advanced" 
In the window you will have the current COMport number
(it may show "in use" which may be true ... or not ! ! ! ). 
If you want to use COM port 6 just change it, (as below) and 
see if it works  ( it probably will! )    
you can change this by using the little down arrow box...

and highlighting another number.... 

I suggest you use number 6 ( or any other number not "In Use" !)

 Then EXIT every window by clicking " OK  "

So now your are ready to go….
Call up CWCOM and click on the Icon to the right of the A 
on top of the screen, this is the "Configurations" window.
You will need to do this every time you start CWCOM. 
You should not need to reset the comport number as it is 
automatically selected. 
Set your Morse Input to COMport
Set your  "Morse Key" to the type of key you are using
i.e Manual = Straightkey and use "Reset Method"
    Iambic =   Paddle keys, sideswipers etc (incl. mouse) and 
use "Looping Method" 
Uncheck Dit Memory
If your keying produces TTT  T TTT  T TTT TTTTT TTT 
or corrupted letters ( not what you are sending ! ). then you
will need to check your "Transmit" speed ...  Usually this
occurs when using the down arrow key.. (it needs to be set less
than 10wpm ) 
Reset the speed to what you think your normal transmit speed is,
then try again.  You may need to do several test runs of 
Brown bread tastes best with butter and strawberry jam" until
it shows a good copy.      
Once you have a good copy on screen, then for straight keys 
can put at check mark in the LOCK box.. and write down the 
speed settings for future reference, if you need to reset them.

 (NOTE>..... you do not need to "connect" to the internet
to do practicing....  just click your mouse cursor on the 
screen... your practice will only be heard and seen by you 
 To chat to other users... you will need to connect
 to the internet.
On the top of the screen.. click on the blue world icon
A new window will open showing connection details..
channel 1000 is the default ( calling ) channel, and your
I.P address number will be in the Callsign box window
 If you have a Ham Radio Callsign, you can enter it there,
and it will show whenever you are sending, If you do not 
have a ham call, you can make one up using your initials
or your name.
Press  "Connect".. and you should see 
DE IONOSPHERE    Connected
on your screen...        
You may also see other stations that are working, 
so please be patient, and hopefully they will see your call, and as
you if you want to join in, or they may decide to qsy to another channel
When you have finished with cwcom,.. you should always click on the
world icon and "Disconnect"  before clicking on the X at the top right
of the screen to close down cwcom properly.
    Doing this, clears your call, from the "webview" of all users....
IF all that goes according to plan.... then you will be able to 
communicate using very old digital sending  equipment, as they did
on the original internet in the late 1800`s.. on the modern version of 
internet, today !... how about that for "progress"    ? ? 
Enjoy your new program.. and Enjoy Morse !
Good Luck...  and   73`s   DE GEMS va dit dit     



  1. Hi, colleague. I used a convertor to USB port, it recognized the COM4 port. Connect the pins as indicated by your help. Set the program as indicated, but no luck. I do not write or speak English, I know how to apologize Best regards from LW5DQ.-


  2. Hola Ramón,

    Por favor, póngase en contacto conmigo directamente en '' e-mail con información sobre el sistema operativo que tenga (Windows 7? Windows 10? Linux? MAC?)

    Si usted tiene la proyección COM 4 en la pantalla 'Configuración', y ha seleccionado 'Puerto COM' en el 'Morse tecla' Tab. . . que debería estar trabajando con su clave. . . .

    La única otra parte que pueden impedir que funcione, es cableado PIN incorrecto en el conector DB9 o un socket. . . . Puede ser difícil ver los números, pero recuerda que están en 'la imagen de espejo' cuando se mira a diferenciarlos. . . Una buena idea para hacer un 'Verificación de continuidad' hasta el final a los pasadores a la llave con un 'multímetro' o corrector línea similar. (Hice error similar cuando hice primero las conexiones - Fácil de hacer error).

    Hello Ramon,

    Please contact me direct on "" email with information about operating system you have ( windows 7 ? Windows 10? Linux ? MAC ? )

    If you have the COM 4 showing on the "Configuration" screen, and you have selected "COM Port" on the "Morse key" Tab... it should be working with your key....

    The only other part that may prevent it from working, is wrong PIN wiring on the DB9 plug OR socket.... It can be difficult to see the numbers, but remember they are in "Mirror Image" when you look at them apart... A good idea to do a "continuity check" all the way to the pins to the key with a "multimeter" or similar line checker. ( I made similar mistake when I first did connections - easy to make mistake ).

  3. any one done usb to 3.5 mm to connect straight key thanks dave c

  4. Hi Dave... It won`t work, cos the computer will not recognise a "non" usb item... see the page about connecting using a mouse... for alternative way to connect a key.... page 15... Keying with a mouse, shows pics of how to convert a mouse . contact me direct via email if you have problems...

  5. anyone got cwcomm running on android

  6. Hi David..... Not as far as I know ! ... however,... if you manage it...please write to me direct with your Tutorial, and I will publish it on here for others to use.