Build the FAT key!

by Rob L. Dey, KA2BEO  2/1/95


The telegraph key described here was designed, drafted, (and will be) built,
owned, and operated by me, Rob L. Dey, KA2BEO.


I named this key, the FAT key, which stands for fully-automatic telegraph key.
Besides the abbreviation, the key is indeed fat! It is much wider than it is
tall or deep.

I strived to make the key small, durable, corrosion-resistant, and fully-
automatic, while utilizing fairly common parts. The FAT key measures only
5.25"W x 2.25"D x 1.75"H maximum.

The fully-automatic feature was based on one of only a handful of fully-
automatic telegraph keys ever made, the Melehan Valiant, circa 1939-1950. It
was designed by Melvin E. Hansen, W6MFY and manufactured by the Schultz Tool
and Machine Company in Anaheim, CA. Only about 500 were made. The side-keying
(right-angle) feature was based on the 73 Bug, circa mid 1920's. It was a
semi-automatic key, designed by a railroad wirechief whose name is unknown to
me and manufactured by the Ultimate Transmitter Company in Los Angeles, CA.
Some other historical right-angle keys (also semi-automatic) are the
Mecograph, circa 1911-1913 made by the Mecograph Company in Cleveland, OH. and
the Codetrol, circa 1950 designed and made by Bernard H. Breedlove in Atlanta,
GA. Only 20 of these keys were ever made1. Many of the FAT key's other
features were based on the famous line of the Vibroplex Company's semi-
automatic telegraph keys, which are more commonly referred to as Bugs, and
still available today.


The FAT key can also be modified for left-handed keying simply by swapping the
direction of several parts.

1. Many of the facts stated here were concluded from the book Keys, Keys,
   Keys, by Dave Ingram.
parts list