MasterKeyer MK-1

MasterKeyer MK-1
MasterKeyer MK-1
Brand: HamGadgets
Product Code: MK-1

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UPDATE - March 30, 2022, SOLD to Ben . 
None in stock at this time. We will update this page if/when we have another one available.


Update March 5, 2022: ONE like new (used) unit left! 
Power cable
Manual (free download)
Works as designed


CW ops love the MK-1! Read reviews of the MK-1 at and see the QST review. Read the the news blog for recent updates.

For years, people who love their PicoKeyers -- the leading mini keyer -- have asked for a larger, full featured keyer with easier operating controls for fixed station use. as usual, the project got a little out of hand. The MasterKeyer MK-1 is all that and a lot more!

The MasterKeyer MK-1 breaks new ground in ease of operation. Six multi-color, LED illuminated pushbuttons give instant access to stored messages any of five banks -- that's 30 messages in all, for over 7500 total characters. The LED-backlit buttons change color to tell you whether a message is being sent or recorded. A large, smooth operating, solid aluminum speed control knob can be used to set your operating speed within whatever range you decide. The smooth, sine-wave sidetone lets you hear what you're doing at all times. Of course it can be muted, or turned up for room-filling sound ideal for code training and practice sessions. And commands to change options and messages can be sent from your paddle, or plug into your computer for easy, text-based setup!


The latest low-power embedded microcontroller technology is used to give you the features you want, with the ease of operation you need. Advanced operating modes such as message pause, auto-repeat (beacon), QRSS and HSCW are a snap -- and with future firmware upgrades, even more features are just a quick (and free) upgrade away!

Of course the MasterKeyer can be used as a top-quality, fully featured stand-alone keyer, with no computer or keyboard required. All the operating features you expect, and some you may not, are built in and ready to use. The built-in USB capability can add a whole new dimension to your operating! The USB host connector -- the only one on any keyer, anywhere -- can be used to load new updates directly from a USB FLASH drive, without using a computer. You can also save all operating parameters and memory contents to a FLASH drive, so you don't risk accidentally losing your settings. Edit the simple text file if you wish to suit your exact needs. The ability to save and load the entire configuration makes this keyer perfect for clubs and contest stations! If multiple operators use the same keyer, just plug in a FLASH drive and load ALL your own settings and memory messages in seconds. Of course, the same feature can be used to "clone" your settings from one keyer to another if you need stations set up the exact same way.

This keyer is presently offered only in fully assembled and tested form. The enclosure is top quality, rugged aluminum with a textured black powder coat finish. Silkscreened legends mark all operating controls and connections. All documentation is on a CD-ROM, as well as software drivers for Windows PCs (drivers are already built into Mac and Linux systems). A power cable is included to connect to your power source.


  • Beautiful metal cabinet with rugged, textured powder coat finish and screen printed legends
  • Knurled, gloss finish solid machined aluminum speed adjustment knob with indicator line
  • Meets FCC Class B limits for radiated and conducted emissions
  • Morse code keying from a single or dual lever paddle
  • Straight key input for manual keying
  • Emulation mode for K1EL Winkeyer commands has been added to Version 1.20 and newer. The MK-1 now works with a wide range of logging and contest software. If it supports the Winkeyer, the MK-1 will work fine.
  • Support for Morse from a USB keyboard! Includes memory record & playback.
  • Optically isolated Keying and amplifier/PTT outputs rated for 400V at up to 200 mA (Key Out) or 400 mA (Amp Out) - key solid state or tube rigs!
  • Amp keying lead and tail times adjustable
  • Smooth sidetone with easy-to-use external volume control can be muted or left on
  • Numerous keying modes supported
    • Curtis Mode A
    • Curtis Mode B (with adjustable paddle timing)
    • “Bug” mode – automatic dots, manual dashes
    • Ultimatic mode
    • Straight key or “Cootie” mode
    • Dot or dash priority
    • Adjustable paddle timing lets you "tweak" the paddle response to suit YOUR preference!
  • Thirty memory slots available in five banks of six messages each
    • Each message can be up to 255 characters in length
    • Any bank of 6 messages can be assigned to the top buttons
    • Embedded commands in memory messages for a wide range of functions
      • Send your stored callsign
      • Send serial/QSO number, with or without automatic incrementing
      • Send a steady carrier 1-9 seconds in length
      • Increment or decrement speed by 1 WPM
      • Set your speed to a specific value
      • Send HSCW at up to 12,000 LPM (2,400 WPM)
      • Send QRSS from 1 to 120 seconds per dit
      • Set Farnsworth spacing
      • Send the last call sign (other than your own) sent from the paddles
      • Call any other message from any bank
      • Merge two characters into one for prosigns or language specific characters
    • Message stacking lets you quickly send up to six messages in sequence
    • Messages can be paused to manually insert information from the paddle or keyboard, and will automatically resume
    • Beacon mode will repeat a message at regular intervals from 1 to 255 seconds - Now with V1.20 or later, each message can have its repeat time set independently!
    • “Cut numbers” supported for serial numbers (0, 9 or both)
    • Altered settings (Farnsworth, QRSS, HSCW) automatically cancel on completion of the memory message
  • Simple, intuitive memory record/play control
    • Tap any memory button to play its associated message
    • Hold the button to review, record or edit the message
    • Optionally, you can edit messages from your PC!
  • Two USB interfaces
    • Review or change any setting from your computer
    • Review, change and save memory messages
    • Save and load complete configuration - multiple ops can instantly load ALL their own settings and messages!
    • Upgrade firmware and add features in seconds - no need to return the unit or even open the case!
  • “Dual-Set” speed control allows easy default to a pre-set speed
  • Separate, fixed user interface (Command Mode) speed setting
  • Adjustable sidetone monitor frequency and volume
  • “Stuck key” safety disables keyer if a stuck paddle is detected
  • Smart tune mode with constant carrier or 50% duty cycle
  • User adjustable speed control range (5-99 WPM); you set the lower and upper limits
  • Farnsworth spacing is supported
  • Automatic letter spacing is supported
  • HSCW at up to 12,000 LPM (2,400 WPM)
  • QRSS settings from 1 to 120 seconds per dit (QRSS1 – QRSS120)
  • Power from any AC or DC source from 9 to 20V
  • Built-in self resetting overcurrent protection

The firmware that controls the operation of the MasterKeyer MK-1 is under constant review and revision. New features are often added to keep the MasterKeyer at the leading edge of technology. Version 1.32 is the current released version.

General Information

Masterkeyer Firmware Downloads

The current version as of September 26, 2011 is V1.32 (V1.32R). You can download the latest firmware from the Download tab on this page.  This is a ZIP file containing the firmware image and instructions for upgrading your MasterKeyer. The upgrade procedure is simple and only takes a few minutes.

My straight key input doesn't do anything!

Try "XE Y" from the command menu to enable enhanced straight key support.

Very early versions of the MK-1 had the straight key input wired directly to the output, or to the output solid-state relay. This was changed a while back, and current models have much-improved straight key support with sidetone and other features. Most of the early versions have been upgraded with a simple hardware modification. However, if you enable support for the newer straight key arrangement on an unmodified, older MK-1 it can cause the keyer to hang and need to be completely reset. That's why the newer models are shipped with the option turned ON, but a master reset will turn it back off -- I don't want to risk causing problems for guys who are still using unmodified, early production keyers.

I don't have Hyperterminal! What software can I use to make my PC talk to my MK-1?

I like the free program PuTTY, which can be obtained here: (you just need "putty.exe"). Instructions for setting up and using PuTTY are in the MK-1 manual.

Do I need a computer to use the MasterKeyer?

No! The MasterKeyer can be used completely on its own, with no computer or USB drive. All of the features you would expect in a high end keyer are easily used without a computer. The USB connection can be used if you wish.

Can I use the MasterKeyer without a keyboard?

Absolutely. Again, you don't need anything but your paddle, your rig and the MK-1.

The MasterKeyer looks complicated, I don't think I can figure out how to use it.

It couldn't be much simpler, really. Plug in your paddle. Connect it to your rig's key jack. Turn the switch on, and turn the knob to adjust the speed. That's all you really need to do! The setup commands are very easy to use; memory recording and playback are a snap. If you need the more advanced features, they're all there and easy to use. And, if you get stuck and the manual doesn't help, support is just a quick email away.

Does the MK-1 support my logging software?

Yes!! Beginning with firmware version 1.20 (December 2009), the MK-1 supports the K1EL Winkeyer command interface. If your software supports the Winkeyer, it should support the MK-1 as well. See the MK-1 manual for more information.

Do you sell a power supply for the MK-1?

Not at this time. The MK-1 comes with a 6' power cord with the correct 2.5mm/5mm connector on one end and tinned bare wires on the other end. You can use any DC or AC power source from 9 to 20 Volts. Your normal shack 12V/13.8V power supply will be fine.

Does the MK-1 come with cables for my transceiver?

No rig cables are included due to the wide variety of transceiver and amplifier requirements. The cables you may need are a 2.5mm (1/8") mono to whatever your rig requires for connecting a straight key - this may be 1/4" or 1/8", mono or in some cases stereo. For amplifier keying, if used, you will need a cable for the MK-1's RCA output to whatever your amp requires.

Will any USB keyboard work with my MK-1?

Most normal USB PC keyboards will work fine, including some (but not all) wireless models. Notable exceptions are Apple keyboards, and some keyboards with extra functions such as USB ports. If the keyboard has extra USB connectors on it, there's a fair chance it won't work with your MK-1.

My keyboard has a non-English key layout. Will that work?

Unfortunately, it seems the only way to know for sure is to try it out. Some German keyboards, for example, work as if they are QWERTY layout even when they are marked QWERTZ - so the Y and Z keys are swapped, and some others don't work as expected. I'm working to find a fix for this issue.

Straight key (3.5mm mono jack) Paddle (3.5mm stereo jack) Power (2.5/5mm coax power jack) USB standard B connector
30 message memories
  • 5 banks of 6 message each
  • Each message up to 128 characters
Transmitter keying (3.5mm mono jack) Amplifier keying (RCA jack) USB Type A host port
Power requirements
9 - 20 V DC or AC

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