You got here because you want to know about the Vibroplex electronic keyer or you're interested in making you own circuit boards?




This page is also a simple Wiki on how to etch out awesome backyard circuit boards!


The Circuit Board Art Work     The Schematic     Bill of Materials


The BASIC Code Mode A BASIC Code Mode B BASIC Code Everything BASIC Code
A few extra practice modes Mode A only Mode B only Lots of extra practice modes



This project is something I thought about while literally looking at my Vibroplex key one night. As a space saving idea, I thought it might be useful for JOTA, SOTA,

light house weekend, field day, a QRP rig without an internal keyer and activating a national parks. It's a space saving idea since it doesn't require a 12 volt power lead

or a lead to connect the key to the keyer. It just requires a 2 wire lead with a 6mm (1/4") or a 3.5mm (1/8") plug on the end to connect the key to your radio... that's

all. It has 2 keyed outputs. They're an isolated contact from the high speed reed relay and a 2N7000 MOSFET that switches to ground. So in theory, you can key two

rigs at the same time.



Possible issues with this project:

    1] I do not know how long the CR2032 3volt Lithium button battery will last. Hence the reason the links are included, to conserve battery voltage.

2] The reed relay has a 5VDC coil and the manufacture guarantees relay operation down to 3.75 volts. It is working at 3.1 volts on a brand new

fully charged button battery, but I don't know how low a voltage the relay will operate at.

    3] I used a 1K resistor on all three status LEDs. 3volts/1000 ohms... that's about 3mA per LED. Possibly to conserve more battery, an even higher

resistance could be used?



The prepared bright and shinny copper circuit board material MUST be cleaned of all oxidation and oils. I use 420 grit wet and dry sand paper under a stream of water

using the laundry sink tap. (water faucet) I have found this better than anything else. My theory is that the fine sand paper scratches on the bright and shinny copper

board gives the very hot printer toner image something coarse to adhere too. After the whole board is bright and shinny, dry the board off with a paper towel. Last, wipe

the board down with alcohol. The board is now ready for the image to be transferred to it.





This is the art work for the Vibrplex Electronic Keyer circuit board. This REVERSE  image was drawn with MS Paint and copied to glossy "Presentation Paper" in a 2 step

 process. This is the second  project I have used the Hewlett Packard glossy "Presentation Paper". This is the paper to use!!!!! It's very light weight at 120 g/sm and glossy

on both sides. Also, it's A4 in size at 216mm x 279mm (8" x 11") and made by Hewlett-Packard, Product No. CG988A. It is awesome paper for making back yard single

sided circuit boards! YES, it's only 120 g/sm !!! It's like glossy magazine paper.


First, I imported  a REVERSE "mirror" image .BMP file into MS Word as usual and scale the image to the correct size. Print from Word! Printing from MS Paint does not

give good results! For this project, the Vibroplex Electronic Keyer circuit board is exactly 8 cm x 6 cm. I print the image to a standard piece of A4 paper. The A4 paper image

is then put on the printer/copier machine and a piece of A4 glossy Hewlett-Packard "Presentation Paper" is put in the printer/copier paper tray and a "copy" is selected. This  

technique gives easier control of the toner "lighter/darker" adjustment on the copier machine that I used. The toner setting is set to the darkest set point and a copy is made on

the glossy "Presentation Paper" with the maximum amount of toner. You can print the .BMP digital image from the computer to the printer if you like, I just found it hard to

 find the toner adjustment in the printer software.


*** BEWARE ***

It must be laser toner printing. Ink jet printing will not work!

It must be a "reverse image" or the "text" will be backwards on the copper! (trust me.)

Notice the text is reverse on the art work but reads properly on the copper.





The laser printed image on the "Presentation Paper" and the prepared copper board going through my cheap $15 dollar laminator. I put this board and paper through 10 times.


*** BEWARE ***

 The paper sometimes doesn't adhere to the copper the first time through the laminator heat rollers. Try an assist the paper and board out of the back of the laminator the first

time through and insert the paper and board the second time in. The paper and board almost always adhere to each other after two times through.





The next 7 images were taken over approximately 2 minutes.

After the circuit board and image go through the laminator about 10 - 12 times, I let it cool down to room temperature. (15 - 20 minutes) Then I fill the laundry sink

with about 75mm of hot water right out of the hot water tap. Now place the board into the hot tap water. Within about 30 seconds, you will see the hot hot hot water

has soaked into the "Presentation Paper" and you will see all the black printer toner traces.





After approx. 45 seconds...





After approx. 60 seconds... the toner image on the "Presentation Paper" is just starting to lift. All by itself! NO peeling the presentation paper required!!!





After approx. 75 seconds... the toner image on the "Presentation Paper" is now obviously lifting from the copper board all by itself!





After approx. 90 seconds... the toner image on the "Presentation Paper" is now obviously lifting from the copper board all by itself!





Almost done! The presentation paper has almost completely lifting from the copper all by itself! And no peeling or assisting the paper required!





After approx. 2 minutes... DONE! The glossy Hewlett-Packard "Presentation Paper" has completely transferred 100 percent! And we didn't have to help peel the paper

from the circuit board. Not having to assist the removing of the presentation paper from the copper is really the key to successfully making excellent backyard single

sided circuit boards.





The "Presentation Paper" minus the toner image :-)  removed right from the laundry sink hot water with all the toner image "completely" transferred to the copper board.






Another look at the "Presentation Paper" and circuit board. The printer toner really is black but it appears white as some of the glossy "Presentation Paper" material transfers

with the toner when the image releases from the "Presentation Paper". 





The board carefully placed in the Ammonium Persulphate solution.



This chemical is seriously corrosive and will burn your skin and eat your clothes!!!  At minimum, use the appropriate

safety glasses and gloves.






The board in the Ammonium Persulphate solution for about 8 minutes. As you can see, the copper is starting to etch away.






The board in the Ammonium Persulphate solution for about 10 minutes.





The board in the Ammonium Persulphate solution for about 12 minutes.... almost done!





The board in the Ammonium Persulphate solution for about 15 minutes. Etching the unprotected copper is all DONE!






The circuit board out of the solution and rinsed in clean water.






The circuit board cleaned of laser printer toner with a paper towel and turpentine. Once all the turpentine has been removed, wipe the board down with a paper towel

and alcohol to get all the oily turpentine off.

NOTE: Do not use acetone! Yes, acetone will remove the laser printer toner immediately with no scrubbing required. But it will also attack the fibreglass board too!

Trust me! :-(






Another view of the cleaned board. This is proof that you can make nice single sided circuit boards in the backyard shed! 





The circuit board after the board has been cut to size and all holes drilled. The small holes are .7mm. Others are 1mm and the 3 large holes for this project are 4mm holes.

As you can see, I scratched the board on the centre 4mm hole. :-(






A top vies of the circuit board. As you can see, it's hard to drill the 1mm slotted holes. (also, there are two .7mm holes that I forgot to drill)






The completed board with all the parts soldered on.





A view of the Vibroplex Electronic Keyer circuit board connected to my Vibroplex single paddle key.






Another view of the Vibroplex Electronic Keyer circuit board connected to my Vibroplex single paddle key.