N1GY- The simple Approach to Ham Radio

Two coats of stain have been applied. Tomorrow I will apply the high gloss polyurethane and hopefully I will be able to reassemble the project The stain didn't quite come out the way I had hoped but I think that is due to the pine.With a high gloss finish it should still look good.

     Recently, I built a couple of hand held PTT switches out of cheap USB battery powered chargers that I bought for $1 each at a local discount store. The size of the enclosure was right and so was the price. After construction however, it was apparent that they were not the right shape or texture to be ergonomically functional. Back to the drawing board. 

     I even called Heil Sound because I knew that they make a hand held PTT switch called the HS-2. I wanted to just buy the housing and use my own already assembled internals. Unfortunately, the price for the housing was the same as for the entire switch and I would still have to modify it so that was a NO-GO immediately. 

     I saw a short length of 1x3 white pine in my workshop and I also had plenty of 1/8" ABS scraps to play with. I sketched out a shape similar to the HS-2 on the pine and went to work with my saber saw. I made two pieces of the 3/4" thick pine one for the front where my fingers would go and a larger one for the back where the fleshy part of my hand would be. Between the two pieces of wood there was room for the push button switch and the cord that would connect to the headset adapter. To hold the project together I cut two panels of ABS plastic to be screwed to each side of the assembly. Another small piece of ABS was cut and drilled to hold the push button switch itself at the top front of the device. All of these parts were held to the wood with small screws.

      Once it was all together, I sanded and filed the shape to fit nicely in my hand and then gave it a coat or two of black paint. After a suitable drying time, I tried it out on the headset adapter for my IC-706MkIIG. It felt good in my hand and operated the PTT circuit with no problems. Of course the real test will come when I use it for a net that often runs for more than an hour. 

Three coats of Fast drying Polyurethane later (and 24 hours). Tomorrow hopefully the poly will be dry and I can reassemble the PTT switch for the final time. I also just built a little gadget to allow the use of one PTT switch for two radios. Nothing fancy, just a DPDT toggle switch to feed the PTT signal to either of the radios depending on which way the switch is thrown.

     This is the coiled cord I took off the cigar lighter plug that is a 5 volt supply. I saved the plug itself and the supply for a later project. The red and green wires were soldered to the original wires to extend them all the way through the handle. A 3.5 mm mono plug was soldered to the other end to plug into the remote PTT ports on my headset adapters. Some hams prefer to use a foot switch and keep both hands free to write in their logbooks but I never developed that warm fuzzy feeling about foot switches. I do have one connected to my boom mic but I rarely use it.

Here is the roughed out handle. It still needs a lot more sanding and finishing before it is done


Here is a view of the cavity that I drilled, chiseled and sanded out to make room for the switch.

       It did not take long for me to give it another go as they used to say. The same scrap of 1x3" pine was used again and this time a few more power tools were involved. Using my prototype as a model, I drew out a second handle and then got to work with the saber saw, my drill press and my belt sander. I even hauled out my old Dremel tool and managed to find a couple of sanding drums for said Dremel tool to make the final adjustments to the shape of the handle. The same style push button switch was used with a small piece of ABS to hold the button. I countersunk the holes for the two small wood screws that hold the ABS mounted switch to the handle. An old automotive power accessory provided the coil cord and the wires were extended to get through the long hole drilled from the bottom of the handle to the cavity for the switch. The pictures below .probably explain it better than I have. The handle is now roughed out and the few components have been test fitted. What remains is the finishing of the wood and final assembly. 

       I will add more photos when I have done the finishing of the unit. I plan on using a cherry stain and polyurethane to match the cherry trim on my operating position and the book cases in the radio room.

A head on view of the front of the switch. The handle is shaped similar to a pistol grip and the push button stands in for the trigger. Holding it in the hand the button is in exactly the right place for my index finger and although the device is a bit rough it feels comfortable in my hand. I just might make another one all in wood so I can stain and finish it to be more attractive.

This is a side view of the new PTT switch. The four screws on each side do not seem to bother my hand so far. Time will tell. It occurred to me as I write this that one could use the thin sheets of hobby wood that are sold in places like Lowes and Home Depot in place of the ABS plastic and glue instead of the screws. One could then sand and file and shape the device to be very comfortable in the hand and even finish it with stain and polyurethane to be a very attractive PTT switch.

Finally, the finished product. Three coats of polyurethane were necessary to get the shine I wanted, but it was worth it. The difference in color from the previous photo is a result of no flash versus flash on my camera.

To the left is a photo of the long hole that was drilled from the bottom of the handle all the way up to the cavity for the switch. It is nice to have a bench-top drill press but even with that it was a stretch for the 1/4" drill bit to get all the way. I had to readjust the drill bit to get it all the way.

This is the push button I have used on several PTT projects over the years. I found them at a Home Depot. They are a bit larger than other push button switches available but they have some give in them which tactile type switches do not. The connections are screw terminals but I do not mind that.