BLOCKED-GRID KEYING. - Two methods of BLOCKED-GRID KEYING are shown in figure 1-24. The key in view (A) shorts cathode resistor R1 allowing normal plate current to flow. With the key open, reduced plate current flows up through resistor R1 making the end connected to grid resistor Rg negative. If R1 has a high enough value, the bias developed is sufficient to cause cutoff of plate current. Depressing the key short-circuits R1. This increases the bias above cutoff and allows the normal flow of plate current. Grid resistor Rg is the usual grid-leak resistor for normal biasing.
Figure 1-24A. - Blocked-grid keying.
Figure 1-24B. - Blocked-grid keying.
The blocked-grid keying method in view (B) affords a complete cutoff of plate current. It is one of the best methods for keying amplifier stages in transmitters. In the voltage divider with the key open, two-thirds of 1,000 volts, or 667 volts, is developed across the 200-kilohm resistor; one-third of 1,000 volts, or 333 volts, is developed across the 100-kilohm resistor. The grid bias is the sum of 100 volts and 333 volts, or 433 volts. This sum is below cutoff and no plate current flows. The plate voltage is 667 volts. With the key closed, the 200-kilohm resistor drops 1,000 volts. The plate voltage becomes 1,000 volts at the same time the grid bias becomes 100 volts. Grid bias is reduced enough so that the triode amplifier will conduct only on the peaks of the drive signal.
When greater frequency stability is required, the oscillator should not be keyed, but should remain in continuous operation; other transmitter circuits may be keyed. This procedure keeps the oscillator tube at a normal operating temperature and offers less chance for frequency variations to occur each time the key is closed.
KEYING RELAYS. - In transmitters using a crystal-controlled oscillator, the keying is almost always in a circuit stage following the oscillator. In large transmitters (75 watts or higher), the ordinary hand key cannot accommodate the plate current without excessive arcing.
BECAUSE OF THE HIGH PLATE POTENTIALS USED, OPERATING A HAND KEY IN THE PLATE CIRCUIT IS DANGEROUS. A SLIGHT SLIP OF THE HAND BELOW THE KEY KNOB COULD RESULT IN SEVERE SHOCK OR, IN THE CASE OF DEFECTIVE RF PLATE CHOKES, A SEVERE RF BURN.
In larger transmitters, some local low-voltage supply, such as a battery, is used with the hand key to open and close a circuit through the coils of a KEYING RELAY. The relay contacts open and close the keying circuit of the amplifier. A schematic diagram of a typical relay-operated keying system is shown in figure 1-25. The hand key closes the circuit from the low-voltage supply through the coil (L) of the keying relay. The relay armature closes the relay contacts as a result of the magnetic pull exerted on the armature. The armature moves against the tension of a spring. When the hand key is opened, the relay coil is deenergized and the spring opens the relay contacts.
Figure 1-25. - Relay-operated keying system.
KEY CLICKS. - Ideally, cw keying a transmitter should instantly start and stop radiation of the carrier completely. However, the sudden application and removal of power causes rapid surges of current which may cause interference in nearby receivers. Even though such receivers are tuned to frequencies far removed from that of the transmitter, interference may be present in the form of "clicks" or "thumps." KEY-CLICK FILTERS are used in the keying systems of radio transmitters to prevent such interference. Two types of key-click filters are shown in figure 1-26.
Figure 1-26A. - Key-click filters.
Figure 1-26B. - Key-click filters.
The capacitors and rf chokes in figure 1-26, views (A) and (B), prevent surges of current. In view (B), the choke coil causes a lag in the current when the key is closed, and the current builds up gradually instead of instantly. The capacitor charges as the key is opened and slowly releases the energy stored in the magnetic field of the inductor. The resistor controls the rate of charge of the capacitor and also prevents sparking at the key contacts by the sudden discharge of the capacitor when the key is closed.
MACHINE KEYING. - The speed with which information can be transmitted using a hand key depends on the keying ability of the operator. Early communicators turned to mechanized methods of keying the transmitters to speed transmissions. More information could be passed in a given time by replacing the hand-operated key with a keying device capable of reading information from punched tape. Using this method, several operators could prepare tapes at their normal operating speed. The tapes could then be read through the keying device at a higher rate of speed and more information could be transmitted in a given amount of time.
Continuous-wave transmission has the disadvantage of being a relatively slow transmission method. Still, it has several advantages. Some of the advantages of cw transmission are a high degree of clarity under severe noise conditions, long-range operation, and narrow bandwidth. A highly skilled operator can pick out and read a cw signal even though it has a high degree of background noise or interference. Since only a single-carrier frequency is being transmitted, all of the transmitter power can be concentrated in the intelligence. This concentration of power gives the transmission a greater range. The use of spectrum analysis (figure 1-27) illustrates the transmitted frequency characteristics of a cw signal. Because the cw signal is a pure sine wave, it occupies only a single frequency in the rf spectrum and the system is relatively simple.
Figure 1-27. - Carrier-wave signal spectrum analysis.
Q.18 What is amplitude modulation?