Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net

   Home   Help Search  
Pages: [1] 2 Next   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: straight keys  (Read 1165 times)
K9AIM
Member

Posts: 1004




Ignore
« on: January 19, 2010, 05:07:04 PM »

I was off the air for 25 years, and now am getting back into it.  I bought a used key, but my arm gets tired very quickly using it.  It is a pretty cheap key.  Would I do better with a Speed-X or J-38 key?  

How do I differentiate good keys from bad ones?  If anyone out there has a key they could sell me -- please let me know.

Also I don't seem to hear many operators using "dah dit dit dit dah" as a separator -- is it considered poor form these days?
Logged
K7PEH
Member

Posts: 1125




Ignore
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2010, 05:31:00 PM »

The dah-di-di-di-dah separator is still used, not by all, but I think by a lot, or maybe some, who knows.  This is the BT separator which is usually used for a break.

As far as keys go, I was away from the CW part of the hobby for 40 years and when I got back in a few years ago my hand quickly grew stiff from the straight key.  I went to a paddle and I have never regretted the decision.  I keep my straight key around just in case I need to slow down below 10 to 12 wpm.

My straight key is a Begali Camelback.  It is a very nice key.  I had a J-38 but I gave it away.  Lots of straight keys out there.
Logged
K6LO
Member

Posts: 226




Ignore
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2010, 05:56:36 PM »

The cheap, plastic base, keys are no fun to send with.  Any decent quality metal key will be better. Good keys have a smooth and secure feel, usually owing to a jeweled or at least well machined pivot point. The tension spring and pivot drag is also adjustable. The spring returns the knob quickly so you do not have to "work" the key knob up and down. I prefer a Navy style (skirt) knob. You may not. Obviously you want a secure base that does not slip.     Google Milestone Technologies (Morse Express) and have a look.    Keys are highly individual, and he might offer an exchange priviledge if you choose something from him and are not happy with your selection.

Nothing wrong with BT.  It differentiates you from the keyboarders (dah dah di di  dah dah)  Excess commas give them away every time.  Wink

73,  Luke
« Last Edit: January 19, 2010, 05:59:10 PM by K6LO » Logged
KW6LA
Member

Posts: 91




Ignore
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2010, 06:24:17 PM »

I agree with the other post on individual choice in keys. For me, a ( Lionel )  J-38 does
a nice job if mounted on a steel or copper base for weight. You can’t go wrong with a
Bengali key for a real Ham ( Had a lot of Money ! ! ). Nice, but if you don’t have loads
of money check out E-Bay under ( telegraph key ). I have bought many keys there
with good value. I also like the Navy knob and put a lighter return spring in the J-38.
This will give you much more control when setting the key. Look in the web site for
more info on keys (www.mtechnologies.com ).

Good Luck,

KW6LA / T2
Logged
K2ER
Member

Posts: 28




Ignore
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2010, 07:03:24 PM »

I have always considered my Bencher BY-1 (black base) to be a quintessential, basic, classic paddle. And paddles are easier and more efficient to use than straight keys.

But for Straight Key Night 2010 I decided to build a straight key, since I no longer had my cheap Radio Shack special from my Novice days. Now, I am not a machinist or mechanical engineer. I lose parts, hurt myself, and swear a lot. But my little brass key on a beveled oak base came out superb! I don't want to buy any fancy straight keys because of the chance that I might forsake this humble work of my own 2 hands.

There is a photo near the bottom of my QRZ page.

Have fun!
Roger K2ER
Logged
K0ZN
Member

Posts: 1544




Ignore
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2010, 07:33:16 PM »

"BT" is still used a lot. I think the use of it is more common by the "Old Timers". I operate about 90% CW and I note that the new hams are tending to use established CW protocol a little less.

You can't go wrong with a Begali key. They are not cheap but the workmanship is fantastic as is their customer service. Wonderful folks to deal with.

73,  K0ZN
Logged
K9AIM
Member

Posts: 1004




Ignore
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2010, 07:54:57 PM »

wow, those are some beautiful -- but pricey -- keys.  If i come up with $200 i will get one.  for now i need to stay under $50.  My rig is the best (and most expensive) rig I have ever owned and it is a Ten Tec Argonaut V i bought used last summer.  (i started out in 1977 with an HW-16 when i was 15 years old).

my present key is an old cheap Japanese key that isn't in great shape.  I am thinking a Speed-X or J-38 would be a marked improvement...  

I may also have to study my form. I may be getting glass arm from poor technique.  I just read up a little and till then never had any idea about American vs. European differences in technique...
Logged
W7ETA
Member

Posts: 2528




Ignore
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2010, 01:21:29 AM »

I really like my WWII era Navy key.

Just for FUN, I got the classic WWII surplus Lionel key.

Try sending using just your wrist, or your left foot--HI hi.

dah-dit-dit-dit-daaaaaaaah always works for me.
73
Bob
Logged
N2UGB
Member

Posts: 179




Ignore
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2010, 01:55:16 AM »

The Begali Camelback is one of the best straights! It is expensive, essentially because of the weak dollar on the foreign exchange market. I bought mine when Begali still "ate" the loss.

I have a couple Navy Flameproofs, considerably cheaper and nearly as smooth. They used to appear frequently on e-Bay though it has been a couple years since I browsed that place. I recommend the NFP.

Like the other fella, my senior-citizen fist is cramping up sooner these days. Reason why a really good straight key is essential...if you wish to be 100% SK.

72/73
Logged
AE4RV
Member

Posts: 948


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2010, 07:31:21 AM »

I thought my J-37 was one of the nicest feeling straight keys that I used. I've since moved on to single lever paddles and bugs and don't miss the straight keys at all.
Logged
N3JJT
Member

Posts: 31




Ignore
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2010, 10:58:15 PM »

Hello, and glad to have you back!  Well, I have 7 straight keys and 4 sets of paddles.  I use straight keys 99% of the time.  I am very active in the Straight Key Century Club,(SKCC).  I use a Ham key and a Bencher RJ-1 most of the time.  Every time I go to a hamfest I look for keys.  I see one that is affordable, I buy it, take it home and try it.  It might end up being your favorite, or your least favorite.  I collect them also..I have used all of them, but i favor those 2 the most.  The Ham Key is pretty smooth, and very easy to adjust.  Finding your favorite will be hit or miss.  You might buy 5 before you decide!

As far as the BT...I use it on a regular basis...I never use periods,if I do, I am sending a web address. I may use a  comma here and there, but the BT is common for me.

Good Luck!  73  de N3JJT...Scott
Logged
W7ETA
Member

Posts: 2528




Ignore
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2010, 01:48:01 PM »

Something musical about BT.
Period just sounds funny, something unnatural about it's sound.
73
Bob
Logged
K9MRD
Member

Posts: 331




Ignore
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2010, 02:35:07 PM »

I would recommend a keyer and a single lever paddle - Good code and easier on the arm!  I made the switch about 45 years ago to a homebrew tube based keyer and modified bug. Currently use a Logikey K5 keyer.

I use BT all the time sort of like a paragraph symbol. I seldom use other punctuation except in URLs and email addresses.

73,
Wayne
Pounding Brass for 52 years....
Logged
K9AIM
Member

Posts: 1004




Ignore
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2010, 09:42:16 AM »

How long did it take to get used to a keyer and how much is one that fits a poor man's budget?

Anyone out there try keyers and prefer straight keys?  

main difference between a bug and a keyer (if any)?

thanks for your patience,

Rob KC9JC soon to be K9AIM
Logged
K7PEH
Member

Posts: 1125




Ignore
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2010, 10:12:38 AM »

>>>How long did it take to get used to a keyer and how much is one that fits a poor man's budget? <<<

I returned to CW after 40 years and started out on a straight key, a J-38.  I made about a dozen or so contacts before I realized that I didn't want to continue doing that so I got myself a cheap used paddle, a Bencher, and started practicing.  After a few days, I felt I was proficient enough to try it for real.  And, of course, you just get better over time.  I now use a Begali which is expensive but nice.  Also, my electronic keyer was built into the rig so no issues there (Icom 756 Pro III).

>>>Anyone out there try keyers and prefer straight keys?<<<<

Well, I tried a keyer and I am staying.  I only revert to the straight key if I need to slow down below about 10 wpm.



>>>main difference between a bug and a keyer (if any)? <<<

For a well-tuned and properly adjusted mechanical bug there may not be too much difference.  However, some of the worst code to copy out there seems to come from bugs that are not adjusted very well.  Or, someone who lives to race along at 35 wpm on his bug attempts to slow down to 15 wpm merely by stretching out spaces and making dashes longer which is horrible.  But, there are likely many bug operators that will be so good that you cannot tell the difference with an electronic keyer.

But, I think it is harder to learn to be a good mechanical bug operator then a good electronic keyer/paddle operator.
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 Next   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!