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Author Topic: First Key  (Read 6350 times)
W9OY
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« Reply #15 on: November 28, 2010, 07:47:11 PM »

I suggest a single lever paddle such as a vibroplex or kent and a k1el keyer.  You may as well buy some good stuff you will use for the rest of your life

73 W9OY
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K5RIX
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Posts: 17




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« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2010, 10:16:36 AM »

Get a Speed-X key and the aluminum base from morsex.com.  If you don't like it, I'll buy it from you.  Otherwise, you'll have it forever.  73  Ric
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WX7G
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Posts: 6076




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« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2010, 02:04:09 PM »

My first key came from Radio Shack in 1975. The same key is sold today as
the Ameco AM-K4.

http://www.mtechnologies.com/ameco/keys.htm

I second the AM-K4. With the base it's only $37.50.
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N4OI
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Posts: 208




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« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2011, 06:41:56 AM »

IMHO, Your first key should be a paddle -- Bencher BY-1 -- use it with the keyer in your radio or an external box.  Learn and practice iambic keying from the get-go and never look back.  73 de Ken N4OI Grin
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WX7G
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« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2011, 10:11:23 AM »

The Bencher BY-1, while good, is not the best. If you want a really fine paddle at a fair price I recommend the Begali Simplex Basic at $150.

If you want what just might be the finest straight key I recommend the Begali Spark at $170.

And if you yearn for the finest bug known to man or beast go for the Begali Intrepid at $600.

I own these three keys and they are in a class by themselves.

http://www.i2rtf.com/html/keys_paddles.html

 
« Last Edit: January 01, 2011, 11:28:28 AM by DAVE CUTHBERT » Logged
KB3TXH
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Posts: 44




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« Reply #20 on: January 05, 2011, 06:34:53 AM »

When I became a novice class ham, in the 60's, I used a J38.
 Not having anything to compare it to, it felt ok, and worked ok.
Dirt cheap too.
Now, 40 years later, I got back into ham radio. The first piece of equipment
 I aquired was a J38 type key with a code practice oscillator. I practiced
with this, and then used the key to make my first new contact. It felt ok,
and worked ok.
But I felt like I wanted/deserved something a little better. So I bought a newly
 constructed Speed-x key from the guy who now makes them. It looks, and feels
 about the same as my cheap J38 did, but prettier, and costs about $60.

Still, I had the feeling that if I could buy the "One magical, and beautifull key", then
my sending would sound like a Siren Song, So I bought a Kent key. Its very pretty,
and heavy, and feels solid as a rock, A $130 rock. However, my sending is still only OK.

Now I am looking at the Bengali straight keys from Italy. They start at about $150, then
go up. They are beautifull, and probably work as good as they look. But you know what ?
 I don't think I am going to buy one, because I don't think it will make my sending
 any bit better. Nor will my hand feel any more comfortable using it.
The fact is, any of the keys I used, will work for you too. Probably for many, many years.
How great is that ? That you can buy a cheap Ameco, and send just as good code, for just as many years as the guy who spends many hundreds more. You can't go wrong. So there.

P.S, That Bengali is so pretty tho  : < )

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VA7CPC
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Posts: 2388




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« Reply #21 on: January 05, 2011, 08:00:59 AM »

Quote
. . . Still, I had the feeling that if I could buy the "One magical, and beautifull key", then
my sending would sound like a Siren Song, . . .

If you want your Siren Song, get a paddle and keyer.<g> 

IMHO, of course.<g>

                    Charles
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KK5J
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Posts: 81




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« Reply #22 on: January 05, 2011, 08:30:19 AM »

My recommendation would be a Vibroplex key.  Uglystick- I feel your pain.  Grin I own a few straight keys, J-38, Kents, Bencher, Junkers, etc  best overall IMHO is the Vibroplex straight key. Vibroplex added a spring under the key arm that cushions the down stroke when making contact.  This gives a pleasant feel and doesn't bang the hand around quite as bad as other keys. Yep its more expensive than a J-38, but after using it in several SKCC weekend sprints I can tell you it holds up to heavy use, feels much better, and of course -it looks good too!  Roll Eyes
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KB3TXH
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Posts: 44




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« Reply #23 on: January 05, 2011, 10:43:26 AM »

http://vibroplex.com/straight_key.html

Oh yeah, that gold key really, really, got my attention.

But I would still tell NI3S that the Ameco, J38 , J38 type, Speed-x key for $60 or so will fill his needs.
Then when he gets wanderlust, he can buy other keys like I am doing now, until either he runs out of money
or finds his own "this is it" key.

KB3TXH....Jim
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KK5J
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Posts: 81




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« Reply #24 on: January 05, 2011, 10:58:17 AM »

Thanks for the link!  That gold one is real pretty  Shocked, won't show this to my wife! But the cheapest one at the bottom, well thats more in line with what I was thinking. Grin. Love these little icons....
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NR0U
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Posts: 28




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« Reply #25 on: January 05, 2011, 12:13:57 PM »

How about this one for $40 shipped... plus you get to put it together!

http://www.americanmorse.com/kk1.htm

K0URN
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AB2T
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Posts: 246




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« Reply #26 on: January 05, 2011, 10:26:15 PM »

Whatever you end up buying, don't go on looks.  Be sure to test each type of key to make sure it's comfortable.  You might really hurt your hand and wrist if you work with a key that doesn't work with you!

Right now I have a Kent key.  It's easier to adjust and travels better than the Bencher.  We all look for different features in a key.  I look for keys that are well built and that have few moving parts, since I have to operate portable or club by necessity.  If you have your own shack and have a permanent place to the key to live, you might find a more delicate key to be a better fit.

73, Jordan
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NN4RH
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Posts: 326




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« Reply #27 on: January 06, 2011, 04:01:03 PM »

Bill:
EBay - J-38 or J-37 - $20 to $40 - end of story.
Bill, W0WCA

I've never seen a J-38 go for that low on eBay unless there's something broken or missing or filthy. In fact in recent months I've seen J-38s on eBay going for average $60 and I've seen some get bid up as high as $120.

And J-38s are crappy keys, anyway.

Look at some of the surplus British "WT 8 AMP" keys http://www.radiomuseum.org/r/mil_gb_wt8amp.html. They're really pretty decent, they come up on eBay all the time in very good condition, and go for $30 to $40 or so most of the time. You'll need to mount it on a base of some sort but that can be a peice of wood or metal or even directly to the desktop.
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AE5QB
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Posts: 269




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« Reply #28 on: January 07, 2011, 07:41:49 AM »

I can't really recommend the AM-K4.  It is OK but not great.  If you think you are buying American, you are mistaken.  This key clearly has Japan stamped into the casting.  But that is not a reason not to buy in my book.  I just think it is a marginal key and you can buy a better used key for about the same money.  I purchased an AM-K4 with the aluminum base and it has several issues.  First they charged me $10 for USPS priority shipping in the little box that costs $5.00.  OK the other $5 is handling but that is 25% of the purchase price - I think a bit high.  Second, it only came with one of the two necessary brass screws to mount it to the base.  Ok no big deal, I can go to HD and buy a bag of brass screws for a buck.  On the other hand, when I mounted it on the base and started using it, I discovered it doesn't sit flush and wiggles a little bit when used - not a good thing!  Apparently the base is warped or more likely the stick-on rubber feet (the type you peel off and stick on picture frames) are not true.  I haven't pulled them off and tried something else yet.  I suspect I can fix this issue.  My biggest issue is with the design of the key.  In a neutrally adjusted position, the contacts are way to far apart for me.  This means I have to adjust the lever way down.  In doing so, this puts way too much pressure on the return spring and it becomes very difficult to adjust properly.  To back off the spring tension, I have to back out the adjustment screw to the point where it is only held in place by 1 or 2 threads.  In a nutshell, the range of adjustment for return tension is very narrow. The lever is also very thin which gives it ever so little bit of flex during use.  I really prefer a rock solid lever when operating.  Maybe yours will not have these issues, but I think for $40 they could do a better engineering job.  It is definitely a low-end key that is fine as a beginner key.  But I will not use it for operating.  I think you can do better for about the same or maybe $20-$25 more and be happier with the results.

Good luck to you.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2011, 05:31:19 PM by AE5QB » Logged
K7NI
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Posts: 28




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« Reply #29 on: January 07, 2011, 08:24:29 PM »

If you look for a J-38 on ebay, be aware there are also JJ-38s, crappy Artec "J-38"s and "J-38 style" keys being sold as well. If you are patient I am sure you can fined one for a decent price.
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