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Author Topic: Straight Key?  (Read 1415 times)
KC5PCS
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Posts: 16




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« on: March 24, 2002, 10:42:37 AM »

I am wanting to buy my first key.  Several close ham friends suggested that I start with a straight key to develop my fist.  The question is how do I select that first key?  What are some things to watch for as well as avoid?  Price range I am looking is $25 - $75 Dollars.

I realize that I will probably get as many different suggestions as I get replies, as a key is a personal choice.  Any help would be appreciated.

Boliver
KC5PCS
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N5XM
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Posts: 242




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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2002, 11:15:03 AM »

It really is a good idea to start with a straight key because you are forced to make your characters properly, and use good spacing, or else you sound terrible. Of course you sound terrible at first on paddles when you first begin, but the point is that by starting with a straight key, you are building your fist from the ground up, and not relying on the automatic character formation of a keyer.  There are all kinds of fists out there, from just terrible, to plain wonderful, and none of the good ones were made overnight. Plan on looking at this as a long term thing. I don't know that you need to spend a whole lot of money on your first straight key. I made my first 1200 CW contacts on one of those cheapie MFJ practice oscillators I wired a quarter inch plug onto. It worked just fine. Hand keys work fine until you get above about 15 wpm, when it became hard, at least for me, to keep from getting a very tired forearm and hand. By the time you get to that level of proficiency, you are ready to move on to a set of paddles. Whatever you do, practice off the air. I am up to 7000 CW contacts now, and while many CW ops have thousands more, I still practice off the air, alternating between pure speed practice, and pure accuracy practice.  If you think you are going to try a bug, you'd better be sure and practice a lot before you put it on the air, because if you don't, no one will be able to copy you, and you're gonna get awful lonely answering your own calls. Practice really helps. The moral is that you will be judged by your fist way before you will be judged by your ear, so try to have the best fist you can, so that other CW ops will want to work you instead of going as fast as they can so they can sign with you and move onto someone with a good fist. You just have to realize that good CW ops aren't born, generally speaking, they are made, and they aren't made ovenight. Some are naturally better than others, but CW is an acquired skill that takes time and patience. Take the long term view.
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20666




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« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2002, 04:28:20 PM »

I'd recommend the Bencher model RJ-1.  It sells for about $75, not the cheapest hand key in the world but a very good one.  Nice feel, high quality, will last you a lifetime.  Although I never use a hand key and operate only using a dual paddle and iambic electronic keyer, I have an RJ-1 which I keep on hand for "newbie" training and as a "show & tell" sample when I hold code classes occasionally, to let the newcomers try it and get the feel for what a "real" key is like.

WB2WIK/6
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KE4DRN
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Posts: 3734




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« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2002, 08:01:20 PM »

Hi,

How about this key to get you started:

NYE 320001 NYE HVY DUTY KEY W/NAVY KNOB* $19.99

This key is new on clearance at www.aesham.com
original price was $ 39.99

I purchased one last month.

73 james
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KG4PIL
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Posts: 8




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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2002, 08:27:35 PM »

  I went to school for CW in the military many years ago. At that time,the only key availible to us was the old J-38.We spent most of our time trying to learn to Copy CW because if you couldn't copy 13 WPM after 12 weeks,you washed out and went to Infantry.We had this instructor who used to say at the end of each class,"Good sending requires hours and hours of practice".You must be able to send as well as receive", "how very very true that is" .After a while he started to get a little upset as we laughed and quoted his " saying " along with him.We thought that he was so funny constantly saying that.It was so funny until I got to my first duty assignment and found out that I couldn't send worth a plug nickel.That's when I realized how right he was.Hours and Hours of practice is the most important thing.Whatever key that feels comfortable to you is ok.Character formation and spacing makes a good fisk.
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N8AVX
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Posts: 5




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« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2002, 08:41:40 AM »

=====
If you think you are going to try a bug, you'd better be sure and practice a lot before you put it on the air, because if you don't, no one will be able to copy you, and you're gonna get awful lonely answering your own calls.
======
Very true. I have an old Johnson bug, and although I'd like to use it, I can't get it to sound as nice as an electronic or well sent hand key. Actually, it sounds similar to what one ham described as "Japanese Kana code sent with a loose toggle switch". I need more practice of course, but I'm not willing to try and get good with straight, electronic, _and_ bug. It's just a hobby, after all...

73,
Jim N8AVX
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N2HTA
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Posts: 2


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« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2002, 04:52:01 PM »

I use the same key as KE4DRN, the Nye with Navy knob.  I don't have a keyer and I'm very happy with a straight key at this point in my ham career.  I primarily work CW.  I've used a keyer before, and I much prefer a straight key.
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KC8LTL
Member

Posts: 38




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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2002, 09:26:33 AM »

I would also recommend the NYE Viking 320-001, which is on sale for half price from AES.  While there may be better keys, it is much better than my old MFJ or the JJ-38 that replaced that.
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