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Author Topic: New to CW...want advice for a KEY  (Read 11360 times)
W0DV
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Posts: 200




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« on: February 26, 2012, 05:07:47 PM »

Hi all. I'm an Extra Class that passed a 5 wpm test a few years ago. I think I picked up on the code fairly well as far as receiving is concerned. I have never placed my hands on a key, and I have wanted to do so for some time now. I own an FT-950, and want to connect a key to it.  I'm looking for suggestions for a first key. I would like to start with a straight key. Recommendations appreciated.

W0DV

Dave
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K3TN
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Posts: 288


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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2012, 03:07:32 AM »

If you are just getting going, start simple. You can usually find straight keys for sale in the $15 range on eBay or a local hamfest. MFJ sells low end straight keys that are find for getting started. There are $100+ straight keys that someday you may decide you want to move up to, but you might also decide you want to use a keyer and will instead be looking at paddles.

Practice with your 950 VOX turned off and then start answering some CQs and away you go. Good luck, its a lot of fun!

73 John K3TN
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John K3TN
KB3TXH
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Posts: 44




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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2012, 08:11:21 AM »

While a $15 key from e-bay, or a hamfest might be ok for practice in your shack, I would want a more reliable unit for actual contacts. The millitary surplus keys J-37, J-38, J-44, were reliable enough to cross the English Channel, France, and the Rhine. Those keys are now 50 to 80 years old, and still good.
A new, but just as reliable key for about $60 is the Nye Viking 310-003 at   www.nyeviking.com    I like mine.

Wanting a prettier, European style key, I bought a Kent straight key. About $150 from   www.kent-engineers.com   
 It is pretty, and works like a charm.

Unfortunately, to buy a better straight key than the Kent, will probably cost me around $300 to $500, and I don't think I will upgrade.

I don't think you can find a better straight key than the Nye Viking for $60.
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NR0U
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Posts: 28




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« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2012, 08:45:22 AM »

Hi Dave,

Since you expressed your interest in a straight key, I can't recommend enough the Straight Key Century Club at skccgroup.com  ...   This group is growing extremely fast, have a live sked page with lots of activity, and lots of guys ready for 5-15wpm qso's.

Back to keys:
Not that I am an expert, but I have the KK-1 from American Morse.  It's a tiny little kit for like $45.  This was my first straight key and I have made hundreds of contacts.  It is super small, adjustable, and works fine.

I just bought a Czech military straight key for $50.  Love it.  Is much larger than the KK-1 and feels a bit more robust under the 'fist'.

I guess I would say, just buy something on Ebay for cheap and see how you like it.  With time, just like all radio equipment, you will figure out what you really want a bit later.

Good luck and hope to see you in the SKCC group soon!

73
K0URN
Lance

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K8AG
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Posts: 352




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« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2012, 09:56:10 AM »

I would suggest sending from a book or magazine into a recorder (computer or tape).  Then play it back and see if you can copy it.  If you have a hard time copying your own fist then everybody else will.  Makes you a better fist.

Welcome to CW.  It's the most fun.

73, JP, K8AG
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PA0BLAH
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Posts: 0




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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2012, 10:33:59 AM »

Good keys have
1. Return path for current from moving arm NOT via a trunnion screw or ball bearing
2, Special plated contacts with rhodium or gold (NEVER NEVER use abrasive paper)
3. Are with spring and contact distance very fine adjustable
4. Hold their adjustments over a long time if not eternal
5. Very short bouncing time of contacts during closing and opening

So don't chase for fancy completely gold plated very expensive highly polished keys on an expensive rare wooden baseplate. . They are just for show, and for trade NOT for using.

When you want an example : The German Junker key. Look on marked place. Mine is not for sale as long as I am alive.

Bob
« Last Edit: February 27, 2012, 02:46:35 PM by PA0BLAH » Logged
K8AXW
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Posts: 3861




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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2012, 01:13:07 PM »

The J-38 style key will work just fine.  I guarantee you that you will want to graduate to a keyer when your speed get up some so no reason to spend a lot of money on a fancy straight key.

Understand that some do and for their own reason(s).  But I think you'll find they're the exception and not the rule.  If you spend more than $25.00 for one, you're wasting money.  IMHO.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2012, 02:10:50 PM »

I just had lunch with Neil K6SMF.  He has dozens of hand keys and does sell them to other hams at Swap Meets and such.

If you e-mail Neil with a question he can probably recommend something (used) that will work well for you and be inexpensive.

He's neilk6smf@gmail.com

Or catch him on the air, he's really active. Smiley
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W0DV
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Posts: 200




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« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2012, 05:33:29 PM »

Thanks for the replies, and advice, much appreciated. I've been looking at keys for the past few days..looked hard at the J-38's on ebay, seen one there in new (old stock) condition.
I decided I wanted to buy a new key, but not an expensive one, that is heavy. I have large hands,  so I want to start out with a "heavy duty" type of key.  I come across a K-4 Chinese Military key that I feel might suit me for a first key, not too expensive, and it is heavy. I have been reading good reviews on it. The bad part is waiting for it to be shipped from China.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/K-4-Chinese-Military-Heavy-Duty-Telegraph-Straight-Key-/120504634028?_trksid=p3286.m7&_trkparms=algo%3DLVI%26itu%3DUCI%26otn%3D5%26po%3DLVI%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D6636272114176070851

Thanks again for the advice.

Dave
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K8AXW
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« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2012, 09:37:12 PM »

The bad part is the total cost!  This is just a copy of the J-38 with a block of shiny steel on the bottom.

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VA7CPC
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Posts: 2388




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« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2012, 11:43:05 PM »

If you want something _really solid_, check eBay for old keys made by Signal Electric.  They have heavy arms, large knobs, and big solid-silver contacts.  Mount one of those on a base _that extends forward underneath the knob_, and you'll be set for life.

My own preference is for paddles, but I won't try to convince you.

          Charles

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NR0U
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Posts: 28




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« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2012, 05:54:28 AM »

Dave,

How about this for $50?
http://www.czechmorsekeys.co.uk/

Just got one.  Direct from UK.  Took less than a week to get here.  Very cool nostalgic look IMHO... Smiley   Maybe not as heavy, but heavy duty.  Its not gonna jump all over the place. It is a large key.

Good luck!

Lance
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W0DV
Member

Posts: 200




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« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2012, 10:45:59 AM »

The bad part is the total cost!  This is just a copy of the J-38 with a block of shiny steel on the bottom.



Actually it was quite cheap, about $50 shipping included. It's brand new. I looked at many J38's, almost purchased one of them also.
I like the weight of this key. It has many good reviews also
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 06:25:23 PM by W0DV » Logged
PA0BLAH
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Posts: 0




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« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2012, 12:21:43 PM »


Are you looking for an instrument or piece of furniture?

Hey guys, be kind to each other. This is an international forum read in China Australia Japan and Europe,

Nice to learn some American slang, thanks. And mass production lowers prices, so when a lot of hams use keys as furniture, it makes them affordable for the users puchasing them as an instrument.
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K5BJS
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Posts: 50




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« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2012, 03:54:16 PM »

I passed the 20 WPM test many moons ago, but never used it on the air.  I went inexpensive for my first key with an Ameco K-4 and UKB.
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