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: Next key, bug or paddle suggestion  (Read 4246 times)
W3JAR
Member

Posts: 49




Ignore
« on: June 10, 2012, 04:27:58 AM »

Hi everyone,
I am new to CW, chugging along at 5wpm on a j-38 straight key. I was curious to see what would be a great step up for a paddle or bug. Was thinking about a vibroplex lightning bug, but these tend to be for the more experience 18-20wpm code senders.

Thanks for your help! John
Logged
AC4RD
Member

Posts: 1236




Ignore
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2012, 05:10:55 AM »

I don't want to hurt any bug-users' feelings,  but I think a paddle would be a better choice for someone fairly new to CW.  Bugs don't send the perfectly clean code that paddles and a keyer send.  It might be a little harder to get used to, and you might wind up getting used to code with a "bug accent."  Paddles are inexpensive and found everywhere, they're easy to use, and you'll send perfect code with them.  Just MHO.  73 GL!
Logged
PA0BLAH
Member

Posts: 0




Ignore
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2012, 07:13:51 AM »

Right,

Forget even about paddles, because paddles are for use above 25 wpm, when you can't go faster on a straight key.

When you are in the class 5-15 wpm, you are very welcome, and nice to meet you, but PLEASE PLEASE with a straight key, because the abuse of paddles by guys producing 6 to 12 dots followed by a dash,and let me guess wether an a, u, v or 4 is meant , yields desperation at the receiving side.
Logged
AA4PB
Member

Posts: 12776




Ignore
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2012, 08:55:11 AM »

IMHO both of the above are correct. Bugs (semi-automatic) are fine for the old timers that learned on them and desire to keep using them but the fully automatic electronic keyers are much easier to send good code on for everyone else. You shouldn't use either until you are up to 10-15 WPM on a straight key.

A good many of the modern HF rigs have keyers built into them so all you need is the paddle.
Logged
N6GND
Member

Posts: 354




Ignore
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2012, 09:53:50 AM »

...you might wind up getting used to code with a "bug accent."  Just MHO.  73 GL!

Wattsa mat', you no a-like my accen'?

Seriously, there can be rather subtle "accents" expressed with a bug that, at reasonable speeds (below 25 wpm or so) do not interfere with clarity and are, at least to me, charming and interesting. Far more delightful than less-than-competent paddle-initiated sending with a keyer with more or fewer dits than are appropriate. When I hear bad sending with a keyer, I simply avoid a potential contact. Even though a BT sent with four or five dits can be easily interpreted, it seems ugly and careless to me. I think I hear far less bad bug sending, but there is indeed some of it and I'm quite capable of errors when I'm tired. If so I simply switch back to a straight key at which I'm fine up to 20 wpm even when tired.

Bugs are both a challenge for most people to master to send high quality code and quite addictive because of the challenges of finding, fixing up, adjusting and, of course, curating the bug collection. This is just as much fun to me as designing and constructing wire antennas.  Very subtle individual bug sounds are available through adjustment of dit weight and dash length.

One interesting sidelight to the challenge of mastering the bug is to find a keyer that offers a "bug mode" with a single-lever paddle. You are then sending automatic dits and manual dahs but with the significantly-easier-to-use paddle. With a bug you are moving quite a mass of pendulum around with your dits and the timing of space between character elements is a greater physical challenge than with a paddle whose motions are much easier to master. Mastering a bug is like learning to dance--once you've done it, you look forward to learning how to be graceful with each partner. You may set off on the adventure of gathering several partners.

By the way, my own unmodified Lightning runs at a minimum dit speed of about 23 wpm and I think that this is typical. Heavier weights and/or pendulum extensions can bring this down a bit, but Lightnings are probably not good first bugs. The Vizbug, which I enjoy using very much, can easily be tamed to 10 or 12 wpm. And there are others, usually much more expensive however, which are fine for slower speeds. Keep in mind that learning inevitably proceeds better at a slow pace. Bugs are designed for higher speeds but in order to learn to use them easily you often need to work at slowing them down--which can include simple modifications and/or using wide contact spacings and corresponding other adjustments.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2012, 10:04:17 AM by N6GND » Logged
W3JAR
Member

Posts: 49




Ignore
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2012, 10:21:41 AM »

Hello Everyone,
Thank you so much for your replies! As a novice in the CW world, it means a great deal to me to have much more experienced ops chiming in on a pretty embarrassing question. For a while, I will stick with the J-38 until I hit at least 15wpm. Then it will be off to find something that would fit my next speed.

In all actuality, I was hoping someone would say that I needed a Bengali. Looks like no new toys for me for the time being  Angry

All the best, and 73's!
John
Logged
N6GND
Member

Posts: 354




Ignore
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2012, 12:42:39 PM »

I was hoping someone would say that I needed a Bengali. Looks like no new toys for me for the time being  Angry

As a significant subsidizer of Piero and his family I feel compelled to notify you that the "Bengali" keys are made in India rather than Italy.

You will probably not ever regret getting one of the Begalis, but the "Intrepid" bug is perhaps the most complex-to-adjust bug ever made. You can make it work a lot of different ways, but it would be a challenge for a beginner. One of the Begali straight keys such as the "Spark" at 1/4 the cost of the "Intrepid" could be a very welcome change from a J38 and make sending faster significantly more enjoyable.
Logged
KC7YRA
Member

Posts: 256




Ignore
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2012, 01:19:12 PM »

Interesting question.  I never really got into a straight key myself.  I have had several back injuries and for some reason, my brain does not connect to my hand with a straight key.  Maybe if I could mount it in a sideswiper fashion I could manage.  However, at this point I use paddles. 

I recently got one of the Begali Magnetic pros from Piero at Dayton.  WOW!!!  Effortless sending at 30+ WPM.  Extremely nice key.

I also use a K8RA paddle.  It is very nice and what I like about it is, I can take it with me on the road and I don't have to constantly adjust it.  It STAYS PUT!!!

N3ZN is another set of keys in the WOW category.  Just all the way around, nice stuff.

Honestly though, I had very good luck with the Bencher BY-1 until my DXing speeds got too fast and I needed more precision. 

For just getting going once you are done with the straight key, a BY-1 is a cheap way to get the feel.  Going up from that is easy.  All it takes is money LOL.

Brad
Logged
STAYVERTICAL
Member

Posts: 854




Ignore
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2012, 03:38:24 PM »

Hi John,

First, kudos to you for your CW training - I am sure you will soon be there with the best of them.

As to whether a bug or paddle may be the next key in your life, I would say it is a matter of personal preference.

The advantages of a bug are exactly one - you can produce faster code, with less effort - mechanically.
It does not need an electronic keyer or other support circuitry.
On the negative side, it has a restricted range of speeds, is tricky to adjust, and requires great willpower to avoid producing poor code.
A quality bug makes it easier to send good code, but a poor bug is a ticket to hell.

A paddle is really just a centre-off double pole switch which relies on external circuitry to produce dits and dahs.
In theory, any bit of metal will do to produce a paddle, but because it has to be manipulated by human hands, its ergonomics are important.
So, like the bug, a quality paddle will make CW more precise and pleasurable.
Modern rigs generally have electronic keyer circuitry built in, so a paddle is easy to interface.

In the hands of disciplined and skilled operators, both straight keys, bugs and paddles can produce perfect code.
Poor code is a function of the operator, not the equipment, although good equipment makes it easier to send well.
There is a saying " when the frog can't swim, he says the water is too thick", which can be said for poor operating too.

So don't blame the equipment, concentrate on your CW craft, and always try for excellent code - not quirky code or code with 'character'.
When I send with a hand key, my greatest compliment is when the operator on the other side says he thought I was using a paddle/keyer.
Good code is a joy to read and disappears to leave the message being communicated - bad code is like trying to read a book outside in a howling storm.
The difference is attitude - and practice.

73 - Rob




  
« Last Edit: June 10, 2012, 03:40:23 PM by STAYVERTICAL » Logged
VA7CPC
Member

Posts: 2375




Ignore
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2012, 05:21:58 AM »

Quote
For just getting going once you are done with the straight key, a BY-1 is a cheap way to get the feel.  Going up from that is easy.  All it takes is money LOL.

+1.  At the speeds you're talking about, _any_ paddle works fine. 

I'm a "paddle-only" guy.  I took my 5 wpm code test with a paddle (probably at 7-8 wpm). 

If you send extra dits, you'll know it.  It's a sign that you need to slow down the keyer -- that your brain is faster than your fingers.

               Charles
Logged
K8AXW
Member

Posts: 3737




Ignore
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2012, 08:42:58 AM »

John:  Just one more opinion from one who has used the J-38, the bug and now paddles w/keyer:  My opinion is the bug is a "nostalgic" thing like the straight key.  Everyone should start with the straight key because they're so easy to control which in turn teaches character forming.

Once you get to 13-15wpm, then I'd bypass the bug and get a keyer which has the self completing spaces and character elements.

As for a set of paddles, the Bengali is considered the "Cadillac" of the paddle group.  There are several more in this category but unless you can afford nice things like this, the lower priced Kent paddles work very well and worthy of consideration.  I use the Kent single lever and like it very much.

Like I said, "My opinion."
Logged
N5XM
Member

Posts: 242




Ignore
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2012, 12:41:44 PM »

I don't care for the Bencher products.  They seem a bit dainty to me.  It's not that I'm heavy-handed, quite the opposite...I have a Vibroplex single lever, a Vibro straight key, which is wonderful, and a Kent single lever that is my favorite paddle.  I have a small hand, and its' low profile fits me perfectly.  I generally run 25-30 wpm on ragchews, but have had the Kent at 50 wpm.  You can set the Kent to very light pressure and very close settings.  It is almost like there is no movent at all.  While it can be hard to get the initial settings the way you want them, when you do get it just right for you, it stays there.  I feel like good CW ops can get used to about any key or paddle. 
Logged
PA0BLAH
Member

Posts: 0




Ignore
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2012, 03:26:26 PM »

Yes,

Using Morse code is a joy for us.

You can split it up in sending and receiving.

When YOU sent correct code, it is a joy to receive ur message, without worry about what is meant. Just like reading printed matter compared to a long hand written message of your over  90 year old aunt Abigale.

Here is a link: http://archive.org/search.php?query=n1ea

So, start with a simple straight key as said, it conserves history, and don't hesitate to use a keyboard, because the code generated is a joy to copy compared with a lot of Begali generated rubbish, in the hands of insufficiently experienced hams.

Logged
K8AXW
Member

Posts: 3737




Ignore
« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2012, 06:33:11 PM »

In the "for what it's worth department" PA0BLAH makes a very good point here:

"and don't hesitate to use a keyboard, because the code generated is a joy to copy compared with a lot of Begali generated rubbish,"

In many cases where the operator becomes somewhat handicapped, either from a nerve disorder which causes a shaky hand or arthritis, which I am now dealing with, a keyboard is a very viable option. 

I'm sure that in many cases the said handicapped operator is reluctant to go to a keyboard keyer because he feels "it just isn't code sending"  or some other emotional BS.

As PA0BLAH indicates, the guy doing the receiving will certainly appreciate it and the keyboard will keep you in the game much longer!  We don't want to lose CW operators for any reason!!
Logged
W8AAZ
Member

Posts: 332




Ignore
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2012, 09:53:16 AM »

I have a Bencher that I got cheap. Seems to work fine down to the 10 WPM that my radios keyer can go down to.  Unless it is on a very slippery surface. You can always spend huge sums on a special custom-like job if you want. Like if you are an advanced daily high speed user. I am not.  Therefore a 500$ eye candy gold plated unit would just be that, eye candy. But I like straight keys. Hard to beat an old brass antique oval key. My AT&T/WE antique has that nice "ting" when it makes. 
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!