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: Prev 1 [2]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Starting out in CW - Key recommendation  (Read 11959 times)
NO2A
Member

Posts: 786




Ignore
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2013, 12:44:27 PM »

CZP:  You'll get a lot of advice on this one OM...... so settle down and wait for it.....

My personal recommendation is to get a straight key.  Set it up properly (one thickness of postcard spacing between the contacts.....return spring set up soft so you don't have to wear yourself out operating the lever......pivot bearings set so you don't have lateral movement) and learn to form the characters.

This is the only reason I recommend the straight key....is to learn control and formulation of each character element.

Some will say you can do the same thing with a keyer which in my opinion isn't true.  With the keyer you're learning to control the paddle and the keyer is forming the character elements.

As for the "cheating," as far as I'm concerned the only "cheating" is if you allow a computer or any electronic device send and receive the code for you.  In this case you haven't actually learned the code.

Good luck, take your time and above all..... have fun!  Once you learn the code it opens a whole new world of amateur radio for you.

Al - K8AXW

I agree. Learn on a straight key first. It`s also good to find out if you like using it. And spacing is the most important thing to remember. As far as keys,some are more comfortable,you just have to test drive them. I like the Nye Viking Master straight key,but that`s just me. Hope to hear you on the air.-Mike.
Logged
W0BTU
Member

Posts: 1685


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2013, 12:47:52 PM »

  SEND THE SPACES.
You learn to do that with a straight key, but not with a paddle/keyer.

I fully agree that full spaces are important, but this I don't understand. There must be different types of electronic keyers. I have an old Heathkit keyer, and you cannot send a partial space with it.
 You can run two or more characters together with it, but you can do that with a straight key, too.
Logged

KH2G
Member

Posts: 287




Ignore
« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2013, 09:47:06 PM »

Just thought I'd throw my thought in as I've not seen this subject mentioned in many a year. The key you use is not allthat important as it will depend upon the individual operator. One thing that IS of major importance and that is operator position/comfort. Could you sit and send for 20 minutes or even 5 without your arm getting tense and maybe your back hurting?
If you can't answer yes then you need to check your positioning. You should be sitting up comfortably with your sending arm resting lightly on the desk and your hand relaxed with the fingers resting gently on the key. With a straight key we were taught to balance a 50 cent piece across our wrist and send without it bouncing off. When first starting we'ed have it jump a few inches in the air normally  Grin  Normally after just a few minutes we'eed start tensing up and after about 5 minutes the arm would be hurting  Cheesy As time went by, our speed went up and we got cleaner and eliminated the hated "Banana boat swing"
You've a great call for CW so hope to work you one day. Personally I'm using a bencher as my hand is getting a bit shaky and by setting the magnets and gap right I can control things pretty well. Learning to relax is probably the hardest thing but most important for both receive and xmit. Don't sweat the dropped letter and practice only jottnng down things you might want to comment on. Regards, Dick KH2G
Logged
GW3OQK
Member

Posts: 147




Ignore
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2013, 01:43:50 AM »

Where to put the key and your elbow?

I have my key fastened at the table's edge and my elbow by my side. The key needs a knob like you see on Kent keys, held with 1st finger on top and thumb and 2nd finger gently holding it beneath. (No disc under the knob.) That's how I learned it in Europe and could send for ages at 25 wpm. It is very relaxing, with your wrist gently moving up and down. If your arm tenses then you need to slow down.

The American way I think is to have a flat topped key and your arm on the desk.

CZP and others I'm not saying one method is best. I looked for some video of good morse sending technique and didnt see one. Sometimes the key was rocking on the table, or the fingers coming off the key.
Andrew
Logged
K7MEM
Member

Posts: 106


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2013, 04:07:52 AM »

I fully agree that full spaces are important, but this I don't understand. There must be different types of electronic keyers. I have an old Heathkit keyer, and you cannot send a partial space with it.
 You can run two or more characters together with it, but you can do that with a straight key, too.

I agree that spaces, element and character, are important but you don't necessarily need a straight key to learn how to send them. The only keyers that don't make perfect character spacing are usually the minimalist types that don't contain auto space. You can make a keyer out of a pair of one-shot multivibrators. The dit/dah lengths will be correct but there will be no control over the element spacing.

I started with a straight key myself. I don't remember when the first keyer came to light, but in 1966 I would have been too poor to own one anyway. I did OK with a straight key. I never got any complaints about spacing and running characters together, but found it limiting. Probably due to a cheap plastic key. In 1981 I bought a Heathkit HD-1410 keyer and it was like CW was brand new again. I never knew that CW could be so easy and relaxing. At that time I was operating in Germany as DA2EU and using CW only on 15 Meters. Once I started using the keyer, I received lots of compliments on my CW. The other operators always found it nice to copy.

So I recommend starting with a keyer. Once you get to hearing the keyer making spaces correctly, you will start to make them correctly yourself. A little hand/ear coordination. I can still go back to my straight keys, and they would sound very close to the code with my keyer.  But I like just laying my arm on the desk and letting my hand do the work. I usually place my key on the left but send with my right. This keeps the key out of the way for tuning. In the middle is a pad of paper for scribbling things down. When I send I just drop my pencil, swing my arm across in front of me and go. The pad of paper can be easily viewed over my arm. When I'm done sending my arm swings back and picks up the pencil. A lot of hams write with one hand and send with the other, so their hand is always on the key. I'm not a contester so I never got use to that method.

Keyers are not as expensive as you might think. I have three Heathkit HD-1410 keyers and I love using them. One I built in 1981 and the other two I picked up at a ham fest for $5 each. You can usually find them at any ham fest. I have two other also. One is a home brew TICK keyer that uses the Heathkit HD-1410 paddles. Another is a MFJ-482B memory keyer ($9 at a swap meet, working but dirty). Because I can't deal with a bug very well, I have my Vibroplex Blue Racer (1916) connected to the MFJ-482B. It works nicely and still gives you the feel/sound of a bug.
Logged

Martin - K7MEM

http://www.k7mem.com
K8AXW
Member

Posts: 3860




Ignore
« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2013, 07:58:44 AM »


The major selling point for a straight key deliberation and control.  A quote here involved the comparison with a straight transmission and an automatic transmission.....which is a great analogy.

In both cases, every movement is deliberate and in a precise order.  With a straight key, you learn character formation and with a straight transmission you learn precise lever movement and procedure.

Both are limiting.... yes.  But I've copied straight key transmissions for years at speeds between 20 and 30wpm. 

If you start with a straight shift transmission and master it then go to automatic, you can ALWAYS come back to the straight transmission and drive.  The reverse, in the case of an auto, is not true. 

In other words learning with a straight key first, your options have expanded. 
Logged
K1PJR
Member

Posts: 132




Ignore
« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2013, 11:33:57 AM »

I'm still learning CW and I use a US Navy Flameproof key.  Picked it up on Ebay for $30 in excellent condition.  For me it has a very nice feel. Your results may vary. Smiley

73
Phil
K1PJR
Logged
M0LEP
Member

Posts: 209




Ignore
« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2013, 03:08:09 PM »

If you start with a straight shift transmission and master it then go to automatic, you can ALWAYS come back to the straight transmission and drive.  The reverse, in the case of an auto, is not true.

There are common mistakes folk make when moving from manual to automatic autos, too. It's not all one-sided, and someone learning to drive in an automatic will quite likely be driving smoothly and confidently sooner.

In some ways using a paddle is trickier than using a straight key. In other ways, simpler. They're both instruments for playing Morse, but the fingering's different...
Logged
W3JAR
Member

Posts: 50




Ignore
« Reply #23 on: December 22, 2013, 07:10:05 AM »

Buy a straight key with money that you will not be upset with losing if you find cw is not your thing. For me, it was a $20 speedx straight key from eBay. Keep in mind they are only a switch Smiley Have fun and take care!
John
W3JAR
Logged
N4DSP
Member

Posts: 151




Ignore
« Reply #24 on: December 25, 2013, 03:34:39 PM »

Straight Key. When you can send 18WPM then start looking for a Bug. Iambic is boring.
Logged
M0LEP
Member

Posts: 209




Ignore
« Reply #25 on: December 26, 2013, 01:12:35 AM »

I bought a straight key many years ago, when Morse was a requirement for getting on HF. I tried it, hated it, put it away, and forgot about Morse and amateur radio for a couple of decades or more, not even bothering to try the licence exam. When I came back (after the Morse requirement was dropped) and actually got a licence, I figured I wouldn't bother with Morse. Then I found something for which Morse was likely to be a great help, and dug out the old key to resume the fight. A fight it certainly was. Then a friend suggested I try a paddle. No contest. Fifteen quid for an old second-hand paddle, a bit of tweak and polish, and sending Morse went from disaster area to something passable, if not quite overnight, then certainly within a week or so. Now, if that first key had been a decent one, maybe I'd have done better with it. It may be just a switch, but if the touch is wrong you're doing yourself no favours, and if it doesn't have decent adjustments (that go where you want and stay there) to get the touch right...

A skilled operator may be able to send Morse with a couple of bare wire ends, but if you're learning, you'll do better if the key or paddle you're using actually works smoothly and positively.

73, Rick M0LEP
Logged
N4DSP
Member

Posts: 151




Ignore
« Reply #26 on: December 26, 2013, 04:42:38 PM »

Robert, KK6CZP, like your comments about not using computer generated cw but looking for the real thing.

Check out CWOPS.ORG and click on the "CW Academy". This organization has an excellent course in learning the Art of CW.
This is NOT an exaggeration but if you are willing to practice for 30 minutes a day and participate in OOVOO audio/video chat two or three nights a week for 6 weeks, these instructors, ex Navy Instructors, will have you reading code in your head at 25-30 WPM in 30 days. Having little experience in the code at this point it's more in your favor for success.
The only cost to you is your time and effort. There is no fee.

Good Luck!

john
Logged
N4DSP
Member

Posts: 151




Ignore
« Reply #27 on: January 02, 2014, 02:34:40 PM »

A great key is the surplus Czech Military Key. There is a N4 or W4 who sells them for $45.00 new in box. Cannot locate his call or address. But you can catch a pic of it here....

http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/9588
Logged
VE2ENB
Member

Posts: 4




Ignore
« Reply #28 on: January 05, 2014, 04:38:58 AM »

If you are serious about CW, start with a standard paddle.
Up to 20 wpm they all can do the job.
But if you are very serious and want to send QRQ some day. then go with the best.
Do not fool around  with the same mid priced paddle that will limit your speed and send not wanted extra dits.
Then go with a BEGALI as soon as you can.
You won't regret the purchase.

I worked on paddles modifications for QRQ CW since 35 years and finally ended with a BEGALI to solve all of my problems for QRQ CW.

73 es Gl.
Gil VE2ENB
Logged
N4KHZ
Member

Posts: 2




Ignore
« Reply #29 on: January 10, 2014, 06:27:56 AM »

I started with a straight key in '75, went to a BENCHER after a couple of years, got pretty good with iambic, but now after a 20 year HIATUS and getting back into Ham Radio, I found out about SIDESWIPER keys and I'm in love!  Very comfortable, very satisfying, and a total BLAST!  I wish I found out about sideswiping YEARS AGO... You can learn proper code spacing AND have fun.

Google it and check it out...

N4kHz
Logged
Pages: Prev 1 [2]   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!