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Author Topic: Can someone recommend a straight key?  (Read 10383 times)
K2CPO
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Posts: 43




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« on: December 29, 2013, 07:46:34 AM »

Can anyone recommend an inexpensive straight key with which to learn CW? Would like to buy one that is worthy of keeping and using. I just need something inexpensive yet serviceable that's also a "keeper."

After having read many of the CW threads (not all, but lots of them), the message I'm getting is that learning on a straight key is probably the best way to learn, and realize that is also debatable. Somehow, for me, anyway, learning on a straight key seems like the best way.

Since getting my Extra (about three weeks since passing the test) there's a huge void in my 'learning life.' I need to be learning CW now. Until Spring (and better weather) arrives, I've got lots of time to devote to learning CW.

So I've found this one:  http://www.mtechnologies.com/pla/  and it's certainly within my budget, which is small, especially the one with the brass connectors, although for a little more, I really like the looks of the silver model. Maybe someone has a better idea?

I don't have an practice oscillator, so will be needing one, as well.

Anyone have any recommendations or suggestions?

Thanks.

Kim
KD0WDL
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KE6EE
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Posts: 448




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« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2013, 09:24:29 AM »

I think the Chinese key you are talking about will be fine. Lots of good reviews of them.

The two models available differ in having brass or silver (usually preferred and marginally more expensive) contacts.

Morse Express also sells Hi Mound and Nye straight keys in the same price range. The Nyes are well-liked and have been around forever. Nyes do need some sort of a base, which Morse Express also sells.

Nye models can be had with either standard or navy-type knobs. Many people prefer the navy-type. I do.

Another thing to consider is whether you will be sending American style with the key well forward on the table and your forearm resting on the table or Euro style with the key closer to the front edge of the table and the forearm off the table. Keys vary in height of the knob above the table to reflect this preference but many, if not most, keys can be used either way. I learned 50 years ago to send with my forearm on the table. A few years ago I bought a new key with a relatively high knob and began sending with my arm off the table. No problem to change for me. This is usually considered to be less stressful on the forearm and unlikely to lead to injury ("glass arm").

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K2CPO
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Posts: 43




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« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2013, 04:09:16 PM »

Thanks N6GND!

For some reason, I kinda' like that Chinese key. Can't explain it. It looks good.

I will certainly check out the keys you mentioned, as well! Thank you for the information!

My long-wire (135-foot) dipole went up today! Had to hire a tree-climbing guy to get it way up, and wow... it's up there! Dunno how high, but I ran out of coax! (It's at or close to 80-feet, I'm sure!) Will have to get a barrel connector and another 25 or so feet of coax. At least it's up! WOO HOO!

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KU4UV
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Posts: 376




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« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2013, 05:00:38 PM »

I have a Ameco bras straight key that I purchased about 15 years ago that I still use to this day.  They still sell the brass J-38 straight keys for around $20 or so.  I just went and purchased a piece of lumber form a hardware store, sanded and stained it with wood grain stain, and screwed the straight key on to it.  It still looks and works great, and I highly recommend the Ameco brass straight key for a first key.
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K2CPO
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Posts: 43




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« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2013, 07:21:30 PM »

Thanks, KU4UV! I've looked at the J-38's on e-Bay. Wish I could find one for $20.00! I'll look at the Ameco brass key, too, now. I've just got to be really dollar-wise, just now.

Have a great New Year!

Kim
KD0WDL
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KI5WW
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Posts: 75




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« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2013, 07:48:05 PM »

Excellent choice on the Chinese military key. I prefer chrome over brass cause it stays looking shiney long long time. I use an old Bunnel brass key used on some spark gap transmitters long time ago. Use it once a year. SKN. Hey, speaking of that i Better dust it and the old 520 SE off.
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KB4QAA
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Posts: 2450




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« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2013, 08:21:38 PM »

I recommend the (present) Nye Viking with shorting bar and Navy Knob. I've had one for thirty years, and when I get tired of playing around with other keys, it is always the 'gold standard'.

This key under various names has been made for almost a century.  It will last a at least one lifetime!

A navy knob gives a sure, 3-d thing to grip.  A shorting bar is always helpful when tuning up or testing.
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KD8IIC
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Posts: 163




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« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2013, 10:54:52 PM »

 Many newer rigs have a Side Tone built in. If you check the owner's manual you may find you can use it without transmitting.You would use a foot switch to activate the transmitter to key on the air.I used this method on an Ic-718.
There are many practice oscillators out there and ebay seems to always have a few nice one's.I have two Heathkit CPO's
but would like to try an old tube type one for the nice mellow sound...73 and Have Fun using Morse.  lane
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K4LIX
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Posts: 49




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« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2013, 03:17:53 PM »

I use the WW II surplus J-47 on the Mae West base - have one mobile and one at the house - should last long past when I will be through with it - found on eBay for around $50 or so - good luck  73 de Jim K4LIX
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K2CPO
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Posts: 43




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« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2013, 09:12:01 PM »

Many newer rigs have a Side Tone built in. If you check the owner's manual you may find you can use it without transmitting.You would use a foot switch to activate the transmitter to key on the air.I used this method on an Ic-718.
There are many practice oscillators out there and ebay seems to always have a few nice one's.I have two Heathkit CPO's
but would like to try an old tube type one for the nice mellow sound...73 and Have Fun using Morse.  lane

My FT-847 doesn't have a such a feature. I'll need a practice oscillator. I've been looking... will keep searching eBay, too. Thanks!
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K2CPO
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Posts: 43




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« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2013, 09:14:23 PM »

I use the WW II surplus J-47 on the Mae West base - have one mobile and one at the house - should last long past when I will be through with it - found on eBay for around $50 or so - good luck  73 de Jim K4LIX

Thanks, Jim! A local ham recommended one of those, as well. I've looked at some J-47's on eBay. Won't be buying a key until after the 10th. Will keep looking at them!
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ZENKI
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Posts: 980




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« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2013, 10:26:35 PM »

HiMound 702 or 708. They as smooth as silk. They better than my Amplidan and Swedish Pump Keys.

The Himound keys seem to use springs that are stable as a rock  in regards to temperature and drift. You can set your key gap and forget about. Other straight
keys that I have used in the past I always had to play with them whenever I had to use them.

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VA7CPC
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Posts: 2406




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« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2013, 11:58:39 PM »


My FT-847 doesn't have a such a feature. I'll need a practice oscillator. I've been looking... will keep searching eBay, too. Thanks!

In "CW" mode, just about _every_ rig will let you turn off "break-in" (which puts the rig in XMIT mode when you press the key).  The rig then becomes a (big, expensive, power-hungry) code-practice oscillator.   If you want to transmit CW, either switch on "break-in", or press the PTT switch on the mic (which switches the rig into XMIT mode, but doesn't actually transmit anything, until you press the key.

The FT-847 might be an exception -- check the manual, or experiment with two pieces of wire connected to a 1/4" plug, plugged into the "KEY" jack.  I betcha it will generate a side-tone, even though it's not transmitting.

FWIW --

If you read the reviews of the Chinese key, a fair number of people find the spring too stiff.  But it's easy to shorten.  It sure looks pretty!

.      Charles
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NK6Q
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Posts: 202




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« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2014, 12:10:14 AM »

My favorite is the German Junker Morsetaste.  A little hard to find here, but you can always try Ebay Germany.  That's where I got mine.

Congrats on passing the Extra.

Bill in Pasadena, NK6Q
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K2CPO
Member

Posts: 43




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« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2014, 07:44:10 AM »


My FT-847 doesn't have a such a feature. I'll need a practice oscillator. I've been looking... will keep searching eBay, too. Thanks!

In "CW" mode, just about _every_ rig will let you turn off "break-in" (which puts the rig in XMIT mode when you press the key).  The rig then becomes a (big, expensive, power-hungry) code-practice oscillator.   If you want to transmit CW, either switch on "break-in", or press the PTT switch on the mic (which switches the rig into XMIT mode, but doesn't actually transmit anything, until you press the key.

The FT-847 might be an exception -- check the manual, or experiment with two pieces of wire connected to a 1/4" plug, plugged into the "KEY" jack.  I betcha it will generate a side-tone, even though it's not transmitting.

FWIW --

If you read the reviews of the Chinese key, a fair number of people find the spring too stiff.  But it's easy to shorten.  It sure looks pretty!

.      Charles

I'm certain I'll need an oscillator with the FT-847. A friend has one, tells me I'll need an oscillator.

Yes... that Chinese key is quite lovely! Last night I spend a lot of time looking at the "Camel Back" (forget who made it... had downloaded that page onto my desktop, as it, for me, is a contender, as well.

Thanks, everyone, for all of the suggestions and recommendations! Will be ordering a key a week from Friday. I've got lots of choices, and honestly, think I'll have a difficult time choosing one... so many!

-.- .. --

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.... ..  .... ..
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