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Author Topic: Can someone recommend a straight key?  (Read 9180 times)
KG6AF
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Posts: 356




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« Reply #15 on: January 01, 2014, 09:05:19 AM »

Looks like you have plenty of good choices, but let me add one more: the Czech army key.  These things were made back in the 1950s, but the one I got a few months ago was still in its original wrapping and looked brand new.  The key action is smooth and very easy to adjust.  Although I hadn't used a straight key in maybe 40 years, I found it easy to get used to.

You can find out more here:

http://www.czechmorsekeys.co.uk/
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K2CPO
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Posts: 43




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« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2014, 11:13:56 AM »

Looks like you have plenty of good choices, but let me add one more: the Czech army key.  These things were made back in the 1950s, but the one I got a few months ago was still in its original wrapping and looked brand new.  The key action is smooth and very easy to adjust.  Although I hadn't used a straight key in maybe 40 years, I found it easy to get used to.

You can find out more here:

http://www.czechmorsekeys.co.uk/


Thanks for the heads-up on the key! I just went to check it out... and at this moment, think I'm going to get a new key. I'd like to get a really, really nice key, but finances won't allow that for months, so will be buying "inexpensive." But thanks, nonetheless!

Kim
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N4KHZ
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Posts: 2




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« Reply #17 on: January 07, 2014, 07:22:53 AM »

If I had to do it all over again, back in '75 I would have gotten a sideswiper!   Of course that was before the Internet, and back then your sources of information and gear was magazines, hamfests, and word of mouth... And I would have not gotten my Bencher and Heathkit keyer either...  Sideswipers are fun, satisfying, and easier than a regular straight key, IMHO... Look at the Vizkey Cootie. I have one and it's great!

If you really want to have a regular straight key, I'd go with a German Junker...

73, de N4kHz
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KB2FCV
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Posts: 1183


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« Reply #18 on: January 07, 2014, 09:03:15 AM »

I like the Bencher RJ-1. I was in the market for a new straight key a year or so ago and I tried quite a few out before I found I liked this one the most. For me my wrist didn't get as tired on longer ragchew QSO's with this key.

Straight keys are a matter of personal preference. If you can, my reccomendation is to try any key before buying. I had a friend who kept reccomending a different key to me and swore by it. To him it was the greatest straight key made. I tried that key and the bencher. I preferred the bencher so I went ahead and bought one.
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N6GND
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Posts: 375




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« Reply #19 on: January 07, 2014, 10:28:05 AM »

Kim: "I'm going to get a new key. I'd like to get a really, really nice key, but finances won't allow that for months, so will be buying "inexpensive." But thanks, nonetheless!"

The Nye keys new from Morse Express are really, really nice keys which will serve you forever. They are not particularly expensive. Dealing with Marshall Emm at Morse Express has always been very pleasant for me.
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K7KBN
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Posts: 2803




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« Reply #20 on: January 07, 2014, 11:08:09 AM »

Regarding the expense of a straight key:  remember, underneath all the precision machining, shininess and glitz, you have a single pole, single throw switch.  That's all a straight key is.  Try the ones that fit your budget.  I never paid more than two bucks for the variety of straight keys I own, and they all work fine.  The ham at the other end of the QSO can't tell if I'm using that two-buck special or some super special Ferrari-styled Italian turbo key that cost $800.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
K2CPO
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Posts: 43




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« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2014, 09:07:40 AM »

Hi everyone, and thanks for all of the suggestions and recommendations.

I have decided to go CHEAP, for the moment. Will be able to upgrade to a nice key by Springtime, so am most likely going to get the MFJ key/practice oscillator (  http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/morse/0555.html  )

There are lots of keys to choose from. The MFJ comes with the practice oscillator. $40.00 for both is something I can certainly afford. My mentor advised not to get it. Yet it's what I can afford for now, so I'm going for it. It'll do, at least for learning.

A nice key for using "on the air" can come in a couple of months.
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K3STX
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Posts: 981




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« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2014, 05:46:12 AM »

That little cheap plastic black key looks EXACTLY like what I bought from Radio Shack back in 1978 that was supposed to be "a piece of junk". That little piece of junk was the only straight key I ever bought until I upgraded to paddles.

That little key will be just fine for you. You might become a speed demon (you WILL if you have lots of QSOs) and decide that a straight key is not for you.

I can't imagine what kind of elmer would tell somebody NOT to buy any straight key they want! Have at it and have fun! And if you "send along" with some of those W1AW mp3 code practice files you will REALLY have fun.

paul
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K2CPO
Member

Posts: 43




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« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2014, 09:37:08 AM »

That little cheap plastic black key looks EXACTLY like what I bought from Radio Shack back in 1978 that was supposed to be "a piece of junk". That little piece of junk was the only straight key I ever bought until I upgraded to paddles.

That little key will be just fine for you. You might become a speed demon (you WILL if you have lots of QSOs) and decide that a straight key is not for you.

I can't imagine what kind of elmer would tell somebody NOT to buy any straight key they want! Have at it and have fun! And if you "send along" with some of those W1AW mp3 code practice files you will REALLY have fun.

paul

Hi Paul.

I did have an opportunity to play with one of those at a local electronics shop. Seemed to work fine! I think this will be a good buy for learning. I'm reasonable certain that I'll gravitate to Iambic paddles when I've learned CW... played with one of those, as well, and liked it.

Will pay bills here shortly, and think I'll have enough left over to order this MFJ-557 TODAY! When I feel I'm about ready to go 'live', will get a nice key. For now, this will be a learning-tool.

Thanks for your support!
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K2CPO
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Posts: 43




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« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2014, 11:19:09 AM »

Ok. My "learning tool", the MFJ MFJ-557 is on the way! Just ordered!

Am now anxious for it to arrive!

Thanks to everyone who offered advice and support. By no later than April, I'll be able to afford a NICE key for 'on-the-air' use. For now, this MFJ-557 will help me learn CW.

I'm currently using this "kids" learning-tool online to learn the alphabet: http://www.nsa.gov/kids/games/gameMorse.htm  Somehow, this is working for me to learn the letters. Please don't laugh. *smile* I've looked at a lot of other online "learning tools", and this one is free, easy, and is helping me. Yes... eventually I'll have to "upgrade" to something else that includes numbers and other characters, but for now this is good. hi hi

There seems to be no "right" path... just one that works for the individual.

Thanks again, everyone.
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KJ4MPT
Member

Posts: 33




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« Reply #25 on: January 13, 2014, 04:15:38 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.

I just got a 702, good a very good deal on it, and it came today.  Wow!  What a nice key!  Got to get used to European sending now....
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K2CPO
Member

Posts: 43




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« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2014, 12:36:54 AM »

On the way to work, I stopped by my local (tiny mountain town) post office, and picked up a package... that had the MFJ-557 in it.

So I also stopped by a store when I got into town and got a 9-volt battery, and installed it when I got to work. Had a few minutes here and there to play with it. Got home, and played with it some more.

I guess it does what it's supposed to... I'm honestly not impressed with it, but it will do as a "learning tool." Instead of a nice tone, I get this tone that's reminiscent of a mouse in pain. hahaha It's driving my cat wild! NO kidding! hehehe hi hi   She's up on my desk, looking for that mouse in distress!

Nonetheless, I'm happy to have it. It was something I could afford (could have gotten a decent key and an oscillator for a little more than twice what I paid for this.) But this is a learning tool, and that's how I'll look at it each time I suffer with the dying-mouse sound. hahaha  Yet, it will serve it's purpose.

And somehow, this will motivate me to get a REALLY NICE KEY when I have a "wind-fall paycheck." I'm now motivated to work a few extra shifts to get a nice key, now. *smile*

Yet, this will serve it's purpose. At least I can hear what I'm keying. Guess that's the main point, huh?

So now my CW journey begins. I know my name in CW  _._ .. _ _  , know several other letters, and am now working on learning more. So I'm okay with the mousy output of this oscillator and the cheap plastic key. It's altogether a good thing to have. I see me learning the alphabet rather quickly (give me a couple of weeks?)

Thanks again, for all of your thoughts, recommendations, and ideas. I'll plod along with my mouse-in-distress key/oscillator, and when I'm done, might sell it to a hunter that just wants to tag coyotes, feral cats, or something. hahaha
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ZL1BBW
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Posts: 373




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« Reply #27 on: January 17, 2014, 12:33:37 AM »

I just love my GW key on its slate base that weighs a ton.

http://www.morsemad.com/kotw_files/gb.htm
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ex MN Radio Officer, Portishead Radio GKA, BT Radio Amateur Morse Tester.  Licensed as G3YCP ZL1DAB, now taken over my father (sk) call as ZL1BBW.
KK4MRN
Member

Posts: 91




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« Reply #28 on: January 17, 2014, 08:34:09 AM »

On the way to work, I stopped by my local (tiny mountain town) post office, and picked up a package... that had the MFJ-557 in it.
...
Instead of a nice tone, I get this tone that's reminiscent of a mouse in pain.


I have the MFJ code practice oscillator and key as well.  The nasty sound is due to the 555 IC timer that they used.   The oscillator produces a square wave which is harsh on the ears.  Where as a sine wave sounds better.  The ARRL code practice oscillator and the Ameco code practice oscillator both use the 555 chip as well.

Look around for designs for a code practice oscillator that does not use the 555 chip like:
http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Instructor%20resources/ARRLWeb_%20A%20One-Hour,%20No-Sol__.pdf
http://www.nt7s.com/blog/2008/11/nt7s-code-practice-oscillator/

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K2CPO
Member

Posts: 43




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« Reply #29 on: January 25, 2014, 12:34:35 AM »

The CW learning continues. I'm not spending as much time working on it as I had planned, as life (I meant to say 'work') gets in the way sometimes.

Today I ordered the Chinese Army Key. I'll post a mini-review on it when I receive it (should be here Monday!)

It looks nice. I got the chrome key. I'll be connecting it to the MFJ oscillator when I get it, so at least I'll have the opportunity to practice on a decent key---the reviews have on the Chinese Army Key have been pretty good. For someone on a budget, it seems to be a good choice.

I also have had a call-sign change. KD0WDL is no more. Now it's K2CPO. It seems to flow nicely in CW!

Thanks again for all of the help, suggestions, and recommendations. My goal is to have my first QSO by July. We'll see how that goes. *smile*
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