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eHam Forums => CW => Topic started by: W0DV on February 26, 2012, 05:07:47 PM



Title: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: W0DV 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


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: K3TN 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


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: KB3TXH 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.


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: NR0U 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



Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: K8AG 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


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: PA0BLAH 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


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: K8AXW 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.


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: WB2WIK 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. :)


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: W0DV 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


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: K8AXW 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.



Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: VA7CPC 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



Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: NR0U 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... :)   Maybe not as heavy, but heavy duty.  Its not gonna jump all over the place. It is a large key.

Good luck!

Lance


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: W0DV 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


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: PA0BLAH 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.


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: K5BJS 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 (http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/morse/0545.html).


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: W0DV on February 28, 2012, 06:14:49 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 (http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/morse/0545.html).

Hopefully I can build my speed to 20 wpm, that is the goal I set for myself.

Thanks for the advice,

Dave


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: W5LZ on March 03, 2012, 03:59:58 PM
Why not a J-38 type key?  Mounting one is something that you can do for yourself, using just about anything you can think of.  Want a heavy base?  No problem, what do you have handy, or what can you think of that might be heavy enough?  No point in making it more complicated than necessary, that first key is very seldom the only one you'll ever have.  Unless you are using some really older equipment, there's just no call for inch thick contacts, spark proof housings, etc.  Want a different kind'a knob on that key?  Got an old poker chip?  Put a hole in the center of one, then place it under that supplied knob.  That's where the first ones came from you know...
 - 'Doc


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: SM4XUW on March 04, 2012, 02:54:24 AM
Hi Dave!

The Chinese key is a very nice key. I own one myself and maybe you have read my review here on eham. The only thing that is a bit off about it is the tension spring, it's quit stiff so I cut of about 2 turns on the bottom end of it.

I also have a J-38 and a J-37 .
The 38 is the better one of these American keys. But if I had to chose between these three keys it would be the K-4 for sure!

73;s Klas SM4XUW


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: K0TF on March 04, 2012, 09:01:23 PM
Why not a J-38 type key?  Mounting one is something that you can do for yourself, using just about anything you can think of.  Want a heavy base?  No problem, what do you have handy, or what can you think of that might be heavy enough?  No point in making it more complicated than necessary, that first key is very seldom the only one you'll ever have.  Unless you are using some really older equipment, there's just no call for inch thick contacts, spark proof housings, etc.  Want a different kind'a knob on that key?  Got an old poker chip?  Put a hole in the center of one, then place it under that supplied knob.  That's where the first ones came from you know...
 - 'Doc
Don't waste your time, he wanted a piece of "furniture", rather than keyer. BUT can't afford too much, so he stuck with something in the middle... Guy has a slightest if any, idea about style of keying, and necessity to chose proper key and knob for different techniques. Which ultimately affects selection.


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: PA0BLAH on March 05, 2012, 09:58:46 AM

Don't waste your time, he wanted a piece of "furniture", rather than keyer. BUT can't afford too much, so he stuck with something in the middle... Guy has a slightest if any, idea about style of keying, and necessity to chose proper key and knob for different techniques. Which ultimately affects selection.

I think that's just the problem, people want to show they can afford it and buy Begali designs and what have you for stupid extremes highly polished, secret coating, gold plated, call engraved, signature of producer, limited numbered edition, that are  build part by part with love and extreme dedication blah blah, handcrafted with his glasses on a cord around his neck.

When you learn biking it it has of no sense to buy a bike of 10k$ because it is the type the champion selected to became worlds best.

There are a handfull of guys, interested in HST, that have your selection ideas. A regular ham,  as  W0DV presented himself, just wants to make straight key QSO's and rag chewing at utmost 20 wpm. That's fine.

Everything is OK is the conclusion, every ex army or professional key is fit.


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: K0TF on March 05, 2012, 11:19:17 AM
There are a handfull of guys, interested in HST, that have your selection ideas. A regular ham,  as  W0DV presented himself, just wants to make straight key QSO's and rag chewing at utmost 20 wpm. That's fine.
Everything is OK is the conclusion, every ex army or professional key is fit.
Bob, you're very ignorant person, having computer at your disposal you didn't even bother to do little research, so-called "homework", before blasting away on the keyboard, I guess there is a reason for PA0BLAH. HST has NOTHING to do with it. If you learn "european" style, then your keyer mounted on the side of the table, lever and knob protrude beyond the base of the keyer, and table most of the time. Your knob can not be flat, because you have to hold it. Your hand does not have a support and actually hanging in the air. Thus you have to have VERY heavy base or actually attach key to the table, springs have to have much more tension, and spacing should be more visible. On other hand in so called "american" style your hand actually rests on the table, and you use your fingers, (wrist at most) mo make your motions, thus flat knob much more convenient and actually preferable for operation, does not require heavy base or attachment, and puts much less strain on your hand, spring and spacing requirement also different. It doesn't matter what speed you using, BTW relatively higher speeds much easier to handle than really slow. Thus it is paramount to select "right"  key at the beginning, because learning anew is much easier, than "breaking" "glass" hand after awhile. When you learn that...oh, my hand get cramps, and i can't move my wrist, its probably my arthritis... No its your stupidity, or ignorance fighting you back.


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: PA0BLAH on March 05, 2012, 11:31:12 AM
OK K0TF, thanks for your text, actually it sounds straight and logical, and I did not realise that.

However about the glass arm, I didn't do my homework, OK, but I have never heard of a ham that got it by casual QSO-ing.
Is was a syndrome of the past when telegraphers had long duties and working high speed for hours under stress, day in day out.

When I am wrong correct me please.

Furthermore I don't know the number of occurrence of that glass wrist, for European and US keys.

The Junker is a European key and the knob is American like?


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: K0TF on March 05, 2012, 12:31:06 PM
OK...When I am wrong correct me please...
I used that term due to the lack of proper translation, and closest available by the meaning to the readers. (It is not exactly, "glass hand" in western understanding of such.)


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: AK7V on March 05, 2012, 12:47:59 PM
I hold my Palm Mini Paddles in my left hand and key them with my right.  What style is that? :)

Or sometimes I put my "Black Widow" paddles or Speed-X straight key on the armrest of my couch and use them there.  Kinda squishy base, but it works.

I suppose when sending HST speeds or sending for many many hours in a row, ergonomic considerations are important.  For what I do, and being relatively young, I haven't had any sorts of aches or pains sending in weird ways. 

I don't see what the big deal is here.  A straight key is a switch.  Buy what you like.  I wouldn't spend too much, though, because I don't really like using straight keys, and assume you'll eventually progress to paddles -- and the straight key will gather dust.


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: K0HEA on March 08, 2012, 05:15:52 AM
Go look at vibroplex keys... they have everything from  a standard brass key all the way up to bugs and keyers... have used my bug exclusively since in the CG 40 years ago...


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: PA1ZP on March 08, 2012, 09:30:34 AM
Hi All

We do have a Junker and they are good, still you can buy them even new from factory in Germany.
We have the Tsjech army key and these are a bit different but very good fun nd they work very smooth.
Also have a Japanese remake of the J-38 fine key also, nd a few others to coose from hihi.
We do have a Vibroplex bug and some paddles.

For a straight key I woold suggest a swedish postal key that has no bearings or leavers or hinges but a very nice different system. that operates on a blade spring.
They are the best in my opinion.

For other work I would suggest a paddle that will not get you tired so fast as a straight key will.
But we will leave that up to you.
A key is so personel it would be better to try a few at hamfriends before you want to buy one.

Allmost never work with straight key and work the Bug and paddle a lot.

Good luck with the difficult choise
We are just lucky to have 2 CW ops in one house as my son and I both can operate CW.

73 Jos


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: K3STX on March 08, 2012, 10:19:33 AM
We are just lucky to have 2 CW ops in one house as my son and I both can operate CW.

Maybe some day I will be as lucky as you. Taking my son on vacation to the Caribbean for CQWW CW DX contest; now THAT is my idea of heaven.

But to the point of the post, I bet I am an outlier. My first and only straight key was plastic, like the Ameco K-4, that I bought new for 79 cents in 1976. I migrated to paddles quickly, used them exclusively for 30 years, and never used the straight key again. Get SOMETHING, not too expensive, and see how you like the motions of a straight key (and the speed limitations). You just might find that straight keys are not really for you.

Just my 2 cents; I am primarily a bug guy now.

paul


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: VA7CPC on March 08, 2012, 05:57:56 PM
Quote
Get SOMETHING, not too expensive, and see how you like the motions of a straight key (and the speed limitations). You just might find that straight keys are not really for you.

Amen. 

            Charles


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: PA0BLAH on March 09, 2012, 01:38:51 AM
A third possibility is a sideswiper or Cootie key.

They are invented in the start of the previous century. The movement is sidewards, You never make too many dits or that kind of bug errors and due to the efficient movement you double the number of sigs per second, Therefore it is also known as double speed key.

Straight key a dot is down and up. Double speed key makes then 2 dots with left and right.

Guys using it are very relaxed after hours, and the carpal tunnel syndrome (glass arm) never happened with prof. users of that kind of key.

You can easily make one yourself, but there are models new and antique for sale on ebay. There is even a group hams that maintain a net, european and intercontinental. They have a web site www.sideswipernet.org

Excuse my American English when it is far from perfect.
gd luck
Bob


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: W0DV on March 10, 2012, 09:54:11 AM

Don't waste your time, he wanted a piece of "furniture", rather than keyer. BUT can't afford too much, so he stuck with something in the middle... Guy has a slightest if any, idea about style of keying, and necessity to chose proper key and knob for different techniques. Which ultimately affects selection.

No, I am not looking for a piece of "furniture", lol. The sole reason for purchasing a KEY, is to learn how to send code, period. If the KEY selection turns out to be a bad one, I will purchase another. I will learn by doing.

How would you know how much I can afford?

Keys are not expensive. I decided against getting an expensive KEY to start out with until I gain more experience. When I gain experience with using a key, I might decide to buy a more expensive model, or perhaps a cheaper one. Maybe I'll end up with a collection of keys. Anyways, I will have fun in the process. Then perhaps I can pass on what I have learned.

If you don't have anything positive, or productive to add, keep your little fingers off of the keyboard, child.

Dave - W0DV


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: VA7CPC on March 10, 2012, 11:38:28 PM
. . .
Keys are not expensive. I decided against getting an expensive KEY to start out with until I gain more experience. When I gain experience with using a key, I might decide to buy a more expensive model, or perhaps a cheaper one. Maybe I'll end up with a collection of keys. Anyways, I will have fun in the process. Then perhaps I can pass on what I have learned.
. . .

Dave - W0DV

Spoken like a real ham! 

.             Charles


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: PA0BLAH on March 16, 2012, 12:27:08 PM

Don't waste your time, he wanted a piece of "furniture", rather than keyer. BUT can't afford too much, so he stuck with something in the middle... Guy has a slightest if any, idea about style of keying, and necessity to chose proper key and knob for different techniques. Which ultimately affects selection.

No, I am not looking for a piece of "furniture", lol. The sole reason for purchasing a KEY, is to learn how to send code, period. If the KEY selection turns out to be a bad one, I will purchase another. I will learn by doing.

How would you know how much I can afford?

Keys are not expensive. I decided against getting an expensive KEY to start out with until I gain more experience. When I gain experience with using a key, I might decide to buy a more expensive model, or perhaps a cheaper one. Maybe I'll end up with a collection of keys. Anyways, I will have fun in the process. Then perhaps I can pass on what I have learned.

If you don't have anything positive, or productive to add, keep your little fingers off of the keyboard, child.

Dave - W0DV

OK Dave,  You got plenty of advice in this thread.
I hope you can understand that the most proficient people in CW find your questioning somewhat annoying,.

So don't overreact, and recognise that K0TF is number 6 in the world proficiency list call sign copy, and in the USA he is the best, with the highest score.

So when he is able to raise the money, and is above that interested in it, he can place the name of your country in the annals of the world championship High Speed Telegraphy later on this year.

 1: DJ1YFK   297644 943   22/04/10      
   2: HB9EYN   254746 889   03/12/10    
   3: LZ2CWW   225150 838   13/10/11      
   4: YO8TTT   219311 838   15/10/08      
   5: EW8GS    216946 863   20/10/11      
   6: K0TF    *212008 889   09/03/12    

Some people are over the top in being polite, and others are just rough mouthed and like to stir the pot and to upset other people. Just,when they see long toes they make a sprint and jump right on them. We are all together on this planet, and my idea is, give it a try to understand other people and accept their behavior as first approach.

Sorry for my bad English. I and the spell checker do not see any errors but KK0G will see them for for sure.
It is all about the semantics, not the syntax or grammar.

Bob


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: W0DV on March 16, 2012, 03:43:30 PM

OK Dave,  You got plenty of advice in this thread.
I hope you can understand that the most proficient people in CW find your questioning somewhat annoying,.


Annoying? I don't think my question was in any way annoying. I feel confident that most people in the hobby would be glad to offer advice, and assistance. You are totally out of touch if you really believe that. In my walk in ham radio so far, I am glad, excited, and eager to help others get into the hobby. I have made friends this way. There is NO excuse for someone to make rude remarks when asked for advice regarding a first key to purchase for interest in making CW contacts. The remarks made by K0TF are a reflection of his character, and as a Amateur Radio Op. His attitude is not representative of Amateur Radio, and does nothing to promote the growth of HR . If you think I over react to rudeness here, you should meet me in person :). I have zero tolerance.

So don't overreact, and recognise that K0TF is number 6 in the world proficiency list call sign copy, and in the USA he is the best, with the highest score.

And? lol.  So you are saying that because he is #6, that he is somehow excused for his rude remarks? LOL.  Unbelievable!

So when he is able to raise the money, and is above that interested in it, he can place the name of your country in the annals of the world championship High Speed Telegraphy later on this year.

 1: DJ1YFK   297644 943   22/04/10      
   2: HB9EYN   254746 889   03/12/10    
   3: LZ2CWW   225150 838   13/10/11      
   4: YO8TTT   219311 838   15/10/08      
   5: EW8GS    216946 863   20/10/11      
   6: K0TF    *212008 889   09/03/12    

This is all totally irrelevant. If he is unable to be respectful, he should keep his fingers off of the keyboard. Otherwise, he will receive what he dishes out.
Stop making silly excuses for poor behavior. All I did was ask for advice in purchasing my first key, lol.
This is about HR snobbery, the code, vs no-code, slow-code. Some narcissistic nitwit thinks he has the right to be rude because of his code proficiency. How shallow.

W0DV




Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: W0DV on March 16, 2012, 03:47:12 PM
NEXT!


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: N8TI on March 18, 2012, 03:33:00 PM
Nowadays, with eBay, you can buy a key, use it for a month or so, and if you don't like it, you can sell it for little or no loss. After you try out three or four, you will likely find one you like. Alternatively, you can borrow different keys and try them out.

My point is, that keys are fairly inexpensive and you can play with different ones until you find the one you like. Most ops tend to have several keys and use different ones when the urge hits.

Joe


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: WV4I on March 20, 2012, 09:31:34 AM
I started out using a Vibroplex mechanical bug. For higher speed CW, it can probably be properly adjusted, used, as to weight, ratio, etc., but under 30 wpm quite challenging. For the same action, and for the more coarse motor skilled among us, I would suggest a Vibroplex Vibrokeyer. You can get them standard or shiny, and they work great. As most rigs have built in keyers and adjustemnts now, the op at the other end will thank you for getting those adjustements correct.


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: WA7KPK on March 21, 2012, 08:25:26 AM
If at all possible, test out the key you want to buy in person. It's kind of like buying a guitar, or a rifle, or a car for that matter. You can look at the pretty pictures, you can read the testimonials, you can pore over the specs and descriptions, but nothing can replace trying it out for yourself. You might find that a key everyone else raves about is still and unresponsive and makes sending a chore, or you might find an old J-38 key that fits your hand nicely and sends smoothly and is a joy to use. You never know until you test it out.

Yeah I realize it's kind of hard to test keys out when you're buying one from eBay or ordering one from Germany, I'm just saying if you have the chance it's worth the effort.


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: W0DV on March 26, 2012, 03:19:22 PM
I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from another ham that has been reading this thread, offering to loan me his Czech military key. I wont give out his call for privacy but I just want to say THANKS!

 I received your Czech key in the mail today. It is different looking, what a smooth action it has! I'll practice with it for a while. Smoother action than the K-4 chinese key I purchased.

Your kindness goes along way with me, Sir.

Dave

W0DV


Title: RE: New to CW...want advice for a KEY
Post by: KI5IO on July 28, 2012, 09:13:03 PM
I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from another ham that has been reading this thread, offering to loan me his Czech military key. I wont give out his call for privacy but I just want to say THANKS!

 I received your Czech key in the mail today. It is different looking, what a smooth action it has! I'll practice with it for a while. Smoother action than the K-4 chinese key I purchased.

Your kindness goes along way with me, Sir.

Dave

W0DV

Dave,

Plenty of views and opinions and all based on each person's experience.

I'm sure you are enjoying the Czech Key.  I purchased one and just received it this past week as well.  It is very smooth and nice to operate.  I also have a K-4 and (as you noted) it has a completely different "feel".  I got my K-4 from Morse Express in Aurora, CO.  Great support from Morse.

I'm also looking to hopefully get a VizKey Camelback Straight Key.  $125.00 for a very nice looking key, has good reviews and I've talked to a couple of owners of the key and they are very pleased.

I also have a P-4 paddle from K8RA as well as a Begali Simplex Pro. 

All-in-all ... CW is very nice and I like to focus on getting 'better' with my CW and using my straight keys.