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Author Topic: The Ergonomics Of A Really Good Straight Key (a discussion)  (Read 25532 times)
WB5AGF
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Posts: 92




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« Reply #30 on: July 19, 2016, 03:37:19 PM »

The new keys at GKA were made in the GPO workshops in the 80's, they look like a Marconi key.

Also from memory the desk tops were steel, just covered in a thin layer of something, might have been lino or formica,  this gave a very solid surface to work on.

It was only within the past few weeks that I understood what the reworked Marconi keys had done to them. I believe that it is on the MorseMad Web Site that (when I finally quit just-looking-at-the-pictures and began to read) I learned that some of the original Marconi keys (I'm not sure what the difference is between the AS300 and the PS213A) had a tendency to have their metal 'tongue' extensions (with the contacts) bend when some operators applied too much force to the knobs - so the 'tongues' were shortened and (so that the contacts would line up) the 'feet' (not the correct name) of the 'contact piers' (again, not the right name), were turned around so that the contacts (on the 'piers') would be sitting a little closer to the knob end of the key (where shortening the 'tongue' had moved the lever arm contact to).

- Paul, WB5AGF
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VE3LYX
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Posts: 813




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« Reply #31 on: July 19, 2016, 04:45:02 PM »


Interesting you said you were a Piano Tech. The reason I have the curly maple is I play a little fiddle (as Andrew knows) and I make my own. So you were right on the money with your observations. This isn't a wonderfully focused picture but here is the final version that I kept and use on my 1930s 80M station. Thanks for the encouragement.
donVe3LYX
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KE6EE
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Posts: 1844




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« Reply #32 on: July 19, 2016, 09:39:49 PM »

The reason I have the curly maple is I play a little fiddle (as Andrew knows) and I make my own.
donVe3LYX
Maple is wonderfully strong and light and transmits vibration very well indeed.

Your straight key design is remarkably simple and elegant. No metal key could be so simple and elegant. It looks like it uses only two fasteners which double as wire terminals.

I've been thinking about the feel of piano keys which must be very free-moving and precise but heavily damped. They are capable of translating a wide range of physical inputs into the acceleration of the hammer which strikes the string. This suggests to me that certain kinds of sending may be more suitable for keys with a damped action and contact closing.

The traditional bug and straight key aesthetic seems to me to be essentially different from the more recent trend towards very limited lever travel and tiny physical inputs.

(Former comments intended as humor have been deleted.)

« Last Edit: July 20, 2016, 10:22:55 AM by KE6EE » Logged
WB5AGF
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Posts: 92




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« Reply #33 on: July 20, 2016, 02:27:16 AM »

No I'm not saying keyer users have tinier brains but it seems logical that they use less of their brain while sending than bug folks.

(Oh My .... Just wait for the media to get ahold of this ...)

And what about us straight key people ?

We have to think about every-dit-and-dah .... Ever one

Remember the Sci-Fi movie This Island Earth ?
The one with the aliens with the big-foreheads ....
(Yup, that's us straight-key types)

- Paul, WB5AGF
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KE6EE
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Posts: 1844




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« Reply #34 on: July 20, 2016, 10:57:43 AM »

We have to think about every-dit-and-dah .... Ever one
- Paul, WB5AGF

You miss the point.

The sound of well-sent code has to do with the rhythm created by fine control of the time relationships among the dits and dahs in characters.

Each and every dit and dah is not the focus.

You can't understand a melody by listening to a single note.
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N9KX
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Posts: 2060




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« Reply #35 on: July 20, 2016, 12:23:24 PM »

Quote from: KE6EE
The sound of well-sent code has to do with the rhythm created by fine control of the time relationships among the dits and dahs in characters.

Each and every dit and dah is not the focus.

You can't understand a melody by listening to a single note.

at the risk of sounding argumentative,  Tongue , cannot the same argument be made about the timing relationships among the dits?  Grin

arguments aside, there is nothing quite like the sweet sound of a dah dit di-di daaaah with swing  Smiley



or as some would put it:



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KE6EE
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« Reply #36 on: July 20, 2016, 12:54:58 PM »

arguments aside, there is nothing quite like the sweet sound of a dah dit di-di daaaah with swing  Smiley

Nor like a swinging CQ dah di dah dit dah daaaah di dah folllowed by the swinging invite daah di daaaaaah.

--Yet another bug-using Ellingtonian.
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N9KX
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Posts: 2060




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« Reply #37 on: July 20, 2016, 02:19:47 PM »

arguments aside, there is nothing quite like the sweet sound of a dah dit di-di daaaah with swing  Smiley

Nor like a swinging CQ dah di dah dit dah daaaah di dah folllowed by the swinging invite daah di daaaaaah.

--Yet another bug-using Ellingtonian.

great, i barely have gotten my feet wet trying to learn a paddle and now i have to figure out whether to sell the paddles and buy a bug. 
and then there is the problem with which one ...
hopefully some day i feel thankful, but for now $#@#!%$  Grin
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ZL1BBW
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Posts: 1219




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« Reply #38 on: July 20, 2016, 02:50:21 PM »

Good sending on a bug is nice, bad sending on a bug is worse than painful.

Having used a paddle for the last 50 years, I find that I am unable to use a bug with any amount of confidence, so I do not use one.
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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.
GW3OQK
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Posts: 386




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« Reply #39 on: July 21, 2016, 02:47:54 AM »

Quote
Good sending on a bug is nice, bad sending on a bug is worse than painful.
Good sending on a paddle is a pleasure to read, bad sending on a paddle requires decryption.

73, Andrew, straight key type.
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KE6EE
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Posts: 1844




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« Reply #40 on: July 21, 2016, 10:15:16 AM »

Good sending on a bug is nice, bad sending on a bug is worse than painful.

Having used a paddle for the last 50 years, I find that I am unable to use a bug with any amount of confidence, so I do not use one.

I was trying to think of what might be worse than painful. Really bad sending, and I include more-or-less "correct" bug sending with a dit speed 'way too fast for the overall sending speed, is sufficiently ugly to me that I simply will not respond to such sending.

Thus bad sending with a bug is something like self-created QRM.

Overall I think the invention of the paddle and keyer has been good for the quality of sending for most hams. When I began, in 1957, there were very few, if any, keyers. It never occurred to me then to use one. A bug, however, was a very attractive piece of hardware which I longed for and had to work at mastering. When you're a kid, you are likely to have the time to do the learning. These days people don't have the time because there's always somewhere one has to go in the car.  Grin

I actually have little trouble sending with a paddle of any type and a keyer. I just use that setup as if it were a bug. It works up to about 25 WPM at which point my personal sense of rhythm and the keyer's have different opinions. Some keyers have "bug" settings in which the dahs are not automated but the spacing is still automatic. That allows a bit of individuality of style.

Nothing wrong with keyers. They've helped to keep the tradition alive even though it's become less traditional. But keyers are less fun. The dance of the hand with a bug or straight key is aerobic and good for the heart. The dance of the paddle is more a conceptual dance.  Grin
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N9KX
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Posts: 2060




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« Reply #41 on: July 22, 2016, 09:56:48 AM »

so, if i were to try and learn a bug -- is the fact that i learned with a straight key and have yet to master a paddle make me a good potential fit?
if it turns out i don't care for them, do they re-sale at a decent percentage of their original cost?  (hourly worker on a shoestring budget here, but life *is* about play, so...)

is going Vibroplex the best bet?

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PS7HD
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Posts: 23




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« Reply #42 on: July 22, 2016, 10:40:46 AM »

I took this PS213A a local Ham , the time knew nothing about PS213A ,, then searched the NET ,, found the whole history of 213 ,, My particular key is a replica ,, has an embossed mark with the words " De Sá ",, not found any indication ,,, it is well built ,, it has a great feel during use but made ​​some improvements a stainless steel base, a new blade contact , more flexible , tested a few knobs and chose for this equal to the original time. 73 Nathan PS7HD
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PS7HD
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« Reply #43 on: July 22, 2016, 11:31:18 AM »



Looking at the position of the keys you understand what style of manipulation I use,, do not know which of the two has better feel,, so use both, HI, 73 Nathan PS7HD
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KE6EE
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Posts: 1844




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« Reply #44 on: July 22, 2016, 12:12:04 PM »

is going Vibroplex the best bet?

Using a bug is very different from using any other kind of key. The tendency now for ham CW ops generally is to adjust all keys and paddles to very small gap distances so that an absolute minimum of effort is required for sending. You can't do this with a bug because a bug requires a certain level of energy input in order to get the pendulum to vibrate. Speed adjustment is also affected by lever travel and dit contact gap adjustment which cannot be smaller than a certain amount.

If you are using a straight key adjusted to a microscopic contact gap and are used to sending American style with your arm on the desk, you may find a bug to be a really major change in approach.

Nevertheless I think anyone who doesn't have some sort of manual coordination problem can learn to send good code with any kind of key. It just takes some patience.

Before a Vibroplex (I have a Lightning and an Original, both in perfect condition and several decades old--they work just fine) I would go for a GHD (new ones are sold by Morse Express) or a Vizbug, designed and originally built by Tom Desaulniers K4VIZ and now offered by another ham. The Vizbugs come in right-angle or vertical models and have the advantage of being able to go to minimum speeds (8 to 12 wpm vs 20 to 22 wpm with most bugs) without modification.

Really fine bugs are made by Italians like Begali and Frattini but they are spendy. The Begali is far more adjustable than any other bug I have ever used. It is one of my favorites along with a double-lever GHD. A double-lever bug allows another level of precise timing because a move to a dah can begin before the last dit has been created (double-lever is not the same thing as automatic dits and dahs but there are bugs that do that too).

If you look on ebay or elsewhere or go to a hamfest you are likely to find a used Vibroplex or a McElroy or other old key in good enough shape. I bought mine for under $100 and the Vibroplexes were like new even though they were decades old.

Bottom line is that there is nothing magical about a bug. I suggest looking around for an old one and fixing it up. Taking it apart, cleaning it and putting it back together will make it clear how it works and what the adjustments do.

Above all it's an adventure and it's fun. You have lots of choices--just select one.

If you get one bug, you will invariably want another.

I should add that bugs invariably need to sit on some sort of sticky pad so that they won't move under use. Very heavy bugs like the Begali still can be easily pushed around under use. The pads sold for keeping cellphones from sliding off car dashboards work perfectly.

« Last Edit: July 22, 2016, 12:18:14 PM by KE6EE » Logged
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