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Author Topic: Straight Key for DXing??  (Read 2122 times)
AF4XK
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Posts: 96




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« on: February 16, 2010, 04:26:10 PM »

Hello guys.

If you were going to use a straight key for chasing DX  where speeds frequently approach 30 wpm, which straight key would you choose?

Also would you tend to grip the knob as is normally done or use the finger (or finger tip) quick tap method?

Reason for question: I'm just plain more comfortable with a SK and make less mistakes (than with a bug or paddle) and I'm looking for the ultimate 'speedster' SK.

Thanks.
chuck
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NI0C
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Posts: 2400




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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2010, 05:55:43 PM »

Have you considered using some form of memory keyer to send your callsign in the pileups? 
That's a sure way to avoid mistakes.  I use pre-programmed macro's with a microHam CW keyer to send my callsign, then use the paddles when I establish contact.  Many inexpensive keyers have memories, though, including some by MFJ.

Murphy's Law says that if you're sending your callsign by hand in a DX pileup, the DX won't hear you until you make a mistake.

As far as a straight key goes, it's hard to beat the old J-38 when it is adjusted properly.  I don't think I ever was able to send much faster than 20-25 wpm on one, though.

73,
Chuck  NI0C
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W7ETA
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Posts: 2527




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« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2010, 10:35:17 PM »

I use my computer--perfect CW for the brave op at the bottom of the pile up.

73
Bob
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K0RS
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Posts: 712




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« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2010, 11:00:58 PM »

"If you were going to use a straight key for chasing DX where speeds frequently approach 30 wpm, which straight key would you choose?"

I can't imagine anyone wanting to do such a thing.

To me that's like asking, "If you wanted to play in traffic, what kind of glue would you apply to the bottom of your shoes?"

Sheesh.
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WX7G
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Posts: 6035




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« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2010, 12:11:18 AM »

I DX'ed for years using a straight key. With most DX Q's being done at 25 wpm or less a straight key will do the job.

The best fast straight key I have used is the cheap J-38 looking key made by Ameco. It is model #4 and sells for $20 at Morse Express. Mounted on a thin (1/4" or less) sheet of hard wood or plexiglass puts the knob close to the table. A 'normal' grip is what I use. That is with thumb and forefinger on the knob. Morse Express also sells a matching base for $15. With short feet or several layers of vinyl electrical tape for each of the four feet it will have that fast feel (Thanks W6LUA for this tip many years ago).
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AF4XK
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Posts: 96




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« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2010, 04:31:52 AM »

Thanks for the suggestions guys.

Regarding using the memory macros for sending the call sign, yes I have considered that and my very well do just that.

Regarding using a keyboard, i get MORE THAN ENOUGH of that at work.

Regarding "I can't imagine anyone wanting to do such a thing"; it's a pity that some folks have such limited imagination.

Thanks WX7G for suggesting a specific model. For that price I may just go ahead and order one.

Interesting two votes for the J38s. I thought someone would suggest a Begali or some other 'cadillac' straight key.

thanks again.
chuck
af4xk
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WX7G
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« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2010, 08:06:14 AM »

Chuck,

you got me interested in straight keys again. After a couple hours looking at the eham key reviews I decided the Begali Spark would be my next straight key.
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AF4XK
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Posts: 96




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« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2010, 10:29:29 AM »

Agreed Dave, that Begali Spark does look like a winner. I also think the Camelback would be a nice speedster. The Blade is nice but I would guess it'd be more a smooth, slower speed 'rag chew' key with all that mass to move up and down.
chuck
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W7ETA
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« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2010, 12:36:46 PM »

I type into a memory what I send in a pile up.  It goes in as perfect CW and gets sent as perfect CW.  To send, I use my mouse to click on the memory number.

If I have to send something else I use paddles.

My objective is to make my CW as easy as possible for the DX op to copy..

Take a look at Navy keys.  If nothing else, its FUN to own, as are the J38 keys, and its FUN to use.  Bath Tube keys are FUN to have also--pretty smooth to send with.

73
Bob
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NI0C
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Posts: 2400




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« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2010, 01:58:56 PM »

My J-38 key cost $0.99 at Walter Ashe Radio in St. Louis in 1959.  

Wish I had bought a hundred of them then!

73,
Chuck  NI0C
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AF4XK
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Posts: 96




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« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2010, 04:29:41 PM »

True Bob, I could most likely use different memories for the complete qso. I actually thought about that but decided against it since I felt FOR ME it would be making it a little too easy. I enjoy the challenge of the key. Of course, each individual has to decide such issues (packet cluster or not, cw decoder or not, band scope or not, etc etc) for themselves and what qualifies as 'fun' and satisfying for them.

73
chuck
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K0RS
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Posts: 712




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« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2010, 05:09:00 PM »

AF4XK snarks:

"Regarding 'I can't imagine anyone wanting to do such a thing'; it's a pity that some folks have such limited imagination."

It's not an issue of limited imagination.  The problem is, I *can* imagine someone doing that, and it looks ugly in my mind's eye. The term "ultimate speedster SK" is an oxymoron, especially "at speeds approaching 30 wpm." I wonder how a DX station feels about trying to decipher CW sent like that?

What I actually said was, I can't imagine someone *wanting* to do that. Of course there's likely someone, somewhere, who wants to play in traffic with glue on their shoes, too. Probably at night.  People want to do all kinds of crazy things that my "limited imagination" prevents me from understanding.

I guess it all depends on what you mean by "chasing DX." If all you want to do is sit on an open band and have a few casual QSO's with some garden variety EU's, a straight key will work fine...at least until your arm falls off. If you want to be competitive in pile-ups, a straight key is gonna be a major disadvantage. Some people like disadvantages. Masochism is validating...or something.

Whatever.
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WX7G
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« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2010, 07:18:53 PM »

What is wrong with sending 25 wpm in a pile-up to work DX? That's fast enough. The sound of a straight key might elicit the attention of the DX. Besides, good straight key CW sounds much like a keyer. A bug is another story though. I gave up DXing and contesting with a bug about 10 years ago.

I worked a 1B CW field day for 24 hours straight one year using a straight key. It didn't kill me. My arm felt a bit worn for a couple of days.

I contest and used to paper log. I moved to PC logging just four years ago. Last Field Day we used paper logging and cross logging when the PC acted up. We still won in our class.

I am not yet ready to use the PC to send my CW for me in a contest. I still use a keyer. Maybe I'll use a straight key this Field Day just to be odd.
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AF4XK
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Posts: 96




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« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2010, 07:54:51 PM »

Sorry K0RS, I probably should not have responded the way I did.

73
chuck
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K0RS
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Posts: 712




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« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2010, 11:24:55 PM »

Chuck,

Thank you.
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