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Author Topic: Straight Key for DXing??  (Read 2133 times)
K0RS
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Posts: 713




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« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2010, 11:31:21 PM »

WX7G:

"What is wrong with sending 25 wpm in a pile-up to work DX?"

Nothing. But from my point of view, the discussion isn't about blazing speed but rather maximizing the chances of success.

"That's fast enough."

Indeed.  Unless, of course, it isn't.

"The sound of a straight key might elicit the attention of the DX.'

It might, but probably won't.  Instead the DX will answer a crip, clear, well spaced call.  Especially in a pileup.
 
"Besides, good straight key CW sounds much like a keyer."

Yes, if you're that good.

"A bug is another story though."

Spare me.

"I worked a 1B CW field day for 24 hours straight one year using a straight key. It didn't kill me."

So I see.

"My arm felt a bit worn for a couple of days."

Ha ha.  *Only* a couple of days.  Thanks for making my case.  Need I say more?

"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."

Congratulations.  And what can I take away from that story apropos to this thread?

"I am not yet ready to use the PC to send my CW for me in a contest. I still use a keyer."

In other words, you don't contest.  You play in contests to work stations that happen to interest you.  Then when you're bored you go watch TV.
Nothing wrong with that, I do it to.  But it's not contesting, is it?  Using a computer to send contest exchanges isn't about "being ready."  It's about efficiency, rate, maximizing score, minimizing errors, reducing penalty points and surviving the contest.  When was the last time you operated the whole 48 hour CQWW DX contest with only a keyer?

"Maybe I'll use a straight key this Field Day just to be odd."

Well, you will indeed be that.  Building on a legend.
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NI0C
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Posts: 2404




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« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2010, 01:20:28 AM »

Here's another reason NOT to use a straight key or bug in the pileups-- what if the DX station uses CW skimmer or some other automated way of reading CW?  I heard that's what Monk Apollo (SV2ASP/A) uses.  That's reason enough to be using perfect code! 

I put in my time using straight keys and bugs, before I had anything better.  The W9TO keyer design changed everything back in the mid 1960's.  Electronic keying has improved a lot since then, too!  Just a few years ago, K1EL came up with some great designs at very low cost.

There's nothing wrong with using manual keying methods, and I'm glad some folks are interested in keeping up their skills in this regard.  I spend a fair amount of time in the DX pileups, and I don't hear very many straight keys or bugs.  The ones I do hear are generally bleating away long after everyone else has made their QSO. 

73,
Chuck  NI0C   
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N0IU
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Posts: 1298


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« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2010, 03:14:06 AM »

K0RS wrote, "I can't imagine anyone wanting to do such a thing."

I can't either!

The whole objective to working DX is to get them in the log, right? There are no extra points for making the contact with a stratight key, a set of iambic paddles, a bug or a computer.

In my experience, DX stations respond to well-sent CW and don't really care how it is sent.

I spent close to $500 for a set of paddles and I can send CW over 40 WPM quite comfortably thank you very much.

If you can send better with a straight key, then that's what YOU should use but don't chastise me or make me feel like I am less of a CW op because I find it to be sheer torture to use them.

Scott NØIU
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AF4XK
Member

Posts: 96




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« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2010, 04:29:59 AM »

We can all agree that a paddle/keyer is the preferred and most efficient method of the exchange sent at a speed to match the distant station .

Can we please end this discussion now. It's out of hand. This is a hobby and it's supposed to be fun but all of this back and forth 'one-upmanship' is getting tiresome and unpleasant.
I regret ever asking the question.

Suggested reading material:
http://www.af2cw.com/code/amateurcode.html

73 to all.
chuck
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W5ESE
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Posts: 550


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« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2010, 08:00:28 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.

I agree with WX7G.

I've had a "Japanese Ball Bearing Key" since 1975. Mine was purchased
at Radio Shack, but it's the same key as the Ameco.

I still have it, and still use it at times.

What I like about it is the light tension in the spring. At the lowest
tension setting, there is very little resistance, so it's less tiring to
send with over a long period of time than some of my other keys.
(J-37, J-38)

And it's very inexpensive, too.

73
Scott W5ESE
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N3QE
Member

Posts: 2207




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« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2010, 08:05:19 AM »

I use a WKUSB keyer. It can be hooked up to a computer but it can also be used standalone with 4 memories each activated by a button.

One of the buttons just sends my call. Used a lot in DX'ing to get my call into the pileup.

I think it's important to just have the button send it once. When the DX hears anybody's call and starts responding, it's my turn to shut up. I think there are some folks out there with robo-keyers that just continuously send their call no matter what, this seems like such a waste to me.

Tim.
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N3QE
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Posts: 2207




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« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2010, 08:07:40 AM »

Oh, I should also point out, that the memory keyer button that sends my call is activated not just by finger-pushbutton, I've got it wired to a footpedal. That way I can be doing something more useful with my hands while trying to break through a pileup :-).

The footpedal is a HUGE win for memory keyer operation.
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W7ETA
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Posts: 2527




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« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2010, 05:24:53 PM »

Makes perfect sense to me Chuck.  If you have the most FUN running an SK, run an SK.

I like the knob on Navy keys; grasp it with two fingers; plus, it just looks good and reminds me of a decades old tradition.

73
Bob
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K0OD
Member

Posts: 2557




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« Reply #23 on: February 20, 2010, 05:31:24 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?"

K0RS: "I can't imagine anyone wanting to do such a thing."

--
I have to agree with K0RS... from 50 years of CW experience, not lack of imagination. Back when CW ruled, it was generally considered that 25 wpm was about top speed for a straight key. As far as imagination, perhaps Darek Jeter, Steve Nash or a concert pianist could do OK at 30 or even 35 wph with a few years of practice. But the SKN higher speed CW I hear is generally awful.

BTW DX pileups are often conducted at speeds well above 35 wpm.

---------------
Chuck (NI0C), I used a couple of Walter Ashe J-38s for my 5th grade Science Fair project. Yep, cost 98 cents around 1955. I remember a few years later when new-in-the-original-box J-38s rose to $1.98.

By then, perhaps 1959 I had bought my first electronic keyer (a used Eldico) from Gateway and discarded my J-38. I simply can't understand the fascination with straight keys. UGH!
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VK4TJF
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Posts: 93




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« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2010, 09:15:13 PM »

i guess I'll weigh in on this one
being a DXer and since the original question has
been answered and we are now on a discussion of what we use. I use a paddle for speeds of 30-35 WPM and during contests I use a memory keyer that does cw. I also use a voice keyer in contests as well.
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WX7G
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Posts: 6055




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« Reply #25 on: February 21, 2010, 04:55:01 PM »

Hearing well over 1000 stations in the DX Contest this weekend I heard two straight keys, four bugs, a bunch of keyers and many keyboards.

The straight keys were on the slow side and the bugs were simply terrible. The keyboards were cool the way they can speed up on 599, TEST, and that sort of thing.
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AE4RV
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Posts: 952


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« Reply #26 on: February 21, 2010, 05:46:32 PM »

I went back to my keyer for this test. I embarrassed myself in the last one when I used my bug. But I suspect you heard one or two FB bug ops that you did not identify correctly because they had good fists and didn't make mistakes.
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W9OY
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« Reply #27 on: February 22, 2010, 02:20:15 PM »

Kind of reminds me of the guy going on and on about his QRP rig and how much fun it is, while it's the guy on the other end doing all the work.

73  W9OY
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W5ESE
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Posts: 550


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« Reply #28 on: February 23, 2010, 09:11:44 AM »

Kind of reminds me of the guy going on and on about his QRP rig and how much fun it is, while it's the guy on the other end doing all the work.

73  W9OY

I worked F5MUX in the DX test, who was running 5 watts.

Had no issues copying him at all. His signal was down only a little
from the higher power stations.

73
Scott W5ESE
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