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Author Topic: want a straight key  (Read 12429 times)
KD8LHB
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Posts: 16




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« on: January 21, 2011, 08:03:37 PM »

High I have just started to learn code.  I'm looking at getting myself a key to use.  I would like to know which would be better to learn on?  A Begali Spark or a Begali Camelback.  I know there are cheaper ones around but I would just end up up grading anyways.  Thank you   Huh
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WX7G
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« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2011, 08:40:05 PM »

I have a Begali Spark serial number 0153. The Spark has the knob close to the table, which is the American style. The Camelback has the knob off the table, which is the European style. The Spark is far and away the best straight key I have every used.  
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NW0M
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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2011, 11:56:46 AM »

I agree with your assessment of the Begali Spark.  It is a really nice straight key and a joy to use.   

You can start with a Begali or start with a cheaper key like most do AND THEN buy the Begali only to be amazed at the difference!   Grin

Good luck in your decision.
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WD3IT
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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2011, 06:44:28 PM »

I have no experience with Begali straight keys. My recommendation is look for the Junker DBGM straight key. Simple, straightforward, and bullet proof. It will not win any beauty awards, but is supreme as far as function, IMHO. Check with Marshall, N1FN, www.mtechnologies.com for current availability. Highly recommended.
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NU1O
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2011, 07:40:56 PM »

I have a separate thread going as to suggestions for a paddle. I'm going to buy a Begali but I still have not made up my mind as to which model. I just joined SKCC and also need a straight key and I already decided on that. The Begali Spark looks head and shoulders above the competition and if you say you will eventually upgrade to one anyway, you may as well buy it now and enjoy it.

PS. I think I just made my mind up as to the paddle. I think some of us just need a fellow ham to tell us it is not insane to spend $600 on a paddle. Smiley
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WX7G
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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2011, 08:45:13 AM »

I have a Begali Interpid bug, a Begali Simplex Basic, and a Begali Spark on the desk all in a row. All three have cast iron bases and look fantastic together.
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N6GND
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Posts: 317




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« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2011, 06:30:28 PM »

I have an SKCC straight key. Look it up on the web. It's a beautifully-designed and built long-lever key with a wonderful feel. Designed by Bill NT9K who is a very clever key-builder, but made in a precision machine shop. It's certainly the equal in quality of construction to my Begali Intrepid.

This straight key is a contemporary rendition of the classic Scandinavian Amplidan key which is considered by many straight key mavens to be the absolute best-feeling brass pounder. It's also really made of brass. "Pounding brass" with a stainless steel key just can't be the same.

The SKCC is also very heavy. It absolutely does not move around on a desk no matter how madly you pound it.
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AD6KA
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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2011, 10:25:52 PM »

I learned to send CW on (and used on the air for a year) a $5 plastic and stamped
metal key that I bolted to a heavy piece of metal. Later upgraded to an NYE Viking
straight key. I long ago moved to iambic paddles, the Bencher BY-1 works fine for me.

Must be sweet to start off with a $175 straight key,
but if you can afford it, why not?
73, Ken  AD6KA
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KB2FCV
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« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2011, 01:24:25 PM »

PS. I think I just made my mind up as to the paddle. I think some of us just need a fellow ham to tell us it is not insane to spend $600 on a paddle. Smiley

NU1O, it is not insane to spend $600 on a paddle. Now go get that Begali!! Cheesy

Now back on the subject of straight keys, my friend keeps telling me to check out a Nye Viking SpeedX. I have to try before I buy so on my next visit up to his place in the summer I'll defintely try out the key. On the Begali's, you won't be disappointed. I love my Begali Signature paddles. They are in use every day. The straight keys are REALLY tempting..
« Last Edit: February 01, 2011, 01:27:45 PM by KB2FCV » Logged
KB3TXH
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Posts: 44




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« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2011, 07:02:35 AM »

I don't have either of those keys, but maybe I can help someone make a decision.
 
You can adapt to the American or the European style of key, without much trouble.
It's not that different, so buy the one you like the most. It will not be your last key
purchase anyway.
The knob of my speed-x, on a 1/4" steel base, is 1 1/2" high.
The knob of my Navy Flameproof, on a 1/4" base is 2 1/4" high
The knob of my kent straight key on it's wood base is 2 3/4" high.
The keys are side by side on the desk, and send about the same, with small differences
in the "feel". At least at my slow speeds of 10 wpm.

Of these three, and a J-38 clone, the best feel comes from using the Kent key. I believe
 the good feel comes from having a no play bearing at the pivot point, which the others don't have.
I assume the Bengali does as well.
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NN4RH
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Posts: 302




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« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2011, 11:13:37 AM »

It will not be your last key purchase anyway.

That's for sure. I have 11 keys already and still browse eBay and hamfests looking for more.

Kent straight key
Kent single paddle
GHD single paddle
Vibroplex single paddle
Chinese Army K2 straight key
British surplus WT 8 AMP keys (4 of these, different versions)
HamKey straight key
Soviet TKF straight key

Quote
Of these three, and a J-38 clone, the best feel comes from using the Kent key.

I like the Kent, too, but of the keys I have, I like best the feel of the several so-called "WT 8 AMP" British surplus keys. 

There's dozens of different versions, but here's an example:  http://www.qsl.net/d/dl1hqe/cw/wt8a_mk3/2_wt8a_mk3_3.html  They need to be screwed down to something. I have access to a machine shop so I've made up some steel and brass bases for these but a peice of wood would do just as well.
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N6GND
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Posts: 317




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« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2011, 11:52:18 AM »

You can adapt to the American or the European style of key, without much trouble.
It's not that different, so buy the one you like the most.

I believe the good feel comes from having a no play bearing at the pivot point, which the others don't have.

I assume the Bengali does as well.

A very good point that the key design (height of the lever and/or knob) above the desk surface doesn't make any difference. You want to move the key near enough to the edge of the desk so that your arm is not resting on the desk, or to use the key farther from the edge with only your elbow on the desk. With your forearm resting on the desk and your moving the key with your wrist, you run a risk of developing carpel tunnel problems, which you definitely do not want.

The SKCC key designed by NT9K has high quality bearings so that there is no play at the pivot. It also has a long, massive brass lever which augments this sense of solidity. Last, the contacts proper are mounted on a thinner piece of spring steel at the far end of the key lever (distal to the knob) so that there is a tiny amount of flex at the bottom of the key stroke, making the feel of the contact "landing" softer rather than a hard, dead-end feeling you get when the contacts are between the knob and the pivot.

Overall the feel is superb, and this sort of design is considered by many to be the best of all straight key designs.

"Bengali" refers to stuff, like tigers, found in Bangladesh. "Begali" is an Italian guy who makes aircraft parts and telegraph keys.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2011, 11:54:45 AM by N6GND » Logged
KC9TNH
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Posts: 304




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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2011, 12:40:31 PM »

A very good point that the key design (height of the lever and/or knob) above the desk surface doesn't make any difference. You want to move the key near enough to the edge of the desk so that your arm is not resting on the desk, or to use the key farther from the edge with only your elbow on the desk. With your forearm resting on the desk and your moving the key with your wrist, you run a risk of developing carpel tunnel problems, which you definitely do not want.
Interesting to compare with what the Navy was saying 40+ years ago...

Quote
"To ensure correct movement of your wrist and forearm, your arm should lie on the
operating desk. The muscle of your forearm - not your elbow - should support the weight of your arm.
Your elbow should not extend over the edge of the table, because the pressure of the underside of your
forearm will partly block circulation and tire you. Sit upright, with your arm in line with the key.

"Your ability to transmit depends to a great extent on acquiring the proper movements of your wrist and
hand while operating the key. To close the key, your wrist moves upward and your hand rocks
downward toward your fingertips. To open the key, these two movements are reversed- your wrist
comes down and your hand rocks back."

My newbie self has discovered that brief practice sessions are one thing; actually carrying on in any sustained manner is enhanced by establishing good posture from the get-go. Elbow fully on a table (if possible) is for me much less tiring. I love my old J-37 (thanks Barry K5BME).
 Smiley

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73
Wes -KC9TNH
"Don't get treed by a chihuahua." - Pete
N6GND
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Posts: 317




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« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2011, 07:07:25 PM »

"Interesting to compare with what the Navy was saying 40+ years ago..."

For those of you who were not conscious forty plus years ago, the Navy (and the other armed services) in those days didn't give a damn about carpel tunnel problems.

It's only been in the last ten years or so that people generally know about carpel tunnel.

The whole workplace safety movement, and many of the regulations about occupational health, date from somewhat less than forty years ago.
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VA7CPC
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Posts: 2354




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« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2011, 11:40:11 PM »

Quote
It's only been in the last ten years or so that people generally know about carpel tunnel.

But if you look for "glass arm" in the old telegraphy texts, you'll find _lots_ of references!   I'm pretty sure it's just an older phrase for "carpal tunnel syndrome".

The three most-common workarounds:

. . .  Sideswiper;

. . . semi-automatic key (bug);

. . . Learning to send with the other (unaffected) hand.

Life hasn't changed much.

I suspect the Navy wasn't training lifetime CW operators.  And when there's a war on, soldiers' ailments tend to be ignored.

                  Charles
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