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Author Topic: Looking for a very high quality paddle.  (Read 6252 times)
NU1O
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Posts: 2762




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« on: January 24, 2011, 08:57:14 AM »

After about 20 years of mostly SSB use I have finally figured out why you guys become CW fanatics. I have been using a Bencher model BY-1 for all these years, but I find it too light as I frequently hit it back and fro which leads to errors. Is one key generally recognized as the top of the line or are there several which are are head and shoulders above the rest and then it becomes a matter of personal preference. I am willing to lay out the greenbacks for a very good key but I would just like to make one purchase.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2011, 06:51:56 PM by NU1O » Logged
KE7TPA
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Posts: 7




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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2011, 09:28:00 AM »

If you think you will be able to limit yourself to one key, I recommend the Bencher Mercury Paddle. It is rock solid (heavy), beautifully finished, and works like a champ. Each high end key has a touch and feel unique unto itself. As you use any particular key on a regular basis, the manipulation becomes purely automatic. I own numerous keys from Alberto Frattini, Begali, GHD, and a few others. All of them are unique, beautifully executed, and work very well. I appreciate each and every one both as a work of art, and a high end instrument. Owning and collecting these keys, is not unlike someone who collects beautiful musical instruments. Once you use one of these pieces, you will never want to go back to something else of any lesser quality. Do not read to much into what some will call, "The Best", they are all "The Best". 73, John KE7TPA
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NI0C
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Posts: 2437




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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2011, 09:40:33 AM »

Check out N3ZN's very fine line of paddles-- see reviews here on eHam. 
73,
Chuck  NI0C
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NU1O
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Posts: 2762




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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2011, 10:31:11 AM »

If you think you will be able to limit yourself to one key, I recommend the Bencher Mercury Paddle.

That is of course wishful thinking. I will probably become a collector myself. I agree these high end keys by the likes of Begali, K3ZN,etc. Really are works of art. I also saw a Japanese key at a really nice price that looked top shelf. I can't remember the name, but I bookmarked it. I just had a 1/2 hour QSO with ON4UN and I was going to ask him about keys but I didn't want to take up more of his time than I did. Ironically, nobody went back to him after I signed so I should've picked his brain a little more.

73

Chris
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VE3GNU
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Posts: 86




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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2011, 01:58:24 PM »

Today we are very fortunate to have available an excellent selection of paddles, and bear in mind that paddles are a very 'personal thing'---and unfortunately one cannot try paddles 'on approval'---i.e. buying them for a limited trial period before committing to a purchase. I recommend checking out the Begali line of paddles from their website and also looking at the Eham reviews to get a 'sense' of what is available from them.  I purchased the Simplex Professional which would not be considered 'high end' but it sure is a great instrument and is robustly built.  There are others in their line-up which are really 'high end'.
73---VE3GNU
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N4IAG
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Posts: 49




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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2011, 03:26:11 PM »

Here's another suggestion - check out the K8RA line of paddles. They're high quality at a fair price.
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I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers.
W7AIT
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« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2011, 05:20:46 PM »

I bought a Scheunemann Morsetasten EINHEBEL paddle and I love it.  Runs circles around the top of the line Vibroplex or Bencher; puts top of the line Vibroplex to shame.

Its all hand made to precision tolerances and weighs close to 5 pounds.  It won't move at all in use.

Velvet touch.  The best paddle I've ever used in 48 years as a ham.

Pricey at $299 but worth every penny!  Built like a tank and will outlast me!

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NU1O
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Posts: 2762




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« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2011, 07:33:52 PM »

Guys,

I spent a few hours looking at websites and reading reviews and I don't think anybody would disagree that Pietro Begali makes great keys. Since I'm of Italian descent and I have spent some time in Italy, I'm fully aware of the quality these artisans put into their products. You can see it in an Armani suit or a $1000 pair of Tanino Crisci shoes. Also, Begali must be a perfectionist and I was cursed with the same gene so he gets the nod. 

I obviously know what a magnet is but can somebody please explain exactly how the Magnetic Pro line differs from any other
key? Also, as long as I'm going to layout some good money might not I be better off just purchasing his top of the line key, the Sculpture.   I know at this point it really is just deciding as to how much I want to spend since both are no doubt fabulous keys and although I don't have a problem laying out the dough for a Sculpture, I don't believe in just tossing money away for no reason. I guess my question is: Does anybody really think there is a noticeable difference between a Magnetic Pro and Sculpture? IOW, am I just paying for more expensive metals and the bragging rights of saying I own a Begali Sculpture? All input is welcome.
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NI0C
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Posts: 2437




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« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2011, 06:36:46 AM »

One's error rate in sending is not necessarily inversely proportional to the amount of money spent for a paddle.  As VE3GNU pointed out, choosing a paddle is largely a matter of taste.  My son chose the Begali Sculpture, but I prefer my N3ZN paddle. 

You can see my old Brown Brothers BTL-A and N3ZN ZN-9B on my QRZ.com page. 

One other consideration is the choice of single-lever versus iambic or dual paddle.  Single lever paddles are making a comeback, and I won't go into all the arguments for each, but you can find such discussions in previous threads in this CW forum. 

Happy operating with whatever you choose!

73,
Chuck  NI0C


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WX7G
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« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2011, 08:43:29 AM »

My favorite is the Begali Simplex Basic.
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ES1TU
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Posts: 290


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« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2011, 10:25:59 AM »

Sculpture, I don't believe in just tossing money away for no reason. I guess my question is: Does anybody really think there is a noticeable difference between a Magnetic Pro and Sculpture? IOW, am I just paying for more expensive metals and the bragging rights of saying I own a Begali Sculpture? All input is welcome.

I bought Sculpture last Christmas as my very first paddle. All I can say is WOW. If you spread those extra 200 bucks across several years of service, then lets face it - there is really only a marginal difference. Tell you what - every single time I walk into my shack, the first thing I see is my Sculpture.

In fact, I enjoy it so much that 495 out of my last 500 qsos are cw. And I used to be 100% ssb until last xmas Wink

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KE6EE
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Posts: 454




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« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2011, 03:17:26 PM »

You might consider whether you want to work on your bug technique, which implies (to most of us bug users) an interest in a more personal, and perhaps athletic, style of sending. Good brand new bugs can be cheap compared to high-end paddles. And very cheap used.

I recently wanted to try a paddle and a keyer (after 50 years of bugs and straight keys). I was interested in a different approach to my bug-style sending so I decided to get a single-lever paddle. I do believe, however, that one can just as easily send bug style with an iambic paddle if one's keyer has a bug operating mode. Going to automatic dashes was no problem for me, except that the automation degrades one's "swing."

I bought an inexpensive single-lever paddle--a Bushwacker from American Morse for about $120 for a kit with a heavy base. It's very well-designed and works splendidly. A new Kent single-lever paddle is about the same price and most people who use them seem to like them very much. My conclusion is that sending with a paddle, bug style, is less demanding of skill than sending at the same speed with a bug. A bug is just a more exciting and suitably out-of-date sort of gizmo IMHO.

Single-lever paddles seem less available (because less in demand) than iambics. I don't think there is any significant difference in ease of use compared to iambics, at least for those of us who aren't interested in sending more than about 25 wpm.
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AD5X
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Posts: 1437




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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2011, 05:11:36 PM »

I have a lot of paddles (never get rid of any).  But my all-time favorite is the Begali Sculpture.  This is the last key I'll ever purchase.  A very fine key indeed!

Phil - AD5X
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N0OKS
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Posts: 115




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« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2011, 05:12:52 PM »

The problem you mention is that the Bencher is too light, so look for heavier paddles that may not move around so much. You could also attach your Bencher to something, maybe directly to your operating position to keep it from moving. As for bearings and springs, I think it takes some experience to be able to decide which you prefer. As long as there is no stiction in the bearing, I suspect any thing will work. My contacts are very close and the movement can't be more than a 64th of an inch. That is much less than one degree rotation on the bearing. Much of the rest is visual appeal. So maybe it comes down to "what a beauty, I'll buy it."

Mark, NØOKS
Jones Paddle
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KE6EE
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Posts: 454




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« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2011, 06:22:45 PM »

Mark is quite right. The more expensive paddles (Begali, GHD, and also some of the American models made in limited quantities) often have very heavy bases. This alone makes a big difference in how a paddle "feels" (e.g "solid and precise").

I bought an expensive Begali bug in part because it was the heaviest I could find. It's also way adjustable. But aside from the weight, it's really no more fun to send with than my Vibroplex Lightning, except that the Vibroplex tends to move a bit. I've seen a Vibroplex at a commercial radiotelegraph station that had the base doubled up so that the key was twice as heavy as a regular model. The Bencher Mercury paddle is much heavier than the other Bencher models and nearly everyone seems to like the Mercury.

A very heavy base may be more important to the paddle's feel than whether it's made of brass or aluminum or has simple or fancy lever bearings.
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