Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net

   Home   Help Search  
Pages: Prev 1 [2] 3 Next   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Novice question about Paddles vs Straight Keys for learning  (Read 14604 times)
KE3WD
Member

Posts: 5694




Ignore
« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2011, 06:02:38 PM »

I would like to thank everyone for offering the experiences and opinions, they have been very helpful.  It seems there are definitely pros and cons to starting out with either one.  Perhaps I will try both and see which one seems to feel more natural.

There ya go.

Not sure whether or not "more natural" comes into play here, though. 

If you work out with each, you will get better with each, plain and simple. 

If you work out with anything long enough, it *should* start to feel "more natural" at some point. 

But the big thing for you is to get in there and get started learning to copy CW and that is best done by applying a short amount of time to a recognized method, daily.  It is repetition that breeds "more natural". 

Have FUN with it at all times, meaning don't push sessions past the time point where it becomes drudgery and you should live long and prosper.

73
Logged
K7KBN
Member

Posts: 2782




Ignore
« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2011, 10:25:01 PM »

First, KNOW how each character is supposed to sound when sent "perfectly".  Use the W1AW transmissions or online resources for as nearly perfect code as can be.

Second, make your keying sound exactly like that.  Both the key-down times and the key-up times are vitally important in this.
Logged

73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
STAYVERTICAL
Member

Posts: 854




Ignore
« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2011, 11:20:41 PM »

This is entirely your own choice, but as a CW afficionado I would suggest you learn with a straight key, at least until about a speed of 10 words per minute.
The reason is not for which one is easier, but to set up pathways in your brain for the muscle-brain skill of sending unaided code.
The skills required to send via paddle are entirely different to those for sending with a straight key, but one good thing is that with a paddle you generally can't send faster than you can receive, since you need to read the code as you produce it.
In any field, the natural tendency is to discover "short cuts" and magic formulae to speed up the learning process, but in the case of the brain, its mainly practice and perserverence which makes you an expert.
Even Leonardo da Vinci was first put to work painting just hands on pictures by his masters, so I would suggest you learn the straight key first, especially concentrating on precision.
In this way you will learn the discipline of sending first rate code without running all the letters and words together, which you can do even with a paddle.
Ten wpm is able to be learned pretty quickly, and will ground your CW operation with a solid foundation.
Then moving to a paddle or bug will be easy and you can concentrate on speed and ease after that.

73s es GL

Logged
M0JHA
Member

Posts: 647




Ignore
« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2011, 07:49:11 AM »

One more vote for skipping the straight key and going with a paddle right from the beginning.

same here, at least with a paddle people will hear characters as they are meant to sound, too many can't send decent code on a straight key. BUT don't neglect learning to use a straight key they are lots of fun.

billy
Logged
KM9R
Member

Posts: 10




Ignore
« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2011, 09:44:44 AM »

I think one can learn to send good code by starting off with paddles.

I started w/ a straight key and have believed for awhile that paddles would have been much better, but that is my opinion. Poor code can be sent with both a straight key and paddles by both beginners and elmers too.

A beginner can also send slow code with paddles , but there too I think it would have been better if I had learned initially 15 wpm character speed with greater spacing between characters for each word vice counting the dots and dashes to determine the letter. That was a huge waste of effort.

It is better to work smarter than harder and there is no need to re-invent the wheel.

Logged
K7KBN
Member

Posts: 2782




Ignore
« Reply #20 on: April 02, 2011, 10:13:41 AM »

One more vote for skipping the straight key and going with a paddle right from the beginning.

same here, at least with a paddle people will hear characters as they are meant to sound, too many can't send decent code on a straight key. BUT don't neglect learning to use a straight key they are lots of fun.

billy

That's the problem: an "E" isn't supposed to sound like "I", or "S", or "H".  Listening on 40M sometimes I have to wonder if these guys have lost their hearing; obviously, they can't tell how many dits they're sending or they'd correct themselves.

With a straight key, you have to form each element individually yourself.  When your keying sounds exactly like machine-sent code, THEN you're on to something.
Logged

73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
K0RS
Member

Posts: 706




Ignore
« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2011, 01:33:24 PM »

As a novice I started out with a straight key simply because I had one and had learned CW with a buddy using straight keys.  Using a keyer just hadn't entered my mind as they were not that common then.  Most faster guys used bugs.  Then, shortly after I received my ticket, I had an opportunity to pick up a Hallicrafters TO keyer.   I never looked back.  It was so much easier and superior to a straight key that I never wanted to use one again.  And almost 50 years later I still don't.  Straight keys are torture.  Yes, there's a lot of masochists out there that won't agree with me.  Fine, suffer.  Get a decent paddle and go for it.  I happen to prefer a single lever as I make far fewer mistakes.  Dual lever (iambics) are more difficult to learn and take a lighter touch and their benefits (IMO) are marginal.

You can see some of my keys here: https://sites.google.com/a/wildblue.net/k0rs/Home/station
Logged
KE3WD
Member

Posts: 5694




Ignore
« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2011, 07:48:41 PM »

One man's torture is another man's pleasure. 

One guy may have trouble playing a simple tune on the piano while the next guy can sit down and rip off a night of music, too. 

A good straight key, tuned up for speed, I can still go the 22-wpm or so level. 

Of course, that is from lots of practice at a younger age. 

Again, I think it is a good thing to learn the straight key, but certainly not mandatory. 

But I learned CW at a time when cold war Soviet pilots sent perfect code with a straight key strapped to their leg while simultaneously flying the plane...

73
Logged
K0RS
Member

Posts: 706




Ignore
« Reply #23 on: April 03, 2011, 10:52:36 AM »

One man's torture is another man's pleasure.

Indeed.  I believe I qualified my statement by recognizing that there are plenty of masochists out there.  For some mysterious reason ham radio seems to attract them.

It depends on what you're trying to do.  If you're happy sitting on the top end of the 40m CW band having QRS contacts at 10 wpm, then a straight key can be entertaining.  Sort of.  For awhile.

My personal operating habits tend more toward DX pileups, occasional contesting and a little QRQ ragchewing, so a straight key is out of the question.  I've abused my hands and arms enough during my lifetime.  I have no desire to induce a case of carpal tunnel syndrome now.

Straight keys were invented near the middle of the 19th century by folks trying to find a practical way to use the newly invented telegraph code to communicate long distances via wires.  To their credit they came up with a pretty viable way to do it considering they didn't have sophisticated communications technology nor a crystal ball.  If you look at a Civil War telegraph key it's virtually identical to a WWII J-38.  A hundred year plus lifespan for any communications technology is pretty awesome.  

If getting a sense of history is what you're looking for, then you need a straight key.  If the year is 2011 and you are just learning CW, and you are searching for the best and most viable way to do it, then you need a paddle and a keyer.  I'm taking the liberty of assuming that what the OP actually would like, over time, is to become proficient enough in the mode to move down the band and have some QSOs at 15~20 wpm.

One guy may have trouble playing a simple tune on the piano while the next guy can sit down and rip off a night of music, too.

Which would seem to me...if you can actually make an argument by analogy...to be a good reason for learning on a keyer first….

A good straight key, tuned up for speed, I can still go the 22-wpm or so level.

Not for very long.  BTW, how do you tune a straight key for speed?  How does your arm feel after calling for an hour in a DX pileup as fast as you can send?  Which, incidentally, will still be at least 10 wpm slower than everybody else in the pileup.

Of course, that is from lots of practice at a younger age.

Does the OP have the benefit of that option?

But I learned CW at a time when cold war Soviet pilots sent perfect code with a straight key strapped to their leg while simultaneously flying the plane...

Really?  By the Cold War era the Soviets still hadn’t figured out voice communication for their fighter pilots?  Did their cosmonauts use CW too?  To think our astronauts were sending back TV pictures from the moon while Soviet fighter pilots zoomed around sending messages to each other via CW!  Getting a little misty-eyed with our colorful nostalgia are we?

I think just the opposite of what most straight key enthusiasts believe.  Learn to send well with a keyer first.  If your interests lead you to experiment with a straight key or bug later, fine.

« Last Edit: April 03, 2011, 12:10:47 PM by K0RS » Logged
KE3WD
Member

Posts: 5694




Ignore
« Reply #24 on: April 03, 2011, 11:51:38 AM »

You must have some good and strong coffee over there, my friend. 

Enjoy the Internet,

and 73
Logged
AE4RV
Member

Posts: 940


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #25 on: April 03, 2011, 12:06:53 PM »

Cosmonauts did indeed use CW sometimes.

http://retrotechnologist.blogspot.com/2009/08/cosmonaut-morse-code.html

http://www.cold-war-sputnik-soviet-space-dog-laika.com/cosmonaut_code_training.html

http://www.google.com/search?q=cosmonaut+morse+code&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a
Logged
K0RS
Member

Posts: 706




Ignore
« Reply #26 on: April 03, 2011, 12:15:04 PM »

Cosmonauts did indeed use CW sometimes.

No doubt, as fighter pilots may have.  CW ops have always know that the mode is an excellent emergency backup because of the well established virtues of CW.  The operative word is here is "sometimes."  As in very rarely. Roll Eyes

And I have it on good authority that the space dog, Laika, used a keyer! Shocked
« Last Edit: April 03, 2011, 12:30:11 PM by K0RS » Logged
AE4RV
Member

Posts: 940


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #27 on: April 03, 2011, 12:29:18 PM »

Well, I still think it's preferable to learn on a straight key first. But the best thing I ever did to further my CW enjoyment and proficiency was switching to a Vibrokeyer and a bug. I'm favoring the keyer again these days and enjoying sending perfect code in slow speed rag chews and chasing DX at 30WPM (thank you, RufzXP).

Just enjoy it and don't run your characters and words together, please. Timing is important.

Logged
KU2US
Member

Posts: 74




Ignore
« Reply #28 on: April 03, 2011, 01:42:15 PM »

I gotta go with the straight key! This creates your own personal rythem. And, if the bug or paddles break, you always have the old reliable key on hand. If you want to invest in a high quality straight key like a Kent, you wont believe the ease of using it. Very well balanced and almost effortless. Then I would dive into a paddle or bug. You will have the best of both worlds.
Logged
K0CS
Member

Posts: 3


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #29 on: April 04, 2011, 12:33:49 PM »

PADDLE vs. HAND KEY - This is obviously a TECHNOLOGY driven question and should be addressed relative to your transceiver's capability. Many transceivers today have internal keyers where you can hook up a paddle directly. Modern competition grade transceivers even have a memory keyer with 4-discrete buffers. Your decision should be based on taking advantage of your transceivers capability. Personally, I recommend the K1EL keyboard myself, but that is a whole different subject.
Logged
Pages: Prev 1 [2] 3 Next   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!