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Author Topic: Keyer versus straight key  (Read 2917 times)

Posts: 3

« on: July 16, 2002, 09:35:36 PM »

Soon I will be ready to go on air with CW (I used the Koch method for learning the code and can copy fairly reliable at about 20 wpm). I repeatedly read at different places that one should first learn to send clean code with a straight key before even thinking about touching paddles. But I never read or heard any good argument why this is so.

  So my questions are: what is your experience? Should I really first use a straight key for a year or so, or can I start right away with paddles and an electronic keyer? If straight key first, is there a reason that can be put into words, or is it just "that's the way it is"?


Posts: 21764

« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2002, 11:04:57 AM »

I disagree with the theory that one must first use a straight key in order to become proficient with a keyer.  Most of us did, more out of necessity than any other reason; however, it surely isn't necessary today, with rigs having built-in electronic keyers.

My nephew Rob, AJ6E, who achieved his 20 wpm Extra ticket at age 11 a few years back, studied CW with me.  I taught him to copy first, before he ever sent a "dit" with any kind of key, and he was copying 20 wpm about ten days after we started practicing.  He copies about 60 wpm today, even though he's not very active at this point.  His first CW "sending" practice was with an electronic keyer and iambic paddle, and within a few days he was sending 20 wpm quite nicely, with good spacing and few errors.

I think the real trick is to copy well, first.  That way, you know how good CW should sound, and you try to achieve it.


Posts: 28

« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2002, 12:59:07 AM »

I think any kind of key that makes you comfortable is the one for you.  Believe it or not, my first key was a bug I got as a present.  I learned on it, and it was valuable.  I also got a straight key, and used it for a while, and I think the value there is that like the bug, it forces you to make good characters.  Since then I have gone on to paddles and also a keyboard keyer, and all of them get some use, depending on the circumstances.  There are days I feel like using a straight key or bug(it doesn't get much more interactive than that) Most days, I use the keyer/keyboard.  I have both the paddles and keyboard hooked up at the same time, and sometimes will go between both in a QSO for fun.  I guess my point is, whatever you are comfortable using, use.  It really makes no difference.  The important thing is to get on the air and to have fun.  Good code is fun to listen to, and fun to work, and the subject of what your using rarely makes it into a QSO, so do what you want! Hope to work you on the air!  73

Posts: 3

« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2002, 05:53:44 PM »

You probably have all the answers you need now.  I tried a straight key for awhile and I really did not like it, if you tried to copy me you would probably find a good excuse to get out of the qso.

I use a kent paddle and logikey keyer, the best investment I made.
I enjoy CW knowing that the other guy can read my cw.

I have heard excellelent CW with both straight keys and iambic keyers, conversley I have heard horrific CW from both.  You must practice and when you think you are good, send a paragraph or two from a book into a tape recorder, put the tape away for a couple weeks and then try to copy your tape.  Use text that is not easy to remember. This will let you know if you are sending good code or garbage.

There are a lot of hams that send very poor code and probably think they are sending good code.  Listen to your code or ask for some honest feedback.

It is far easier to copy well sent code faster then you think you are capable of then to copy runtogether charactersorpoorlyspacedwords, even in type written messages.

good luck
KK6AW Kelsey
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