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Author Topic: Which Key To Buy??  (Read 1327 times)
K4DOJ
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Posts: 1




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« on: December 06, 2001, 10:10:15 AM »

Someone has offered to buy me a key for Christmas. Should I get the Bencher BY-1 or the Vibroplex Orignal. If I go with the Vibroplex should one get the Deluxe due to the jeweled movement or stick to the Orignal Standard?

Thanks,
Danny K4DOJ
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20614




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« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2001, 12:31:55 PM »

These are not comparable.  The BY-1 is a paddle and must be used with an electronic keyer.  The Vibroplex Original is a semi-automatic "bug" key, which does not use an electronic keyer.  The technique to operating them is very, very different, as are the skills required.

In general, the BY-1 and a good electronic keyer will do things, and more easily, that the Original will not.

Steve, WB2WIK/6
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N5XM
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Posts: 242




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« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2001, 05:10:49 PM »

    A good friend is allowing me to use his Kent single paddle for an extended period, as he has many, many keys, and I think he wants to get me addicted to the Kent, but boy howdy, do I love it. It takes a while to get it set just so, but once you get it, it takes the barest mininum of action to make it sing, and it is elegant and understated as can be. He's gonna have a real tough time getting this bad boy back in his shack.
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ADAM12
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« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2001, 10:03:50 PM »

The Bencher BY-1 is probably the standard in a paddle and is very popular. As has been said, you will also have to have an electronic keyer either as a stand-alone unit or built into the radio if you use a paddle. The "R.A. Kent Engineers" paddle is also highly rated and reasonably priced.

The bug on the other hand is a wonderful contraption and whilst not quite as efficient in producing perfect code as a paddle/keyer combination, you'll have a lot more pride of ownership with a bug than you will with the Bencher. This is real ham radio !

As regards jewelled or not, I don't think it makes a whole heck of a lot of difference at the end of the day. You might want to consider a Blue Racer as both the standard and deluxe versions have a jewelled movement I believe.
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N5XM
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Posts: 242




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« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2001, 02:35:21 PM »

WHATEVER you do, only get a bug if you are willing to invest the time to master it...there are people out there using bugs who are caught up in the tradition and romance of those things who would be ill if they heard a tape of what they sounded like using one of the infernal devices. It reminds me of the old adage you used to hear on TV... "Don't try this at home, we're trained professionals!"
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W8MW
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Posts: 326




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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2001, 03:42:08 PM »

Total agreement with N5XM.  Not many ops can send clean CW with a bug.  What did he just send?  An "S" an "H" or a "5"?  Bug ops bug me with all those excess dits which of course is unfair to dahs everywhere.
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N7FZ
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« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2001, 04:15:43 PM »

I use the Vibroplex Brass Racer, and I am extremely pleased with it.  It is an iambic paddle that uses magnets to set the tension.  It's easily adjustable and works extremely well, although setting the magnet spacing can be touchy.  It is available with an electronic keyer built into the base, as an option.  I don't have this variant, I use an external electronic keyer.  It is available with a triangular or a square base, in brass or in chrome.  And on the dual-key <drool>.  Check the Vibroplex website:  http://www.vibroplex.com

The major problem I've had with Bencher paddles is that anything contacting the top of a paddle with any force will cause the thing to disassemble itself.  Once I reached for a pencil and tapped the top of one paddle with it on the way down.  End of QSO while I reassembled the paddle.  It's not difficult, but....  Other than this one problem (which was recurring, for me at least), it worked quite well.

As to a bug, be prepared to spend a good deal of time mastering the instrument.  When they are used well, they are beautiful.  When they're not, they can be horrid.  Additionally, adjusting one is an art in and of itself.  If you really want to try a bug, go for it!  But I really hope that you have a highly knowledgeable Elmer in the art of using it.  Be aware that it is, to all intents and purposes, impossible to set a bug for less than about 20 wpm and that they work much better above about 25 wpm.

Also, if you haven't already, consider joining the FISTS CW club.  A friendly and helpful group that I enjoy being a member of.

There are several good references on the net for guidance on becoming a good CW op.  "The Art and Skill of Radio-Telegraphy" is one of the best.  You can download it from the web, sorry but I don't have the URL at hand.  Or you can e-mail me direct, at callsign at ARRL.net, and I will send you a copy.

Welcome to CW.

Chuck - N7FZ
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KC0IOX
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Posts: 28




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« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2001, 09:22:02 PM »

I have both.  I got a Vibroplex Presentation as a birthday gift a year ago, and I also use a Bencher BY-1.  For general activity, I use the Bencher, as a keyer is more versitile, and you can slow down to 5 wpm, and up to around 60 wpm, but with a Vibroplex, 20 wpm is the absolute slowest mine will go.  I took a lot of time learning to use the bug and make it sound good, and I fully agree with the other posts about it being difficult to make it sound good; it takes work.  I enjoy the bug, but it takes me about a week of using it to be comfortable after using the Bencher.  The two are totally different animals.  All that being said, I enjoy the bug, but if I had to recommend one, go with the Bencher, or another brand of paddles.  My brother swears by his Kent.  Anyway, if you get a bug, there are a number of good resources readily available on the internet to show you the adjustment, and tips on creating good clean code.  Whatever you decide, I hope to hear you on the bands.  Good luck, and 73!
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WA4FOM
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Posts: 9




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« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2001, 03:53:07 PM »

The choice of key is as personal as the choice of
an automobile, and one person's opinion is not
necessarily gospel.  In just my opinion, Vibroplex
makes good cost-effective bugs and keyer paddles.
If cost isn't an issue and it's iambic paddles you
want, you might consider the Schurr or the Long
Island Mercury.  Don't bet on getting the LIM in
time for Christmas; this guy builds them himself
but they're worth the wait.
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KD6LM
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Posts: 14




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« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2001, 08:11:12 PM »

I have to agree with WH4FOM on how buying a keying device is a personal choice. It really depends on what you want, and how dedicated you are to sending good code. I will tell you my experience, which may help with your decision.

In my opinion, a good paddle (and the Bencher ranks right up there) makes sending code almost effortless. However, like me, that may not be what you are looking for from CW. I am looking for diversion from  my normal  day to day cares, and a connection to the past. So,  among others, I own a chrome Bencher straight key (RJ-1), the BY-1 paddle, and an old bug. The two keys that I use exclusively are the straight key and the bug. Why? It is because I am into the romance of CW.

I take pride in trying to send perfect CW with both of those keys, and believe me, with a bug sending good code is really hard. But, if you can do it, when someone compliments you on your fist, you  really get a sense of pride. However, you should know that before I put that bug on the air, I practiced with it almost every day for at least 45 minutes off the air for six months. Then for the first two or three months I used it on the air, I used to concentrate so much that sometimes I would actually sweat, and even then I would mess up sometimes (and still do once in a while of course). But, it makes sending really fun--I love the way it looks, the clickity clack sounds it makes, and the sense of accomplishment I get after sending nice code. Plus, when  another ham says, "Nice fist, is that a bug?", it makes my day.

So there you have it. Good luck with your decision, and I'm sure that whatever you decide you will be happy. Have a great holiday and I hope to meet you on the bands.

73, KD6LME

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N5XM
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Posts: 242




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« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2001, 04:07:14 AM »

Gregg, you make some fine points, and what I like best is your comment about how much you practiced before you put your bug on the air. I was the same way when I started using paddles, after making my first thousand or so CW contacts with a straight key. I felt the same way about the romance and history of hand keys, but it got to the point that I was making so many contacts that I was walking around with cramping and pain in my forearm and hand.  You try making 250+ contacts a month with a straight key, and then we'll talk about  bad technique, hi. Anyway, I wish more CW ops, particularly new ones, would work on their sending every day. You don't hear it said, but you will be judged by your fist and not by your ear, as long as you can copy the basics, seeing that it is very doubtful that everyone copies everything. I work someone with a lousy, unpracticed fist, and I just want to move on as fast as I can to another contact, and I like to ragchew.  For me, even slow code is beautiful as long as it is well-sent, so in that sense it doesn't matter at all what kind of key you buy and use, you have to put in the time it takes to make it sound good.  It's sorta like playing a musical instrument. Those who practice the most sound the best, unless they are gifted, and how many of us are really gifted CW ops?  I've been a musician for almost 35 years, but I am still a self-made CW op, no doubt about it. If you expect to sound good, you gotta put in the time, period.
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KC4MQF
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« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2001, 03:33:31 PM »

As already mentioned these cra\eatures are not the same and require different sets to operate.  While the bencher BY-1 appears to be a mainstay there are paddles out there which, in my humble opinion, are much better.  The Kent TP-1 is a rock solid paddle.  I have owned and used one for two years now.  It is a little more than the Bencher as far as price goes, but the quality and action of the Kent TP-1 far surpasses that of the BY-1.  The second key I can personally recommend based on usage is the G4ZPY Model 21 paddles.  This is an extremely well made key and is a pleasure to use.  If you have never used paddles before you might consider a set of Hamkey paddles.  I used a set when I transition from straight key to paddles.  Still have them and use them on the QRP rig.  If you have the ability to borrow different set of paddles from local Hams I would highly recommend that.  Use them and find one that feel right to you. Good luck in your decision and have fun with it.
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WD8CRT
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« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2001, 11:36:16 AM »

The BY-1 is fairly standard... but they have changed it from the original model.  
If you get the Bencher, a mod that you can do to them is to drill out the rivits on one paddle and move it to the inner side. This will make the space closer, and IMHO, more comfortable to send with.  
They used to be drilled and tapped and it was a simple mater to flip it to the other side. Now you will need to do some drilling and tap the holes.
I have 'bitched' to Bencher about this... nothing heard back from them. I have had my Bencher since the late 70's.

I also agree with the anti-Bug folks. Using a Bug is an art form... and no one likes to listen to you practice!
Master it BEFORE to send with it on-air.

C U on CW
73
WD8CRT
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W2EJG
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Posts: 39




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« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2001, 01:02:48 PM »

There is nothing quite as distinctive as the sound of a "Bug", especially if the op has perfected the "Chinese swing".

For the rest of us mortals, the Bencher (modified to prevent capsizing with a 6/32 screw per the QST Hint some years ago) is adequate.

The Kent dual paddle is the closest thing to Heaven for a CW op.

Merry Christmas and good luck. See you on 40
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WA4DOU
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Posts: 436




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« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2002, 05:08:27 PM »

After owning and using a Bencher BY-1 for 20 or so years, I've ditched it in favor of the Brass Racer. I could never find a state of adjustment in the Bencher that satisfied me 100 % of the time. I like the feel and adjustment of the Brass Racer now, on a day in and day out basis. I've had it for going on 2 years. No going back!
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