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Author Topic: So many straight keys on coast stations.  (Read 4351 times)
LB5KE
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Posts: 141




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« on: March 27, 2012, 01:18:17 AM »

I could be wrong, but based on pictures form coastal stations (at least in Europe) it seems like
so many of them used straight keys even in the 90's. Some times a vibroplex, but few paddles. I would expect it
to be the other way around?
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W1JKA
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Posts: 1821




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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2012, 02:53:56 AM »

    A lot of those coastal station operators were often merchant/navy ship r/o's.Almost  all r/o's  that I went to sea with for thirty years used a straight key, mostly a side swiper because of ruggedness and dependabilty in a sea going enviroment, also these operators developed their own "swing: or signature with theses keys that were easily recognzied by other ship/coastal operators. Check out N1EA (David) web site for an interesting read. Anchor aweigh  Jim
« Last Edit: March 27, 2012, 03:09:41 AM by W1JKA » Logged
PA0WV
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2012, 09:51:41 AM »

As far as I know it was explicit prohibited for ops in the Dutch coastal station PCH to use something else then a straight key.

Had something to do with preventing to generate easily a too high speed, which could be more difficult to receive for less experienced R/O's (first class graduation speed requirement was 25 wpm plain text) and under weak signal conditions, QRN etc.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2012, 09:53:12 AM by PA0WV » Logged

Using an appliance without CW is just CB
9V1VV
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« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2012, 08:52:25 PM »

It seems the European stations used straight keys. These were the keys used in training schools. The one I went to prohibited anything else, and all the UK R/Os I know  always used straight keys. Bugs were in general use in US, especially KPH. This was in the 70s and 80s. By the late 80s many sea-going R/Os worldwide were experimenting with automatic paddles, but I never heard any of these from UK or Euro coast stations.
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STAYVERTICAL
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« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2012, 03:32:46 PM »

Training was always done on straight keys, and every ships station had one as standard.
But, although I used the straight key for a while, once I got my Katsumi electronic keyer (and modified it with a higher power relay),
this is what I used all the time at sea.
You really appreciated it when the old man came in with a five page stores list and an apology.
I also knew quite a few guys who used bugs as well, since anything that made sending easier was usually appreciated.
The coast station guys I worked were really good and professional, and I am sure they could hit 30WPM on a straight key easily.
But if you were on 425Khz in the tropics at night (thunderstorm central) with full break in, you usually had enough trouble without trying to set qrq speed records.

Most ships sparks were really good at receiving as well, since these guys did it all day long, and the received text was usually typed directly on a typewriter, so writing speed was not a problem.
Even before microcomputers came on the scene I had designed and made a morse keyboard (using a diode encoding matrix), for sending morse - and used it at sea!
Like in many areas, the hardware novelty of the operators seemed to follow a generational theme.
I can assure you the last thing on the mind of most professional morse operators was not the "purity" of their sending hardware, but how to get the messages across in the best way possible.

73s
  
« Last Edit: March 28, 2012, 04:08:47 PM by STAYVERTICAL » Logged
9V1VV
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« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2012, 06:49:15 PM »

That is more or less what I thought. I can remember hearing some Greek stations using early automatic keys in the 80s and a few Eu ships following suit.

I know what you mean about long messages, I was on  VLCC with a Satcom-A which broke down and we had no telex on board. Had to send all the food and  stores requirements on a straight key for months. I wish I had an automatic key then !

Speed was not important in those days and 25-30 wpm was the norm, and as you say, even slower in heavy QRN on the MF bands.

73

John
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PA0WV
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« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2012, 11:58:37 PM »


Even before microcomputers came on the scene I had designed and made a morse keyboard (using a diode encoding matrix), for sending morse -
  

Sure, I did also, but 2 key roll over was already a problem, let it be n-key roll over, with a matrix. And the typing keys were very expensive; it was model as on your keyboard, without imprint of a character, containing a moving magnet and a reed switch, at that time $5 a piece. I still have those products in the junk box. Home brewing was not dead at that time.

73  PAoWV

http://pa0wv.home.xs4all.nl/zelfbouw.html
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ZL1BBW
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Posts: 413




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« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2012, 11:58:07 PM »

Well at GKA all the positions had a straight key as standard,. and it was quite a nice key.  You had to do 28wpm for 5 mins NO ERRORS on a straight key to come out of the training portacabin to the main station, this was as a trained seagoing r/o.   Many of us used bugs or ele keyers in the late 70's.

Best sight I can remember is one old hand r/o sending the traffic list live as Christmas using a bug key, he was spinning the carousel round with one hand, grabbing a piles of QTC's and sending with the other, all at 30wpm plus, it was the only way to get the the t/l at Christmas.
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ex MN Radio Officer, Portishead Radio GKA, BT Radio Amateur Morse Tester.  Licensed as G3YCP ZL1DAB, now taken over my father (sk) call as ZL1BBW.
KE6EE
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Posts: 456




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« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2012, 11:45:26 PM »

It seems the European stations used straight keys. These were the keys used in training schools. The one I went to prohibited anything else, and all the UK R/Os I know  always used straight keys. Bugs were in general use in US, especially KPH. This was in the 70s and 80s. By the late 80s many sea-going R/Os worldwide were experimenting with automatic paddles, but I never heard any of these from UK or Euro coast stations.

I visited KPH last year in Point Reyes not far from me. It's now run by hams of the Marine Radio Historical Society. Well worth a visit, and there's an informative website. KPH, named for the first owners, of the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, was last owned by RCA.

There is a great collection of bugs at KPH. One Vibroplex in particular stands out because it was rebuilt with a double chrome base so that it would stay put no matter how much the operator slapped it around.

Denice Stoops was one the the last radiotelegraphers to work there and was the first woman to be hired for that post by RCA. Denice told me that she was allowed to use an electronic keyer if she wanted to, but if she wanted to use a bug she had to pass a test.

Real men (and women), obviously, use bugs.

The chief ham op at KPH, Richard Dillman, is an artist of the bug. He makes a point of keeping all the bugs at the station in their original state of adjustment, just as they were when last used on the air by the very last professional ops. This is his special way of preserving a little bit of history which would otherwise be lost. It was quite a thrill for me to work out a bit with a couple of those bugs and to feel how their adjustments compared to mine at home. Let me just say that the gaps  between contacts were good-sized and the springs were quite snappy.

Those coastal ops must have had had forearms like Popeye. I doubt they would comprehend the set up of a modern paddle with the usual tiny gaps and very soft spring settings.
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2E0OZI
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Posts: 270




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« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2012, 09:17:04 AM »

If you were at GKA you must have been a real pro! I found a few videos on the HF service, featuring GKA and they were fascinating. And also sort of gives a lie to the fact that all "pros" sent using the American way of resting thier forearm on the table.  Grin
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Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.
George Orwell
ZL1BBW
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Posts: 413




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« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2012, 02:16:42 PM »

Hi, working at GKA when it was busy was a real buzz, Christmas and other times that shouldnt really be mentioned.   Not many people realise that up to 20 ops might be sharing GKC/GKD on any one band.  So there was not a lot time for dithering, you had to get in there or else.  Best bit used to be doing the pacific watch at night, you had a dedicated transmitter GKG from memory and your own LP on the TX.  They were some really fun days, and yes the ops were very skilled, a lot of traffic was in Greek and code so had to be careful then.  Do you remember when the 10 letter = a word rule came out, andtheyall startedtor unthewords togetherin 10letterbl ocks?
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ex MN Radio Officer, Portishead Radio GKA, BT Radio Amateur Morse Tester.  Licensed as G3YCP ZL1DAB, now taken over my father (sk) call as ZL1BBW.
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