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Author Topic: Paddle Recomendations  (Read 1008 times)
KQ6UP
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Posts: 136




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« on: September 21, 2007, 09:18:48 AM »

I have a couple of iambic paddles, and I don't really love either one.  They have quite a bit of slop in them.  I have seriously been considering getting Begali, but not so sure if I want to drop $500 on a paddle.  I believe I would love the quality in one of these, but is there a super high quality paddle with comparable build quality at a lower price?  If not I guess I could shell out, but like a lot of us, I would like to find out about other options first.

Chris KQ6UP
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KE3WD
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Posts: 5689




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« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2007, 09:28:44 AM »

My first thought is, "Tell us what two iambic paddles you are currently using and dissatisfied with."  

I've never met a set of any paddles or even a straight key that worked fine right out of the box, there are adjustments, tricks, tips and even mods that can get what you desire out of most of the common keys out there.  

For instance, a lot of Hams berate the ubiquitous Bencher paddle design, there are ways of making it into an almost touch-sensitive paddle that keys like a dream.  I gap mine with the width of a dollar bill. (!)

When the Bencher is lubed and adjusted to be able to do this, sometimes weather changes necessitate slight readjustment -- one day the ambient temperature in the shack changes and the key may send a string of dits or days all by itself due to the close gap now making contact.  Jeweler's screwdriver and re-gap with the dollar bill solves that.  For a darn sight less than 500 dollars.  



KE3WD
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KB9CRY
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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2007, 10:17:05 AM »

Bencher
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N0UY
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Posts: 158




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« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2007, 10:21:20 AM »

Chris,
I used The Bencher for years.  Good paddle most of the time.  Did have to fiddle with the adjustments the more it was used.  I still use it for remote and field day operation.

I did buy a Begali Magnetic Classic used from a very nice fellow I met here on eham for half the price of new.  He had received a new one as a present and parted with the one I bought.  The Begali has a feel of it's own.  Don't know if it's just because of the magnets or the very close tolerences of manufacture.  One thing I do know.  I'll have it until I die.

gl  ray
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KQ6UP
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Posts: 136




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« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2007, 11:04:04 AM »

That is what I am looking for.  Soemthing that just feels great without having to adjust it very much. I have fiddled with the paddles quite a bit.  The one that is in the mobile is exceptable for mobile work, but my base station key is a "Ham Key" type and no matter how I adjust it feels sloppy and looses its adjustments easily.  I have tried the bencher, and feel that the parts are too thin to really give it a solid feel.  I am not trying to insult anyone who owns them and thinks they are great, but I really hear the guys when they rave about how great their Begali's feel because they do notice the difference in the thick precision machined stainless steal.  I guess I need to try a very well adjusted Bencher to see how good it will feel, but if it does not hold those settings over time, I would prefer a paddle that can just be adjusted very little and still feel like a million bucks.

Chris KQ6UP
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2007, 01:15:19 PM »

Whether something with moving parts "holds its adjustments" depends on how hard you use it.

I have three Bencher BY-1 paddles purchased in the early to mid-1980s.  In each case, I adjusted it once when it was first purchased, and I use them daily, and I've never adjusted any of them again.  They've obviously held their adjustments just fine for 20 years or more.

But I use very little pressure on the paddles, since it's less work to do so.  A "heavy fist" cannot send fast, and I like to send fast sometimes (50-60 wpm anyway).  Impossible to send at that speed it you put much pressure on *any* kind of paddle, because nobody can do that.  The pressure I use on the paddle is probably on the order of less than one ounce -- and in many cases, a lot less.  I keep the paddles spaced very closely (movement is maybe 1/16" each side, maybe a bit less) and rest my hand on the table, using only my thumb and middle finger of my right hand to work the key.  I can send all day this way and never get tired, since it's not any work!

If you have a "heavy fist," keys with fewer moving parts are likely to hold their adjustment better.

I used a "loaner" Begali (thanks to K3ESE who loaned it to me for about a month) and used it daily just to see if I could tell any difference.  I could not, but that's probably because I use the Benchers so lightly.

WB2WIK/6

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KQ6UP
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« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2007, 04:43:38 PM »

After your suggestion, i checked out the reviews on the Bencher, and some of the problems listed are the same problems that I am experiencing with my ham key.  When I adjust the spacing for a light touch, I get very erratic control.  This feels like dirty contacts, but it is the same after I clean them.  I can space them wider and the problem goes away, but it makes the keys feel real sloppy.  Others were saying the same about the Bencher paddles, and recommended the Kent.  What do you guys think of the Kent?

Chris KQ6UP
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N5XM
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Posts: 242




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« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2007, 06:29:18 PM »

I use a Kent single lever paddle, with close, light spacings, and with use I do have to re-adjust it.  I average 2,500 cw contacts a year, and while I don't have a heavy fist, I do need to adjust it from time to time.  I also use a Vibroplex deluxe iambic, and I have to adjust it also.  I seem to forget to tighten the set screws up as tight as they should be.  The Kent has a reputation as being difficult to adjust, but once you get it where you want it, it pretty much stays there.  I don't have a problem with adjusting paddles, after all, they are mechanical devices, and mechanical devices need to be adjusted.  Have fun and try a few until you find what you like!  It takes a lot of patience, but it's worth it.
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N3EF
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« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2007, 07:45:09 PM »

  Well, there are several different Begali paddles. I have the Simplex and it is a very good model as you can tell from the reviews and runs $158.00 which is a pretty good price for the quality you are getting.

Eric N3EF
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KE3WD
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Posts: 5689




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« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2007, 08:03:32 PM »

Adjusting the Bencher paddles is, well, one of those things that get misunderstood or not understood by many, judging from the reviews in places like eHam.  

Once understood, you can get good results with them.  

And, as already mentioned, they are for a light touch on the paddles, which is essential for speed.  

Here is a good article I just dug up that is essentially okay from a quick scan, although I do not agree with the contact spacing given "start with the thickness of a dime" (!) I use a common calling card for those who like a wide space, a dollar bill or doubled dollar bill for my own tastes, feeler gauges  would be a good thing for the terminally Deutche-minded:

http://www.morsex.com/misc/keyadj.htm#Bencher

Of course, if your mind is made up on a new key, by all means.  


KE3WD
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2007, 11:25:37 PM »

FWIW --

I've tried a HamKey.  The "bearings" are poorly designed, and there will always be some slop.  I wasn't happy.

Bencher bearings are (I believe) steel points on nylon.  Mine have _no_ slop, and the paddle is pre-1982.  It works perfectly with "one sheet of paper" contact spacing.  If your nylon buttons are worn, you may be able to get new ones from Bencher.
 
Your Bencher may have a spring that's old and stretched (mine did), or it may be mis-adjusted so that it has very light spring tension at the finger pieces.  If that's the problem, a new spring or re-adjustment (per the Morsex instructions -- move the spring ends as far as possible out from the line between the pivots) may solve your problem.

The Bencher _is_ lightly-built.  The finger pieces flex a bit when you press on them, because of the lightweight lever arms between the finger pieces and the contacts.  For light-fisted ops, it's no problem; heavy-fisted ops gravitate to other paddles.

The Kent and Begali are both rigid.  Robust bearings, and heavier lever arms.  The Begali Simplex is probably the cheapest "presentation quality" paddle you can buy right now.  He's going to have to change his pricing eventually, as the Euro rises against the $US.

    Charles
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ZL4JB
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Posts: 40




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« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2007, 02:15:50 PM »

I second a vote for the Begali Simplex.  Very good price for an excellent paddle.  I have had mine for 1 1/2 yrs and have never regreted buying it.  It is a beauty and a beauty to operate.  73 -
JIM  ZL4JB & KB8MPQ
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AE5I
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Posts: 124




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« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2007, 09:14:45 PM »

Hi Chris-

My two favorites are the Vibroplex Vibrokeyer and a single lever Jones paddle.  I think my favorite iambic paddle would be a Vibroplex Brass Racer.  I have one of the old EK-1 versions of the Brass Racer that has a keyer built into the base and I like it a lot, but the single lever paddles are my favorites.

Now, the paddle that I'd love to try but have never used is the Mercury paddle made back in the 90s.  I can't remember the fellow's name who made them but I believe that they are not made anymore....

My absolute favorite key is a bug: a 100th Anniversary Vibroplex Original model.

Part of the fun of it is trying different keys...  I still hope to find a Mercury one day but I think the price is outta site.

I'm currently fixing up a 1974 Vibrokeyer that I bought on ebay the other day that was trashed in shipment.  It's got a really good feel to it and I think I'm gonna like it a lot when it's finished.

It you want to try something very different from what you have I'd suggest a Vibrokeyer if the paddle doesn't have to be iambic....

Good luck and have fun!

Tom AE5I
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W9OY
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« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2007, 04:48:22 AM »

I have a Begali Graciella, a simplex mono, a Kent SP-1, a N2DAN mercury, Brown Brothers, Vibroplex iambic and a Taylor.  My favorite single lever is the simplex mono and my favorite iambic is the Graciella.  For non Begali paddles I like the Kent.  I hate Bencher.  Stupid design.  The lever arms on the Begali paddles have extremely low mass, so the comment about their greater mass is wrong.  The fine thread of the contact and tension screws make them stay put and they need little adjustment.  

Most bang for the buck is the simplex mono

73  W9OY  
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WB6SSW
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Posts: 19




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« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2007, 09:08:23 AM »

Find someone who has a Kent (previously recommended by several responders) and try it out.  I know you'll find a world of difference between the Kent and the Bencher and it is probably just what you're looking for.  If you're in So Cal, you can stop by my shack and check mine out (but you can't take it with you, hi).

73
Lee WB6SSW
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