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 4 Next   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: New to CW, what key should I use?  (Read 12130 times)
AD7WN
Member

Posts: 113




Ignore
« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2009, 08:59:55 PM »

I would recommend starting out with a straight key, rather than with a bug.  If you don't have professional instruction, it's far to easy to develop a "bug swing," which sounds awful.  Most folks can work up to 20 wpm, using a straight key, without much fatigue.  Some can go to 25 wpm.  A very few can get to 35 wpm, but those people are exceptional.

Once you get to 20 wpm and can make it sound good, certainly you can then consider a bug or a keyer.  A bug can sound excellent in the hands of someone who is well coached and well practiced.  The downside of a bug is that, when bought new, they are unreasonably expensive.  A good place to buy a good used one is from members of a local ham club, where they can demonstrate its condition before you buy it.

There is nothing wrong with going to a keyer for higher speed operation.  If you have an aversion to iambic operation, you can use a single-lever paddle.  Speeds of 35-40 wpm are not hard to get to with a single lever, a lot like comfortable speeds with a bug.  And, there is nothing inherently evil in using a keyboard keyer either.  It makes perfect code effortlessly at any speed (except for the typos), and it gives one some further electronics experience in troubleshooting RFI problems.

Hope this helps, 73 de John/AD7WN
Logged
JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




Ignore
« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2009, 04:46:36 AM »

Hello John

<<I would recommend starting out with a straight key, rather than with a bug. If you don't have professional instruction, it's far to easy to develop a "bug swing," which sounds awful. Most folks can work up to 20 wpm, using a straight key, without much fatigue. Some can go to 25 wpm. A very few can get to 35 wpm, but those people are exceptional.>>

Well, it looks like a straight is it!  Anyway, what is the average speed used "on the air"?

<<Once you get to 20 wpm and can make it sound good, certainly you can then consider a bug or a keyer. A bug can sound excellent in the hands of someone who is well coached and well practiced. The downside of a bug is that, when bought new, they are unreasonably expensive. A good place to buy a good used one is from members of a local ham club, where they can demonstrate its condition before you buy it.>>

Ok, sounds good.

<<There is nothing wrong with going to a keyer for higher speed operation. If you have an aversion to iambic operation, you can use a single-lever paddle. Speeds of 35-40 wpm are not hard to get to with a single lever, a lot like comfortable speeds with a bug.>>

But you have to use a keyer though, correct?

<< And, there is nothing inherently evil in using a keyboard keyer either. It makes perfect code effortlessly at any speed (except for the typos), and it gives one some further electronics experience in troubleshooting RFI problems.>>

Naw, as I said before, I'll pass.  If am going to resort to typing then I just may as well forget the whole ham thing and just continue to write emails.

Thanx

Geo
Logged
W9OY
Member

Posts: 1286


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2009, 04:48:31 AM »

In my opinion a strait key is a waste of time.  It is limited in its speed, and it tends to reinforce the dit dah nature of the letter A insead of just A.  When people learn slow code they tend to have a mental look up table they hear dit dah and then go through their mental list and go aaaah  A.  when you have a stait key it reinforces this experience with a physical action.  You will never get above 15 wpm with this kind of technique.

Another problem is that CW does not become truly fun until you get to around 20 wpm.  At 20 wpm you start to copy code in your head instead of writing it down.  This means you spend your time having a conversation instead of copying a conversation onto paper.  You will not do this very well if at all with a strait key.

Another reason is any rig you buy will have a keyer built in, so you would be foolish not to use it.

Finally I would  choose a single lever paddle.  Iambic keying has the opportunity to make more mistakes, since your hand can make more movements.  Single lever has less degrees of freedom and less opportunity for such mistakes.  People say it is less tiring.  That is a bunch of nonsense.  

For a paddle choice I would get the Kent SP-1

http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/1056

it is heavy, it has massive bearings that will never wear out and it sends good code.  Its a little more than $100 but you won't get any paddle that's worth a darn for less new.  If you keep your eye open on the for sale lists you can get this for about 100 used

73  W9OY
Logged
W8ZNX
Member

Posts: 1




Ignore
« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2009, 12:09:42 PM »

Hello Geo

  learn using a straight key
in the end you will have a better fist
its a worthy skill having a good straigh key fist

something you can use for the rest of your life
starting out with a straight key
is
kinda like learning to drive using a stick shift
and a clutch
sure its more work
but you will never forget
how to drive a car with manual transmission

a good straight key op
can easly do 18/20 or more wpm

some ops never use a bug or paddles
stick with straigh keys

work ot ops all the time that are
still using that McElroy stream key
they bought in 1948

you will know when its time to move up

to a bug or paddles
re Vibroplex bugs
the Champ and Lightning bug are easier to master
read slower than the Orignal and Blue Racer

learning to handle a bug is not hard
hard part is learning to set it up right
from that point
it only takes a good straight key op
about 20 / 25 hours off the air practice

once you get the hang of sending F, X, L

you can realy
slow
slow
slow
down
down
down a GHD bug

the hardest key to master is not the bug
but the manual sideswipe / cooty key

worst sending ive ever heard
did not come from ops using bugs
was
ops using electronic keyers and paddles

been a ham for about 45 years
still enjoy using a straigh key
and hearing a good straigh key fist

most use keys here
German Junker, Soviet TK and TKF Cherkassy,
Hi Mound Swedish straigh keys
Vibroplex Lighning bug, Champ,
GHD optoelectric bug

have very nice expensive Schurr and GHD paddles
almost never use them
oh they are easy to use
but they got no jazz

Geo
you will find a key and sending style
that will fit you

remember this
what works for me or other ops

may not work for you
using a telegraph key
is a very personal and subjective thing

it took me years to relise
American style low profile straight keys
using American style sending
was not for me

when i discovered European style straight keys
and sending style
it was like another world for me

yours truly
mac













Logged
W9OY
Member

Posts: 1286


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2009, 12:16:55 PM »

Also here is a free ware program that will let you send either from the keyboard OR you can use a paddle on a serial or a parallel port.  Instructions for hooking up the paddle are in the help section

http://www.dxsoft.com/en/products/cwtype/

Also if you want a good little keyer to play with I suggest K1EL's keyers

http://k1el.tripod.com/K12.html

This one is 17 bux easy to build and you can beep your little brains out until you get a radio.

73  W9OY
Logged
AD7WN
Member

Posts: 113




Ignore
« Reply #20 on: March 26, 2009, 07:52:22 PM »

Keying speeds used on the air vary all over the map.  There are some plugging along at 5-10 wpm, quite a few OTRs batting along at about 25 wpm, a few speed demons at 35-40 wpm, some keyboard users even faster.  I would say a typical speed used on the air would be in the range of 15-20 wpm.

I can understand your aversion to keyboards.  I've used straight key, bug, single lever paddle, iambic paddle, and keyboard.  My own preference is a single lever paddle, just because it feels good.

Whatever choice you make, I wish you the best of luck with it.

73 de John/AD7WN
Logged
JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




Ignore
« Reply #21 on: March 26, 2009, 09:16:26 PM »

<<Also here is a free ware program that will let you send either from the keyboard OR you can use a paddle on a serial or a parallel port. Instructions for hooking up the paddle are in the help section

http://www.dxsoft.com/en/products/cwtype/>>

Thanx for the link, I got it up on my browser now and will check it out after I am done here.

<<Also if you want a good little keyer to play with I suggest K1EL's keyers

http://k1el.tripod.com/K12.html

This one is 17 bux easy to build and you can beep your little brains out until you get a radio.

73 W9OY>>

I would like a tube based CPO.  I am just 'built' that way.  I want something glowing on my desk when I practice code.  I probably will build something myself since I am a tech anyway.

Thanx,
Geo
Logged
JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




Ignore
« Reply #22 on: March 26, 2009, 09:23:41 PM »

<< I would say a typical speed used on the air would be in the range of 15-20 wpm. >>

So then 'standard' CW over the air is within the realm of a straight key.

It does seem that the fellow I replied to above was the only one that didn't recommend using a straight key.  But everyone else recommends that I should go with that first.

<<I can understand your aversion to keyboards.>>

Yeah...simply put, that is "cheating."

<<I've used straight key, bug, single lever paddle, iambic paddle, and keyboard. My own preference is a single lever paddle, just because it feels good.>>

Do you need a keyer for a single paddle or is it a standard two terminal connection to the rig?

<<Whatever choice you make, I wish you the best of luck with it.

73 de John/AD7WN>>

Well, I have the straight key already, so I may as well run with that first.

Question:  Would it make sense to get a paddle now and try it while also using a straight key, so this way I can do a direct comparison?  Or for learning purposes that isn't such a good idea?

Thanx,

Geo
Logged
W8ZNX
Member

Posts: 1




Ignore
« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2009, 01:51:35 AM »

Geo

re
so standard cw over the air is  within the realm of a straight key

hell yes

you got a key
get on the air and use it
don't worry

you will make mistakes
lots of mistakes

it does not matter
don't worry

at first it scary
but it gets easier

you can do it
far too many new ops simply worry too much

that high speed qsk op blasting away at 40 wpm
was once a new op
with a straight key doing all of 8 wpm
and making all kinds of mistakes

get on
you will have  lots of fun

MOST OF ALL DON'T WORRY

yours truly
mac
Logged
N2EY
Member

Posts: 3833




Ignore
« Reply #24 on: March 27, 2009, 06:28:58 AM »

For the first 7 years I was a ham, all I had was a WW2 surplus J-37 straight key. (42 years licensed now). Then I got a Vibroplex Original bug (standard model) which has been my main key ever since. The straight key experience really helped me learn to use the bug correctly. Nobody knows I'm using a semiautomatic key until I tell them.

IMHO the main problems people have with bugs are:

1) Not all bugs are worth using. In the 1960s-70s there were some cheap imported models that were absolutely terrible.

2) Improper adjustment. Unlike paddles, there's a whole sequence of adjustments that have to be made in order. And unlike paddles, the lever has to travel a certain amount to make dots. I can't tell you how many bugs I've seen that were woefully out of adjustment.

3) Lack of practice/experience with a straight key. Unlike most keyers, a bug won't force proper spacing, nor proper-length dashes. You have to do all that yourself.

The biggest problem with bugs today is that new ones and even good used ones are quite expensive. So you want to take your time making a decision.

Someone mentioned that every rig today has a keyer built in, so all you need are paddles. That's true of most current-production HF rigs, but completely untrue of the older stuff that you are most interested in such as the HW-16, SB-401, TS-520, etc. That's because putting an electronic keyer into a rig only became common when rigs became microprocessor-based.

So if you go the electronic-keyer-and-paddles route, you're likely to need a stand-alone electronic keyer.

Which brings up one more issue: Keying voltages and currents.

The keying circuits of current-production rigs put only a few volts/mills across the key. Almost anything will key them easily.

Older rigs, particularly tube rigs, usually had much higher energy keying circuits. A typical tube rig with blocked-grid keying might put 90-100 volts and a few milliamps across the key circuit. Older rigs that used cathode keying could put well over 100 volts and a couple hundred milliamps across the key. And the polarity could be negative or positive.

The first concern is safety; when you're using a rig like that it's important to connect the key so that most of the metal is on the grounded side of the keying circuit.

The second concern is that many electronic keyers, particularly modern ones, aren't set up for high voltage or current circuits. So you may need some sort of interface. Straight keys and bugs, OTOH, can key anything.

73 de Jim, N2EY
Logged
N3QE
Member

Posts: 2029




Ignore
« Reply #25 on: March 27, 2009, 07:32:38 AM »

It's not just that using a keyboard is "cheating"... but not knowing how to use a keyboard to send CW (but doing it anyway) is about as blatantly obvious as not knowing how to use a bug to send CW (but doing it anyway).

There are folks who know how to use a keyboard to send CW. But those who don't stick out like a sore thumb. Usually evidenced by a lack of prosigns, an excess of unnecessary punctuation, and typos as opposed to "sendos".

Not that any sending method is immune to mistakes, but the mistakes made by a newbie with a straight key at low WPM are very easy to forgive. It's far far harder to forgive someone generating perfectly formed gibberish with a computer keyboard or to forgive someone who doesn't know how to use a bug always having the wrong number of dits or to forgive someone who doesn't know how to work his iambic keyer.

Tim.
Logged
JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




Ignore
« Reply #26 on: March 27, 2009, 12:00:23 PM »

Hello Mac

<<so standard cw over the air is within the realm of a straight key

hell yes

you got a key
get on the air and use it
don't worry >>

Ok, that sounds good to me.  

<<you will make mistakes
lots of mistakes

it does not matter
don't worry

at first it scary
but it gets easier

you can do it
far too many new ops simply worry too much>>

Perhaps.  I guess I didn't now what you could be capable of doing with a straight key versus what is actually being sent and received on the air.  I have heard some example code on mp3's and also on YouTube posts and they seemed pretty fast to me.

<<that high speed qsk op blasting away at 40 wpm
was once a new op
with a straight key doing all of 8 wpm
and making all kinds of mistakes>>

That was a concern of mine.  I thought that most ops do send fast code over the CW stations.  But apparently there seems to be stations that send/receive 'slow code' too.

<<get on
you will have lots of fun

MOST OF ALL DON'T WORRY>>

Well, I first have to learn the code.  I am gathering parts to build my tube based CPO as we speak. So I should have something put together in a couple weeks.  In the meantime I have been looking into the various programs that were suggested to me for using the Koch method to learn code.  So we will see how I make out with that.

BTW, what are you using to type these messages?  It is coming out here in 'poem' format

Thanx,

Geo
Logged
JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




Ignore
« Reply #27 on: March 27, 2009, 12:22:11 PM »

Hello Jim,

I read through the first part of your post in regards to the 'problems' with bugs.  The past couple of days I have been reading this and it does seem that because of what you mentioned, there are many that prefer the paddles/keyer over a bug.  However, you DID fully illustrate what it is that I don't like about a keyer based rig.

So I will jump to that part of your post:

<<Someone mentioned that every rig today has a keyer built in, so all you need are paddles. That's true of most current-production HF rigs, but completely untrue of the older stuff that you are most interested in such as the HW-16, SB-401, TS-520, etc. That's because putting an electronic keyer into a rig only became common when rigs became microprocessor-based.>>

I kind of figured that the person who posted that was incorrect right off the bat.  I have seen what Iambic keys look like and right away the first thing that threw me off was the three wire connection.  Also I surmised that some kind of circuit (which I now know is called a keyer) must from the dits and dashes.  Of all the radios I expressed an interest in, they only have a two terminal physical "key" connection.  

<<So if you go the electronic-keyer-and-paddles route, you're likely to need a stand-alone electronic keyer.>>

Precisely what I was thinking.

<<Which brings up one more issue: Keying voltages and currents.

The keying circuits of current-production rigs put only a few volts/mills across the key. Almost anything will key them easily.

Older rigs, particularly tube rigs, usually had much higher energy keying circuits. A typical tube rig with blocked-grid keying might put 90-100 volts and a few milliamps across the key circuit. Older rigs that used cathode keying could put well over 100 volts and a couple hundred milliamps across the key. And the polarity could be negative or positive.>>

Yes, I have seen this on the Heath rigs which usually use about a -150volts to the key.

<<The first concern is safety; when you're using a rig like that it's important to connect the key so that most of the metal is on the grounded side of the keying circuit.>>

If I am to use the straight Navy key I have, this is not an issue.  This key is totally enclosed. However, I also have an open Bunnell key.  I am probably not going to use that one.

The thing though is that I have noticed that bugs have quite a bit of exposed metal. So I do hear what you are saying about making sure most of that metal is on the grounded side of things.

<<The second concern is that many electronic keyers, particularly modern ones, aren't set up for high voltage or current circuits. So you may need some sort of interface. Straight keys and bugs, OTOH, can key anything.>>

This what you mention right here is why I decided on the bug initially.  I don't have to worry about a keyer and it will work on all rigs.

But since it seems the best choice to start out with is going with a straight key, then so be it.  I will just use my Navy key and I should be good to go.

Thanx,

Geo
Logged
JUKINGEO
Member

Posts: 31




Ignore
« Reply #28 on: March 27, 2009, 12:27:15 PM »

Hello Tim

<<Not that any sending method is immune to mistakes, but the mistakes made by a newbie with a straight key at low WPM are very easy to forgive. It's far far harder to forgive someone generating perfectly formed gibberish with a computer keyboard or to forgive someone who doesn't know how to use a bug always having the wrong number of dits or to forgive someone who doesn't know how to work his iambic keyer.>>

Ok, understood.

I guess then I will start off with the straight key first until I progress in speed to where I need something better.  From there I will then probably persue the bug or a paddle that doesn't need a keyer.  For the most part I know will probably stick with older rigs.  Just me, I guess.  I like tubes Smiley.

Thanx again for the info!
Geo
Logged
VA7CPC
Member

Posts: 2354




Ignore
« Reply #29 on: March 28, 2009, 02:23:55 AM »

>>>
I guess then I will start off with the straight key first until I progress in speed to where I need something better. From there I will then probably persue the bug or a paddle that doesn't need a keyer. For the most part I know will probably stick with older rigs. Just me, I guess. I like tubes Smiley.
<<<

Each to his own.  I tried a straight key when learning CW, and immediately (at 7 wpm) switched to a paddle and keyer.  I didnt' see any reason to subject a listener to my poor straight-key sending, when I could send _perfectly_ with the paddle.

_Every_ paddle needs a keyer, if it's used as a paddle (dits one side, dahs the other side).

For "pure vintage" CW (no electronic keyer), you have three choices:

. . . straight key

. . . bug

. . . sideswiper

Nobody has mentioned the sideswiper yet, but it has deep historical roots.  There's a good introduction on the Web:

www.mtechnologies.com/cootie.htm

It's simple, completely mechanical, faster than a straight key, and less likely to give you tendonitis.

If you want to, you can wire a paddle as a sideswiper by paralleling the dit and day contacts.  But it's easy to fashion a sideswiper out of a hacksaw blade and some small bolts.  There's a long tradition of that kind of improvisation.

If you haven't found "The Art and Skill of Radio Telegraphy", you'll enjoy it:

www.qsl.net/n9bor/n0hff.htm

If you want to check your sending, download a copy of "CWGet" (CW-reading software), and send the output of your code-practice oscillator to your computer sound card input.

If CWGet prints what you _think_ you're sending, with a straight key, you have an exceptionally good fist.

       Charles
Logged
Pages: Prev 1 [2] 3 4 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!