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Reviews Categories | Keys & Paddles | Alberto Frattini Semi Magnetico Help

Reviews Summary for Alberto Frattini Semi Magnetico
Alberto Frattini Semi Magnetico Reviews: 13 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $650USD
Description: Unique dual-action bug with magnetic returns. Brass with protective coating. Made in very small numbers by hand.
Product is in production.
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KI4DBK Rating: 5/5 Apr 25, 2005 21:24 Send this review to a friend
Absolutely Beautiful!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I received my Semi Magnetico, or Semiautomatico as Alberto calls it, shortly after NN0B received his. If I remember correctly, he told me he received serial number 78. Mine was number 80 and the appearance is flawless. I must say that I agree with the appraisal the other guys have given to this key's finish and have to admit that it is the best looking all brass key I have ever seen.

It comes furnished with two weights which are cut in the style of a Vibroplex Champion/Lightning Bug/Zephyr. I found that removing the smaller of the two and placing the larger weight about mid way to the end provided a good starting speed of 30-35 wpm with which I could start getting using to sending with the key. Adjusting this key is challenging and quite a bit more complex than your run of the mill bug, since there are two magnets (one attractive and one repulsive) that help govern the action of the moving dot contact. This key can be set up to create a string of dits with very little displacement of the lever and the seperate dash side can be set as close as a top quality magnetic iambic paddle, since that is exactly what that half of the dual lever bug functions as. Because of this, the Semi Magnetico has the silkiest action of any bug I have seen.

At the same time (just as Ulrich mentioned) I noticed that the light touch of this bug made it easy for me to forget I was on a bug and let the paddle instincts and muscle memories take over, leading to error. Another challenge in the use of the Semi Magnetico is that it tends to be quite sensitive to any sort of vibrations carried by the U-spring which holds the moving dit contact. Another thing which may cause this is if there is vertical play in the dot lever trunion. To tighten this and lock it down requres a 5.5 mm ignition wrench or similar. It was pretty easy for me to locate, but may be difficult for some.

In any case, the beauty and sigular touch of this one of a kind key makes any effort well worth the end result. I would highly recommend this key to anyone interested in obtaining the best and most beautifully constructed code sending devices ever built.

Thanks: I1QOD, NN0B, DJ8GO
NN0B Rating: 5/5 Mar 24, 2005 10:41 Send this review to a friend
Truly Magnificent  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Being a great fan of Ulrich Steinberg, DJ8GO, I was immediately taken by his description of the Semimagnetico. As somewhat of a collector, I have 30 bugs from most of the major manufacturers, including a prized GHD, I was curious to see what excited Ulrich so much. I ordered my Semimagnetico about six months ago at the same time I ordered my Begali Graciella.

The Begali arrived in January, and the Semimagnetico arrived yesterday. My friends were blown away by the beauty and feel of the Begali. I plan to have an ambulance standing by when I show them the Semimagnetico at our weekly breakfast this Saturday. The Frattini key really IS that impressive.

I certainly don't mean to slight the Begali--it is truly a work of art, and I would buy it again in a heartbeat. But the Frattini is a magnificent example of "industrial design as art" which would be instantly appreciated by people who love the look of an exotic race car engine or the lines of a powerful railroad locomotive. If you believe that form follows function, you will love the Frattini bug, as it is function raised to an art form.

To start with, it is massive. I have never seen a real Melihan Valiant, but I imagine it wouldn't be much bigger or heavier. It is solid brass and weighs more than seven pounds. It costs 50 Euros to ship.

Secondly, Alberto has not plated, painted, or powder-coated the metal at all. He simply gives it the most beautiful finish I have ever seen, a sort of burnished matte finish that is more attractive than the bright chrome of many of my other bugs. It's too bad that the photograph above cannot do justice to its beauty.

Finally, the feel appeals to the sense of touch. I have never used a mechanical key that moved so smoothly. Most paddles don't even feel that good (except for the Graciella). The key has several more adjustments than a normal bug, and I am still exploring them, but no setting I tried was anything other than silky.

While I appreciate all of my small collection from a historical as well as a design perspective, there is no denying that pride of place goes to the Begali for paddles and the Frattini for bugs. Since Alberto is one of the most decent gentlemen I have ever dealt with, I will also soon be ordering his Iambic paddles. I haven't mentioned that to my Graciella yet. I don't want her to worry.

Alberto can be reached at
Send him an email and you will never be sorry that you did.

N2DE Rating: 5/5 Jan 10, 2004 19:02 Send this review to a friend
Incredible !  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Alberto Frattini, I1QOD, is one of the fastest CW operators on the planet, and he uses mostly manual keys which he builds himself.

When I saw a photo of his unique dual-action bug I knew that I had to have one, which is easier said than done because he builds them mainly for his own use, and you can’t just reach for your wallet and order one. But eventually I was able to convince him to sell me one, and he even warmed to the idea to make a few more that will be for sale if there is enough interest.

This bug looks like an object out of a jewelers display which was what attracted me in the first place. But beauty is only a small part of the story. Alberto was an aircraft mechanic before his retirement, and he built an instrument of absolute precision and with features that I haven’t seen anywhere else in this combination.

This is a dual-action bug which means that the transition between dits and dahs requires less movement than in a single-action bug (where a V may sound like ST at higher speeds). It uses repulsive magnets to control the tension for each side, which can be adjusted more precisely and hold the settings better than springs. It also has an additional attractive magnet mounted close to the vibrator, and the purpose of that is not immediately obvious: it produces a tiny „sticking" effect which activates the vibrator with a minimal displacement. To produce a string of dits you have to move the paddle ever so lightly - no need to „bang" it against a stop. That magnet also improves the damping action, which is absolutely silent due to a damper with an additional rubber ring. This bug is incredibly smooth and quiet! I am not really a heavy bug user and feel much more at home with my Begali paddles, but this bug helped me rediscover my roots before electronic keyers. Of course I am tempted every now and then to use it like a iambic key with less than desirable results - but when I really concentrate I can produce smooth CW as fast as I can copy, and with an unmistakable personal handwriting that I remember from way back when.

The bug is built from highly polished brass which is coated with a clear varnish for corrosion protection, and it is very heavy at more than 7 pounds. This means that it won’t walk around on your table even if you abuse it - but it also means that airmail shipment from Italy is an expensive proposition.

If you are interested you should contact Alberto at - he doesn’t have a website. These bugs are made painstakingly by hand, and you may have to curb your impatience for a while - but when you eventually hold one in your hands it will have been worth the wait.
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