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Reviews Categories | Keys & Paddles | Bencher ST-2 Single Paddle Keyer Help

Reviews Summary for Bencher ST-2 Single Paddle Keyer
Bencher ST-2 Single Paddle Keyer Reviews: 6 Average rating: 4.5/5 MSRP: $120
Description: Bencher paddles are offered in two types - the iambic BY series, and non-iambic ST series. If you are new to using paddles and electronic keyers, select the iambic paddle. If you are accustomed to single lever non-iambic paddles, Bencher ST models will delight you.
Product is in production.
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N4UFO Rating: 4/5 Nov 17, 2010 16:14 Send this review to a friend
For 'slappers' only  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have used single paddle keys for most of my 'ham career'. I used to be a 'slapper', meaning I was vigorous with the paddle, much like a bug user, despite the fact I've never used a bug. But about 7-8 years ago I developed a work related 'repetitive injury' involving my thumb; the equivalent of carpal tunnel syndrome. CW became painful and I gave up the hobby for awhile, selling or giving away most all my gear.

Fast forward to the present... new place, new house... thumb doing better. Wife suggests I get back into radio. I jump in headfirst! I had saved an old Vibrokeyer that was a backup key, but I needed to tighten it up and go with a subtle touch instead of slapping anymore. I was unable to ever adjust it to suit me. So I purchased a used Bencher BY-2 key. It was MUCH better... but I still had some problems with keying properly... kept dropping dits or getting an extra one. I thought that using single paddle style (non-squeeze) on iambic paddles was to blame. So I ordered a brand new Bencher ST-2.

To elaborate on the last poster's observations, I too, found the key very 'mushy'. I tried adjusting spring tension, I tried different spacings, etc. The problem is this: With the BY-1/2 paddles, each side rests on a nylon bushing but pivots on a pointed pivot screw. The effect is a very smooth, effortless mechanical movement. But with the ST-1/2 paddles, the two paddles are as one unit. They rest on two sets of bushings, but there are no pivot screws. Instead, it rests on one set of bushings and pivots on the other depending on direction of movement.

The problem being, if you are using small, sensitive movements, the bushings just cannot provide as smooth of movement as the pivot screw. Why would they design it this way? Because it is a modification of the other design and these paddles are marketed for ex-bug users who tend to use a paddle vigorously... get very physical with them... in other words, a "slapper". A person who uses a key in such a manner will likely never notice a bit of difference and be very pleased with this key. But for someone like myself or the last poster, it is just not smooth enough or responsive enough to suit us.

End result, I boxed the key back up and returned it to the online retailer from whom I purchased it. A call to tech support at Bencher confirmed that someone like me, light touch with an injury, would be much happier with a BY-2. What I found out by comparing the two paddles side by side is that the feet on my (30 year?) old paddles have gotten hard; as hard as plastic! I believe some of my paddle effort is lost in the key sliding (or trying to slide) ever so slightly on the table and I am not able to hold or release the individual paddles correctly... New non-skid rubber feet are on their way from Bencher!

Secondly, when I ordered the new key, I also ordered a 'hook up kit' with a smaller plug for a new electronic keyer I recently purchased. (The old one is... well, OLD, and the new one also had a keyboard to send with.... in case the thumb starts bothering me again.) I wired up the old paddles to the new keyer and found quite a bit of improvement. I think for my particular issue, the electronics can make a difference.

I know I wrote about much more than the product being reviewed, but I wanted to pass on my experience to anyone else in a similar situation. The product IS a good one... for the market that is is targeted for: ex-bug users. I'd like to give it a five because it is fine for it's intended audience, but frankly, I have to knock off a point in fairness because they could have redesigned the key a bit better for all users, instead of just modifying the dual paddle design for one market.

Still... hard to beat a Bencher for overall quality at it's price! My shined up 30 year old Bencher still looks almost new!!!
VA7CPC Rating: 3/5 Nov 30, 2009 20:04 Send this review to a friend
Bad design, flawed performance  Time owned: more than 12 months
My experience may be unusual, and my paddle came from eBay, not directly from Bencher. But it's not working well for me.

There are four bearing points on the ST-series paddles. Push for a dit, and the plate holding the contacts lifts off the two left-hand points, and pivots on the right-hand points. Push for a dah, it lifts off the right-hand points, and pivots on the right-hand two points.

If the 4 bearing points aren't _exactly_ in a plane, the "neutral position" of the paddle isn't well defined, and the action feels "mushy".

That's how my ST-2 feels -- mushy. I can't use it with really tight contact spacing, or low spring tension. And it won't stay put on the desk as a "slap paddle", with high spring tension and wide spacing.

I've disassembled it, and checked the bearing points against a piece of plate glass -- and sure enough, the bearing plate (with its four sharp points) rocks _just a little bit_ on the glass. The bearing points aren't adjustable.

I'm going to chase this problem with Bencher -- I might have another review in a while. But for the time being, my SP-2 has been suspended from active duty.

[The iambic Bencher BY-1 doesn't have this design problem, and a little bit of "unflatness" doesn't bother it. It's nice and crisp -- I like mine a lot.]

I'm sorry to take so long to describe a problem that's caused by a few thousands of an inch of mis-alignment.

K8WV Rating: 5/5 Mar 26, 2008 20:17 Send this review to a friend
Very Worthy Paddle  Time owned: more than 12 months
I started on a straight key, and used it exclusively for more than 8 years. Then I used a bug. It was a nice key. Then a Brown Brothers BTL-A iambic paddle (I like it a lot). But I picked up a very well worn (cheap) ST-1 on eBay. The ST-1 is the black base version of the chrome ST-2. This is a great paddle - especially when I'm tired. A single level paddle is very forgiving, and, as other have said, if you started on a bug . . ..

It has a massive base and smooth action. If you've been uncomfortable with an iambic paddle, try an ST series Bencher. CW lives!
NR4AW Rating: 5/5 Sep 21, 2006 17:06 Send this review to a friend
Nice Key!  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
Bought this key as my first paddle to kick my speed up a notch from a straght key. Very nice key in all respects! Has a very firm feel and plenty of adjustment for my very physical style of sending. Wish the BY-1 had the same feel.
K7ABV Rating: 5/5 Feb 29, 2004 15:48 Send this review to a friend
works great  Time owned: more than 12 months
I was prompted by the first reviewer to write a word about the single lever st-2 bencher. I have used it for many years and feel it is a fine key.I have tried iambic and guess feel more at ease with the single lever paddle..first bug was in 1958 so maybe that is why hi...If you like single lever, this one is smooth and doesn't make loud clicks when sending code, unlike another model I don't want to mention...I am happy with this key and would recommend it ..I adjusted it once and have never had to redue it
WK0F Rating: 5/5 Feb 28, 2004 22:41 Send this review to a friend
Well kept Secret  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I can't understand why this key hasn't been reviewed before. It is the kissing cousin to the famous BY-1 but it's the non-iambic version. Perfect for us that are used to a bug or a single paddle keyer. It is silky smooth and easy to adjust. I have used a Vibrokeyer for years, and boy what a difference. Found this one new on an auction for $75 (NIB). This one's a keeper!

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