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Reviews Categories | Keys & Paddles | Bencher Hex Key Help

Reviews Summary for Bencher Hex Key
Bencher Hex Key Reviews: 25 Average rating: 4.8/5 MSRP: $195
Description: Iambic Paddle, gold plated silver contacts, molded acrylic finger pads, magnetic tension adjustment, adjustable contact spacing, powder coated steel base.
Product is in production.
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K2JN Rating: 5/5 Feb 6, 2012 09:38 Send this review to a friend
Well made..  Time owned: more than 12 months
Unlike other commercial keys I've purchased in the past, the Bencher Hex Key is well-made with no flaws or defects. Even the serial number is correctly aligned and centered. It's also heavy, has a nice finish and the action feels smooth to the touch. In typical Bencher style, there is an adjustment wrench fastened to the bottom of the key along with high-grade cable attachment points. Overall, I'm happy with my purchase and glad to own a quality American product.
AA6VB Rating: 5/5 Feb 5, 2012 19:20 Send this review to a friend
Very Nice Feel  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought this to replace a BY-1 I had been using for 15 years.

This key is velvet smooth and I like the solid feel when the contacts are closed. The key has seen almost daily usage for 5 years and has not needed a single adjustment. Very well made key, that looks good and is heavy enough to stay put on the desk. I highly recommend this key and just wish I had bought it sooner!
W6UV Rating: 4/5 Feb 5, 2011 22:18 Send this review to a friend
Good, but less than great  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I bought one of these to replace a Bencher BY-1 I bought in 1980. The BY-1 was damaged in a recent move, so it was time to shop for something a little more modern.

One of the things I dislike about the BY-1 series is their tendency to fly apart under vigorous keying. I normally have a light touch, but can really slap a paddle around in the heat of working a new one. I've lost at least a few new ones due to the key coming apart at the wrong moment.

The Hex Key doesn't use trunnion bearings like those used by the BY-1 keys. It uses ball bearings, and these lend a feeling of solidity to the key. There's no slinky spring either; paddle return tension is via magnets. I don't think it's possible for even the heaviest hand to worry about making this key go to pieces in the middle of a contact.

There are some design elements that I feel the designers got wrong. The magnets are placed at the very end of the arms rather than as close to the pivot point as possible to minimize angular momentum.

The posts holding the fixed magnets are the typical Bencher round posts secured by a screw inserted from the bottom of the key's base. Turning this screw with a screwdriver results in moving the magnet away from a perfectly parallel position relative to the magnets on the key's arms and this can be fiddly to adjust. Ditto for the posts holding the contacts, which appear to be identical to those used on the BY-1 series.

Bencher got several things right with this key. They use spade lugs for the cable connections. This makes connecting the cable much easier--no soldering required. The base is heavy and stays put on the operating desk, even when being vigorously slapped around.

While perfectly functional, this key has an industrial look to it and lacks style. It's certainly no Begali or N3ZN, and with its $250 list price, is not exactly cheap either. If I had to do it again, I'd save my pennies a little longer and get an Italian or N3ZN key.

WA6MOW Rating: 5/5 Jun 4, 2010 13:30 Send this review to a friend
Quality American Product  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Looks nice on my desk, and for my sending techniques, feels good. I like the heavy appearance and prefer black and chrome over polished brass. A paddle setting is very individual in nature so what I like may not suit your needs. I always buy used paddles(other than a new Begalli). If a paddle does not feel right to me, I can usually sell it and get my money back. They hold their value nicely. I think this paddle will be one of my keepers.
W9MT Rating: 5/5 May 14, 2010 22:55 Send this review to a friend
Good key.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Just getting back into CW again and wanted something better than my Heathkit HD-14 or my MFJ-564B Iambic key. The magnetic tensioning smoothness and overall quality of workmanship on the Bencher Hex Key will make working CW a joy, even though I totally agree with the minor shortcomings outlined by the previous reviewers. It may not be a Mercury, but it's waaaaay better than what I've used up to now. The sub-$55 price I paid on eBay makes this acquisition especially sweet.
W9MT Rating: 5/5 May 14, 2010 22:49 Send this review to a friend
I'm happy !!!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've used a Heathkit HD-14 and an MFJ-564B (black base) up 'til now. (Yes, I know...I know...I've been a ham for nearly 40 years, and although being "shamed by friends" into becoming a 20WPM Extra in early-Y2K before the CW requirements changed, I'm still not a "true afficionado" who can copy and send at a 30+ WPM blur.) I can and DO, however, recognize distinctly better quality of workmanship and overall feel than "what I'm used to". There is much less wiggle-slop than the MFJ-564B has, and the pivot bearings and magnetic tensioning on the Hex Key are A-#1 smoooooth. I will also grant that after playing with its adjustments, I do agree with the minor shortcomings outlined by the previous reviewers. The Bencher Hex Key, however, "has EXACTLY what I need" for a more enjoyable CW sending experience. I already know I'm going to like getting back into working more CW via my "sub-$55" eBay purchase of this key !!! Later, I may consider stepping up to a Mercury or similar when I do graduate to the 30+ WPM stratosphere (but not yet).
N4LQ Rating: 5/5 Sep 7, 2008 09:17 Send this review to a friend
One of the best at any price  Time owned: more than 12 months
This is a very well constructed and reliable key. It is heavy enough so it will not slide around the desk. The only thing that annoys me is the twang sound produced by the metal post as the levers strike them. It's a not a loud noise but just unusual and doesn't really affect your keying. I've had this key for about 3 years now and it's often used but my Brown Bro. paddles are my favorite.
KQ4MK Rating: 5/5 Jun 18, 2008 18:18 Send this review to a friend
I like it!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I have used a number of keys and paddles over the years, and I tried the Hex Key, and liked it enough to buy one. Mine is S/N 502, and I love it. I can't say that it is the best, but it is among the best in all respects. Considering that my CW comfort zone peaks at about 30 WPM, I might be missing some magic feel delivered by other tools that happens beyond that speed range.

For me though, this setup rocks. I highly recommend it, and I think the magnets and contacts are correctly placed from a mechanical engineering standpoint. To switch locations would create a heavy handed, sloppy disaster of a paddle set.

NN0B Rating: 3/5 Oct 7, 2007 21:37 Send this review to a friend
Attractive, but not much more  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have serial number 16, from the first lot made and sold. It didn't work when I received it, and I discovered that the holes in the base for mounting the contact posts were powder coated through their full length. Since the key relies on contact between the post mounting screws and the base to complete contact, there was an open circuit, even when the contacts were closed. I notified Bencher, and I hope that they resolved the problem in subsequent runs. After fixing the problem, the key worked well enough, but it is definitely not in the same class with the Begalis, Schurr, Frattini, GHD, or even the Kent and Brown Brothers paddles that I own. In fact, the Brown Brothers paddles feel much better, and you can usually get them cheaper.

I do understand that the Hex key was intended to be an affordable imitation of the N2DAN Mercury key, and I applaud Bencher's efforts. But having used both, I can see where the difference in price went. The Hex key cannot compare with the Mercury in terms of feel or adjustment.

If you want a key that is more attractive than the other Bencher keys, and that doesn't come apart in use like some of them do, by all means buy the Hex key. However, the other bencher keys work just as well, and they don't cost nearly as much.

I consider the Hex key to be a very attractive, and expensive, mid-level key which will work well for most users and should last a long time. I keep mine in the box as part of my collection, but I use the Brown Brothers CTL-B on the air.
W5LXG Rating: 5/5 Sep 29, 2007 09:39 Send this review to a friend
Wondeful action  Time owned: more than 12 months
Mine is the very early Bencher model.After 50 years of spring keys/paddles, finally graduated to magnetics. Superior feel. Easy, smooth adjustments. My two old Bencher spring paddles seem to have taken a "set" and refuse to adjust anymore. I endorse all the previous positive reviews, they are true.
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