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Reviews Categories | Keys & Paddles | Vibroplex Straight Key - Standard Help

Reviews Summary for Vibroplex Straight Key - Standard
Vibroplex Straight Key - Standard Reviews: 18 Average rating: 3.6/5 MSRP: $159.95
Description: A heavy solid steel base anchors the straight key to the operating position. The lever arm pivots in the famous chromed mainframe. A stainless steel spring allows complete control of the tension. And, of course, the Straight Key has the famous brass Vibroplex logo plate with a unique serial number pinned to the top of the base with stainless steel pins.
Product is in production.
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NY7Q Rating: 0/5 May 16, 2018 14:16 Send this review to a friend
STRAIGHT KEY IS ZERO  Time owned: more than 12 months
Bought my first VPlex in 1956 and several since. I tried out the straight key, and was sorely disappointed. No real feel. Recently bought a VPlex square key, just can't get it adjusted correctly. Over last year or so, bought CW Morse mini straight keys (seven of them) use them daily. Compared to to VPplex, they are superior with excellent feel and very smooth. I am about done with Vibroplex after all these years. Comparing VPlex to CW MORSE HAND KEYS, the Delgado boys are light years ahead of Vibroplex.
WB5AGF Rating: 4/5 May 16, 2018 00:48 Send this review to a friend
Basic Design OK - Subtle Details Not Thought Out  Time owned: more than 12 months
I collect Morse keys ... mostly straight (i.e. non semi-automatic) ones. There are some brilliant people in this backwater-of-technology ... I am moderately good in understanding the basics.

My fascination is in understanding the subtle inter-relationships of how the various parts of a key work together to produce the overall effect.

As has already been said Vibroplex managed to use parts from their semi-automatic bug design in the building of this straight key. I think that it looks slightly peculiar but looks are secondary to performance ... and this key works OK once some attention is given to the spring set-up.

In my experience roughly three-out-of-four straight keys have springs that are grossly too stiff. (A refreshing exception - the Ted McElroy 'Stream' keys, from the late 1930s, have wonderfully selected springs.)

Another reviewer noted that the Vibroplex straight key didn't give him the tactile feedback he wanted - no significant mechanical pulse coming back through the knob to his fingers when the lever arm hits its 'stop' (the gap adjusting screw). This is a common problem with straight keys and it most often is due to the use of a too-stiff spring. (The wrong choice of materials for the base and lever arm can also cause this.)

With a too-stiff spring the spring tension-adjusting screw (that pushes down on the spring) has to be backed-off to where it is barely touching the top of the spring. This results in a situation where the spring generated force is at its minimum when the key contacts are fully open (i.e. when the gap adjusting screw is hitting the base of the key).

With a weaker spring, one in which the tension adjusting screw can be adjusted so that the spring is roughly half-way through its range of compression, the spring-generated force is more nearly constant both when the contacts are touching (i.e. the knob is fully depressed) and when they are open (i.e. when the operator has lifted back up on the knob). In this situation there is still some spring-generated force to push the tip of the gap adjusting screw down on the base of the key .... and (in most instances) this is sufficient to generated a compressive shock wave back through the lever arm and through the knob to the operator's fingers (the key feels 'alive').

For the Vibroplex straight key I added a second spring to oppose the spring already in the design as received from Vibroplex. This can work if the existing spring is only slightly too stiff and you want to try-and-preserve the appearance of the overall key (i.e. the 'stock' spring is responsible for part of the overall appearance of the key).

With the inclusion of an 'opposing spring' the tension adjustment can be screwed-down a bit, putting the 'stock spring' somewhere in-the-middle of its compression range, while at the same time the overall force (pushing down on the knob to operate the key) is in a comfortable range.

Once this is done (adding an 'opposing spring') the Vibroplex straight key works well and it feels good during operation.
KT8DX Rating: 5/5 Feb 26, 2017 09:01 Send this review to a friend
Review update  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
After using the key a bit, I started noticing a certain "mushiness" when pressing the key down. Almost like my Nye Viking Master key. Took a close look at it and saw a washer under the arm between the arm and the top adjustable key contact. I theorize that as I am using the key, the adjustable contact mount is acting more like a spring as it wears in. Yuck! So - I simply removed the washer and it is back to crisp rock solid action. Vibroplex, why in the world did you put that little washer in? It serves no purpose that I can see!
N0UY Rating: 5/5 May 17, 2014 07:26 Send this review to a friend
*****Excellent *****  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
This is the 5th straight key I have tried. This is by far my favorite. I have had the Begali Camelback, the K-4 Chines key, the J-38, and the RS clone of the J-38. This key is easily adjusted to suit my operating requirements. I find the action smooth, the knob height great, the weight is enough to keep it in place. The only thing lacking is a good fist. I am a paddle guy for the most part but I do use the straight key when it suits me. I am very pleased with this one.
KC5CQD Rating: 5/5 May 6, 2014 19:15 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Performer  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
The first week I owned this key I would have given it a "3", at best. I hated the feel of it. Then one night I realized that I could remove the "poker chip" from the Navy style knob and suddenly the whole dynamic of the key changed. I fell in love with it! I then spent a few evenings playing around with the adjustment screws until I got it dialed in. Now it's a phenomenal key! As for all of the side play and lack of click....hey, it's a poor musician that blames his instrument. She'll dial in. You just have to have the patience and the know-how to get it all clicking. I love the key and I already want another one.
KB4VVE Rating: 1/5 Aug 30, 2013 20:23 Send this review to a friend
Not recommended  Time owned: more than 12 months
I was advised not to get this but did anyway. Advice was right again. No definitive click on closure, knob rough and way too high, spring to stiff and too much mass in the arm.
I heavily modified mine as I am prone to do with many things. Lowered the knob position by angling the arch and cutting down the contact post, drilled and tapped the arm for a contact screw, polished the knob and installed shorter feet.
I'm not an expert CW type - only been at it since '58 and now up to only 10WPM. OK, I'm slow, but I know what works for me - a J37 or a Speed-X!
Interesting conversation piece, though.
CR7000 Rating: 5/5 Jan 10, 2013 14:19 Send this review to a friend
Good Quality Key  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is a good quality key, out of the box it needed a few adjustments to set it up for me.

A pleasure to use, nice action.

No rough edges just quality all over from start to finish

Maybe vibroplex have upped their game, this one is perfect.

A must for all you straight key users !!
K5RIX Rating: 3/5 Nov 2, 2011 02:33 Send this review to a friend
Cool Oddball Key  Time owned: more than 12 months
A Vibroplex straight key?!!? Mine is the red Know Code key I got just to have one (KC-041). It's plenty hefty and works well, but it will never make you sell your Speed-X. Even though the lever arm extends beyond the base, the key is solid to use. The adjustments are all straightforward and useful, although the knob is up impossibly high off the table. With the cast yoke of a Vibroplex Original adapted for trunnion service, this has to be the bearded lady of straight keys. The navy-style knob has rough edges. The contacts on mine are aligned quite well, but the "click" happens on the rebound, as opposed to contact closure, which rules out using this key without a side tone (how could Vibroplex have anticipated that?).

It is difficult to fault any product made here with the pedigree Vibroplex brings. But I will do so. I actually use it on the air quite a bit, considering its exasperatingly clunky design. But I bought it both out of brand loyalty and to look at it. This key is easily the weirdest one I own, and that characteristic appeals to me. If it were the only key available, I could get by with it handily (as long as I have a side tone). Other than the rough knob edge, the workmanship is flawless. Maybe someday Vibroplex will make a straight key based on Lightning Bug hardware!

It's a decent key, but what's the point? The old reliable J-38, Speed-X, and the other Bunnell clones are all smaller and (properly mounted) easier to use well. Still, I like this key; but not for most of the reasons one should like a key. It's definitely not for a CW beginner. But I really like it.
KK5J Rating: 4/5 Oct 25, 2010 14:25 Send this review to a friend
Vibroplex Straight Key Top Choice  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I was looking for the best straight key I could find. After going through a number of keys, Swedish pumps, Marconi knock-offs, etc, the best key I found was this Vibroplex. The feel of this key is the best I've seen. That includes the old J38s, Junkers, etc. I believe it needs better/smoother adjustment mechanisms hence I didn't rate it a 5.
AB7KT Rating: 5/5 Jul 6, 2010 22:28 Send this review to a friend
I Really Like Mine  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I have eight or ten straight keys and use them on a daily basis.
I really enjoy my Vibroplex Deluxe Straight Key. I like the feel of it and for some reason it seems easier for me to send good accurate code than some other keys I own.
I do agree that the knob looks cheap compared to the rest of the key. Mine seems to look better once it got a little use although it may be that I just got used to it.
I would definitely buy another one immediately if something happened to the one I have now.

As far as looks, IMO it is the best looking key out there. Obviously this is purely a personal preference, but that is mine.
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