1st CW Key

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by N4HFO, Nov 9, 2018.

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  1. N4HFO

    N4HFO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just wondering,
    what your First Key was?
    and now what's your favorite?
    Attach a picture if you can.

    73s Jeff
  2. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    First key was an Ameco K4, many years ago.

    Now that I have returned to amateur radio, my favorite is a Magnetic Classic and I use a ZN-HK for straight key activities -

    Magnetic Classic and ZN-HK sm.jpg
    The K4 had ball bearings, too, but they were nothing like the bearings these keys have!
  3. KA3CTQ

    KA3CTQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    My first key I used was a Heathkit Electronic Keyer. I still have the original one I used back in 1979 plus an additional one someone gifted me.


    I also have a pair of J-38 straight keys that I use.

    I don't have a favorite, but I do use the straight keys more often than the keyer now.
    N4FZ likes this.
  4. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I bought my first key at a hamfest in Belmar, NJ in 1992. I was still waiting for my license to come in the mail. Check out this behemoth, made of plexi in someone's garage:

    I used that for many, many years, and even broke it out for fun last year. As for my 'favorite' key, it really depends on the day:

    That's about half of them. I am a sucker for a J-37, so if I had to pick just one key that I would have to use for the rest of my life, it would be a J-37.
    K0UO, K6GB and K9ZMD like this.
  5. W5WTH

    W5WTH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I guess this counts; my 1st key was the key that is built on board to the QCX.
    N2SUB likes this.
  6. N5CM

    N5CM Ham Member QRZ Page

    My first key was a Ten-Tec KR-5A keyer with built-in single paddle. Still have it. Used it with my Ten-Tec Century 21.

    Later on, I got a Brown Brothers Model CTL-B and an Autek MK-1 keyer at a ham auction in Houston, TX. Still using the Brown Bros./Autek, and I suppose it's my favorite. When my dad went SK, I got his old J-38 and and another Brown Bros. CTL-B.

    After returning to amateur Radio earlier this year, I joined SKCC and FISTS to help get my ears back up to speed. For that, i'm using the J-38 and enjoying it. It has a really nice feel to it when I do my part correctly.
  7. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    My first key was one of these Ameco plastic "Midnight Specials:"


    But I only ever used it with a Heathkit Code Practice oscillator I built.

    When I was getting ready to go on the air, I got myself an Ameco K-4; it was the first key I ever used on air (as it was for many, many others!):


    I still have the K-4; it is my back-up key. But my favorite key now is my WWII Surplus and ex-University of Texas NROTC CW class "CL" key:

    K0UO, WA1GXC and N4FZ like this.
  8. KQ4MM

    KQ4MM XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    First key was a Bencher BY-1, still have it but dont use it anymore


    Have a collection of old brass keys and military J37s but my favorite key and the one I use every day
    is my Bunnell double speed key


    Another favorite is this 1880s solid base Bunnell key, its amazing to send code on something over 120 years old and predating radio. I often wonder what messages it might have sent back in its heyday..

    K0UO, KN4ICU, N7BDY and 1 other person like this.
  9. W1TRY

    W1TRY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    My first key was also something like the Ameco K-4 as shown by WB5YUZ above. My first rig was a Heathkit HW-16 in 1972 and I'm sure I bought a key at the same time as the kit. A basic cheap key that was good enough to get on the air, and if I still had it, I'm sure it would be pretty worthless. It got the job done at the time.
  10. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well, not worthless! That's why I keep mine as a backup in case something ever happens to my CLT.

    But if anything ever happens to my CLT, I will be saddened. I think I will donate it to UT when I die. I just wish I had thought to ask for provenance of some kind when the Chief gave it to me, so I could prove it was indeed used by Naval Aviation Cadets (and probably a whole generation of them).
    W1TRY likes this.

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