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Bencher BY-1 realistic top-end speeds

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KE0EYJ, Nov 13, 2015.

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  1. KE0EYJ

    KE0EYJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I bought a used entry-level Bencher BY-1 as my first key, and don't get me wrong -- I like it a lot. I've been practicing with it this past week.

    A question I have about it, and other, more expensive keys -- do people move up to a better key, eventually, because the newer keys are just better at faster speeds?

    For example, my Bencher seems to work very well for me at below 20wpm (I'm just practicing my callsign at this speed, and am still learning the characters). Once I get above 20 to 23wpm, it seems that I begin making a lot of mistakes that are probably just me, but I suspect very well could be how I have the key set up. I often swear I got a letter right, but other things begin to happen at high speeds. I find that if I practice my callsign at 30wpm, and go back to 23 or so, then I make far fewer mistakes, anyway.

    That is, I suppose, my second question: Should I be turning screws to make the contacts closer together to accommodate the higher speeds?

    (Side note: I am far from making my first QSO, as I still have half of the letters and the other characters to learn, but I can totally see the addiction and satisfaction to this, once you become good).
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2015
  2. N0TZU

    N0TZU Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm sure the CW aficionados will be along, but meantime I can answer one question. Yes, in general move the contacts closer together for higher speed, and more comfort-you don't need to move as much. Ultimately it is personal preference though.
  3. W5BIB

    W5BIB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I wouldn't worry too much about "speed" until you learn all of the characters. Since I use only a straight-key or bug, I can't comment on "paddle / keyer" adjustments. Remember,... It's all about "having fun". :)

    Steve / W5BIB
    WA1GXC and WD4IGX like this.
  4. K7MH

    K7MH Ham Member QRZ Page

    No reason someone can't get silly fast with a Bencher. It's just a matter of practice and getting it comfortably adjusted for you. At slow speeds, the adjustment may not matter so much. At higher speeds you would likely want more precision adjustment. I have friends that use Benchers and they are certainly better CW operators and can go faster than I can.
    Benchers are ubiquitous but then they have good marketing and product availability through many ham radio stores. I have had three or four of them and have one now. Not my favorite though. Mostly I come by them occasionally for cheap because they need parts or repair at hamfests. Buy 'em fix 'em and resell 'em.

    In the higher end keys Begali, N3ZN and stuff like that, you get very precision engineering and machining. Adjustments are very precise no floppy paddles that can come unseated like on a Bencher and tolerances that are very tight. It might be like the difference fly fishing with a $20 Shakespeare fly rod or a $500 Orvis. It's just less work but you PAY for it!
    Most of the really high speed Morse enthusiasts use single lever keys from what I have always understood. I have an old 60's Autronic single lever key that was designed more specifically for high speed use. I am not really sure how well it works for that or how well it sold back then but it is one of my 2 favorite keys and I have quite a pile of them. None are considered high end keys though.
    The Autronic key.. autronic3.JPG
    K8PG likes this.
  5. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've had my Bencher since the 70s when they were 'all the rage'. It can go as fast as I can and that can be bursts of 40+. I'm used to it after 40 yrs and don't see how a newer high priced boutique one could help me any. I normally operate in the 20-25 range outside of contests.

    The poor thing has suffered in the climate down here. I dug it out and refurbed it several years ago.



    Earlier this year I got a new spring (gratis) from the good people now doing the parts. My old one was stretched and rusty. But, alas, I couldn't use the new spring. My fist has become used to the old slack one.

    My suggestion is to pick a model of your liking and stick with it and get accustomed to it. They really are all good. But just like guitars, buying a vintage Gibson Les Paul won't magically make you play like Les Paul!

    The fact that the Benchers have been around 40 years and support for parts is still available gives them high marks with me.
    NL7W, K2OY, US7IGN and 1 other person like this.
  6. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    NEVER send faster than you can copy. The kind of key you use has nothing to do with it.

    VE3BXG, WW2PT, WA1GXC and 2 others like this.
  7. K7MH

    K7MH Ham Member QRZ Page

    No kidding! That will mess up your QSO REAL quick!
  8. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Benchers don't limit speed.

    Of course you can adjust spacing and tension, and maybe don't have yours set optimally.

    I have three Benchers, and one is >30 years old (they all work fine) and routinely operate at 40+ wpm. The key doesn't hold anything back -- my own coordination and reflexes do.:p
    K8PG and N2IIE like this.
  9. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    the Bencher BY-1 is a paddle for an electronic keyer and the speed is dependant on the setting of the keyer electronics.
    I would suggest using a "straight" key for your first key.
    I took my Extra class Morse sending test at 20 WPM with the straight key they had at the FCC office in Detroit. I have sent faster with straight keys when I was younger :D
    The more expensive keys are just made of more expensive materials and with skilled labor., are not any faster just due to the price tag. It is all your sending skill that determines speed. your receiving skill better be good too !
    K8PG and VK2WP like this.
  10. WA7DU

    WA7DU Ham Member QRZ Page

    It would be exceedingly rare for an operator's speed to overtake a mechanical keyer's speed. I would believe that a poorly adjusted or poorly designed ELECTRONIC keyer being a limiting factor in some cases, and I am curious about you not writing about that in your post. Forget your concern, and move on.

    But, as you move on, take Dave's advice with you (Dave is W7UUU). If you send faster than you can receive, you will regret it, and you will get a lot of practice with, and become very adept at sending QRS.
    VE3BXG likes this.

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