CW Key

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KD2UHF, Nov 21, 2020.

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  1. KD2UHF

    KD2UHF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I am wanting to buy a CW key but I don't know much about the brands and stuff so post below what your favorite brand is or what you think would be good key for a beginner.
     
  2. KJ4KPW

    KJ4KPW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I started off with a 3d printed paddle from Etsy, but it never really worked well. From there I bought a Begali Simplex paddle, and it is great! Most of the paddles I saw on the online stores were not that much cheaper, and didn't look as high quality (just my opinion).

    But if I could go back in time, I would have bought a paddle from KN4YB. I just found out about him and am thinking of getting one of his bugs. His work looks fantastic, and the price is more competitive.

    I currently use a 3d printed straight key (Camelback) from CW Morse. I love it and would highly recommend his keys (I also have the micro, extremely small and great for travel) as the quality is great and the price is spot on.

    That's just my experience.
     
  3. KI7RS

    KI7RS Ham Member QRZ Page

    You'll have to decide if you want to learn on a straight key (SK) or a paddle. There are a lot of people that say it's better to learn on a straight key. I learned on a paddle because I took the CWops classes, but I also used played around on a straight key when I was starting. I use the paddles for SOTA and contesting, but I really liked the SK for my first QSO's. I joined the Straight Key Century Club SKCC, and it was a great way to work through some basic QSO's. I have a herd of various paddles and keys. My current main SK is a $25 Russian key I got off of eBay. My favorite iambic paddle is my Magnakeyer I got off of QRZ (no longer made). I use a 3D printed paddle for SOTA work. In fact my new favorite toy is a single lever paddle I cobbled together that started life as a 3D printed sideswiper.
    At this point you're wondering why I'm rambling...here's my point. You have to find what feels right in YOUR hand. I don't like to band bash, but I have had bad luck with MFJ morse equipment. My MFJ paddle set screws won't stay in the same spot. I ended up dialing it in and putting locktite on it. I would recommend the used Bencher for around the same price. My MFJ straight key is nothing to impressive, and just sits around due to the Russian key.
    I would say decide if you want a paddle or a straight key, and try one of the 3D printed options to get started. If you want to upgrade you can always use the 3D model as a back up or a portable rig.

    Russian key I use
    Bencher
    3D models
     
  4. N6YWU

    N6YWU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I purchased some WWII vintage straight keys (off of eBay). They were built for people whose lives depended on them, so IMO they had to be reasonably good. My old Navy flameproof key has the best feel of the bunch.

    I also have a SpeedX straight key for something newer, but with a very similar operation and feel to some of my vintage keys. If I want use a higher WPM than I can manage with a straight key (for contesting, etc.), I use a computer keyboard and/or computer program to key the CW.
     
  5. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    For a "straight key," most anything works.

    The ubiquitous mil-surplus J-38 isn't bad...millions were made, and after WW2 in every Army-Navy surplus store in America they were about $1 each, brand new (surplus).

    Now, they cost more but even at $20-$30, not a bad deal; 1945 was a long time ago.:)
     
    WA1GXC likes this.
  6. K7KBN

    K7KBN Ham Member QRZ Page

    The one that feels the best to YOU is the one to get. Adjusted properly, ANY straight key will feel like any other straight key mounted at the same height above the operating position. Most Navy radiomen from WW2 and later could sit down at an operating position, get the adjustments out of the way and be sending traffic in just a couple of minutes.
     
    K8PG, VA3TFC and WA1GXC like this.
  7. LZ3NY

    LZ3NY Ham Member QRZ Page

    My favorite straight key is Telefunken Lorenz T2. German military WWII key. The good CW is coming from a well trained wrist, and not from a 200+ Euro telegraph key.
    EVERY key needs adjustments at your preferences.
     
    W5BIB, K8PG and AH7I like this.
  8. AH7I

    AH7I Ham Member QRZ Page

    For a straight key? Anything you can adjust that is not plastic and tin can stampings. Something with a good spring that you can hammer with excitement when that DX station answers. I do not own one, but have used the heavy chinese military key. It's very nice. About $60 last time I looked.

    For an economical paddle with a good feel, I like the ham key and use one when traveling/portable. No longer made but they turn up used for about $60.

    73, -bob ah7i
     
  9. W7UUU

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

    Really most anything will do fine. J-38, J-37, generic copies of those, the list is nearly endless.

    My personal favorite is a Japanese SATO key - has a great feel.

    But keys are a personal choice - that's why most of us have owned many over the years - always looking "for something better" :)

    Dave
    W7UUU
     
  10. VA3TFC

    VA3TFC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Before I buy a straight key I am totally going to do this. :D

     
    KL7KN likes this.

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