Today is a slow day at the office, so I'm researching operating CW. I've always had an interest in learning it and using it to operate. I have the HamRadioDeluxe software and noticed I could send CW with it through my sound card interface, but that just seems to take the fun out of it. CW from a keyboard/computer program just doesn't appear natural to me. Not saying there's anything wrong with it, but I just have an interest in communicating with a simple "manual" key. I've been looking at some very low priced and "budget" telegraph type keys that MFJ has. While I probably won't spend money on something like this, looking at them has given me inspiration to build my own out of some simple household/hardware store items. I really feel like I could construct something that "works" for only a couple bucks. For all intensive purposes, I'd like to stick with something simple. My immediate goals are as follows. Build an extremely low cost telegraph type key, learn basic code, and begin to make a few slow CW contacts. In time, I'm sure my speed will build and I'll graduate to "faster" keys. So aside from actually building/obtaining a key and just plugging it into my HF rig (Icom 718), what else do I really need? I've read about side tone generators and zero beating.. I feel a ST generator would be beneficial to have, just unsure about building one (I'd rather build a simple one if possible) or an inexpensive basic one that I can purchase. I've also seem memory keyers, and all kinds of other extra fun things that may be beneficial yet not particularly a required item to enjoy basic CW. I'd honestly just be happy to build a simple key, plug it in, and start tapping away. For now, I'll stand by for advice from some CW elmers, and visit the hardware store for some odds and ends and see what kind of basic key I can build this weekend to get started with.