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Hand key recommendation ?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by N7ZAL, Nov 9, 2016.

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  1. N7ZAL

    N7ZAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    I generally use an electronic keyer or sometimes my J-38 hand key for CW work. I'd consider myself a very established CW person. I'm looking to buy a nicer hand key than the J-38, and hoped I could get some recommendations here from other established CW operators.

    I've read a lot about Junker, Chinese, Czech, Russian keys, but would like some hands on feedback.

    Suggestions??
     
  2. W7UUU

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

    I like the Japanese SATO "long arm" key. My NOS US Navy "flame proof" works really well, but not on the best base. I also really like a J-37 ("Look Ma! No Coiled springs!") - but if money is no object, I'd look at keys from Kent.

    SO MANY out there to choose from - but the SATO and J-37 (on a 3 pound block of 3/4" stainless!) work great here.

    Dave
    W7UUU
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2016
  3. N7ZAL

    N7ZAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    I value the opinion Dave, and the Japanese and Kent I need to look into.

    Money is always a driving force but I have committed 100-200 to get the key. :)
     
  4. W7UUU

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

    Here's what the SATO looks like - not mine but identical to mine. Really nicely balanced, IMO. I didn't pay all that much - maybe $35 or so.

    Dave
    W7UUU


    SATO key.JPG
     
  5. K6GB

    K6GB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I like my Navy flameproof, also my old Ham-Key.
     
  6. N7ZAL

    N7ZAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks guys. The key looks robust Dave and curious if you can send faster with it than the J-37?
     
  7. W7UUU

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

    Much - due to the longer balanced arm.

    But my new favorite straight key I just bought at a swap meet for $20. It's an unknown J-38 style key, solid brass, on a 3/4" block of heavy stainless. They key is very robust, very well balanced, and is just delightful to use. It's the fastest hand key I've used to date - I can easily do low to mid 20's (fast for me on any hand key), granted for not long periods of time where a bug or keyer would be better.

    Interesting that the seller poo-pood it, saying "oh it's just some old cheap key on a heavy block" - I have a strong feeling he's way wrong and doesn't know an amazing key when he sees one. He's not even a CW guy in fact - pretty sure I got a real score on this key for twenty bux. It's pretty amazing.

    TONS of cool hand keys out there Bill - just gotta find one that "awakens the muse" :)

    Dave
    W7UUU

    1-2016-11-08 18.22.12.jpg
     
  8. N7ZAL

    N7ZAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well Dave, your getting me to rethink the base I have for the J-38. :) I just have it on the Bakelite it came with....
     
  9. WA7PRC

    WA7PRC Ham Member QRZ Page

    That's an Ameco K4 (link), missing the shorting lever. The ball bearing pivots are the giveaway. It was discontinued in 2010. However, you can still buy the cheesy K1 w/ non-adjustable pivots and nickel contacts (NOT recommended). When I couldn't find my Ameco K4, I bought a Nye 320-001 and mounted it to a piece of 1/8" aluminum & glued felt to the bottom:
    [​IMG]
    It has the three most important features, adjustable pivots , adjustable tension, and coin silver contacts. Today, many sellers are "overly proud" of them but, I see lots of good deals on straight keys all the time on eBay (link).

    vy 73,
    Bryan WA7PRC
     
  10. W7UUU

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

    Not the same key - at all!! Close maybe in general shape and such - perhaps Ameco copied the basic intent of design. No, the SATO key is superb quality and nothing like the K4 other than basic shape - the Ameco is pretty small by comparison.

    Good observation of the distant similarities for sure.

    Here's my actual key - the photo I posted earlier was just a web capture of a SATO key. Apologies for my induced confusion. Upon seeing this, I took the time to run out to the shack and take photos of the actual SATO key that I have.

    Dave
    W7UUU

    1-2016-11-08 19.26.30.jpg 2-2016-11-08 19.26.41.jpg
     

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