High end ($100+) straight keys.

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by W4WVW, Jun 21, 2020.

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  1. M6GYU

    M6GYU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Until I became an amateur I never realised people saw keys as attractive to look at. To me it was a bout function. Until I became an amateur I never knew there were so many expensive keys. The two military keys I have are just about as good as you can get. (A 1970's (?) Blackburn army key & RAF type 'D' Picture on my qrz.page) I've tried some expensive keys such as Begali or whatever and some of them were rubbish. You pay for the shine.

    Its like many functional objects. Cars, irons, clothes etc., Are buying the looks or are you buying the function?

    I still fall for it!! Some years ago I started to play the penny whistle. Bought the cheapest one going. Then to improve my music I bought a more expensive one. It didn't seem to work so I bought a slightly more expensive one. Each time I did so, my music still got no better!!

    No amount of money is going to make your morse any better. But a good may 'feel' better and certainly shouldn't sound or feel like bits of metal banging against each other..
    WN1MB, W5ESE, WA1GXC and 1 other person like this.
  2. K7KBN

    K7KBN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Any straight key is nothing more than a single pole, single throw switch. It might have a solid gold base and a knob made of one perfect diamond, but it's an SPST switch by function. Nothing more. The guy on the other end of the QSO will not be able to tell the difference between a $1 swap meet "bottom of the basket" key and a multi-hundred buck that glows with its own celestial light - IF the key is adjusted by YOU, the way YOU like it. I probably used at least fifty straight keys at Navy radioman school and various ships. All different, but each one had adjustments that took maybe ten seconds to make that key, for the moment, mine in terms of personality and feel.
    WN1MB, M6GYU, W5ESE and 2 others like this.
  3. N2OTG

    N2OTG Ham Member QRZ Page

    There are a lot of ergonomic and mechanical variables involved. Some keys are large, some are small, some have the anvil in the front, some in back, some have ball bearings, others have needle bearings and still others have levers mounted on spring steel. Some are ideally screwed down to the desk and others are portable but with heavy iron bases so they don’t skid around the desk or tip forward as you use them. They all have different feel. What suits you best is a matter of personal preference but is not necessarily a function of price. Stay open to trying different keys and you’ll figure out what you like as you gain experience. Maybe stick with the more economical ones for now while keeping an eye out at hamfests and eBay for interesting keys to try. The good news is that the process of figuring all this out for yourself is a lot of fun. I finally broke down and bought a new Begali Blade a while ago and it’s now my favorite key. And yes, I think beauty matters as joy of operation encourages you to stay on the air and make more contacts!
    M6GYU and W5ESE like this.
  4. G4COE

    G4COE Ham Member QRZ Page

    A bit like shoes, what feels great to someone may feel dreadful to another.... it's the feel, cos an expensive key does not do anything for a poor cw operator.

    A pair of comfy nice fit shoes you can walk miles, shoes that aren't comfy your feet will soon tire, a key that feels comfy you'll be able to send for hours on end.

    Before splashing out, do you want to impress visitors or get a key so you can send hours on end? If you want to impress go buy the most expensive one you can afford, if you want a 'good un' try before buy and that ought to exclude a five minute test run - longer the better.

    Then there's the big question, what kinda key.... pump handle, Iambic, bug, semi bug and they all come in different shape n' sizes, this is why the question isn't easy to answer.

    It's like what the Tailor said.... it's not a case of what Fitzpatrick will Fitzsimmons.

    Last edited: Jun 22, 2020
    M6GYU and W5ESE like this.
  5. W4WVW

    W4WVW Ham Member QRZ Page

    As a retired engineer form follows function for me. I have 2 CW MORSE straight keys (Navy Camel Back mini and the outdoor rated Navy micro). These little keys are quite good, especially since they are 3D printed. In reality I doubt I'll need anything different unless they don't hold up. I have a BY-1 paddle for my keyer needs and I think it will be here long after me. I also have a CW MORSE iambic paddle as part of my portable rig. It's a decent paddle but the BY-1 is smoother to use.
    W5ESE likes this.
  6. W1BR

    W1BR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    No comment. :)
  7. KB4MNG

    KB4MNG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Look on ebay for a navy flame proof and I can't imagine one being much nicer. Love mine when I just a straight key. If you venture toward a paddle or something more complex. Check out kn4yb offerings. I bought one about a month ago and really enjoy it. Its a bargain.
  8. PU2OZT

    PU2OZT Ham Member QRZ Page

    His Right Angle Bug is a marvel of mechanics. Received it less than two months ago, took me little time to adjust to my slower speed. Very precise and smooth, doesn't move, as compact as announced. Perfect fit to a tube transceiver with no keyer and higher voltage for dits contacts. Half way between a paddle and a straight key, but you're still in command (=imperfect sending is yours) no doubt, SKCC compliant.
  9. WW2PT

    WW2PT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I haven’t spent mega bucks on a straight (yet?), but I did drop around $300 on a N3ZN MiniMite to replace a “cheap” Bencher BY-1 that cost me around $89 new 30-some years ago. The difference is night and day, and I am able to send with fewer errors with the new paddles that I ever could with the Bencher. My only straight key is a vintage JRC marine key, model KY-3. It works fine.
  10. W4WVW

    W4WVW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I caved in. Just ordered a Begali Spark. 27 eham 5 star reviews can't be wrong!
    PU2OZT and W1BR like this.

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