High end ($100+) straight keys.

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

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  1. W1BR

    W1BR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    A lot of hams equate high quality with cost. The once cheap and common Navy flameproof CTE-26003 key is SELLING for upwards of $199.00 on ePay. It is a nice key, but it is not a $150 key. Even one the Zed I am seeing asking prices running over $100.00.

    I paid a goodly amount for my Amplidan; it was a one time treat... but on the other hand I paid less than the eBay selling prices for the Navy Flameproof key for my Marconi 365B. Even the PB213 Marconi replica made by Phil, G0NVT is about the same price as what some of the silly prices that the flameproof keys are selling for. The Navy key is nice, but it does not hold settings as well as the commercial RO class marine keys. The and Amplidan Marconi keys are a bit fugly, but nothing beats their feel and touch. Same for the Magnakeyer, the best paddle, and the lowest cost, paddle that I own. I also own a Begali Blade, but G3YUH's eHam review brings it down to earth:

    Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
    One should not get carried with singing the praises of the Blade simply because it looks good, I agree It is a nice key and very well made, but it uses the old flat spring tensioner idea as both pivot and tensioner, this by it's very nature is resistive, OK if you like that in a key, but compare it with an Amplidan or a Marconi 365 and it's simply no contest, a fine action key in my book should be able to be set so light that you can just blow on the finger guard to send code, you can't do that with a Blade no matter how it is adjusted..
    PU2OZT likes this.
  2. PU2OZT

    PU2OZT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Aha!! define «fugly» and allows us to settle the fugliest stations, yet, most efficient ever on A1A, at lowest costs, as no one would drool for them. Will they ressemble those of ships?
  3. WN1MB

    WN1MB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    As several posts which followed attest, it makes perfect sense.
    I met Lee at a smaller, local ham flea market a few years ago. He had perhaps 6-10 items on display for sale - none of which were junk - they all were at least "good" condition and functioned perfectly. I ended up buying a mid-60s "New York" Vibroplex bug for a very reasonable price. Lee's one of the good guys.
    They certainly can be. Something I simply "don't get" is fancy-schmancy watches. Yeah, yeah...they're also jewelry - I've heard that justification before. I call BS on it, too. Label me as you will, but real men don't wear jewelry.

    I very rarely wear a watch, but when I do it's to be able to quickly note the time - not to impress people. It's set within a second or so of NIST ... close enough for a wrist watch and my needs. Cost a whopping $35. And it was a ham radio related purchase, too: I needed it for logging purposes when operating WN1MB/2 from camp.

    Same with cell phones. Don't get me started on that insanity. Mine's a cheap, $6 LG flip phone from Family Dollar.

    I'm sorry about the rant ... wait! No I'm not!
    Yep. Exactly! A momentary contact, SPST switch. Yet some command several hundred dollar price tags. Go figure.
    "No comment" is a comment. ;)

    My current hand pump is a Brown Brothers CTL-B. For me, it's only adequate, but does fill the paddles and key need in one package. I bring both the CTL-B and Vibroplex bug with me camping - which is a bit of a hoot. Frequently the early morning moisture in the air necessitates opening up the paddle spacing. heh.

    Problems with purchasing a straight key, at least for me, are these:

    1) It's a very rare situation where one can sit down and try a variety of hand pumps side by side to compare "feel" and such, and...

    2) Frequently it takes a while of actual use to determine whether a key is the right one for you. Sometimes "love at first sight" isn't...;)
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
  4. W1BR

    W1BR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    If you want simple, buy a doorbell push-button at your local ACE. I had a friend in college who
    could send damn good code on a doorbell push-button.
    For the folks who want a push button solution: have at it. Ten bucks or less.

    My point is price is not a good comparison. When a Marconi marine key sells for less than what some folks are getting for Navy flameproof keys one has
    to ponder if there is some sort of herd mentality involved where they are raised to that exalted level of desirability? Very few hams have heard of
    the 365 series, so they are not touted as much as the Navy keys on these forums--and that drives their price and interest.

    Fratini is the big league guy these days... as were some of the former German key makers. I doubt a Fratini PS213 Marconi replica, at five times what G0VNT
    asks for his, would feel any differently.

    My newest rig in the shack is probably one of the TenTec Omni VI rigs. I've tried newer radios, and I have always found the TenTec rigs as good as I need.

    And keys do need to be tried and compared to see which feels best. And I really dislike the Begali Blade; it will be headed to eBay sooner than later.
    WN1MB likes this.
  5. W6MK

    W6MK Ham Member QRZ Page

    No need to apologize or pretend to or to retract your apology. Yours is a common
    enough bias which in some cases I also share.

    Regarding jewelry and real men: what about pirates? Or their current equivalents,
    mafia types, Italian or Russian?

    Isn't there a significant difference between experiencing a religious service in, say, Brunelleschi's
    duomo in Florence or in a strip mall storefront church in a small town in the deep south?

    Beauty is a kind of "feel" actually. Do you stare at all women with equal interest?

    I happen to think transceivers with multiple menu levels, despite their bells and whistles,
    are ugly and offensive. I like mechanical watches because I appreciate mechanical engineering.
    I have a pendulum-powered chiming clock because it lets me know the approximate time when
    I need to know it and it reminds me of village life in Italy where my ancestors came from.
    I do have a cellphone but only because printed phone books and maps are rare these days.

    So an elegant, functional straight key can be functional for more than just sending code.

    Just like that beer drawn into a perfect chilled glass as compared to a can of Bud from
    your tackle box.

    Attached Files:

    VE3HIX and F8WBD like this.
  6. W4WVW

    W4WVW Ham Member QRZ Page

    From Pietro this morning:

    We’ll be ready to ship your Begali Spark key within 10-12 days (excluding Saturdays and Sundays) since we are going to start assembling the Begali Spark key within the end of this week and then we will start shipping them in order of order’s date!

    We will do everything possible for shipping them out asap !

    The shipment will be cared by FedEx and the delivery time usually is about 5-6 days from the shipping date!
  7. G4COE

    G4COE Ham Member QRZ Page

    What's wrong wi a paper clip n' thumb tack? No bearings required.

    W1BR and WN1MB like this.
  8. W1BR

    W1BR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Might work for the QRP crowd... but I'd be leery keying a grid block or cathode transmitter design. Both will have some serious voltage on the
    key points.

    The doorbell button is a time honored and proven method. And, cheap, too! BTW: LOL.

    Pete W1BR
  9. W5BIB

    W5BIB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    For those that prefer the traditional "Pump up-n-down" method...
    These will work on a pinch... (seven(7) bucks or less) ;)


    Ya need to find one with a weak spring :p

    dit dit
  10. WA1GXC

    WA1GXC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Kinda tough on the CT(R)'s, Steve?

    "Hey, Supervisor, I think I got a Russian!"

    W5BIB likes this.

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