How Do You Keep Your Key From Sliding Around?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by W5BIB, Jan 24, 2018.

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  1. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I guess maybe I am the last guy using a straight key screwed directly into the desk!

    For me, the issue is ergonomics. I am pretty sure most keys were designed to be used with the resting elbow and the base of the key on the same plane, but cannot prove it. Using a base an inch or so thick puts the key base in a different plane than the resting elbow.

    What I do know for certain is that when I first started using a key back in '76, I had the very same one I now use, but it was screwed into a bit of 2x4 which rested on the operating surface (which was actually our old kitchen table, with a nice formica top I didn't want to put holes in). The knob was too high and I rested my arm wrong, with the wrist bent. As a result I used to get "glass arm" after about ten or fifteen minutes of operating. When I set up my second station I screwed the key directly to the top of the cheap second-hand desk and the problem went away.

    The solution used by N1OOQ above would also work, as it puts the resting elbow in the same plane as the base of the key. Using a very thin base should also work ok. But if you find yourself getting "glass arm" or carpal tunnel syndrome, and your key base and elbow are not in the same plane when sending, try making the adjustment. I think you will find it helps a great deal.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
  2. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's interesting. Is there anything written about proper technique for using a straight key? I never really gave it a thought. I've been playing drums since I was 6 years old, so I guess I applied that technique to the straight key. The less movement, the less there is to screw up and the less chance of injury. I send using my wrist and fingers only. The angle of my elbow is in relation to the base of the key doesn't matter, and I often rest it on the arm of a chair our just hang it in free space. Less movement also translates to more speed.

    I never really thought about it, but I guess drum technique made the straight key easier for me. Really, it's whatever works for you though. :)
    WB5YUZ and W5BIB like this.
  3. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Oh, sure. Almost every old handbook, the ARRL ones, the Jones ones, even the Fred Collins/Bob Herzberg ones, have a few lines about it. They don't always agree on all the details, but they generally contend that sending should be done with the elbow resting on the table and the wrist slightly elevated, with the knob held by the thumb, first, and second fingers, and that sending should be done with a wrist action, without using the whole arm.

    This particular graphic is from a WWII-era Navy manual. Note that the operator's elbow is level, or on a plane with, the base (bottom edge) of the key itself, which in turn is shown resting directly on the operating surface:

    Last edited: Jan 29, 2018
    N2SUB likes this.
  4. W7UUU

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

    :eek: What a creepy picture!!

    N7ANN and N2SUB like this.
  5. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sorry, should have written movie, not manual. Here's a link to the video:

    Yes, it is.
  6. W5BIB

    W5BIB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I just can't do the elbow on the table thing using a straight-key or a bug. I pull my computer keyboard drawer out & rest the middle of my arm just ever-so-slightly on it's edge, which allows brief moments to relax the wrist.

    I'm sure that it's different using a keyer, where the "fingers-do-the-talking" rather than the 'wrists'. I've just never liked using a keyer/keyboard due to the lack-of-personality.

    My elbow must always be lower than level with my key for my best results. YMMV ;)

    Steve / W5BIB
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2018
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  7. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    How do you keep a parrot on his pedestal? With Polly Grip. ArrrArrrArrr....I just kill me
    W5BIB likes this.
  8. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's more drum Physics. :) You cannot play a bass drum (petal) with your heel in the air. You play in with your heel on the ground, and by using your ankle, not your leg.

    Turns out my mama didn't waste her money on music school after all.
    W5BIB likes this.

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