Iambic/Twin Paddles: Kent Morse, Bencher, or Vibroplex?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by W4ZD, Sep 7, 2019.

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  1. W4ZD

    W4ZD Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    These things can be outrageously expensive. I refuse to pay $200 or more for one, which limits me to their bottom line models, I suppose. Looks like the best I can do is $160 to $180.

    I have always used Bencher paddles, but now find I need a new one (sold the old one). So, I'm wondering, in the quoted price range do you have a favorite? And if you've used all 3 brands, what is your favorite? There are no doubt other brands out there, it's not a subject I keep up with. I'd be interested to hear about those as well.

    Now, why can no one bring a quality twin paddle to market in the $100-$120 range? After all, they are just a glorified switch. :)
    K0GOV likes this.
  2. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    You might look at the Magnakeyer. See my avatar. He (Andy) makes these and sells them here: https://forums.qrz.com/index.php?threads/introducing-the-magnakeyer.589970/
    I retired my 40 year old Bencher for one of these and am more than delighted with it.
    You'll have to contact him and see what the current price and delivery backlog is. Last I heard it was around $125 (which is a steal) and a couple of months. Worth the wait.
    W1BR likes this.
  3. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have three Benchers (BY-1 or whatever they're called these days), two of them >30 years old, the other slightly newer, and they were about $79 each or something. Have they really gone up to $160? I didn't know that and also haven't kept up with prices.

    Small production runs of anything machined, or even stamped, is expensive. Looking at one of my Benchers right now, there appear to be five machined parts to the paddle assembly; three turret-type posts, all machined, two of which are also tapped/threaded; 12 pieces of threaded SS hardware; two molded or possibly machined plastic parts (the paddles themselves); a very heavy base with 10 holes in it -- 7 of which are tapped/threaded; a spring; and three molded rubber feet; plus two solder lugs and a Fahnestock clip with a small Allen wrench. The steel .
    base is powder coated but most of the other parts appear to be bright plated brass. There's also an aluminum etched label and when purchased new, packaging material.

    If I had to guess at the cost for the bill of materials, it would easily be in the $60-$70 range, including the cost of machining and plating.

    So, prices are what they are. I like the Benchers or I wouldn't have three of them.

    I also have a Begali (Italian made) very nice paddle key which uses magnets and no springs, and it was quite a bit more expensive but actually doesn't feel much different from the Bencher.

    Never owned a Kent. Have owned the Vibroplex Vibrokeyer paddle (two or three of them over the decades -- they've been on the market a very long time) and while it's nice and heavy and works fine, I don't like how many adjustments it has, and those are held by snugged thumbscrews; in my experience they go out of adjustment and require fiddling from time to time, which is a bummer for me. I set up the Benchers ~30 years ago and have never readjusted any of them; their settings today are same as several million dits ago.:p
  4. N3PM

    N3PM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Of the three, I've used the Bencher and Vibroplex Standard and I preferred the Standard. My preference has since gone to the CT73 magnetic paddles by UR5CDX.
    Mike N3PM
  5. W4ZD

    W4ZD Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks for the input guys. Thought this time around I'd look at something other than Bencher. Never owned more than one at a time. Maybe I should shoot for redundancy and buy 2 or 3. ;)
  6. KJ4VTH

    KJ4VTH Ham Member QRZ Page

  7. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    To me, the only important thing about any paddle key is ease of use and assuring it doesn't require adjustment once set.

    I keep the paddles very close-spaced and if a fly lands on them they probably send a string of dits or dahs. Just a personal preference, developed over many years. My hand doesn't move at all when using it, just two fingers that barely move.

    What confounds me when I see some "ham shack" photos is I see some ops having the key in front of the rig, and maybe back only 6-12" from the front edge of the desk or bench. I don't know how anyone can use a key like that.

    I set mine back far enough that my forearm lays on the desk, including the elbow, so it's very restful; I could easily fall asleep sending code, and a few times, I have. My paddles are back about 20" (maybe a bit more) from the front edges of the desks. Makes it so easy.:)
    WA7PRC likes this.
  8. KB4MNG

    KB4MNG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Set you budget no more that $60. Ive picked up a champion and set of vibroplex paddles from the 60s shipped to the house for less than $50. Just watch ebay real close.
    Had a lot of fun cleaning them up.

    Also use this k8ra set and it is awesome....

  9. K5ABB

    K5ABB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I use the UR5CDX paddles and love them. Priced about the same as the Benchers, or a little less, but WAY prettier to look at. Also they are magnetic vs. the spring driven Benchers, and I prefer that kind of feel. YMMV, but google UR%CDX and give 'em a look.

  10. K1LKP

    K1LKP Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    HI MARV,


    === n1kw QSK_PADDLE.gif


    73 - K1LKP

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