Kent Straight Key review

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by AA4OO, Sep 9, 2015.

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  1. AA4OO

    AA4OO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    In the past couple of months I've become reacquainted with Morse Code after many years. I had to learn it for my General ticket and it quickly lapsed. I began a blog for my CW and QRP journey that began a little over a month ago and posted a review of my first real straight key.

    A Kent Hand Key

    Here is the link to the review complete with a video of my shaky FIST
    N0NB likes this.
  2. N7ZAL

    N7ZAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Certainly looks like a very robust key, compared to the MFJ. :)

    I've used cheap keys similar to your MFJ and find them almost impossible to use with any comfort or accuracy.

    I wonder how many people get discouraged from CW because of a "crappy" key?

    I'm not familiar with the Kent key.
  3. W8ZNX

    W8ZNX Ham Member QRZ Page


    as a kid Novice suffered for months with a J-38 using American style sending
    became a hard core confirmed phone only op

    years later discovered European style keys and European style sending
    changed my outlook on running Morse Code

    to each his own
    a key one Op loves is the same key another OP loathes

    there is a world of great keys out there from the German Junker, the Swedish key
    to the cold war Soviet military keys,and the Czech RM set mouse key

    still in the stacks
    K5UOS likes this.
  4. KB4MNG

    KB4MNG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I like your blog...
  5. WD5BPI

    WD5BPI Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have a small collection of bugs and straight keys. Started with my 1st purchase when I was in the 6th grade, a surplus J-38 from Allied Radio for less than $5.00 including "Railway Express" delivery, hi hi.
    Still have it but have started collecting a few more keys and the Kent was one of the recent additions. I thought it was attractive and is kind of a miniature version of the very large keys used in the spark gap days i.e. "Titanic" and all that. It functions very nicely and I soon added the Vibroplex straight key to sit on desk along side it. The "Vibroplex" isn't balanced very well and I had to add a wooden platform for it to sit in to keep it from walking all over the desk top when sending. I keep both hooked up along with my "Blue Racer" and like to switch around to accommodate whoever I am QSOing. The Kent is very attractive and functional as is the Vibroplex (now).
  6. AA4OO

    AA4OO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thank you Brian. I'm sure it's boring for folks that have been at this for a long time but I'm hoping it will encourage ops who had sworn off CW, as I had, to give CW a try.
  7. AA4OO

    AA4OO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    It has been a few weeks since I posted that review and I just want to say that I like the Kent Hand Key even more now. My radio (KX3) allows two-keys to be connected at the same time, either using the internal keyer or as a straight key.

    Even when I start a QSO with the paddles I sometimes find myself switching back to my Kent straight key during the QSO. I'm still new at CW and sometimes it seems as though my brain just balks at using the paddles (timing the paddle release gets off on series of dits H, S, 5, etc) so I'll just switch back to the straight key.

    The Kent now seems to just be an extension of my arm. I like the operating position at the edge of the desk where I can just sit back in my chair and operate with my arm in free space. I can't see myself going to an American style straight key anytime soon.
    N0NB, VK2JDR and W5BIB like this.
  8. N2ICZ

    N2ICZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Nice review and great blog. Bookmarked it!
  9. NN4RH

    NN4RH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I enjoyed your review. I use a Kent straight key, too.

    When I was a Novice in 1971/72 I started out with a cheap key from Radio Shack that I hated and kept falling apart. I was later given a key by some OT (unfortunately I have long since forgotten his call or name) that I have since found out was a British WT-8 AMP key, and that's what I used through my Novice career. I did not realize it at the time but I was keying "European Style".

    I came back to the hobby in 2002 and bought a Bencher straight key and used it "American Style". It wasn't very long before I developed such bad RSI in my wrist ("glass arm", I think it's called) that I couldn't use it anymore, so switched to a Kent Single-Lever Paddle which I happened to see at an HRO, which I liked a lot and still use.

    Somewhere along the way I came across an article on the FISTS web site about American versus European keying and that's when I realized that I used European keying 30+ years earlier as a Novice. So I thought I'd give straight key another try with that in mind, and bought a Kent straight key and that's what I use most of the time now.

    I've got a small collection of the WT 8 AMP keys. At one time I had 30 of them but thinned out the collection to a few of the best variations a couple years ago. I have one of the Soviet TK keys which I also like a lot.

    A year or so ago I got a great deal on eBay on a NIB Stampfl Morsetasten STM-07 key. Similar to their current model STM-11 here: Very pretty key and unique contact design, and I like it a lot. Somewaht different feel than the Kent and takes some getting used to. This one is so tall there is no way anyone could even try to use this key "American Style".

    Sorry for rambling and hope I didn't distract the thread, but you got me all excited with that review!
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2015
  10. K6FNI

    K6FNI Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'd love to get my hands on one, but I don't believe the one you have is available any longer, correct?

    I have a K8RA P-6 Single Lever paddle but 99% of the time I find myself using my Chinese Army Key that I purchased from Morse Express. Nevertheless, I'd like to find a Kent like yours.

    Robert, K6FNI

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