Noob with bad hands. How do I start? What kind of key?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by AI7JN, Aug 21, 2021.

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  1. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Tourist to cab driver in New York City: "Can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?"

    Cabbie: "Sure. Practice, practice, practice."

    Same goes for sending code. Practice off the air until you're confident, then turn on the transmitter and make contacts.

    The Bencher is a good key. I prefer the dual-lever as it allows true iambic keying that self-completes some characters by just squeezing the paddles together, and I've been doing that for so many years that I don't even remember how I started doing that. But it does save a few Calories.

    Many don't like that. In any case, use what you ordered and practice with it. The Bencher allows for a very light "touch," so there's no need to bang the key around. An ounce or less of pressure is really all it takes, and that's easier on your hand!
    AI7JN likes this.
  2. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hopefully, the nice guys at HRO set you up with the Bencher EZ-1 cable kit for the Bencher paddle. This comes with a 1/4" plug which will fit the jack on the back of your IC-7300.

    However, the cable will most likely need to be connected to the Bencher, using the spade terminals to connect to screws on the bottom of the key.

    If you use an ohmmeter, you can determine which wires connect to the Tip / Ring / Sleeve of the plug, then wire the cable so the connections will match the diagram on page 12-3 of the 7300 Basic Manual.

    If you are R-handed, connect "dit" to Tip, "dah" to Ring and "common" to Sleeve.
    If you are L-handed, connect "dit" to Ring, "dah" to Tip and "common" to Sleeve.

    The manual says the 7300 is set for paddles by default, so you shouldn't have to dig for that menu setting.

    You can use the 7300 for code practice by turning BK-IN off. Adjusting sidetone pitch, using BK-IN, and other CW mode settings are described in the Basic Manual, starting on page 4-12.

    By the way, congratulations on deciding to get on HF using CW mode! 40m is open generally more in evenings than in the daytime. For 20m daytime propagation, which can be quite good, you will have an incentive to upgrade to General. ;)
  3. AI7JN

    AI7JN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I did get the connector kit, and I aced the General exam last Thursday. :) Thanks for the advice on the practice setup.
    W5ESE, AD5HR and N8RKD like this.
  4. KC7JNJ

    KC7JNJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Also look for a local club. As things like this come up you can borrow gear and try things out before you buy. Also when it comes to setting up antennas and things like that you can get help from folks that enjoy that type of thing. Extra hands can be nice. Also a big hardy congratulations on your accomplishment and your new radio!
    AI7JN likes this.
  5. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Congratulations! Now you can join me in studying for the Extra...;)
    AI7JN likes this.
  6. G8FXC

    G8FXC XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Enjoy! Post again here for advice configuring it if necessary - the 7300 keyer has quite a few options and getting the setup right may take a while if you are not familiar with modern keyers.

    Martin (G8FXC)
    AI7JN likes this.
  7. G8FXC

    G8FXC XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have a Kent straight key that I'm very fond of so, when I wanted a paddle, my first thoughts were for Kent. Trouble is that they are almost impossible to find - there is virtually zero stock on shelves and there does not seem to be anything coming out of production. I emailed them and got no reply. I asked the purchasing manager of one of the big ham retailers and he was not optimistic about ever seeing more stock. Shame really - they made nice keys at a reasonable price!

    Martin (G8FXC)
    AI7JN likes this.
  8. G8FXC

    G8FXC XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Incidentally, if you do get serious about Morse but find that it is too tiring on your hand to have long QSOs with a key or paddle, there are some accessories available that will allow you to send from a computer keyboard. I have to admit to using one during contests - my sending speed is just too slow for a serious contester and they can't be bothered to talk to me at 15wpm!

    Martin (G8FXC)
    AI7JN likes this.
  9. G0TNU

    G0TNU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I fully agree with most of the advice on keys.
    The only difficulty with a duel paddle could be sending iambic characters, With bad hands.
    It doesn't make any real difference if you have duel or single paddle for side to side sending, You just cant squeeze key on a single.

    Twins probably re sell better if you find you can't use them.

    Good luck with the hobby.
    AI7JN and N7EKU like this.
  10. AI7JN

    AI7JN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I belong to the Coos County Radio Club, the Port Orford Ham Club, and the Southwest Oregon Repeater Association, but I live 'way out in the sticks and I am a loner, so I don't get to the physical meetings which are an hour's drive away. I have physical limitations. It was difficult to get to the testing location for my General, and I took my Techniian test via Zoom. But thanks for the advice. Perople do seem willing to help but I'm just too far away.

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