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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. KH6IDF

    KH6IDF Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have a Bencher BY-1 key. I don't operate CW too often, but the key works well with the internal keyer in my Yaesu FT-817. I have it adjusted so there is no apparent movement of the key at all, just a light pressure on the paddles is all it takes. Once adjusted it seems to stay that way forever. You can set the CW speed on your 7300 to a low setting like 5-10 WPM and practice without the radio transmitting, just listening to the sidetone. When you get comfortable with that, try turning up the CW speed and see if you can go higher without sending any extra dits or dahs before taking your finger or thumb off the paddle. You will find the speed that's right for you and it may be able to increase it with some practice. Even if you have to leave it set on a slow speed there will be many cw 'novices' that will appreciate the slower speed.
    AI7JN likes this.
  2. DD5RK

    DD5RK Ham Member QRZ Page

    I congratulate

    G3EDM and AI7JN like this.
  3. K8PG

    K8PG QRZ Lifetime Member #333 Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Start with a Good Ole
    Straight Key ….. J-38 or like.

    I Would Not recommend a paddle
    to start with.

    Paul K8PG
    KD4FBD and AI7JN like this.
  4. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    There is disagreement on this, obviously. CW Academy recommends using a paddle to start with, to make it easier to send clean Morse. Their goal is higher speeds. Many want to get into contesting, or are looking at CW Ops membership as their eventual goals.

    If you goal is SKCC events, a straight key may not be a limitation.

    However, in this case, the original post explains why there is an additional concern for using a straight key.
    KD4FBD and AI7JN like this.
  5. AI7JN

    AI7JN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I respect your opinion. Unfortunately, the die is cast, but I would love to hear why you said so.
  6. KB1CKT

    KB1CKT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I like my Bencher paddle, but lately I've started practicing on a straight key, and I am just getting to where I can decode what I'm tapping out... Years and years ago I bought a keyer that could interface to a keyboard, and, right or wrong, if I get flustered in a QSO and keep tripping over my fingers, I resort to the keyboard. [It helps that I spend 8-10 hours a day behind one.] Not to spend your money but sometimes it helps to have more than one thing on the bench, that way if the day isn't agreeing with you, you can change to a device that works better.
    AI7JN likes this.
  7. AI7JN

    AI7JN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks. My old hands don't type well anymore, although I used to be 60+ wpm. Now I make too many mistrakes. There must be some hams out there like me who don't mind slower conversations.
    KB1CKT and W1BR like this.
  8. KB1CKT

    KB1CKT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm not sure how slow you mean, but many of the SKCC QSO's I hear are not that fast. I would hazard that many of them would be fine with QRS as needed.
    AI7JN likes this.
  9. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Experimenting with keyboard CW, I found out that I do not have to "touch type" to make it work. Two-fingered typing can easily keep up with a 15 wpm Morse speed. And there is no reason why you can't look at the keys, if that helps.

    I believe most keyboard CW software lets you set either "type-ahead" (buffered) or "send as you type".

    I found out the second works better for anything other than the shortest exchange. If you use "type-ahead", the other guy can think QSB took you out while you are still typing, as all he hears is dead air until you hit "Send".

    Nothing wrong with keyboard CW. As my fingers get stiffer, I may have to give up my keys someday. (That 's why I'm experimenting with keyboards now...)
    N6YWU and AI7JN like this.
  10. AE0Q

    AE0Q XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hello Richard,

    Congratulations on getting the General license ! Hope to hear you on the air on CW soon :)

    In your original post you mentioned that you can copy CW at a good speed, I'm wondering if that hints at previous military or commercial CW experience?

    73 - Glenn AE0Q
    ex CTM2
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2021
    AI7JN likes this.

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