Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by K1KTF, Jun 14, 2021.

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  1. K1KTF

    K1KTF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Ham Friends:

    After 45+ years of amateur radio I’m finally getting into QRP which is exciting.

    With that said, do you have any recommendations on a good QRP key/bug that you love based on quality, performance and cost?

    As always, thanks for your insight!

    73 - Steve (K1KTF)
  2. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    QRP keys and bugs are the same as any other key/bug.
    K8PG and WN1MB like this.
  3. K7MEM

    K7MEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    It really makes no difference what key/bug you use. A person can get use to almost any key. The difference comes in how you use it. What happened to that key that shows in your QRZ Bio? That would work for QRP.

    If your starting out in CW with mechanical keys, you might want to check out the SKCC. That group has lots of opinions on straight keys, side swipers, and bugs. They often have some keys for sale. Ah, but I see, you are already a SKCC member.

    I have several straight keys and a 1916 Blue Racer. They work well, but I switched over to using a electronic keyer in the early 80's. Personally, I don't really see me going back to mechanical keys any time soon. But, to each his own.
    K1KTF likes this.
  4. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've never heard of a Low Power Key... ;)

    However, there are high power keys for use with spark transmitters. They typically have heavy/large contacts to dissipate the heat from high voltage circuit.

    Eastern Precision Spark Key. Note massive contacts. http://w1tp.com/im5500.htm
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2021
    WN1MB and K1KTF like this.
  5. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The Begali Traveler is a very nice set of paddles for field operations. The legs fold in to protect the levers during transit and there are slots for a leg strap. Very versatile, solid design, as would be expected from Begali. While lighter than desk models, they are still over a pound in weight.

    I would not consider using a bug for field operations, unless you will always have a level surface for an operating position and also have a case to protect the bug in transit.

    If you want quality and performance it is not going to be low cost, no matter how much you want a bargain.
    K1KTF likes this.
  6. K1KTF

    K1KTF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Very helpful and much appreciated. I have a Begali and love it. I'll take a look. Thanks Again. 73! Steve
  7. K1KTF

    K1KTF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Agree, but looking for light weight and rugged. Thanks for your perspective! 73 Steve
  8. K1KTF

    K1KTF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hey thanks for your insight and thought on checking out SKCC. Looking for a light weight and rugged key/bug. Really appreciate your thoughts. 73! Steve
  9. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    As a lighter (and less expensive) alternative to the Traveler, there is this - https://www.americanmorse.com/ultraportapaddle.htm

    The main complaint I have about this model is that when holding it in one hand I accidentally brush the adjustment screw heads which causes unintentional keying. I thought about using it with the leg mount, but there is so little clearance below the levers I think it would snag on your pants. I read about a "fix" which is to replace the slot-head screws with setscrews of a shorter length, but I never got around to trying that.

    Another option would be this - https://www.bamatech.net/morsetasten/bamakey-tp-iii-twin-paddle-key-rot.html

    The description says it has magnets on the back, so you could fabricate a leg mount for it if you didn't want to hold it in one hand. Very light at 2.5 ounces. I believe all the adjustments are made with an Allen wrench, so there are no screws to bump.

    Regarding light weight bugs, the only thing I am aware of are the KN4YB bugs. He has a couple of new models with a straight blade dit contact which look very promising. Size and weight are much less than a Vibroplex bug.

    There is no real "shopping cart" for ordering, but the manufacturer has a website which lists models and prices - http://www.kn4yb.com/

    Also, if you want to see one of these, there are YouTube videos like this one -

    I had one of the original KN4YB bugs and I didn't find the design particularly "rugged". I'm not sure you can have "bug" and "rugged" in the same sentence... ;)
    K1KTF and PU2OZT like this.
  10. KC3RN

    KC3RN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I really like N3ZN paddles. I have a ZN-9, and love it. Certainly on par with Begali. I've met Tony (N3ZN) at several hamfests. Super nice guy who lives in the area. He's a retired contractor that started this company as a second career.

    If you want a QRP paddle, you should consider this:
    It's the same as the ZN-9, on a slightly smaller base.
    K8PG and K1KTF like this.

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