Suggestions for a "nice" straight key (under $200)

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by N5BCN, Sep 14, 2021.

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  1. N5BCN

    N5BCN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I currently have an old Nye Master Key that works well enough. I'd like to get a "nice" straight key without going super-expensive (over $200).

    The Begali Spark and Camelback look like nice keys, does anyone have experience with them and could recommend one over the other?

    I also like the looks and price of the Vizkey Camelback, but their website says they are temporarily no longer taking orders.

    73, Brian, N5BCN
  2. W6MK

    W6MK Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'd think about what you mean by "nice." Something shiny and new sounds like it. Which, of course, will have very little, if anything to do with the quality of your sending.

    There are some individual characteristics of various straight key designs which may be relevant if you want to get beyond "shiny and new." For example the Nye Master Key has a damped contact closure, which many ops prefer. The same effect is available in "pump" key designs where the contacts are somewhat flexibly mounted at the distal end of the lever. The Begali "Blade" offers this feature.
    LNR Precision offers a couple of pump key versions.

    Then there are designs which provide various knob heights. With higher knobs keys are operated "European" style with the key at the
    front edge of the desk and the arm in the air rather than resting on the desk. This can prevent carpal tunnel problems.

    Many custom high-end paddle makers also make beautiful straight keys. Kent Engineering makes one which works just fine. Bencher, now sold by Vibroplex, has nice, shiny straight keys.
  3. N5BCN

    N5BCN Ham Member QRZ Page

    By "nice" I should have been clearer: well-made, reliable for the price. Appreciate function over appearance.
  4. KW1L

    KW1L Ham Member QRZ Page

    One additional point to consider
    Will you be sending American style (arm on table) or European style (key at edge of desk)?
    For American style the height of top of knob to top of table should be around 1.5 inches.
    PU2OZT likes this.
  5. KD2RDG

    KD2RDG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have the same Nye. It's a sweet key and the only straight key I use.

    But if you have $200 to blow I say get the Begali that looks nicest to you.
    KW9W likes this.
  6. N5BCN

    N5BCN Ham Member QRZ Page

    The Nye is nice, the new key won't replace it, it's going with a new rig.
    KW9W and KD2RDG like this.
  7. KD1JT

    KD1JT Ham Member QRZ Page

    In 30 years I've yet to find a reason to replace my J-38. Not that I haven't lusted over some of the delicious eye candy I see posted, but the J-38 is set up well, smooth, has a good feel, and mounted on a heavy base it's solid. It's always with me when I use my bugs for SKCC stuff, it's nice to use for <15 wpm QSOs (I can go to ~25 wpm with it, but prefer the bugs at those speeds).
    WA1GXC likes this.
  8. PU2OZT

    PU2OZT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Start a survey (I like Z-surveys)
    1. Begali Spark
    2. Begali Camelback
    3. Viz Key Camelback
    4. Other
    4. Bamatech EHT-1
    way over your budget

    Anyway, methink it's just like a violin bow, could not decide without playing it.

    W1BR likes this.
  9. KB1CKT

    KB1CKT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've never used a J38, only ever had a Bench RJ-1 (nice match to my BY-1) and what I think is an Ameco J37 look-alike (which I don't use) (might be an MFJ not sure). The RJ-1 seems ok to me, but again, haven't used the rest. Maybe one of these days I'll find a J38 for my use.
  10. KD1JT

    KD1JT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I had a Bencher and hated it. Big and clunky, IMO, but many like it. Over the years a number of keys have come and gone. The J-38 has sentimental value, given to me by a friend and Elmer 30 years ago or more. Hey, it’s just a switch …. (Runnin’ and duckin’)
    W1BR likes this.

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