What's the best straight key for a newbie to code?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by VA3AEX, Aug 24, 2017.

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  1. N6IXZ

    N6IXZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    In over a year of looking, I have NEVER seen one at that price. Even junkers seem to be going for twice that.
    N2SUB and KA0HCP like this.
  2. WD0BCT

    WD0BCT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Actually spending time with a straight key makes one appreciate the paddles later!
    I think a straight key is a good character builder.....I try to join the fun on every Straight Key Night.
  3. KQ4MM

    KQ4MM XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    As a reward for re-learning CW, I treated my self to a Bengali Camelback, so far loving it...very nice key IMO ... I also have a very nice Lionel J-38, but have yet to use it.
  4. VE7PJR

    VE7PJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I taught CW for a lotta years. After a break from hamming I'm getting back in the game. Even though what we used to call "fone" and digimodes are interesting I really like CW. I still have my very first key(s). I think I got a J-38 first, but the one I learned on is a Nye. I became a bit of a Nye snob back in the day because they really fit my fist. I've never been really comfortable on the J-38, and in fact having been licenced (as WB7PJR) since 1976 or so I don't think I've used it on the air more than twice.

    One thing I can say -- along with others here -- is that if you start with something that is of good quality you will have an easier start because you're not having to overcome the deficiencies of the key just to make it work. I usually advise buying new, but there lots of gently-used keys out there (like my J-38!) that are still in like-new condition. You *could* cut a strip out of a soup can and nail one end to a board to make a key. Been there, done that, it worked but not very well. As you grow and learn as a CW op, you will find new vistas to explore: straight keys, vintage keys, military keys, keys from specific regions or professions, bugs, autokeys, paddles, sideswipers, thumb keys...and on and on.

    You may as well just accept that you're now a "key collector" because you will inevitably gather some examples of instruments that you enjoy using in various situations.


    W5BIB likes this.
  5. W5BIB

    W5BIB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    My AVATAR says hello to yours !! (he thinks that they may be long-lost brothers...) :rolleyes::D

    Steve / W5BIB
  6. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Speed-X (Nye) key with Navy knob and Shorting Bar.

    There is a reason they have been popular for 80 years.
  7. K7KBN

    K7KBN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've seen something like that, but it must have been a cheap knockoff. It was spelled "Begali", so it probably wasn't made in India.
  8. WA7PRC

    WA7PRC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have one of the VERY rare (one of none made) "ByGolly" keys. :p
  9. KQ4MM

    KQ4MM XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well if only my CW was as good as my spelling :rolleyes: ... But yes, it is a actual Begali made key ... much nicer than the India knock offs.
  10. K5DH

    K5DH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I was gonna keep my mouth shut on this so that I wasn't perceived as being "argumentative", but I think for the benefit of the newcomers to Morse who are in need of a good key, the following is worth saying. So far in 2017, for less than $20 each, including postage, I've purchased the following keys off eBay: four J-37s, one J-38, one 26002A, one 26012A, two rectangular-based Speed-X, and one gorgeous brass AT&T landline key. Three of those J-37s came in a package deal for $30 postpaid! I also bought a 26003A flameproof key for $20 at a militaria swap meet. Some of the Russian keys work pretty well, too, and I have yet to pay more than $20 for them. I've also picked up a couple of decent bugs for less than $40 each postpaid. Yes, I'm a collector (only the cheap stuff, though, hi!), so I'm always watching. Most of the keys I've bought need some cleaning and restoration, which is part of the fun, but every one of them has been complete and not lacking any parts. My point is that the deals are out there. You just need to keep your eyes open and be ready to pounce. Happy hunting!

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