Where do you buy your keys?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KE0EYJ, Oct 12, 2015.

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  1. KE0EYJ

    KE0EYJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Am thinking of getting into CW. After my General test, which is in a few weeks, I hope to start learning.

    I am wondering, however... where do you buy your keys? It seems like nearly all of the websites I find are either selling new stuff, or hobbyist sites that look like websites created in the 1990's, and aren't really selling what I'm looking for.

    I'm partial to things made 40+ years ago, however, because that was when things were made to last. I'm so down on the "built in China" crap craze, and don't want to get stuck with yet another product that arrives broken, falls apart in a month, or whatever -- no matter the price.

    I also just like the nostalgic look.

    I'm really looking for something like one of the Czech Army keys that seem to have sold out recently.

    Thoughts? Comments? Thanks.
  2. AA4OO

    AA4OO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I purchased my Kent from the large auction site starting with an e*. Of course any 40+ year old equipment from the auction site may require some cut-to-fit and paint-to-match before it's usable.

    I purchased my Palm Single portable key from http://www.morseexpress.com/ because there were none available in auctions.

    The fellow that runs morse express is very knowledgeable and helpful.
    KI5WW likes this.
  3. M0PHE

    M0PHE Ham Member QRZ Page

  4. KE0EYJ

    KE0EYJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Those look very nice. I like their paddle, especially! Very nice.

    Will keep Kent in mind.

  5. KC9UDX

    KC9UDX Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    I got my Bencher at AES. I said "I want this one," and the guy behind the counter said "Are you sure you don't want the MFJ?" to which I replied "Yes, I'm sure."
  6. K7KBN

    K7KBN Ham Member QRZ Page

  7. K6FNI

    K6FNI Ham Member QRZ Page

    KE0EYJ likes this.
  8. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    You can get a brand new Nye Viking Speed-X from Morse Express. It wasn't made 40+ years ago, but it's made to the same design. The oval model 310 looks similar to a J-38, and is quite pretty, IMO. The rectangular model 320 has been copied by a bunch of cheap plastic "toy" imitations over the years, but the Johnson/Nye Viking version is very solid and eminently usable. Notice the cast metal base and adjustable trunnion screws that set it apart from the cheap stamped metal/plastic copies.

    A fellow claims he has some unused surplus J-38 keys still available, but the website doesn't look modern. See http://surplustuff.com/misc.html .

    Those surplus J-38s and the new Nye Viking Speed-X keys are in a similar price range, $70-$85.

    Keys like this were built to last, and most of them will probably outlast their owners. They're not very complicated. It's a shame we don't still have lots of WWII military surplus keys flooding the market at bargain prices. Or do we? If you're patient, on the used market, you can often find a perfectly serviceable key of this general class for a reasonable price at a ham swap meet, estate sale, or on-line auction. Your opportunities increase if you're willing to overlook cosmetic defects.

    Since the military isn't using straight keys anymore, I suspect they're not going to be flooding the market with inexpensive surplus new keys anytime soon.
  9. KE0EYJ

    KE0EYJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    A question about these keys... are any of these good as-is, without the need to attach a base?

    I want one that I don't have to mess around with building or buying a base for. The Nye Viking Speed-X seems to require a base? I see them sold at Morse Express.

    I want a key that has everything ready-to-go, and has the cable shielded (the Chinese PLA key doesn't), as my radio is a Yaesu FT-950 with ladder line all of the way, and it seems the tiniest bit of RF makes it into my mics, if i'm not careful. I actually know it's not an antenna problem, either, because I had to pass a test for that for my station license here in Korea. The FT-950 just... seems.. to ... have ... RF issues extremely easily.
  10. K6FNI

    K6FNI Ham Member QRZ Page

    The Chinese Army Key from Morse Express comes with a base that was made specifically for the key. The key/base is pretty heavy and doesn't move around on the desk.

    Robert, K6FNI

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