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Old October 29th 14, 05:40 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated,rec.radio.amateur.homebrew
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Default [KB6NU] CW Geeks Guide to Having Fun With Morse Code: Choosing a key


KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog

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CW Geeks Guide to Having Fun With Morse Code: Choosing a key

Posted: 28 Oct 2014 01:00 PM PDT
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/kb6nu...m_medium=email


Heres another chapter from my upcoming book on operating CW. Comments
welcome!

When a new ham decides to learn Morse Code and start operating CW, one of
the first things he or she must do is choose a key. There are many
different types of keys available, and choosing one can be kind of
confusing. With that in mind, lets look at the different keys that are
available and discuss the pros and cons of each.
Straight key

The straight key is the most basic type of key. It has a single set of
contacts, and the operator makes dits and dahs by holding down the key for
different lengths of time. Because the design is so simple, this is usually
the least expensive type of key you can purchase.
Millions of operators sent their first Morse Code using a J-38 straight key
like this one.

While many hams prefer using straight keys, Im not a big fan of them
myself. It takes practice to make dits and dahs that are the same length
over and over, and I guess that I just dont have the concentration
necessary to do that.

Also, my arm tires very easily when using a straight key. I cant send very
long before I begin to feel it in my wrist and forearm. Hams experienced
with straight keys tell me that this is because I dont have the key
adjusted properly or that Im not holding my arm correctly. Whatever the
reason, I cant really operate for more than 30 – 45 minutes with a straight
key.
Paddles

Paddles are keys that you use with an electronic keyer. They have two sets
of contacts, one for the dits and one for the dahs. It doesnt matter how
long that you hold down the key. Once a set of contacts is closed, the
electronic keyer will make the dit or the dah. The nice thing about this
arrangement is that the electronic keyer makes each dit and each dah the
same length every time.

Another thing I like about the paddle is that its very easy on the wrist
and arm. Unlike the straight key, which you pump up and down, to operate a
paddle, you rest your arm on the desk or table and simply actuate the
paddle by moving your fingers or rotating your wrist. This is a lot less
stressful, and I find that I can operate for hours using a paddle.


Both the single-lever paddle (top) and the dual-lever paddle (bottom) have
two independent contacts: one for making dits and one for making dahs.
Because only the dual-lever paddles allows you to close both sets of
contacts simultaneously, only the dual-lever paddle can be used for iambic
keying.

There are two main varieties of paddle: single-lever and dual-lever. The
dual-lever paddle is sometimes called an iambic paddle. Bot the
single-lever and the dual-lever paddles have two sets of contacts, but in a
single-lever paddle, the lever is common to both and only one set of
contacts can be closed at a time. The dual-lever paddle has two
completely-independent sets of contacts, and both can be closed
simultaneously.

When both are closed, most electronic keyers will send alternating dits and
dahs. This is called the iambic mode. More about how this works in the next
chapter.
Choosing between a single-lever and a dual-lever paddle

Chuck Adams, K7QO, has calculated that using a dual-lever paddle with an
iambic keyer requires 11% fewer strokes than a single-lever paddle to send
a message in Morse Code. Efficiency isnt the whole story, though.

For one thing, its easier to make mistakes with a dual-lever paddle. The
reason for this is that the timing of the contact closures is critical when
using a dual-lever paddle. If you make a contact too early or too late, or
hold down a contact for too long, the code that the keyer will generate
will be wrong. For example, instead of sending a C (dah-di-dah-dit), you
end up sending dah-di-dah-di-dah.

This is one reason that the winners of high-speed CW contests tend to use
single-lever paddles and not dual-lever paddles. They get penalized for
making mistakes, and its more difficult to make them with single-lever
paddles.

You might also want to choose a single-lever paddle if you are used to
using a semi-automatic key, or bug. Using a single-lever paddle more
closely resembles using a bug than does using a dual-lever paddle.

My recommendation is to try both and see which one you like best. Some
operators will prefer the single-lever paddle for its simplicity, while
others will prefer the dual-lever paddle.
Touch paddles

Several companies make “touch paddles.” These paddles dont have levers, per
se, but rather metal paddles that one touches to close a contact. Instead
of mechanically closing a contact, touch paddles have an integrated circuit
them that senses the change in capacitance when you touch one of the
paddles then electronically close a contact.

Many operators really like using touch paddles. Because there are no moving
parts, there are no mechanical adjustments to make and no loud clicking
sounds.
Semi-automatic keys, or bugs

Like the straight key, semi-automatic keys, or bugs, are purely mechanical.
The difference between a straight key and a bug, though, is that the bug
has a mechanism that makes dits automatically. Dahs are still made
manually, though.

Using one of these keys properly takes a lot of practice, and is generally
not a good choice for a beginner. I have one myself, and although I only
use it occasionally, I still havent gotten the hang of using it after
several years.
Vibroplex has been making this bug, the VIbroplex Original Standard since
1905!
Which key is right for you?

If you do become a CW enthusiast, youll find that you tend to collect keys
and use them all from time to time. In my collection, I have:

three straight keys, including the key I used as a Novice and a World War
II-vintage J37 key with a leg clamp;
four paddles, including three dual-lever and two single-lever paddles; and
one semi-automatic key, also called a “bug.”


My advice is to try them all and see which you like the best.
Key manufacturers/sellers

American Morse Equipment. www.americanmorse.com. American Morse sells both
mini-paddles and regular-size paddles. For their Porta-Paddle, they even
sell a leg mount, so you can operate portable or mobile.

Begali. www.i2rtf.com. When I used to bicycle, I only rode Italian
bicycles. They not only were great bicycles, but they were stylish as well.
Thats how I feel about Begali keys. My favorite key is my Simplex, Begalis
least expensive paddle, but I wish I could afford one of his fancier models.

Bencher. www.bencher.com. Bencher makes both inexpensive and more deluxe
keys and paddles. I often recommend the Bencher BY-1 as a “starter” paddle.
You can often find them online or at hamfests for $60-70.

Bulldog Keys. www.amateurradioproducts.com. Bulldog makes a link of small
keys for QRP and portable operation enthusiasts.

CW Touch Paddles. www.cwtouchkeyer.com. This company only makes touch
paddles.

Kent Engineers. www.kent-engineers.com. This company, located in England,
has a long history in the Morse key business. They make straight keys,
single-lever paddles, and dual-lever paddles (they call them single-paddle
keys and twin-paddle keys). They are very nicely engineered and a good
bargain.

Morse Express. www.morsex.com. Morse Express sells keys from Ameco (USA),
Bencher (USA), BHC Bird Key (China), GHD (Japan), Hi-Mound (Japan), Palm
Radio (Germany), Scheunemann Morsetasten (Germany), uniHAM (China),
Vibroplex (USA), Nye Viking (USA), and MFJ (USA).

N3ZN Keys. www.n3znkeys.com. N3ZN makes some very nice hand-made keys.

Vibroplex. www.vibroplex.com. Vibroplex is the grand-daddy of key
manufacturers in the U.S. They have been in business for more than 100
years. Their line of products includes straight keys, paddles, and
semi-automatic keys, or “bugs.”

There are more manufacturers and sellers out there, but Ill leave at that.
If you have a favorite manufacturer that I havent included here, please let
me know, so that I can include them in a future edition.

The post CW Geeks Guide to Having Fun With Morse Code: Choosing a key
appeared first on KB6NUs Ham Radio Blog.



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Old October 29th 14, 06:55 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.homebrew
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Default [KB6NU] CW Geeks Guide to Having Fun With Morse Code: Choosing a key

This is irrelevant SPAM when posted to .homebrew, and I call the moderators
to task for letting this SPM slip through

"KB6NU via rec.radio.amateur.moderated Admin"
wrote in message
...

KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog



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Old October 29th 14, 07:14 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.homebrew
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Default [KB6NU] CW Geeks Guide to Having Fun With Morse Code: Choosing a key

gareth wrote:
This is irrelevant SPAM when posted to .homebrew, and I call the moderators
to task for letting this SPM slip through


The .homebrew group is not moderated and the moderators of .moderated have
no control over the cross posting to other groups.

I guess we shall add USENET to the list of things whose workings you
do not understand.


--
Jim Pennino
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Old October 29th 14, 07:37 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.homebrew
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Default [KB6NU] CW Geeks Guide to Having Fun With Morse Code: Choosinga key

On Wed, 29 Oct 2014, gareth wrote:

This is irrelevant SPAM when posted to .homebrew, and I call the moderators
to task for letting this SPM slip through

Yes, it's another misdirect. And the other day, there was something in
one of the other newsgroups that was more relevant to .homebrew

The barrage is increasing, the Dictator is adding so many that he's unable
to keep track of what belongs where.


Michael

"KB6NU via rec.radio.amateur.moderated Admin"
wrote in message
...

KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog






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Old October 29th 14, 07:49 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.homebrew
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Default [KB6NU] CW Geeks Guide to Having Fun With Morse Code: Choosinga key

On Wed, 29 Oct 2014, wrote:

gareth wrote:
This is irrelevant SPAM when posted to .homebrew, and I call the moderators
to task for letting this SPM slip through


The .homebrew group is not moderated and the moderators of .moderated have
no control over the cross posting to other groups.

The moderators are the same people who are causing this spew.

Once upon a time, there was some cabal that took care of rec.radio.info

More than once, they felt they should have more power, so they tried to
"organize" the hierarchy a number of times. I'm pretty sure the "welcome
to this newsgroup" that happened at one point (they set up a program to
scan for new email addresses, and if it wsa your first time, you got the
email) was one of their projects. I know they held the newsgroups in
contempt, too messy.

So no more than a decade ago, they finally got their wish, and were able
to have a moderated newsgroup added to the hierarchy. Which pretty much
died on birth. There were some messages, and there are still a few each
month, but the moderated newsgroup has never had much traffic, not the
replacement they had intended.

SO to make matters worse, they tell us we can crosspost between the other
newsgroups and moderated, but if you reply to one of the crossposted
messages and it's not approved for the moderated newsgroup, your message
dies, they don't just let it slip into the other newsgroup. Self imposed
dictators that can't even get it right.

ANd then they started the barrage. rec.radio.info wasn't good enough,
they started posting endless messages from elsewhere. They are the source
of most of the traffic in these newsgroups, and likely drives realy
content out. People look in, don't see any real posts, and don't bother.

So we have google search results being posted, or crossposted. Now we
have blog posts echoed to the newsgroups. They are even digging up old
posts and resending them. As if all of that will cause traffic, and
sometimes it does, people who don't even seem to realize the original
posters aren't here. Most of the traffic in .moderated, other than the
spew, is those people replying to the blog posts.

The latest addition is this reddit thing, which seems a lot like usenet
except nothing is wrong with usenet.

Like I've said, this isn't 1994, when it was still possible to have usenet
access but not other online access. Back then it made sense to gather
information from other places, we might not be able to see it otherwise.
Now, if we really wanted to read blogs and find out what the ARRL has on
its website and whatever, we can do that, since we all have internet
access. We are't getting usenet from a BBS.

It even gets worse, since the blog and bulletins aren't intended for a
common space, they often tell the same story, and the DIctator isnt' even
filtering out the duplicates. I have no idea who this latest ham who died
is, yet we see multiple postings because the Dictator thinks we should see
them, yet if everyone was posting to the newsgroups in the first place,
there wouldn't be the duplication.

The most visible moderator, and the one who I blame all this mess on,
is Paul W. Schleck

He doesn't like usenet, he isnt' a regular poster, yet he thinks he is
above us and thus able to decide what we need.

Michael VE2BVW

I guess we shall add USENET to the list of things whose workings you
do not understand.


--
Jim Pennino

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Old October 29th 14, 08:02 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.homebrew
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Default [KB6NU] CW Geeks Guide to Having Fun With Morse Code: Choosing a key

"Michael Black" wrote in message
xample.org...

The barrage is increasing, the Dictator is adding so many that he's unable
to keep track of what belongs where.


Dictator?


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Old October 29th 14, 08:15 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.homebrew
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Default [KB6NU] CW Geeks Guide to Having Fun With Morse Code: Choosinga key

On Wed, 29 Oct 2014 19:02:44 +0000, gareth wrote:


Dictator?


It's a penis crossed with a spud.


HTH
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Old October 29th 14, 08:22 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.homebrew
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Default [KB6NU] CW Geeks Guide to Having Fun With Morse Code: Choosing a key

Michael Black wrote in
xample.org:

They are the source
of most of the traffic in these newsgroups, and likely drives realy
content out. People look in, don't see any real posts, and don't bother.


Usenet is a strange town. When in a strange town the first thing I do is head
for a group of people in a safe public space who look like they don't mind
the approach of a stranger. SHich sort of puts moderated groups into
perspective, because they're about as useful as a shut-in pub that has
already closed its doors. To a stranger, it is NOT a refuge, but a source of
risk that is fortunately oblivious to the stranger passing by outside.

A few spam posts are less worrying. It might look like an empty street with
the odd newspaper blowing past, but at least it looks like it might lead
somewhere better. Besides, if the town really is strange and new, even an
old newspaper lost and uncared for might be a very useful bit of info to the
stranger.

Being very recently arrived, I thought that perspective might be useful.



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