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LCWO Discussion Forum [Atom LCWO Forum Feed]

This is a simple discussion forum for LCWO users. Feel free to use it for any kind of discussion related to this website.

Thread: How many Straight Key Users are here?

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AuthorText


Posted: 2019-11-30 02:39
How many Straight Key Users are here I wonder?
Who is using other keys?
I am practicing with a straight key myself, but I send almost not all now.
When first learning, I was sending characters I have printed on a sheet. Then I realize the need to copy well and have not used the key very much for the past several months.


Posted: 2019-11-30 10:30
I use paddles with an microcontroller keyer in ultimatic mode. In my opinion this is best for training and for the future application with my portable rucksack station. From time to time I practice a little bit with my straight key. Thats for replacement only, if the electronic device should fail.

Paddle plus keyer have less weight, than a good straight key, thats easy to use. For me paddles are easier to use, as soon as I have learned the basics. It makes a better signal timing, which helps in bad propagation conditions. And it helps to educate my ears, I stay used to the good timing.

Till now I did much more receivig than sending. But now I try to catch up, to gert my skills complete.


Posted: 2019-11-30 19:12
Bergler, what surprises are in your
"rucksack station"?


Posted: 2019-11-30 19:33
hi, I have no special "surprises" in there. Its just a ft817 (5W pwr), 3m coax cable with a tuned coax coil balun, a LC matching circuit, 2 pieces of 10m wire, nylon fishline, paper and pencil. Sometimes i have a little homemade swr bridge with me for antenna experiments. My favorite antenna is a V dipole between two trees (no, not the inverted V).

What is your rig or what rig have you planned to use?


Posted: 2019-11-30 20:50
BrucerDucer1:
How many Straight Key Users are here I wonder?
Who is using other keys?
I am practicing with a straight key myself, but I send almost not all now.
When first learning, I was sending characters I have printed on a sheet. Then I realize the need to copy well and have not used the key very much for the past several months.



If you are into using make-do morse, or just being an enthusiast,
don't forget to try out side-swipers ( cootie if you are from US ).
Quit small and easy to knock-up out of bits when you break your hacksaw blade . . .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuySX8oDdPk&ab_channel=MartinWard


cb




Posted: 2019-12-01 07:43
I use both a straight key for lower speeds (up to 18wpm) and a paddle for higher speeds up to 25wpm.

I have found I just can't use a paddle below 20wpm, it's basically too boring, a straight key gives me something to do.

Frankly, I enjoy sending with a straight key far more than with a paddle: I used to play musical instruments (piano and cello) and I feel something akin to performing on an instrument.

Very, very nice ( I even have a metronome for spacing!)


Posted: 2019-12-01 14:00
ID: (metronome)Pretty senseless in my opinion. Your reaction time spoils measuring spacings, just the same way it is not possible to pass 5 or 6 wpm with Morse machine.

There are electronic keyer designs that force you to the correct letter spacing and word spacing, of course you have to be in advance with keying so naturally make short letter and word spacings and the keyer streches them up to the correct value.

Try to design one yourself, with the present day available arduino microcontrollers it is like a whistle of a cent, and you exercise your brains.



Posted: 2019-12-01 14:32
ID:
I use both a straight key for lower speeds (up to 18wpm) and a paddle for higher speeds up to 25wpm.

I have found I just can't use a paddle below 20wpm, it's basically too boring, a straight key gives me something to do.

Frankly, I enjoy sending with a straight key far more than with a paddle: I used to play musical instruments (piano and cello) and I feel something akin to performing on an instrument.

Very, very nice ( I even have a metronome for spacing!)



Hi ID

If you want to practice your spacing, try morsing to a morse decoder.

They aren't all that forgiving mostly.

What sort of straight keyer do you prefer ? ( AAMOI)

cb


Posted: 2019-12-02 02:51
Thanks for the advice Chris, but I use one already!

My favorite key is my new BamaKey, which has a fantastic feel. My old Junker is close by (best value for the money in my book!) with a Czech military key a distant third.

I had a Begali Blade, but sold it after receiving the Bamakey which is think is really exceptional.

Regarding training sessions, actually, I only use a metronome on my Ipad set at 250 beats at the beginning of every session to get spacing right at very low speeds, i.e. 11wpm (corresponds to 250 beats). I have tried using metronomes at higher speeds, but have found it of limited utility.

Then, in each session, I build up speed relying on an electronic decoder, the Begali CW machine and it's interactive mode (sends words and you have to echo back) at speeds of 13,15 and then 17 wpm.

Finally, I create random groups of letters and words in CW Trainer and send them to myself at 17-18wpm and echo them back with my straight key.

To conclude, I will send a page of text to be decoded by the CW machine at 17-18wpm.

I have been getting excellent results and I hope to get to a steady 20wpm with my straight key during the Christmas break.

I keep training the lower speeds as I would like to maintain the capacity to communicate with beginners at very low speeds.


Posted: 2019-12-02 10:16
Thank you, Jo Bergler - I thought I was the only person in the known universe using Ultimatic mode!

I'm using the Morserino-32 which has an excellent and fast (unlike the QCX) morse de-code so I can see what I'm sending. It also has a good built-in capacitive touch paddle key. The Morserino has an output for my QCX so I'll use it as a keyer when I go on air.

Now for something that I don't really know what I'm talking about...
I will give the straight key a trial, for two reasons:
1. I have been advised by a straight key expert that a straight key is easier to learn because the motions with your hand directly reflect the sounds you hear in your head (whereas the paddle motions are completely different from what you hear);
and
2. (for the future) with a paddle, I can see that it will be easy to send faster than I can read, which is going to cause problems during QSOs. A straight key may help to match sending and reading speeds.


Posted: 2019-12-02 11:15
I heared, that my keyer electronic inserts dits between dahs very precisely and the other way too. So I tried ultimatic mode and liked it. Its quite comfortable.

There is one thing I do different to some textbook advices: I give the dahs with my thumb, and the dits with my index finger. I think this fits better to the modern electronic, which form the dahs precisely and automatically in the same way as it is done for the dits.
If one uses a bug, which forms the dits automatically and he has to form the dahs manually, it is more convenient to give the dits with his thumb and to form the dahs with his index finger.


Posted: 2019-12-02 17:02
Bergler, my rig is not set up yet, because I am timid. (No kidding!) I see you have The Yaesu FT-817. I have the ICOM 718, which I got because some guy made a YouTube video about what a good "prepper" transceiver it was. I am trying to find out what Coax to hook it up with, and the new house is a mess and I am unpacking ...etc. I think it was something like (213???) that might work? Anyway, everything is still in boxes and I have to cut down so many trees here and landscape the property that I need a bulldozer and crew but only have ...me, because the missus refuses to do most o the work.


Posted: 2019-12-02 17:08

( I even have a metronome for spacing!)--ID
No kidding. How admirable. I have a metronome and also got a tone generator so I could hear the notable 432 Hz (See online) I set the code practices to near 432 Hz but have no idea how to control the world so that they all use it.


Posted: 2019-12-03 04:17
I use a dual paddle. It took two months to be comfortable sending without even thinking about it. It has taken 3 years to easily copy 15wpm and 25wpm with some stress and errors.

I wish I had bought a single lever paddle.


Posted: 2019-12-03 06:08
foggycoder:


Now for something that I don't really know what I'm talking about...
I will give the straight key a trial, for two reasons:
1. I have been advised by a straight key expert that a straight key is easier to learn because the motions with your hand directly reflect the sounds you hear in your head (whereas the paddle motions are completely different from what you hear);
and
2. (for the future) with a paddle, I can see that it will be easy to send faster than I can read, which is going to cause problems during QSOs. A straight key may help to match sending and reading speeds.


The difficulties one encounters using straight keys and paddles are totally different. With a straight key, one forms the character entirely by hand and the biggest problem is spacing (not jamming characters together so that they become indistinguishable and preserving correct space between words)

With a paddle, the spacing between characters is taken care of by the keyer, the risk is extra dits.

It is very common to hear "the" being sent as - ..... . instead of - .... . or ....- popping up instead of ...- in text. Likewise for -.... being sent instead of -...


I would make two comments about the advantage of using a straight key.

The first is that I have found that I consistently make far less mistakes with a straight key than with a paddle (basically no mistakes with a straight key, unless I am physically tired). So straight keys seem far more reliable and I suspect this is why they were used at GKA (Portishead) with operators sending reliably at up to 28 wpm on a straight key (as an old GKT hand told me).

The second is that, as one grows older, it becomes much more difficult to use a paddle or even a keyboard rapidly (arthritis, etc).

If you rely on a straight key and send British (i.e. Navy) style, you should be able to do as long as you can move your arm.


K1HMS:
I use a dual paddle. It took two months to be comfortable sending without even thinking about it. It has taken 3 years to easily copy 15wpm and 25wpm with some stress and errors.

I wish I had bought a single lever paddle.


I use a single paddle above 20wpm and do suggest using them instead of dual paddles in iambic A or B. Squeezing doesn't work very well as you pick up speed and then one has to unlearn it.



Posted: 2019-12-03 09:35
ID:
...send British (i.e. Navy) style,...


What is "British Navy style"?





Posted: 2019-12-03 11:26
British Navy style sending:

Front edge of the key at the edge of the table in front of oneself. One holds the key with three fingers as usual but with one's arm and elbow in mid-air without any support. Sending is done by the wrist and forearm. It is actually very relaxing, if one's posture is good and there is almost no fatigue.

British or Navy style sending reduces greatly (actually pretty much eliminates) carpal tunnel syndrome, which used to be called "glass elbow".

To use a straight key in this fashion, the knob is conical and quite tall (1.5- 3 cm). A modern example of this type of key would be the Begali Blade.

The so-called "American" style of sending involves leaning one's elbow and forearm on the table and induces cramps easily. The keys have flat, low knobs, close to the base. An example of this type of key would be the J-38 or the Junker.


Posted: 2019-12-03 12:16
Strange, the Junker, an excellent German design, should be designed for the American style of sending?

Besides that: When you send European way, hence with pumping the wrist, it will be hard to send with 25 wpm (first class telegrapher requirement for plain text), that means your wrist with the underarm mass, has to move up and down with a frequency of over 10 Hz.

Quite fatiguing if possible at all.

[quote]Thread: How many Straight Key Users are here? [/quote]

Who of the human readers could possibly know the answer?
"Get your licence and go on air" , such is told me about this kind of questions, and you can interrogate your QSO-partner about his keys as introduction to a rag chew.


Posted: 2019-12-03 13:27
foggycoder:
What is "British Navy style"?





"British"


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPsgEdmlUf0&ab_channel=jo2slz

Us style (after 12 mins point) in this army vid

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmg1MlstxWM&ab_channel=NW7US


cb




Posted: 2019-12-03 14:48
Okay, I've watched those videos. It looks like "British Navy style" is with your elbow in free space, and "US style" is with your elbow supported on the table.


Posted: 2019-12-03 23:26
K1HMS:
I use a dual paddle. It took two months to be comfortable sending without even thinking about it. It has taken 3 years to easily copy 15wpm and 25wpm with some stress and errors.

I wish I had bought a single lever paddle.

-- You have done a lot Hamilton. That is admirable skill

K1HMS:
I use a dual paddle. It took two months to be comfortable sending without even thinking about it. It has taken 3 years to easily copy 15wpm and 25wpm with some stress and errors.

I wish I had bought a single lever paddle.




Posted: 2019-12-03 23:30
Today I found out what a "blade" was.
http://i2rtf.com/blade.html
However, the Begali is a bit pricey.


Posted: 2019-12-04 08:05
Stehpinkler:
Strange, the Junker, an excellent German design, should be designed for the American style of sending?



I never understood why but almost all the pre-War & WWII German keys I know of are designed for US-style sending. I would be glad to hear an explanation.

The origin of the British Navy or continental style keys is clearly to be found in the early European (Italian, French, etc) postal telegraph keys which almost always had a vertical raised knob.

From the beginning, it would seem, American keys had a flat, low knob (vz. the 1881 Bunnell key).

Someone tried to explain this by the fact that wood was less expensive in the US than in Europe and that therefore European postal desk were smaller than US ones and forced the operator to put the key on the desk's edge. Go figure . . .

I think, however, the difference in US and continental sending styles goes a long way to explain the extraordinary popularity of bugs in the US up to the 1960s, whereas European bug manufacturers are exceptionally rare.

It just was a lot easier to send fast continental style and the need for a bug never really arose. At least that is my private theory!


Posted: 2019-12-04 14:40
ID:
Is there a notable difference between the
"flat, low knob (vz. the 1881 Bunnell key)" and the blade style key?


Posted: 2019-12-04 20:10
Back to the question of straight key versus paddle for beginners. When staring out on the air it is hard to find code that is good but not too fast.

Many beginners using a straight key have poor or no spacing and dits that are too short like little chirps. With a paddle they may have too much space between characters and words but this only makes it easy for another beginner to copy. The additional dit once in a while is not a big problem.

It is debatable if sending with a straight key helps to learn to copy. I can see where sending "by sound" could help but it can also lead to dit and dah patterns and counting. When using a paddle you almost have to send by sound since there is no longer a 1:1 relationship between keying and the number of dits or dahs.

Most agree getting on the air early helps to learn to copy. Copying is hard enough the first time on the air without the added stress of trying to master the straight key at the same time and it helps others get on the air since the code is easier to copy.

In our classes we recommend a paddle although we have had a few students that send great code with a straight key.



Posted: 2019-12-04 21:50

ID:
I never understood why but almost all the pre-War & WWII German keys I know of are designed for US-style sending. I would be glad to hear an explanation.

The origin of the British Navy or continental style keys is clearly to be found in the early European (Italian, French, etc) postal telegraph keys which almost always had a vertical raised knob.

From the beginning, it would seem, American keys had a flat, low knob (vz. the 1881 Bunnell key).

Someone tried to explain this by the fact that wood was less expensive in the US than in Europe and that therefore European postal desk were smaller than US ones and forced the operator to put the key on the desk's edge. Go figure . . .

I think, however, the difference in US and continental sending styles goes a long way to explain the extraordinary popularity of bugs in the US up to the 1960s, whereas European bug manufacturers are exceptionally rare.

It just was a lot easier to send fast continental style and the need for a bug never really arose. At least that is my private theory!




Don't forget the Swedish keys style from Ericsson . . . designed for landline rather than radio.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Et7R8VbXmM&ab_channel=k5msy

The above is a marconi marine keyer from a 1920s design, but the Ericsson style of rear upper contact.

The landline keys were used in low voltage circuits with relay amplifiers - the keys just being designed for sender utility.


wheras


the British style keys were designed for Marconi spark transmitters, where very often the key was directly switching:-

1/ high tension ( eg 300V to the spark transformer for winding up to kilovolts for the spark gap)

and/or

2/ high current say 10 amps to the same primary.

( later cusp/ crossover detection was introduced into the primary with self locking sprung relays )


The morse key also shorted out the receive circuitry so as not to electrocute the operator through his "telephones" ( head phones in today's speak ) using auxiliary contacts.


**
The early method of morsing ( before low volt detection ) involved pounding the key and wipping the hand away to avoid an arc over between the contacts, burning them or welding them shut.
**

This is the origin of the term "fist" for an operators sKill level - ham fist being the lowest


The original Marconi keys have a hefty guillotine ( like a paper cutting guillotine ) isolating blade switch at the side of the key for dealing with welded contacts.


http://w1tp.com/im5500.htm


Originally this was designed with a length of line running up to the ceiling, across and down the wall to allow remote operation e.g from the doorway - the keyer being screwed down to a table fixed to the floor.

Next door in the "quiet room" ( as in keep it quiet" was a motor/generator rotary converter boosting the voltage of the ships DC )

Dr Frankenstein has nothing on this. He wasn't inches away from being zapped on a ship being thrown around.


Here is an example of British keying on a Marconi shore Ericsson style keyer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HPsZ6VLvLE&t=206s&ab_channel=djringjr

These keyers used to have the contact tabs bent over by the British operators; eventually after being straightened too many times they would break.


By the 1980s the UK Post Office Telegraphs had started shortening the tabs and re-orientating the contact block to match


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hBIFE7AOSk&ab_channel=FrankGeisler

The latest incarnation of the Ericsson light touch keyer being adapted for more robust action is probably the example above, still in limited "boutique" production if you are lucky enough. This has a stronger contact tab and spring contacts.



The German Keyers are finger keyers, including the famous Junker strain, even down to the Palm straight keyer ( sadly no longer in production but not very popular when it was ).

https://www.eham.net/reviews/view-product?id=5601



But C 1910 Telefunken Wireless keys were just as clunky as British ones

https://image.jimcdn.com/app/cms/image/transf/dimension=890x10000:format=jpg/path/s51da16c62ffc1be6/image/i54ca709fbd83ae43/version/1515663996/german-morsetaste-telefunken-circa-1910-key-with-heavy-contacts.jpg



My guess is the national tradition makes the difference, and the UK was first with Radio so everyone leaned thumping at first, then, when that was no longer necessary holding the knob to steady the hand ( because of the traditional not very deep design of the British operator's desk with no elbow space )

Everyone who followed would have locking relays to prevent arching and so could be more flexible in arranging the desk . . .


Same small desk - different reason

CB


Posted: 2019-12-05 08:42
You make some very interesting points.

I have a suspicion that the larger arm movements involved in Navy sending led to fewer errors in high seas than if the operator had leaned his forearm on the desk in the radio room.

It is worth pointing out, however, that the Marconi PS213 design derives overwhelmingly from the so-called Ericsson key (which was actually designed by Öller and is inaccurately attributed to Ericsson).

Thanks for the link to the Telefunken key, which is a classic "postal"key, but I am still at a loss to explain the German transition to flat knobs and US style sending in the Junker ca. 1931.

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