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[TenTec] RE: Equipment recomendations for CW gear?

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Subject: [TenTec] RE: Equipment recomendations for CW gear?
From: alex.ai2q@worldnet.att.net (Alex Mendelsohn)
Date: Thu, 17 Dec 1998 11:14:26 -0500
Hi Tom:

First off: good luck in all your new quests!

Now then, I'm a bit of an iconoclast, but I enjoy using a good old fashioned
semiautomatic key. Presently I use an old Ted MacElroy "mac" key--and it's a

When I started out in ham radio in the late 1950s, everyone used a bug of
one sort or another. I started building electronic keyers years ago, and
even owned a keyboard (!) for awhile, but always gravitate back to a bug. I
have many in my collection, including old Martins, Vibroplexes, Johnsons,
macs, Japanese versions, military types--even an old Go-Devil.

Mu suggestion is to get a good solid American made straight key like a J-38,
screw it down to the operating posiiton table, and get good at it (stay away
from Radio Shack junk keys). Then migrate to a Vibroplex--which you can find
at flea markets. If you get the hang of it, you'll join the dwindling group
of OTs that like to preserve some of the art of CW sending. If you can't
master it, sell it to me! HI HI.

Avoid cheap "knock-off" straight keys. There are some awful ones out
there--even those equipped with ball bearings.

If you go with a keyer, there are some excellent paddles out there. IMHO the
best is the Mercury paddle built by my old and now departed (SK) friend
"Dan" Steve Nurkiwicz, N2DAN. I think you'll be hard pressed to find one,
although I hear someone has bought the rights to make them from Steve's YF.

By the way, in my many QSOs with Dan (for a period of time he was a neighbor
who lived a mile away), he always complimented me on my sending and said
that I should not ever even think of using a keyer. he appreciated the art
form of bug sending and praised me for using it as I did--and still do
(wanna sked?)

Be forewarned: all keyers sound alike. If you don't mind sounding like a
robot, you can send some mighty fine--and very fast--code with a keyer.

BTW: If you want to "test" your ability to send with a bug, see if you can
get a CW program to copy it! If it cannot, that may NOT mean you're
improperly using a bug, but it's a fun test nonetheless. My point is that
you can send WELL with a bug--and have a distinguishable "swing."

Vy 73, AI2Q, Alex in Kennebunk, Maine .-.-.

PS: the Omni-V is a really nice rig. I use one every day here. I think
you'll like it.

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-tentec@contesting.com [mailto:owner-tentec@contesting.com]On
Behalf Of Tom Scott
Sent: Wednesday, December 16, 1998 7:42 PM
To: 'Ten-Tec Users Reflector'
Subject: [TenTec] RE: Equipment recomendations for CW gear?


I'm looking for a some advice on a CW key/keyer. I am a new no-code ham
studying hard to get my Technician+ and then General. Just to give you an
idea of my other gear, I am setting up a Ten-Tec Omni V station; still
putting together antennas and other gear. Just ordered a mint condition
Johnson 275W Matchbox yesterday from Surplus Sales in Nebraska. I'm putting
up an 80m dipole (that unfortunately has to be bent pretty severely to fit
our space), and an 80m end-fed Zepp, both fed with ladder line from the
Matchbox. I think the next logical piece of equipment I need to think about
is something for CW.

I've heard lots of passing discussion about different brands, visited a
number of web sites devoted to CW, but still have only the vaguest notion of
what matters and what the differences are between different keys/keyers. I
am seeing opportunities to pick up second hand CW gear from sources like
Steve Ellington's liquidation of his station the other day, but I don't have
any idea where I should start.

I suppose its too early for me to know how interested I'm going to become in
CW. To be completely honest, right now it still feels a bit like an obstacle
to getting HF phone privileges, but I do want to give it a serious try. My
dad's a ham and an elderly retired engineer, living 900 miles away and we're
already planning to exchange CW. The other factor is that I'm trying to
interest my two boys in amateur radio and CW so they will get licenses, so
I'd like them to try their hand at it as well.

So with all the collected CW experience and enthusiasm in this group, can
some of you give me a recommendation as to equipment I should get for CW?
Maybe a brief background on what the important features differences are
between various pieces of gear. I'd rather buy good quality equipment second
hand than cheap stuff new. I need to know brands and models to look for, and
some price ranges that are reasonable. I'd also be interested in some
subjective judgements as to how much quality is worthwhile to someone at my
level, and how much is going to be "gilding the lilly" as it were, again in
terms of brands and models.

Thanks very much!

- Tom
Tom Scott   -   Wyle Electronics   -   KD7DMH
10300 SW Nimbus Ave #PB, Portland, OR 97223
503-603-1931 - TEL   503-684-6620 - FAX
503-504-1583 - Cell    503-604-8651 - Pager

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