What's the next key?

Just starting out or wanting to learn about something new. Need help setting up your first station. Want to meet others just starting out. This category is for you.

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What's the next key?

Post by N5YOZ » Fri Jan 15, 2010 3:50 am

First post!!

The general consensus is that a "straight" key ie. "up and down" J-38 type, etc. is the one to start with.

Bugs have their following but have a steep learning curve. Is a single lever paddle, sideswiper/cootie the next step up or is there something else out there that I am over looking?


Ol' Kev
Ol' Kev
N5YOZ - Amateur Extra; First Licensed 1992
CW Wannabe
Yaesu FT-2400 & FT-7400
Signal Electric Spark Gap Key, J37/J45, Navy Flameproof, Vibrokeyer
Maybe today's my day . . . but with 5 billion people in the world, what are the chances?

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Post by ka7wzm » Fri Jan 15, 2010 4:44 am

Hello Kev,
Well as for me, I started with a J-38 that I still use a lot. Have used it since the late 80s. My step up was a Vibroplex Brass Racer Iambic, which I modified to a single paddle. Nice change from the J-38 now and then.

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Post by NT9K » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:57 am

I started with a straight key and used it for over 25 years. After I joined the SKCC, I was introduced to using a bug, then I went for the sideswiper. Since all 3 have different sending methods, I don't think it really matters which one you go to next. To me, the sideswiper was the most difficult to learn to use, but I think it is the most fun and versatile key in my lineup. The sideswiper will allow you to go fast, slow or anywhere in between. Don't expect to learn it overnight. It does take some getting used to, but I think well worth it.

I sure do like my GHD sideswiper. I have never tried anything better!
73, Bill - NT9K
SKCC #1926c69t9was8hofdxq2dxc1

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Post by W5ALT » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:26 pm

I would recommend that you start with a SK to get the rhythm of CW ingrained, but after that, I'm not sure it makes a whole lot of difference if you tackle the bug or 'swiper next.

I started with a J-38 too many years ago and later built and learned a 'swiper. The reason was really very simple: I didn't have money for a bug. Later I was given a bug and learned that. I found the transition from 'swiper to bug to be fairly easy - a couple hours of practice and I was on the air using it.

I guess if I had to make a recommendation and actually had a choice, I'd still recommend the SK -> 'swiper -> bug route, but the 'swiper will be the toughest to get the rhythm for. But as Bill says, once you get it down, it's the most flexible, too.

Walt, W5ALT

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Post by kb4qqj » Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:27 pm

Hey Kev,
I too would recommend you start with the SK and stay with it till, as Walt says" it is "ingrained" in your mind. After that is will be a matter of preference and how well you master that rhythm. The cootie is in my opinion the hardest to good cw on fast. It is fairly easy at 15 wpm and slower. The bug is harder to slow down but will go real fast easy if you can tame it. I'm suer you've heard the 30 wpm dits and 15 wpm dahs out there.
Bottom line is make very good code on the sk then decide which interests you most, cootie or bug, and go for it. Bear in mind, the cootie is VERY easy to homebrew and even new ones are inexpensive. Bugs are hard to homebrew and more expensive. Good luck and hope to see you on the bands.


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