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Vintage Amateur and Military Radio Amateur/military receivers and transmitters, morse, and any other related vintage comms equipment.

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Old 15th Apr 2024, 12:58 pm   #1
Malcolm T
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Default Vintage CW key ideas

I am looking for ideas and suggestions for a CW key for use in the field it must be small, light weight, comfortable to use and robust. I was thinking of an ex military key but it may need restoration , so would there be a copy of an ex military key ie new based on old.
A straight key would be preferable but may consider a bug but that could entail a learning curve.
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Old 15th Apr 2024, 1:17 pm   #2
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Default Re: Vintage CW key ideas

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malcolm T View Post
I am looking for ideas and suggestions for a CW key for use in the field it must be small, light weight, comfortable to use and robust.
What about one of those ex-Military keys that you strap to your leg? Racal; Clansman, that sort of thing. There used to be dozens around at radio rallies.

Might not be that easy to use comfortably though, according to a couple of Amateurs I've spoken to in the past who's had experience of them. Certainly easy to carry and robust.
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Old 15th Apr 2024, 2:39 pm   #3
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Default Re: Vintage CW key ideas

Hello Malcolm.

What you want is an old services key.
"Key, WT, 8 Amp".
The "WT" stands for wireless transmission.
Readily available.
Built like a brick dunny.
Sorry, Aussie term to say it is really rugged.
Small and reasonably light.
Generally not expensive.

Cheers.
Robert.
VK2BNM
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Old 15th Apr 2024, 3:13 pm   #4
Malcolm T
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Default Re: Vintage CW key ideas

Interesting , thank you for the suggestions ,
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Old 15th Apr 2024, 3:37 pm   #5
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Default Re: Vintage CW key ideas

An ex-RAF 'Bathtub' key might work for you: fully enclosed Bakelite, adjustable by two easy-to-grip knurled Bakelite nuts and not much bigger than a WT 8 Amp key.

But might be best secured to a base-plate. Just had a look on the Internet and I see they're starting to go for silly money.
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Old 15th Apr 2024, 5:15 pm   #6
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Default Re: Vintage CW key ideas

Bathtub keys definitely need securing to something massive or holding down - I use one most weeks in the museum's open season.

It might be worth arranging a key which can use your battery pack as its anchor. Bathtubs don't have a nice feel, and bakelite is brittle. WT8A may be a beter bet.

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Old 15th Apr 2024, 6:24 pm   #7
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Default Re: Vintage CW key ideas

There was a small key as part of the 1950s "Larkspur" A510 [which was actually an Australian import from AWA].

See https://www.pa3egh.nl/morse-keys-out...eys-australia/

They had a metal flange base with slots that allowed the key to be attached with a webbing strap to the operator's thigh for use on the move.

I used to have one of these in the mid-70s, along with the A510 whip antenna ground-spike base, spikes for the ends of the radials, whip antenna and the radial counterpoise wires.

As an alternative, the Clansman type key as used with the PRC319/320 is probably easier to obtain...

http://www.dieterbrachmann.de/Morset..._-Clansman.htm


Both are rather more ruggedly water-resistant, well sealed and "field-proof" than any of the stuff you will buy that is intended for the general ham market.
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Old 15th Apr 2024, 7:42 pm   #8
Malcolm T
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Default Re: Vintage CW key ideas

Most interesting, Probably better to purchase a key which was made in greater numbers ie not a rarity.
If i,m not mistaken i remember years ago a Mk8 key could be had for about £2 . Some of the prices i have just seen for old keys are ludicrous .
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Old 16th Apr 2024, 6:43 am   #9
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Default Re: Vintage CW key ideas

I found the US Signal Corps J-37 key to be a good design and one that was replicated by various Far Eastern companies after WW2. It has a large spring clip which fastens around the upper thigh.

Plenty of pix on-line.

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Old 16th Apr 2024, 10:01 am   #10
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Smile Re: Vintage CW key ideas

Hi,
Years ago I saw a picture in a magazine showing a key made from an old 5 amp round pin plug.
The springy operating handle was attached to the earth pin, and the live & neutral pins had set screws to adjust the contact gap for dits & dahs.
Sorry, I don't know the proper name for that type of key. But, it was small, light & cheap.
Cheers, Pete.
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Old 16th Apr 2024, 10:36 am   #11
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Default Re: Vintage CW key ideas

This is me using a Racal key "in the field".

You can't send very fast because of not being solidly mounted.

BTW although "new" in sealed package, the cable outer completely disintegrated in about a year!
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Old 19th Apr 2024, 9:42 pm   #12
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Default Re: Vintage CW key ideas

You can't get much smaller than this! In my chaotic filing system, this is called a "Canadian Forces transceiver key" but any more than that I don't know.
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Old 19th Apr 2024, 11:05 pm   #13
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Default Re: Vintage CW key ideas

That looks identical to the British field telephone D MkV key,still on the lookout for one to go on my Paraset replica build as the push button key is awkward to operate.
Mike
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Old 20th Apr 2024, 2:33 pm   #14
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Default Re: Vintage CW key ideas

Hello All.

I still come back to the old services key WT 8Amp.
I have used one for the exact same purpose.

Hello GMB.
I have a couple of keys that were in the CES for the RT-320.
Tried them both and found them quite lacking. Like trying to send with a slice of stale carrot.
The vehicle mounted Clansman key is a different story. Quite a good key. Nice and crisp feel to them.
Too heavy for the job at hand though.
Nice to see a SYNCAL-30 in use in the picture.
I have recently been given one along with quite a bit of other kit.

Hello Martin.
I have a couple of those small keys. I haven't used them portable but maybe I should.
I have not seen them used with radios. As mike says I have only ever seen them with field type phones.

I like the J-37 key with the leg clamp. I also have a WT 8Amp with a cover and leg straps that was part of the kit with a No 19 radio.
I did use a small key that comes with the A-510 radio as mentioned by G6Tanuki.
Small, hard to hang on to as the dovetail base to mount the key was on the side of the A-510 transmitter. The other problem is because of their age the rubber membrane under the knob goes hard and cracks enough to fall to pieces. This destroys their waterproof ability. Then hard to shake the water out.
The WT 8Amp is all open so easy to shake and blow to remove any water.
My favorite key in the jungle; a J-37 with the leg clamp. I could pound out some good Morse with it.
Just my experience of a few years of use in the field.

Enough from me!
Cheers all.
73.
Robert, VK2BNM
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