CW has always been my favorite mode. As a very young novice in 1960, it was all I could afford. There is an old saying, "Practice makes perfect." It didn't take that long before I was copying in my head. The Navy taught me how to copy on a "mill" - military parlance for a typewriter with all capital letters. When I finally reached the point in life where I could afford a SSB rig, it was actually a letdown! I found that CW was "something special". I also discovered that this "original digital mode" had a lot going for it: Simpler rig construction, effective QRP operations, and more reliable contacts even when the band was 'dead'. I am primarily a CW guy. It's a personal choice and one I'm quite comfortable with.
Visit The Telegraph Office at http://www.telegraph-office.com//tel_off.html . It's a fabulous place to explore the romance and history of telegraphy. It's like Disney World - you can't enjoy this site in just one session.
Below is my current complement of keys. Click once to make the picture bigger, and once more to make it even bigger! Click again to go back. I've always felt that for a confirmed CW addict, the key is the single most ergonomically critical piece of equipment. I fully agree that one can send good code with two pieces of tinned wire. I also applaud those who creatively construct ingenious bugs, swipers, straight keys and paddles out of some of the most innocuous raw material to be found. I've done it too! But when I sit down for an evening of hamming, I want to feel "right" and in order for that to happen I have to have the "right" key for me.
The following link is to a series of articles written by a well-known authority on key and paddle architecture. Ulrich Steinberg N2DE/DJ5US is also the co-designer of the Begali line of keys. There's some very valuable and interesting information in these articles for those seeking some guidance on purchasing a key. You can read this series at: http://www.qsl.net/n/n3cw/paddles/docs/N2DE%20Paddle%20Reviews.pdf .
All of the keys pictured below are "right" for me. They may not be "right" for anyone else. That's expected. Purchasing a keying device is a very personal decision. All the pre-purchase research in the world won't guarantee that the key is "right" -- not until you've used it for at least a month or so. It takes time. I has taken me a long time to arrive at the point where I'm now "satisfied" with the brass I'm pounding.
REMEMBER -- you can click once or twice to enlarge or supersize any of these pictures and then click again to reduce or use the back button to return to original size.
Above is the Begali INTREPID Bug. Simply the finest semi-automatic key I have ever used. Adjusting it is quite a challenge because there is such precise control over everything. But once adjusted, and with proper technique and practice, the code coming out of it sounds like it's coming from a keyer. It weighs six pounds and it doesn't move no matter how hard it's pounded. But "pounding it" is totally unnecessary. Truly a visual pleasure as well as a pleasure to operate. Info at Piero Begali's website: http://www.i2rtf.com/html/intrepid.html and reviews are at: http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/8221 .
Above is my Begali Adventure MONO. This paddle attaches directly to the Elecraft KX3 or KX1 - or - it can sit in its magnetic desktop base. The Adventure MONO is strikingly beautiful and a joy to operate either on the rig or off the desk. It swivels and locks into a comfortable position for either a right or left handed operator. The contacts are solid gold and the key primarily stainless steel with selected gold plating. The finger pieces are very comfortable. The range of adjustment is full and complete. See reviews at: http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/10827 and visit the Begali website for more information at www.i2rtf.com .