Setting up for "Straight-Key" Operation:

11/10/2001

This is not only for how to set up for good comfortable "Straight-Key" operation, but we will present a series of easy exercises that will get you into almost "Machine-Like" sending.

  • Take a basic straight key, that has good adjustment capability, and do the following:
  • Open the contact spacing to about an 1/8". (not critical)
  • Loosen the spring set, until the key paddle falls onto the contacts.
  • Ensure that the side motions are minimal and yet free.
  • Carefully adjust the spring until the paddle just barely reaches the maximum opening.
  • The paddle at this time will only require a feather touch to close.
  • A sheet of paper between the contacts can be used to clean the contacts by pressing lightly closed.
  • Now adjust the closure to about the thickness of an ordinary sheet of paper (about 0.003") and lock all adjustments.
  • You should be able to carefully slide a piece of that paper in and out of the contacts without any play.
  • Find something realtively heavy or stable, and mount the key (some folks have even used a brick, with heavy rubber bands around it) on its side.
  • You should find that this will place the key right at 1st finger level.
  • Special Note: Many folks make the mistake of trying to position themselves to the key they have placed on the desk. Don't do it that way! First sit down in a comfortable manner, with your arm extended in a position that you could maintain for a long time without discomfort. Now, place the key in a direct line with your ARM, so that your finger rests almost at the key button. Now, we are ready for our 3 exercises. You will need a clock with a second hand that you can see easily, to use like a metronome.

  • Exercise #1:
  • You will need to learn how to "tap" the key with your finger, but without flexing the finger. Learn to snap your arm and wrist in such a way that if you imagined there was a fly on the key paddle, you would NOT squish it, but only stun or kill it and it then drops off.
  • Your finger should not be stiff, and do not try to tap the key with finger motion of any kind.
  • Do not use the very point of your finger, as this will result in a definite obnoxious "splatter" sound.
  • You will discover that when you do this correctly, using the spot on your finger just a little ways back from the point, but not quite to to real fleshy part, is where you will get the most pleasant "crisp" sound.
  • Do this at precise 1 second intervals, while watching the second hand, and measure how even and crisp your "dits" are. They should not be mushy, nor should they have a jerky hash sound to them.
  • When you can consistantly do this for at least one whole minute, without any mistakes, then you are ready for Execise #2.
  • You should also notice that with practice, you will be quite comfortable in this exercise.
  • Exercise #2:
  • Now, using this same process, try doing 2 dits per second consistantly, at very precise intervals.
  • When you can do this without any mistakes, for at least one whole minute, you are ready for Exercise #3.
  • Exercise #3:
  • For this exercise, you will continue the same process as Exercise #1 and Exercise #2, except that you will now need to do these key taps at 4 per second .
  • However, you only do the first 3 of the 4 key taps, leaving the 4th as a open.
  • This will provide you with an ideal rythm for close to 13wpm, for neat characters like r,k,p,x,f,l,c,y,q.
  • You will also find that you can do numbers like 3,4, and even 5 with ease!
  • Please note that the real effort here is to learn to control the "finger-hand-wrist-arm" as a unit!

    With practice, you will find that you can sent almost "machine-like code" with very little effort, and can control your sending speed to within 1WPM of your desired speed, with anything from 5WPM to over 20WPM. You will also find that about 15WPM is a very comfortable speed to send.


    StraightKey.html - SfE-DCS, ddf - 11/10/2001