I recently bought another key from KC5ILR & Sons over eBay. This inexpensive little straight key could become one of my favorites.
Last year, I came across these straight keys that KC5ILR and his sons produce on a 3-D printer. They sell a variety of key styles in various colors. I bought a camelback style key and wrote about my initial impressions. While it is a nice key, the aluminum contacts didn’t always close cleanly and I detected some slight noise in the keyed signal.
I noticed that KC5ILR’s keys are now using solid brass contacts, so I bought one of their new lightweight Micro keys to give it a try. I received it a few days after ordering it and boy am I impressed.
Here are the specifications from the eBay listing:
Width: 1-7/16" Length: 4-1/8" Height: 1-3/8" Weight : <2 oz. Action: Single Max .100" gap. Spring: Coil Chrome Style: Camel Back Arm Wiring: Stranded Copper Contacts: Solid Brass Resin: Biodegradable PLA Polymer Construction: 3D Thermal Printed Screws: 18-8 Stainless Steel 3MM Socket Head Cap Screws Nuts: 3MM Stainless Steel Jam Nuts Screw Holes To Mechanically Fasten. Standard 3.5MM Receptacle (Use Tip & Sleeve Mono Or Stereo) Solid Brass Contacts For The Ultimate QSO.
It took no time at all to adjust the contact spacing and tension to my liking. The base has countersunk holes for permanent mounting but I applied the four stick-on, rubber feet that came with the key.
The key has a 1/8-inch audio jack for connection to the rig. A cable is not provided so you’ll need to provide a stereo or mono patch cable. When using a stereo cable, the key is wired to use only the tip and sleeve. So, using a regular stereo patch cord, I can connect the key directly to my KX3. I connected it to my code practice oscillator for my initial tests.
The solid brass contacts are a huge improvement over the earlier aluminum contacts; the keying was absolutely clean. Even though the key weighs less than 2 ounces, I found that the design of the base makes it very stable when keying. The overall feel of the key is impressive.
I recently took my new key out for some portable operating. I used it to make a few SKCC contacts during a Weekend Sprintathon (WES) contest. As expected, this little key performed well and keyed cleanly. This will be a nice little key to take along when weight is a major concern.
If you’re looking for a small straight key for portable operation, look no further. For $19.95 USD, you really can’t go wrong. You can also buy these keys directly from the C. W. Morse website.
73, Craig WB3GCK
[Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in this company. I’m just a satisfied customer.]