When I saw a Facebook post about a straight key fabricated with a 3D printer, I was intrigued. I headed over to KC5ILR’s eBay listing to take a look and wound up buying one for $21.95 plus shipping. (This was one of two impulse purchases I made recently. I’ll post about the other one later.) These keys are also available on the C.W. Morse website.
Here are the advertised specifications from the eBay listing:
Width: 1.45" Length of Base: 2.68" Overall Length: 4 1/8" Weight : <1 oz. Action: Single Max .100" gap. Spring: Coil Chrome Color: Black & Red Style: Camel Back Arm Wiring: Stranded Copper Contacts: Solid Aluminum Resin: Biodegradable PLA Polymer Construction: 3D Thermal Printed Screws: 18-8 Stainless Steel 3MM Socket Head Cap Screws Nuts: 3MM Stainless Steel Jam Nuts
The key was promptly shipped and I received it a few days later. Using a 3mm hex key, I was able to easily adjust the spring tension and contact spacing to my liking. For a plastic key, it has a pretty good feel to it. The feel is crisp and there is no side-to-side slop. The hardware used is all quality stuff. It doesn’t have the solid feel of a more expensive, all-metal key but I wasn’t expecting that.
Given its very light weight, I found that it needs to be attached to some kind of base to keep it steady during use. The base of the key has two counter-sunk holes for mounting. I’ll definitely be making up some sort of base for it in the near future.
Although this key looks like a toy, it’s actually a pretty decent straight key. At this price, I think it would a great starter key for beginners. If nothing else, it’s an interesting conversation piece. I’ll probably be using it mostly for portable outings where I’m operating from a picnic table.
My trusty J-38 can rest easy; there’s no chance of it being replaced by this little, plastic key. I am, however, looking forward to spending some time with it on the air. Congratulations to KC5ILR and his son for coming up with this cool little key.
73, Craig WB3GCK