Cliff Cheng, Ph.D., AC6C

Novice QSLs: Page 1.

Novice QSLs: Page 2

Key Collection - Page 1

Key Collection - Page 2

Key Collection - Page 3

Construction Projects

For Sale

Links to Friends

Remembering Lenore Jensen, W6NAZ

Photos: Early-Lenore

Photos: More Lenore, Part I

Photos: More Lenore, Part II

Photos: Bob & Lenore @ SFVARC

Photos: MARS Vietnam & Phone Patching

Key Collection - Page 1

Welcome to My Key Collection. Please Come in and Scroll Down.

Philmore J-38 Straight Key.

I have always admired fine craftsmanship.  Even before I earned my Novice license in 1975, I collected keys.   My collection at its high point had about two dozen keys and a sounder.   Except for the three keys and the sounder, below, I had to sell my collection, and the rest of my gear to pay for my education.  What is pictured below is what I have left. 

I collected keys I wanted to use rather than to collect an example of everything made.  I am not interested in discussing "value."  I love great craftsmanship.  I am not out to make a buck.  

Above is my Novice station.  This is the only surviving photo that has a picture of my first key, the Philmore J-30 Straight Key.  This was not a great key.  It was mass produced.  It was actually cheaply made.  You could not adjust this key and have it stay that way.  It would go out of adjustment in mid-QSO. 

I could not do anything about the  how poorly the Philmore J-38 was made.  But I did make a real fine base for it.  I got a piece of scrap mahogony.  At school he had some wood workign tools at electric shop so I cut a based for the J-38.  I finely sanded the base for months ad finished it.  I guess the base was the only thing I could do to compensate for the key. 

I prefer a paddle over a bug.  Do not ask me why.  Why is not important to me in this case.  To me a key is a very personal tool.  One wears it in and adjusts it just so.  It sort of like worn shoes.  We have a unique wear pattern.  Yes, I hate it when someone adjusts my keys, even more sho when I get my car back from the mechanic and they had altered my car stereo presets.   From trial and error I determined that I am a paddle or straight key operator and that is that. 

I read in the newspaper that the woman Julia Roberts played and won an Oscar for, Erin Brockvich, in real life was such a cloth  horse, she changed her cloths 4-5 times a day.  Well, I am that way with keys.  It is not uncommon for me to change keys a few times during a QSO. 

Brown CTL Paddle and Straight Key

When I first spotted a Brown paddle at the TRW swapmeet, and touched it for the first time, I bought it right then and there.  The obvious superior quality hooked me.  I became a key collector.   


This key is the prize of my collection.  Even though I had to sell my other keys I kept this one. 

The key was stored for many years when I was off the low bands.  When I retrieved it from storage it was the exact way I had left it.  It was perfectly adjusted to my fist.  What great quality! 

I have perfectly adjusted this key for hare trigger responsiveness for my fist.  And its stayed adjusted.  That is the mark of a quality key. 

CTL stands for "combination twin lever" paddle and straight key on one based.   

Brown Brothers' keys were all personally hand made by Bill Brown from 1964 to 1979 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The CTL was in production from 1964 to 1974.  The CTL cost $18.95 in 1964.  There is no way to tell when my key was made for Mr. Brown did not number his creations or keep records.   From 1974 to 1979, the improved CTL-A was in production; which had an improved leaf spring mechanism which replaced the dual paddle pivots. 

For a very informative article on Brown Brothers Machine Company made keys see Jim Zimmerman,  N6KZ's Vail Correspondent article from January 1993:  Note: Jim was formerly KG6VI. 

Vibroplex Keyer - Chrome

This is my most flashy key. The red and chrome are stunning in contrast.

Randy Cole, KN6W has a Vibroplex Collector's Page: but that page focused on bugs and leaves out the Vibrroplex paddle others and I own.  I never was a bug man.  It seems bugs are more popular han paddles, but I prefer a paddle or straight key to a bug.  See Vibroplex's page:

Vibroplex Belt Buckle