Straight Brass is located in Ventura, California. The key is the only product. Each key has a serial number. and only a few are built at any one time, and I am the one who builds them.

Brass details are investment cast. Most round parts are CNC machined and some brass parts are nickel plated. Bearings and springs are made of stainless steel. Contact points are in fine silver (0.995). The connecting cable is hidden, exiting in one place at the lower edge of the base.

The base, of granite, (no lead filling needed!) is 115 x 76 x 23 mm. The key is 17 cm long over all and 7 cm high. The weight (mass rather!) is 1050 gram, about 2 lb 5 oz.

The base has two through-holes for fixed mounting on a bench, something that can enhance the operating feel even more. Keys are delivered with four self-sticky felt bottoms (red, green, dark blue and black) so you can attach the one color you prefer. With each key also comes a small, fixed, 7 mm wrench for the hard to reach lock nuts on the bottom contact screws.

Just about everybody who tries it agrees that the feel is second to none, and that the key is easy on the eyes as well! This is good. It was what I set out to achieve, years ago. Maybe one customer says it best:

Carl,
The key arrived this weekend. You did a beautiful job.
The feel is the best I have ever experienced.
Good luck on your business, Carl.

Dan McCranie
AA6GG

(Thanks Dan! Your satisfaction is my reward.)

STRAIGHT BRASS CAN ALSO HAVE A FEW BENDS

Cost: $1395 +CA tax (if applicable) & shipping

Order yours, or send your questions, from/to carl@straightbrass.com

The Representative for Europe is Mr. Andy Barter, G8ATD. He can be reached at andy@vhfcomm.co.uk, and take a look at his very interesting magazine, VHF Commnications: http://www.vhfcomm.co.uk/

Best 73s de Carl,

KQ6AX et SM6MOM.


Some Manufacturing and Finishing Details

A lot of effort (and money) has been spent on details. As an example, let's look at the adjustment knob for the spring tension. A regular screw would have worked, but the finish of their threads is not very good, and the pitch is so small that you would have to spin the knob a lot to get any noticeable change. So I decided on a three-entry thread. This one is so special that I could not even locate a tap and a die for it! So the thread is specially designed for this key and cut in a CNC machine. The faster thread results in a more intuitive adjustment of the arm force. After cutting one thread, the machine rotates the piece 120 and cuts another one, rotates and cuts the last one! The finish of the thread is so good that the nut spins down the screw by its own weight!

The spring tension adjustment knob:

The knob and screw are made of brass in one piece.

It is polished and a thin copper layer (“copper flash”) is applied as a barrier.

The copper is polished, then nickel-plated (not chrome!).

The surfaces are polished to an optical finish. Just wiping a fingerprint off the top surface with a soft rag may introduce microscopic scratches. Avoid touching it, since you may not be able to restore its original finish!

If you have two transmitters to key, a conical plug can be moved to one hole or another, selecting between the inputs. You can also connect to the top contact, which of course is always keyed. (The connection is made on a terminal below the base.)

While trying to show the attention to detail, I spot a hole that needs de-burring… Well, even the Sun has spots. I am sure it is de-burred by now! The axle has a hole, at each end, with 60 conicity, fitting a bearing screw with the same conicity. The screw is made of stainless steel, like the axle, and the nut is made from brass with nickel plating. When the screw is set as tight as one wants it, the nut is used to lock it securely in place.
Some manufacturers use ball bearings. They are great for things that go around and around, but would not give any benefits here. A sleeve bearing would be better. Electric motors and the like, have a high angular velocity, but even at 30 wpm, it will probably not exceed 0.1 rad/s in this application.

No need for ball bearings here. The present bearings are easily opened, should one want to remove the arm. Furthermore, with appropriate setting it is free from play, something the ball bearings always have.

Check in now and then for possible upgrades of this  page!

Ventura, November 15, 2005.