2019: An Ironic Year

The Begali Intrepid Bug / Mono Lever Key

The genius of Piero Begali and his fine keys has led me to my newest ham radio goal – 300 entities using QRP, and possibly only CW. It all started when I was finishing the restore of my Collins Gold Dust Twins. I thought it would be cool to use a Bug with the Twins – and in fact, a Vibroplex Bug like the one I had in the 70’s – when as a Novice, I graduated from a straight key to a Vibroplex Bug.

I came across a used Begali Intrepid and had to try it. It was fun, but I actually hated the feel of using a Bug. When I wired it up for the KWS-1, I made a mistake and wired it so it worked as a single lever key, and voila! I realized that that was my calling – I had been using all of the wrong keys since getting my Ham License in 1973 – as WN2QHN in Newton, NJ.

OK – so 46 years later, I finally got the right key – back then these were called “Cootie Keys” – and usually made out of hack saw blades.

Begali HST III Single Lever Key

I sold all keys that I had and purchased a Begali HST III and a Sculpture Mono. I love them both, and so far, the HST III has a slight edge – its finger piece is at the perfect height, and it just feels a tiny bit more comfy than the Sculpture Mono – but don’t get me wrong, I’m splitting hairs here. Because I love the feel of the single lever keys – all of a sudden I want to send CW again – and because I was “just goofing around” with a Norcal40A and Red Hot 40 (more nostalgia that morphed into something else), I want to try 300 countries with a “serious” but ultra portable QRP rig – the Elecraft KX-2.

I’m starting to see nostalgia as a big “happy accident” – with “unintended consequences” that turn out to (ironically) be better than what I had anticipated and wanted. I like that – its fodder for great story telling.

In some ways this is an “ironic” year for me. Things have turned out at work and with my Ham Radio hobby differently, but actually better than what I had hoped for – or what I was expecting.

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