One of my favourite straight keys is the famous Junker DBGM key. It is built like the proverbial tank and is a pleasure to use. It isn’t the prettiest looking key but hey, looks can be deceiving in any case.
This classic key has an interesting history. It comes from the 1950s and is heavy, which is great as it doesn’t move about on the bench during even the most spirited operation. It was used at the former Telstra coastal radio station Sydneyradio, call sign VIS, that was situated in the Sydney suburb of La Perouse. The station sadly is no longer in existence, having been closed down in 1996. I acquired the key from Herman Willemsen, who was the station manager at the time it closed. Herman told me he didn’t use the key himself but his staff did. This was the last key there and he made sure it went with him when he left. Junkers were standard keys used at the station; in fact they were used by all Australian Maritime coastal stations.
The Junkers key was a product of the Junker family, who were the militaristic land-owning aristocracy of Prussia in the early 1800s. The key was designed by Joseph Junker, a German Naval Radio Officer during the First World War. He patented his design in 1920 and the keys went on to be used by the German and NATO navies.
This key is extremely smooth to use. With the metal lid closed, it is also rather silent. I like using it a lot. it is unusual in that it features two large adjusters; one to adjust the contact spacing and the thumbscrew for the tension of the lever – it achieves this by actually raising or lowering the platform underneath the spring.
There are three connections at the rear of the key; they provide make or break keying as well as on/off keying. This means that the rear connections are kept closed until the key is pressed which opens the rear contacts and closes the front ones. All this means is that the key has its own form of Transmit/Receive switching.