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Bens Best Bent Wire


My uncle, who was a Merchant Marine in WWII used to tell me this. He was a ham, and said it would develop my fist musically.

I was a small child at the time, and through his enthusiasm for all things geeky, especially Ham Radio, he inspired me to pursue technology as both a hobby and vocation - an old crystal AM radio kit was my introduction into the fascinating world of radio propagation and electronics, but information I have on the musically phrased, Bens Best Bent Wire, is rather sparse I find.

So what is the backstory on this, and especially, what is the nature of its endearment to amateur radio, that so many Hams are enamored of?

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In the RAF we used "best bent wire" as a test transmission largely because it has a lovely jazz rhythm. Some put "bens" in front, some put another "bent" on the end, but i you send it a reasonable speed, it does flow rather nicely. Hope this helps.

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The best information I have on this is a single post on an old contesting discussion list about 12 years ago, related to a thread about an issue of TenTec Digest here:

http://lists.contesting.com/_tentec/2003-08/msg00545.html

But I really wonder if the phrase, widely accepted as a warm up practice with a wonderful ring to it, originated with the military or commercial radio services rather than the amateur radio community.

A bit more background was provided in a blog post by Dave Richards AA7EE, who infers that this was an inovation by commercial radio operators performed prior to the beginning of their shifts, to loosen up their fists before going on the air.

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My Granddad was a navigator on Halifax medium bombers during WWII. As such he would use Morse code. He in turn taught my father (a small boy after the war) Morse code and they would practice by tapping on the pipework in the house, from bedroom to bedroom, in the middle of the night, much to the annoyance of Grandma.

I was enthralled at this and wanted to learn Morse code, and the first thing Grandad taught me was Best Bent Wire l. I can still remember the Morse today.

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