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Has anyone successfully connected CW paddles to a Mac running SmartSDR for Mac?

I was able to assemble the interconnection as described Section 7 in the SmartSDR for Mac - Software user guide, and it does work, but not well. I added the two capacitors described in Section 7.1 to prevent "bounce". However, it is not a satisfactory set up on my system. It is very difficult to come off of the left (dit) paddle in time to get the right number of "dits". It is even difficult to stop the dits in time with the keyed speed set well below 15 wpm. At anything over 20 wpm it is nearly impossible to send accurate CW using the iambic keyer function in the SmartSDR software.

I wondered if anyone has experienced this and worked through it to find a solution short of connecting a straight key, which I would rather not do.

Best Answer

  • Mike-VA3MW
    Mike-VA3MW Administrator, FlexRadio Employee, Community Manager, Super Elmer, Moderator admin
    Answer ✓

    I tried it when it first came out with similar results.

    What I think is happening is that while the mechanical part works (sending a dot or dash) that the LAN part is very variable resulting in strange things happening.

    Even your home LAN is not a constant speed. The Network switches can buffer packets.

    This is why the Maestro sends actual ASCII characters over the LAN as it eliminates that issue. Each character you send is decoded to an ASCII character and then that character is sent to the radio and the software in the radio sends morse elements.


  • K7JV
    K7JV Member ✭✭

    That is an interesting and very viable thought. I was thinking that since the "switching" input to the Mac from the paddles would produce a side-tone in the Mac, essentially without delay. But it hadn't occurred to me that some of the processing might be in the radio instead of the Mac. I do know that the problem does not exist at all, when using the CW paddles connected to the Maestro, whether the Maestro is on the network with the radio or miles away using the WAN to connect with the radio.

    Dang! I was hoping that CW using the Mac might be a possibility. But I do think it will be a straight key only process.

    Thank you for your input. I was hoping someone would chime in and say, "Yes, and this is how I made it work." 😊 I've not delved into the possibility of using the keyboard for my CW input device, but my typing skills are horrific compared to my paddle skills, such as they are.

  • snacey0103
    snacey0103 Member ✭✭

    I have the same problem and same question with SmartSDR for Mac and my Vibroplex paddles. Unfortunately, I don't have a Maestro and the radio is connected to my LAN via WiFi - not CAT6.

    Do you think that Marcus, the creator of SmartSDR for Mac knows about this issue yet? I may connect with him to see if there is anything that can be done.

  • K7JV
    K7JV Member ✭✭

    Snacey0103, thank you. That would be great. The description of the "hook up" in the software users manual describes the cable adaptations that need to be made, and I was able to find the components. I purchased a cable that had a ⅛" stereo male on one end and a DB9 connector on the other. (I did have to change the pin connections from the way it came to the connections required by the configuration in the manual) I also purchased a cable that had a DB9 connector on one end and a USB connector on the other, and it had the necessary electronics built into the DB9 end to interface the two. My initial testing showed the significant "bounce" on the dits, so I did add the .1 micro-farad capacitors described in the software manual which it called for, for exactly that purpose. I will note that I did not see any improvement when I added the two ceramic capacitors. So I did everything as described in the manual, but unfortunately no joy.

    If you have access to Marcus, that would be a great idea. 👍

  • Steve - AK0M
    Steve - AK0M Member ✭✭

    As I prepare for some down time due to knee surgery and being away from the shack desk during prime contest season this fall, I am looking for the latest recommendation for connecting paddles to my Mac running SmartSDR. Any updates to this thread for best way currently to do this satisfactorily?

    In the Windows world, it looks like WKFlex and a winkeyer at my laptop (maybe the new WKUSB-AF?) is the solution in that environment.

    How about for my Mac laptop?


    Steve AK0M

  • Arizona Mike
    Arizona Mike Member ✭✭

    When I contacted the developer in regard to CW on the MAC using SSDR for zMac he was extremely short and not helpful.

    very disappointed.

    had a similar experience with the Dax and Cat using his app.

    finally switched to SSDR on Parallels/Win 10 and everything working.

  • K3SF
    K3SF Member ✭✭✭
    edited October 2022

    check out xkey at

    Mario is the creator of xdax and xcat for Mac

    see youtube demo

    hope this helps

    Paul K3SF

  • Steve - AK0M
    Steve - AK0M Member ✭✭

    xkey looks interesting but it appears that teensies are not available.

  • Arizona Mike
    Arizona Mike Member ✭✭

    As a second or perhaps third effort, I tried changing the various ceramic capacity values in an effort to affect proper CW ops on Mac SSDR. Spent the better part of a day this week, but unfortunately no luck.

    I am not sure if the developer of SSDR Mac ever operated CW with paddles on the mac, but the only benefit I see at this time to his effort is a side tone to the Mac. CW ops are finicky and there is no way I could develop a reasonable fist timing.

    When software developers advertise their programs with a certain feature or ability and people base their purchases on that promise or feature, I expect the feature to function properly. Please don't get me wrong, I think the developer has a very nicely designed and functional product. I would suggest he place a note in the description that the CW keyer is a work in progress and not completely functional.

    My solution as discussed previously was to run a 40' shielded/balanced cable from my Mac to the radio which resides in a IT closet outside my office/studio.

    All in all, with the exception of CW, I highly recommend SSDR Mac.

  • Arizona Mike
    Arizona Mike Member ✭✭

    A new SSDR MAC CW update was issued on 10/13/22. Have not tried it yet.......

    The developer writes:

    "The CW Keyer has been improved in several ways (done)"