CW Paddles

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  • Updated 7 months ago
Looking to learn CW and i need some paddles  that will last me for awhile but i don't have big bucks to spend. any suggestions?
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Chuck Sinclair

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Posted 7 months ago

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Kevin

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Not sure what the big bucks are. Begali?

I think Vibroplex and Bencher are OK. Good even. MFJ, no. 

Used market might have some nice alternatives.

Note, there are different types of paddles that operate/act differently. Maybe you can find someone at the local club that will let you try out some options.

73,
Kev K4VD
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Bill English

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Check the Magnakeyer, made by AE8J, in SC.  These paddles are only $80 and it is one of the better paddles I have used in 40 years. 
If none are in stock you may have to wait a couple of weeks, but you might get lucky and find one in stock.
Good Luck
Bill K4FX


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AH0U

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Before you spend $$$ for sny, visit other shacks, go to handsets, swap nets etc and try as many as possible.... there is no one perfect paddle... spacing between levers, height above the desk and on and on... it is a personal decision and you just need to try as many as you can... single paddle, iambic ... the best goes on
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Steven Linley

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You don't need iambic paddles. A Bengali sideswiper style paddle is an option. Bill's note about the Magnetakeyer looks very good.
I saw a Bencher (classic iambic) paddle that looked like it had been set on fire and throw in a ditch, selling for $200 at Dayton last year.
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Stu 2E0XXO

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A simple paddle like this is so easy to use.
Even though i knew morse very well i had never sent it before.
Taught myself to send with one of these in a few months and then worked the speed up to
around 22wpm which iam happy with.
This is a Kent single paddle that appears second hand on occasion.£50 well spent.
My advice is learn morse before you try to send it.if you know what it should sound like it
makes it easier to send correctly.

Good luck
Stu 2E0XXO




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Chuck Sinclair

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Just purchased this 

BENCHER BY-1 BLACK BASE IAMBIC KEYER PADDLE

BENCHER BY-1 BLACK BASE IAMBIC KEYER PADDLE

Total: $90.00

for $90.00 shipped


(Edited)
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Stu 2E0XXO

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Good luck learning to send morse with that Chuck !
Ah... link now changed to the bencher, it was a collins cabinet a second ago,lol
(Edited)
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John

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I recently went through the same iteration.  If you are going to squeeze key you need a paddle.  I don't like or want to squeeze key & found I make less extraneous dits / dahs with a single lever Vibroplex Vibrokeyer.  My favorite key however is a bug; I make far less mistakes.  With practice on the bug you can sound like an electronic keyer.
(Edited)
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Ken - NM9P

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You, sir, are a glutton for punishment, using a bug!  Ha! Ha! 
I never could get used to one.  But my Elmer, Lew Stafford, WA9TPZ  (SK)  could copy in his head at 40+ WPM and send the same with an old railroad bug while carrying on a conversation with other people in the shack at the same time.

Amazing!  (At the time, I was luck to pass the original 5 wpm!)
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John

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Hi Hi

  • I attribute my fondness for a bug to the fact that I play the piano accordion using the old fashioned method of bass note - bass chord,  counter- bass note - bass chord.  Younger or more modern accordionists often just hold the bass-note button down and let the electrons do the work.  I tried that and it royally messes up my timing. 
  • My comments were not a slam on electronic keyers, paddles, or the users thereof.  Just my experience. 
  • So far I can send ~20wpm with the bug and sound almost like an electronic keyer.
  • Practice practice practice; I will break the 20wpm barrier
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Ken - NM9P

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Ha. Just had to yank your chain a bit! I admire anyone who can send with one of those things. I can do about 18-20 on my 40 year old $3.95 Radio Shack Straight Key and it sounds pretty good. But I certainly prefer the paddles.
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AH0U

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I think you will find most iambic paddles are Not used as squeeze keys but as a traditional bug..... I moved from the two lever to a single and like it very much but there are a lot of other factors other than the number of levers that make a paddle the right one for you and finding the right one requires a lot of tryibg
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Burt Fisher

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Start with a straight key.
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Mark - WS7M

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If you are serious about CW then a "good" paddle, if you plan to use a paddle is like the difference between trying to drive in a rally race with small beat up economy car versus a prepped and ready rally racer.

The beat up economy car will get around the track but it won't be pretty and you as the driver will quickly become frustrated.

One of my best ham friends got his license just a little under 2 years ago.  He quickly took the extra exam and passed it with no difficulty.  He started on FM, as a tech and did some satellite stuff but became a little interested in CW.

So I started to work with him each morning and we went from about 12 wpm to now where he easily exceeds my copy speed at close to 40 wpm.

But he can't send much faster than 25 with this cheap Chinese paddle he bought.  I lent him my Begali and suddenly he was sending easily at 33 with few mistakes.

So I believe quality does make a difference when it comes to learning CW.  I would suggest you start with the bencher and see how it works.  If you like CW and want to give it a real go, then spend the money on a very nice paddle.  Not only will it help you, but you will come to treasure it as nice part of your shack.

Mark
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Chuck Sinclair

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I start my online class on the 4th and i needed something i could afford now and with arthritis in both hands the should work out a tad easier for me, but i do appreciate all the info and discussion on this.
(Edited)
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Kevin

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The BY-1 is a fine set of paddles. Keep the contacts clean with something non-abrasive.

I hope you enjoy your class and enjoy the key. I look forward to catching you on the air sometime.

73,
Kev K4VD
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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The Bencher BY-1 is very nice for it's price class, and used to be the "standard" for many CW ops.  I have had mine since 1985 or 1986 (It was about $65-$75 back then).  Once you learn how to adjust it to your own abilities and speed, it is nice.

I am finally going to be in the market for something more upscale with magnetic tension, et. al.  once I retire and get moved this summer.  Everything I am looking at is in the $300+ category, even at Dayton!

That's more than twice what I spent on my quality PR-22UT Mic and broadcast swing arm!

BTW:  My opinion is that everyone should ultimately learn how to send with a straight key (whether initially or later on) so that they can send manual code on simple rigs or when the paddles or keyer are busted.  It also helps develop a sense of the timing in the code.  But some folks have no musical or timing sense and it may be better for them to learn it with the proper timing using automated paddles before trying to do it manually with a straight key.  Different learning styles necessitate different methods.

Ken - NM9P
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Kevin

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I have a number of Begali paddles and swear by the Sculpture along with the Intrepid bug. Now I'm looking at the turtle shell Leonessa. Beautiful stuff. You can definitely go in some amazing directions with keys.

My first paddles:


I worked many NTS sessions with this.

Kev

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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Sweet memories!  I had one of those back in the early 80's. 
I also had their micro-matic touch-sensitive keyer and didn't appreciate it until after I traded it off!
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Stan - VA7NF

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Many comments, built my first electronic keyer in 1961 (tube type) and have tried many methods of keying since.
Two observations:  Iambic paddles are squeeze operation where muscle memory comes into play.  I have found these have a speed limitation of about 30 wpm (actually less but 30 for argument's sake)
Single activator (not iambic) are best used with a stroke method (the length of the stroke becomes 1/2/3+ dots or dashes) and I have used that method to over 60 wpm.  

So if starting with a keyer, avoid squeeze operations and start with the stroke.  Arthritis? No experience but I'm guessing avoid the squeeze type.

Oh, as a side note.  NEVER work from printed dots and dashes, always from the sound.  Otherwise you will forever mentally double translate (sound -> printed concept -> Letter or word)  That is like asking someone what language they do math in, normally the language they learned it.
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Ken - NM9P

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Yes! yes! yes! on the dots and dashes. 
I learned it that way from my 6th grade spelling book. 
I passed the 5 WPM as a freshman in High School, but and it took me four more years to break through to the required 13 WPM (the HARD way in front of the FCC Examiner) because of the "look up table - code translation" effect.  

I finally "un-learned" it and began to approach it as an "auditory alphabet" rather than a "CODE."  Now I love CW....and phone...and RTTY...and FT8...and.....

Ken - NM9P
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Neil D Friedman N3DF

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I am a particularly untalented CW op and also attained my license in high school (in the 60s).  After making 3 or 4 CW contacts each evening on the Novice bands (with crystral-controlled Heathkits) and listening to W1AW code pratice, passing the 13 wpm exam (at the NYC FCC office) after four months was trivial.  By then, I had made perhaps 400 CW QSOs and earned WAS (CW) and a 20 wpm code proficiency sticker.

I made my first (painfully slow) 40 meter QSO within a week of starting to learn the code.  I think many CW learners wait way too long before getting on the air. 
(Edited)
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Pat Hamp

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Take a look at some that are made via 3D printing, I got the coolest little one for travel for $30
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Kevin

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That's some cool stuff! Never thought about it but keys might be a perfect application of 3D printing, especially in prototyping. I found this one site so far:

https://www.yeggi.com/q/morse+key/

Is 3D printed material strong enough to hold up to constant use?

73,
Kev K4VD
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Pat Hamp

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Good question , but look at the bright no waiting for parts

Pat de KA4VNM
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Kevin

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Good point!
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Ken - NM9P

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I made a makeshift bencher-type iambic paddle from electronic perfboard and related hardware with ink pen springs and rubber bands for tensioning. It actually functioned pretty well, but the contacts corroded rapidly. It was fun. But it motivated me to buy a real Bencher soon afterwards.

As a Novice in 1974 I also built an old fashioned “side-sweeper” out of a broken hacksaw blade and parts from a knife switch. I could rip it a lot faster than with the straight key at the time. But it had a pronounced “Lake Erie Swing” to it.

Ah... the good ole days!