Paddle Type for QCX mini #40m


Caleb KO4UDX
 

Good afternoon everyone. I’m Caleb and I’m completely new to all of this radio stuff. I’ve bought and mostly assembled the QCX mini except for the final tuning. My question though is what kind of key/ paddle can I use. Will it work with a single key?  Im trying to learn about all this stuff and want to order the right type the first time.  I’m trying to not use a lambic keyer for my first learning experience. The two links below are ones that I think would be good for me but I’m open to suggestions. Thank you. 


https://www.americanmorse.com/bushwacker.htm

https://www.americanmorse.com/lowboy.htm


N3MNT
 

The type of  key most hams use is based on preference.  You will get many answers, but I suggest you try a few ( at a friends) and find what you like and stick with that style.  When you decide.  Look at EA3PP website.  He has some excellent keys at very reasonable prices,  You may have to wait a few weeks, but it will be worth it.  In the mean time most hams have a closet full of keys so try to borrow one.


 

Hi Caleb,
As a learner myself (in my case, an older one), still having trouble with CW, I would advise you that learning to read/copy CW is a completely different - and, surprisingly perhaps,  typically much harder - process to learning to send. I would therefore encourage you to use the built-in Iambic key and and a dual paddle key, precisely  because you will learn proper cadence by doing so. You can then learn to master the straight key once you know what it should sound like.
Almost everybody can send faster than they can read, and they almost certainly learned to do so faster as well. I would also relay advice that I've received and fully and enthusiastically endorse: forget about sending at all until you can read at least 10WPM, preferably 15WPM; that way you will a) put the focus where it needs to be, and b) not get into trouble sending faster than you can read - an easy mistake for a beginner (in a QSO people will naturally respond at the rate that you send, so you can get into a pickle really easily).

I would also advise joining SKCC - the Straight Key Century Club - where you will meet a lot of friendly helpful people (many of whom show up here too) who will help you on your journey to competence in CW. They have online events like the SSS, or "Slow Speed Saunter" and even a beginners' spot on several of the HF bands for likes of us beginners who need patience and help.

Good luck, you're among friends here.
--
Julian, N4JO.


Bruce Prior
 

Hi Caleb --
Two American Morse Equipment single-lever paddles are worth considering. The Bushwhacker <American Morse Equipment - Bushwacker Sideswiper/Single Lever Paddle Kit> is the is the better one, but it may be a bit too heavy for portable operating. A good alternative is the Mini-B <American Morse Equipment - Mini-B Miniature Single Lever/Sideswiper Paddle>, which is lightweight and well-protected inside its aluminum cover.. You need not venture beyond single-lever paddling. My favorite home paddle is the Begali Sculpture Mono <Sculpture mono - Begali's Web site (i2rtf.com)>, which is expensive and quite heavy. I would never take it outside. Many of the most skilled CW operators use single-lever paddles. 
--
73, Bruce Prior N7RR


 

On Mon, Oct 18, 2021 at 12:35 PM, Bruce Prior wrote:
Many of the most skilled CW operators use single-lever paddles. 
Yes, exactly. Let's help him get there first :-)
 
--
Julian, N4JO.


Curt wb8yyy
 

Caleb

Fantastic to have you interested in ham radio and cw.  Since you have to learn how to receive cw before sending, you have time to acquire a key and a paddle. 

Check hamfests and local hams to find a good deal on a quality key. 

My own preference is to use a two lever aka iambic paddle. Maybe merely because it's what I learned on. They may be more common. I may agree it takes more skill to use a single lever paddle, I don't have it. 

Start learning to copy cw and be patient acquiring sending hardware. 

Curt


Pat
 

On Mon, Oct 18, 2021 at 11:45 AM, <calebbdecker@...> wrote:
https://www.americanmorse.com/lowboy.htm
I use the lowboy key and it is great.  You can actually use your thumb and forefinger with the lowboy just as you would traditional, side-by-side iambic paddles.  The key is compact and I actually prefer it now to traditional paddles.  One typical issue for side-by-side paddles is that you may have to do something to keep the key from moving around.  Technically, you are supposed to squeeze the paddles, but many of us end up slapping the keys around a bit, causing the key to move.  Often you see heavy bases, grippy pads, or even straps to prevent the key from moving around.  The lowboy key you reference above almost completely eliminates that issue.  I can set on my leg, my small operating table (cutting board), etc., and it doesn't move around since you are pushing down on the keys rather than slapping at them side to side.  The only thing I would say is that the lowboy has two thumbscrews per paddle and it takes a bit to figure out how to set those up properly.  I have this American Morse paddle too, https://www.americanmorse.com/kk2.htm, which I use in the shack.  I use the lowboy for all portable and armchair operations now.  

On another note, asking which type of paddle to use in a ham radio forum is like asking which antenna to use, which power source to use, or any other choice in ham radio.  You are going to get different opinions from everyone, but straight key or paddle (and there are a number of paddle types too) will really bring out the opinions, so be prepared for that.  My opinion below will be soundly dismissed by the straight key purists and the fine members of the SKCC community.

Above, Julian, whose information and expertise I respect greatly, suggests using the iambic key, like the lowboy key you are looking at, or others, and then joining the SKCC, the straight key club which requires that you manually shape the dits and dahs of Morse code through manually timing the keying (you determine the dah and dit length) of whatever style of straight key you choose to use.  My controversial opinion is that you just skip that step.  While learning how to use a straight key is admirable and keeps a fine ham radio tradition alive, it's not going to make you a better ham radio operator in any way.  Iambic keying with an electronic keyer just eliminates the need for you to manually time the length of the dits and dahs.  That skill just isn't necessary.  And if you listen to the SKCC watering holes, which is what I did years ago to learn to copy CW, you will figure out that the art of straight key is just that, an art, and very few new hams (and I would say experienced hams, too) master the timing required to send with a straight key and be understood without difficulty.  There is nothing wrong with electronic keying (associated with iambic paddles), and in my opinion, it is better for weak signals like QRP.  There is virtually no "dialect" or unique fist characteristics a recipient would have to translate or interpret when sending code using electronic keying.  There is technically zero variation with dah or dit length between those sent for 5WPM CW or those sent at 35WPM CW.  The dah length at 16WPM is technically going to be the same for all CW operators using electronic keying.  I think that's a bonus when using a weak signal.  This is my controversial opinion, of course.  Fight!


Daniel Conklin
 

Welcome to amateur radio. My advice is to start by doing a lot of listening. Morse is like a language so you learn it with time and exposure and context, just like any other language. Because of the context factor, helps to have the text to follow while you are listening. The W1AW practice sessions, for example, are taken from recent past copies of QST magazine.  As for learning to send, you should throw away your fear of making mistakes. Again, we learn by copying the patterns we hear, and don't be afraid to jump right in and do it as soon as you know a few things. 
http://www.arrl.org/w1aw-operating-schedule
--
73, Dan - W2DLC


Ward Merdes
 

There are organizations that dedicate a TON of work (and thought) to teaching folks CW. CWOps is one. It is FREE, on-line and most importantly, fun. Google the CWOps “CW Academy” and don’t look back.

Ward Merdes - KL7IXW 
CWOps #2457

On Mon, Oct 18, 2021 at 10:46 AM Daniel Conklin <danconklin2@...> wrote:
Welcome to amateur radio. My advice is to start by doing a lot of listening. Morse is like a language so you learn it with time and exposure and context, just like any other language. Because of the context factor, helps to have the text to follow while you are listening. The W1AW practice sessions, for example, are taken from recent past copies of QST magazine.  As for learning to send, you should throw away your fear of making mistakes. Again, we learn by copying the patterns we hear, and don't be afraid to jump right in and do it as soon as you know a few things. 
http://www.arrl.org/w1aw-operating-schedule
--
73, Dan - W2DLC

--
WMM
--
Ward Merdes
% MERDES LAW OFFICE, P.C.
P.O. Box 71309
Fairbanks, AK 99707-1309
(907) 452-5400
(907) 452-8879 (f)
***Board Certified Alaskan Personal Injury Attorneys***
This email is confidential and may contain attorney/client and work-product content. If you are not its intended recipient, please return this email to us, accept our apologies for the misdirection, and destroy all copies. The Statute of Limitations for injury/death to an adult is two years in Alaska. Thank you.


mike/w1mt
 

FYI, the low boy is an iambic paddle.

I don't have the bushwacker but I do have the Mini-B (a smaller portable version) and it's pretty nice for a field single lever key. The Bushwacker would probably be nice for at home.

-mike/w1mt


On Mon, Oct 18, 2021 at 12:45 PM <calebbdecker@...> wrote:

Good afternoon everyone. I’m Caleb and I’m completely new to all of this radio stuff. I’ve bought and mostly assembled the QCX mini except for the final tuning. My question though is what kind of key/ paddle can I use. Will it work with a single key?  Im trying to learn about all this stuff and want to order the right type the first time.  I’m trying to not use a lambic keyer for my first learning experience. The two links below are ones that I think would be good for me but I’m open to suggestions. Thank you. 


https://www.americanmorse.com/bushwacker.htm

https://www.americanmorse.com/lowboy.htm


Gwen Patton
 

Caleb,

There are loads of options out there. If you ask ten hams what the best key/paddle is, you'll get a minimum of 11 answers. hi hi

That said, there's nothing wrong with automatic keyers, even as a beginner. CW Academy, run by CWOps, encourages using a paddle with an electronic keyer for the first key you use, to help you mentally "set" the timing of CW in  your brain and your muscle memory. The timing and lengths of elements and spaces is very important. You CAN learn it on a straight key, and lots of people have, but CW Academy, according to what my teachers told me when I went through it, doesn't want to burden you with too many things at once. When you use a straight key, you generate everything yourself, manually, by holding the key down for different lengths of time, and waiting between elements the correct lengths of time to get that important spacing. If you're learning THAT along with learning the code itself, it can contribute to a bad experience that can mar your enjoyment of the hobby as a whole. So they go with a paddle with an electronic keyer (such as the one built into the QCX). The keyer handles all of the timing issues so you're free to just concentrate on learning the code.

I don't like using a straight key, though I can do it. I find it uncomfortable when combined with my particular disability. I CAN, however use a sideswiper, or "cootie" key with little difficulty, so I can help promote the use of mechanical keying instead of electronic as SKCC promotes. I just do it with a Cootie key instead of a straight key, when making contacts for SKCC credit. So already, you have another option, the Cootie key.

But electronic keyers are just fine, and as above, they can help you learn the code. They're aren't as bad a "crutch" as some make them out to be. When I do field radio, I use a paddle/keyer, so I can concentrate on everything else. Also, the "Iambic" qualifier, while accurate, is almost never an issue, because most hams don't use the "squeeze keying" method that the Iambic part really pertains to. I tried to do it and it tied my fingers and brain in knots! So there's a difference between the Iambic squeeze-keying method and just using an electronic keyer, pushing the left paddle for dits and the right paddle for dahs (or if you have a single lever paddle, which technically is NOT an Iambic paddle because you can't squeeze-key it, you're pushing the lever to the right to get dits and to the left to get dahs). Now that I've gotten the disclaimers and definition of terms out, let me talk about what keys to consider.

When at home, I vastly prefer to use one of Steve W1SFR's magnificent Torsion Bar Cootie Paddles. I find it comfortable to use, it can be used as a cootie or a paddle, and it doesn't require huge adjustments to the gap when switching from one type of keying to another. It's also very affordable, in this day and age where you can easily spend $1000 or more on a fancy custom paddle. TBH, I bought the standard TBCP, then bought the heavier "Fat Boy" base and retrofit it to my key, because the standard was skittering around on my desk too much. Steve does some utterly scrumptious work, and I recommend his keys catagorically. https://w1sfr.com/

For field work, I use a NOARC Te-Ne-Ke more than any other paddle. It can be held in one hand while keying with the other, or can easily be attached to a base or even a clipboard. It's durable and easy to adjust, and costs around $70 from the North Ottawa Amateur Radio Club. Also, you pronounce the name as "Teeny Key". https://www.w8cso.org/teneke.php 

I bought two of those Te-Ne-Ke's, and one is dedicated to my new QCX-Mini go-bag.

I have a bunch of keys -- I think Amateurs collect keys like gun owners collect holsters. You wind up with a box of 'em over time. I'm currently evaluating a little cube-shaped micro paddle I got on Ebay. It's remarkably well made, has a magnetic base, and is wicked small. The body is about an inch on a side, the finger pieces extending out another inch on one side. It is easy to adjust, and MIGHT use magnetic repulsion instead of springs, but don't hold me to that because I haven't taken it apart to see. https://www.ebay.com/itm/353354404044

Once hamfests start opening back up for IRL visiting, see what keys and paddles are on offer and see if one is comfortable for you to use. See if the seller has a code oscillator handy so you can test it out. If you are in a club, ask around, and you might be invited to try out one of your local hams' keys on his station. Keys are yet another device that can suit or not suit a given ham. It's a matter of personal taste, so try out as many as you can. You'll probably wind up with a box of 'em after 20 years, too.

73,
Gwen, NG3P


richlim11
 

Hi Caleb, welcome to the obsessive world of Ham radio! I’m not sure why you don’t want to use an iambic keyer but the two keys above are really meant to be used as iambic paddles with a keyer. 

I have 4 American Morse paddles and they are very well made— my first was the original one Doug made and is close to 20yrs old and still great. You can’t go wrong with his gear assuming you know what you are getting. 

I would also throw out there CW Morse paddles. They are 3D printed, very cost effective and work great. He has several iambic paddles but if you really want to go straight key (ie: non iambic) he makes several varieties. What is neat about these paddles is they use standard 3.5mm stereo cables to connect to your rig which really is convenient.  Good luck and let us know what you decide on!

Rich
KQ9L




On Monday, October 18, 2021, 2:12 PM, mike/w1mt <w1mt.qrp@...> wrote:

FYI, the low boy is an iambic paddle.

I don't have the bushwacker but I do have the Mini-B (a smaller portable version) and it's pretty nice for a field single lever key. The Bushwacker would probably be nice for at home.

-mike/w1mt

On Mon, Oct 18, 2021 at 12:45 PM <calebbdecker@...> wrote:

Good afternoon everyone. I’m Caleb and I’m completely new to all of this radio stuff. I’ve bought and mostly assembled the QCX mini except for the final tuning. My question though is what kind of key/ paddle can I use. Will it work with a single key?  Im trying to learn about all this stuff and want to order the right type the first time.  I’m trying to not use a lambic keyer for my first learning experience. The two links below are ones that I think would be good for me but I’m open to suggestions. Thank you. 


https://www.americanmorse.com/bushwacker.htm

https://www.americanmorse.com/lowboy.htm


Lee
 

Hey Caleb,

You've gotten some pretty good advice. You might want to think of this as a starter key; it'll get you on the air and have you making contacts while developing your fist. When you can get out to a major hamfest, you can try a bunch of keys and eventually develop the same addiction I fear most of us have. -)

So in the "Starter Key" vein, here are my thoughts. The American Morse paddles will serve you well as a starter paddle and then as a "take it outdoors" paddle; I do not own one but have used several of them and liked them. The Te-Ne-Ke is also quite serviceable. Another paddle I'd mention is the N0SA portable paddle; I own one and it's my go-to paddle for trips to the park or woods. Larry makes them in batches so you need to check in with him on his latest releases.

The other option is to pick up a used Bencher, or if you are lucky, Kent paddles. The Bencher will set you back no more than $50 used, and you can sell it again for about $50, so it meets the #1 Ham Criterion - CHEAP. If you do find Kent paddles, they will cost more but you will be more likely to hang on to them. Remember my comment about "Starter Paddles" ; the Bencher is exactly that.

73 de Lee KX4TT ZUT




Mike Perry, WA4MP
 

With items from China, the price and quality can be all over. With shipping, the ebay one comes to $44.80. On AliExpress a HamRadioshopStore has what seems to be the same key for $27.12 and one at the RF Measurement Tools store has it for $25.54. The latter two include shipping and all three take about a month to arrive. All seem to have the name QU-2020A.

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005003150083816.html
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005003189859154.html

Gwen, I wonder if I could trouble you to peek inside and see how reliable the contacts appear. Good contacts are crucial. Even if someone moves on to a more pricey key, this one is so tiny it could remain useful to take where weight matters. And with a bit of J-B Weld epoxy, it could be joined to whatever base the user wants.

—Mike Perry, WA4MP

On Oct 18, 2021, at 2:41 pm, Gwen Patton <ardrhi@gmail.com> wrote:

I have a bunch of keys -- I think Amateurs collect keys like gun owners collect holsters. You wind up with a box of 'em over time. I'm currently evaluating a little cube-shaped micro paddle I got on Ebay. It's remarkably well made, has a magnetic base, and is wicked small. The body is about an inch on a side, the finger pieces extending out another inch on one side. It is easy to adjust, and MIGHT use magnetic repulsion instead of springs, but don't hold me to that because I haven't taken it apart to see. https://www.ebay.com/itm/353354404044


 

Thank you for your kind words, Pat :-)
My comment about SKCC was intended only if he specifically wanted to learn straight key; I certainly wasn't intending to suggest that he should. I agree with you that it isn't necessary, and correct use of it is indeed an art.
I must confess that my experience so far has been that it's one thing to listen to a trainer app, but quite another to work around QSB and QRM on the air; and to be further impeded by trying to decode some awful fists is an exercise in frustration. Just last night I was listening on 40m, and the fellow sent his callsign in the form "CQ... DE... AB........nX........................YZ (he shall be nameless here, of course, to protect his dignity!). I wasn't even going to try to respond to that, though ;-( 

Bottom line, for me, is that one should take on only those challenges which will bring satisfaction in their mastery, and I agree with the CW Academy's position that learning CW is difficult enough, so the use of a twin paddle and keyer - at least until one achieves the competence one wants - is challenging enough.

That said, I do wish to master SK, one day, once I can copy 20WPM - just for art's sake ;-)
--
Julian, N4JO.


Caleb KO4UDX
 

Thank you all for the good advice so far. Definitely things to consider but I am planning on getting the radio up and running and listening for a while before I actually attempted it myself because I had been reading about it in a way being two different things. And I’ve definitely learned more about the difference between the straight key and paddles which I’m not sure I’ve completely grasped yet but thinking I’ve almost got it. I’m thinking i want to go with the single paddle keyer style instead of the traditional straight key more because it’s more of a natural position.  I’m also a machinist on the side. So if anyone knows of some complete blueprints for making my own keyer I would love a chance to build my own. I just haven’t been able to find any decent plans on a google search. I’m definitely going to check out y’all’s recommendations as well. 


Mike Perry, WA4MP
 

You might check out the keys of the hams you know locally and also the many, many different designs you can find pictured online. Then come up with a design of your own incorporating the best of what you’ve seen along with some new ideas.

—Mike Perry, WA4MP

On Oct 18, 2021, at 4:57 pm, calebbdecker@gmail.com wrote:

I’m also a machinist on the side. So if anyone knows of some complete blueprints for making my own keyer I would love a chance to build my own. I just haven’t been able to find any decent plans on a google search. I’m definitely going to check out y’all’s recommendations as well.


Gwen Patton
 

I'll see what I can do, Mike.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
73,
Gwen, NG3P


 

Sounds like a plan Caleb.
If I may, though; a point of terminology: a "keyer" is an electronic (practically, if not precisely formally) mechanism to produce and time the dits and dahs, while a "key" is the manually operated switch or switch pair that drives the transmitter either directly or via the keyer. The QCX family of transceivers has a built-in keyer that can easily be disabled for use with straight key or single paddle.
A word of caution: if people find out you're a machinist and can make keys from plans, you are at risk of either becoming rich, or famous, or both ;-)
Key design is an art as much as it is an engineering challenge, though, so be prepared to go down a very deep rabbit hole. For the same reason that several of us have proposed you learn to use a twin-paddle and a keyer (that of learning one thing at a time), you'd probably be better off buying one first, then taking on the art of key design as a longer term hobby, once you appreciate the nuances.
Just an opinion worth, at most, the price you paid for it ;-)
--
Julian, N4JO.


Mike Perry, WA4MP
 

You might consider bringing back a popular New Zealand design called the Galbraith GK11. It’s simple, compact and rugged.

https://radio1nz.com/morse-code-radio-telegraphy/new-zealand-paddles/

—Mike Perry, WA4MP

On Oct 18, 2021, at 4:57 pm, calebbdecker@gmail.com wrote:

I’m also a machinist on the side. So if anyone knows of some complete blueprints for making my own keyer I would love a chance to build my own. I just haven’t been able to find any decent plans on a google search. I’m definitely going to check out y’all’s recommendations as well.