This thread contains posts about replacements for the no longer produced Palm keys and paddles moved from the “Palm Morse Keys - end of an era” thread.
I was also surprised by the closing of Palm Radio, and i wished to have bought another key.
However, because of that, I am working on this:
The design is not finished, there are few things to work out, like sourcing the spring, testing multiple pcb for the spring board (right now using 1/32" pcb), and the detente that allows the locking in the case.
The design was made in Fusion360 - not really open source from that point of view, but I would welcome any design suggestions.
I’m not trying to steal anyone’s design, and would not have published this if Palm Radio was still operating. This work MUST not be used for commercial gain.
Palm Morse Keys - end of an era
The design has moved forward a bit. Here is a picture of the first prototype :
This is using 1/32" (0.8mm) PCB, and without the copper on the flexing part, the feel is much better. It is always possible to experiment with thinner PCB (like 0.6mm or 0.4mm).
Flex PCB seems to be overly expensive, and may not work as the part that is moving to reduce the gap should not flex. Maybe a semi flex pcb with two rigid parts would work too.
Still need to figure out the detent (in a way that can be printed easily). Thinking of using a platic ball plunger like : https://www.amazon.com/White-Spring-Plunger-Pinball-Machine/dp/B00VFYPQ5E/ref=sr_1_19?ie=UTF8&qid=1542571993&sr=8-19&keywords=plastic+ball+plunger
Looks very nice! As for my own design: It will take time (busy for the next months) and it will be a single-lever paddle (like the Palm Pico Single).
As for the general direction: I think Palm uses / used headless set screws (“Madenschrauben” in German) for the fine adjustment of both the amount of movement and the flex of the lever. If you plan to add such a feature: I achieved very good results with cutting threads directly into PLA if the region is massive (100% infill). An alternative is providing space for a regular M3 nut, this also works very well.
73 de Martin, DK3IT
Thanks - i am planing to use set screws - yes, i usually do not print such small threads or have to use a tap. It seems that the screws can make the thread themselves in PLA or PETG. I’ve never used set screws, so this may be different. I want to make sure that they will stay set - so some friction is definitely better.
Printed the one hamshop.cz sells, and while it does what it’s supposed to, it’s a bit wobbly, and bulky. And the threads I cut for those set screws became too loose
73 Ondra OK1CDJ
Has anybody tried the QRPGuys single lever paddle kit?
73 Barry N1EU
I am just about to pull the trigger on a KX version.
Please let us know how it goes Kent!
I’ve had my Palm Mini paddles for many years, and eventually I had problems with the cable. In cold weather the cable became stiff, and the internal wires failed. I made several repairs, cutting, splicing, and heat-shrinking, with limited success.
Years ago I posted something about this problem, somewhere, and to my surprise, Dieter sent me a new cable! I was stunned at his desire to help his customers.
The new cable worked much better, but sometimes it was too short to reach from my radio on the ground up to my clipboard, during my SOTA activations. Much worse, I left the cable on a SOTA peak on a cold day! After using the old spliced cable for a few weeks, I decided to modify the paddles.
My effort was similar to what K7ATN did (see above):
I made a small bracket from a piece of aluminum. The bracket is attached to the Palm frame with small screws and nuts. Nuts are needed so that the plastic does not fail from frequent stress over time.
The bracket is partly covered by a piece of large heat shrink. This must be shrunk carefully to avoid heating the plastic frame!
A common stereo patch cable is used for the connection to the radio. These shielded cables are widely available and inexpensive. The connections are good enough for reliable CW.
This cable is 3 feet long and works just right for me. It has proved to be be reliable after more than 200 SOTA activations, including many in cold weather. This imported cable was sold with the Philmore brand name, cost only a few dollars, and has effective strain relief for the connectors. Both ends are the same, so it’s simple to use when getting on the air.
My modification is partly reversible. Because the original three-pin male connector is still installed in the Palm frame, my homemade bracket could be removed, and a compatible cable could be used as before.
I’m so pleased with this modification that I’ll stay with it. The added bracket is stronger and more reliable than mounting the stereo jack as K7ATN did. With the bracket, the stereo jack can be replaced easily, if needed. If you’re using a Palm paddle with the 3-pin connector, consider this modification. If you do it, be careful drilling the plastic frame.
I like the Palm Mini paddles so much that I was able to obtain a spare set before the stock was sold out! I also bought a Pico Single to try - it uses an audio connector instead of the pins!
I made over 40 SOTA activations with this type of paddle and QCX TRX, … not bought via hamshop.cz, … printed on 3D printer by my friend, … the rest of the material bought via ebay.com,… the data and STL files you can find here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1796850
73 de Boris 9A2GA
Great Boris, i am now testing some improvement of this design. The most problematic part are brass contacts, i have better solution. It will be on thingiverse soon.
73 Ondra OK1CDJ/hamshop.cz
Looks very well made.
Have you provided some protection for the cables at the rear of the paddle? One of my only reservations on the palm design is that by pushing the paddles into the case, the cable connection at the rear is put under extra stress while the key is transported to and from its operational location (on a summit) and that is more or less confirmed by the number of poeple dealing with the issue of reterminating the cable. I have had to do that myself.
In some ways a 3.5mm stereo socket would be a better choice than the original connector. Readily available as a consumer item, the required cable between key and cable would be easily replaced too.
When can I buy one?
Great job Jean-Christophe,
Can you share some more pictures and details, so we (i) could build your key ?
What are the dimensions of the pcb and drilling positions, etc…
73 Patrick TK5EP
It’s relatively cheap to get PCB contacts gold plated and it’s springy so maybe that might form the basis of something useful.
When can I learn to use one?
Thanks - I have not yet added a socket. I have some 2.5mm socket that would fit. I will have to find a way to integrate them - this will be in the next version.
I’ll check if 3.5mm sockets can fit.