Looking through some old posts suggests that the Palm paddle is very popular for SOTA CW activations. But which one should I choose? There are two versions of the mini (metal and plastic), the pico and also the single. I’d like to use the paddle at home as well as portable.
Palm Mini metal is my preference.
Can you explain why?
It suits my style of operating. I think the choice of a paddle is a matter of personal preference. In some circumstances I might chose another paddle but the Mini is the one that I use the most.
Hi Richard, I own both the Palm Radio Mini and the Pico. Both are dual lever as I learned CW that way, hence this was an easy decision. I love them both, however, I tend to use the pico more often as it is (i) smaller, (ii) has less weight and (iii) ABS (Pico) keeps your fingers warm in contrast to my ALU Mini which can cause your fingers to get quite cold on those windy moutain tops.
I also had a recent negative experience with the 3-pins connector of the Mini breaking up without reason. The Pico uses the normal stereo jacks which can be sourced more quickly.
Hope this helps. Don’t hesitate to let us know what you ended up purchasing.
73 de Gert ON4GS
Originnal Palm Paddle in Black with magnetic base. Bought 2008 and still going strong. I’ve only needed to clean the contacts a few times in all that time. Never managed to break the cable yet. This lives in the SOTA bag and after 8years I noticed a little “corrosion” on the socket where it had been put away damp. Needed a few minutes plug and unpluging to clean the gribble off the contacts and it’s fine now.
I favor the Pico for size and weight, but the Pico is not for someone with “fat fingers” hi.
I don’t use the Pico all the time, I have a lot of fun using other homebrew paddles too, with evenly good results.
Here a collage of 4 situations from my last trip
From left to right :
- Pico attached to the right panel of KX3 (had to replace the aluminium side plate of the KX3 by a steel one made by Palm Radio, costs 20 Euro extra),
- Pico on a metal mint box for when I put the KX3 beside me on a bench, the box goes on top of my logbook (disadvantgae : you have to hold the box with one hand)
- Using a homebrew plugin front paddle (held in place with a harddisk magnet)
- And finally the “clothespeg paddle” … after an idea by Ignacio, EA2BD
73, Luc - ON7DQ
I recently had some fun with this one. If you are into old school sending… Maybe the base can come off to attach one of the palm radio paddles…
Does anyone use the single? I’ve been considering getting a Pico or Pico single to replace my PortaPaddle. My portapaddle dit lever does not reliably make contact, and the pivots get sticky if I use it outside for a while (which is the only place I use it). From this and previous threads it seems that Palm makes some good and reliable paddles.
my favourite is the pico single; I personally make less errors than with the double lever…
73 kurt HB9AFI
For SOTA, I’ve been using a Palm Mini with the Quick Mount fastened firmly to the upper right corner the small clipboard I use for logging.
As an experiment, I mounted my Mini on the hinged plate of a spare leg clamp in my collection. The Quick Mount does hold (sort of) OK magnetically, but vigorous keying might cause some slippage. That could be easily prevented by sticking small rubber bumpers to the plate, placing them snugly against each side of the Quick Mount.
Although the experiment was successful, I believe that the added weight & bulk - as well as leg pinch - would keep me from using the leg clamp/Palm Mini assembly for SOTA.
Gosh, that’s a hard question!
I started off with the Palm Mini paddle. I’d been using the Palm mini for a few years, mainly in the winter, and the cable fractured internally. I rang my dealer and he put me a new replacement cable in the post, free of charge. The original cable was quite thick and in low temperatures it tended to go quite stiff. I’d mentioned the problem on the SOTA reflector. A little while later, an envelope turned up at my house, the envelope contained a very courteous letter and a new design of cable direct from Palm - that’s what I call customer service! The new cable is much thinner and more flexible, it’s been trouble free. I later upgraded my Mini to the ABS body - it’s just a matter of swapping the body over, so that’s an option if you later decide that you want one style over the other.
I’ve only ever used twin paddles so I can’t comment on singles. I don’t use Iambic keying except for ‘CQ’ my brain just isn’t capable enough!!
My favourite SOTA key is my Palm Pico paddle, I keep it in an Altoids tin which also doubles up as a base. I also upgraded the Pico to the ABS body, but it’s not just as simple as the Mini, there is sometimes a bit of ‘fettling’ required, but it can be done. I’m very proud of my shiny finger pieces - they show that the key has had lots of use!
Bottom line - Palm keys are very well made and reliable, choose the one that fits you best and it will serve you well!
No experience of the Pico but have 3 Palms. One for the car, one the shack and of course one for the tops (use the Mini cube with this one. Overcomes the ‘dodgy’ 3 pin connector which was weakness in the early one’s). I use them like a microphone, hold in my left hand whilst manipulating with my right thumb and index finger. Haven’t used my Kent and Bencher in the shack for years. They’ve become somewhat shack ornaments
Palm Radio paddles are a dream in the car. I attached a coated metal block on my console serving as a basis for the Quick Mount. This picture shows my CW learning setup… Very helpful to practise increasing your sending speed when losing time over traffic congestion.
I bought the Palm Paddle first and had the cable problems that others have had. I bought the Pico a little later and now that is the only one I use for activations. I never have a problem with the cable and love the action and size of the Pico. I manually log and pop riveted a truss plate to my clipboard for the paddle.
The AME Portapaddle is my main SOTA key. I agree it needs a bit of care and attention, especially after being out in the rain. Saying that, I only normally strip it all down and clean it about once a year.
I also have the pico as a reserve key.
It’s a super small, light key, and well engineered but, try as I might, i just do not get on with it.
It’s a lovely tiny key (which is why it stays in my pack) but to me it just lacks any feel.
In comaparison the PP is almost as good as my Begalli at an 1/8 of the price…
As others have hinted, keys are very much a personal thing.
What’s good for one may me may not work for someone else.
I’ve finally bought a Palm Mini paddle. I’ve been busy getting my receiving speed up again so hope to do my first CW QSO in 30 years soon. At some point I’ll be doing an activation with it.
Good luck on your morse. I am just learning it and might do a qrs QSO with a club member then possibly an activation, if people don’t mind
Sri AGM qrs and sending 5wpm lol.
I think I might get the Pico. Although I can see the advantage of avoiding errors using a single lever.
Like you it’s years since I passed my morse test and although I did have a few QSOs after passing I was drawn to the ‘dark side’ of SSB and RTTY
After a lot of persuasion from fellow activators wanting a CW s2s with me I finally knuckled down to getting up to speed with CW and now I’m chasing nearly every day. I got my first s2s with the Palm Mini a few weeks ago with Andrew G8CPZ/p Bardon Hill G/CE-004 on only his second CW activation.
Advice from a number of CW activators on fine tuning my chasing and s2s qso has made CW Sota a pleasure…you know who you are so a big thank you. I’m still making mistakes but with every visit to the key CW is becoming more pleasurable.
See my blog for my adaption to the Palm Mini for use at home
Good luck and hope to catch you on the hills in the near future.
73 Allan GW4VPX
When I got my A licence I did a lot of CW and really enjoyed it which is why I am keen to get back on the air with it. I also know it will have major advantages on activations with QRP and the current conditions. I never did get much faster than the 12wpm test. I’ve been using the Morse Machine app on Android to practice so hope to get my speed faster but I’m sure it will take a while.
One concern I have is how to deal with a pile-up which I’m guessing might happen when on a summit. I’ve never been a DXer so I’ve no idea how best to manage that on CW.