A light Carboard single lever paddle is born!

Hello, dear SOTA mates,

A friend of mine says I am a bit freak trying to squeeze my SOTA kit by reducing its weight more and more…
Just for fun I decided to build a new homebrew Morse key, this time using Greyboard.

Greyboard is a thick and dense paper-based material, mainly used for packaging or building models.

It is available in several different thicknesses. I took an A4 sheet 1,5 mm thickness to build my paddle.
It is light but strong enough and I decided to use it because it is also slightly flexible and can be cut easily with a proper paper guillotine.

Some small wood square dowels cut to hold the greyboard in place complete the assembly:

I won’t use neither screws nor hinges, but the flexibility of the greyboard to have the center moving part by having it fixed at one end only.
I just need a short piece of copper foil (used for electric guitar shielding) and a couple of thumbtacks to get the contacts for the dots and dashes.
Add a cable, solder to the copper and trap the other 2 by the thumbtacks: done!

Center part with the adhesive copper foil and painted.

All parts are glued with wood glue and then made waterproof with acrylic paint:

Most my homebrew gear is in orange color, like for another friend in UK (hey Colin!). It is useful not to abandon the gear when packing after a Sota activation.

The weight of the finished key without cables is 16 gram. And it works a charm!
Last 13th january I run it for the first time activating EA2/NV-070. It all went really fine there, even with a huge snow on the summit.

I finally added a top cover also made with greyboard to prevent dust to degrade the function:

Hope you like it, VY 73 de Ignacio
P.s. any ideas to convert it into a cheap welcome kit for CW newbies or kids in our clubs?


Good job Ignacio, have long fun with this paddle !
Try use pencil to log in winter, it is much better than ballpen :wink:
VY 73

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Nice work Ignacio !
You know I like your ideas, I’m still using the “clothespeg paddle” built after your idea
(Homebrew mini CW Paddles and Video)

But I think I beat you for weight with this one …
By coincidence, I was just finishing this morning a mini paddle for my newly built QCX transceiver.
(more pics of the transceiver here : Qcx qrp rig - #31 by ON7DQ )

My newest mini-paddle WITH CABLE weighs just 14g :stuck_out_tongue:
materials : pieces of PCB , two relay contacts, 1 bolt and nut, two small pieces of plastic from a pushbutton as fingerpieces, cable from cheap earpiece with a right angle connector, black plastic as a rain cover, superglue.
Paddle is “sticked” to the QCX with “blue tack” (but mine is white hi)

73 Luc ON7DQ

Try use pencil to log in winter, it is much better than ballpen

Absolutely - Remember those Space Pens that the Americans developed at a cost of millions for use in space, with pressurised ink? The Russians used pencils!

Provided you have a pencil sharpener with you, it can’t go wrong!

No they didn’t.

See snopes.com

"The lesson of the infamous “space pen” anecdote about NASA’s spending a small fortune to develop a ballpoint pen that astronauts could use in outer space, while completely overlooking the simple and elegant solution adopted by the Soviet space program (give cosmonauts pencils instead), is a valid one: sometimes we expend a great deal of time, effort, and money to create a “high-tech” solution to a problem, when a perfectly good, cheap, and simple answer is right before our eyes.

As good a story and moral as that may be, however, this anecdote doesn’t offer a real-life example of that syndrome.

Both U.S. astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts initially used pencils on space flights, but those writing instruments were not ideal: pencil tips can flake and break off, and having such objects floating around space capsules in near-zero gravity posed a potential harm to astronauts and equipment. (As well, after the fatal Apollo 1 fire in 1967, NASA was anxious to avoid having astronauts carry flammable objects such as pencils onboard with them.)

When the solution of providing astronauts with a ballpoint pen that would work under weightless conditions and extreme temperatures came about, though, it wasn’t because NASA had thrown hundreds of thousands of dollars (inflated to $12 billion in the latest iterations of this tale) in research and development money at the problem. The “space pen” that has since become famous through its use by astronauts was developed independently by Paul C. Fisher of the Fisher Pen Co., who spent his own money on the project and, once he perfected his AG-7 “Anti-Gravity” Space Pen, offered it to NASA. After that agency tested and approved the pen’s suitability for use in space flights, they purchased a number of the instruments from Fisher for a modest price."


Oh for heavens sake. I can use Google too.

However, I don’t think we need to drag this further off topic - do you?

What’s Google?


Looks like much fun and a KISS idea, Ignacio!

Vy 73 de Markus, HB9DIZ

You are right Jarek, I had troubles with my ballpen, I need to add a pencil, and I have doubts if I will paint it in orange as well :wink:

Good job Luc!! I will keep your 14 gram as a motivation to develop further designs and improve mine… A new challenge is born :grin:

Thank you guys, 73 de Ignacio

Hi Ignacio,
here a more detailed picture of the ‘naked’ paddle, before I glued the plastic pieces on.

It’s made of four equal pieces of pcb, each 3cm x 1.4cm
The middle part is two pieces single sided pcb, glued toghether, so it could even have been a bit lighter , if I had used double sided pcb for that, hi
There is nothing to adjust, and the spacing is a bit wide, but then it can be used with gloves on.
The sticky stuff is made by Pritt, and on the package it says even in Spanish “Multi Adesivo”. I doubt it will hold the paddle in very hot weather, since the sticky pads become softer and seem to “melt” … maybe Velcro or 3M fastener would be better.

73 - Luc, ON7DQ

Compared to your very light paddles, it looks like I have created a very heavy one:

It weights 50 grams :scream:



Oops, I did it again …

Newest version is even lighter … complete with cable and plug, and with the “chewing gum” sticky stuff attached … 9 g light !

Now if I replaced that screw with a nylon one, or just glued the pieces toghether and used no screw … maybe I could save another gram … ? :wink:


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Very well done, dear Luc.

I think you are the winner of the Anorexic-Paddle this time! :wink:
Thanks for sharing.

I am planning my next model with a different technology this time… Stay tuned
73 de Ignacio

Very nice idea to use a so poor material as cardboard.
I’ve made the single lever in the photo below.
It works quite well but I’ve sometimes problems with the contacts.
The screw are made with brass and the lever is a piece of saw for metals made in steel.
I’ve some adhesive copper strip and I want to try covering the central element with it, to see if it improves the electric contact between the brass screws and the central element, just you have done on your version

It’s funny but even my equipment are yellow painted, se below a fuchs tuner

73 de In3aqk


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Hi all “paddle lovers” … and especially @EA2BD
Finally had the time to make a short video featuring three of my homebrew paddles, in the video I used them on a 20m QCX.

Enjoy !