Always bring a spare...

So there I was…sitting atop a never-before activated summit with a broken paddle. I had hiked 6 miles to the top, 2670’ vertical gain through mud, snow and a logging operation, set up my EFHW in 30+ knot winds (try getting your throw line to cooperate in a shifting gust) and was tired and cold, hungry and generally miserable. But I was going to be the first to bag this summit. Got out my trusty UMPP Academy, a great little SOTA paddle from Peter GM0UEL, which I had just adjusted a couple days before, and got ready to CQ. It was then I noticed the left paddle was missing the adjustment screw…no ‘dit’ possible. The adjustment screw was not in my kit, gone.

Just then I recalled reading posts here about bringing spares to the summit…and got out my other paddle, made some QSOs and bagged the summit.

Sage advice, experienced firsthand.


Pfew! :sweat_smile:


Could you have put the rig in straight key mode, and used the “dah” side as a straight key?


“Dit” that last time I was out on a summit. Paddle fail - no dits. First went for some SSB on 17m, but then a S2S with George-KX0R was begging for an answer. Shifted from paddle to straight key, turned the paddle on its side, had a sad fisted exchange, but got it done! A bit easier than the time I sent by tapping the phone plug against the SO-239 to send when another paddle failed…


I dunno…probably yes. I know the MTR4b does SK because that’s how you use the SWR function. A more resourceful SOTAteer would have thought of that.

Glad to know I’m not the only one. I have a Nano Straight Key from CW Morse that I should add to the kit which weighs nothing.


I was setting up on a 10 pointer in winter and accidentally tore one of the wires out of my straight key. I couldn’t get into the key as it could only be opened with an alum key I didn’t have. So pulled the other wire out and activated by touching the two bare end together. Morse was a bit scratchy but I got plenty of contacts!


I bought one of these for a bit of fun. £10 from Paul M0BMN on eBay (no doubt others are available :wink:).
A bit crude, but it does the job.


I need to learn to send with a straight key again. Did the 12wpm test in 1983 and that’s all I used for a few years. But having been away from the hobby for almost 30 years, since coming back I’ve only used a paddle. I really wouldn’t want to inflict a straight key on the chasers; my use of a paddle is bad enough.


Ditto.I found it hard to get the gap small enough with the small amount of give in the top arm. The bigger model is surprisingly easy to use, but mine needs a bit of sanding of the contacts or something. It’s a bit intermittent.
ps: I don’t bring the Hi-mound on activations :wink:

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That is an awesome story! :slight_smile:


My back up paddle for my 817 is a mini phone jack, for the keying jack, and two short wires stripped back 1/4 inch.

CW simply by touching the wires together with the radio in straight key mode.

Weight…way less than 1 ounce. Saved my bacon twice…



My spares, a straight key and a paddle.
(the switches are the “write protect” switches from old diskette drives)

I can’t weigh them separately, because my scale doesn’t go below 2 gram, but together they weigh 3 gram ! :wink:



I have carried a spare straight key some times in the past in case my paddle failed, but not anymore. Now I consider my microphone is the backup solution in case my paddle failed.



As I learned from a Reflector activation report, the buttons on the mic for my FT817 will do the dits and dahs. It’s come in handy a few times in the past year. (For us non-cw-only FT817 owners who carry a mic.)
Peter KD0YOB

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As someone who likes bring experimental gear to summits, I have had paddles break on me multiple times. Aside from my janky homebrew gear, I once got to a summit only to discover that the screws for my KXPD2 had loosen up in the bag and unfortunately I wasn’t carrying a screw driver to tighten them up! Thankfully, I had brought a set of backup paddles with me, so I was still able to activate.

That said, I don’t like carrying the extra weight/volume of a second set of paddles, so I designed my own “TinyPaddle” for backup as a middle ground option (see pictures below). It weighs roughly 3.7g and is 1.2cm x 1.2cm x 5.0cm in size.

I’m currently doing a production run of 100 units and should have more for sale on soon (1-2 weeks). If folks like them, I might make more.


Very good advice! If i’m ever more than 15mins from home I usually have a spare of everything. For me… two is one and one is none !!
73, Lea M0XPO