So I am looking at replacing my SOTA gear that was stolen this last Saturday, and I am taking this opportunity to re-evaluate my gear and correct any shortcomings. In recent months, I have become predominantly a CW activator. I had been using one of the MFJ travel paddles (exact model number leaves me), but I wanted to take a moment and get everyone’s opinion on the best CW key for activating. As with everything else, I am looking for something compact, lightweight, and reasonably durable.
Zach - KM4BLG
Its a tiny key. Russian ‘spy key’ around 3" in length. Well built, and surprisingly good to send with.
It tended to rock a bit so I added a light plastic base.
Over this side of the pond they turn up on e-bay reasonably often for less than £40. (whatever that is in dollars).![image|200x200]
I think these ones may well be made in the USA. They are rather heavy, I guess to due to their ‘marble’ base, which could easily be substituted for something lighter.
First of all, sorry for your lost of gear.
IMO the best key for portable/sota is this:
My condolences for your stolen SOTA gear. I hope you’ll be lucky to recover all or part of it, albeit this possibility sounds highly unlikely.
My recommendation is definitely for a dual lever paddle. It’s the most efficient in every sense. I started CW in 1985 with a stright key, soon I home built a single lever paddle and shortly later I purchased a dual lever paddle made by Hy-Mound.
The metal base was home-brewed and glued to the Hy-Mound paddle key.
I’ve never ever got back to any of the previously used single lever paddle or staright key. I’ve just used a straight key from very time to time and just for romantic, folklorical reasons.
For activating I only use a Palm Radio MP-817 dual lever paddle and this home made dual lever paddle key at the shack for my remote station.
It weights only 50 grams
and was made with pure junk box stuff. It works so well and gives me so much pleasure that I even like it better than the commercial Hy-Mound I still own and use with other rig, the one using my endfed antenna in the balcony.
P.D. during my only visit to Dayton’s Hamvention in Ohio, USA, I purchased this spy straight key, which currently lives in my rucksack as a backup just in case my Palm Radio MP-817 fails one day during an activation and I still need/want to continue working CW:
I’m using this model currently: Porta Paddle II
I haven’t tried this one yet but it looks interesting: Ultra Porta Paddle
A number of Activators use the TIP1. Larry, N0SA, makes a batch of these from time to time but as a hobby with no specific schedule. He often posts availability on one of the reflectors
Review: Review of the N0SA Paddle - YouTube
73, Bruce W2SE
After using a Kent (heavy) and using a Chinese one bought on ebay (without quality) I use a Palm Radio key, Pico Paddle model. It was a little expensive but I really like it.
Thanks all! I’ll look through these and make my decision.
This is a collaboration between GHD Keys and ham store CQOHM
Very nice and works perfectly!
Problem is…the pico paddle has gone the way of the do-do.
Sorry, I do not understand…
Carlos, the company which made Palm Paddles has closed down.
Didn’t know, thanks.
I use 3D printed keys. I’ve made a bunch of them for my self and friends. They work great, cost nearly nothing, and are very light and durable. If you are interested I’d be happy to send you some info.
If I were going to buy something, this is what I would get:
This is one of 2 Hi-Mound keys I have for Sota. I agree with Guru about using twin paddles iambic. However they have a few mods. A plastic weather shield attached with BluTac to keep out the rain and mist (very necessary in the UK), two tapes with Velcro patches to attach the key quickly and securely to my right thigh. The paddles are shortened to aid transport and my style of sending. These keys are available on the 2nd hand market for low prices.
Te-ne-ke - lightweight and rugged - all stainless construction and no moving parts. I have mine mounted on a clipboard where I also have a phone mounted for electronic logging. Feel is almost like touch keying.
Another alternative if you can find it in the second hand market is the Palm Mini Paddle shown here mounted to the side of the LNR MTR3B. This is perhaps the lightest setup I have with radio, battery, feed line and antenna weighing just over a pound.
As above I love the feel and lightweight of the Te-Ne-Ke paddles. I have attached an old bicycle helmet strap to them and strap them to my leg, just above the knee. Works great.
Amercan Morse makes nice paddles.
Also, look up N0SA on QRZ and email him for a brochure on his miniature paddles.
Lots of choices! Going to use an MFJ for the time being, but I’m probably going to look at switching to one of these soon.