Homebrew Micro paddle (CW) with paper clips

In a recent activation I found I had forgotten my CW iambic at home. This is not the first time it happened to me and I decided to build a homebrew iambic that I would always carry in a pocket of my rucksack.

Its features should be:

  •     very compact and lightweight
  •     low profile to avoid any damage when stored and during the hike
  •     simple operating principle and built unexpensive parts
  •     rugged enough for portable and country side, and 
  •     capable of being operated with gloves

With all these features in my mind I decided to create an iambic using paper clips as the levers, because they are flexible.
I decided to avoid the standard iambic shape with lateral motion as they require more height. In the past I built one like that; you can see it here:

But this time I wanted another design. Instead I rather preferred building a vertical motion that requires a lower profile.
The paper clips are first opened, like this:

You can see that the clips can be opened in two different manners; it’s better to open them sidewards.

Then the system is assembled into some plywood, glued with epoxi to fix the paper clips to the base, and a thick aluminum layer (from an aluminum tray) is added to be in charge of closing contact with ground.

See the final part assembled here, with a final decorative touch on it:

In order to protect my Sota Micro paddle while hiking, I’ve built a little cover with EVA rubber:

It’s not difficult to get used to the vertical iambic motion. In fact, it aids to keep the paddle stable while sending because fingers apply pressure towards its seat.
You can see it working in this video:

Did I mention I saved a lot of money with this gadget? Since I started activating for SOTA, back in 2011, I’ve always carried homebrew paddles, and I think I’ll get on with that…

Now, I’m not really sure if my micro paddle will remain as an emergency / backup solution or if will become my main paddle on summits, hi

VY 73 de Ignacio


Brilliantly simple design. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very, very much. I love it. :smile:

73 de David vk2dmh

Am impressed with that so simple.


Very nice, I like it.

And if you prefer a straight key, a couple of drawing pins combined with some discarded school equipment produces this. :blush:


The good part of the story is that anyone can build a modified solution on his own. Thumbs up for creativity.

73 de Ignacio

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Wonderful Ignacio ! I like simplicity too …
Although I rarely do CW, I always carry 2 mini paddles with my KX3, see pictures
(and during my last activation, it helped catching a S2S in CW)

One paddle was built after the idea of Carel, PA0CMU (see
PC Board Paddle
That site also contains instructions for a a “copy” Palm Mini Paddle, I’m still working on that one …

The other is my own “invention”, since I did’n want to spend ***$'s on the Elecraft paddle …
(details : see insets on the picture)
The two miniature switches come from old floppy disk drives (the write protect sensor switch), the connector from the “HD LED” of an old PC motherboard (needs two, glued back to back).
First I mounted the paddle on the KX3 with two hex posts (the type you find on a PC interface card).
Later I changed it to fix with a magnet from a 2.5" harddisk.
But since the KX3 case is aluminium, I screwed a small & thin steel plate on the KX3.
So I can really say my paddle is a “computer junk paddle” , HI
(and best part : it cost me nothing !)

73 and happy homebrewing !


It seems the link in my post above does no longer work.
The paddles described by Carel, PA0CMU are now found here:


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