If you have a lot of time in your hands, you can check the Portable Morse Code Paddles Series on Red Summit RF’s Youtube. He has thoroughly reviewed twenty of he most popular portable paddles available on the market at the moment. Unfortunately I can’t comment on what’s shipping to ZL.
Quick review of the keys that I use 99% of the time.
Palm Radio Pico Paddle: the holy grail of portable keys. Good and very light but you can probably find more precide keys out there. You will have a hard time finding one but it’s no impossible either.
GM0EUL UMPP-1: small, cheap, accurate. I like it a lot; perfect companion to a MTR-3B sized transceiver. I am a bit concerned about the PLA plastic melting in the summer but that never happenned to me. A safe buy IMHO.
KXPD2: got it 2nd hand for my KX2. It’s not great and I often have problems with it. But I like to use it when I use the KX2 on a table or bench.; the combo just looks fantastic
If you have access to a 3D printer, it is tough to beat this design by K6ARK for weight and cost. I have yet to take mine into the field but I have talked with people who have and it is surprisingly durable.
If you search for the keywords “Palm” or “Bamatech” you’ll find a whole lot of information.
In general, you should test whether you like holding the key in your hand or whether you want to attach it to a device (perhaps a desk pad). There are keys that are specially built to be fixed to the device. e.g. Elecraft - KXPD2.
Then you could test whether you can handle sensor keys. There are also interesting possibilities.
The mechanics of the classic keys differ… they are made of plastic (e.g. Palm) or aluminum (e.g. Bamatech)
Both have advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of an aluminum version, however, is the mechanically clean pressure point… Plastic is lighter and warmer in winter.
I love my Bamatech BaMaKeY TP-III (btw: I use the BaMaKeY TP-II at home) and do most QSOs with it… but in winter I use the plastic palm key… on the one hand it’s lighter and warmer… on the other hand the Bamatech is open to the contacts and sensitive to moisture (snow, rain).
A good key has its price. There are many cheap models on the market. With what I had in my hand so far, I knew that I would not enjoy it for long.
Once you’ve found your joy in CW, you’ll progress fairly quickly and learn to appreciate a good key. You shouldn’t let a bad key take away your joy.
Find out what you like and then treat yourself to something good.
I would love to see something like the Bamatech key as a single-lever paddle - does anybody have a recommendation? Ideally something like the Palm Pico Single, but from Aluminium and maybe with springs and bearings. My Palm Pico is great, but I notice a slight deterioration of its precision after several years of usage, likely due to wear wrt to the PCB-flex-based spring mechanism.
I’ve got some single lever paddles (used as sideswipers/cooties) and a straight key from CW Morse. They’ve been really good and were fairly cheap to buy when I started out. The only thing is not to leave them in a hot car as the plastic might warp.
I got a Putikeeg paddle via Temu, I’m really impressed by it. I paid £11.99 including shipping.
The Putikeeg is a quality item and works really well.
My favourite key is my Palm Pico, but I also have Palm Mini and Radio Adventure Gear paddles. The Radio Adventure Gear paddle is OK but the plastic seems to soften in the heat and distorts. I’ve used a hot air gun successfully to repair the RAG paddle.
I like the look of the Bamatech stuff but it’s rather out of my price range.
A couple of VK’s have purchased enough bits to build 10 units and then resold as kits to cover costs, so maybe a kit build in ZL ?
My other paddle is the Mini B from https://www.americanmorse.com/ It is a robust paddle, and I am happy with its performance. It only gets less use today as the Palm and Pressure paddles pack slightly better.