I usually home brew my SOTA paddles, but I decided I would spend the money and get one of these: Pico Paddles. It was definitely more money than I wanted to spend, but I figured, what the heck.
Well, I can’t seem to find the sweet spot with the adjustments. I am not trying to make excuses for my constant sending of extra dits, but I am spending a lot of time up there trying to sort this out.
I would be curious about everyone else’s experience with this paddle or the mini paddle.
I wonder if you using a keyer built into a radio, or an external one you know well? There are some inbuilt keyers that create mistakes from any of my paddles, it is all in the timing of when the dot closure is measured. If the dot closure is assessed too early in the period of the previous element, errors are apparently inevitable. I don’t get errors on the keyer which was built from the Idiom Press kit, which is a kit version of the CMOS super keyer. The FT817, IC703 and the IC736 keyers are ok but I do get errors on the IC706.
One way to assess it is to wind the speed way down, where you cannot make any mechanical errors, and see if it is still inserting rogue dots.
I have used an American Morse paddle in the field, very small and (too) light (without a base). Recently switched over to a chinese made paddle which is doing well, so far.
Hope you sort it, good luck.
Hi Andrew and Mike,
Agree wit Andrerw. I suggest dropping your speed and see how that goes and gradually increase it until the errors start. I have two Chinese rigs and the inbuilt keyer on one has me stymied. The other is mostly OK if I keep the speed down. No problem with Japanese or American designs. I’m now looking for a lightweight but durable straight key - may have to build it.
I am using the Mini Paddle from Palm Radio for many years without any problem.
Rigs: FT-817, FT-857 and KX1.
To please all my SOTA Friends (and also myself) my speed is around 18 wpm.
I noticed that when the weather conditions during an activation are harsh, that it is more difficult to take high speed code.
Not everybody can take 30 wpm. When somebody is sending QRS, I adjust my reply to the speed to that station; a matter of courtesy in my humble opinion.
73 de geert pa7zee
I have a original Palm Paddle. It’s what I used to learn to send with a paddle. I do have a Bencher BY-1 but never use that.
Apart from the obvious issues of sending with gloves on and the problems from lack of feel, I don’t have many issues. I did find that after about 5 years in my SOTA bag the contacts needed cleaning. I placed a piece of paper between them, squeezed the key and gently slid the paper out a few times.
If you have used other paddles there’s not much feel with the Palm Paddle and that may be the issue. Practice may improve operation.
I use mine with a HamGadgets Pico Keyer rather than the FT817 built in keyer. This is because the Pico Keyer has a speed knob and memories.
I have a Pico but only use it as a backup or with my lightweight pack.
My main portable key is the AME Porta paddle.
I also have problems with the Pico. This is because of total lack of feel.
The action is very vague and the tiny arms flex.
A lovely tiny key it is, and it does the job it was designed for, but pushing it at anything over 25wpm usually ends in colourful morse with added elements
The fact that the standard lead is wired back to front doesn’t help
Have never used the Mini, but expect it perhaps has a bit more feel because of the stiffer construction.
I use a mini, and though it does the job for me, I wouldn’t give it high marks for “feel” as it is quite flexible.
It is the first paddle that I have used, and I’ve never trained myself to get the most out of an iambic key. Apart from when calling CQ, I tend to use it as a wide single paddle, eg tapping left or right, but not squeezing. The purists must cringe at that, but it has the advantage of working just as well with cold numb fingers and / or gloves!
I changed from a mini to a pico Palm paddle and VERY happy with it. I normally send about 21-23wpm on activations.
I am only sending at 18 wpm, so not super fast. I think it is the lack of feel, especially on the dit side. I do much better with paddles I made out of scrap in the workshop…too bad because this one cost a bunch.
I think I will just keep on practicing and hopefully sort that issue out. I also think I am going to try a different commercial paddle as budget allows.
If you eventually decide to sell them, you’ll get a good price for them. They’re very popular.
The concept of the paddle is great and I like it in theory, I am just having some issues sending with it. Being as the only HF/CW I do currently is on summits, practice would probably help.
I will mess with it for awhile and hopefully that sorts it out.
I love my Pico Paddle! It’s all down to what you get used to I think. I now send horribly with my Mini paddle, I really struggle. I also have a fight with the FT817 keyer because I’m used to the MTR keyer.
My advice is to find a system that works and stick with it! I know that a few activators use a Palm Mini with Code Cube, at least the keyer is then consistent regardless of the rig.
But yeah, Pico works great and is very lightweight with ABS housing upgrade. I stash mine in an Altoids tin, it’s makes a handy base too!
73, Colin M1BUU
I got a new Pico paddle last week and it works fine after a small increase to the spacing. I have used the Palm Mini paddle with Code Cube for a long time and think that is a much better key.
For me the Pico is a bit too small and light. I was so impressed with the mini paddle I brought the Pico, but If I had the choice I would swap for a mini paddle.
All cw keyers have small differences in their timing and when you swop from one to another it can throw your sending off until your brain adjusts to the change.
I learnt on the “A” type of code so I need a keyer that does this. If you are new to cw you may not be aware of the difference between “A” and “B” and think your cw is the problem so that may be something else to consider; as when you learn one method you should/must stick to it.
I tried it on my activation today and I narrowed my issues down to 2 things: feel and laziness. I found that I am allowing my fingers to “linger” on the paddles, especially the dit side for too long and that is causing issues (extra dits).
I will just practice more and that should solve the problem.
I’ve had the same experience with the Pico paddle. I used a friend’s Mini Paddle and loved it so I bought the Pico Paddle, thinking it would be the same but smaller. The arms are too flexible for my liking. I’ve gotten a little better with time, but still not my favorite.
I had problems with the palm paddle where the coax plugged into the paddle but got that fixed. Bought the pico because (just because) and really enjoy it. I only work about 18-20 on activations but at 25-30 it also does a fine job.