Waterproof iambic paddles?

Maybe. But all the serious CW (dxpeditions) decode the CW in the op’s head and he then types the call and the logging program logs the QSO and sends the call, report and stuff. The op is really there to tune about the working frequency and pull a call out of the melee.

The solution is cheap (£25 for a keyboard, £9for a Pi Zero) and some simple software. You get a pragmatic solution to a problem, the inability to source waterproof paddles and the problems waterproofing may have to the feel with something that is waterproof, does the job irrespective of the WX and can log the QSO too. We’ve not got to the waterproof log book issue yet :wink:

It’s like being hungry and preparing some wonderful meal with 1hr prep time and 1hr30 cooking. You get a delicious meal 2h30 after you start that is satisfying for your brain and stomach. Or you’re hungry so you make a bacon and fried egg roll which takes a few minutes and solves the hunger. Sometimes you just want the QSO without all the ponsing about with satisfying paddle touch and the deft way you could key whilst sitting on the side of saddle. i.e. you hear Ben on one of the St. Kilda stacks, you want the chase IRRESPECTIVE of how the key feels in your hand.


Yes, I understand why they do keyboard CW, as they want to operate as efficiently as possible – often for long periods of time – to maximize their QSO rate. It never appealed to me. You could argue, if one is going to deskill the sending (i.e. keyboard to Morse), why not deskill the receiving too (i.e. auto Morse decoding) [I can see objections but some might prefer it].

All I can say is, for a solo SOTA activation at some lonely summit, I enjoy - and feel there’s something special about - hand sending and logging manually with pencil and paper, albeit that leaves me with more work to do at home before I can upload the log.

I have a perfectly-good Palm Portable (straight) Key (PPK) not doing very much at home. I hear a few chasers using a SK but not activators (but then I do little chasing). I should make a point of using it occasionally. But would chasers (e.g. in a pile-up) get frustrated with my ~15wpm SK sending? I find a short-lever portable SK on a wobbly surface harder work to send quickly than a long-lever desktop SK like my Kent KT1 Pro in the shack.

As others have said we don’t have waterproof rigs either [a more serious and potentially expensive (repair) problem]. Mark has a special non-SOTA problem here. For most of us wet-weather SOTA activators having a water-resistant key is good enough (and unlike the rig, will not be ruined if it does get wet inside). Tarps, covers, jacket pockets, even freezer bags are all simple cheap practical solutions.

I did three WOTAs in continuous rain yesterday using a Rite-in-the-Rain notebook and pencil. The notebook was a bit soggy but fine after drying out at home.


Its ex-British army. I have one of these keys - its pretty good. Its sturdy, I’d be quite happy dropping it on a concrete floor. I simply rewired mine and used replacement rubber grommits to give it some additional waterproofing. Here’s a video of me knocking out some morse with it…https://youtu.be/SAjal5Zfzno?t=15

I also have one of these which I use for SOTA. Here’s a short video (not mine!). You can find these on e-bay if you put in “Russian spy morse key”. Not quite as robust as the above key. I wouldn’t want it to fall off a m’bike at speed. https://youtu.be/fyaF2g77t50?t=7

I’ve also had one of these which are pretty decent keys. I’m not sure I’d throw it across a concrete floor. I’d be quite happy to throw it across a carpeted floor though… Maybe a little on the large size for a motor bike, but then I don’t know how or where you going to fix it. Quite nice to use - Bakerlite or hard plastic cover.

With one or two rare exceptions I’m not aware of the UK military using any kind of electronic paddle keys. I did use one briefly in the RN but it was my own!!

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I only use a SK activating summits, and at home. Now and again I’ll use a paddle or bug. I’m not bothered by the speed chasers use. Its nice enough if they can send reasonable morse though !! Even though a few can’t for various reasons - I’ve got to know who they are and their calls!!

My little short Russian “Spy Key” tilts/wobbles but I simply made a slightly big enough base from stiff plastic and glued 3 r soft ubber pads to the base = no wobbly :smile:


Thanks very much for the info.

Searching some more for morse keys I found a listing for a RACAL morse key that looks pretty weather proof, designed to operate from the knee but without the adjustment screws of the Clansman key:


I’ve not used one, but an ex MN RO has a collection of morse keys and told me those keys were not very nice to use.
Also one issue with the leg strap is you’ve got to remove it if you :-
a) decide to stretch your legs
b) decide to have a leak.
c) Or, in your case forget to undo it if you get off the bike :wink:


Ron, in all fairness I’ve only once used one for a few minutes. An Ex-MN op had one in his collection…(He thought it was rubbish too , in terms of use).

I have a homemade leg strap for my Palm paddles but tend nowadays to use a ‘logging board’ (made from the hardback covers from an old Next catalogue) because I would forget I was still ‘plugged in’ when I stood up to change the links on the linked dipole, thereby dragging the rig off its perch.


The VK3IL paddle would do it. I use mine in rain and winter with big gloves.

I’m a little obsessed with them (and sell kits or built keys)

But obv it’s easy enough to find all the bits yourself.