Going Back To Single Lever Paddle

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by K5UOS, Sep 12, 2015.

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  1. N4UP

    N4UP Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Interesting ! I have been using a Vibroplex Vibrokeyer for longer than I can remember, but now feel the need to try something else.

    I can now copy 35 wpm but I can only send around 25 wpm comfortably, due to a physical dexterity limitation.

    In the last couple of years several friends have encouraged me to go Begali, and now I believe I will.

    I had already decided to go single-lever paddle, not iambic.

    I've been looking at the Begali website and wasn't sure which single lever paddle to buy. Now I am thinking I'd like to try the Sculpture Mono, mainly because of the magnetic-loading and aesthetics.
  2. K5UOS

    K5UOS Ham Member QRZ Page


    Again, great on your copy speed. I have been working on-air about 25wpm lately but not totally comfortable.
    Also I have been using a morse trainer site and can occasionally sustain 31wpm. This is a big increase for me.

    The Sculpture Mono is beautiful. It is different from mine with a real single lever and magnets rather that springs.
    I think the magnets allow even more precision in sending than with springs. But I haven't experienced anything to complain about with my model at my current speed.

    Good Luck with what you decide to get.

    N4UP likes this.
  3. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    In over 55 years never got into the iambic thing have both single and dual lever keys and use them in the same manner. Guess it goes back to the transition from a bug to a vibrokeyer for use with the old Hallicrafters HA-1 keyer of which still have several (vibrokeyers and HA-1 keyers).
  4. N4UP

    N4UP Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thank you, Donald. Have you tried any of the three Wednesday CWTs ?? One-hour each at 1300, 1900, and 0300. Exchange is ( name ) and ( member number OR state ). The CWTs have helped me a lot to bring up my copying speed. Most ops there are 25-35 wpm and quite a few break 100 Qs for a one-hour session.

    Not trying to start a debate, and I apologize if the subject has been raised before and beaten to death, and I realize what people use is a matter of personal experience and preference, but what do folks see as the advantages and disadvantages of single-lever vs iambic? I am thinking the iambic would require more dexterity than I have ( after my head injury in 2006, I don't have quite the physical dexterity I used to have ).
  5. K5UOS

    K5UOS Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's a good question, Peter. I might say the benefit of single lever is in an economy of motion. But there must be a relationship between moderate speed and high speed.

    Most/some high speed operators use single lever. VK5EEE asked a good question early in the thread hoping a serious high speed operator to explain their choice.

    My choice was for a much simpler reason. After 20+ year with a single lever I went to iambic. At lower speeds my old brain seemed to account for any issues.
    I practiced squeeze keying for a couple of years. Not on all letters but used the paddle as both iambic and single lever. As I went above 18wpm this confusing method resulted in me making a lot of errors. I was really noticeable when I went about 20wpm.

    I can see my sending getting better last couple of weeks. Sending is more comfortable. But someone else may not have the same results.

    It would be nice to have a world class operator explain why some high speed ops use the single lever.

    Don K5UOS
  6. K5UOS

    K5UOS Ham Member QRZ Page


    I haven't been participating in a CWT. Wasn't sure what that was at first. I signed up for the CW Academy they offer for Jan and Feb. Thought that would be a fun way to learn.

    But I listen to them around 7025 to 7035KHz and hear a lot of 25wpm+ to copy. The fists these guys have makes it easier to copy. Just amazing. You can tell its not keyboard by the little errors they make. Also, I have been following my own advice and participating in some weekend contests in part to test some adaptions I made to my home brew vertical.

    I am 3-5wpm from feeling a little more confident. I am naturally confident about everything I do but I want the improvement enough that it makes a little hesitant.

    I still work a lot of QSO's at 17 to 20wpm.

  7. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    In the end it's all about what you feel comfortable with and what others do is of no real consequence. Prefer non-iambic keying and while I have no problem at 35-40 wpm find it more relaxing at 18-20 wpm what the heck is the rush?
  8. K5UOS

    K5UOS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Reasonable question. I have had liver cancer for over a year. But not in a rush but I like setting goals. In a way I'm getting back to what made me want a ticket in the first place.

    Radio is just something I can do and never feel bored. CW is still one of my most favorite things to do as things progress and time moves forward.

    Otherwise there is watching Dancing with the Stars with my wife on TV. :)

    Another goal is to WAS on 40M with one of my HB rigs this winter. I just changed my coax and have been adding chokes. I am ready.

    K3XE working at 18 to 20is not less fun.

  9. VK5EEE

    VK5EEE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Interesting comments and threads to read, thanks to everyone for sharing. I'd say to you if you want to go back to single lever and not twin paddle, you are doing yourself a favour, as you won't limit your speed in future. As to me doing hard work to get to 60WPM receive in plain text, for me I was lucky, I just started out very young 7 or 8 years old and it was always only fun, it came over time, not from any planned effort or hard trying. I guess the luxury of youth and time helps a lot. But these days people really have great tools if they want to go about getting QRQ such as software and great website LCWO.net.

    About iambic: iambic is really and only for laziness, it saves hand movements on just a few (lesser used English language characters other than a CQ call of course), and there have been studies done which can be found from a web search that shows the saving is not that great. The benefit is that at slow sending up to say 30WPM, it makes for less movements, but, only 10% or less in a conversation, and the movements of a thumb and finger are rather effortless anyway... the big down side is you won't be able to progress beyond a max of around 45WPM if you are extremely good, because the iambic requires you to release a paddle touch in a very narrow window, again this is explained online elsewhere with diagrams showing when you are needing to touch and let go, and there you can see the big disadvantage and why it is almost impossible even for the best OP to send 60WPM iambic mode, but much easier to do so on a single lever. Take a look at ALL the top QRQ (e.g. EHSC members) and all of them use single levers. If a twin paddle is essentially one paddle as it does not squeeze, then that would count as single paddle. My Ultra PicoKeyer for my "paddle" which is a Bulldog paper clip by Lou K9LU and works remarkably well for its tiny size once you fix it to the table, the keyer software doesn't allow for any "non-iambic" use of the key just iambic A and B, A still seems to be some type of Iambic.

    The comment that you end up being good at what you start with is true, and this is why I regret starting with Iambic key in the 80s after straight key. I could probably learn single lever though, but as we get older, we hate learning new things, it seems like a lot of effort to learn anything new. Also the comment about the biggest benefit in moving from straight key to bugs, wow indeed. How many an OP was saved his job, glass arm, or even possibly suicide, and thus able to comfortably send 8 hours a day higher speed CW with a small amount of effort in comparison!

    Finally after all these years of wanting a bug, I finally have one: a Simplex Auto the Australian side-ways bug key. It is very quiet compared to vibroplex, and amazing how little effort is involved in manipulating the paddle. No slapping around as I'd expected. And indeed, I see people slapping paddles on videos and wonder why. Then again I saw a young (Russian? Ukrainian? Romanian?) lady sending QRQ and she was slapping like mad. What works, works! 73 all and enjoyable reads, great subjects!

    We now in VK have a monthly column in our magazine, equivalent (in theory) to the ARRL's QST, our magazine has the highly imaginative title Amateur Radio. And the column I edit has the highly imaginative title, I chose after some feedback, CW Today. Hopefully QST and RadCom and others CQDL etc magazines could do the same, I did approach RadCom (RSGB) but they have already so much to fill the monthly mag, they wish they had more pages. In VK, perhaps due to the water and/or the beer and/or the low population on ham radio, there are too few contributions so I think we got a CW column because they were getting desperate for content HI, but it could also be a recognition of the resurgance in interest in CW that we are now eperiencing Down Under in VK.

    We now even have a CW broadcast, those in the Americas might be able to pick it up on 21022.5 kHz, it's on every Sunday morning at 2300UTC (will change to 2200UTC due to clock changes here very soon) for a half hour on 7022.5/14022.5/21022.5. Aside from W1AW I don't know of any other CW QST in the world, so that's an achievement.
    N4UP, K5UOS and W5BIB like this.
  10. KH2G

    KH2G Ham Member QRZ Page

    When I shifted over, I used a decoder to practice with. The reason being that if you have some bad habits you developed with the bug (banana boat swing etc) the decoder will not let it go. When you use paddles properly it comes out clean and then I felt confident to be on the air with the bencher.
    Regards, 73 Dick KH2G
    W5BIB likes this.

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