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How to orient wrist/hand on paddle

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KT5MR, Oct 10, 2016.

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  1. WA7DU

    WA7DU Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is lots of good advice above. I'd like to add to that set of good advice...

    If prolong practice causes discomfort, you need to change something. If holding your thumb and forefinger up to reach the paddle corners is causing a problem, consider re-positioning or re-shaping the paddles to lower those corners.

    There are two methods in common use for paddles. With one, the thumb and forefinger softly contact the paddle(s). The index finger may, depending on the operator's preference, contact the paddle with the face of the finger, or with the side of the finger. Code elements (dits and dahs) are produced with sideways movement of the thumb and/or finger. The second method has the same soft contact as above, but a roll of the wrist produces the code elements. A clockwise roll actuates the left paddle, a counter-clockwise roll actuates the right paddle.

    Note that the sideways movement used with paddles was instituted to eliminate or ameliorate a debilitating medical condition called "glass arm," that condition resulting from the up and down motion needed to operate a straight key. Today, we call the debilitating condition (that threatened a telegraph operator's livelihood) carpal tunnel syndrome.

    So, find a comfortable position for your arm (most paddle operators rest the forearm lightly on the surface supporting the keyer),same for fingers and thumb--make them comfortable, and go to it.

  2. KT5MR

    KT5MR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the continued advice, all.

    I was watching myself practice last night and seem to have fallen into a heavy-handed pattern. I'm not banging on the paddles, but my movements seem to be more exaggerated than many of the videos of paddle CW operation on YouTube.

    What I mean is this....on many videos the op's thumb and finger essentially rest very near the paddles and the op sends with basically a light touch. I don't seem to be able to do that. If my motions are small, I have a large tendency to over-dah and especially over-dit. So, when I make an H, for example, I'll make contact with the paddle with more force than I see most using. When I've finished the character, I'll move my thumb away quickly and about 1/2" to 1" or so.

    I don't have a great deal of manual dexterity to begin with. Learning the guitar didn't go anywhere and I am always fumbling with small screws. For me, it seems that larger gross movements are easier than small precise ones, so that probably explains my heavy-handedness on the paddle.

    --Michael / KT5MR
  3. K7TRF

    K7TRF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Some folks develop a very light touch, others use a lot more motion and slap the paddles a bit. In the end it doesn't matter that much unless you're getting fatigued or making too many errors using the approach that suits you. Nothing wrong with trying to develop a lighter touch which often requires a more precise adjustment of the paddles. Sometimes just the choice of paddles changes things. I can key with a fairly light touch and minimal motion with my Autronic paddles adjusted for tight contact clearance but on my Vibroplex paddles I tend to slap a lot more as I have a harder time keeping the contacts adjusted to a tight spacing. I don't use Bencher paddles so I can't comment on how they compare but sometimes the paddles themselves can influence keying technique with paddles that need to be set to wider contact spacing favoring more motion while keying.

    One piece of feed back that might help is to orient the paddles so they're directly in line with your forearm. In your original post your paddles are oriented at a pretty sharp angle to your forearm. That's likely not helping at all and it basically eliminates the wrist roll method of keying suggested in an earlier post. Try orienting the paddles so they're straight in line with your forearm and see what that does in terms of ability to key with a lighter touch whether through finger and thumb motion or wrist roll. BTW, it's a good idea to align a straight key the same way so that it's in a straight line with your forearm instead of having the key sitting at an angle to your arm.
  4. KT5MR

    KT5MR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'll give that a try!

    --Michael / KT5MR

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