Iambic paddles for non-Iambic use.

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by W4WVW, Jul 21, 2020.

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  1. W4WVW

    W4WVW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Over the decades I've used my BY-1 for most of my CW operation. Other than to check out what all the fuss is about, I don't use iambic keying, so a single lever paddle would suit my electronic keyer needs. I bought a CW Morse single lever paddle to try out and I have a couple of issues with it. First, I find the thin fingerpiece a bit awkward and find myself wanting something wider. I'm glad I didn't spend a bundle on a Begali HST or similar.

    Second, I would like closer contact spacing, that I can't get with the CW Morse paddle, though I realize it is an economy paddle.

    So is there anything to be gained by going with a Bencher ST-1 or similar? Vibrokeyer maybe?

    For now I think I'll put the BY-1 back on the table. I think converting the CW Morse paddle into a Cootie would work well.

    Your thoughts and experiences?
    KD4ZFS likes this.
  2. W9WQA

    W9WQA Ham Member QRZ Page

    i put some foam tape on bencher paddles, wider. maybe you want something that looks good !!
    also paddles can be wired together.
    im no cw op, just like sending practice...
  3. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    The BY-1 works just like a "single lever paddle" if you just use it like one.

    The only reason for dual levers is to allow "squeeze keying," which I happen to like and always use; but for those who don't prefer this, just tap each side like a single lever paddle. I doubt you'd feel any difference with the ST-1.
  4. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I like the Kent single paddle key.
  5. W5WTH

    W5WTH Ham Member QRZ Page

    W4WVW likes this.
  6. W6MK

    W6MK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Beauty is a significant value to some people. To others not.

    And there are different kinds of beauty, beyond simple looks.

    I have several single lever paddles, American Morse, Begali and GHD, all of which allow me
    to send perfectly well, are fully adjustable and are all at least reasonably handsome (although
    in different ways).

    I do have a Begali HST (the original longer lever design) which works very well as a single lever
    paddle and acceptably well as a cootie. The fingerpiece is large and has a tapered thickness so
    it ought to work well for many users. Of course it has a switch for going from single lever to
    cootie function.

    I do think that cootie design and adjustability can be critical for the ability to send code
    that doesn't sound like it came from a cootie (with overly-heavily-weighted dits). But that's another topic. There are a number of cootie designs some of which are highly adjustable but they also can
    be quite spendy. Worth it if you find cootie sending as enjoyable as I do.
    KD4ZFS likes this.
  7. WB8WTU

    WB8WTU Ham Member QRZ Page

    The only thing to be gained is the valuable experience of using a different paddle. Trying different keys and paddles is fun but my experience is different than most, I guess. You, more specifically your sending fingers, are used to the wider paddle spacing on a BY-1. You may not realize that but your fingers do and the narrow single paddle just doesn't "feel right". The ST-1 has the same paddle spacing as a BY-1 which would seem like a natural transition, however, there is a difference in "feel" between two independent levers (BY-1) and one solid lever (ST-1). I can tell the difference in feel between the two which requires a small adjustment in "timing" to reduce sending errors. All of that can be overcome by just using the different paddle for a longer period of time.

    For me, using different keys and paddles is like riding horses. They all do the same thing but the different personalities of each needs to be considered. My advice is to pick one and ride that one for a while. I truly admire the ops who have paddles, bug, straight key and cootie all wired in parallel and can smoothly switch between them all, sometimes in the same QSO. I don't have that talent, I'm afraid.

    Straight keys are much the same. They are all SPST switches but each has a different feel. The difference between a Nye SpeedX, Bencher RJ-1, J-38 and Begali is perhaps subtle but definitely there. It's a mystery to me why my Spark can send better code than I can.

    I also admire those ops that have mastered the Cootie. I've tried but discovered my brain and hand speak in different languages, can't communicate and the Cootie sends gibberish. If I were the radio op on the Titanic and had to call for help using a Cootie, there would have been NO survivors.

    Variety is the spice of life, they say. Go for it and have fun - remember - it's just a hobby.
    KD4ZFS and W4WVW like this.
  8. W6MK

    W6MK Ham Member QRZ Page

    I agree with just about everything you've noted. I do have a bug, cootie and straight key wired
    all the time. The keys I use the least (cootie and straight key) are actually the most fun (and
    challenging) to use. I think the "key" to using multiple keys is to have fun with the challenge. Stick
    with it and you will be able to use any key well enough.

    The exception, in my case, is the cootie. They differ a great deal from one to the other. I am in favor
    of some of the more complex, adjustable and expensive cooties. It seems to me that to get away from
    the typical cootie sound, one needs to find, and adjust, a cootie so that the dits are weighted correctly
    for the overall speed of sending. You want your cootie not to sound like a cootie.

    With that said about cooties, I've also used single lever and double lever paddles as cooties. They
    work and with patience can work pretty well, even if not as well as a really good, fully adjustable
    W4WVW likes this.
  9. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I use an iambic paddle in non iambic mode. Always have. I guess its whatever you get used to.
  10. WA9FZB

    WA9FZB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I use an iambic paddle in what I have to call "semi-iambic" mode. I do use squeeze keying, but only for certain letter combinations. Don't know why, and I never consciously tried to learn iambic keying. In fact, my first experiences with keyers were back in the days of the Hallicrafters TO keyer and the 3 X 12AX7 circuit in the Handbook. My first iambic keyer was the MFJ-400 my parents gave me back in 1978. I just retired it last month, replacing it with a WinKeyer.

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