Iambic vs. single lever paddles

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by WF4W, Feb 28, 2017.

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  1. WF4W

    WF4W Ham Member QRZ Page


    Im in the market for a new set of paddles and pondering if I should get iambic or single lever. I currently use a vintage vibroplex single lever paddle. It's seen better days.

    I've used - but have never owned - iambic paddles ... the only difference I can recall is that holding down both sides of iambics generate alternating dits and dahs.

    As I've always used vibroplex I plan to get either their vibrokeyer single lever or the Racer series iambic keyer - is there any benefit of using iambic over single lever or does it simply come down to preference?

    which model would you purchase?
  2. W6OGC

    W6OGC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have had Bencher paddles for decades. The iambics are far and away the most common.

    I'd be happy to have a single lever, but since I buy them used, I've not seen one for sale when in the market.

    I have never used the iambic feature, though. I just don't see the benefit, I guess, old dog, new tricks maybe, etc.
  3. W1BV

    W1BV Ham Member QRZ Page

    VE7JBX likes this.
  4. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'd go for iambic (dual lever paddles) if they're the same price.

    You can always use iambic keys as non-iambic -- just don't squeeze them together. Pretty simple.

    But you can't use a single lever non-iambic key in iambic mode, so if you ever want to learn iambic keying, you'd be left out.

    I do use iambic "squeeze" keying, exclusively, with my Benchers or any other kind of dual lever paddle. Slightly less effort on some characters. Exactly the same effort on all the others. I keep my paddles closely spaced, and contacts really closely spaced (about the thickness of a piece of paper between the contacts) so the "movement" of the paddles is very, very small. My hand, wrist and arm don't move at all when sending code...just two fingers, and just barely. Makes it easier to spend a lot of time operating, although I don't do that so much anymore.
  5. K7MEM

    K7MEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is no such thing as "iambic" paddles. There are only single and dual lever paddles. Only keyers can be iambic and their capabilities can vary. Extremely simple keyer might not have any iambic capabilities at all. But more complex keyers can have Iambic A/B modes, plus memory.

    But I agree with WIK. Get the dual paddles. Overall you have more flexibility with dual paddles. You can choose to use the iambic modes of the keyer, but you don't have to use them if you don't want to. I got my first keyer in the early 80s with dual lever paddles. I looked into iambic sending, but it didn't have a significant advantage over basic sending.
  6. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    U Can use an "Iambic", Dual lever paddle with single lever style of sending but you can NOT use a single lever for Iambic if you want to try the method !!!!!
    I hav both kinds of paddle and use them both
  7. WF4W

    WF4W Ham Member QRZ Page

    OK. no real advantage - if I don't use iambic keying then why change ... plus, you've gotta admit, the single lever has more swagger (in as much as ham radio can have swag)

  8. K7MH

    K7MH Ham Member QRZ Page

    In what way has it seen better days? Just grubby? Pitted chrome, or?
    It is not a huge project to take it all apart and clean things up. It is unlikely that any parts are worn out. I have several keys that I got very inexpensively because
    "It doesn't work very well anymore". They all do now. I have my eye on another one as well. If you look my callsign up you can see a couple before/after clean up jobs in my bio.
  9. K5UJ

    K5UJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I started out like most with a hand key, then went to a bug, a hamfest J36 as soon as I could. That was around 1972 and I used that J36 for years. Around 10 years ago I tried a BY2 and iambic keyer and I could never really get the hang of it. I got a TO Keyer and Vibrokey paddle and it was like returning home. A bug with automatic dahs.

    In other words if you are used to single lever, you may have a rough time with iambic. I'd look for a newer Vibrokey paddle--I think they're great. I got mine off eBay and completely disassembled it, cleaned it all up, put it back together. I was looking for one of the gray base with black finger piece models which were made to match the TO Keyer. I had to get some parts--the red jelley bean on top and a thumb piece but Vibroplex sells these things.

    By the way, if you need new rubber feet, you can get them from McMaster-Carr. They are black with washer inserts. I think they are referred to as "bumpers" outside ham radio.
  10. WF4W

    WF4W Ham Member QRZ Page

    It functions well - its just grubby - it spent too much time in an old garage when my grandpa was inactive :)

    I'll clean it up but I like the chrome/gold base rather than the matte 'tan' of my current vibrokey

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