Key Polarity, Handedness, and Related Questions

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KN3O, Mar 13, 2016.

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  1. KN3O

    KN3O Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm learning CW and finally got an Iambic Paddle. I've been learning on a Nye Straight Key so far. I treated myself to a HamKey set that I quite like. The paddle shape is nicer to me than the triangular paddles of the MFJ or Bencher sets and I tend to agree with the people on eHam that the set is a great value, especially for what you can buy them at now. But I digress.

    I'm left handed but for some reason I seem to send better with my right hand. Any other lefties? Is there a consensus there?

    Also, I prefer my dashes on the left, and dits on the right. Is this going to lead to any problems or is it acceptable to choose a preference either way?

  2. KJ4VTH

    KJ4VTH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Write with my right & use my left on the paddle.
    Left thumb = dah; left index = dit
  3. VK5EEE

    VK5EEE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Expert opinion appears to say that it doesn't matter, what ever you are comfortable with and which way you want to go is fine and won't limit you. Neither left nor right, nor dits and dahs convention.
    KN3O likes this.
  4. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    There's an advantage to keying with your non-dominant hand. It allows you to write with one hand and key with the other, so you can switch between sending and recieving quickly.

    If you put dits on the right, you'll be in the minority, but it won't be much of a problem until you operate a shared station. Even then, it's not so hard to swap sides.
  5. K8PRG

    K8PRG Ham Member QRZ Page

    When I first started sending about a year ago, I got the Bencher By1 in the mail and immediately wired it up back-ass-wards. But I didn't know any better so I used it that way for a couple months till a fellow ham friend stopped by and made me aware of my error. So I switched polarity and I was ALLL screwed went back to "wrong".
    I've since switched to straight key so it's no longer an issue..the Bencher is gathering dust somewhere.
  6. N0SYA

    N0SYA Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm right handed but can send about as easily with either. Straight key, bug, doesn't matter.
  7. WA7DU

    WA7DU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have a contrary opinion. Sort of. I strongly disagree with the first clause (of your post above), but strongly agree with the second. Using Morse should not be a burden for the user. The polarity and handedness should be that which works best for the individual involved.

    So, it does matter. The methods and arrangements used should be operator's choice. Feel free to experiment. Settle-in with your choices, and work to perfect them. But, do not become a slave to your first choice--if a change seems to be in order sometime later, change is OK.

    This thinking applies to polarity and handedness, and key adjustments like spring tension, contact spacing, and trunnion adjustments. I suspect that the Morse operator who doesn't change or fine tune these variables over time is the odd man or woman. Things are at their optimum when operator enjoyment and satisfaction is maximized. Or "maximised" for the Queen and her adherents.
    VK5EEE likes this.
  8. WA9SVD

    WA9SVD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Actually, I'm (RE-RE) learning the code, and use of paddles, and practicing sending with either hand, as I'm semi-ambidextrous. Whether you use the left or right paddle for dits, or dahs is more a matter of personal preference and convenience; the only problem might be with a visiting operator who is not familiar with your layout.
    One of the Bencher paddles at our club has a set with a wonderfully made Lexan/Plexiglass dust enclosure, and it has a simple DPDT switch to exchange the paddle orientation. You may wish to add such an addition. Despite arguments (ad nauseum) as to which orientation is "Politically Correct," it's what is most convenient and natural for YOU, since it IS your station.
  9. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Polarity and "handedness" issues.
    The title of the post included POLARITY of Keys.
    For a straight key you can wire the two wires either way to the radio plug.
    BUT it is best to have the grounded part of the key (usually the frame) to the ground side of the plug just so it will not be easy to accidently short and key the transmitter.

    Right or left?
    Myself, being left handed, and my first bug being a standard right habnded bug, I learned to send the dahs and dits backwards with my let hand !
    When I got into electronic keyers and paddles I contiued to use my left hand with the paddle wired for standard right hand use. Still Backwards but it works for me.
    I can scribble notes with the wrong writing hand, as I send Morse with my left hand (the right writing hand, for me) , and usually read them later to transfer info into my paper logbook :D

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