Paddle type(s)

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by N6RGR, Sep 10, 2021.

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  1. N6RGR

    N6RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    What do you use: magnetic paddle, or spring tension paddle? I have an old Code Warrior Jr. I have only messed with it a few times. I learned to send CW using a straight key and enjoy using the straight key (I have three - J-38, K4, and a JH Bunnell (my favorite). My sending speed is about 18-20 WPM and I can usually decode using the old brain at 15 WPM. Paddles and bugs are odd to me coming from the straight key. What is the best method to switch?

    de N6RGR Roger
  2. KD1JT

    KD1JT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Method? Get a bug, set it up, practice off air a bit. I can recommend the DL150RA from KN4YB. I own magnetic and spring paddles (Kent, Vibroplex, Bencher) and like ‘em all just fine. Again, get your hands on one, and practice off air. It’s a LOT easier to transition from one to the other than many ops would have you believe, and I typically use iambic paddles, bug, straight key in the course of one on air session. But then I play guitar, bass, keyboards, harmonica and do vocals with the band. Like the code, the notes are the same, the theory the same, only the instrument varies.
  3. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have both types of paddles, with three Benchers (spring loaded) and one Begali (magnetic) and using them, I really can't tell the difference. However, it's all in how you adjust them to begin with.

    IMO, a "good" paddle using the right design and components should absolutely never need re-adjustment and should hold however you set it for years and years and years...and would only be re-adjusted because you changed the way you like it to be adjusted.

    But the transition from hand key to a paddle just takes some time and practice. Never found any magic formula or method.
    W5ESE likes this.
  4. KD2RDG

    KD2RDG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I use an iambic spring paddle, with the paddles reversed so I send dits with my forefinger and dahs with my thumb. This is done via a setting in the transceiver. Downside is if I get a bug someday it might be difficult.

    Paddle is a lot less physical work but straight key is more direct and expressive and less thinking involved. Switching was easy. If you're good at straight key you shouldn't have any problem. Just be realistic and don't expect to be great the first day. You really need to try it for an hour or so, go to sleep, come back to it the next day and repeat for a few weeks before it will feel second-nature.

    Check into getting a Y-cable so you can leave both keys hooked up. Then just change between by turning on and off the radio's internal keyer.
    RA1AOM and W5ESE like this.
  5. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I used a Bencher (spring) for 40+years with no complaints. A couple years ago I got a Magnakeyer paddle (magnetic). Its great too! I tend to prefer the Magnakeyer but I won't go as far as attributing that to the magnetic action. I really can't tell.
    W1BR likes this.
  6. N0NC

    N0NC Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've been using a Bencher for more than 20 years, recently picked up a Vibroplex Vibrokeyer single lever paddle. Also a couple of bugs, and a few straight keys,(a navy flameproof, and a skillman Deluxe (JJ-38)).

    73, Chuck
  7. K5MUG

    K5MUG Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Of the two you mentioned, I prefer the magnetic paddle, however my daily choice is a third option, no spring nor magnet: have a look at Steve Robert's Torsion Bar paddles and straight keys - . His torsion bar paddles are single lever paddles, and by inserting a stereo to mono converter in line, can be used as a 'Cootie' key. Typically his demonstration videos include paddle and cootie usage.
    Added bit of info: single lever paddles cannot be used for iambic keying, so if by chance you are set on iambic keying, Steve's paddles are not the proper pick (nor are other single lever paddles). Iambic keying requires the ability of simultaneous activation of the 'dit' and 'dah' contacts - only double lever paddles can provide that.
    I have three of Steve's keys: the TBCP Torsion Bar Cootie/Paddle, the TBP Portable Key w/o Station Base, and the Classic Torsion Bar Standard Key. All are total winners.

    Cray / K5MUG
    DM2TT likes this.
  8. M6GYU

    M6GYU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Best Method? Start practicing.
    K8PG likes this.
  9. W4HAY

    W4HAY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have a Bencher BY-1 and a Brown Bros. iambic, both bought at hamfests around 1980.
    I've never had a desire to upgrade.

    ETA: I started with a J-38, added an old Vibroplex Original (vintage 1922), then paddles somewhere around 1980. Switching between bug and paddles requires about 15 minutes of practice to keep from making a complete ass of myself on the air.

    It's a shame the Brown Bros. is no longer made. The spring steel movement makes for a very smooth action.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2021
    K8PG likes this.
  10. W9RAC

    W9RAC Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    When using a paddle Roger which is <10% of the time I use N3ZN ZN-SL, which is a magnetic single lever. It more behaves as my Vibroplex bug regarding action and the bug is mostly what I use. Having tried several it is by far the smoothest. The settings never change. 73 Rich

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