Paddle type(s)

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

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  1. WA9FZB

    WA9FZB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    My own advice would be that any of the middle to upper bracket paddles should work just fine. They are different, but if you have no preference to start with, any paddle will work for you. Just don't try to use one of the $9.99 bargain thingies from that web sales site. Choose one from a known manufacturer and just work with it. Try different settings of contact space and tension. Find what you like and just use it. Don't worry about which one is the "best." It will be years before you need that "best" paddle to get any better at sending code.

    The major brands that start in the middle price range would include Bencher and Vibroplex. In the upper ranges, there are many boutique manufacturers, but if you are just starting out on paddle-CW, I'd recommend the mid-range paddles to start.

    I used a Bencher BY-1 (spring tension) for about 35 years, then a Bencher Hex-Key (magnetic tension) for another 5 or so, and now a N3ZN model ZN9 magnetic paddle. I could go back to the BY-1 is pressed, but I do like the action on the ZN9 better.
  2. N6MST

    N6MST Ham Member QRZ Page

    The ZN-SL is w wonderful device. I can't recommend it highly enough!
    W9RAC likes this.
  3. N6RGR

    N6RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Interesting comments. I do have a Code Warrior Jr. Paddle. Every time I have tried it the sounds I made did not even approximate any known CW character!! I guess using my thumb and fore-finger to squeeze the paddles does not feel "natural". Like any skill, practice will probably help. I have found if I go too long without using my straight key, my sending will sound pretty sloppy. After a few practice QSO's it does get better. I keep telling myself I will use CW only for six months or longer, but listening to SSB and AM QSO's makes me grab the headset;).

    N6RGR Roger
    DM2TT likes this.
  4. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    After forty-five years in amateur radio, I can no longer send less than about 12 WPM without sounding horrible. I've practiced and practiced and I just can't get it back.

    I sound pretty good at 15 WPM on a straight key. But at seven or eight my fist is probably pretty annoying to copy.
  5. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    If you still get a QRS request at 12 wpm, use Farnsworth spacing to stretch out the characters to a 10 or 8 wpm effective speed.

    G4FON, and others use this as part of instruction, so newcomers are probably more used to hearing this than properly-timed Morse at 8 wpm.

    I never did learn to use a straight key under 13 wpm.
  6. W9RAC

    W9RAC Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Earlier today on 40m I answered a CQ. Ill leave the call out since its not really relevant to this post. Most of the time Ill look the bio up on the Op so I may have something to ask about during the conversation. I'm strictly rag chew Op. He was new, within a year and had just finished the online class level one CW. I was on the bug and had to switch to paddle for him to copy. I have noticed this several times with new Ops. who learn only by listening to computer or paddle CW. I'm not against CW by paddle or computer keyboard but you have to learn to copy mechanical keys also if you are going to hang out on a straight key frequency, which I was. Its likely the Op. did not know that having been only using a paddle. When I switched over we had a great conversation, not a problem. Nice QSO. Nothing wrong with a QSO CW any style. 73 Rich
  7. N5CM

    N5CM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I use a Brown Bros. Model CTL-B that has a straight key and iambic paddles on one base. Also, I use a Wm. Nye straight key, a J-38, and a J-37. I have a "Y" connector on the rig so that I can switch from paddles to straight key quickly.

    I started CW using a Ten-Tec single paddle keyer and eventually moved to the Brown Bros.
  8. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I started, as did so many others, with a straight key on the old 40/15m Novice bands, at about 8 WPM. No Farnsworth. And, the vast majority of us progressed right up to 15 WPM in a couple of months. I kind of plateaued at about 18 WPM, and when I broke that barrier, I already had a bug. So, I never learned to go much faster than 15 WPM with a straight key, either.

    I'm kind of like Model T: I have two go-to cruising speeds, 15 and 25, although I can cruise at 35 when conditions are good. I can theoretically go 40 or a little more, but I'm very likely to overheat if I try and maintain that speed, or even worse, go out of control completely if I hit even a small bump.
    WA9FZB likes this.
  9. K5UJ

    K5UJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    If 15 wpm rx is your limit then your sending speed is too fast. Should be down around 10 wpm. Always send slower than you can rx.
    W9RAC and N1RBD like this.
  10. N1RBD

    N1RBD XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've gotten much better at copying bugs doing POTA activations. I remember the first time I heard a bug I was thinking "WTH is wrong with this guys keyer." LOL! I've grown to appreciate the signature swing of a bug. Now, I can even pick out a couple of POTA chasers within the first two letters of their call by their fist when using a bug.

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