Seeking suggestions for cootie (side swipper) key.

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KD2RON, Aug 16, 2021.

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  1. KD2RON

    KD2RON Ham Member QRZ Page

    Looking to get a cootie for my simple porch portable op. Need not be mobile,. Cost sensetive. Using an MFJ paddle modified to be a side swipper but like to upgrade a little. I see some are now made by hams with 3d printers for sale.
  2. N6YWU

    N6YWU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm still practicing and learning how to use a cootie, so my opinion might or might not be of any value.

    I purchased a couple keys from . They 3d print and sell cooties:

    For a nicer feeling and looking sideswiper/cootie, I wired both sides together on a single level magnetic key from this Ukrainian vendor:

    I'm trying to learn to use this alternate style of keying with my left hand so I can send with my left and log with my right at the same time.
  3. W5WTH

    W5WTH Ham Member QRZ Page

  4. W6MK

    W6MK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Simple, inexpensive approach: make a cootie using a hacksaw blade. Lots of instructions via google.

    Manufactured cooties: By far the best I've ever used is the Begali "Swing." Absolutely widest range of
    touches and easiest to use. Expensive.

    VIZ Cootie. Inexpensive.

    "Fat Boy" by W1SFR. Medium price. Reputed to have excellent feel.

    Any single-lever paddle will do for a starter. I've even used an dual lever paddle

    The better keys may be easier to master for a sound that is indistinguishable from a
    straight key. Getting to that skill level is likely to be a much bigger challenge with
    a less-than-optimal key. Keep in mind that the key matters much less than the
    skill of the operator.

    NB: A side "swipe" is very different from a side "swip."
  5. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I built a few sideswipers when Ii was a high-school kid but did not like that operation, I liked a Bug much better for ease of use. A few decades later I got an electronic keyer and that was even better. I also have a Hamkey and Vectronics (MFJ) paddle and like the latter best. . About 2006 I fell in with the SKCC club and went back to the BUG ! !! :rolleyes:
    KD2RON likes this.
  6. W7FOX

    W7FOX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Good luck with the cootie, the worst fist I ever heard was one. Almost no spaces between dits and dahs and ratio all over the place. Stay with a paddle, we'll all appreciate it.
    W9RAC likes this.
  7. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    SKCC has something called the Triple Key Award, which requires the applicant to make a certain number of contacts using straight key, bug and cootie.

    I read a comment from one who said after he got the award he planned to put his cootie on the shelf and never touch it again.

    Bugs are probably next in line for generating poor code, if the operator doesn't make an effort to get the timing right.
    N2UHC likes this.
  8. W6MK

    W6MK Ham Member QRZ Page

    As with sending code generally, it's not the key that is the problem, it's the operator.

    Yes, the cootie is probably as difficult to master as any key. Takes time and focus. But there are lots of cootie ops out there whose
    sending is indistinguishable from good straight key sending.

    The cootie does have advantages for those who can take the time to develop the appropriate sending skills. Cooties can make sending at a large range of speeds almost effortless, from 10 wpm to the lower twenties and perhaps higher. Cooties are also very easy on the forearm structures that are susceptible to carpel tunnel.

    As with many things these days, instant gratification is the name of the game. For that there is the paddle and keyer. Even paddle-and-keyer-sent code can be poorly sent and difficult to copy.
    DM2TT and KG7WGX like this.
  9. N2UHC

    N2UHC Ham Member QRZ Page

    KD2RON and DD5RK like this.
  10. MW7SRA

    MW7SRA Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've got a single lever paddle on a plate and a single lever pocket paddle from CW Morse and use a mono to stereo cable to turn them into cootie keys. You can play around with the spacing between the contacts to make it work better for sideswiper sending.

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