wiring ST-1 paddle key

Discussion in 'Becoming a Ham - Q&A' started by KM6EZR, Jan 9, 2022.

ad: L-HROutlet
ad: l-rl
ad: Left-2
ad: abrind-2
ad: L-MFJ
ad: L-Geochron
ad: l-BCInc
ad: Left-3
  1. KM6EZR

    KM6EZR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm a new ham; I'm learning CW thru an ARRL program; I bought a Bencher Paddle ST-1; trying to figure out how to wire the bottom so it will go to the 3.5" jack into my radio; there are 5 places on the bottom of the ST-1 that go to 3 leads into the jack and I can't figure out how to wire it; anyone?
    W7UUU likes this.
  2. NG1H

    NG1H XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Get your ohmmeter. If you don't have one already you will want one and wind up using it more than you think. For most ham uses even a cheapo horrible freight model is fine.

    Loosen the contact set screws so that there is a large gap on each side. Start trying each combination of the bottom screws until you find the two that only short when you push the paddle to one side. Then do the same test pushing the paddle to the other side. That should give you your common/ground and the two paddle contacts. You'll need to look up the correct wiring diagram for the plug in the radio although there is a way to test that manually too.

    Soldering a 1/8" / 3.5mm plug is a bit of a pain in the rear. I would either cut up an existing cable or buy one with a "pigtail" (loose wires) already connected. Or make a 1/4" plug and buy a 1/4"F -> 1/8"M adapter.

    After you have the cable hooked up and working you will need to adjust the contacts on the posts.

    There is a quicker way to find out the answer to your question but doing it this way is a good exercise in learning to use the volt/ohmmeter for diagnosing switch and relay problems.
    KC3TEC, KP4SX, WZ7U and 1 other person like this.
  3. K7MEM

    K7MEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Here is a link to a web page that show the proper hookup for the Bencher Paddles. Note that it shows both right and left handed wiring.
    KS2G likes this.
  4. KC3TEC

    KC3TEC Ham Member QRZ Page

    A continuity tester will also work but as NG1H stated above a multimeter will be a tool you will use a lot.
    A simple hardware type key is nothing more than a normally open momentary contact switch so polarity doesn't matter.
    Paddles however one side is dit and the other is dah.
    This site may help.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2022
  5. NG1H

    NG1H XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Since the cheat codes have been posted, here's some additional info. If you look at the paddles they are closing a switch between each of the posts. If you then look at the posts you should notice that there is a bottom screw opposite each of the posts. This should imply that these are the connection points. An ohm/continuity tester (which could be as simple as a battery and a light bulb) would verify that they are. So now you have 2/3 of the connections needed.

    Finding the ground/common to use is slightly tricky. Actually any of the remaining screws can be used (at least they can on my model) but you are supposed to use the one under that third post towards the rear with the spring around it.

    Now, I had suggested loosening the contact set screws for a reason. One, if you leave it in the usual minimal gap setting then by moving it around and flipping it over you will likely inadvertently close a side you aren't testing which will make things harder. Two, when you loosen the screws on the bottom of the posts you probably will move things around and have to reset the angle and the gap. Since you are going to have to adjust these at the end anyway just increase the gap when testing to make things easier and readjust them when you are finished.
  6. K8BZ

    K8BZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    You may have figured it out by now, but if not:

    If you are right handed the dit paddle will be on the left (thumb side) and the dah paddle will be on the right (finger side),

    The solder lugs for those contacts are directly below the post that holds the fixed contact (not the contact that's movable by moving the paddle. Solder the wire to the tip of your radio jack to the dit contact lug, the dah or ring (middle part) of the jack to the dah solder lug, and the remaining solder log on the bottom of the paddle to the sleeve (part furthest from the tip), this is the ground connection.

    If you are left handed and want to use the paddles with your left hand, just reverse the dit and dah solder connections on either end of the cable (either on the bottom of the paddles or on the jack, but not both ends). If you get it mixed up, not to worry. Most all modern radios have a menu option to reverse the paddle polarity to switch from right to left hand paddle operation.

    Don't be put off by descriptions of how difficult it is to solder the wire to the radio jack. The hardest part is having something to hold things securely still when using both hands to solder. A cheap and easy way to do this is to put a rubber band or two on the handles of some needle nosed pliers to keep the jaws clamped shut.

    Then use the clamping pliers to hold the jack while you solder it. Cut each of the 3 wires to the appropriate length and then lightly tin them with solder. Make sure you put the plastic sleeve on the wires before you solder them. If you have some heat shrink tubing, slide that on also. Pass each wire through the appropriate hole in the jack and lightly solder and snip off the excess wire. Most jacks have two tabs that can be clamped on the wire jacket with needle nose pliers for a strain relief. Slide the heat shrink tubing over the connections and apply heat. If you don't have heat shrink, use a small amount of electrical tape. Slide the plastic sleeve up and screw it to the jack and you're done.

    Last but by all means not least; the paddles you bought are iambic paddles, as opposed to single lever paddles. You can use them as single lever paddles, but if that's the case it's kind of pointless to have bought iambic paddles in the first place. There are tons of YouTube videos of hams using iambic paddles as a single lever paddle. I think most of those hams never bothered to try to learn to use them in iambic mode. You should learn the difference, if you don't already know, before you begin to practice with the paddles and decide which mode you are going to learn. There may also be some menu options in your radio or keyer you will need to set for the proper mode in which you intend to use your paddles. Read up on iambic modes A and B. Here is a good source:


    Start out from the "get-go" using the keyer in iambic mode (A or B is your choice) but DON'T start out using them as a single lever key and then try to switch to iambic later. You will only frustrate yourself and slow your progress.

    For a description of the difference between single lever and iambic see the below video. Good luck and hope to see you on CW soon.

    Last edited: Jan 12, 2022
  7. WZ7U

    WZ7U Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ahh, that's my problem. Got my dits and dahs backwards.

    But I like it like that :oops:
    K8BZ likes this.

Share This Page