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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle

from Mark M. Oring, AG4RQ on November 10, 2006
View comments about this article!

"Editor's Note: Due to the popularity of some of eHam's older articles, many of which you may not have read, the eHam.net team has decided to rerun some of the best articles that we have received since eHam's inception. These articles will be reprinted to add to the quality of eHam's content and in a show of appreciation to the authors of these articles."

AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle

  • Six junk CD's or a 5" x 5" piece of plywood.
  • Four small machine screws with matching nuts. Screws should be just long enough to go through the CD's with enough threads sticking up for the nuts to fasten them.
  • A medium size machine screw and nut.
  • Four longer machine screws about 3/4 inch long with 6 matching nuts.
  • Two star washers.
  • The metal faceplate from a computer card (the part that bolts to the computer case).
  • Double-sided adhesive foam tape from Radio Shack.
  • A wooden double-sided ice cream spoon or thick popsicle stick.
  • Two wire ties.
  • Scrap steel that can be bent with locking pliers.
  • A spool of two-conductor shielded wire.
  • A 1/4" stereo plug.
  • Four rubber feet.
  • A drill with bits for drilling steel.
  • Locking pliers.

Building the Paddle:

Drill four holes about 1/4" from the edge of the CD's. Use the four small screws and nuts to bolt the CD's together. If using plywood, this step is obviously not needed. Take a small piece of scrap metal and make a 90-degree angle bracket. Drill 2 holes in the angle bracket. Bolt one side of the angle bracket to the top of the CD's. The other hole in the angle bracket should be perpendicular to the CD's.

Take a metal cutter or pliers and cut off or break off the perpendicular stubs from the metal computer card faceplate. These stubs are where the screws fasten the computer card to the faceplate. They only get in the way, so cut them off. Bend the end tab of the faceplate straight. They are all on a slight angle so they fit into the slot of a computer case.

Use the medium size screw and its matching nut along with the 2 star washers to fasten the computer card faceplate to the other hole in the angle bracket. Make 2 more angle brackets larger than the first one. Drill a hole in each end of the angle brackets. At the bottom of the CD's, about 1" up from the end of the computer card faceplate, drill holes in the CD's 3/4 from the computer card faceplate, and fasten the angle brackets to the CD's. Place a nut on each screw all the way up. Slide each screw through each angle bracket and fasten with the other nuts. The computer card faceplate should rest evenly between both screws. Use these screws and their nuts to adjust the distance between the screws and the computer card faceplate.

Cut a length (length is your choice) of the two-conductor shielded wire. Attach the stereo plug to one end. Make a note of which color wire is connected to the tip and which color wire is connected to the ring. At the other end, you should have a short stub of shield and two 5" lengths of of insulated wire. Solder the shield to the top angle bracket that the computer card faceplate is attached to. The wire that is connected to the ring of the stereo plug needs to be soldered to the angle bracket on the left side (dahs). The wire that is connected to the tip of the stereo plug needs to be soldered to the angle bracket on the right side (dits).

Take your double-sided ice cream spoon and cut it in half. Take 3/4" of the double-sided foam tape and place on both sides at the end of the computer card faceplate. Stick the 2 ice cream spoon halves to the tape. The spoon halves should be on both sides of the computer card faceplate. Fasten with 2 wire ties. It would be a good idea to either glue or fasten the bottom of the paddle to the table or a larger piece of wood to keep it from moving around when you use it. What I do is put a couple of weights on top on both sides of the CD's to keep it from moving around. I like mine portable.

The operation of this paddle is similar to any single-lever paddle attached to an electronic keyer. It is not iambic. But it works quite well for the minimal investment you make to build it. Mine originally didn't cost a dime to build. I originally used a junk CB mike cord that just happened to have a stereo plug on the end. Some of the older CBs used a stereo plug for the mic connector. I later decided to go to Radio Shack to buy the spool of shielded 2-conductor wire and the stereo plug because I wanted a 12-foot cable rather than a 5-foot coiled CB mic cord. Nothing can take the place of a finely precision-made professional paddle or bug, but if youre short on cash, or just like to homebrew stuff, this will work quite well. 73.

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by K0BG on November 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
If nothing else, you cleaned out the computer junk box, and you used the correct CD-ROMs.

Alan, KBG
www.k0bg.com
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by W6TH on November 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
.
24 gauge wire , audio cable and 50 feet for the price of $7.99 and I guess with a tax added.

I can get it much cheaper from Lowe's.
Cheaper yet from Jobs Lot.

.:
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by WA4DOU on November 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
A fitting conclusion for AOL discs, don't you think?
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by N3OX on November 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"Nothing can take the place of a finely precision-made professional paddle or bug, but if youre short on cash, or just like to homebrew stuff"

Or are just starting out in CW and have a rig (like many recent ones) that already has an internal keyer. I used some old reed switch as a single-lever paddle when I was first getting into actually operating CW. I'd just made a hundred or two hundred QSO's in the WAE CW contest (including sending all QTC's) with a straight key, and my wrist and I decided I needed a darn keyer and paddle. Picked up a keyer kit at a hamfest and threw together a paddle.

This thing reminds me of my dad. He's not a ham but he has a "it doesn't have to be pretty, just functional" mentality.

73,
Dan
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by KC8VWM on November 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!

While it's certainly nice to own and operate a $200 finely contructed piece of polished jewelry for CW, there are times when you might want to use something that Dan has correctly pointed out that is just basically "functional."

This particular design might fit the bill if you like camping and QRP or if you like hiking and want to bring along something lightweight, use in the great outdoors and if you don't care if it gets abused or not in the process.

On the other hand, I would hate to bring home $200 dollars of finely crafted rusted vibroplex metal after using it on an outdoor camping weekend.

Nice job.

73 Charles - KC8VWM
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by KC8VWM on November 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!

I was thinking it might be fun to customize this project further by creating your own CD label. 73
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by AE6QF on November 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Homebrewed paddles & keys are more fun to use if they're adjustable without the need for tools. Maybe you have noticed, hand-tightenable knurled locking nuts are not your usual hardware store item..

Stock up a home supply of assorted knurled nuts by keeping your eyes open at flea markets & garage sales for used mechanic's feeler gauge sets, calipers, etc. Also, look for older draftman's tools. These castaway items oftentimes have knurled adjustment nuts or knurled locking nuts.

Also, keep in mind that many items on bicycles have hand adjustable hardware bits.

73, Quiet-Finger, AE6QF
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by N3JBH on November 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"knurled locking nuts are not your usual hardware store item.. "

if you have a Lowes near you they have plenty these in several sizes

 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by KC8VWM on November 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Some of those knurled nuts found at Lowes are specifically intended as dress up hardware for "light fixtures" They usually have a brass finish and work well for these sort of homebrew projects.
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by KB2FCV on November 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
A great use for AOL disks!! (Although I've seen them used as coasters as well)

Neat article! This reminds me of when I was a Novice and with help from my 8th grade science teacher (Joe, K2JAO) I put together a Paddle using some un-etched PCBoard cut in 3 pieces to form a base and each paddle. Using some brass nuts, bolts and a little solder I had a paddle! I still have it and it works fine (although I use my benchers or bug now).

A great base for a homebrew paddle is using some drywall and just rubber cement the paddle to it.
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by KD5TLC on November 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
It ain't eezy bein' cheezy... but what the heck, it could be a great addition to a school science project.
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by UA3VVB on November 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Hi!
Nice article i`ve read. I just remembered the CW paddle which also was homemade, so the mechanism was taken from RP-4 (polarity-directional relay). You can see it on this picture: http://museum.radioscanner.ru/r_405/rp_4.jpg
Look at the left side of the central picture. It needs to be only replaced from bias coil to attach onto a heavy base also add a textolite finger piece. Excuse me, if I write my thoughts not so very sharp. English is not my mummy`s language.
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by K0BG on November 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Alexei, if you stick around these pages long enough, you'll find out your English isn't all that bad. At least you can spell.

Alan, KBG
www.k0bg.com
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by KC8VWM on November 10, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
lol
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by K7LRB on November 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Can I get a big AMEN on that? !!!!
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by KT6K on November 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
To be fair to some new licensee's, you should explain what it is used for ... (grinning)
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by W6TH on November 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
.
Silly, anyone knows that it is one of those thingamajigs that a dog catches in his mouth when thrown.
.:
 
Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by N8VUL on November 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
mmmmmmm kinda looks like the KA8VIT key
http://www.ka8vit.com/VITPaddle/default.htm
 
Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by WA8MEA on November 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
On a slow news day, K1TP likes to "steal" stuff from Eham.net and ARRL.org and slap it on his web site and then make snide remarks about them. (Such as calling this unique project: "crap".)

I think WE ALL have been in a situation when the EXPENSIVE bug, paddle or even straight key has gone on the brink, and we need a quick sub.

I had a $100 straight key decide that it didn't want to make proper contact any longer. I didn't have time to diagnose and repair. A CW sprint was coming up, and I had no spare key. So I got a strip of copper, a couple of screws, some wire and a wooden board and made a homebrew straight key that worked FB for the entire Sprint! (And very comfortable I might add!)

I enjoy articles like this. Now that I've purchased a keyer/paddle combo, I am sure that will take a dump some day. And then I will remember that this article is archived on Eham.net so I can slap it together in a hurry.

Come to think of it, maybe I'll take those AOL disks and make one right now, and have it on hand when the keyer does take a dump....

73, Bill - WA8MEA
http://HamRadioFun.com
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by KT6K on November 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I built one in 1954 on a block of wood, copying one prviously made by W2MWJ. He called it a 'SideSwiper'.

Does anyone remember that name 'SideSwiper'?

f
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by N3OX on November 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"mmmmmmm kinda looks like the KA8VIT key "

Probably why KA8VIT thanks AG4RQ five or six times for the idea ;-)

Dan
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by KC8VWM on November 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Bill if you make a portable CW keyer like this one and sell it, I would buy one.

73 Charles - KC8VWM
 
Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by WA2JJH on November 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
agn.Nice post.

I had to do a similar design with an old Heathkit keyer.

The design of all TTL chips and transistors was good for 1977. HOWEVER.....The all too important paddles were of crummy home brew like parts and poor springs.
The action was terrible.

One would have to bend the paddle levels to get smooth travel. I finally got so ticked.....I ripped the paddle levers out!

I made paddle levers out of cutting tin cans.
It work was well as the "Greiefkit paddles"!

My best paddels I made were out of two straight keys mounted back to back.
I first tried using 2 Radio shack 79 cent telegraph keys. It worked for a while.

Best of them was 2 $4.00 brass pounder J-38 imitations radio shack sold.

I simply used 2 L brackets and a wood base.
I bent the key levers together a bit. I then slipped on the paddle knobs from heathkit.

It was great. I had seperate tension and travel spacing for dit-dah.
It was about that time when Bencher and others were selling their paddles for $50!!! I simply liked my home brew better, as I am sure you like your CD non Iamber!

TNX-N-73 DE MIKE WA2JJH
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by W6TH on November 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
,
AG4RQ,

You should hurry and copywrite this paddle before L B Cebik, W4RNL gets the chance to see it.
.:
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by WA2JJH on November 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Agreed, if I see one more CEBIC REF.,I WILL PUKE!
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by N3OX on November 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I don't think that this CW paddle would model very well as an antenna of any sort, so I don't think you guys have to worry...

Dan
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by WA2JJH on November 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Actually MATLAB one could model/run emuation of just about anything from antenna's to C.A.T.(computer aided
tomography). They do have an RF package of programs.
One could write ones own program or Rip off Cebik's program code.

I guess morse are a bunch of step funtions.

Back to artical....Dang that CD used to make the authors key, could have made top doller on E-BARF......I mean E-BAY!! HI HI.
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by KA5N on November 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Gee Mark,
I am surprised you didn't use any "o-rings" on your creation.
Allen
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by N9IJ on November 13, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
An interesting article that brought back memories of my 1966 Novice days.

My first paddle was a hacksaw blade attached to a piece of 2x4 using flat steel bent to 90 deegrees and machine screws for adjustable contacts. Used it with a Hammerlund solid state keyer.

I also used a pair of J-38 keys mounted back-to-back on a stand with flat paddles replacing the original knobs at one time. This, built by then-WN4FEC, worked quite well.
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by VE3EGA on November 16, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
ummmmm....

So, some guy makes the 'cheesiest' looking home made paddle that the World has seen and proudly takes pictures (which prove it!) and even adds a materials list (including ice-cream spoons!)and construction advice, assuming that someone else will want to duplicate it... I think I will pass!

But in fairness, you did recycle :)
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by K5MO on November 18, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Lovely!
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by WA2JJH on November 18, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
It is ba good Novice project or emergency paddles.
Geesh! If you got such a good homebrew project, why dont you write one. Lotsa pictures, detailed diagrams and parts. It shows how creative hams can be.

What did you build, a nuclear reactor out of swiss cheese and a buger collection of past presidents!
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by AG4RQ on November 18, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
VE3EGA,
So, you don't like the piece of junk that I slapped together? FYI, it does work, and quite well I might add. When my ship comes in, I will make the base out of solid 14K gold. I will make sure that it is etched with the finest and most ornate baroque design. The lever will made of diamond-studded gold with opal finger pieces. All screws and hardware will be solid gold. So that the design will not be far-removed from my original creation, the base, although solid gold will resemble the original CDs and the lever will resemble the same computer card thingy to keep with the original "computer" look.

I didn't make this paddle to win a beauty contest, or even an arts and crafts contest. It was my first paddle. I used this one before I bought anything commercially manufactured. It is purely utilitarian. That is what it was meant to be. It was not meant to be a work of art. It was something I put together from some junk I had. I didn't buy anything or order anything to make it. Buying materials would have defeated my original purpose.

I submitted this article to eHam 3 years ago. I guess the folks at eHam liked it enough to publish it a second time. After 3 years, my little hunk of junk still works, and its performance still rivals that of my Vibroplex Vibrokeyer.
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by WA2JJH on November 19, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Hmmmmm.....Luxury home brew paddles.

1)base: .999 SOLID GOLD BAR. No need for rubber feet.
A size of 32 troy ounces, is not going to move.

2)Paddle lever(s) 18kt white gold or platinum.

3)No metal on metal contacts. The paddle lever would use opto isolators or magnetic reed switches.

4)Piezo electric actuators and variable voltage would be used for tension and travel.

5)Paddle knobs....Imported jade stuted with ruby
6)No direct electrical connections. Fiber optic to the rig inteface. The interface box will convert fiber optic to electrical.

7)Alarm system. The paddles use biometrics. Not your finger prints....Crazy glue squirts out of paddles.

 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by WA2JJH on November 19, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Hmmmmm.....Luxury home brew paddles.

1)base: .999 SOLID GOLD BAR. No need for rubber feet.
A size of 32 troy ounces, is not going to move.

2)Paddle lever(s) 18kt white gold or platinum.

3)No metal on metal contacts. The paddle lever would use opto isolators or magnetic reed switches.

4)Piezo electric actuators and variable voltage would be used for tension and travel.

5)Paddle knobs....Imported jade stuted with ruby
6)No direct electrical connections. Fiber optic to the rig inteface. The interface box will convert fiber optic to electrical.

7)Alarm system. The paddles use biometrics. Not your finger prints....Crazy glue squirts out of paddles.

 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by N9SKN on November 20, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Well, some can make fun of it, but here I was inspired by the article enough to make a double paddle using hardware store items. Yeah its not all that, but it DOES work and is good enough to learn paddle / keyer operation at least until Santa shows up with a commercial unit if nothing else.

Hats off to AG4RQ and his true HAM spirit.

Aaron / N9SKN
 
RE: Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by KD5TLC on November 26, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Yeah, but can you make crazy glue squirt from the paddles?
 
Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by VA3GRV on November 26, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k10/va3grv/sawbladepaddle005.jpg
 
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