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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle

Mark M. Oring (AG4RQ) on December 19, 2003
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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:
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AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by AB0XE on December 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Fine Business on they key. Its always fun
to see how people can be creative in this hobby.
Finally a good use for all those AOL cd's
that come in the mail. I can see the confusion on the
face of the archeologist when he unearths this device
a thousand years from now. HI HI
 
RE: AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by LNXAUTHOR on December 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
- it's uuuuuuugggggglllly!

- but i bet it works! and now i know what to do with all the Microsoft CDs that i don't use that came with my computers - thanks!

(i normally stick them into the microwave for 30 secs or so - love the fireworks and the resulting plastic modern sculpture)

:-)
 
AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by K0WA on December 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Now, this is really ham radio at its best. Fine article. Yes it is ugly, but it was build for ham radio. It does not have to look good to work.

Congrats on a great projectg and a great article.

Lee - K0WA
 
AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by ON4MGY on December 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Nice piece of homebrew. 100% hamradio if you ask me. I'll guess i will also build such a paddle once (if I have some free time).

73 de ON4MGY Nic
 
AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by N4ZOU on December 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I used an old worn out hacksaw blade instead of the computer plate. Just grind off the teeth and remove whats left of the paint. It's spring steel so the feel is good. I am not saying the computer plate is bad with this project as it really adds to the look that old computer stuff was used. I have several keys but I am going to build this project! I wonder if someone could figure out how to replace the keyboard with it. It would be fun to send text into the computer with a key instead of a keyboard! Thanks for a very nice Article and neet project.
 
AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by WS4Y on December 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I like this. This is good stuff. I hope I get
a chance to hear this paddle in action. If you
here me on ditty-bop please call.
73, Bill WS4Y
 
RE: AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by WR8Y on December 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
""Now, this is really ham radio at its best. Fine article. Yes it is ugly, but it was build for ham radio. It does not have to look good to work. ""

I have found that the uglier the equipment - the more fun it is .... and the uglier the ham - the better operator he is!

(But somehow I'm still a poor operator - could it be I'm too beautiful?)


 
AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by KE4ZHN on December 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
This puppy is ugly! But hey, this is ham radio homebrewing at its best. Great way to use up those old AOL cd`s that would otherwise wind up in the trash. This would be great for field day or backpacking type operation so you wouldnt have to worry about beating up a good set of paddles. Good job.
 
AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by K9ZF on December 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Yep, she sure is ugly:-) Looks like fun though!

What this dude needs is a cover. I'll bet a little time with a hacksaw and you could turn one of those AOL tin CD boxes into a dandy looking cover for this "junkbox" paddle. Hmmmm....

73
Dan

Dan Evans K9ZF
Scottsburg, IN 47170
{EM78}
K9ZF /R no budget Rover
ex-N9RLA
Check out the Rover Resource Page at:
http://www.qsl.net/n9rla
QRP-l #1269
Central States VHF Society
IN-Ham list administrator
 
AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by K1VV on December 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
This is REAL HAM RADIO ...
Great construction project ....
Did so much .. with so little!
 
RE: AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by JAMES_BENEDICT_EX_N8FVJ on December 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
You bet- funds are tight? This pup is just the ticket.
 
AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by W5GNB on December 19, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Hey, this IS a neat project
BUT, since CW is going away anyhow, who needs it????

HIHIHIHI
I just had to do it!!
 
RE: AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by N6AJR on December 20, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I hav gone to using strictly AOL cds for all my tables, they make great coasters, no more rings on the furniture for me.. thanks AOL..
 
RE: AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by K6BBC on December 20, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Not only is the thing ugly, it is an affront to the modern age digital modes. The symbolism here is not missed the building of the antiquated on top of the state of the arts. This article is yet another thinly shrouded subversion of progress and technocracy. We will however prevail through the preservation and purity of our precious bodily fluids.

K6BBC
 
AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by KB2CPW on December 20, 2003 Mail this to a friend!


I have a few questions:

Can I still play the CDs or should I use my Slim Whitman cd's since I dont listen to him anymore. (I am currently into Box Car Willy now).

Does it matter what kind of Ice Cream I use to get the stick. I am also allergic to chocolate and milk products, can someone out there eat a popsicle and send me a clean stick, I am good in the call book.

I am planning on busting off the metal plate from my video card on this computer, every time I remove the card, I cant see the instructions you posted, do you have it available on CD or did you use all of the ones you had in making yours.

OK, I am interested in the whole kit and kaboodle as a do it yourself thing, how much is it with shipping?

My friend just made his the other day and he is an Ultra right wing conservative, he used his old Barbara Streisand CDs and one of Alec Baldwins old DVD's now thats some serious Hammin.. The Dixie chicks will work FB as well but your CW note will be sorta twangy..

Thanks for the great Ideas!! Richy
 
AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by WA2JJH on December 20, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Nice homebrew paddle. I guess if you wanted the base to have less skid, use a plastic ashtray instead of a CD.

Do not have some sound cards to use, try cutting up a tin can with a metal snips.

Do not like wooden popsical paddles, wrap electrical
tape around metal.

This sure beats shelling out 60 bux for the commercial ones.

Nice job of Yankee creativity 73 DE MIKE
 
RE: AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by AG4RQ on December 20, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I wish to thank those who have posted comments so far for their feedback on my creation. Im glad that this crude but functional paddle was well received. The idea was an impulsive brainstorm. I decided to go on impulse and construct the thing out of what I had on hand. The idea was there. It could have been constructed out of anything. I originally wanted to use a block of wood for the base. After looking all around the house for a small block of wood and finding none, I came to the conclusion that Id either have to go to a craft shop or hobby shop for a piece of wood, or construct the paddle out of what I already had laying around the house. I decided to go with raw materials I already had. Start hunting around all over for what you want and a project never gets built. It is better to use existing materials and get it done. In essence, I have a usable working prototype.

Over the years, Ive compiled a collection of junk CDs from many sources. Some were shareware CDs received in junkmail and some were obsolete software CDs. Bolting six CDs together makes a nice replacement for a block of wood. The actual paddle, which is the faceplate from a computer card also could have been constructed from many other things. Once again, I had many junk computer cards on hand.

As for hacksaw blades being springier than a computer card faceplate, not really. It depends on the faceplate that you use. I looked at a few. Some bend easier and are more tempered than others. The feel of my paddle is quite good. Also, using a computer card faceplate eliminates the need to grind off the teeth from a hacksaw blade. The cut-up tin can idea isnt bad. Ive considered it, but found it more practical to use a computer card faceplate rather than deal with jagged edges of a cut-up tin can.

Basically, I just chose to put the paddle together from junk parts that I had lying around the house. For any of you who also want to build such a paddle, look over your available junk and see what you might be able to use. Some of you might come up with some good ideas. For me it was easy to come up with non-ham type junk like CDs and ice cream spoons. My wife is into crafts. You would be surprised what kinds of uses you could find for CDs and ice cream spoons or popsicle sticks in the realm of crafts. Creativity and resourcefulness is what being a ham is all about.

73 de Mark
AG4RQ
 
RE: AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by RobertKoernerExAE7G on December 20, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
TU for the article.
73
Bob
 
AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by K9MOV on December 20, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article--- GOOD JOB!!!
THANKS
 
AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by WA2JJH on December 20, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
ll you have to do now, is 24K gold plate the paddle for a deluxe version! (hi hi)

73 DE MIKE
 
RE: AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by N2MG on December 22, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
K6BBC wrote:

<<We will however prevail through the preservation and purity of our precious bodily fluids. >>

Sounds like something I recall from Dr. Strangelove!

Mike N2MG
 
RE: AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by KC8VWM on December 22, 2003 Mail this to a friend!

N6AJR Said,

"I hav gone to using strictly AOL cds for all my tables, they make great coasters, no more rings on the furniture for me.. thanks AOL.."

You will also see them showcased in N6ARJ's shack here on eham too. (Nice station!)


Other uses for AOL Cd's in Amateur Radio include:

A mirror to comb your hair before turning on your ATV camera.

Send Morse code by reflecting the sun off them during field day.

Leveling the desk in your hamshack.

Use them as reflectors on your tower.

Attach it to a ruler and presto! - you've got a fly swatter for the ham shack.

Bored in the hamshack? Place the CD shiny side down on any flat, smooth surface. Voila! A Hovercraft.

Make your callsign on a wall out of AOL disks.

Glue 32.95774647887324 feet of bus wire in a circular pattern on AOL disk for ultimate portable 40 meter antenna.

Glue 61.578947368421055 feet of bus wire in a circular pattern on AOL disk for ultimate portable 80 meter antenna.

Replace dogbone style insulators on wire dipoles with AOL disks.

Make your own customized name tags for hamfests. Print CD labels with your callsign and QTH. Stick label on CD, tie a string on CD and wear around neck.

Nevermind sticking an old tube in a piece of wood that has your call letters on it. Construct a life sized replica of Stonehenge with AOL CD's! This is by far a nicer conversation piece for the hamshack.

Make vertical blinds out of AOL disks in the shack. Doubles as an emergency morse code signalling device during a power failure. Just rapidly open and close blinds to send CW.

Have pets in the shack? Makes nice room dividers for hamsters and other caged pets. Makes a nice dance floor for an ant colony. Also makes a nice Ice skating rink for a hamster too!

Use as a mini cutting board for a box knife when splicing wires in the shack.

Make new radio faceplates for older tube rigs like Icom, Yeasu and Kenwood radios.

Replace that broken diaphram cartridge in your old Astatic D-104 microphone with a new version 9 AOL disk for that "you got DX" sound.

Lay thousands of them near your backyard longwire antennas in a fractal pattern. Convince everyone aliens did it.

Tie several onto a piece of string and hang them between your beam antenna elements to create an effective bird deterent.

Not enough washers to build that 6 element 40 meter antenna? Use AOL disks!

Emergency snow shoes for your "Go Kit" No ham should be without em.

Extend the range of your TV remote control. Tape a few strategically to the walls of your house so that no matter where you are in your house, you can change TV stations.

Get an old satellite dish (big one) line the dish with them point it at the sun and you have one hell of a cigarette lighter. Can be used to weld tower sections together during field day too!


73 Happy Holidays

Charles - KC8VWM
 
RE: AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by W6TH on January 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Very funny, now go for a double paddle for Iambic.

Sure will look nice next to a FT 1000D and a $4000.00 amplifier.

A good fun project that works

.:
 
RE: AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by KC0QME on January 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
yep,mark i thought it was a cool idea when you e-mailed the pic to me the first time.now you know what a good idea it was. congrats and 73's my friend

DE KC0QME
 
AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by DBCOOPER on January 3, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
The tin can version works great. I used the lid of a large tuna fish can. What is great is that replacement parts are dirt cheap.
 
AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by KA8VIT on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Mark,

Thanks for the idea. Here my version !

http://www.qsl.net/ka8vit/VITPaddle/index.html

Thanks again.

73,

Bill KA8VIT
 
AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by KF6CZG on March 12, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I was going to make a collage out of about 50 AOL CD's. This is a much better idea. I'm gonna make me one as soon as I can get to the hardware store.
 
AG4RQ's Homebrew Single-Lever CW Paddle  
by KF6CZG on April 11, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
Okay, so I did build one. It works great with my NorCal QRP kit-keyer. Hope to work you on CW es 73 de KF6CZG!
 
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