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Author Topic: Good first paddle?  (Read 5673 times)
KF7ATL
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Posts: 51




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« on: July 02, 2011, 11:06:23 AM »

I have a home made paddle, which works okay, but doesn't have the nice feel of the commercially made paddles that I have used during field day. I really liked the feel of my friend's Brown Brothers paddle, but don't think that it's available any more. What is a good workhorse paddle that will last me a long time, has a good feel, and won't cost me a fortune? I have looked at the MFJ paddles, which are very affordable but get poor reviews. I saw a Ham-Key paddle on ebay, but don't know anything about Ham-Key. I can probably afford a Bencher if I save up for it.

Garth
« Last Edit: July 02, 2011, 11:32:49 AM by KF7ATL » Logged
K6LO
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Posts: 226




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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2011, 11:50:17 AM »

You are going to get as many opinions as there are CW ops.  The choice of keys, paddles, and bugs is highly individual. 

My advice would be to visit other hams, or any ham radio stores you have in your area and try what is available.  Google Morse Express and see all the neat stuff Marshall has.  I see he even has an actual brick and mortar store now, which I think is very cool.  Imagine the passers-by...  Morse Express?

My first paddle, some thirty-three years ago was a Ham Key.  It worked.  Not a bad key.  I think I still have it my treasure box somewhere.  Sometime after that I bought a Bencher.  Still have it still use it, along with a Schurr Profi, along with my old Nye straight key...  Well you get the idea.  You will probably adapt and be happy with any good quality paddle.

73,

Luke

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K0XY
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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2011, 03:27:33 PM »

...I think K6LO is right on ! ... the interesting thing is, his comparison is to a Bencher... amazing how that happens a lot...I have a multitude of paddles and ALWAYS compare them to a Bencher BY-2...I've had my Benchers for 15~20 years or thereabouts and they are still as "fresh" as the day I bought them...just remember that the Bencher performs best with someone who has an 'easy" touch....so if you are a 'pound-er of brass" then you may want to look elsewhere...enjoy !
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2011, 01:40:51 PM »

Check eBay -- try this query:

paddle -game -telescope -freestyle

and click "Heading and description".

Used Bencher BY-1 paddles cost about $60.  There's not much that can go wrong with one, and Bencher stocks spare parts.  For a "first paddle", a Bencher is hard to beat.

You'll also find Ham-Key, occasionally Brown Brothers (not cheap), and others.  The Ham-Key has primitive bearings, but it works OK.

              Charles
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K7JG
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« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2011, 10:07:42 PM »

K8RA
http://www.k8ra.com/

http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/2387

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KF7ATL
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« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2011, 06:19:53 AM »

Thanks to all of you for your responses. The info has been very helpful, and has made me a more informed shopper.

Thanks again, and 73.

Garth
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M0JHA
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« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2011, 11:34:46 AM »

The MFJ range of paddles albeit not as well constructed are good value for money. I have 2 as well as a bencher , what i found with the MFJ s is that the points don't always line up perfectly as the benchers do but this in no way hinders using them..

 The adjustment screws can be a bit difficult to nip up tight but i got round this by applying a little glue on the threads, set the points and left to dry, i have used the MFJ daily for 12 months and its worked fine and hasn't come lose at all.


billy
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VE3WMB
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Posts: 286




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« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2011, 07:23:19 AM »

I highly recommend the Black Widow paddle.  It has the feel of a much more expensive paddle and it
comes as an easy-to-finish kit. Everything is predrilled you just have to do a bit of sanding, finishing
(i.e clear coat) and assembly.  At $67 delivered to your door it is a very good deal.  I borrowed a friend's
and it compares very well against  my much more expensive Bencher Hex key.

The URL :

http://www.w5jh.net/Black_Widow.htm

Michael VE3WMB
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K8AXW
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« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2011, 08:28:55 AM »

OK, one more opinion for you!  :-)

I used a homebrew paddle for many years....a converted Japanese "bug."  I used it with an electronic keyer which was also homebrew.

The paddle finally started to give me trouble and like you, wanted something better but couldn't afford or didn't want to spend a lot of money on it. 

About the cheapest paddle I found was the Kent.  They also make the dual-lever paddle but since I have become 'set in my ways' I decided to stay with the single lever.

When I received it and giving it a thourough once over, I was very impressed.  After adjusting it to my liking I was able to use it like the old homebrew.  The feel was great; quality was also great.  I don't hesitate to recommend it.

I built the dual-lever Black Widow paddles.  Although it worked, it was nowhere near the quality of my homebrew paddle and way below the Kent.

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W5ESE
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« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2011, 10:28:12 AM »

I have used the Bencher BY-1 since about 1981. I also have the Whiterook MK-44 which I use when backpacking, but the BY-1 is my main paddle for the home shack. I know there are better (and much more expensive) paddles available, but the BY-1's are good enough for my CW operating.
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PA0BLAH
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« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2011, 11:44:16 AM »

Phone hams use expensive paddles as demonstration of the virtual fact that they are  a real ham, they could purchase  it , or hire it for one day in order to make the photograph for the QSL card, but not use it. After they pass away they are SK, but they never were something else as SK, because they never used a key. Better should be SM. (Silent Mike)

CW hams watch the champions and affort themselve a real exclusive paddle, with a signature of the maker, an old dedicated craftsman, that make their key part bij part ,  it takes more than a year, I suppose, when I see prices.. They (the buyer) feel themselves the champion. No key so perfect then their key.

One remark in this thread gave me hope: a key is nothing else then a SPST switch. Never read but mechanical switches bounces.

Look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U68U7jlnt-I

and you can see that it is possible to transmit real fast morse code 60 wpm or so, with 2 pieces of pressure sensitive resistors.

Adjustments don't change with time . but yeah, it is not expensive so we can't demonstrate our ability to spent a lot of money to afford it, and that a real objection to do it the way it ought to be done.

PA0BLAH

« Last Edit: July 06, 2011, 01:03:20 PM by PA0BLAH » Logged
K8GU
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« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2011, 11:56:02 AM »

I agree that the Bencher BY-1 is a good choice, and not too expensive. 
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ZENKI
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Posts: 916




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« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2011, 02:47:39 AM »

N0SA @ n0sa.com

He makes some very nice paddles that are equal to the Begalis in action. They are bargain magnetic return paddle. I have 4 Begalis and I rate the n0sa paddle equal to best Begalis. The only thing I dont like about the n0sa paddles is the  need for a allen key to lock down the adjustments, its still a 5/5 paddle despite this  minor  complaint. I also wish there were more optional finger pieces for this paddle.

Another good magnetic paddle, which I cant really understand why it sends so well despite its sloppy action, is the W5JH black widow paddle. Every time I use I am shocked how well it sends.

As much as I like my Begalis  they a over engineered and over capitalized investment. The cheaper magnetic paddles will achieve the same results with practice, practice, practice and practice. I am truly over buying and testing every model paddle since when I go back to my worst paddles I can still send with very few errors. A good CW operator never blames his keys!
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PA0BLAH
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« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2011, 09:52:14 AM »



Another good magnetic paddle, which I cant really understand why it sends so well despite its sloppy action, is the W5JH black widow paddle. Every time I use I am shocked how well it sends.
[---]
 A good CW operator never blames his keys!

Kudoos for the last remark.

The black widow is a simple key that can't be versitile. Google at w5jh black widow and you get the picture.

Easy to produce key, sloppy thread is compensated with perpendicular fixing screws (which easily damage thread)

The return spring is pretty sloppy, much to low number of turns of the spring has a negative effect om the increment of force over a small moving path.  Furthermore return force for both paddles is always equal, when one of both pressed (and different when both are pressed simultaneously)  and thats what a lot of hams don't like.

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W9OY
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« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2011, 11:14:02 AM »

For a first paddle I would look for a usedv single lever vibroplex
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