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Author Topic: Iambic keying vs. single-lever paddle  (Read 9423 times)

Posts: 11

« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2009, 02:04:02 PM »


K8RA seems to be in business.  I just bought his single lever paddle and it works fine.  For an inexpensive, but well made and portable paddle, look at the American Morse Bushwacker single lever paddle.  But The N3ZN can't be beat for feel and ease of adjustment.
Steve KB3SII

Posts: 57

« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2009, 04:36:55 PM »

Dave, Steve,

I have the N3ZN single keyer. In the tropics all my other brass keys go brown after a few weeks. The N3ZN is laquered to a high standard. It also takes some slapping if you operate in bug key mode, using a bug key emulator circuit like the JA3KAB.

I agree with Marshall Emm on the Morsex website - Iambic is vastly overrated and errors increase at high speeds, although for contest style when the QSOs are nearly the same the operator can keep the errors down. For high speed ragchew Iambic is a muddle, unless you are very skilled. The advantages are very few in my humble opinion.



Posts: 24

« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2009, 05:15:03 PM »

Since not everyone has 3+ bills to drop on a key I have been following the lower to moderately priced discussions more closely. Here are three that I have noticed in a couple of the conversations:


     There is a USA site as well but I cannot find any order info there. Odd. Is it the same device?


One question that I have come up with is about the contacts: Is silver on the K8RA REALLY superior to the machine screw contacts of the other two?

Steven N7FE

Posts: 5178

« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2009, 05:00:59 AM »

Contrast that all with me: my Elmer gave me a J-38 when I was 9 years old. By the time I was 10 I had my novice ticket and was using the J-38. But every so often my Elmer would let me play with his new keyer - a heath HD-1410. With Iambic squeeze keying. By the time I was in 7th grade I had built my own HD-1410. I now own a fancier key (got a Begali and a K1EL a few years back after using that HD-1410 for a long long time) but still could never imagine using anything other than squeeze keying. If I send a F, I never take my thumb off the dit paddle until the end; if I'm sending a Q I never take my finger off the dah paddle till the end.

The letters I did have some trouble with, decades ago, were things like "B" and "V". Getting an absolutely seamless transition from dahs to dits or dits to dahs - with no extra pause, and no extra dits - did take some practice. I found "V" and "4" the hardest. But: I haven't thought about this in at least 25 years. And wouldn't that part be true whether it was an iambic squeeze keyer or a single-lever paddle?

Tim N3QE

Posts: 371

« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2009, 07:46:04 AM »

This is a great youtube video that demonstrates the elegance of iambic keying:

73 de Ken - N4OI

Posts: 11

« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2009, 11:17:05 AM »

I find that I can operate an iambic paddle in the "bug" mode by simply never doing a squeeze.  While a single lever paddle prevents simultaneous presses, it doesn't take much effort to use an existing iambic dual lever paddle to take advantage of a good electronic keyer and ignore the finesse of true iambic keying.  

While true iambic keying may reduce a little bit of finger motion, it sure doesn't have any effect whatsoever on how long it takes to send CW characters.  The speed pot does that plus your CW skills to insert the proper character and word spacing, which all modes require!
73  Steve KB3SII

Posts: 12

« Reply #21 on: December 14, 2009, 12:48:52 PM »

Working CW for many decades with experience very similar to N4KZ.  Then went to a keyboard; that's until N3ZN came along with his super paddles. Keyboard is out and the N3ZN SL is in. I second everything W9OY stated.

Posts: 2623


« Reply #22 on: December 14, 2009, 01:25:39 PM »

I have both single lever and iambic paddles (vibrokeyer, bencher by1, begali signature, homebrew iambic). I do not send iambically. I too can send C and Q with no problem.. beyond that, forget it. I suppose I send with my iambic paddles using a single lever method? I've been sending that way for years with no problems. Don't think of your iambic paddles as iambic-only.

Posts: 700

« Reply #23 on: December 16, 2009, 11:43:14 AM »

I got my Kent SP-1 single-lever paddle on Tuesday. It sat in a UPS warehouse in Lexington, KY for 46 hours before being delivered to my home 25 miles away. I suppose I don't understand the package delivery business.

Anyway, after three on-air QSOs and lots of off-air practice, I find I really like the paddles and non-iambic keying. There's just something about non-iambic keying that works better for my brain than the squeeze keying method. I'm not sure how to explain it. But I feel more in control of what I'm sending when there's just one contact at a time that can be closed instead of two.

OK. Public confession: since 1981, I have worked CW mostly with an MFJ keyboard keyer or a computer. In fact, I have two of the MFJ keyboard keyers. One I bought new at Dayton in the year the product hit the market -- 1981 -- and another one I bought used last year. I love those keyboards and sending perfect CW has been a breeze. I always viewed it as a favor to those people with whom I was working. They got to copy perfectly sent CW. Not because of me but because of the tool I used. I must stress the keyboard only sends CW. I copy it in my head on receive.

But for my own personal satisfaction, I have long wanted to master paddles. I had Bencher iambic paddles, some Begali paddles I bought at Dayton a couple years ago and most recently one of the CW Touch Paddles that have no moving parts. All worked fine. I really like the CW Touch Paddle best of those three. But I've never fully mastered iambic keying for most letters of the alphabet. I did learn how to squeeze CQ out fairly easily. In fact, now I am "unlearning" how to send C. But it's not a problem. But C, Q and Y were really the only letters I ever fully mastered by squeezing the paddles. One's timing must be perfect or else you can easily get unwanted dits or even a dah or two.

The Kent SP-1 is the only real single-lever paddle I've used to any great extent so I have nothing to compare it with. And I do generally believe one gets what he pays for and that other, more expensive paddles might be smoother, or more sensitive or whatever. I won't close the door on purchasing other single-lever paddles in the future.

And I might very well continue using my keyboards from time to time. And I will definitely continue using the computer and logging programs for CW sending during contests. But for general ragchews, I want to master the single-lever paddle which, for me, feels more natural than any iambic paddle I've used in the past.

And, yes, I've tried treating iambic paddles as a single-lever by not squeezing out any letters. It works but felt awkward for me while, in comparison, I sat down with my new Kent and immediately felt comfortable sending with non-iambic keying. It might go back to my bug days in 1969-71.

As the saying goes -- your mileage may vary.

73, Dave, N4KZ

Posts: 11

« Reply #24 on: December 16, 2009, 02:39:57 PM »


Congrats on the fun you are having with your Kent single lever paddle. Now that you are a convert, save your pennies and plan to buy a N3ZN ZN-SL or one of its variants.  It's the slickest single lever paddle you'll ever find and the spacing between the two carbon fiber finger pieces is perfect, much better than the skinny mono lever on the Kent. Get the RED finger pieces! The workmanship and feel can't be beat.

Steve  KB3SII
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