A Dutch hamradio station in a bookbinding workshop
Until 2010 I used only straight keys. Since then I practised using paddles as well. I’m not an expert on those things yet, but they suite me fine.
I’ve build some of the keys myself like the KIWA-key and the touch-paddle based on a kit. The straight key with the blue knob was also build by myself.
When I first came in contact with hamradio I noticed that most hamradio operators apply very strong spring tension to their keys thus needing to use extra unnecessary energy to push down the key.
While at school we were not even allowed to use any spring tension at all in the beginning. So we had to keep the key-knob high using our thumbs. Letting go would result in a closing contact triggering the tx to send a continuous wave and more important a very unfriendly face of the teacher. I can tell you I express myself mildly here!!
Heaving read the above the advise might be clear:
Use as less spring tension as possible. Especially when starting to learn keying.
I find this also very usefull using my paddles.
However, before trying to operate a key, teach yourself to decode morse signals first!
The paddle pictures
In the paddle gallery you see a Begali Sculpture, a Uniham paddle from China and my homebrew touchpaddle.
Solid state CW paddle
One day I came accross a Solid State CW Paddle made by 9A5N. It is like working with a touch paddle alltough it is not. I had some problems with the original fingerpieces which are quite high. So I replaced them with the carbon fingerpieces that are shown in the picture. Paddle sensitivity can be set from 10-50 grs in 8 steps easily. I have the idea that the operator should apply approximately the same force to the fingerpieces for correct operation, which is not easy. Sometimes the paddle will go crazy: switching off and on again solves that problem. 9A5N knows about this problem, he mentions it in the troubleshooting section of the manual. I don't own it anymore.