Thursday, May 6, 2010

American Morse Equipment - Bushwhacker Paddle

A new key at KD8JHJ
This year I was lucky enough to receive a tax refund.  After some careful consideration I decided to treat the station to some new Morse Code equipment being that most of my keys are of 19th century design.  The latest key in my lineup is actually called a paddle.  A single lever paddle to be specific. 
The paddle came as a kit well packaged as shown to protect the finely machined parts until final assembly.  The various parts are tiny but when put together result in a compact and precise feeling switch.  I mounted the paddle to the optional desk base and it is solid.  Never moves even when I am on the air.

It took me about an hour to put the kit together.  A well written and thorough assembly manual can be found online.  Operation is EASY- push right for dots and left for dashes.  Spring tension and leverage of the mechanism are fully adjustable.  Doug Hauff, W6AME and his shop American Morse Equipment is a FB operation that specializes in QRP stuff like paddles and machined enclosures for electronic projects.  They are located in San Luis Obispo, California.

The paddle's cord plugs into a Logikey K-5 Keyer. This device is a microprocessor that makes the string of dots or dashes.  The K-5 is the gray box in the picture with 6 buttons and a single knob on the front beside the insulators.  With the large knob the character speed of the morse code can be increased or decreased.  Other functions such as memory are controlled with the 6 buttons. The keyer in turn is connected to the key jack on the back of the Transceiver.  These two great American made components represent one of the latest designs in the 170 year history of telegraphic equipment.  
Yesterday on 40 meters I called CQ and made contact with Tom, W8JI near Macon, Georgia.  Tom is a great op who was keying with a vintage Vibroplex Lightning Bug. We had a pleasant QSO and I got to report back to Tom the difference in his signal strength as he rotated his Yagi antenna from the west to the north focusing his signal in my direction.  
The paddle and keyer let me concentrate on what I am trying to say while the equipment works out the length of each character element and the spacing of the dashes and dots.  Much easier than sending with a straight key or manipulating the bug which still requires you to regulate the start and stop and length of each dash.  At slower speeds around 15 words per minute or slower straight keys are fine but as my copying speed has slowly increased I now enjoy sending with the paddle.  

("FB" is an old land line Morse Code signal that means excellent or great. Fine Business.)


  1. I'm sure you will enjoy your new paddle. I prefer a paddle myself and use the Bencher BY-2 Iambic paddle. It makes sending a breeze, and I get many compliments from those on the receiving end. Good luck with it!


  2. Hi Jack, Yea I agree. Sending is almost effortless. I still leave out a dit once in a while, otherwise really enjoy it. I think I would like the Bencher. I have read that it can be set up with feathery light action. Someday I would like to have one to go with my Bencher straight key.