N0SA SP4 Mini Morse Magnetic Paddles Review

You might recall my previous announcement about the new  N0SA SP4 POTA/SOTA Mini Morse Code Magnetic Paddle from CW Morse.

The first production run of these paddles sold out very quickly, but I just received the following message from CW Morse about the new paddles:

We’ve finally gotten caught up and will be shipping out Monday & Tuesday [Nov 21/22]! Also have a few more in stock. Making another batch as well.

CW Morse sent me a set of these paddles to evaluate at no charge to me (keep in mind, they’re both a sponsor and affiliate of QRPer.com) and I got a chance to use them Thursday afternoon.

In short?

I love these paddles!

In fact, I think these may become my preferred compact paddles.

I like the size of the finger pieces/pads.  They’re large for such a tiny paddle, which I believe gives them a solid feel while keying. I prefer a larger contact surface area as opposed to thin finger pieces.

The response is very precise, too, and the action can be adjusted by a supplied Allen wrench.

I agree with a few readers who’ve already received their paddles and noted that the carbon fiber reinforced PETG material make the key grippy and very easy to hold.

The size and design is very similar to the SOTA paddle N0SA sold out of last year in a matter of a few hours.

Bonus POTA Activation!

Thursday afternoon, my daughters attended a two hour meeting not even a stone’s throw from the Blue Ridge Parkway. I had *just* taken delivery of the new N0SA paddles, so grabbed the shipping box from CW Morse, my new-to-me Elecraft K2/10 (more on that later!), and my PackTenna Random Wire antenna.

I only discovered that my daughters’ meeting was so close to the parkway about 10 minutes before leaving the QTH. This was one of those bonus activations that deserved a little happy dance, especially since I could spend a good 1.5 hours on the air–a proper luxury for this busy father!

I’ll post a full field report and activation video in a couple of weeks, but in a nutshell, 30 meters was on fire. I’d planned to work 20, 30, and 40 meters (to test the K2’s internal ATU) but 30M was so dang busy, I never had time to QSY.

I had not put the K2/10 on the air yet, so all of the settings were default and it had been a few years since I used a K2, so had to re-familiarize myself with the settings. Thirty meters was so consistently busy, I didn’t have a breather to tinker with the settings.

The new N0SA SP4 paddles worked flawlessly.

I expected nothing less from an N0SA design, but still–the feel and action is superb.

I think this paddle may become the new benchmark for where price and quality meet.

I feel like CW Morse could be charging  $112.95 instead of $82.95 for these and I would still be very pleased with that price. I’m glad they’re not, though, because sub-$100 pricing does give new CW ops an affordable quality mini paddle option.

Based on so many reader recommendations, I purchased a BaMaKeY TP-III paddle recently. It’s also a wonderful paddle, but cost me 157.25 Euro which is nearly twice the price of the SP4 paddles. While I think the TP-III paddles are brilliant (and I’ll soon post a review) I actually prefer the N0SA SP4 paddles (note that this is my own personal preference–both are amazing keys). I prefer the SP4’s larger finger pieces.

Size comparison: CW Morse CNC Machined Aluminum Paddles (left) N0SA SP4 Paddles (right)

The great thing about CW Morse is that they have the capacity to handle customer demand of the SP4 paddles–this is something N0SA couldn’t do as a one-man show. I think CW Morse also has economies of scale working in their favor and, no doubt, this is how they continue to be the market leader in terms of quality for price.

If you’ve been looking for quality mini paddles for your compact field kit or shack, look no further. These are a no-brainer. You’ll love them.

Click here to check out the new N0SA SP4 SOTA/POTA paddles at CW Morse.

28 thoughts on “N0SA SP4 Mini Morse Magnetic Paddles Review”

  1. Should get mine tomorrow. Also have a brand new TR-35. Life is good! Thanks for your reviews!!
    72 and happy Thanksgiving!!

  2. When mention of these paddles came to my attention, I order one. I noted, which paddles you favored… and my eyes were drawn to the SP4. I should have them this week.

    I would also say, I really love my Bamatech TP-3’s. I need to adjust them a little tighter and play with them, but the design & quality is superb! Is it worth the price? The Euro has dropped in relation to the USD, so it’s your call.

    I’m excited to get the new SP4’s, given this glowing review. Thanks Thomas!

      1. I do love these paddles! Really. 4.75/5… Even Nadia Comaneci knows she wasn’t perfect.

        I wonder what Charlie of Red Summit RF may think?

  3. Got mine few days ago. But don’t make the mistake I made any over tighten the middle tension spring. The iambic part stops. But a call to CW and they knew what I had messed up. Everything was fixed after backing off the tension.

    Mike, AD8EV

      1. I would have to agree with Mark. I picked up a set from Larry in January and have to say they are fantastic. With almost a year of use under my belt they’ve been flawless. My CW is not. ?

        I may have to order a set from CW Morse and compare, but they appear exactly the same. I agree that the PETG frame and finger pieces are great. The rough texture gives a very positive feel.

        The response is virtually identical to the SOTA Paddles and I can switch between them and not miss a step.

        The bigger frame is easier the handle than the previous model and that’s a plus for the plus sized hands.

  4. I bought the SP4 from Larry, N0SA, last year when I first heard about its release. As I often operate in cold conditions, in comparison with the previous small N0SA paddle which was all metal, the composite material made it much nicer to hold with my fingers without drawing all the heat out of them. I can also hold the SP4 in a variety of positions much easier than the previous small model. All in all it is a clear winner. I’m glad to see that they are more readily available via CW Morse!

  5. I have several of the paddles Larry N0SA designed and love the feel and operation of all of them. One thing I’d like to see just a little different is I wish the cord wasn’t attached. Not a big deal, but depending on what radio I use and what type of operating I’m doing I would ideally choose different length cords.

    1. I agree–I think it would be ideal to have a 3.5mm jack on the bottom although that might make the bottom plate a little deeper.

  6. Oh my, the amount of goodies for CW QRP operators is endless! At some point I have to tell myself….whoa Brent, easy tiger! Lol

    Thomas, these new paddles look absolutely wonderful; I have a set of the original N0SA stainless steel, magnetic mini paddles and find they are a work of art by Larry.

    Honestly, for this heavy fist, I find my Begali traveller paddles the best compromise for my fist vs ultra lightweight. The Begali in combo with either a K2, KX3 or the TR-45L is the sweet spot pour mois! Once I’m no longer able to go the gym, I’ll maybe have to resort to featherweight equipment and hence further learn to tame my heavy fist. Hi hi

    1. Oh. Don’t get me started about the Begali Traveller paddles. I’ll likely buy some at Hamvention next year.

  7. Could we get a side by side with the metal N0SA paddles? I was fortunate enough to grab one of those when they first came out, and thinking of one of these for a backup.
    Daniel KD4AN

  8. My CW Morse/N0SA SP4 paddles arrived Friday. With minor adjustments for contact spacing and return tension, I put them on the air for POTA hunting the same afternoon. On Saturday, I used them for two park activations totaling 74 CW contacts. Again, they worked great, with one minor hitch. I had a few unexpected sending issues that I traced back to me over-tightening the return tension adjustment. After correction, operation has been perfect.

    Overall, great product, great price. Avoid over-tightening the return tension adjustment screw, and they will work great!

    1. What screw is the tension adjustment. And what screw adjusts the return tension?
      I got my keyer from CW Morse haven’t tried adjusting it yet.

      1. Hi Chuck,

        There are three adjustment screws on the SP4. With the paddles oriented toward you like you would use them, two screws are on the left side and one is on the right. All are Allen head screws, adjustable with the supplied wrench. The matching left and right screws (immediately behind the finger pieces on each side) are used to adjust the amount of travel necessary to make contact. The third screw (about 1/2 inch or 12mm behind the left side travel adjusting screw) is used to adjust magnetic return force. Turning the return force screw clockwise increases force, and turning it counter-clockwise decreases return force. Be careful about over-adjusting for increased return force, because it can cause the key to behave erratically. Hope this helps.

  9. I did have an issue out of the box — the wire that is soldered to the middle solder pd had snapped off, so the paddles didn’t work. I re-soldered the wire to the pad and looped the cable around inside the base for some strain relief and it works now. Those wires are very thin/fragile, though, so it’ll be a while before I trust it as my only paddle when I go out!

    All that said, they are fantastically light and feel really satisfying in use! The mechanical design is very simple and attractive and they’re the perfect size for using in a balled-up fist.

    1. Bummer… I rec’d mine earlier this week. I just made a minor adjustment to more my liking. My initial impressions are very favorable. And it’s not like I needed another paddle. I’m glad I bought them, they’re likely to become one of my favorites.

  10. Thanks Thomas

    The SP4 has a nice feel to it

    The TP-III has perhaps a smoother action and the sides are enclosed. With the SP4, you learn quickly to hold it at the back end – or secure it with velcro

    SP4 is simpler to adjust IMHO

    1. I really like the SP4 paddles. They’re quite different from the Pocket Paddles because they’re much smaller in the hand. The action is generally more precise, too. Those N0SA designs are hard to beat. I also like the BamaKey TP-III, but they’re quite a bit more expensive.

      1. Considering upgrade from the CW Morse Pocket Paddles. SP-4 front runner now. Also thought about Begali Traveler.
        But does it need to be on flat surface to operate or can you hold in hand ?

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