All posts by WD8RIF

Guest Review: CW Morse Single-Lever Keyer Paddle

On October 10, I took delivery of a CW Morse (https://cwmorse.us/) “Red Single Paddle Morse Code Key With Base” (https://cwmorse.us/product/red-single-paddle-morse-code-key-with-base/) which Tom Witherspoon, K4SWL, had sent me to review for this website. CW Morse had sent Tom several keys to review and Tom, knowing I am a fan of single-lever paddles, sent me the CW Morse single-lever paddle to review.

CW Morse "Red Single Paddle Morse Code Key With Base"

CW Morse "Red Single Paddle Morse Code Key With Base", inside view

I will admit it: I wasn’t expecting much from a 3-D printed CW paddle, but I was very surprised by the quality of the build and the feel of the paddle.

The “Red Single Paddle Morse Code Key With Base” is a nice mix of 3-D printed frame, lever, fingerpiece, and cover with steel ball bearings, metal contacts, steel centering springs, and a heavy steel base. (See photos, above.)

The mailman delivered the paddle on October 10  and I started using it almost immediately as a cootie-key / sideswiper to hunt Parks on the Air (POTA) activations. (A cootie-key or sideswiper is a manual key in which the operator moves a paddle alternately side-to-side to manually create the dots and dashes of Morse Code.) The paddle worked very well as a cootie and I made six POTA QSOs using the paddle on the afternoon of the 10th. Unfortunately, when I tried to use the paddle for my nightly ragchew-QSO with K8RAT, the paddle stopped centering properly and I had to switch to another key to finish the QSO. A day or two later, I studied the CW Morse key and found that I was able to loosen the nut at the lever pivot-point a little bit to reduce drag. After this simple adjustment, the paddle has worked beautifully without further need for adjustment.

The “Red Single Paddle Morse Code Key With Base” features adjustable gaps on both sides of the lever. These gaps are easily adjusted using the supplied Allen wrench or with bare fingers. The spring tension is not adjustable and the paddle’s feel is pretty light.

The steel base, while small, is quite heavy and the four rubber feet provide excellent traction on my radio desk. I have a pretty heavy fist and this paddle is almost heavy enough that I can send with my right hand without holding the paddle with my left hand.

Now, a disclosure: I have been using semi-automatic bugs and fully-manual cootie keys so long now that my keyer fist is absolute rubbish. I did use the paddle to drive an electronic keyer for one ragchew-QSO and the paddle worked very well in that mode and it had a nice feel–any mistakes made in keying were not the fault of the paddle but of my own inability anymore to judge how long to hold the dash-paddle.

I’ve been using this paddle as my go-to cootie-key for over half a month now and as a cootie key the “Red Single Paddle Morse Code Key With Base” excels. The gaps were easily adjustable and the feel of the paddle as a cootie is just fantastic. This key has, at least for the moment, become my favorite hamshack cootie-key.

The “Red Single Paddle Morse Code Key” can be removed from the steel base for field or portable use and I did remove the key from the base to try it in this configuration. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the feel of the paddle in my left hand, primarily because the two mounting rails make the key feel awkward in my hand. CW Morse does offer a dual-lever field paddle (https://cwmorse.us/product/pocket-double-paddle-morse-code-key/) and I think a similar design with a single lever would make an excellent field paddle or cootie key. (Read about Tom Witherspoon’s experience with the dual-lever field paddle here: https://qrper.com/2020/10/pota-field-report-pairing-the-icom-ic-705-with-the-elecraft-t1-and-cw-morse-pocket-paddles/.)

Bottom Line: I have been very pleased with the “Red Single Paddle Morse Code Key With Base” and I can recommend it for any CW operator who needs an inexpensive but well-made single-lever paddle.

A Photographic Tour of Universal Radio’s New Location

In October, 2017, Universal Radio moved from their large Reynoldsburg, Ohio retail store and warehouse to a smaller retail store and warehouse at 651-B Lakeview Plaza, Worthington, Ohio. This is actually Universal Radio’s fourth location in its 75 year history. In 1942, Universal Service opened on North Third Street in downtown Columbus. In 1977, Universal Radio moved to Aida Drive in Reynoldsbutg. In 1992, Universal Radio moved to Americana Drive in Reynoldsburg. Finally, in 2017, Universal Radio moved to the current location in Worthington.

On Friday, November 17, I had the opportunity to visit the new location of Universal Radio  for the first time and I prepared a photographic tour of the new location.

The new location is smaller than the previous location and instead of consisting of one large showroom space, the new location consists of several smaller rooms. (Indeed, the new layout reminds me the layout of one of my all-time favorite bookstores, the Book Loft in Columbus’s German Village neighborhood, which now has 32 (!) rooms of books. No, Universal Radio’s new store does not have 32 rooms!) As can be seen in the following photographs, these rooms are densely stocked. Universal Radio still offers all the items that were available in the previous store location. Of course, just as at the previous, larger, location, some items aren’t on immediate display but are available upon request.

The new Universal Radio storefront at 651-B Lakeview Plaza Blvd, Worthington, Ohio
The new Universal Radio storefront at 651-B Lakeview Plaza Blvd, Worthington, Ohio. There’s more than ample parking.
The sign and entrance to the new Universal Radio store
The sign and entrance to the new Universal Radio store.
Books, with Barb stocking the shelves with the newest "The Worldwide Listening Guide"
Immediately upon entering the store, one will find hundreds of book titles. Here, Barb is stocking the shelves with the newest, just-released, “The Worldwide Listening Guide”.
Magazines
And, of course, Universal still offers several issues each of the two major American amateur radio magazines.
Antennas, shortwave receivers, HTs, scanners + VHF/UHF mobiles
In the main showroom: antennas, shortwave receivers, HTs, scanners, and VHF/UHF mobile transceivers.
HF transceivers
In the same showroom, the HF transceivers, available to operate.
The Heil microphone display
The Heil microphone and headset display.
Used equipment
The Used equipment display: HF transceivers, shortwave receivers, VHF/UHF transceivers, handhelds, and accessories.
Antennas!
Antennas!
More antennas!
And more antennas!
The warehouse area, with Barb and Cathy
Just as with nearly any other modern retailer, Universal Radio’s bread-and-butter is internet and telephone orders. This is just a small portion of the new warehouse and shipping area, with Barb and Cathy busily filling orders.
The warehouse area
A small portion of the warehouse and shipping area.
The well-equipped service area
Universal Radio still has a nicely-equipped service area.

Just as at the previous Reynoldsburg location (and at the even earlier Aida Drive location), the new Universal Radio store is home to several cats which, sadly, I neglected to photograph.

The new store is staffed by the same friendly and helpful people we’ve come to know from the Americana Drive location. During this visit, I saw and spoke with Josh, Eric, Barb, and Cathy.

Upcoming QRP Field Event:
“Freeze Your B___ Off”, Saturday, February 6

The Arizona ScQRPions (link) annual winter QRP sprint, “Freeze Your B___ Off“, happens on Saturday, February 6 this year. FYBO is an event in which QRPers are encouraged to take their stations afield in the winter, and the colder it is “at the key”, the larger a score multiplier a participant gets.  Complete rules for FYBO can  be found here:

http://www.azscqrpions.org/FYBO2016_Rules.htm

My logbook tells me I first participated in FYBO in 1997 and that I had a blast, and I’ve participated in FYBO almost every year since then.

With this year’s strong El Niño and weird weather there’s no telling at this point whether a particular location will be unseasonably warm or bitterly cold, wet or dry, sunny or snowy but whatever the weather you find on February 6, take your station outdoors and have some wintertime radio fun!

Upcoming Summer QRP Field Events

With the arrival of summer weather, the outdoor ham radio season is upon us! Outdoor operating is an important part of my ham radio hobby and I plan to participate in the following field events in a big way.

Saturday-Sunday, June 27-28, 2015: ARRL Field Day

Field Day is the ARRL’s biggest operating event and, with a history going back to 1933, is one of the ARRL’s oldest operating events. Field Day is the “big daddy” of portable operating events and more than 40,000 hams are expected to participate this year. Operate QRP or QRO. Operate CW, SSB, or digital; operate with a local club, a group of friends, with a single friend, or alone. The important thing is to set up a station and operate!

Full rules and other materials can be found here:
http://www.arrl.org/field-day.

I will be participating with the Athens County Amateur Radio Association’s Class 1A, solar-powered operation at the Athens County (Ohio) Fairgrounds.

Sunday, July 26, 2015: The Adventure Radio Society’s Flight of the Bumblebees

The Adventure Radio Society’s Flight of the Bumblebees hasn’t been around since 1933 but it has been an annual event since 1997, which is a long time these days. Flight of the Bumblees is a four-hour event held annually on the last Sunday of July. Both home-based and portable operations are allowed but those who operate from the field are the Bumblebees and are worth a 3x multiplier. Bumblebees are encouraged to reach their operating locations principally under their own power by walking, bicycling, kayaking, etc.; the distance traveled using human-power is up to the individual operator’s discretion.

Full rules and instructions for receiving a Bumblebee Number can be found here: http://www.arsqrp.blogspot.com/.

I have participated in Flight of the Bumblebees most years since 1997 and look forward to participating again in 2015. I plan to bicycle with my KX3 Travel Kit (info) from my home to my operating location somewhere in Athens County, Ohio.

Sunday, August 9, 2015: New Jersey QRP Club’s Skeeter Hunt

This year marks the 4th annual running of the Skeeter Hunt, a four-hour sprint-type event whose objective is to get QRPers out of their shacks for the day and into fresh air and sunshine. Those who operate outdoors qualify as “Skeeters”.

Full rules and instructions on receiving a Skeeter Number can be found here: http://w2lj.blogspot.com/p/njqrp-skeeter-hunt.html.

WD8RIF has participated in every Skeeter Hunt since the first one in 2012 and has enjoyed the event every year.

 

July & August QRP Field Operating Events

Over the next thirty days there are three QRP field operating events to take part in.

This coming Sunday, July 13,  is the second annual Scorch Your Butt Off event. This six-hour event is like the more familiar wintertime Freeze Your B___ Off event except for this event the score multiplier goes up the hotter the temperature recorded at the key or microphone. The rules for Scorch Your Butt Off can be found here:

http://www.qsl.net/sybo/Scorch_Your_Butt_Off/SYBO.html

Sunday, July 27, is the date of the Adventure Radio Society’s Flight of the Bumblebees, an event with a long and storied history. For this four-hour sprint, those who use human-power to get to their operating locations earn the right to a “bumblebee number”; each contact with a “bumblebee” counts as a score multiplier. The rules for Flight of the Bumblebees will be posted here Friday, July 11:

http://www.arsqrp.blogspot.com/

Sunday, August 10, is the date of the 3rd annual New Jersey QRP Club Skeeter Hunt. Those who operate in the field can request a “skeeter number” and are worth more points than “non-skeeters”. This year there’s a score multiplier for using homebrew or kit-built equipment. The announcement and rules for the Skeeter Hunt can be found here:

http://w2lj.blogspot.com/p/njqrp-skeeter-hunt.html (announcement)
http://www.qsl.net/w2lj/ (rules)

So—three good reasons to take a QRP rig and field-antenna outdoors and have some fun!

Once in while…

… one hears behavior on the air that reminds one that courtesy can still, occasionally, be heard on the HF bands.

I’ve made it a goal this year to earn a Worked All States (WAS) certificate working only the ARRL Centennial Celebration W1AW/portable stations using CW and QRP power levels. I’ve managed to work W1AW/portable stations in 27 states so far–I started a few weeks late and missed the first few states but will pick them up in the second half of the year–but I’ve heard some atrocious pile-up behavior while doing so.

This evening, while trying to work W1AW/1 (NH) or W1AW/2 (NJ)–I can’t remember which because I  eventually worked each on several bands before turning the rig off for the night–I neglected to put my KX3 back into split-mode after changing bands, so on my first call to the W1AW/portable station I was transmitting on his frequency, not up as I was supposed to be. Before I could even realize my mistake, I heard someone send a simple “IF UP”–the last two letters of my callsign and “UP”–just once, on the W1AW/portable station’s frequency. Not the “UP UP UP” we  hear far too frequently these days or even “UP UP UP LID“. Just one transmission of “IF UP” to tell me, WD8RIF, that I had made an error. One short, polite, courteous transmission.

I have no idea who this polite ham was. If I did, I would send him an email thanking him for his short, polite message to me.  Maybe he’ll stumble upon this posting on QRPer.com and learn how much I appreciated his simple transmission to me.

April 18 is World Radio Day

IARU logo

Friday, April 18, is the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) “World Radio Day”. The theme for World Radio Day 2014 is “Amateur Radio: Your Gateway to Wireless Communication”.

World Radio Day is celebrated each year on April 18 to recognize the anniversary of the founding of the IARU in 1925. The first president of the IARU was Hiram Percy Maxim, 1AW.

Learn more about World Radio Day:

http://www.arrl.org/news/amateur-radio-your-gateway-to-wireless-communication-is-world-amateur-radio-day-2014-theme

http://www.iaru.org/world-amateur-radio-day.html

Learn more about the IARU:

http://www.iaru.org/

A KX3 Build

Elecraft KX3
Elecraft KX3 by WD8RIF

I recently built an Elecraft KX3 kit and took photographs of the process as I went along. Your host of QRPer.com, K4SWL, thought others would benefit from seeing how simple the process of building a KX3 really is. My thoughts and the photos of the process can be seen here on my website:

http://home.frognet.net/~mcfadden/wd8rif/kx3.htm

A New Field Event — “Peanut Power Sprint”

peanut-power-pete

The North GA QRP Club gang have added a new annual field event to the amateur radio contest calendar–a field event with an unusual twist. The Peanut Power Sprint is this Sunday, September 29, 2013, from 2000Z to 2200Z.

What’s unusual about this event is that it is open to those operators running QRP, those running more than QRP power, those operating at home, and those operating in the field. Participants will be competing against only those who are in the same class. In addition, both CW and SSB operation are allowed and encouraged.

Here are the full rules, in PDF format: http://www.nogaqrp.org/Peanut%20Power%20QRP%20Sprint.pdf

A couple of items to note in the rules:

  1. Operations are allowed only on 15, 20, and 40m. The recommended 40m CW frequency is 7.060MHz, not the usual QRP calling frequency.
  2. Those operators with a “Peanut Power Number” can work anyone; those without a number may work only those with numbers. It’s not too late to request a “Peanut Power Number”.

Personally, I’m looking forward to be operating as Peanut Power #105, “Salted” (5w, portable).

73, WD8RIF