Tag Archives: CW Morse

A Few Field Radio Gift Ideas for Less Than $100!

I received an email from a reader’s spouse asking about gift ideas for the holidays and beyond; ideas that could not only be used this month, but also tucked away for the future. They weren’t looking for the obvious things like a transceiver–they were looking for accessories that might enhance their significant others’ field radio fun.

Being the enabler I am, I was happy to oblige and, in fact, decided to turn my reply into a post (since it quickly turned into a very long email) with their permission. For obvious reasons, I’m keeping their ID secret! 🙂

Here’s a rather random sampling of things that came to mind. I tried to limit this to items that retail for less than $100 US. Note that some of these product links are affiliate links:

A quality LiFePO4 battery

Being a QRPer, I don’t need a large battery to enjoy hours of radio fun per charge. My favorite battery chemistry is LiFePO4 due to its weight, safety, shelf life, and recharge cycles (which is in the thousands as opposed to hundreds).

For me, a 3Ah battery is more than enough capacity to keep my QRP radios on the air for 3-5 activations per charge (depending on length of activation, etc.).

I’m a big fan of Bioenno batteries. Their customer support is excellent. You can purchase their 3Ah 12V battery for $64.99 US including the charger. If you already have a charger, the battery alone is $49.99. Click here to check it out.

If your significant other likes to push 100 watts, consider a larger capacity battery. I also have a 15Ah Bioenno battery for this purpose, though it exceeds the $100 gift price threshold). Click here to check it out.

A very affordable Li-Ion rechargeable battery


One of the most affordable rechargeable battery packs for the QRPer in your life is the TalentCell Rechargeable 12V 3000mAh Battery Pack. This pack typically costs around $30 US and is sometimes even less expensive.

This little pack is great because it will not only output 5V to recharge USB devices, but it also outputs 12 volts which is brilliant for QRP radios like the Elecraft KX series, TX-500, FT-817/818, Mountain Toppers, Penntek TR-35,  Venus SW-3B, and many others. I actually now pair this with my QCX-Mini. The battery comes with the charger and standard barrel connectors on the included DC cord which fits Elecraft and Penntek field radios among others.

This is a small battery, so can only be paired with efficient QRP radios.

While I don’t consider this a high-quality solution like a Bioenno battery, it is insanely useful and affordable. Click here to check it out.

Morse Code Keys!

I could easily write a series of articles about Morse Code keys. That’s not what you’re looking for, though, right? You want some quick suggestions. Here is a sampling of some of my sub $100 favorites listed in alphabetical order.

If your budget is flexible, you might also consider these paddles which are still less than $200:

Okay, so if you don’t mind pushing more than $200, I highly recommend any key made by the amazing Begali family. Their Simplex paddle was my first set of paddles and I still use them today. I plan to buy their Traveler next year. They’ve a massive selection of models and styles. Continue reading A Few Field Radio Gift Ideas for Less Than $100!

New N0SA SP4 POTA/SOTA Mini Morse Code Magnetic Paddle from CW Morse

Update: This post was originally posted a few days ago which turned out to be prior to this paddle being in-stock in any quantity. CW Morse has some of these online and available for order at time of posting this morning (14 Nov 2022) and will have many more later this week. We’ll post an update on QRPer when their main production run is available. 

Many thanks to Timothy who notes that CW Morse has added a new key to their product line: the SP4 POTA/SOTA Mini Morse Code Magnetic Paddle.

This key looks a lot like the N0SA paddle you see in many of my videos because it is designed by N0SA and made by CW Morse!

Here’s the description from CW Morse’s website:

The SP4 POTA/SOTA CW Morse Magnetic Iambic Double Paddle – Designed By N0SA.

Super Lightweight, Portable Compact Paddle With An Attached 3.5mm Cable.

Uses Magnetic Tension And Easily Adjustable With Stainless Steel Contacts.

Great for portable operations, and supplied with 3M Dual Lock Velcro for easy mounting and removal of the paddle from base or anything of your choosing.

FEATURES: Small and light weight – only 1.7ozs.
WITH BASE: Small and removable from base – 1.25 lbs.

Measures 2.5″ x 1.1″ x 1″

Frame and finger pieces are 3D printed with carbon fiber reinforced PETG.

Levers are solid CNC Machined 6061 aluminum.

3 foot flexible cloth covered cord with molded 1/8” plug stays flexible down to 0 Deg F.

All fasteners used are Stainless Steel.

Allen wrench that is needed for spacing adjustment is also included with the key.

Adjustments stay put when set, so adjust once and forget about it! 🙂

This paddle is available with or without a steel base.

I have not tried this new paddle yet, but I did know it was in the works. I’m so glad it’s now being offered because I’m a huge fan of both N0SA and CW Morse (disclaimer: CW Morse is a proud sponsor and affiliate of QRPer.com).

The price for the new key is $82.95 without a base or $109.95 with base.

Click here to check out the new N0SA paddle at CW Morse.

The new CW Morse CNC Machined Aluminum Pocket Double Paddle Key

If you’ve watched many of my videos or read my field reports, you’ll know that I use CW Morse paddles during most of my activations.

Up to this point, CW Morse has specialized in 3D-printed paddles and keys: the quality is superb, especially for the price point.

I’m so fond of CW Morse, that earlier this year, I invited them to be a sponsor of QRPer.com and they very enthusiastically accepted (you’ll see their ad in the right nav bar of QRPer.com).

CW Morse has now moved into the world of CNC machined aluminum products.

Last week, they send me an evaluation model of their new CNC Machined Aluminum Pocket Double Paddle Key:

The form factor and size is very similar to their Pocket Paddles I’ve used for the better part of two years.

The feel of the CNC machines paddles, however, is much more solid than that of the 3D-printed key, no doubt because aluminum simply has less play.

Not only can you adjust the action of the paddles (in terms of travel to the center contact), but you can also adjust the spring tension.

The key they sent me also has a magnetic base (you can see the rare earth magnets in the four corners of the base plate below).

As with all CW Morse products, this key is designed and manufactured in the USA.

In the spirit of full disclosure, CW Morse sent this key at no cost to me. They asked for my honest evaluation.

So what do I think? Is this key for you?

This is one of the most solid feeling paddles I’ve ever used. Since this key is built with 6061 billet aluminum blocks and the the main body is made in one solid piece, it feels substantial. To be clear, though, it’s not what I would consider heavy, but it obviously weighs more than their 3D printed pocket paddles.

I believe these paddles could take heavy abuse from ops (like me, I’ll be honest) who are pretty heavy fisted. You may have noticed in my videos that I tend to slap around my paddles and keys. I can tell this paddle will take serious abuse!

If you’re the sort of op who likes a lighter touch, though, you might stick with CW Morse’s 3D printed paddles. The action feels lighter and, again, being 3D-printed, the material is a bit lighter.

I can tell you that these CNC machined aluminum paddles are going to get a lot of use and abuse from me. In fact, I’ve been using them exclusively for about one week in the shack and I’ve been very pleased. I feel like my sending accuracy has been excellent. I can’t wait to take them to the field soon, but first I need to finish a few DIY projects at the QTH–POTA and SOTA activations will be my reward!

Click here to check it out the new aluminum paddles at CW Morse.

Please note that CW Morse is now a sponsor and most links to their site now have a  referral code that gives back a small percentage to QRPer.com. If you’d prefer to order a product without our referral code, click here.

Dale’s solution for enhanced CW field ergonomics

Many thanks to Dale (N3HXZ) who shares the following guest post:


Ergonomics of Operating CW in the Field

by Dale (N3HXZ)

About a year ago I started getting active in Parks On The Air (POTA) and Summits On The Air (SOTA). I had always been an avid hiker and backpacker, and though I am getting up there in years (recently retired!) these amateur radio opportunities were just the medicine I needed to rekindle my passion for the outdoors and amateur radio.

Thanks to Thomas (K4SWL) and his blog post and videos I was able to quickly come up to speed on the basics and get out into the field for CW activations.  I quickly discovered that operating CW in the field is quite different from operating at home. The creature comforts of a good chair, a level and spacious operating table, and isolation from the weather makes for a great experience in the shack, but is not available in the field, especially if you are backpacking to your destination. My early activations were sitting on a rock, or the ground, and using only a clip board to mount my rig (Elecraft KX2), locate my CW paddle, and place a notepad to record QSO’s.

While simple, this operating setup poses problems. Attaining and maintaining a flat workspace is tough in the field in order to keep things from shifting or falling off the clipboard, especially if you are not firmly seated. There is not enough space to set your wrist in order to steady your CW operating, and the notebook pages can flap in the wind, or the wind can blow your logbook clear off the table while operating. I realized I needed to upgrade my mobile station! Continue reading Dale’s solution for enhanced CW field ergonomics

QRPer Notes: Simon’s World Map Update, RG-316 Assemblies, My-Key-Mouse (USB), and Canary Islands VCAN

Because I receive so many tips from readers here on QRPer, I wanted way to share them in a concise newsletter format.  To that end, welcome to QRPer Notes, a collection of links to interesting stories and tips making waves in the world of radio!


Simon’s World Map

Many thanks to reader, Mike Bott, who notes that Simon’s World Map has been updated to V1.2.3.

Click here to download Simon’s World Map.


RG-316 BNC to BNC assemblies

Don (W7SSB) shares two announcements.

First, he notes that Chameleon Antenna is now selling RG-316 assemblies with in-line RF Choke options and BNC fittings . They have a number of lengths available:

https://chameleonantenna.com/shop-here/ols/products/cha-50-coax-with-integrated-rfi-choke-cha-50-cx-wth


My Key Mouse

Don also notes that CW Morse is now offering a USB-CW keyer/ device interface called the My Key Mouse. Check out the product description:

New for 2022! Morse Code Key to USB Adapter!

Did you know that there is an ever growing list of Software and Apps that allow you to practice and/or learn Morse Code using Computers, Laptops, Tablets, Android and other devices? Truly a great idea, but, if you’ve ever tried using a mouse to send Morse Code, I am sure you’ll agree that it is makeshift at best. But why?

Because It takes the right tools for the job!
To Send Morse Code it takes a Proper Built Key Or Paddle.

Now You can practice with a host of software and apps using your own device!

Click here to read more.


Many thanks to Jesus Alberto de Lorenzo who shares a link to a fascinating field activity based in the Canaries: VCAN — a Volcano program!

Click here for full details.

Thanks to everyone for the tips!