Tag Archives: Keys

N6ARA introduces the new TinyPaddle Jack!

A few week ago, my buddy Ara (N6ARA) sent me a prototype of his new ultra-portable CW key, the TinyPaddle Jack (TPJ).

You might recall, Ara introduced the original TinyPaddle late last year. His motivation for the original TinyPaddle was to have a super minimalist paddle that could be stored away as a spare in your kit for those times when you either forget or have an issue with your primary paddle in the field.

The TinyPaddle is a very capable little key!  Click here to read my field report using the original TinyPaddle.

Turns out, there was a lot of pent-up demand for a product like the TinyPaddle. At $15 for the kit or $20 fully assembled, the TinyPaddle is a serious bargain. Ara and his father have been quite busy producing these.

Enter the TinyPaddle Jack (TPJ)

Whereas the TinyPaddle is designed around being the most simple/minimalist backup paddle solution–basically a wee paddle with a male 3.5mm connector that plugs directly into a rig’s paddle jack–the TPJ takes it one step further.

The TPJ is essentially the TinyPaddle  with a female 3.5mm plug encased in a 3D-printed holder and protective cover.

The design is clever. The case that protects it while stored away in one’s field pack, pulls apart and is re-joined to make a very usable paddle holder.

There are actually quite a few purchase options, so Ara created this short video that describes the different components/options and how to use them:

Click here to view on YouTube.

I’ve been using the TPJ with my MTR-3B and new SW-3B. As I mentioned in my field report with the TinyPaddle, the action of this paddle is actually very precise–it almost feels like a capacitive touch paddle.

I find that the holder definitely adds to the ergonomics of the paddle (although it can actually be used without a holder, too).

Ara also created a small adjustment tool that will allow you to tweak the paddle spacing if needed. Keep in mind, this is a very simple paddle design (there are no springs or magnets) and isn’t really meant to be a primarily paddle. I do feel, however, that it will hold up quite well over time. The spacing of the contacts is so fine, I believe the stress on the paddle levers is minimal .

I plan to keep a pair with my new MTR-3B field kit (above) and use it as the primary paddle for that radio. I will plan to buy a second one for the SW-3B a well.

Highly recommend

The price of the fully assembled TinyPaddle Jack ($24) and Cable ($5) is $29 US.

This is firmly in the “no-brainer” category.

Just take my money!

I personally think Ara could charge $40+ for these and they’d still be a bargain. I know him well enough to know that his motivation is in the fun of designing these products and making them accessible to other field radio operators. Case in point: I’ve been pricing quality 3.5mm patch cables recently and I find his $5 cable to be an excellent price; even more competitive than cables I’ve seen on Amazon and eBay.

In addition, Ara even freely distributes the 3D printer files so you have the option to print your own paddle holder!

It’s obvious to me that these products are his contribution to the community that pays for itself enough so that he can continue to innovate. His designs are so clever, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!

Very well done, Ara!

Click here to check out all of Ara’s products at N6ARA.com.

Eric’s DIY Cootie: “Levon”

Many thanks to Eric (WD8RIF) who writes:

Well, if K8RAT is going to tout Hermione, I guess I need to tout Levon.

My cootie/sideswiper was inspired by an article (http://sideswipernet.org/articles/w9ok-modernization.php) by W9LA about how hams in the 1930s might have constructed a cootie/sideswiper using a ceramic DPST knife switch. I didn’t have a ceramic DPST knife switch, but I did have a nice Leviton ceramic DPDT knife switch which I used as the basis for my cootie/sideswiper. Instead of using tape for the fingerpieces as described in the article, I used Fender guitar picks.

This cootie is the key I use most often for home-based operations.

While operating in the field, I usually use an inexpensive and lightweight Whiterook MK-33 single-lever paddle as a cootie key.

Levon is a handsome sideswiper, Eric! Thanks for sharing his story and your photo!

Thanks to both of you, I feel inspired to make my own “cootie” this winter. Perhaps I’ll try to find some historic context/inspiration as well!

Any other homebrew sideswipers, straight keys, or paddles you’d like to share? Please contact me and we’ll feature your creations!

I’ve got a very special one that’ll be featured later this week. Stay tuned!

Alex builds a simple sideswiper

Many thanks to Alex (W3AVP) who shares this photos of his homemade cootie/sideswiper originally posted on the POTA Faxcebook page. Alex notes:

I didn’t want to lug my Begali key to the parks so I made my own using the plans from KA8VIT. Worked great! I had a little QRP key but my fat fingers would make so many mistakes. The DIY aspect of this hobby is extremely entertaining!

And I bet your “cootie” serves you well in the field! I love the simple design and the fact it even has an adjustable action. At the end of the day, keys are merely switches so are perfect for homebrewing!

If you have a sideswiper/cootie or any other key you’ve built and would like to share it here on QRPer, contact me (K4SWL at QRPer.com).

Thanks for sharing, Alex!

W1SFR’s New Portable Torsion Bar Key

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New Portable Torsion Bar Key Announced by W1SFR
Jan 12, 2016—Sudbury, VT

Many of you know W1SFR from the End Fed random wire antennas that have become very popular with QRP ops around the world. The antenna design is not new and has handed down by many hams over many years, but Steve has managed to create quite a following due to his attention to construction and only using the best of materials…all at a very reasonable price.

Now he has applied that same attention to detail and high value to his new “TBP” (Torsion Bar Portable) key. Torsion bar keys use a unique combination of construction and design to provide the CW op with a different experience…one that users are saying very good things about. All of his keys feature a contact system that allows the key lever to make a “softer” contact allowing the very slightest movement when the contact post hits the stainless contact. That not only makes the key feel less “mechanical”, but also makes it much more quiet…a feature these keys are known for.

“ I make each key by hand and top them off with my trademark exotic wood finger pieces with a signature Mother-Of-Pearl dot on each finger piece…no CNC plastic here. The torsion system allows very close contact spacing and effortless CW. The TBP represents a much smaller version of my larger keys, designed to be at home in the field or in the shack.”

The new portable key follows W1SFR’s TBKII, a single lever key and the TBSK, a torsion bar straight key.

You can see all of the keys at W1SFR.com.

Note: Steve also tells me that he lowered his prices for the Christmas season and has decided to extend them for the month of January. Click here to check out his product line.