Homemade ultra-lightweight Morse code keyer paddle

Thumbnail photo of the paddle
Click on image for full-sized photo.

Many years ago I built this lightweight keyer paddle to accompany my Wildnerness Radio "Sierra" QRP (low-power) CW (Morse code) transceiver. I like to do long-distance, self-supported bicycle tours and I wanted a portable amateur radio station to take along on the bicycle.

Most keyer paddles are intentionally made as heavy as possible to keep them from "walking" around the operating desk as you work the paddles. The "key" idea of this design is to use the operator's own hand for that purpose. I find that with my hand resting on the flat plate part of the paddle there is absolutely no tendency to "walk". In fact, in that respect it works much better than the heavy paddles I have used.

The micro switches used for the contacts do not give as good a feel as on the high-end (expensive) key paddles. But it's quite usable.

The unit can be used as a manual straight key simply by laying it on its side. Plug it into the key jack instead of the paddle jack on the radio.

The weight is only 4.25 oz (120g), or 5 oz (142g) including the plug and cable. However it is rather bulky and awkward - I just strapped it on the top of the rear panniers on the bike.

Sheet metal drawing

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Last updated May 8, 2008