25 Feb 2013

Bug keys

Kent twin paddle key
Although not a frequent or very good CW operator, I do like to try QRP CW from time to time, usually with a straight key I've had for over 40 years. With rubber stamp QSOs on HF I can usually manage OK. The problem comes when people ragchew and I lose concentration!

Some years ago I bought a beautifully made Kent paddle key but I've hardly ever used it because I kept making mistakes. So, today I dug it out and decided to persevere with it on 40m CW. I managed a nice (unexpected) 2-way QRP QSO with Rick DK4QK who, despite my sending, managed to copy everything. Later I worked DM0E on 2-way QRP as well, using the bug. Like all things, good CW comes with practice and use. Using a paddle key should allow me to send better and faster CW with a little bit more practice on my part.

So, if you hear me calling CQ on 40, 20 or 10m in the coming days on CW, and there are plenty of mistakes and extra dots, then you'll know who it is.


GW0KIG said...

I have had a paddle key for a few years, identical to the one in your picture. I'm ashamed to say it has yet to be used on air. When I do pluck up the courage to use CW it is the straight key I use. Although I can practice with the paddle "off-air" and it seems to be ok I always fear that under the pressure of a QSO the paddle might run away with me!

73 Kevin

Roger G3XBM said...

Kevin, this sounds like me, HI. It is a case of keep practicing I think. Like you, I find a straight key easier to use, but want to try harder with the bug key.

Dick said...

I had a number of Bugs over the years. My favorite was a 1920's Vibroplex. I eventually sold all. When I went full-time QRP, I found the bug speed too rapid to be copied by the other operator, in spite of many weights on it. Weak signals call for slower speed. At least that was my experience.

goody said...

I like my Kent. It's heavy so it tolerates a heavy fist and doesn't "walk" around the shack desk.