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 Looking for a new single paddle... 
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Post Looking for a new single paddle...
Wonder if anyone on here could give me some general advice about purchasing a new single paddle – and possibly comment on these paddles in particular:-

https://www.ur5cdx.com/index.php?main_p ... x&cPath=24

I quite like the chromed version, the CT755X. With P&P it is just over £150 and that’s the sort of money I’m looking to spend. Yuri also has these on Ebay, for roughly the same price though he tells me he’d ‘prefer’ to sell via his home page for obvious reasons…

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/CT-755-Magne ... 4235915835

The key uses magnets as opposed to springs but does not appear to have ball races like the Kent, though that may not be a disadvantage. Yuri seems to be a genuine guy, attends various Rallys/Hamfests, has over 1000 positive feedback on Ebay and replies to emails quickly and courteously. I am slightly concerned at buying a reasonably expensive item from the Ukraine - and possibly be charged Customs and VAT.

I have a Kent paddle at the moment. I’ve had this for years and get the impression that it doesn’t work like it used to, it seems to always to be slightly out of adjustment... I have mailed Kent and await their reply. In any event I think I might treat myself to a new paddle. Would a second user paddle be a good investment?

I also have a Marconi 365 but that’s tied up to my JRC/Atalanta 472 station.

Would welcome any comments…


Fri May 15, 2020 11:49 am
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 Looking for a new single paddle... 
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Post Re: Looking for a new single paddle...
I find keys very personal, like Marmite.

I did get one of his Iambic keys many years ago, till I found out Iambic wasn't for me. I found it very light, I ended up putting Blu Tack under the feet, if you tend to slap the key a bit like I do, then you might find the same problem. The construction was OK, but not brilliant, a Begali it isn't, but you are paying a lot of money for them.

I use a Kent single paddle I bought after I found I couldn't get on with Iambic and had that for many years. One of the problems I find with the Kent is the contact between central yoke and the two outer arms gets a bit corroded and a couple of times over the years I've taken it apart and cleaned it and it works as good as new again, that might be worth a try, especially if you find you are missing dit's or dah's.

I also use a home brew single paddle using the base of an old Bencher Hex key, horrible key, I used the base because it's nice and heavy and mounted two contracts on it using the parts from the old Hex key, suspended a piece of double sided PCB board between the contacts and it's a brilliant key, of course, no spring adjustment but I don't find that a problem and it never goes out of adjustment.

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Fri May 15, 2020 2:29 pm
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 Looking for a new single paddle... 
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Post Re: Looking for a new single paddle...
gw3vvc wrote:
...but does not appear to have ball races
On eham someone commented that...
ZL2KE wrote:
The CT-755 does not have ball bearings (like the double paddles that Yuri makes) because they are not needed with the overall lighter mechanism.
That said, I have some old Vibroplex keys that use a needle style bearing system, and they still work fine after nearly 100yrs.

I have a couple of the Kent double paddle keys of my own, and have worked on others at an emporium I was employed in, and in all cases I found they can feel 'odd' after a number of years.

This was never due to wear at all, but generally down to either oxide/grime build up on the contacts, and/or due to the lubricant 'drying out' in the bearings. To clean the contacts just drag a strip of paper through them while applying gentle pressure on the appropriate paddle. You can also use cleaning strips sold for cleaning relays.

The bearings can stiffen up due to lack of movement, and very often the will be fine if you just fully open up the gaps on the contacts to allow the two arms to swing as much as possible. Just work the two paddles over their full travel for a minute or so and then close the gaps down to their original spacings. If the bearings are really stubborn and feel dry you might need to soak them overnight in some WD40 or similar. They are quite close fitting so just dripping oil on the tops of the bearings doesn't work. You have to remove the bearing holder with the arms still attached and then stand it on its back end in a container with enough WD40 or thin machine oil to cover the bearings. If you are not in a rush you could leave it for a few days, then drain off/wipe away the excess oil and work the paddles with the gaps fully open for a few minutes. Let any remaining excess oil drain off on some tissue paper or similar, else if you reassemble the key before it's drained you will get oil all over the key base etc.

For the ultimate touch, use feeler gauges to set the contact gaps and use a dynamometer to set the paddle tensions (I've seen a number of twin paddle keys where both the gaps and tensions have varied enormously between the two sides).

73, Mark...


Fri May 15, 2020 8:24 pm
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 Looking for a new single paddle... 
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Post Re: Looking for a new single paddle...
It's all like cars, people can tell you "this is the best model and marque to drive" but at the end of the day, if the old Cortina suits you personally fine, then no point upgrading.
My favorite key?....most CW aficiando's would not give it elbow space, it certainly would not warrant "pedigree", but it is what I learned on, and still feels most comfortable to use to me, and it is as basic an "up and downer" as you can get.
Would never grace the "Morse keys of renown" online fanatic CW key forums!
With all new keys, they are very personal, what suits some, others hate, and the only way to find out is buy it and try it, if it's not to taste, move it on.
My old brass wrist ache making basher still does it for me. :)

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Fri May 15, 2020 9:53 pm
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 Looking for a new single paddle... 
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Post Re: Looking for a new single paddle...
Thanks for the interesting comments guys, give me something to think about…

The single paddle I’ve been looking at is actually a bit heavier than my Kent single paddle and as I’m reasonably gentle when I key (small gaps & very little spring…) the weight is not a problem.

Mark – interesting that you have worked on Kent paddles so obviously you’re aware of the problems that can arise. I would have liked to have been able to strip – or partly strip down the pre-assembled parts but I was afraid of doing some damage. The pivot pin is presumably a tight fit in the two ball races otherwise it could just fall out – although it would be partly held in place by the small grub screw in the end of the main brass arm. I did remove the two screws that hold the bearing block to the steel base as without the base I felt that as you suggest I could have stood the rest of the pre-assembled parts vertically in a cup of WD40 or something similar. In the event it wasn’t to be and I had to drip some GT85 (similar to WD40) on top of each ball race in turn and leave it overnight hoping it would find it's way inside. … The pivot pin has a screw and a solder tag at the bottom and rather oddly when I turn this screw the main brass arm appears to ride up and down the pivot pin which confuses me slightly...

In any event after a general clean and re-adjust the Kent is working reasonably well now. I may throw caution to the wind and PayPal Yuri some money in the next couple of weeks and as Dave says if I don’t like the new paddle I can always move it on… ;)

Thanks again for your inputs.


Sat May 16, 2020 7:04 pm
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 Looking for a new single paddle... 
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Post Re: Looking for a new single paddle...
gw3vvc wrote:
Mark – interesting that you have worked on Kent paddles so obviously you’re aware of the problems that can arise. I would have liked to have been able to strip – or partly strip down the pre-assembled parts but I was afraid of doing some damage. The pivot pin is presumably a tight fit in the two ball races otherwise it could just fall out – although it would be partly held in place by the small grub screw in the end of the main brass arm. I did remove the two screws that hold the bearing block to the steel base as without the base I felt that as you suggest I could have stood the rest of the pre-assembled parts vertically in a cup of WD40 or something similar.

Hiya John.

Yeah, the bearings/pivot assembly is a press fit, and a very tight one at that! You're quite right about removing the two screws underneath the base (that hold the pivot assembly down). That's the bit I was talking about soaking in WD40 or similar. The only problem I had in the past was finding a container wide enough to hold the assembly (we're talking the pivot block and the two contact arms sticking out), but wasn't so large that it required a pint of oil to fill it! :)

Nine times out of ten just opening up the contacts and giving the arms a damn good slapping seems to free them up.

You mentioned you are, "...reasonably gentle when I key (small gaps & very little spring…". A nice lightweight twin paddle key used to be made by Palm Radio, in two sizes. A smallish one (Mini Paddle), and a really small one (Pico Paddle) http://www.morseexpress.com/palm/

They are no longer in production but they still turn up second hand on a regular basis. Both of those keys are excellent. There is a seller on eBay at the moment (in China) who is selling supposed Palm Radio keys, but they are just crappy 3D printed ones, they are NOT real Palm Radio models.

The Spanish maker LTA used to produce some neat looking and light-to-the-touch paddle keys too. The only downside was they used lightweight wooden bases so you have to either hold the key down while using it, or else do the old blue tack trick! http://www.morseexpress.com/lta/

73, Mark...


Sun May 17, 2020 12:10 pm
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 Looking for a new single paddle... 
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Post Re: Looking for a new single paddle...
Ball races are not really designed for the very small amount of rotation you get with paddles. They use skateboard bearings (yes, thats what they are) for virtually every paddle on the market and they work well enough because there's no real load on them.

Vibroplex use needle bearings (as does my Junker straight key). If the steel is hardened enough they are fine.

Hi-end Vibroplex paddles use jewelled bearings...like you get in mechanical watches.

With single paddles, accurate centering always struck me as being tricky to achieve.


Sun May 17, 2020 9:18 pm
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 Looking for a new single paddle... 
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Post Re: Looking for a new single paddle...
Thanks Mark for the info on the Palm and the LTA. I’ve seen the Palm on Ebay.

I do have an LTA side swiper here, a model GMM. Now in my days as a commercial op in another life I used a home brewed side swiper but never really fell in love with the LTA and I have been thinking of performing some fairly minor surgery which would convert it to a ‘normal’ single paddle, essentially physically separating the two sets of contacts. Maybe one day….

G3ZPF >>> Ball races are not really designed for the very small amount of rotation you get with paddles <<<

An interesting bit of maths (and well beyond my capabilities) would be to work out exactly what the rotational movement is when the paddle is being used…. With my Kent single paddle the distance from the bearing to the contacts (length of the paddle) is ~3 inches, the measured contact gap is 0.004”.

So what degree of arc is the paddle going through? Answers on a Post Card to Box 88… :)

John


Tue May 19, 2020 11:14 am
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 Looking for a new single paddle... 
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Post Re: Looking for a new single paddle...
3" arm, swinging through 0.004"
I reckon that is 0.15deg rotation, unless I've forgotten how to use the cos function on my calculator....which I haven't used in anger for about 35 years :-)


Tue May 19, 2020 9:55 pm
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 Looking for a new single paddle... 
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Post Re: Looking for a new single paddle...
G3ZPF - >>> 3" arm, swinging through 0.004" - I reckon that is 0.15deg rotation <<<

Thanks for that interesting bit of information. This paddle I'm thinking of buying does not have similar bearings to the Kent and I was a bit concerned at that - now I'm a bit less concerned!
Also maybe explains why the Kent bearings do play up after a while - essentially they're doing next to nothing!

Thanks again.

John


Wed May 20, 2020 2:56 pm
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 Looking for a new single paddle... 
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Post Re: Looking for a new single paddle...
My first paddle when I ventured into electronic keyers was made of a hacksaw blade mounted in a headphone jack assembly, just over 55 years ago! Having got the hang of that, I ventured into twin paddles and an iambic keyer. Over the years I have used Kent twin paddle, Vibroplex twin paddle and Magkey (Tom Withers) and I still prefer the vibroplex. I use a very thin sheet of paper to set the contact gaps.
73 de Ken G3RFH


Wed May 20, 2020 6:31 pm
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 Looking for a new single paddle... 
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Post Re: Looking for a new single paddle...
Hi Ken,

g3rfh wrote:
My first paddle when I ventured into electronic keyers was made of a hacksaw blade mounted in a headphone jack assembly, just over 55 years ago! Having got the hang of that, I ventured into twin paddles and an iambic keyer. Over the years I have used Kent twin paddle, Vibroplex twin paddle and Magkey (Tom Withers) and I still prefer the vibroplex. I use a very thin sheet of paper to set the contact gaps.


Likewise! I was a commercial operator many years ago and my hacksaw blade paddle served me well for a long time. I regularly used to work a guy on one of the American Coast Guard cutters who also had a similar key. He was a real speed merchant and we had lots of enjoyable qso’s . To add to the enjoyment(?) there was the occasional electric shock from touching the key contacts – I was keying valved rigs of course which made parts of the key ‘hot’. :D

Happy days.

John


Thu May 21, 2020 10:07 am
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