Saturday, May 29, 2010

A homebrew single paddle CW key

With the heavy rain outside, I was never going to get much outdoor work done today, so I decided to take on a homebrew project. I need a second CW key for the shack because at the moment I have to switch my Kent paddle from the Yaesu FT-1000MP to the FT-897 whenever I am changing from HF to 6 metres.

So I took a trip to Homebase and had a look around for parts which might be useful in making a CW paddle. I purchased a box of hacksaw blades (for the paddle), a press latch (to hold the blades), two small picture hooks (to act as contacts) and the rest I had in the shack, including a block of wood, some wire, a small stereo jack and some lock parts to act as wire holders.

My soldering is not exactly wonderful so I found getting the wire onto the small 1.25mm jack a little bit tedious, but I got there. I did not make any solders on the CW paddle itself - rather I just made secure contacts with the wire using screws. I drilled all the holes for the screws after the first block of wood split!! (Lesson for you all maybe!)

After about an hour I had a completed homebrew single-paddle morse key. All I needed to do was test it, so I took it to the shack and plugged it into the back of the FT-897. To my surprise, it worked first time. I made some contacts on 15m in the WPX CW contest, so it's definitely working fine. It will take a bit of getting used to though. I am used to the double-paddle key, which is a lot bigger, heavier and more robust. The homebrew key is a little 'light' on the touch, but fine nonetheless.

Above is a photo of my creation. I shall call it the 'EI2KC CW key Mk I' (Prototype!). Total cost: Less than 15 euro.


  1. Excellent work. I just made a really rough paddle with an old feeler gauge leaf (15 thou) and a couple of choc block connectors to hold the contact screws, VERY crude, ugly and badly made, but it works a dream. I'm astonished at how well it works, never having used a paddle before in 30 years of cw ops. I found yours while looking for ways to make mine look better. I like the way you did it and will do the same, except I think I will use my feeler gauge leaf rather than a hacksaw blade.

    My prototype - rough, but effective...

  2. nice! ...I did up one similiar, testing out my 3d modeling skills


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