Radio: it's not just a hobby, it's a way of life

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OFF AIR for storms - just one more night - should be QRV Saturday night!

The paddle I use for pedestrian mobile operations

– Posted in: QRP

I’ve recently been asked about the paddle I use when operating pedestrian mobile. Carrying the delicate and precision Bencher or Vibroplex paddles is not an option when hiking so this was the next best option… its comfortable and its home brew.


The paddle mechanism is made from the contacts and flexible beryllium-copper strips removed from a large mechanical relay.


The strips and contacts are mounted on a small block with a central copper buss with scavenged relay contacts that are soldered to the buss.  Shrink tube and a little JB Weld hold the assembly together and the entire assembly is pushed into a bicycle grip.

I like to run QRQ CW and typically keep very close spacing on my paddle contacts.  Close spacing while operating pedestrian mobile is problematic because of false keying that can occur while walking and bouncing around in general.  The compromise is to use a little more spacing on the contacts in combination with more aggressive physical keying with the hand.  Doing so seems to work very well.

I’ve seen many very small and very light home brew and commercial paddles on the market but many are too small and using a thumb and forefinger to grip for long periods while keying with the other hand is just not comfortable to me.  Weight is not a major concern in my excursions because my portable operating is rarely a forced march into the vast wilderness.  I stay on level ground as much as I can and I’m rarely more than a few miles from my transportation or base of operation.