Paddles from a Variety of Manufacturers
The GHD company of Japan is a maker of elegant keys and paddles. As in the example of the small iambic paddle shown here, the mechanical construction and chrome plating are superb, and the mechanical action is precise, with just a hint of drag. In the United States, these instruments can be obtained from Morse Express.
The Hi Mound Manipulator (MK-706) is a medium-sized iambic paddle from a well-known Japanese maker of a variety of telegraph instruments. It is very well made and nicely finished. The touch is light and responsive, and the paddle is heavy enough so that movement during use is not a problem.
The Vibroplex Company, the oldest surviving name in the bug- making business, also makes mechanical paddles for electronic keyers. The single paddle (left) uses the same basic parts and mechanical design as the famous Vibroplex bugs. Shown is the deluxe model with a jeweled movement. The iambic model (right) also uses parts originally developed for the Vibroplex Original bugs. This is the Presentation model (the decorative plate on the base does need polishing!)
The Bencher iambic paddle has long been a favorite of CW operators. It has a light touch and can go faster than many CW operators can copy. There is a quirk in its construction, however: the mechanical parts are held together by the tension spring, and if too heavy a touch is used, the paddles can be displaced. No harm is done, other than the embarrassment of having to pause during a QSO to reassemble the key.
This paddle was offered in a limited edition by the Elecraft company, makers of the famous K2 and its descendants. It is made by the Bencher company and it holds its own very well with other high-end paddles. Tension is provided by two pairs of magnets working in the attraction mode. Its heavy base has a unique hexagonal shape.
The Kent Engineers of Great Britain make two excellent paddles. On the left is a non-iambic paddle with a simple but effective mechanism for providing paddle centering and tensioning. Not being one to let well enough alone, I replace the original single fingerpiece (which was too thin for my liking) and replaced it with two lucite fingerpieces spaced comfortably apart. On the right is the Kent iambic model. This is a rugged workhorse of a paddle that uses ball bearings for pivots and springs for tension.
In any discussion of elegant telegraphic instruments, the name of Begali is sure to come up. These paddles (and keys) are made in Italy by Piero Begali (I2RTF) and are of outstanding workmanship and innovative design. This is the Begali Simplex. It features anodized aluminum fingerpieces and a heavy palladium-finished steel base. It uses springs for tension, which is separately adjustable for each paddle.
The Begali Traveler is a compact and portable iambic paddle of unique design. It has the signature Begali anodized fingerpieces and swing-out legs for stability. When the legs are folded back, they provide protection for the mechanism. Provision is made for a leg strap for mobile CW operation.
The MFJ company, maker of the largest line of amateur radio accessories in the USA, offers a very usable paddle that is patterned after the Bencher paddle shown above. Its touch is similar, and it is nicely finished. The large triangular fingerpieces are a bit bigger than those on most paddles, but they offer lots of freedom in finger positioning during operation.
The distinctive red paddles and other basic parts (made of sturdy ABS plastic) mark this as a Ham-Key product. (This company also made straight keys.) This is a nice everyday paddle, well finished and smooth in operation.