“Build a beeper mousetrap”
A light cheap homebrewed set of iambic paddles
(I’m one of those radio kooks who likes beeping Morse code to people in Kuala Lumpur and Iceland. Sorry. This is a light edit of something that was on my old D00k website 15 years ago; I liked portable HF them. I was younger and still had two legs then.) 😉
My regular paddles are pretty heavy to be carrying around, though, so I started looking around at light travel paddles, something I could use for portable CW operating.
I wanted something that was light and sturdy, worked reasonably well, and was inexpensive enough that it wouldn’t be a big deal if they were lost or broken. The ‘inexpensive’ part was hard to find. I wound up building a set of paddles out of items from the hardware store and around the house. They are light, easy to cobble together, and very cheap.
For the arms and center connection, I got two 12″ strips of brass (about $1 each at Burke Brothers in Raleigh); I wound up using the heavier strip (0.064″, I think) for the paddle arms and the lighter strip (0.032″ I think) for some connections, just because it looked nicer than bits of hookup wire.
INGREDIENTS: one cheap wooden mousetrap (unused), one synthetic wine cork, two strips of brass, described above; some #6 brass hardware, some “gorilla glue” to hold things in place, and some 3-conductor hookup wire and a stereo plug for the connections. Oh, and two guitar picks for the fingerpieces. 🙂
I won’t describe the construction details–they’re probably mostly visible in the photos, and this was completely improvised construction anyway–an “ad hoc” project. So anybody interested in trying this will get the main idea from the photos, and then do a much better job of design and construction than I did. 😉
A later set I built had crude #6 brass machine screws for adjustments to the gap spacing and tension. These photos show an earlier model (“Mark I”) that were just “adjusted” by bending the arms a bit once the main construction was done.
Do they work? Yeah, they do–pretty well, really. Not bad at all. The touch is just a bit light for me, and they have to be held down in use. For a while I had one of these stuck to the top of my FT-817 with contact cement, which kept it in place. Anyway, they work pretty well overall. 🙂 (And for you hams too young to recognize it, the title, above, is a play on an old saying, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” They probably had more mice in those days.) 🙂 (I bought the FT-817 from K4WGE, now SK–I sure do miss Bill, heck of a guy.)
(AC4RD is shown here in rigorous preparation for a RTTY contest)
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