Paddle History Recreated
In the early fifties the electronic keyer was invented and quickly gained popularity. There were no paddles being manufactured at the time, but that did not deter the ingenious Ham operator. Many were made from dirt cheap WWII straight keys like the J-37 and the J-38. After hearing of this practice, I always wondered what kind of paddles would result from the adaptation. I am sure some lash-ups were better made than others, but the quality of the result would be determined by the ability of the J series keys to meet the basic paddle (and key) requirements: Adjustment precision, adjustment ease, and the ability to hold adjustments. The J-37 meets these requirements with it's leaf spring, unlike the J-38 which has a stiff coil spring.
I wanted to give the marriage the best chance to prove it's value, so I put a great deal of care in mounting the keys on a 3 lb. steel base with nice round finger pieces.
The basic parts, 3x3x1 inch steel base, form fitting 1/16 in. steel dorsal and 2 ea. J-37s with 1-1/4 in. styrene finger pieces made from a Wal-Mart clipboard.
This view shows the dorsal brazed to the mounting strip and the wiring.
The finished paddles preformed far better than my best anticipations. A very small gap is achieved with a feather touch that can be locked down with out loosening. It has a very pleasing and unusual tactile feedback, and is comparable to my Begali, and Kent paddles, but much better looking. Besides, it's historical. Just like microphones, the way it looks is the most important factor, because, "You don't have to listen to 'em, but you do have to look at 'em!"