My Field Radios

Taking a little break from activations and hunting, I thought I would showcase my field radios as it stands today. I recently culled the herd and this is what I ended up with. The power draw was measured using a Watts Up inline meter, something like this: Not lab quality, but certainly enough for this article.

Most of my recent activations have either been camping with my little teardrop camper or in my truck for a day trip. The desire to trek to a destination is not as romantic as it used to be. Often my radio time is fitted in with my other responsibilities.

Before I go down my list of radios, I want mention that my modes of choice are CW and Digital with CW generally being my preferred mode. When band conditions are poor as they have been these past few months I use FT8. Some might say that FT8 is easy or point and click, but to be a successful FT8 operator does take some skill.

My first radio is my IC-7300. Because of band conditions these past few months, it was my radio of choice because it is a 100 watt radio. In the field, I normally operate in the 5-10 watt range, but when the bands are bad I am in the 25-35 watt (and sometimes more) range. I also want to note that over the past few months I was working on my N1CC award which is working 10 bands at 10 different parks. Most parks are a couple of hours drive away from me so I try to get my 10 bands over the course of a weekend. Because gas prices are elevated, returning to some parks may not be an option.

I’ve had this IC-7300 since 2017. It’s a great radio and a great field radio. I have 4 radios that share much of the same menu system so I do not have to relearn the radio everytime I take it out. The filtering is excellent. The noise floor is lower than many other radios by a factor of 4. I have worked stations were the meter is not moving indicating a less than S1 reading.

With Icoms, antenna tuner integration is a simple cable connection and will also power the tuner. The only mod to the radio is I added a set of Portable Zero 7300 Escort guards The radio rides in a Dewalt Tough Sytem medium case with no additional padding The guards protect the knobs from bumping into the sides of the case. They also make great handles. Power consumption for this radio at idle with nothing connected to it is 0.81 amps or 810 mAh. For a 100 watt radio, that’s pretty darn good. The paddle I use with this radio is a Begali Traveler Lite. I am a fan of Begali paddles.

The next radio is my current favorite QRP radio, the IC-705. This radio is brillant. Icom packed a bunch of goodness into a samll package with an idle amp draw of 220 mAh with the charger off and 360 mAh with the charger on. That’s right down there with many other QRP rigs.

My 705 travels with a 3D printed cover for the face inside a MTM Ammo Crate These are great cases for small radios and their accessories. A nice feature for this radio is it and be linked/controlled via Bluetooth. I have run FT8 and logged on my iPad using an app called SDR Control Another brillant feature of the IC-705 is it can be recharged via USB. That means both my iPad and the IC-705 can use the same charger. Some complain that the IC-705 is too heavy. When you realize that you do not need an HT for VHF/UHF (plus you get 10 watts of power), no cabling needed to hook the radio up to a laptop and as a bonus can use an iPad, and, can be charged via USB, you may have an actual savings of weight. No, it doesn’t have a built-in tuner and that has never bothered me. I have the AH-705 tuner and it is amazing. I use it to tune random wire antennas and can tune them without a UnUn or Balun. I would say the AH-705 tuner is on par with an AH-4 or even an SG-237 albeit at lower power.

The paddles for the 705 are Begali Adventure Dual. Big performance in a small package. Like all Begali products, they must be tried to be appreciated. I also use the Begali stand for the 705, it does a good job preventing the paddle from moving without adding a lot of weight. The screwdriver is a Nite-ize KMT-11-R3 that I modified by narrowing the screwdriver blade. I also have the begali base so I can use the paddle with other radios.

The paddles are stored in a little 3D printed box which holds the paddles, the base and the screwdriver. To the left of the box is another steel base from American Morse Equipment. The Begali base is a little light but has magnets on the bottom to attach to the AME base. Together, they work perfectly.

Last but not least is my Lab599 TX-500. This is a great rig for many reasons. Lightweight, simple to use, weather resistant and draws less than 100 mAh idle. It includes a waterfall on the easy to read LCD display. The receiver specs are pretty decent and I have not had any issues using it. I normally pair it with Elecraft T-1 tuner and Bioenno 3Ah battery. For travel I use 3D printed covers.

The paddles I use for this radio are Larry’s N0SA SOTA paddles. These are great paddles but last I heard he is no longer making them.

What is nice about these paddles is they are easy to hold in the hand and can be mounted to a flight deck.

These are my current radios and the paddles I use with them. Is this list set in stone? Of course not, you never know what you might find just around the corner. However, I could be quite happy with these. They are all good perfromers that give me a lot of latitude when operating in the field. Now that my N1CC is complete, I can worry a little less about quantity and a little more about quality. Hope to hear you out there — 73 Scott.

ZN-Lite II Update

I’ve had these paddles for about a year now but I haven’t used them much. Here is a link to my original review: The reason is rather complex. they are small but because of their design, they can’t be held in the hand like some other paddles. If you put them on a table with the included Lexan base, they are so light, you have to use both hands to operate them. To me, it was a conundrum. These are very well-built, precision paddles and as smooth as any well-made paddle out there. My original thought was to use them for POTA. I was a little discouraged with their functionality, and even offered to sell them at one point — but I didn’t.

Here lately, I have been pairing my paddles with my various radios. My Begali Signature with my IC-7610, Begali Traveler Light with my IC-7300, Begali Adventure with my IC-705, and my N0SA SOTA paddle with my TX-500. I have a Penntek TR-45L on order. It is a CW-only radio that has a nice retro look. I thought these paddles would be a great match for this radio. What I want for this radio is a set of paddles that can be operated with one hand. The TR-45L is a tabletop radio I envision its use at a park during a POTA activation. I decided what my ZN-Lite II paddles needed was a heavier base. I ordered from Amazon a 3″ diameter, 1/2″ thick piece of steel.

I drilled a hole to mount the paddle and 4 smaller holes to mount the rubber feet. The paddle hole is countersunk on the bottom so the screw head is below (or above) the surface of the base. That way it can be used without the feet.

The holes for the feet were drilled and tapped for 8-32 thread. I had to drill the hole all the way through because I didn’t have a bottom tap. Without a bottom tap, there would not have been enough threads in the hole if I didn’t drill all the way through. When I do these projects, I basically use hand tools and in this case, I used a cheap drill press I bought from Home Depot.

Here is a view of the base from the bottom.

Because the paddle mounting hole is offset from the center, I can mount the paddle two ways.

In the bottom picture, the base offers some protection for the paddles. Even though I can loosen the screw to move the paddles to where they face outboard, I found that I prefer the paddles facing inboard like the bottom picture. I feel it offers a little more stability. This mod allows me to use the paddles one-handed on most surfaces. The last step was painting. I put a coat of gray primer, followed by a coat of Nickel Metallic (Rustoleum), and finished off with a clear coat.

I didn’t go overboard with the painting. The main goal was to give the metal a little protection from corrosion. Basically one coat of each with a 15-30 minute wait time between coats. I chose the color because I thought it would complement the paddles. I think it did.

There you have it, a nice set of paddles ready for my next adventure. 73’s Scott

POTA Activation Skidaway Island State Park K-2198

Skidaway Island State Park is a beautiful park. Located southeast of Savannah, GA, With Spanish Moss, along the typical summer heat and humidity, it is a prime example of coastal Georgia. This trip came about because my wife needed a package delivered to South Carolina; I volunteered as long as I could camp one night an play radio. It’s about a 5 hour drive from NW Georgia to SE Georgia. After delivering the package I arrived at the park somewhere around 1600 hrs Local. It took a couple of minutes to get the camper setup and a little longer for the radio. Because it might be a while before I can make it back here (gas is still over $4 a gallon). I tried to get 10 bands for my N1CC award. I mostly worked FT8.

Setup. Setup was my usual for this type of activation. The radio was my IC-7300 and LDG Z-11 Pro tuner. The computer was a Microsoft Surface Go2.

The antenna was my K4SWL antenna which is a 29.5′ random wire antenna with one 17′ counterpoise. I used my Chameleon EmComm II transformer to even things out. The antenna is hoisted into the air with a MFJ-1910 33′ pushup pole. No plants or animals were harmed during this activation.

Being a former Nightstaker, working in the dark is routine to me. I stayed outside well after sunset until I finally had enough of the heat.

Band conditions were so-so, and I earned my keep making contacts. Working about 20 hours total I ended up with 174 contacts on 10 different bands. I had quite a few FT8 pileups which was fun and let me know that my antenna is working as it should. Here is a QSO map of the activation.

What was new? I recently acquired a Begali Adventure Duo with their metal base. The base is a little on the light side but there are magnets on the bottom. I had a fairly heavy base made for a AME Potra-Paddle. I set the the the begali base on the Porta-Paddle base and Viola! It works like a champ.

I also have the 705 mount coming to use with my IC-705. I really like these paddles. I only used them a little while trying to make contact with K7K. Alas, I didn’t have enough horsepower to make the trip to Alaska. My new paddles will definitely be my choice when camping.

Issues? I only had 2 and neither was catastrophic. The first was with the antenna. It seems when I increase power somewhere above 20 watts, I start getting some RF feedback through the coax on some bands. It was more of a nuisance than anything and I have since added a RF choke to the antenna bag. This antenna is one of my favorites if not my favorite antenna. It always performs well for me. The second issue has to do with the IC-7300. When I am working from inside of the camper, I set the radio down on the mattress. The tilt stand sinks nicely down in the 4″ of memory foam making the radio face plate difficult to see. I set my QRP radios on the lap desk with my computer and paddles. I banged around in my workshop and found a scrap piece of 3/4″ plywood. I cut it to 11″ x 12″ and now my radio floats on top of the mattress. The board also fits in the box I carry the big radio in.

Every time I go out, I learn something new. With gas prices the way they are, I may not be making these long trips for a while. However, there are plenty of great parks closer to home. Thanks to all of the hunters who took the time to work me. Sometimes making that contact can become a little tedious. I appreciate you all and 73’s until next time.

GA POTA Meetup and K-2171 Activation

This past Saturday (05-07) was the Georgia POTA Meetup. It was held at Don Carter State Park (K-2171). The park is about a 2 hour drive so I decided to take my new teardrop camper out on its inaugural run. I drove up on Friday. One of the reason for purchasing the camper was to extend my POTA activation range. The camper is made by NuCamp and so far I am pretty impressed with it. It pulls well behind my pickup truck and I only lose about 1/2 mile a gallon for gas. Set up was easy. Since I didn’t disconnect the trailer from the truck, I was set up and good to go in about 15 minutes. Here is a shot of the camper set up.

The camper next door told me some strong winds and possibly a storm were coming so I added some additional guying to the awning. There were no problems.

Friday was a rather chilly day and because of the winds I did not set out my folding chairs and table until Saturday. I brought two radios and a couple of antennas with me. Traveling QRP doesn’t take up a lot of space even if you bring a couple of each. I wasn’t sure I was going to make enough contacts on Friday since I started late but I gave it a go anyhow. The first radio up was my Xeigu X6100 and I hooked it up to Chameleon Micro on a spike with a Buddipole 12 foot fiberglass antenna and two aluminum extensions. I also ran a counterpoise. I was only able to make 5 contacts Friday evening, furthest being Colorado. Band conditions were not that good from this location. The Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) didn’t even pick me up. I did start outside.

I worked this way for a little while until the temperature dropped and I started seeing chiggers on the table. I move the operation inside. I wanted to see how well I could operate from inside the camper.

The answer was quite well. I bought a lap desk for this purpose and I was quite comfortable. For logging, I used the Hamrs App on my phone. This was the first time I did logging solely from my phone. Band conditions were still not very good, so I spent most of the time hunting P2P. It was fun, doing a search and pounce while operating CW QRPish (10 watts).

How does the X6100 play? First let me describe the environment. I was in a a RV camping area that was mostly full. There were a lot of big trailers loaded with all sorts of electronic devices, switching power supplies, and whatnot. I was also down in an RF “hole”. The X6100 is fun to use and the display is top notch. Most of the controls are fairly intuitive. I had no problems operating CW and did use the memories. It does have its nits. As others have said, the receiver does overload rather easily, and while I can still work stations, I felt I may have missed some because of the added noise. Along with that, the audio is also rather harsh. While at a park, I often wear ear buds to be respectful of my neighbors. The audio can become tiresome. Adjusting the RF Gain helps. The last real nit was the Digital Noise Reduction. It needs work. Turning it on even at the lowest setting is way too much. Hopefully they will fix this in future firmware updates. The digital filters on the other hand are very good, almost on par with Icom. I did run the radio with a Bioenno 3AH battery so I could have 10 watts. There is a lot to like about this radio. You get a lot of goodness for the money, and Xeigu so far has been good about updating the firmware. When I use this radio again, it will be in quieter RF environments. such as, less popular parks, National Forests, Wildlife management Area, and SOTA. It really is a fun radio to use.

Saturday morning, I walked over to the GA POTA meeting up. It was about a mile and gave me the opportunity to get a little exercise in. There were about about 20 or so people there and they had a couple of stations set up. They also had the special event callsign W4P. It was good to meet fellow POTA operators and have a chance to chat with them. They served hamburgers and hotdogs along with chips, soda and condiments. After a few hours of chatting and a couple of hamburgers, I decided to head back to the camper and see if I could complete my activation for the day.

When I got back I broke out the X6100 again and used it for a while. Not having a lot of luck, I switched over to my IC-705. Yes it is a much better radio and it is more refined, and it does cost twice as much. The X6100 is an excellent value at its price point. I set the 705 up with the AH-705 tuner. I really like the AH-705, as is very versatile, much like its big brother, the AH-4.

One nice thing about the Icom, is it works just like my other Icom radios. Easy to remember. The paddles du jour are my N0SA SOTA paddles. They are one of my favorites. With the better receiver and audio on the Icom, I made a few more contacts, but still not what I was expecting. QRP antennas can be light and small so it is nothing to bring a few along. I decided to swap out antennas. I took down my Chameleon/Buddipole antenna and put up my K4SWL 28 foot vertical with counterpoise. It is a homebrew antenna, but I got the idea from Thomas Witherspoon K4SWL. After putting this antenna up, I continued to slowly add contacts to my log. My method was simple. If I could hear them fairly well, I figured they could hear me, so I tried to work them. There were plenty of stations on the POTA spot page that I did not hear at all. By the end of the day, got enough contacts for an activation on Saturday. Here is a map:

Wrapping up and lessons learned. First, I had a lot of fun both at the meetup and at the campsite. I enjoyed taking up my camper for its first go. Everything worked except for the heater. I may have to bring it back to the dealer, but I had plenty of blankets. I am already planning a trip for next month.

Radios. If I am going to do a drive up POTA activation, my first choice will be the IC-705/AH-705. I like the X6100, its fun to use, and I imagine as time goes on it will get better. The X6100 will do well in quieter RF environments. I haven’t given up on it yet as I think there is still a lot of potential there.

Antennas. I had a surprise here. When weight is not a problem, I bring my my Frankentenna which is a mixture of Chameleon and Buddipole parts. On Saturday, when I switched from my Frankentenna to my K4SWL Random Wire antenna, it was on par and maybe even a little better than the former. The idea of carrying less on an activation has endeared itself to me. I can fit everything I need in a small 8 Liter Bucket Boss Bag

The important part is to get out and have fun. So pack those radios up, 10 watts or 100 watts SSB or CW, drive or walk, around the corner or around the world. I hope to work you and if I have, thanks for the contact. de KK4Z

Begali Signature Paddles

Today is a dreary day in northwest Georgia. It looks like rain and thunderstorms most of today so little or no Ham Radio. Yesterday I received a package from Italy. After waiting almost 3 weeks, my Begali Signature paddles arrived. This is no fault of Bruna at Begali, she shipped them out early so that I would have them for Christmas. However, Fedex had different ideas and the paddles sat in a Fedex facility for 10+ days before they moved. So here they are.

Even the packaging is a work of art with a note from the master himself.

His daughter Bruna added a little holiday cheer.

To be honest, this is my third set of paddles from Begali.

So why did I choose the Signature this time? My first set of paddles were Benchers. That set up is what I call right angle arms. The contacts are to the side of the paddles and not to the rear. In my opinion they have a slightly different feel. The paddles came with the longer plastic finger pieces and the contacts screwed closed to prevent damage. I swapped the finger pieces out with the included short aluminum ones.

Adjustment was easy. I loosened the contact screws, plugged the paddles into my radio, screwed the contacts in till I heard dits or dahs, and them back it out until they stopped. No other adjustment was necessary.

The fit and finish of the paddles are typical from Begali which is excellent. I have an engineering/quality background and have an appreciation for fine fitment and finish. Begali never lets me down. Even the work on the underside is perfection. The paddles make me think of Ferrari or Lamborghini.

For the finish, I wanted something a little different. I’m from the “chrome don’t get you home” crowd. The base of the paddle is military green and the top is their titanium finish. Both are more of a satin finish rather than shiny. I like the green as I am a former soldier. The finish creates an understated elegance that is a quiet statement of quality.

How do they play? First, they are different. The action feels a little different because of the different geometry of the arms. That being said, I do not think I have ever used a smoother set of paddles. Smooth as silk or purrs like a kitten come to mind. I am no speed demon with CW. I typically run in the neighborhood of 16-22 wpm. These paddles are smooth enough to go much higher. The arms are magnetically tensioned keeping the amount of force consistent through the swing. In short, they are a joy to use and to admire. The little time I have had them and used them, they have endeared themselves to me. The now reside on my desk top and are my go to home key.

Final thoughts. The whole Begali experience is something other companies should aspire to. From their customer service, packaging, and the product itself, is all top shelf. Their commitment to customer service leaves me feeling like they made this key especially for me. Is there another Begali set of paddles in my future? Probably, but not tomorrow.

Begali Simplex Basic and More

The Begali Simplex Basic is probably one of the best values when it comes to CW paddles. I have had mine for several years and it easily preforms above my skill level. At the current exchange rate it sells for about $135.00. This is the paddle that currently resides on my desk.

As you can see, I like to mix work and play. I often have the radio on and make CW contacts while I am working in the office. The Simplex Basic is a very pleasant set of paddles to use. They weigh in at 2.75 pounds and with the sticky mat underneath, they do not move. You can find the mat here: I like a light touch and the Simplex is very capable of doing that. To set the paddles, I screw the contact in until I hear a dit or a dah, and them back it off about a 1/4 of a turn. The action of the paddles are very smooth. I can detect no rough spots and the feel remains very consistent.

The base is cast and the top has a rough, but not too rough finish to it. the bottom and a band around the bottom of the base is smooth to allow Pietro to sign his name and apply a serial number.

Fit and finish is what you would expect from Begali. Even though it is their Basic and least expensive set of paddles, it is still a beauty to behold. I am not a speed whiz nor am I a perfect CW op. I like to cruise around 16 to 20 wpm and I have had the paddles up to 25 wpm. the paddles didn’t flinch. I like to do Parks on the Air (POTA). I mainly do CW, so if I have hunted you, it was probably on this key. I have a set of aluminum finger pieces ordered for the Simplex. I really don’t need them; I thought it would dress the paddles up a little.

If you are looking for a good set of paddles, the Simplex Basic can not be beat. Yes, you could get a cheaper set of paddles, but not at this quality level. At this price point, I am not sure you could find a better paddle.

With all that being said, I do have another set of paddles on the way. This time is it the Begali Signature. My first set of paddles were made by Bencher. They had what I call right angle levers where the contacts are to the side instead of to the rear like the Simplex. I wanted to try a right angle lever set up again. Hopefully they will be here by Christmas. that will make my third set of paddles from Begali. No, I am not selling any of the others 🙂

Another long term project I have is I ordered a Begali CW Machine. It is a complex keyer/logger. It comes with a 75+ page manual. I plan to use it during activations. It will replace my keyer and computer. The nice part about it is it only draws about 20 milliamps of power (according to Begali). Once I get my hands on it, I’m sure it will take some time to get it set the way I want it. I will keep you posted.

POTA Activation Ft Mountain State Park and the Begali Traveler Light

This past weekend I activated Fort Mountain State park in North Georgia. The park is on top of the mountain and I was at just over 2,500 ASL. One of the things I wanted to accomplish was make a few contacts on 160 meters. This can be a difficult band because one wavelength is about 540 feet. Which means most portable antennas will not work. I dug into my Frankentenna bag and came up with my Chameleon Micro Matching Unit and two 65 foot Chameleon Wires.

I strung this as an inverted vee dipole and fed it with RG-8x into the cabin. Yes, I was was in comfort and luxury for this activation. The apex of the vee was about 15 foot above the ground. I put the antenna analyzer on it and at 160 meters my SWR was abour 6:1, close enough for my antenna tuner to match.

Inside the cabin, the setup was pretty simple. I had my trusty IC-7300 with an LDG Z-11 Pro. I used a K1EL winkeyer and a Begali Traveler Light Key. Logging and digital modes were handled by my Microsoft Surface Go2.

How did it play, most of my contacts were CW and the keyer and key worked as advertised. I used FT-8 for some bands and especially 160 meters as there was a CW contest going on. A nice thing about the newer ICOM radios is to work digital modes, all you need is a USB cable between your computer and the radio. I was running about 35 watts and made at least 10 contacts on 7 bands and 5 on one (11 on 160). I was satisfied that everything worked as advertised and made about 130 contacts.

The paddles I used were the Begali Traveler Light. The weigh in at about 15 oz and are a delight to use. When portable operations allow, this is the key I bring. They may not work lugging a backpack, but for activations like this, they are great. Begali fit and finish is excellent and the design is reminiscent of Italian Sports cars.

Looking at the side, the paddles are not that big. Near the bottom-center is a place to attach a thigh strap. You can also get these in black.

Open up, there is plenty of move for even my big hands.

Even the bottom of the paddles are wonderfully executed. The Traveler Light is magnetically dampened and I am becoming a fan. The action is smooth and consistent, and a joy to use. This is my second Begali Key, my first a Begali Simplex Basic. I believe there will be a third under the tree this year.

Everything worked well. the keyer takes some of the load off of the opertator and AC Log helps mind the frequency and the Date/Time. I tried to use the AC Log Winkeyer interface, but I don’t think the Surface Go2 wasn’t quite up to the task. It seemed to lag more than I wanted it to. Plus, it was nice to have the Winkeyer buttons close at hand. All in all I had a lot of fun, even though on the first day I was a little more fumble fingered than usual. Thanks to all the Hunters/Activators who worked me. Here is a short video of the activation.


I like paddles — a lot. Sometimes I feel I am drawn to them like a moth to a flame. You can only use one at a time but isn’t variety the spice of life? To be sure, I’m no speed demon at the paddles nor am I 100% accurate, but I am passionate about CW, and surely, that counts for something. Pictured here is one of Tony’s, N3ZN’s creations. It is his ZN-Lite II and while it is not the lightest paddle on the market, it is near the top and it is a well built machine. By itself, it tips the scales at about 4.5 ounces with the attached cable. Add the plastic base and the weight is still less than 6 ounces.

The paddle itself is well built and the action is smooth. The adjustments are generous and precise. Once set up the way you like it, I found it is pretty easy to switch over from another paddle. In other words, going from your desk paddles to these is pretty easy.

On the bottom of the paddles, there is an 8-32 screw hole. This can be used to attach the paddles to the base of your choosing such as a flight deck.

The ZN-Lite II also comes with a plastic base. Here is how I like to attach it.

In use. While I am writing this I am using the paddles to make POTA contacts. Because the paddle is light, it takes two hands to use it. One to hold the paddle and one to operate it. For portable operation, I found the best way to use them is either attached to a flight deck or on a flat surface such as a picnic table. Trying to grab it fist style interferes with the paddle levers and while you can hold it by its sides, well, it just wasn’t for me. Here is a picture of how I use these paddles.

In general, I found the paddles fun to use. When your doing something for fun, fun counts. I appreciate the precision and quality that went into these paddles. They are durable enough to be knocked a around bit in a pack (don’t run them over with your car). Where do they fit? I think these paddles are great for portable operations. In my way of thinking they would work for POTA activations or even Field Day. They would excel for those who wish to travel light and fast. An Example might be POTA RADAR (Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio). I think for SOTA there are better options out there as operators are often holding their paddles fist style in their hands. However, these may work well if someone devised a leg strap for them. Here is a YouTube video I did for these paddles.

Overall, I like the paddles, they are currently sitting on my desk and I am making contacts with them. They have a good feel, and enough of a fun factor to keep them in the rotation (I never thought I would say that). I have exchanged a few emails with Tony and he has always been responsive and helpful. If you want to find out more about Tony’s paddles, here’s a link:


Larry Naumann N0SA builds keys and paddles as a hobby. He recently released a new design in a small quantity and I was lucky enough to get one. Larry is a CW guy and also likes to build paddles and keys. His new one is called the SOTA paddle and is designed for POTA/SOTA.

As you can see, it is a rather small paddle weighing 2 oz. including the cable. This is an amazing paddle with exceptional fit and finish. All corners are rounded and all edges deburred. The metal appears to be passivated which should provide a long lasting, corrosion resistant finish. Paddle tension is magnetic and Larry uses good sized magnets. You can tell they are there. The action is on par with other more expensive paddles. The action can be adjusted with the included hex key which is held in place by one of the tension magnets. I recently did an activation with this paddle along with my Lab599 TX-500. It was a cold dreary, drizzly day and both the radio and paddle did just fine. When I got home, all I did was blow dry the paddles with some canned air. You can see the YouTube video here:

The paddles can be attached to something using 4, 4-40 tapped holes (two on the top and two on the bottom) or it can be held in the hand. Because of my somewhat large, meaty hands, when I use the paddles as held in my left hand, I sent the occasional stray dah.

After my last activation, I removed the paddle from the flight deck and then had to do something with the knurled 4-40 screw I used to secure the paddle to the flight deck. I moved the screw from the bottom of the paddle to one of the holes in the top and put the paddles back in the bag.

A couple of days later, I pulled the paddles out to play with them. Yeah , I know, they do kind of grow on you. I made a few contacts from home, and I noticed that there were not any stay dahs! I looked at the paddle in my hands; the screw changed the geometry of how I held the paddle. The screw was pushing my fat index finger away from the dah paddle. Problem solved.

These are great paddles and fun to use. I enjoy using them both at home and in the field. Will they replace my Begali Simplex on the desk? Probably not, but if Larry decides to make a desk set of paddles… I don’t know when or if Larry is going to make another batch, but if he does, don’t hesitate, because they go fast.