IC-705 Cover

I’ve got a couple of activations coming up so I am trying to get a few things done to bring with me and evaluate. I bought the 705 because it is a small radio. I like that feature. When looking to protect the radio, many have darn near doubled its size so it is no longer a small radio. I tried a couple of padded cases and while they fit fairly well, they still felt too large. I don’t mind tossin a radio in a pack or bag as long as I can protect the important pieces. In the case of the 705 it would be the knobs and touch screen. I decided to make a cover for the front of the radio.

Icom has an STL file for the 705 https://www.icomjapan.com/support/IC-705_STL/ so pulling that into a CAD program, I was able to make a cover. I am not a CAD pro or even a 3D printer pro; however, I was able to scratch something together that is good enough. I roughed out the design and my son printed the cover out for me. It’s not beautiful. it’s not perfect, but it gets the job done. Here is the current prototype.

The inside is mostly hollowed out but the case is supported on the corners of the radio and the speaker area.

For POTA activations the radio resides in a plastic box with a latching lid. Should eb plenty of protection. Because I reduced the bulk and weight, it make the radio eligible for SOTA. I may make another one to adjust some of the dimensions but in reality, it works just fine. I can tweak this and burn a lot of time or I can get out and play radio. Remember “Perfect is the enemy of good”.

I made one other piece, BNC caps, which the STL files are available with a simple Google Search.

I like orange as I can readily see them if I accidentally drop them. Enjoy and hope to work you. Scott

Traveling Light

I like to travel light. Less is better. When I do POTA or SOTA activations I really don’t like to have a lot of stuff. Just what I need with maybe a few essential extras. Over the past couple of activations, I have been doing battle with my Surface Go2. It’s pretty noisy in the RF spectrum range when recharging the battery. It works great as long as I do not have to recharge the battery. When I do have to recharge it, I need more gear because I cannot charge it from the same batteries I use for my radios. That usually means shore power, or an inverter — more stuff. Yes I know I can paper log or I can log on my iPhone using apps like Hamrs or RumLog but with today’s band conditions, it is nice to have FT8 in the toolbox. I decided to try SDR-Control for Icom. This app allows me to control my IC-705 from my iPad and it includes FT8/FT4! The stuff I had to bring with my surface looks like this.

This does not include whatever power source I need to recharge this. My iPad looks like this.

Whatever I use to run my radios, I can also recharge the iPad’s battery. Two of my solar panels have usb ports so I can charge the iPad directly from them while also charging a battery. This is something else I cannot do with the Surface. My truck has usb ports so I can charge from it. I set the app up with my IC-705 and it works as advertised. I have an activation planned this weekend so I will try to give the new setup a good work out.

There is a caveat, and that is the app works with the IC-705 (also the IC-7610 and IC-9700). This is not a problem as the 705 is my goto POTA radio. On the occasion I bring a different radio, I will either forgo FT8 or bring the Surface and work with its limitations. If I am doing something like a SOTA activation, I would either log on paper or my phone in which case I would not bring either the iPad or the Surface.

I may or may not add a keyboard to the iPad. It’s screen keyboard is pretty good. Another thing is I am using a 2018 iPad (6th Gen) so it’s not the most zippy out there but does fine. Most radio apps don’t require a lot of horsepower to run them.

I have another activation planned that does not include shore power at any of the sites. I will be relying on battery/solar to make it through the activation. I’ll dig a little deeper as I put a few activations under my belt with this new set up. 73 Scott

9:1 UnUn QRO

Today’s dalliance is UnUns. An UnUn which stands for Unbalanced to Unbalanced is a transformer of sorts which in this case matches or attempts to match the impedance between an antenna and a transceiver. Today I am making a 9:1 ratio UnUn which is suppose to match a 450 ohm antenna to a 50 ohm transceiver. When the impedance is matched between a transceiver and an antenna, maximum power from the transceiver can be transmitted to the antenna. A 9:1 UnUn is used with random wires and a counterpoise. I call this UnUn QRO because it is rated at 250 watts. I would use this in the field with a radio like my IC-7300 even though I rarely go above 50 watts. I went QRO because this is my first turn at winding a toroid and I thought starting with something larger would be easier.

I will only list project specific parts. The toroid kit come from Palomar Engineers https://tinyurl.com/3tkctj2e. This gives you the toroid, wires and instructions. The other project specific part is the case which came from amazon https://tinyurl.com/2p93h9r5 Everything else is generic parts that I either had on hand, purchased locally or from amazon.

The Palomar Kit looks like this.

The kit comes with decent instructions but, with a couple of caveats. One, the wire that comes with the kit appears to be random. The colors of the wires, do not match the colors in the instructions. this is not insurmountable, just makes things a little more difficult especially for first timers like me. The second nit is the pictures provided, while of decent quality, are black and white. In today’s world, color photos should not be that big of deal. The kit can be wired as a BalUn or UnUn. The way I overcame the mentioned shortcomings was to annotate the schematic they provided.

The UnUn is the schematic on the right. According to the instructions, the 3 wires are wound 10 times or turns with each pass of the wires through the center of the toroid counting as one turn. The wound toroid looks like this.

Before I went any further, I tested the toroid. I did this by hooking up a 450 ohm 50 watt resister to the antenna and counterpoise leads and attached my Xiegu X6100 to the input of the UnUn. I then used the SWR Sweep function on the X6100. I knew this wouldn’t be an exact science since I was using a 12″ RG-316 cable and 12″ jumpers, but should be close enough to see if I am in the ball park. Here are a couple of the test.

Shown are 160 meters, 30 meters, and 20 meters with all showing an SWR of ~3:1 or less. Not too shabby. With a random antenna wire of around 49 feet and a 25 foot counterpoise, I expect the SWR to even be less. That means anything from 160- 20 are well within the capability of most tuners. I suspect that I may be able to get down to 10 meters once I hook it up to a real antenna.

The case was a guess on my part, but as it turns out, it was the right size.

Then all put together, it looks like this. The toroid is mounted on a sheet of plastic and glued into the case.

The input connector is BNC and the screws are 10-32. I have some 10-32 wingnuts on the way to make it easier to attach wires. The eyebolt was to help take some of the strain off of the antenna wire and BNC connector is on the bottom to help protect it from the weather. One final test.

This was a fun little project and gave me some experience and confidence making UnUns. My next project will be a QRP UnUn. I mostly operate QRP when out in the field (max 10 watts. I know). However, some of the stuff I bring is QRO rated. I am trying to reduce the load. Making antenna parts that are QRP rated instead of QRO rated, reduces weight and space. Right now I am doing POTA activations, but hopefully this fall when the ticks and chiggers die off, I will try my hand at SOTA. 72 de Scott

Paddle Mount for the IC-705

I kinda like the idea of being able to mount your paddle to your radio when operating portable. You can use the weight of the radio to help prevent the paddles from moving around and it frees your off hand for other tasks. We see examples of this with the Elecraft KX series of radios and there are some adapters for radios such as the Yaesu Ft-817/818.

I really like my IC-705. It is probably my best radio for POTA/potable operation. I think the only time I would leave it home is if weight became a problem or I needed to exercise one of my other radios. Recently, Begali came out with a mount to attach their Adventure paddle to the IC-705. It is a sweet set-up; however, the approx. $400 USD price tag got me looking for other alternatives. I have nothing against Begali, I own three of their paddles, and they are superb instruments. I think I wanted to tinker, and this gave me a good excuse.

For paddles, I have a set of Larry’s (N0SA) SOTA paddles. I love these paddles. When I go on an activation/Portable Operation, I bring these and my Begali Travelers. If I was going to do a SOTA activation, I would just bring Larry’s Paddles. Next was a trip to Tractor Supply Company (TSC) for a sheet of 16 ga. Steel. That set me back $16. I cut it to 3″ by 3 1/2″ using a cutoff wheel on my grinder.

I already have a stand I made out of 1″ x 1″ angle aluminum so I cut this to fit behind it.

The blue on the metal is Dykem Blue which is a layout fluid. In creating this project, I am only using hand tools. Power tools consisted of a grinder with a cut-off wheel. a hand drill, and my trusty Dremel tool. Here is a picture of me giving the mount a rough finish with a file.

My next step was to install the mount on the radio. I left the tail that will hold the paddles a little long to see where I wanted the paddles.

I am right handed so I mounted the paddle to the right of the radio. As a child, I broke my right wrist and lost a little range of movement so for me, I cannot use a paddle straight on. I found an angle of about 40 degrees to be about right. I also bent the mount down a bit to get the paddles close to level.

I turned one of the machine screw holes into a slot. That way I only have to remove one screw to install and remove the mount.

Next is a coat of primer, followed by a coat of flat black. I also added a clear coat to increase the durability of the finish.

Here is the finished product installed on the radio with the paddles.

The screws that hold the paddle to the mount are #4-40 x 1/4″. I am going to change the hex head bolts that hold the tilt stand/paddle mount to the radio with M4 x 10mm knurled head bolts so I can remove/install without tools. The mount itself weighs in at about 1 ounce.

This was a fun little project. The radio could move around on a smooth surface so something like a silicone mat would cure that, but on something like a wood picnic table it should be just fine. Except for the sheet metal this was built using whatever I had around the house. How does it play…


I got the final pieces in the mail. One thing I tried was to mount the paddles on the top of the mount. This also works very well and may even be better in some cases. The only button that the paddles get in the way of is the autotune button. It can still be reached fairly easily.

I also replaced the hex head bolts with knurled head bolts so I can install/uninstall the mount without tools. I got them in red, just in case I drop one. As you can see I only have to completely remove one bolt and loosen the other to remove the paddle mount. This allow the tilt stand to remain with the radio.

The bolts will tighten down with either one or both pieces; however, I only snug them down. That’s the completed project and overall I am pleased with the results. Next field trip is in a couple of weeks. 73 Scott

Vertical Antenna Support

I like to tinker. Always have and probably, always will. This past weekend while I was activating K-2171, I swapped out antennas to see if one was any better than another. My first antenna was my Frankentenna set up as a vertical. Later in my activation, I switched to my random wire vertical. To use this antenna, I had to shoot a line up into a tree. Band conditions were not that good, and truth be told, I am not sure which antenna was better; however, for this activation, I gave a slight edge to the random wire.

For those that have operated within State Parks, rules and regulations sometimes seem to get a little blurry when it come to operating amateur radio within park boundaries. There is a general consensus that Park Rangers do not like things in their trees. I personally have not had this issue, but I was never approached by a ranger. I operate CW with earbuds on, so I do not really attract attention to myself.

Recognizing, that it might be a matter of time before I get “caught” with something up in a tree, I thought I would look for a solution to solve a potential problem. I have a B&M Black Widow 20′ fishing pole that should work just fine for my random wire antenna. A trip to TSC got me a 4 foot piece of 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ Aluminum Angle Stock. Tools used were:

Layout was pretty simple. The angle for the pointy end was 20 degrees and the slots for the straps were 3/8″ by 1 1/4″ (approx). The total length of the stake is 28″

I got everything cut out and deburred. I added a coat of zinc chromate primer and a finish coat of flat olive paint.

I have two small Velcro straps that I had lying around that work perfectly,

Then by turning the stake around, it stores nicely on the fishing pole. Together the outfit weighs a touch over 1 1/2 pounds. This is easy to carry and by moving the stake more to the center, it would be better balanced for walking.

This gives you options. You should be able to use this anywhere you can drive a tent stake into the ground. With this setup, you can use many different antennas besides a vertical. I am going to try it with my 40m OCF dipole (I may have to mount it a little down from the tip).

When I do an activation, I like to carry a minimum amount of gear. Sometimes, I feel my Frankentenna is too big even though it fits in a small Buddipole bag. It is fun trying to operate with a small amount of gear. For my next activation, I will bring the pole with everything else fitting in an 8 liter Bucket Boss bag. Instead of the Bucket Boss Bag, I could use a small backpack. In fact, I am thinking about doing a couple of SOTA activations this year. I hope to hear you out there! de Scott KK4Z

POTA/SOTA Antennas and More

My amateur radio club, West Georgia Amateur Radio Society (WGARS) decided to participate in Winter Field Day. We are going to operate from Talladega National Forest in Alabama. It doesn’t take much to get me out in the woods with a radio. As a club, we will be operating QRP and I will be doing CW.

Since joining POTA, I have been more inclined to build things. I had forgotten how much fun this can be. So today, I thought I would build a couple of antennas for the outing. My first antenna will be a replacement for my speaker wire non-resonant vertical. The idea came from Thomas K4SWL using speaker wire. It was an okay antenna but it was bulky and heavier (12 oz.) than I wanted it to be.

A British company, SOTA-Beams sells some remarkably thin antenna wire. It is insulated and approximately 24 AWG. The best part is they sell a 100 meters for $10.37 and their shipping rates are reasonable. You can find it here: https://www.sotabeams.co.uk/antenna-wire-lightweight-100m/.

A non-resonant antenna is an antenna that is not resonant on any of the frequencies you plan to use. In non- resonant antennas only forward waves exist. A non-resonant antenna radiates as well as a resonant one. Here is what I started out with.

The end insulator and the wire winders were 3D printed by my son. The battery is for scale. The antenna length is approximately 28-29 feet and the counterpoise is approximately 17 feet. Putting it together was straight forward with the end result looking like this. It weighs 3 oz.

I have discovered that I like working the low bands while on a POTA activation. It takes a little more doing as the antennas get more complex and heavier. My Frankentenna can reach 160 meters but it is a pretty heavy antenna. Again, taking a clue from K4SWL, I acquired a piece of military surplus radio gear. I found an antenna winder for a dipole that is fed with 30 feet of twinlead. I got excited! A doublet is one of my favorite wire antennas as the vertical element can also radiate giving you some DX capability. It will also tune a broader range of frequencies than a dipole. Here is what I started out with.

Note that it is made by the Hughes Aircraft company. I cut the wire at 67 feet per side which should give me an approximately 132 foot dipole. I should be good to go down into the CW portion of 80 meters. While it won’t be efficient, I am thinking I can get an impedance match on 160 meters with my Elecraft T-1 or AH-705 tuner. A half wave dipole for 160 meters is about 270 feet and would be too unwieldy for the field. Getting things hooked up was straightforward.

Everything wraps on the winder. I added a balanced to BNC adapter and two 25 foot lengths of reflective cord I picked up at Tractor Supply. It all weighs 1 lb 3 oz and it all fits in a gallon size freezer bag.

There will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 operators at our site, so I don’t know if I will have the room to get the big antenna up. I hope so.

In case you couldn’t tell, I am a big fan of Ziplock Freezer bags in the quart and gallon sizes. They are tough, waterproof and cheap. I buy them in bulk at Sam’s Club. When one wears out, I pull a new one from the box.

Low band POTA activations can be a challenge, but not impossible. My activation at Ft Mountain State Park in GA. proved that. I am one step closer to being ready for Winter Field Day. Should be a lot of fun. It’s supposed to be cold (cold for us southerners) Night time in the mid 20’s and daytime south of 50 degrees. I’ve lived in cold climates; but, what will get me is my hands. I get pretty fumble-fingered on the paddles when my hands get cold. Thank goodnes for propane heaters. We will be operating under the callsign W4D and hopefully be turning in a log to POTA as well. Hope to hear you out there.

IC-705 Stand

I bit the bullet and ordered an Icom IC-705. It really was a no-brainer for me as I already have several Icom radios. I have had other brands, but I keep going back to Icom. Anyhow, once I got the radio I needed a stand to keep it tilted at the right angle. There isn’t a whole lot out there. The commercial stands are rather pricey, and the 3D printed versions are nice but my son’s 3D printer is down for maintenance and upgrades.

I had a $30 gift card from Tractor Supply I received for Christmas, so off I popped. The stand is made from 1/16″ thick, 1″ x 1″ angle aluminum cut to 2″ long. I got a 48″ piece for 10 bucks. While there I picked up some M4 x 10 machine screws and some M4 washers (about another 2 bucks. Icom gives you the dimensions for all the mount holes in their manual.

I cut it to length, drilled the holes and then did a nice deburr on it. Needle files and a Dremel work great here. I then lightly sanded the whole piece and cleaned it with non-chlorinated brake cleaner (great stuff and cheap at any auto parts store).

The next step was a coat of primer, in this case zinc chromate, a throw back to my Army Aviation days, followed by a coat of high temperature flat black. It’s what I had on hand.

Finally, I added a clear coat and let it sit over night. Here is the final product installed on the IC-705.

It was a fun little project and only took a couple of hours time. The 705 sits back on that angled section at the back of the radio — perfect. I found a padded telephoto lens case that should fit it just fine for about 20 bucks. I’ve taken Icom radios to the field before and they hold up well. I’ve made some CW contacts from home and the radio works as well as my other Icoms. I made out to California and up into NY. I am looking forward to getting this in the field.

Begali CW Machine

A little while ago I purchased a Begali CW Machine. I was fascinated by it. I thought it would be good for POTA/SOTA activations.However, there is not a lot of information available on it. First, let me be clear, this machine DOES NOT decode CW. Let me repeat, this machine DOES NOT decode CW. And that’s a good thing. I have not found a piece of software that can decode as well as the CPU between the ears period. Weak signals, QSB, QRM, QRN, and bug/straight key operators with their own style or fist, often throw the software into fits, throwing out a bunch of T’s and E’s. Learning to hear CW takes practice, it is not impossible.

So what does this thing do? Actually, quite a few things. first it acts like a memory keyer. It will handle paddles, straight keys and bugs and has several different keying modes built in. It is a memory keyer, that can play back recorded messages. But it goes one step further, you can insert text in the middle of a message. Here is an example. I have a message I use in POTA (hunter) That goes like this BK TU UR (pause) GA GA BK. I can do one of two things. I can wait for the pause, insert the RST, hit the decimal (dot) key to have the message continue, or I can type in the RST while the beginning of the message is playing, it will insert the RST, and continue to the end of the message without further action from me. I can also insert silent commands that are not transmitted. In the above example, the CW Machine goes on the air to play the message, however, at the end of the message I have a silent command that takes the machine back off of the air. Your paddles are always ready to send a message with the push of a button.

Why would I do that? Because I want to enter additional information that I do not wish to transmit. I tune in a station and I copy his call sign, KK4Z and hit enter. The call sign is now in a QSO buffer. The machine can now use that call sign as a part of a message; something like their call de my call. Once I have the call sign I can add some additional information. While waiting for the pileup to die down I hear he is from GA. I type GA and I press the + key, for POTA, I hear his park, I type in K-1234 and hit the + key again. I hear a lull and I send my call which is stored in a message memory. He comes back with a RST of 559, I hit the asterisk * and type 559, it is now stored. I send him his RST using a message like in the above paragraph, and it stores it. He sends me a 73 and I send him one, but now, the machine inserts the current time/date, the band (not the frequency), saves it to the logbook which is part of the machine, and clears the buffer for the next QSO. The logbook is stored in non-volatile memory which means it would require physical damage to lose it.

The CW machine is hooked up to your radio via one cable that plugs into your key jack. For it to work correctly, you must set your radio keyer to straight key. To use it with your computer, you need a serial to usb port adapter. Power can come from either the computer or a separate power source. Whatever, you are running your radio with (12v) will work just fine. The CW machine only draws about 20 mAh so it’s perfect for field operations. It could also run off of a 9 volt battery.

Mistakes are fairly easy to correct. lets say I typed in the other stations call sign wrong. I retype it correctly, hit the enter key and the call is updated. You can do this to other fields using different key strokes, but it all works like that until you save it. You can edit after it is saved, but it take a little more effort (slightly more) to get it right.

You can run the CW machine in several different configurations. At the minimum. it needs a paddle/key and a PS2 compatible keypad. Yep, it uses a PS2 port. Basically you enter data with the paddle and commands with the keypad. You can also replace the keypad with a keyboard. This requires a PS2 compatible keyboard (Logitech still makes one the K100). This works well as you can now run the machine like a mill. You type and it sends CW. If you get a keyboard, make sure you get one with a keypad. the machine recognizes individual key strokes, the 1 on the keyboard is not the same as the 1 on the keypad for example. For those whose fingers get stiff in the winter time, this will reduce your errors. Another way to run this is with a computer using the computers keyboard and key pad. And finally you can run it from a Surface Go2 using its keybaord and attach a keypad to the machine.

One feature I really like is the ability to change CW speeds. With a twist of the knob I can go from 10 to 35 wpm (my setting). I sometimes have issues going from one speed to another when using a paddle. I’m just not that good. With the machine you can match the other station, without making a lot of errors. This really works well when you have someone activating at 13 wpm. I often bust a pileup because I am sending at a speed they can comprehend. It’s also fun on the other side. I typically run in the 16-20 wpm realm. Depending on the operator, I can copy up to about 25 wpm. When I hear one of these stations, I can crank it up and we have a quick staccato QSO.

LCD Display. The CW Machine has a one line LCD display should be readable in direct sunlight. It is adjustable. The screen is rather small and basically has one line that can scroll sideways to see what is going on and also to adjust the settings. There are annunciators that surround the one line of text to show you the status of the machine. It’s not a full sized computer screen, but there is sufficient information to run the machine without a computer.

So far I’ve been working it from home as a hunter for POTA. It works quite well in this capacity. I have used all of the configurations I mentioned and the easiest is using the machine with a computer. I have logged about 100 contacts so far and spent a lot of time reading the manuals. I would not call this plug and play, there is a learning curve. I am getting comfortable enough to try and activation with it.

Log files. The machine itself can hold about 12,000 QSO’s. It is easy to export to ADIF and it takes me about two minutes in ADIF Master to get it ready of POTA. basically I delete two columns, rename two columns and its ready.

Things I like to see changed. One is to go from a serial com port (DB9) to a straight usb port. Doing this would not only get rid of the serial/usb adapter, it could also get rid of the external power port. There are so many ways today to power something via usb. The display could be bigger and have more information available on it. There is plenty of real estate on the top of the machine to put a bigger more up to date display. A good example is the one Xeigu uses on its G90. Lastly, this is more of a niggle than anything else, put a better speaker and audio driver in there. Really, all this needs is an update, there are better components available today which could easily take this to a new level.

Caveats. It’s pricey. Right now it’s selling for about 295 Euro. Not for everybody. It takes time to learn. This machine does a lot, but to unlock the magic, there is reading and testing to be done. This is probably not for the techno-challenged. It does not decode so if you do not know CW, you have to jump that hurdle first. Who is it for? Someone doing POTA/SOTA activations who wants to travel light, have something to share the workload, easily maintain a log (especially if you have poor handwriting like me), works well in cold weather (when my fingers do not), and sips battery power. Right now it has become my POTA/SOTA go to logger/keyer. I am only using ACLog now as my master log. It is easy to import the ADIF from CW Machine (after tweaking it) into ACLog. There you have it. I will probably update once I get it out on an activation.

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: https://tinyurl.com/mvr4mvm8. 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.


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.