I have two product reviews to do, from two kind Amateur Radio vendors who sent me some "cool stuff" to try out. Many. many thanks to hamshop.cz and SOTABEAMS for thinking highly enough of me to do some product testing.
I am going to do one review tonight and another after next weekend. I have played with both products and both are superb; and I want to give each its due, so tonight, I will talk about hamshop.cz's Mini Iambic Mini Paddles, which I received first
I received these paddles a couple of months ago - soon after their availability was announced. They looked interesting to me and I had even mentioned on this blog that I would have liked to purchase a set. Not long after that, a sample arrived in the mailbox. Thank you, hamshop.cz !!!
These are constructed from parts printed out from a 3D printer if I am not mistaken. They are light in weight and are ideal for QRP portable ops, whether that be SOTA, POTA, or just a trip to your backyard, if that's what you have in mind.
One might think that something that came out of a 3D printer would be cheap or shoddy and I have to tell you honestly, that nothing could be farther from the truth. I have played with these paddles for a while now and I have to tell you that they compare VERY favorably with my Palm Pico paddles. They are roughly the same size, but the hamshop.cz's iteration are a bit lighter and also a tiny bit larger. They use a magnetic return for a very smooth feel and a very positive return.The tension can be adjusted by tightening or loosening the big screw at the top and lever spacing can be adjusted by two tiny set screws by each paddle at the front of the housing.
These first run paddles came without a cable and I had to wire them up myself, but that was not a big issue. I see on the hamshop.cz website that the paddles now come with a cable for the circuit board pin configuration that they use as a connector.
So, how do they work? Very well actually! I have been using them on the KX3 and they have been a joy to use. As I mentioned, they are smooth and have a good feel to them. The positive return makes sure the paddles always return to "home" position reliably, so there is no issue with getting stuck sending unintentional strings of dits or dahs. I have sent at speeds from about 13 WPM to 25 WPM with no fumbling or mistakes due to the equipment. Any mistakes originated from the "gray matter between the ears".
They are ideal for portable ops as they are a breeze to carry in a backpack and are so light that you can hold them in your hand all day and send Morse for hours without getting tired. I see hamshop.cz now supplies them with magnets on the base so that you can stick these to something if you'd rather not hand hold them for any length of time.
The price is a selling point, too. Currently, a set of these paddles go for 25 Euros, which is about $27 US Dollars. Compare that to the Palm Pico Paddles, which go for about $116. I know, I know - this is kind of like comparing apples to oranges.
Would I give up my Pico Paddles? No, not at all. When you compare the two, the craftsmanship and the materials used in the Palm paddles justify their cost. But for $27, I think the hamshop.cz paddles are a bargain! The operability, size and weight compare favorably to the more sophisticated Pico paddles, but the price is a clear winner. If you're on a tight budget, you can have a set of really good miniature paddles for a very reasonable price. And, if you should have an accident and damage them; or even be unlucky enough to lose them, there's no heart attack factor involved - you just order another set!
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!