What's so bad? My fist on my Llaves Cootie key.
After a discussion on Facebook with another Ham about the differences between a single lever paddle and a Cootie, or sideswiper key, I decided to take mine off the shelf. I blew the dust off - just to give you an idea of how long it's been, and hooked it up to the KX3 with the VOX off. This allows me to use the KX3 as a code practice oscillator on steroids. I hear the side tone, but no RF goes out.
And that was a good thing! I did not need to record my fist to realize how terrible it was. After so many years of using paddles, where one side is dits and the other is dahs, my muscle memory wanted to do the same thing with the Cootie. But you can't. You have to keep swinging left, right, left right, left, right and just vary the timing for the dits and dahs.
I kept at it for about 15 minutes or so, starting with only making dits and dahs at first (multiples and then alternating) and then sending real characters after. I found "L" the hardest for me to get used to, for some reason. I estimate that after about a week's worth of practice, I should be proficient enough to be able to go on the air for real without embarrassing myself too badly. "So why bother with a sideswiper at all, if it's so hard?", you might be asking yourself? For one, I enjoy the challenge and secondly, I like being able to use a manual key (like a straight key) without the discomfort a straight key causes me.
I really admire those who can switch between paddles, bugs and sideswipers without missing a beat. Those folks are amazing!
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!