Whilst not the best CW op by a long way, I really enjoy working HF CW. If you’re like me, then you’ll probably start off with one key, and before you know it, your shack will contain a number of keys, each with its own personality. A recent addition to my shack has been a Palm Radio Mini Paddle, which is a small key aimed at portable operators. I’d been after one of these keys for some time to accompany my FT817 on some planned portable operations.

The paddle with the plastic paddles in view

The Palm Mini Paddle is a really neat solution for those wanting a key for portable operating, being very light and measuring only 8cm x 3cm x 3cm. This compact size is aided by the retractable plastic paddles, which, when pressing the button on the base of the key, slide into the painted metal housing – a great way to protect the plastic paddles from damage.

With the paddles retracted the key is very compact

The bottom of the paddle - note the buttons for retracting the paddles. The magnets and screw mounts are visible on the base.

Whilst the paddle’s base has 4 small rubberised feet to stop the key moving around, my key came with the quick mount magnetic base. This additional clip-on base not only has two rubberised magnetic pads, allowing it to stick on to the top of a radio, but has screw holes provided to enable the key to be attached to the side of a radio at the desired angle.

Inside the paddle

Inside, the Palm Paddle is simplicity in itself. A series of adjustment screws enable the user to change spring tension, contact spacing, and the paddle stop to their liking. Having bought the key second hand, I found that it had already been setup nicely and have not made any adjustments.

The paddle's clip-on base

On the air, the key is a delight to use, with a light keying action. Whilst the lightness of the paddle could be problematic, with the risk of the key scooting around the shack desk, in reality I have found that keeping one hand on the top of the paddle prevents this. In fact, I have found the key to be more stable than my Vibroplex, which also needs to be held when in use (maybe I need to modify my sending style!). Furthermore, since the Palm Paddle arrived in the shack the Vibroplex has started to gather dust!