Technical Articles

Tips for Hooking Up a Keyer Paddle

If you are interested in operating CW but have never hooked up a key or keyer paddle, or if it has been a long time since you’ve done it, here are some helpful facts to know.

key paddle

Source: Wikipedia

Many modern transceivers feature a multipurpose stereo, 3-conductor key, or keyer jack. They require the use of a stereo phone plug to allow the use of either a straight key or bug with only two wires connected, or a keyer paddle with all three wires connected to the stereo phone plug. In modern rigs, the function of this type of transceiver CW jack is easily changed with a simple menu setting.
Conversely, some legacy and modern transmitters and transceivers have a dedicated key jack that only accepts a mono, 2-conductor phone plug for a straight key or bug. Some transceivers have both!

The equipment may have either 1/4 in. standard phone jack (6.35mm), or 1/8 in. miniature phone jack (3.5mm). Check your equipment manual to confirm your selection of the correct phone plug and cable assembly, the required plug wiring, as well as any required menu settings.

ts and trs 








Phone plug connections are known as Tip-Sleeve (TS) for mono and Tip-Ring-Sleeve (TRS) for stereo. Straight keys and bugs are usually wired Tip to insulated contact and Sleeve to the base common (ground), with no connection to Ring on 3-conductor radios. Paddles are typically wired for the thumb paddle contact for “dit” to the stereo plug Tip, the index finger paddle contact for “dah” goes to the plug Ring, and the base or common is connected to the Sleeve of the stereo plug.


The discussion of choosing between a single-lever paddle or a double-lever paddle and its advantage of iambic keying will have to wait for a later post!

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