I found myself wanting to try CW again after a long break without using it.
This was mainly down to a recent purchase, a QRPLabs QCX mini from Hans Summers. And What a radio that is ! https://www.qrp-labs.com/qcxmini.html
For many years I used a NATO straight key with my base station radios, a brilliant key but a move of QTH and with space limitations I lost interest in CW and sold my Nato Key with much regret now I might add.
I was looking for a small but inexpensive iambic paddle key to partner the QCX mini and I had considered the Uniham 730a from China, prices varied and so did the reviews. I have never used a paddle key before so it is a whole new technique to learn which is fun.
I found the perfect key it seems although I admit it was by total chance on one of those days when you go window shopping around the internet suddenly you find exactly what you are looking for at the right price.
Take a look at this little key made by Andrés Germán Rojo (EA3PP) in Barcelona, Spain.
A perfect match of size and cost.
The price is the best part : €28 EURO/£24 GBP/$33 USD the international postage charge to my location in UK was €11.10 EUR so a total of under €40Euros.
Before we go into detail, No it is not engineered to exacting standards and fine tolerances such as a Begali key (Beautifully made), it is a simple arrangement using brass hardware, miniature magnets and stainless steel machine screws on an MDF wood base. The base has a matt graphite grey coating.
Here are some close up photos
The width of the base is around 40mm on this model.
And the length about 70mm.
The underside, a more utilitarian look but robust. Bare MDF wood with solder ring connections to the terminals. Rubber feet and some stationary/office depot/ a white blu tac type putty is added to prevent slippage.
Note from builder Andrés : "To adjust the contacts, loosen the set screw inside the turret with a 1.5mm allen hexagon key and move the contact closer or apart".
These keys are really good in operation even with my feeble skills never having used a paddle before. Until now I have always been a straight guy !
The green finger plates and dark grey base of this key make a good match with QCX mini with its green LCD :0)
There are many model variations created by Andrés EA3PP , you can see examples on his qrz.com homepage linked below.
He does not keep a stock of keys but he makes each one to order and mine was ready to dispatch in 48 hours from order.
Payment method I used was Paypal (Friend) to save Andrés paying costs, . I was notified the key was dispatched via Correos Espana on 16th (A certificate of posting/tracking was sent to me via email) and the item duly arrived here with me in UK on 22nd, 6 days in transit.
I can recommend the service and product provided by Andrés, a home builder and keen radio amateur with a small cottage industry supplying CW enthusiasts in his home country primarily, especially those in the Tortuga (Turtles) CW Group in Spain , these keys seem to be very popular with members of that group and one thing is for certain, they are fanatical about their keys. “Loco por la telegrafia”/ Crazy about Morse, is their slogan and of that statement there absolutely no doubt what so ever ! https://www.tortugascw.com/
Next on my order list is the straight key which is another great match for QCX mini same price €28 EURO/£24 GBP/$33 USD .
If you want to enquire or purchase a key I suggest making initial email contact with Andrés using the address below and include the following.
Pick a photo of the style of key you would like to order using the website links provided on this page (be sure to check the website link at the very bottom of this article) and send the photo to the builder using the contact email below with your request/enquiry stating any colour variation preference of fingerplates and so on.
Alternatively if you would like this exact model of key featured here in the write up, simply include a link to this article and the builder will know the model you would like.
This makes things a lot easier, Please consider that English is not the first language of the builder.
Important : Please note that the seller has a different Paypal email address than the one which is given in the contact/order details below, the payment email will be passed on to you following first contact.
Where ever you are, I am sure he will do his best to supply you.
(For politeness and brevity please keep message simple and utilise google translate and send your message/request in both English and Spanish, it is not difficult in todays world)
For me this was a really good purchase, Are you really going out on a walk stuffing that expensive key into your rucksack ? In the true spirit of adventure why not have a cheaper key ? If it gets a “knock on a rock” no big deal.
What I liked :
Price, Speed of Dispatch, Using a fellow enthusiast as a supplier/Personal touch, Quality of Goods given the price =Great !.
Paypal accepted by seller . As a measure of good will , I recommend either send payment as “send money to friend/relative” or add a bit extra/ 5% or so to cover the costs charged by Paypal to the seller.
What I think could be improved :
Use same coating on underside (purely aesthetics).
Absence of Branding/Product Identity, Perhaps a laser printed label underneath “Proudly made in Cataluña by EA3PP” or something like that.
Finally I do not have any business connection with the builder, the opinions in this article are my own.
As I stated at the start of the article I originally found EA3PP keys on a totally random search. One afternoon I landed upon a radio web market type site for Spanish radio enthusiasts.
For those who are interested , I have linked the page below as it features some photos and local prices of other models made by Andrés EA3PP.
HF Propagation Conditions