[CQ-Contest] Using left-right hand to key paddle

Trey Garlough trey
Sun Jul 20 13:19:05 EDT 1997

> Nor am I an expert.....but I am left handed and learned 45 years ago
> to send with the left hand in a normal way...Dots to the right.

As far as I know, there is no technical reason for configuring your
paddle to make dits with the thumb and dahs with the fingers.  I think
it's just a matter of convention.

When I first started experimenting with a keyer (young people are into
experimentation), I had the paddle hooked up "backwards", but my elmer
straightened me out and got me to switch the paddle so the dits were
on the thumb.  

After I got the hang of using the keyer, my elmer suggested that I
should reverse the paddle and work on sending with my left hand so
that I would be able to write with my right hand, a practice he
attributed to K1ZZ (I think).  I never got the knack of being able to
send and write simultaneously, but the technique is a real time and
motion saver in the realm of paper logs.

Once I could send with either hand, it was useful to set up a paddle
for each, so I could key either at will for purposes of convenience,
variety, and comfort.  Then memory keyers came along and bought us
gobs of time for logging, duping, etc, so this skill was less of a
win.  At this point, since my handwriting was fairly light and
illegible, I started spending those extra seconds trying to develop an
immaculate, K1GQ-like handwriting style.  A skill I lost when K1EA
ushered in the real-time logging era.

The only win I have observed in recent years as a reward for this
skill is that I can sit at any station and start working CW.  If the
paddle is "wrong", then I move the paddle to the other hand.  Seems
like this comes up mostly at Field Day.

I'm prepared to offer the same advice to other novices.  Put the dits
on the thumb.  Learn to send with either hand.  I think these steps
lead to maximum interoperability with a minimum investment of time.

I know there are a few telegraphy geniuses out there who transcend
mortal status when it comes to sending CW, such as K5-Mutant-Mutant,
who can send 40 WPM with either hand with the paddle in either
orientation.  I continue to be astounded by this, yet I bravely press
ahead.  :-)

--Trey, N5KO

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