Proposal for a fourth ultimatic mode: First paddle priority

The ultimatic mode is an alternative to the iambic mode for sending Morse code from a dual lever paddle. When pressing both paddles the last one to be pressed takes control, rather than the alternating dit-dah or dah-dit of the iambic mode.

In the K1EL Winkeyers there are actually three ultimatic priority modes. This is shown in the table below that comes from page 9 in the specification for the command for setting the PINCFG Register. (K1EL CW Keyer IC for Windows Winkeyer2 v23 10/5/2010). This is a de facto standard for interfacing to and controlling a keyer, as an example it is used in the K3NG Arduino Open Source Morse keyer.

K1EL has defined bits 6 and 7 for setting this up by remote command. I propose that the last possibility, ’11’, presently undefined and unused, be used for a new mode. This mode is “First paddle priority” meaning that the last paddle which is pressed is ignored. It can also be interpreted as an emulation of a single-lever paddle. I and others have found that helpful in eliminating errors when keying. See for instance “Single Paddle operation with Iambic paddles” by Larry Winslow, W0NFU, in QST, October 2009 and the Iambic to Single Paddle kit from WB9KZY or my earlier blog post “Single-lever and ultimatic adapter“.

My proposal is that the bits for the ultimatic mode be used like this:

  • 00 – Last paddle priority, i.e normal ultimatic
  • 01 – Dah priority
  • 10 – Dit priority
  • 11 – First paddle priority or Single Paddle Emulation (New)

Related posts:

Sverre Holm, LA3ZA, is a regular contributor to and writes from Norway. Contact him at [email protected].

One Response to “Proposal for a fourth ultimatic mode: First paddle priority”

  • Richard G4WKW:

    Hi Sverre,

    I meant to reply to your old article proposing a fourth Ultimatic mode, some time ago, but do not think I ever did?

    I was re-learning Morse after renewing my amateur radio license a couple of years ago and had decided to learn using a dual paddle key and keyer, rather than use a straight key which was all I had when I originally learnt.

    Well I built a capacitive touch key and a keyer circuit based on an Arduino and code from Goody, K3NG. Goody had already an Utimatic mode available and I decided to learn using that mode as I really did not like either IAMBIC A or B, but I proposed a new Single Paddle Emulation mode to him in line with your suggestion. He was kind enough to implement it in October 2016 and it is in his keyer software now, with lots of other features, see this URL

    I have re-learnt my Morse and can now happly send at 20 WPM using my keyer which I only ever use in either Single Paddle or Ultimatic mode. I actually find Ultimatic mode suits me best, not that I deliberately use it to form characters, just that it hides some of my slight timing errors. I am slightly tardy in releasing one paddle when switching to the other one, which results in a duff character in Single Paddle mode, but is hidden when using Ultimatic (an example of that is when forming a W, which I rarely get wrong in Ultimatic mode, but often key two dits at the start when trying to key in Single Paddle mode). It may be that this would not happen if I used a genuine single paddle key, but I have not got round to making and trying that yet!

    So I hope that my comments are welcome, even if it is “better late than never”. I have mostly been using my keyer using a breadboard for over a year, but have finally installed in a nice new box, so will update my website with the details soon. See

    73, Richard, G4WKW.

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