Posts Tagged ‘single-lever’

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:

Single-lever and ultimatic adapter

Photo @LA3ZA 

Here’s an adapter that emulates both a single-lever paddle mode and the ultimatic mode. It is meant to go between a dual-lever paddle and an iambic keyer. The adapter has been implemented in an AVR Butterfly in C and it is compatible with Morse keyers such as the one in the Elecraft K3 and the K1EL WKUSB. The single-lever emulation is probably the most novel part and it is meant to make it easier to practice single-lever keying on a dual-lever paddle.

When pressing both paddles in the ultimatic mode the last one to be pressed takes control, rather than the alternating dit-dah or dah-dit of the iambic mode. The five possible states are then (from “An ultimatic adapter for iambic keyers“, Kevin E. Schmidt, W9CF, 2008):

  1. Lin = 1, Rin = 1 => Lout = 0, Rout = 0.
  2. Lin = 1, Rin = 0 => Lout = 0, Rout = 1.
  3. Lin = 0, Rin = 1 => Lout = 1, Rout = 0.
  4. Lin = 0, Rin = 0 after Lin = 1, Rin = 0 => Lout = 1, Rout = 0.
  5. Lin = 0, Rin = 0 after Lin = 0, Rin = 1 => Lout = 0, Rout = 1.

The left and right inputs are Lin and Rin and an open input is “1” and a closed one is “0” since the key grounds the input. The output is “1” when it is on and “0” when it is off. The adapter makes it possible with this mode on your favorite keyer where you may have missed this mode.

When I implemented the ultimatic adapter after W9CF’s instructions, it struck me that it would be both useful and easy to add an emulator for a single-lever paddle also. When both keys are pressed in this mode, the last one to be pressed is ignored. This gives the following inverted outputs in states 4 and 5:

  1. Lin = 0, Rin = 0 after Lin = 1, Rin = 0 => Lout = 0, Rout = 1.
  2. Lin = 0, Rin = 0 after Lin = 0, Rin = 1 => Lout = 1, Rout = 0.

The code also has a direct mode that just sends the input unchanged to the output, as well as a possibility for exchanging the right and left paddles. The display may therefore show ‘ULT, ‘SGL, ‘DIR’ and ‘ULTx’, ‘SGLx’, ‘DIRx’ for these combinations.

The exchange mode is actually quite fun to use. In general for me it is easier to swap the paddles when keying with my left hand. I don’t think I am the only one with that experience.

The C code can be found below. These days I should probably have written it for the Arduino, but the code should be easy to move. Perhaps I’ll do that myself, now that I have an Arduino Mega on order.

Many keyers have the ultimatic mode and the possibility to exchange right and left, but no keyers have the single-paddle emulation mode as far as I know. I think it is quite useful. This summer when I implemented it I thought it was novel also.

But that was before I found out that this mode actually had been proposed by Larry Winslow, W0NFU, in QST in October 2009 and that one can get an iambic to single paddle kit from WB9KZY. Oh well, “there is nothing new under the sun” as the wise man of Ecclesiastes said some 3000 years ago. Just like the ultimatic mode has been implemented in many keyers these days, let me propose the single paddle mode for implementation as a new command also.


The C code is here (formatted with Hilite Me):

void paddle()
{

if (keyer == 0) // Direct: output = input
{
l_out = !(0x01 & l_in); r_out= !(0x01 & r_in); // Boolean inverse
}
else
{

/*
Direct implementation of table 3 in "K Schmidt (W9CF)
"An ultimatic adapter for iambic keyers"
http://fermi.la.asu.edu/w9cf/articles/ultimatic/ultimatic.html

with the addition of the Single-paddle emulation mode
*/
if (state==0)
{
if ((l_in==0) & (r_in==0))
// two paddles closed, right first
{
state = 0;

if (keyer==1) // Ultimatic
{
l_out = 1; r_out = 0; // change to left
}
else if (keyer==2) // Single-paddle emulation
{
l_out = 0; r_out = 1; // keep right
}

}
else if ((l_in==0) & (r_in==1))
{
state = 1; l_out = 1; r_out = 0;
}
else if ((l_in==1) & (r_in==0))
{
state = 0; l_out = 0; r_out = 1;
}
else if ((l_in==1) & (r_in==1))
{
state = 0; l_out = 0; r_out = 0;
}
}

else if (state==1)
{
if ((l_in==0) & (r_in==0))
// two paddles closed, left first
{
state = 1;

if (keyer==1) // Ultimatic
{
l_out = 0; r_out = 1; // change to right
}
else if (keyer==2) // Single-paddle emulation
{
l_out = 1; r_out = 0; // keep left
}

}
else if ((l_in==0) & (r_in==1))
{
state = 1; l_out = 1; r_out = 0;
}
else if ((l_in==1) & (r_in==0))
{
state = 0; l_out = 0; r_out = 1;
}
else if ((l_in==1) & (r_in==1))
{
state = 0; l_out = 0; r_out = 0;
}
}
}
}

The advantage of the single-lever paddle

My single-lever PCB keyer KI6SN/NB6M-style

It may seem like a bad idea to downgrade from a dual-lever paddle and iambic keyer to a single-lever paddle. It must be inefficient since each individual dash and dot has to be generated by a right or left movement of the paddle. Despite this, many of the champions in the High Speed Telegraphy competitions use single-lever paddles, often home-made ones. How can that be?

K7QO, Chuck Adams, wroteUsing an Iambic Paddle” and compared the dual-lever paddle with the single-lever with respect to number of movements. If all 26 letters of the English alphabet and the numbers from 0 to 9 are sent, the single-lever paddle requires 73 strokes while a dual-lever and an iambic keyer requires 65. This is 11% less.

But when N1FN, Marshall G. Emm, wrote “Iambic Keying – Debunking the Myth” he analyzed the 7 letters that are faster to send with an iambic keyer – C, F, K, L, Y, Q, and R – and found that only one of them, the L, is among the 12 most frequent ones in English. He illustrated it this way:

Guess what’t wrong with this figure? He didn’t see the R and forgot that it is also among the most frequent letters!


So two of the faster letters are among the most frequent ones, not just one. I guess that N1FN’s estimate of only a 5% increase in efficiency when letter frequencies are taken into account is a bit too small then. In addition comes the fact that CQ, and all Q-codes use letters that are more efficient with the iambic keyer, so in radio amateur use the efficiency advantage of the iambic keyer is probably even more than 11%.

So this doesn’t explain the fact that many of the high speed champions do so well on single-lever paddles. My experience is based on learning to send Morse code at the age of 47. Somehow I feel that this was 20-30 years too late in order to master all the finer movements involved in iambic keying.

The issue must be tolerance to errors, not just efficiency. The high-speed champions value that and increasingly the producers of morse paddles are including single-lever paddles in their assortment.

A single-lever paddle is also easy to make yourself, much easier than a dual-lever paddle. I made one from printed circuit board based on the paddles of KI6SN. That design was a modified version of the miniature single-lever paddle of NB6M. I made it just to try the concept before I move on and eventually buy one. But the homemade one was surprisingly good to use, so I might stay with it for a while. The nice thing is that the single-lever couldn’t care less if your keyer is set up for iambic A og B. Neither if the keyer does the ultimatic mode which I promoted recently (Is the ultimatic Morse keyer really that efficient?)

There should be freedom in choice of paddle, so everyone should find what suits best regardless of what is the current fashion or what it is that is considered to be ‘best’. So whether you are a newcomer who struggle with learning to send properly with an iambic keyer, or an oldtimer who keep using the dual-lever as if it is a single-lever paddle, feel free to change to a single-lever paddle. I am sure you will notice a reduced error rate.

The question for me is what “real” single-lever key I should upgrade to, they all look attractive: Begali, BencherBushwhackerHi-MoundKent, K8RAN3ZNScheunemann, UR5CDXVibroplex,  …


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