In my on-going quest to produce a lightweight yet good-performing kit of portable equipment to carry along on my exotic work travels, I set my sights once again upon the Morse keying paddles. When I was a student, I carried what I had: a black-base Bencher BY-1. This caught the attention of nearly every airport security screener and was obviously quite heavy, but it stayed put on the table (for the most part) when I aggressively worked a pileup. A few years back, my wonderful, loving, and patient wife, solicited suggestions for Christmas gifts and I suggested a Palm Radio Mini Paddle. (She’s grateful when I provide a link to a web site with a shopping cart in these situations.)
The Palm is really a joy to use and is extraordinarily lightweight, which is perfect for travel. However, I’ve always struggled with how to keep it steady on a table. I have the magnetic base, but that presupposes a ferromagnetic surface to which it will mount. Since both the Elecraft K3 and K2 have aluminum panels, I can’t count on the radio. I tried a variety of additional things, up to and including, trying to design a 3D-printed carrier that is akin to the Begali Traveler. So, I shelved the project, only using the Palm key for casual portable operating when mass trumped long-term operating comfort and efficiency. Good fortune happened upon me and I built this.
When I decided to add an amplifier (more on this in the future) to my portable setup, again pressure set in on the mass of everything. So, I revisited the Palm Mini project. I had purchased a number of mounting clips for the key (hedging my bets against the ephemeral nature of ham radio businesses); so, I set out to attach one to the K2. I’d seen the photo of the base attached to the right-hand side panel of the K2 by the power switch. But, I really didn’t want to drill holes in the panel, plus that puts the paddles too high when the tilt bail is raised (which is necessary to see the display).
So, I fabricated two strips of 3/16-inch aluminum plate (leftover from the hexagonal beam I built a few years ago) with a hole bored down between them to clamp on the tilt bail of the K2 or the K3. There’s nothing particularly critical about the construction of it, although I used a Bridgeport mill to do all the cutting; you might be able to do it in a drill press. I think I ended up with a #14 drill for the clamp hole. I used 6-32 hardware because I had it on-hand and I like the bigger stuff. I had to enlarge the adjustment slot in the Palm base to handle the bigger diameter.