PA3CLQ's Leuke Linken Nr. 423


International Marconi Day

The Radio Central ARC will be operating this Saturday from the Marconi Shack in Rocky Point, NY in celebration
of International Marconi Day.

We hope to have two stations on the air - one for CW and the other for SSB.

We expect to be on the air by 9:30 EDT.

A spotter page has been set up at:

but we don't know if we will have internet access at the shack.
The Club call is W2RC and is SKCC #5073T.
Dick. k2rfp SKCC #2099S


Left handed keys?

Are Bugs, Cootie Keys, Sideswipers adjustable for left handed use?


David KN1SIX SKCC# 15445


Hi David,
Sideswipers (also called Cooties) and bugs can be used by either left or right handed people and don't have to modified.

It's really just a matter of learning and getting used to them.

I have read where ops have learned to use a conventional straight key with their right hand and a bug with their left.

73, Ed - ad7gr SKCC #30C



Cootie keys don't need any modification.

Bugs, on the other hand, come left-handed or right-handed.

You can order a left-handed key from Vibroplex.

You may be able to find one on eBay.

73, Andy, K2OO SKCC #10315S



When I switched from a straight key to a electronic paddle, I took the opportunity to switch sending to my right hand (I am left-handed).

That way my writing hand was free to make notes etc.

When I started using a Cootie/Sideswiper I stuck with right-handed sending.

A Cootie can be used left or right handed.

So, I now send straight with the left hand and everything else with the right!

Regards Rob, G4LMW SKCC #4454S


A sideswiper (cootie Key) as well as a keyer paddle is by nature, ambidexterous.

The paddle can be easily rewired so dit and dah wires go to opposite sides.

A few bugs were manufactured with hardware reversed to be "left-handed'.

I Imagine that this hardware reversal would be hard to do after a bug is manufactured.

I LEARNED TO USE MY FIRST BUG (a standard model for the right hand) with my left hand.

Always have sent backwards with no problems.

73, John...K8JD SKCC #1395T



So you must be the DJ8K I've been hearing on 40 m! ;-)



Hello, David.

Some keys are specific for right or left hand use by design, where some, it makes no difference.
Straight keys can be used with either hand.

Cooties or sideswipers can be used with either hand.
Semi-automatic or bugs were designed for the thumb to actuate the dots and the fore finger to
make the dashes.

Because this a mechanical configuration by design and manufacturing, they are difficult to change over.

One friend used his right handed bug with his left hand.

That was how he learned to use it.

I was not aware of this until Joe, W8VSK, passed away.

He just used his forefinger to make dits and his thumb to make the dashes.

    When keyers came into being and more popular, they were set up basically the same way as a right handed bug, the thumb making the dits and the forefinger used for making the dashes.
I have had a couple of friends who went from straight key to bug and, unknowingly, set them up in reverse.

No real biggy until he visited another guy's shack or at FD.

I found when wanting to send with my left hand, keeping the dits on my thumb, paddles or bug made it much easier.
With a right handed bug, I just reached over the top with my left hand.

In the old days, I used to keep two paddles on my desk, a right handed and a left handed.

That allowed me to keep keying while logging with my right hand.

I never mastered left handed writing.

    So, the paddles can be switched with the reversal of the two keying wires.

I used to have a switch mounted to some of my paddles for that.

I hope this answered your question, David.

Joe V31JP SKCC #3171T


I truly don't mean to be disrespectful, but what is the difference of a right and left handed key.?
Larry WB2UFO SKCC #11163



On a bug (or paddle, iambic or otherwise) the dit is generated with the thumb

If youre right handed the dit comes from a left to right motion of the thumb.

If youre left handed the dit comes from a right to left motion of the thumb.

    On electronic keyers one just swaps the dit and dah wires.

On a bug, one needs an analogous mechanical response to swapping the wires

73, Tim K9TM SKCC #12335T



Turn a right-handed BUG upside down and it's a southpaw/left-handed BUG

73 Jan PA3CLQ SKCC #2765


I was down on the north Jersey shore............

last weekend and visited a small radio museum which also had a small land line telegraph display, and they had the correct code posted with appropriate and correct signage as well

The music track on this site, "Turn Your Radio On", is worth the visit.

I've attached a photo of one end of their "wire".
73, Chris Hausler SlowSpeedWireGroup


As requested here is my KIS approach to softening the rather firm contact springs of the above key.

Any springy material/conductive material will do the job, I used .016 brass shim. Enough folds are made for a push fit under the original contacts and one final fold makes the new contact surface.

Another idea is a sliding, screw lockable saddle carrier on the arm for the soft contacts, but for now the above temporary mod is holding up Ok and the key is soon restored to original condition.

Thanks for your interest,

Martin g4zxn


Great stuff guys!

Ive been using that concept on my torsion bar keys and it really makes the key feel so much more fluid.

Love the conversion of the Russian key.

I really have try one of those out some day soon.

Happy swiping folks.

73, SteveW1SFR



73, your Editor PA3CLQ



My simple website about Gigantic DF-Antennas

Part 1 "DF-Antenna Wullenweber Array"

Part 2 "DF-Antenna USSR Variants"

Part 3 "DF-Antenna USA Variant"

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