Iambic or paddle key

Straight key

Cootie or sidesweeper key

Bug or semi auto key

Many ham radio operators choose paddle instead of straight key, cootie or bug keyer. Most of modern transceiver supports iambic keying without any external circuits.

Iambic method of send is very useful for high speed operators. Default setting and default wiring will produce dits on thumb and dah on index finger for righthanded operators.

Straight key is one of the oldest method for sending cw messages. It works like simple circuit switch. Press to on, release to off. It don’t need any extra circuits like iambic.

Cootie key looks like other iambic key but it doesn’t produce iambic keying. Although it has 2 terminals, it wont produce any dits or dahs. You need to make it by sliding the single paddle to the left or right. Longer touch to the terminals will produce dahs sound. Vise versa. It don’t nees any extra circuits.

Bug keyer is the first mechanical that can send continuous dits sound, also named as semi automatic keyer. Only continuous dits sound, not for dahs. You need to make dahs sound manually. It don’t need any extra circuits.


An amateur radio operator, Royal Signals veteran, jack of all trades and master of none.

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