Homebrew TBK, Torsion Bar Key.
The Torsion Bar Key (referred to as the TBK) is a design for a single-lever paddle developed by Tom Leary W0VTP and published in the December 1982 issue of QST.
We'd been sitting around the club station cussin' and discussin' things when I ran across the plans for the TBK in an old Handbook. My friend Larry Davis (KI8FZ, ex-KB8SLU) was a machinist by trade, and examined the layout drawings eagerly.
A few weeks later, Larry said he had something for me, and presented me with a TBK. He said he'd done it to repay me for a favor I'd done him. I was suitably flattered and also slightly puzzled -- to this day, I can't remember what the favor in question was.
Anyway, one night I sat down at the station, plugged the TBK in, and twitched my fingers to set the keyer speed -- except I hadn't turned the keyer on yet. My left hand reached for the keyer switch, but just before it hit the button, my brain screamed "STOP!!!".
I sat there for a second, then reached for the paddle again -- and twitched the lever back and forth a few times. After about five minutes of practice, TBK went on the air as a sideswiper. That was better than twenty years ago -- and my TBK hasn't triggered a keyer since.
The note is very bell-like, and really stands out in crowded or noisy conditions. I've used it at more than one Field Day, and it's a real attention grabber on the air.
As I said, I really don't remember what it was that I did for Larry -- but considering all the fun I've had with the TBK sideswiper, I'm glad I did whatever it was... [KA8OQF].
Homebrew HSP, High Speed Paperclip.
A design inspired heavily by (aka ripped off from) Larry Block N2OH (p67, Apr 2014 QST) and Piero Begali I2RTF.
The basic design is N2OH's "paperclip Paddle" from QST. While thinking how cool this would look, taken to the extremes of the Junkbox School of Design, I remembered the functionality of I2RTF's "HST" switchable single-lever paddle/sideswiper. A few minutes' cogitation finalized the design in my fevered brain.
The key (...ahem...) element is the old light switch on the end. This makes it a family project, as the switch came from Grandpa's stash of parts now residing in my brother's garage (the switch still has the 20-cent garage sale sticker on it...). A standard 3-conductor plug is on the cable end. Keyer on/switch off, it is a conventional single-lever paddle. Keyer off/switch on, the keying leads are shorted, and it acts as a sideswiper!
I entered the HSP in the Dayton Amateur Radio Assn Homebrew Nite (in the 'Accessories' category) just for a giggle -- and it took second place! The only person more surprised than me was the guy who came in third...
My cost (for enough parts to build four) -- $7.50 A Begali HST (with engraved call) -- $325.00 or thereabuts.
And yes, it works very well! There are numerous contacts in the DARA W8BI club station log book using this key (we're popular, handing out 50 point contacts for ARRL's Centennial).
There is a MKII under consideration...
Conclusive proof that KA8OQF and the HSP spoke with authority at the Dayton Hamvention and the ARRL's 100th Anniversary Special Event Station W100AW/8. [KA8OQF].