An input device
used for sending morse code
. It is hooked up to a keyer
(an electronic morse generator
), which ensures that the dit
s, the dah
s, and the pauses between them are of the correct relative length.
Paddles come in two flavours, with one lever or with two levers. Holding the lever of a one-lever paddle to the right yields a series of dits, and holding it to the left yields dahs. With a two-lever paddle, squeezing the left lever produces dits, and similar for the right one. But as long as both are squeezed, the morse generator will produce alternating dits and dahs, making letters like C, R and K very easy to send. Keyers with this property are called iambic keyers.
The paddle has both advantages and disadvantages compared to the straight key. Both rely on precise timing, but bad timing with a paddle is more difficult for the inexperienced operator to detect. While poor timing on a straight key only results in deciphering difficulties on the receiving end, bad timing on a paddle results in spurious dits and dahs, which the morse operator can hear and correct immediately.
The main reasons why most experienced morse code operators prefer paddles to straight keys, is that it requires less and smaller hand movements to send the same amount of text, and that it is possible to send it much faster (about four times, I think).
Paddles are sometimes referred to as (electronic) bugs.