The Strength of Friendship

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Symbol.”


A Paddle Created From A Hard Drive

I’m an amateur radio operator, licensed to chat with other amateurs in other lands that allow contact with hams in the United States. I have many friends with whom I shall never lay eyes on, nor shake their hands. However, I know each individual by the sound of their voice and/or the rhythm of their fist when they chat with me in Morse code.

One such friend, whom I probably should not mention by name or call sign, lives in Ukraine. Being the capable person he is, he could not bear to chuck his computer hard drive after it turned its final revolution. Instead, he disassembled it and with hand tools he made a “paddle” for his electronic keyer to use when he makes a radio contact in Morse code.

This symbolizes to me that when we have something that no longer serves its original purpose we should give it some creative thought before we toss it.

Even more, this paddle symbolizes the strength of friendship. I have not heard from my friend since Russia invaded Ukraine. I can only wish him well.

15 thoughts on “The Strength of Friendship

  1. Can you really distinguish people by the rhythm of their Morse code? Even if you don’t see any information/signal telling you who’s at the other end?


    • Absolutely. It’s the varied lengths of the dots and dashes (dits and dahs) called the “fist” , and that variation carries with it a signature every bit as distinctive as his voice. Of course, the new electronic keyer removed that personal touch and the fist is gone.

      During World War II when Morse code was the only method a different operator was immediately heard and all communications was halted for security reason.

      I have a friend in Sacramento, Alan, with whom I sometimes communicate via Morse. From Dallas I can find him on the radio by listening for his fist.


      • Interesting about WWII and recognizing a different operator. Do most people use an electronic keyer now? What does that look like? A keyboard? Does the electronic keyer mean people don’t have to know the code (the combinations of dots and dashes)?

        I loved learning about the transmissions from Signal Hill in Newfoundland!


  2. There are people who use keyboards, but they are frowned on my the purists. The old straight key like those seen in the old west movies were used in the beginning. Then because operators developed “glass elbows” the Vibroplex (the bug (Hoarse Greeley, publisher of a New York newspaper lead in the development)) was invented. This still enabled the operator to show his personality with what was called the “Lake Erie” or the “Banana Boat” swing – making the dots longer than necessary. I’ll write something up in the next day or two with photos.


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