The CW-500 paddles arrived yesterday. This is the key that was designed for use with the Lab599 TX-500 portable transceiver. It attaches directly to the GX-12 connector on the side of the radio and provides a 45 degree angle from the case for the CW paddles. It’s not the best key I own or the most expensive, but I like the ergonomics and the fit and finish of this new key with the added bonus that it eliminates the need for yet another attached cable. I haven’t been able to spend “hours” with it yet, but I will.

More than a few people have been asking how this new Russian hardware made it onto the shelves at HRO.

I have no idea.

The Lab599 story is something of a tragedy unto itself having exploded on the amateur radio market with the TX-500 transceiver, the most impressive low-power HF hardware since the Elecraft KX2. Lab599 was on their way to ham radio success while the transceiver quickly became nearly impossible to obtain as supplies sold out within hours of arrival.

And then Russia attacked Ukraine and trade with that country ground to a halt. In the aftermath of that action it might have been expected that the small manufacturing company on the verge of becoming a major success story would fold its tent and close shop. For all I know, that’s still how this ends.

But that hasn’t happened yet.

Immediately following the invasion global supplies of Lab599 gear plummeted, but new firmware updates and significant improvements continued to roll-out online. The new paddles may have been planned for a long time, but these weren’t available pre-invasion meaning these have been manufactured and distributed despite the war and all that entails.

Notwithstanding these present market difficulties the TX-500 and the new CW-500 paddle are currently available for sale in the US direct from Ham Radio Outlet.

There is at least one person in States who handles tech support and repairs for the transceiver though some replacement parts have become difficult to obtain due to the myriad of shortages and supply chain issues that permitted me to grow a long white beard in the time it took to have my KX3 serviced.

Like I said, I don’t know how this story ends for Lab599. Given the circumstances their odds of long-term survival don’t look great at this moment and that probably provides better sleep for their competitors. Because prior to Ukraine, the TX-500 was poised to upend the global amateur radio market for portable HF transceivers.

Maybe it still will.