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Those Vibroplex Bugs

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by W9HC, Aug 5, 2002.

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  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    The 'BUG' - music to the ears..

    (old phart voice inflection starts here) "when I was first introduced to CW you were taught 'Learn to send it RIGHT before you send it FAST!'.  They taught me to hold the straight key correctly and get the rhythm down. As I did.. my speed naturally progressed. I wasn't always clean-sounding, but I my mentors (old CW pros) thought it was acceptable, and that was good enough for me to continue trying.

    Later, I got a 'bug'. Again the admonition. 'LEARN TO SEND IT RIGHT BEFORE YOU SEND IT FAST!'. I practiced and got competent enough to have my mentor tell me 'I'd copy your fist. No problem!'.

    On to the air I went. Once over the nervousness, the fun began. I began to recognize other 'bug' fists AND had folks recognize me. Even in the middle of a Q, some of them would send a short 'HI CR!' (my shorthand sign) without having copied who I was.  Fun!

    (OLD PHART VOICE OFF. NORMAL VOICE ON) :)

    I went into the commercial CW biz (Merchant Marine both ship and shore side.) EVERY ONE used a bug.  You weren't considered a 'pro' unless you could use a 'bug' AND the old reliable straight key.  A 'fist' was something discussed as was the varying opinions on proper adjustments, proper weighting, andthe like.

    Trust me! It was as heated a debate then as the currently debated topics are now.  Bug vs straight key. Bug vs keyer.  keying weighting vs 3:1 ratio.  etc..etc..  If the Internet had been around then, you'd have had as much raging controversy as we do now, here on QRZ.

    But.. through it all. the sound of a well-manipulated bug -even with a swing, or a weighted ratio, or a gentlevariation on the perfect 3:1, is fun to listen to and most pleasant.

    73

    Chuck K3FT
    Still have my trusty two Vibroplexs. ANd yes, evenafter a keyer for many years... I can still swing them like I used to.. Sigh..
     
  2. W6ECE

    W6ECE Ham Member QRZ Page

    They wrote a song about it years ago.

    "If it ain't got that SWING, it don't mean a thing."
     
  3. VA6AW

    VA6AW Ham Member QRZ Page

    SWING MUSIC!

    Great statement. When I first started in ham radio in the early 70's I used my dads old hand key that he had found at some garage sale? Then I became the proud owner of a BUG.

    I used to talk to russians late in the evening and could make 25 wpm with only a few mishaps. These russian guys were absolutely fantastic CW ops and many would reduce their bug speed so I could carry on a converstion with them.

    I will never forget the speed these guys could muster and when the aurora was active their signals really began to swing. Wonderful sound. I still listen to code practice from W1AW but can no longer use a bug. Bad artritis in both wrists.

    Can still hear the music from those bygone years though.

    Long live CW [​IMG]

    ._._. _._

    Gary VA6AW [​IMG]
     
  4. W8FAX

    W8FAX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't think the new bugs are of the quality the older versions were. I have a nice Blue Racer from the 60's and it sends great and stays in adjustment. I sure CANNOT say the same for the Vibroplex I bought at Hamvention last year. Cant get it adjusted correctly, and when I get close, it changes. I will never buy a new one again.
    Over the years I have seen all sorts of gizmo's to try and slow down the bug. Extra weights, longer arms, combo's of both, etc. I can't understand why a feller would want to try and do this. The bug is meant for 20 WPM and up. Mechanically changing the thing is like putting a four cyl little motor in a Corvette.
    I used to use all four. A bug, straight key, a keyer, and a sideswiper. Nowdays it seems to be harder to switch back and forth. Must be ol' age settin' in. So, don't use the swiper much.
    I read something awhile back that said bugs were "dit" generators, and could be used for converting and codeing letters. EX...I's to S's, S's to H's, H's to 5's and many others to unkown symbols.
    I suppose the main problem most guys have is they are trying to send 25 WPM with 13 WPM fists. Practice practice. But........like the guy said.....I NEVER could figure out WHY they put a pic of a cockroach on the key, and what DOES it take to make that little red LED on the top light up anyway?[​IMG]?[​IMG]?
     
  5. W8FAX

    W8FAX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't think the new bugs are of the quality the older versions were. I have a nice Blue Racer from the 60's and it sends great and stays in adjustment. I sure CANNOT say the same for the Vibroplex I bought at Hamvention last year. Cant get it adjusted correctly, and when I get close, it changes. I will never buy a new one again.
       Over the years I have seen all sorts of gizmo's to try and slow down the bug. Extra weights, longer arms, combo's of both, etc. I can't understand why a feller would want to try and do this. The bug is meant for 20 WPM and up. Mechanically changing the thing is like putting a four cyl little motor in a Corvette.
       I used to use all four. A bug, straight key, a keyer, and a sideswiper. Nowdays it seems to be harder to switch back and forth. Must be ol' age settin' in. So, don't use the swiper much.
       I read something awhile back that said bugs were "dit" generators, and could be used for converting and codeing letters. EX...I's to S's, S's to H's, H's to 5's and many others to unkown symbols.
       I suppose the main problem most guys have is they are trying to send 25 WPM with 13 WPM fists. Practice practice. But........like the guy said.....I NEVER could figure out WHY they put a pic of a cockroach on the key, and what DOES it take to make that little red LED on the top  light up anyway?[​IMG]?[​IMG]?
     
  6. W5ATX

    W5ATX Guest

    Lake Erie swing - music to my ears - within reason. Ah for the days of my youth . . .
     
  7. W2JDH

    W2JDH Guest

    My old Vibroplex "bug" was given to me over 50 years ago by a WWII vet that had hauled it across North Africa with him. I've used it exclusively ever since. Yes, the old bugs DO have a special sound to them. I know mine does, and it's called "soul". Listening to guys with keyers and (worse) keyboards is like listening to Pete Fountain blow the clarinet; absolutely perfect in every way, except no soul. Very old friends have called me during contests and said I was easy to recognize by my sending. They can't understand why I haven't "graduated" to a keyer. I can't think of a better reason to stay with the bug. Walt.
     
  8. K2PG

    K2PG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I live about a mile from WSC, a commercial CW coastal station that has since been deactivated, then converted to digital communications. The operators all used Vibroplex bugs and sounded great on the air. However, many of the bugs that I've heard on the ham bands sounded awful. It takes a lot of practice to use one properly and to set the weighting properly. Many hams would just put their bugs on the air without bothering to practice sending, making for some very rough copy. Many years ago, humor columnist John Troster (W6ISQ) defined a bug as a device that "turns Bs into 6s and Hs into 5s". Since my old call was WA2HMH, that, in itself, was enough of a deterrent for me to even think about using a bug at my station! After 34 years, I still use nothing but a good, old-fashioned straight key.
     
  9. W4FOA

    W4FOA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Steve, first of all, I think the reply to your question(s) will depend on the experience and dedication of the
    CW operator.  Personally having used CW for 50 years, I love "the Lake Erie swing" of an experienced CW operator on a bug, and I love even more a good "sideswiper" fist.  I'm one of these guys that can copy CW no matter how bad it is sent...it just takes a second or two to latch on to the "dialect", if you will.  I hear very few, very few "bad bug fists", so perhaps it is a matter of individual taste.  In my case, give me a mediocre bug fist over a "plain vanilla, all sound the same, stereotype" keyer or keyboard operator.  The beauty of the bug or sideswiper it that you can actually express yourself, your feelings, etc. in the way you send on a straight key or a bug.  This is done by exaggerated "dahs" or exaggerated "spaces", etc.  Now don't get me wrong, I use a keyer most of the time, but I love to get in a ragchew with another bug or sideswiper.  I have the keyer paddle, bug, sidewiper and handkey all wired in parallel and can switch between anyone of them  at will.  Just my 2 cents.  ...and by the way, there are MANY semi automatic
    keys, not just Vibroplex....my favorite is my Speed-X I bought when I was 13..73 Tony, W4FOA
     
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