Early bug operating/instructions documentation?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KA2PBO, Sep 13, 2017.

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  1. KA2PBO

    KA2PBO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am looking for any documentation from the early 1900s that explains how to use a bug. I have a few bugs and have been using them just fine but it has always bothered me that we don't use bugs according to the way they are built.
    I have the Army morse manual from 1957 and several Vibroplex instructions from 1957 and a few from the 1990s. All of them instruct the use in different ways.. The Vibroplex instructions from 1996 say to use 2 fingers on the knob side. The instructions from 1997 say to use the side of your index finger . The Army manual says to use the index finger but also says that the hand pivots at the wrist to operate the key ; which has always made the most sense to me . The bug was invented to eliminate the glass arm syndrome that came from using a straight key so it makes sense that pivoting the wrist and keeping the arm rested was how the inventors intended it to be used. It also makes sense that the tips of the index fingers should be used; not the side . Why would there be a finger knob like a straight key if it was intended to be "slapped" with the side of the index finger.Wouldnt you want it flat if using the side? It wasn't until later years that the rolling of the wrist was mentioned and I ve only found it in other ham writings and some Vibroplex sites.
    Now I know some will say "do what works for you" or "my granddad was a radioman on a steam ship and that's how he used to do it" but Im looking for any documents from the first years after the bugs came to be. I have adjustment instructions from Western Union from 1915 but no operating instructions. I have been to all the Horace Martin and Bunnell and early telegraph sites and no luck. Im hoping a key collector might have instructions buried in an old key box from the early years.

    Rick KA2PBO
  2. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I always used my index+middle fingers together on the "knob" side and barely move anything except my fingers; the side of my hand just above the wrist itself lays on the table and rolls very slightly, looks to be maybe 1/4"-1/2" when keying.
  3. KA2PBO

    KA2PBO Ham Member QRZ Page

    That's how I've been doing it also except for my Les Logan which has flat finger pieces. That one is smoother using only the index finger .
  4. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm searching for early instructions. Here is a note from QST October 1940. Fair Use is claimed.

    Adjusting a Bug QST Oct 1940.png
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2017
    W3KHG and W5BIB like this.
  5. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    W5BIB likes this.
  6. KA2PBO

    KA2PBO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Excellent info! Thanks a bunch for both replies !
  7. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Here is the Oct 1940 article in WordPad format so you can save to your files.
    Here is the October 1940 note in PDF format for saving to your files.

    Attached Files:

  8. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's the extent of relevant QST articles I can find using the key words: Bug, Vibroplex, Semi-Automatic using the search engine. Other articles from the 1920's and 30's tend to be discussions of how fast to set the dits (i.e. words per minute) or endless Hints and Kinks about slipping feet and improvised weights or weight placement.

    Using the key word KEY or KEYS brings up several thousand references and the search engine is not friendly in sorting them or getting to the early decades. A manual index search is needed. b.


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