Iambic or Bug

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KS2K, Jun 29, 2020.

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  1. KS2K

    KS2K Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have used a straight key since I got my novice in 1961. I have never had my hands on a Iambic or Bug. Now long retired and by myself, I want to use Cw much more and work my speed up to ???

    I need your guidance, do I buy a Good High Quality Bug or Good High Quality Iambic. Either one, its a new thingie to learn.
  2. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    If I had it to do over again, I'd use a paddle. But none of my early rigs had a built-in keyer, and a used bug was pretty cheap in 1992.
    PU2OZT likes this.
  3. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    A bug only forms the dits and leaves the dahs totally up to your skill. An iambic keyer forms both the dits and the dahs. A bug's speed is typically adjustable between "fast" and "really fast", while an iambic keyer can also go really fast, but it can also go as slow as any reasonable person could want to go.

    This is a hobby, so the real answer is to do what will make you happy. If you've always wanted to learn how to master a bug, I'd definitely encourage you to follow your heart. But if you're undecided, I'll point out that I think it's a lot easier to produce quality, readable code using paddles with a keyer. I will certainly concede that keyer/paddles can sound too perfect and mechanical, whereas a bug can have a more personal, individual sound, if that's what you're going for.
    KD4ZFS, W5BIB and PU2OZT like this.
  4. WA9FZB

    WA9FZB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Personally, I would recommend a keyer and paddle. The bug requires "quick-twitch" reflexes to operate, and as we age, these reflexes are dulled. You cannot "retrain" them, the muscle fibers used in these movements deteriorate with age. Your reflexes just aren't as fast as they used to be. Yes, there are a good many operators who have used bugs for decades who can run circles around me and my keyer, but it won't be easy to gain competence and you may lose interest before you become good at it.

    A good keyer (usually there is one built into most of the newer rigs) can work from rather slow speeds (less than 10 words per minute) all the way up to insanity speeds. You can learn, then work the speed up as you gain comfort.

    I learned on a straight key back in the 1960's, then switched to a bug until the late 1970's. After that, it was just me and my keyer. I still have a couple or three bugs, but I have a devil of a time trying to use one with any decent outcome. With the keyer, I can still send as fast as I can copy.
    K2ZA likes this.
  5. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Odd choice! I hate Iambic keying (both A and B) and a bug is fine and fun but is only semi-automatic.

    My preference is either my Vibrokeyer single paddle to my MFJ-464 contest keyer, or my SATO Japanese straight key. I also have my Vibroplex bug in the same chain - so I can easily just move from one to another at will. But far and away, I prefer the Vibrokeyer to the MFJ keyer

    Of course, I can use any Iambic keyer in "single paddle mode" no problem - I just don't "squeeze" - just never made sense to me

    K3XR, W4NNF and PU2OZT like this.
  6. KS2K

    KS2K Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you all, what a wealth of information you shared with me. Based on this, the decision is clear, Iambic Paddles. Both my FT-2000 and FT 1000mp of course have keyers. This is a great
    example of the value of QRZ. Ask a valid question, and receive good solid answers................
    in most cases hi hi hi
    N2AMM, KD4ZFS and WN1MB like this.
  7. W6MK

    W6MK Ham Member QRZ Page

    I hope you haven't overlooked Dave W7UUU's very good advice: use a keyer with a single lever paddle. You, of course, can use iambic dual lever paddles without squeezing to the same end.

    The bottom line is that using a keyer can make learning to send well at reasonably high speeds much easier.

    Learning squeeze or iambic technique is an additional skill and learning task which doesn't necessarily deliver any advantage. In fact, most really high-speed ops who win speed contests
    use single-lever paddles. Iambic keying, at the highest speeds, mostly provides more opportunities
    for errors.
    WN1MB likes this.
  8. KS2K

    KS2K Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes, Dave and the single paddle were included in the wealth of advice.
  9. KL7KN

    KL7KN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Dave, have you had the chance to use a set of paddles hooked to an ultramatic keyer? This is like those sold by the (old) TenTec.645...

    You might find a difference in the keying.
  10. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    I had forgotten about the 645! Had one years ago. That was a nice keyer.

    But I mostly stick to my Vibrokeyer/464 combo - in one of my "vintage positions" I run a BY-2 to a Hallicrafters HA-1 "TO Keyer" and that's nice too.

    I just really like the feel of the Vibrokeyer and use it exclusively for contesting with the 464

    KL7KN likes this.

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