Make a Wedge?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by VE7PJR, Mar 6, 2018.

ad: L-HROutlet
ad: l-rl
ad: Subscribe
ad: Left-2
ad: FBNews-1
ad: Left-3
ad: OK1UUad-1
ad: L-MFJ
  1. VE7PJR

    VE7PJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    So I went looking on "Teh Googles" and discovered that there are lots and lots of women's shoes called "cord and wedge" or even "bug wedge"!

    Now, I can't walk too well in high heels so I'm not interested in the shoes.

    What I AM interested in is possibly making a few wedges to use in the shack. I tend to swap bugs fairly frequently, and diddling with either A) reaching around the back of the radio to plug/unplug a key or B) using a pigtail and having to fart around finding the end of that just frustrates me.

    Also, I occasionally find myself in need of slowing down farther than the bug will go. So I had the incredibly innovative idea of hooking up a straight key with a bug lip, and using a wedge on all my bugs.

    Problem is, nobody seems to be making bug wedges, except for the women's fashion industry.

    So I'm thinking: "Two pieces of brass, some insulation, a way to hold it all together. Can't be that hard."

    Has anyone actually done it? Alternatively, if someone can post some high-quality pix of a wedge disassembled, so I can see how it fits together, I'd be very appreciative.

    I'd have no problem buying some old wedges, except there's not much local action so I'd be looking at The Great Internet Bizarre Bazaar.

    Thoughts? Ideas? Bring 'em!


    Chuck VE7PJR
  2. VE7JBX

    VE7JBX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Chuck, let me take a look at the one I got with my bug... I haven't got a use for it and if it looks intact and you want it, it's yours.
  3. AA4OO

    AA4OO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Why not wire them in parallel or use alligator clip test leads across the keys terminals for temporary connections.
  4. VE7PJR

    VE7PJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Done that, too. I have a couple of clip leads on the op desk for just that reason. What bothers me about that is that 1) the clip leads aren't the most robust connection and can get snagged and pulled loose, and 2) it takes longer to hook up than plugging something in. One reason I'm doing this is because I frequently want to change a key/bug, usually when there's a little time pressure to do it.

    It occurred to me that rather than re-inventing the wheel (or the wedge, in this case), just going back to the way things used to be done when changing keys was common might be a better way to go.


    Chuck VE7PJR
  5. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm going to ask a stupid question....what's a wedge?

    Back in the old days, I built a junction box It had 2 jacks in the front, and multiple jacks in the for each rig I operated at the time. The front jacks had a straight key and paddle plugged in, and a SPST switch to select which to use. The back had cables going to the key input on each rig, and a multiple position switch to change rigs. No plugging/unplugging, and switching between the 2 was a flip of a switch....literally it could easily be done during a QSO. I built a similar yet more complex black box to switch microphones between rigs with the flip of a switch.
    K9KXW likes this.
  6. W5BIB

    W5BIB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I just use a Two-into-one plug. Straight key & bug both stay hooked-up.

    The "Wedge" (from

    Vibroplex Wedge Lip In the early 1900s, with the advent of Horace Martin’s Vibroplex semi-automatic key (bug), operators were able to send much faster code with less wear-and-tear on their arms. The telegraph companies had no interest in buying these so each telegrapher owned his own bug. To connect it to the telegraph system, a metallic wedge was inserted into the key, electrically coupling the bug to the key. Eventually, this lip became standard on telegraph keys.

    Vibroplex "Original" bug with "Wedge Plug"


    You would just open-up the space on the straight-key contacts enough to slide the wedge into to complete the circuit.

    Steve / W5BIB
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
    K5RT, M6GYU and N2SUB like this.
  7. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I don't have enough keys for it to be an issue around my shack, but if I did, I'd consider wiring each key to a stackable dual banana plug connector. I'm talking about the standard device with .75" spacing, like this:

    Then I'd have one cable that converted the banana jacks to the rig's phone plug.

    Those banana jacks are naturally in parallel, so you can stack as many of them together as you want, and any key will then key the rig. But instead of hardwiring all the keys in parallel, the banana plug connectors make it easy to take keys off the shelf, hook them up quickly, and later disconnect them and put them back on the shelf when you need the desk space for a different key.
    W4CDO likes this.
  8. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    It seems I learn something new every day. Thanks for that bit of history....I had never heard that before.
    K9KXW and W5BIB like this.
  9. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    To Wedge or not to Wedge
    I have seen the "wedge" and discarded that idea to just parallel wire my key, bug and keyer output to a common plug that I can plug into the rigs here..
    The wedge I tried would come loose or short out when the keys moved around at all.
  10. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Wedge Connection,
    The wedge did not go between the contacts ! It went into the space under the shorting lever on the old straight keys that were originally made to short a land line circuit so the current from incoming messages would click the sounder

Share This Page