Necessity, the Mother of Invention

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by K5DH, Aug 13, 2019.

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  1. K5DH

    K5DH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sometimes, when ya need a part that's hard to find, ya gotta make it yerself.

    I picked up this nifty little Speed-X model 510 bug via an eBay auction last week, *really* cheap (less than $27 including postage!). This one was made by Stewart Johnson sometime between 1934 and 1937 (he sold out to Les Logan in late '37). It was filthy-dirty, and it was missing the original dit contact assembly and adjustment screw and lock nut, these having been replaced by junky homemade substitutes. I was able to use an adjustment screw and lock nut from a Lionel J-36 (don't match the others, but work fine) and I made a better junky homemade dit contact assembly.

    Here's the bug after I cleaned it up and made my repairs. Cute li'l dickens, ain't it?


    Here's a close-up of my better junky homemade dit contact assembly:


    The brass part was cut from a huge threaded standoff. I drilled the center hole out to 5/32" to fit on the bug's swing arm. The screw hole is drilled and tapped to take a #4-40 machine screw. Soldered to the brass "core" is a modified leaf spring contact salvaged from an old Turner desk microphone. It only took about 1/2 hour to make the thing.

    Cheesy? Fer sure. Functional? Definitely! (And yes, once I was sure it would actually work, I cleaned off all of the solder flux!). Not a world-class repair, but it'll do until I can find the correct original parts.

    Have fun, y'all!
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
    N2EY, AA8TA, WB5YUZ and 4 others like this.
  2. K6GB

    K6GB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I don't know about cheesy, how about "custom".
  3. K7TRF

    K7TRF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Nice job!
  4. W4KJG

    W4KJG Subscriber QRZ Page

    K5DH -- Thank you for your great post. We need a lot more threads/posts like yours. To me, this is a big part of what amateur radio should be about.

    I was fortunate to spend much of my 40+ year career doing one-of-a-kind devices and very short run production of very complex electronic and mechanical devices. I almost always had access to great machine shops. Before I retired about 8 years ago, I had access to the latest 3D printers and plastic injection molding equipment. As a kid in the late 1950s, until I was drafted in 1969, I had great ham mentors who had all kinds of fabrication businesses. It just got better from there.

    I no longer have my fully outfitted 1800 sq. ft. workshop, but I still have enough tools in my small shop to fabricate most things I can no longer purchase. I still find it exhilarating to build things with not much more than a vice, some hammers, chisels, files and a drill press, a good quality 120 VAC MIG/flux-core welder, and a few other hand tools.

    There is also so many things available on line, and in big box stores that can be used as-is, or with minor modification.

    I'd sure like to see a lot more threads like this.

  5. K8ERV

    K8ERV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Luvit when a plan comes together

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
    N2AMM likes this.
  6. N8AFT

    N8AFT Subscriber QRZ Page

  7. KD8DEY

    KD8DEY Ham Member QRZ Page

  8. K6GB

    K6GB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Lots of stuff can be handled with simple tools. I knew an old gentleman who built steam engines in a 6' square shed, the only power tool was an antique lathe and drill press everything else was by hand. I saw him make spoke drive wheels out of steel plate and a few files.
    N1OOQ likes this.
  9. KB4MNG

    KB4MNG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Dont know how you got a deal on ebay like that.
  10. K5DH

    K5DH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I buy decent keys and bugs cheap on eBay all the time. The deals are there. You just gotta be patient and vigilant, know something about the subject matter, and be willing to spend the time restoring them yourself.

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