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New to CW - Go for Vibroplex/Vizkey?

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by K5AKG, Jan 6, 2011.

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  1. K5AKG

    K5AKG Ham Member QRZ Page

    At 59, I'm just now taking up CW. Gotta keep pushing the brain, you know. As I have a fondness for things historical and things mechanical, I am leaning toward buying a semi-automatic key rather than a keyer and paddles. Am I nuts? [For those who know me, please keep the comments relative to the question at hand.] The net costs seem to be about the same either way for decent hardware.

    Opinions are appreciated; objective evidence is preferred, if any exists.


  2. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you do go for a semi-automatic key ("bug"), PLEASE practice with it using a code practice oscillator before trying it on the air. Using a "bug" can be difficult for some people while easy for others. However, it definitely takes some practice before you are going to be able to send well.

    An electronic keyer is considerably easier to learn how to use properly since both the "dits" and "dahs" are made by the keyer and the 3:1 ratio (dah to dit) is also made automatically. With a "bug" you have to manually make every "dah" and also have to carefully adjust the tension and spacing of the vibrating contact that makes the "dits".

    Many moons ago, back in the "goode olde dayes", I could send pretty well using a "bug" (if I say so myself! :rolleyes: ). However, since I have used an electronic keyer for so long, I definitely would have to do a "bit" of practicing before I even would think of using a "bug" on the air. I still have my Vibroplex original that my parents gave me for Christmas in 1960. It does work well. However, my ability to use it has definitely regressed and therefore I most certainly would need to practice before subjecting others to listen to me sending.

    Glen, K9STH
  3. NI7I

    NI7I Guest

    What Glen said......!!!!!!

    There are a lot of things radio wise that get a rise out of me.. One of the worse is somebody making awful sounds with a bug. Morse is music.. Morse made with a bug can be music but it can be truly dreadful to the ears as well.. If you must.. Practice before putting it opn the air.

  4. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    An electronic keyer with paddles is a lot easier to use and sends better code for about 99% of all operators.

    It still requires dexterity and will challenge your brain; but might as well send good code, as opposed to bad code, which is the case with the vast majority of "bug" users.

    Yes, "bugs" (electromechanical keys) allow you to develop a "personality," but if you have a personality using a bug, that means you're really not sending good code.:)

    In the 20s-30s-40s-50s and part of the 60s, there weren't other choices: It was a hand key, or a bug. After the electronic keyer was invented, there became a better choice and I switched to one as soon as I discovered it, by building a vacuum tube W9TO keyer. Holy mackeral, what an improvement.
  5. WA7PRC

    WA7PRC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ditto to what everyone has said. I'll add that, to know the difference between good & bad Morse, you'll want to actually hear what good Morse sounds like. ARRL is a good place to start.
  6. KE0ZU

    KE0ZU Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you want to learn a skill and have good rythum and dexterity, a bug is a good challange.

    I have a Blue Racer I bought new in the 60s and used for several years. If I were to become interested in CW again I'd have to spend a number of hours as Glenn suggests.

    Starting out some time listening to the ARRL code practice sessions would be a big plus, as Brian mentioned.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2011
  7. AB9YP

    AB9YP Ham Member QRZ Page

    And you can setup your computer to run a CW listening program. If it can decode your generated CW, it should be pretty decodable on the air.
  8. AG3Y

    AG3Y Guest

    I've always thought I was pretty good with a bug, but I did just what Joe suggests. The results were NOT pretty !

    Of course, that might also apply to those of us who send with a straight key, too ! It is much more difficult to form perfect letters, words and sentences than you might first think .

    Like the young violin student asked the cab driver, "How do you get to Carnegie hall ?" His answer, "Practice, practice, PRACTICE ! ! ! "
  9. KB2FCV

    KB2FCV Ham Member QRZ Page

    The bug takes a while to master. I use mine from time to time just to keep the rust off my bug fist. If you're afraid a solid state electronic keyer is too 'modern', consider using a hollow state hallicrafters TO Keyer. I use mine with my SX-101 and HT-32. The vacuum keyer is a pretty nifty way to go (although I don't think it would work with most modern gear due to the voltages..). I use a Vibroplex vibrokeyer with that (or my benchers). For some reason it doesn't like my begali paddles so I leave those with the modern gear. Definitely consider the TO Keyer and a set of paddles if you have the radio for it!
  10. AF9J

    AF9J Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've had bugs ever since I was a Novice. But, I got sick of always fiddling with the counterweight during contests, to change the speed, due to the circumstances of the QSO. So, nowadays, I typically use an electronic keyer. BUT, I will admit, that the paddle I use a single lever Bencher, that you use like a bug. I've never really gotten comfortable with doing the squeeze thing that double paddles allow you to do fir dit dah combinations.
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