New to CW - Go for Vibroplex/Vizkey?

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

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  1. W0VYE

    W0VYE Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have a Vibroplex bug I bought at a swapfest sometime around 1980. I never had any intention of using it on the air. I bought it because it's a beautiful, iconic piece of radio history and tradition. It looks great displayed in my little shack. I've practiced with it a few times and it works fine, but it's really really difficult to "play" well. For operating on the air, I'll stick to a straight key or my Bencher paddle. Hams everywhere are grateful for that, whether they know it or not. 73
  2. AI7KH

    AI7KH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I love my bug, but that's me. I can say I've heard as bad CW from keyers as I've heard from bad bug ops, but not as often. Not mentioned for a sending practice aid is the phone book. With all the numbers, it will help your keyer or bug sending speed quickly.
  3. K2NCC

    K2NCC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Skip adjustments, cleaning, and the clacking of high-speed metal, and go for a CW Touchkeyer. I've owned at least a dozen different styles of keys since the 80s, and I'll never go back after using one of these.

    (I have no affiliation with the maker, or any other benefit than sharing my experience.)
  4. PC4Y

    PC4Y XML Subscriber QRZ Page


    As you are fond of historical and mechanical things I'd go for a straight key! Good old fashioned up and down keying. Is easier that way to learn CW anyhow. I have been a radio officer from 1965 - 1974 (the pre-paddle period) and am a HAM now and still love my good old KENT straight key. Keeps the pulse flexible and the mind alert!

    Bert Trumpie PD3TRU
    The Hague, Netherlands

  5. VK2FAK

    VK2FAK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011
  6. KC9TNH

    KC9TNH Ham Member QRZ Page

    VK2FAK beat me to it, great demo. AE4RV & I have a mutual acquaintance who'd sent me that, since I was looking for an additional toy to have around. Looking at the history of why Vibroplex came into being I've decided I must have a paddle in the near future. As has been said, not necessarily to send faster, but easier, which is what prompted the design in the first place. (A bug will be another matter if ever, but have fallen in love with with a Vibrokeyer standard.) Other than that, have only tried a few straight keys but enough to know that I much prefer the leaf springs in my J-37's to coil springs.

    Get on the air & keep pounding brass as WA2WMR tells me. :)
  7. KF7ATL

    KF7ATL Ham Member QRZ Page


    If you like mechanical things, you'll love a bug. I have a '71 Vibroplex. It is way fun to use, and I kind of like the "swing". Gives my sending a bit of personality. Granted, I had to practice for a while using my rig's sidetone before I dared to go on the air with it. Took me a couple of days until I could send intelligible code, but the challenge is part of the fun.

    You can usually find used bugs on ebay for reasonable prices.

    Good luck, and have fun!

  8. NM7G

    NM7G Ham Member QRZ Page

    Keyer: Yes
    Bug: No

    Everything that's been said, plus these thoughts. Above all else, you want to communicate. Uncooperative propagation, QRM, and a high noise level at the QTH of the guy struggling to copy you (as examples) makes hamming tough if you send erratic, jerky, or what some folks think is "cute" swing-style with their bug. Precise timing of CW helps the human brain decode. Great spacing makes a big difference when QSB is fast or QRN crashes are dreadfully strong. I've worked DX stations with ESP sig strength many, many times, and the QSOs were completed because of a good fist (and good ears) at the other end. Adding anomalies in the forms of irregular, personalized, CW characteristics works against you and against the other guy/gal. Furthermore, sloppy CW adds fatigue to my operating experience. However, with several more years than 59, I still copy clean, well spaced, properly weighted CW for hours on end with pure enjoyment.

    Welcome to the world of CW, whichever way you go.

    Gary, NM7G
  9. KC9TNH

    KC9TNH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Oh - my - yes, did you ever hit the nail on the head. Like the OP I happen to be 59, a 'fledgling' licensee (6 mos) and love CW. I also find the historical aspects of Vibroplex and the motive behind the bug interesting, and the better the Rube Goldberg contraption the more interesting. That said, am awaiting a '61 Vibrokeyer snagged from W5RPC (thanks Don) because it satisifes those aspects and is something to work on besides my J37. I find I can carry on & sustain a basic QSO at higher speed *IF* those considerations you mention above are in play. A bug might come later, maybe not, who knows. (AE4RV's animation is super-cool, though.) Especially when first getting on the air, it only took a little listening to know I'd never attempt to put a bug on the air without lots of practice.

    And now I'll be able to tell the XYL "yes, I am resting my wrist."
    Even Mr. Miyagi taught both up-down and side-to-side.
    Hope to hear you sometime Gary.
  10. PA1ZP

    PA1ZP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Dear Alan

    Yes tou are nuts, just like me.

    I do have a Vibroplex 100th anniversary model.
    And I love it.
    But to be honest with you a paddle with electronic keyer is much easier to learn and to use.

    But it sure is a work of art to have mechanical bug on the bench in your shack.
    I often visit other ham friends and I cannot get used to a shack without morse keys.
    In my shack there are 2 paddles ready for use 2 keys both military and the vibroplex.

    So thinking practicly a paddle gives a much smoother hand, but a bug is more beautiful and gives that special bug writing.
    I use them both on and off because both the pddles and Vibroplex are connected parallel to my rig.
    The straight keys are just there for the feeling, I very rarely use them.

    73 Jos
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