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Really light action bug???

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by K5TSK, May 30, 2019.

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  1. EA5IUY

    EA5IUY Ham Member QRZ Page

    I´ll add my two cents worth if I may. Have you had a look at the KN4YB Bugs? I´ve been using one for about 6 months now and it´s made my others (Vibroplex Original and Hi Mound Coffin Bug) redundant. I invested in his Inline Double Lever Bug and I like it very much. It seems to need a lighter touch than my others and is very pleasant to operate and set-up.
    I changed the finger pieces to a modified pair of Begali ones that I had collecting dust, but that´s just personal preference. This Bug is a fine key and worthy of a look, and as a bonus,
    doesn´t cost the earth. Here´s the link to his site.
    No connection, just a satisfied customer.
    Cheers and 73
    K5TSK likes this.
  2. KE6EE

    KE6EE Ham Member QRZ Page

    I just remembered I do have one of his right-angle bugs, from about two years ago. He originally was selling
    only on ebay. Now he has several bug models and his own website.

    When you have many bugs, some can get lost!

    Yes it's a good bug and was designed, evidently, to allow quite low-speed adjustment.

    From my perspective there's no need for a low-speed bug (below what most bugs will do at their slowest
    setting, maybe 18 wpm). If your bug can do a dit speed of about 20 wpm you can send much slower
    Farnsworth style, with greater space between characters and words. I often do this and slower-speed
    ops seem to be able to copy just fine.

    Below about 18 wpm a straight key works just fine and allows for a great amount of creativity.
    K5TSK and EA5IUY like this.
  3. K5TSK

    K5TSK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Very much appreciated. Thank you for taking time to post.
    I wasn't aware of those keys and I will look at the site. We have a bunch of good retired professional or at least professional level machinists in this country. It's impossible to tell by looking at a picture how any key will feel. I guess when I look again at what I asked originally, I was looking for advice from someone who had tried a bunch of different bugs and knew which had the lightest touch on the pendulum. I'm not an engineer, but there's probably some way to test that across different brands. That's probably not going to happen. Your comment on the light touch is exactly what I was hoping for.
    I'm going to just let this simmer for a bit. Re-think it. Considering my health and past health issues, I probably should be thinking of them more as something to pass on, than as a long term tool I'm going to wear out.
    Ham radio and particularly CW ham radio has been a God-send for me since my third cancer diagnosis. You guys have really helped me keep on going. The QSOs, even the short ones, the QSLs, help on these posts of mine, all these things mean the world to me. So, thank you all.
    EA5IUY likes this.
  4. KE6EE

    KE6EE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sorry to hear about your health problems and glad that radio is a comforting resource for you.

    I really don't think "light touch" can be measured because it has to do with several aspects of the feel of a bug.
    All bugs need a certain amount of effort to send well, to have solid, adequately-weighted, dits. The distance the
    pendulum has to move and the force required are only two possible adjustments.

    I have read accounts of bug ops who have worked on their keys in various ways to perfect the touch to their
    preference. This might mean playing with the spring assembly that supports one dit contact, with the friction of
    the pivot, with how the damper is set up, with how heavy the pendulum is, with the strength of the vibrating spring, etc. The
    Begali bug has many of those variances adjustable via its complex magnet setup, but the same things can be
    done by mechanical refinement of any bug design.

    Personally I seem to be able to get used to any bug and send equally well (or poorly) with any instrument.

    There seems to be a belief among hams that characteristics of a particular key are critical to sending ability.
    I have to disagree. A good op should be able to send well with any key that functions well enough at a basic level.

    Your decision to rethink is a good one. You can improve your sending best simply by doing more of it, whatever
    key you use.
    K5TSK likes this.
  5. K5TSK

    K5TSK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yessir. I've had my new paddle about a week and the more I send, the faster I get with an acceptable amount of errors, if there is an acceptable amount.
    Amazing how even a short thread morphs into slightly different aspects, but that's a good thing.
    I tend to disagree, but not arguing, about personal tastes in keys, baseball bats, fishing apparatus, coffee mugs. If we didn't all have varying tastes, the market as we know it would be very limited.
    When I received my new Begali, it sent fine as it came out of the box. Tried it at about 18 or 20 for a bit, then 22, 24, 26, etc. After a bit I loosened the tension a wee bit, closed the contacts a wee bit, and got even with my weak fingers to where I could do 28. The errors were simply unacceptable and I'm working on that. The more I practice, the better it will get, to a point. Hope I have enough sense to recognize that point when I get to it.
    In the past, you have recommended the Vizkey vertical bug. That is my go to bug for the left hand.
    A couple days ago, in qso, I hit a snag on the Begali, seemed no matter how I tried on a particular word, I kept making the same mistake. The Vizbug is on the back port, so I sent the word perfectly with the left hand Vizbug. Then just switched to the bug for a bit and since the other op is an exceptional operator, he also switched immediately to his bug. Fantastic, if short, qso.
    As to the measuring the required force on a bug, the three I've got all allow easy adjustment on the dah side, just like a straight key or good paddle, but the mass of the pendulum and weight determine the effort required to make the required number of dits. Even with the limited number of bug users out there, you would think someone would have come up with a standardized test for measuring how much force is required to get a string of 7 or 8 dits of acceptable sound. Then you could make a more educated guess over whether a particular key would work with your own fist.
    Thank you for your advice. Next card billing cycle I may order something and we will see. May just use the Vizbug as it's a beautiful piece of work. Won't be broadcasting my choice, because I'm not trying to solicit advertisements or be one.
    Again thanks for all the input.
  6. KE6EE

    KE6EE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not at all! My point is that a good op can send good code with almost any key.

    Whether or not any pair of socks would make your loafers more comfortable, you are welcome to your preference for
    the neon pink ones. That's what I meant.

    The high-end key makers are not going away!
    K5TSK likes this.
  7. K5DH

    K5DH Ham Member QRZ Page

    This may not be what you had in mind, but... Many electronic keyers have a "semi-automatic" or "bug" mode. Find a light-touch paddle that you like, set the keyer up in "bug" mode, and your problem is solved.
    K5TSK, KE6EE and KA0HCP like this.
  8. K5TSK

    K5TSK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yessir. I'm thinking about a straight key design with a spring steel rod and 360 degree contact motion. Gear shift knob for the finger piece. If I get it built, I'll send it. haw.
    Kidding, I know what you mean. I go back from time to time and reread your comments. Has a grounding effect. Thanks.

    TO K5DH; My Yaesu has that function built in to the twin ports. It would be good for practice, but somehow it would not be the same, and that's definitely not a SKCC approved device for their purposes, at least by my reading. I think it would buffer the spacing to some extent, but thanks for the idea. In case, I decide to do a SKCC event, I want to know it's an approved device. 73 Jim
  9. VE7PJR

    VE7PJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    That's my thought, too. I have both an early version of the VIZ vertical and a WA9TGT "Vertaplex."

    Probably the lightest bug I've ever used is the Professional Model "73" bug. Mine has been repaired several times by previous owners and it's still a nice bug (although very narrow speed range because of short spring). It's a Martin-patent 90 degree bug, just real small.

    I like the Vertaplex just slightly more than the VIZ. The Vertaplex has a wider and deeper base, which is just a touch more stable than the VIZ base. You may be outta luck on the Vertaplex, though. I hear Donnie retired and sold all remaining stock.

    You'd likely get the same effect from simply mounting a Vibroplex on a 75-degree incline frame, if you want to play with a bug you already own to see if you can save yourself buying another one.\


    Chuck VE7PJR
    K5TSK likes this.
  10. K5TSK

    K5TSK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks Chuck. I have been using the Curt version of the vertical Vizkey for a bit now and it's my left handed key. Love it, but was hoping for something a little lighter on the force required to send long term in a ragchew. There has been nothing wrong with any of the keys I've owned, simply a personal weakness. Today, I was in a 30 minute ragchew, all with the left hand and the Vizkey, and managed to finish, but if the speed had been higher, probably not.
    I've seen pictures of old very small bugs that I figure were built that way for easy carry, but with the really small pendulums, they probably were really light action. Not able to 'collect'.
    I've placed an order for the bug I've had the most positives on and a well known bug.
    Any future comments are welcome. Surely I'm not the only op who would want a light action bug, so all comments welcome. For my purposes, I've made my final purchase on keys and I will be paring down to three or four at very most. It's just that time.
    Thank you all for your help and advice, it's been most appreciated.

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