so I want to buy a bug .. never thought I would say that!

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by AE8W, Aug 2, 2018.

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  1. W6MQI

    W6MQI Ham Member QRZ Page

    I use both the Vizkey 90 deg bug, and a Vibroplex blue racer the Vizkey has a softer feel to it because its made of brass, the blue racer seems to have a harsher feel to it. I find the blue racer settings tend to loosen up over time the lock nuts just won't stay tight for long periods of time, the Vizkey never loosens up the brass holds tight with little effort. The Vizkey will adjust to a slower speed with out bolt on adapters unlike the blue racer. I find myself going back and forth between each key they're two different creatures with their own feel. If I were to do it again I think the Vizkey vertical might be the better choice it will slow down even farther then the 90 deg version.
    Oh and one more thing the Vizkey is almost silent sounding during use the Vibroplex clicks, clangs, bangs, dings nothing smooth about it. Listen here while the master DA bangs away on her bug.
    W5BIB likes this.
  2. VE7PJR

    VE7PJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    My bug stable, with most recent additions:

    Vibroplex Original (owned over 40 years, bought new)
    Lionel J-36 (WW2 clone of Vibroplex #6 Lightning Bug)
    Dentsuseiki BK-100
    Ultimate "73" bug
    VIZ Vertical
    GHD autobug (dual lever, makes both dots and dashes automatically)

    I am buying a Garrett Verta-Plex ( which I provided the brand-new Vibroplex parts for
    I'm "negotiating" for a Schurr bug.

    There are several ways to slow down a bug. You can add extra weight, you can look for a bug (like the Champion) that apparently had a slightly less stiff spring, or you can increase the length of the arm that holds the weight.

    I've done the first and third -- I now prefer to use an arm lengthener. The Vari-Speed is one way to do that, if you want a factory made solution; not criticising. If you want to make something of your own, I took a short piece of steel brake line large enough to slip over the round arm, plus a little. I then soldered a brass rod into one end, and "crimped" the open end slightly to make a friction fit to the arm. I have a couple of spare weights that I can put on that brass rod, slows things down just fine. I can also QRQ by simply taking the weight off. The mass of the extension alone gets me up to about 20 wpm. After that I have to scramble around to take off the arm and put a weight on...

    While some say the VIZ will go down to about 10 wpm, I don't try to use a bug for QRS. Slower than about 15 wpm; use a straight key or cootie (or a keyer, I suppose). Too much weight is not only hard to move around long term, it also messes up the dot weighting at very slow speeds.

    Of the ones I have, my favourites are the Vibro Original (because I've used it so long), the BK-100 (which sounds like Grandma's clock), and the VIZ Vertical.

    My personal advice is to buy a new bug. Price-wise the Vibroplex Original and the VIZ bug are both in production and therefore reasonably priced. They're also solid entry-level bugs. Buy a used bug if you want -- but my own growth as a bug user taught me that old equipment often has problems or has been modified in some way by the previous owner. Buying a new bug to start (usually) means that you're starting out with something you don't have to fix just to start learning how to use it. Save the resto project for when you are more comfortable with making the bug do what you want.

    That Ultimate bug has been a long-term project. I wanted one for years and finally found one. One of the rules of buying vintage keys or any collectible is "if you see it, grab it." So I did, and got a key that's had the heck beat out of it and been restored once before. Nice little project, I must say -- but dang that thing is fast. The spring is short and the arm, too. The stock weight is pretty light. That thing starts at about 30 wpm and goes up to about 40. Pretty narrow range, but it's a real time capsule.


    Chuck VE7PJR
  3. AE8W

    AE8W Ham Member QRZ Page

    Interesting about noise from the bugs. This was a question that I hoped people would comment on. Personally, I prefer quieter. Possibly influenced while living at home as a teenager and getting up at some wee hour to catch JA land QSO before school. I would be up a while then go back to bed for a sound snooze before I had to get up.

    My parents' bedroom was at the far side of the house, but some mornings my mother's bat-like hearing would catch the racket of my straight key. She would come storming into my bedroom killing the QSO. Quiet is good, even today.
  4. N2IIE

    N2IIE XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    My 1st bug. I never tried one before so after 30 yrs as a ham I got one on Ebay last month. It's a Deluxe from 1948. It didn't come with any weight so I purchased a 1.9oz aftermarket one. I'm still getting used to it [​IMG]
    KG7WGX and VE7PJR like this.
  5. VE7PJR

    VE7PJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Spent 13 years working in a newsroom with three teletype machines the size of refrigerators hammering away 24/7. The floor vibrated and the lights shook! I tend not to notice noise from something as quiet as an unmuffled Harley, a screaming child (youngest is 25 now...) or a hound baying in the living room. :D Dang lippy dog.

    The noisiest bug I have is the BK-100, and it's more just a different kind of noise than the Vibroplex. The VIZ rattles a little but again, not a problem. That old 73 bug is so worn it is fairly quiet.

    Like you probably did, I learned to like having my straight key set very close so it didn't click in the middle of the night.


    Chuck VE7PJR
    AE8W likes this.
  6. AE8W

    AE8W Ham Member QRZ Page

    "Like you probably did, I learned to like having my straight key set very close so it didn't click in the middle of the night."

    I can't believe you said this. I decided my mother needed to get more sleep. LOL
  7. K7KBN

    K7KBN Ham Member QRZ Page

    She makes sending into an aerobic exercise :D.
    Also, what's with the last word of the message? "Labours". [sic]. She's Canadian?
  8. M0LEP

    M0LEP Ham Member QRZ Page

    ...or just sending accurately? She's clearly sending from the copy in front of her. I'd guess "labours" was written there.
  9. W6MQI

    W6MQI Ham Member QRZ Page

    I wish there was someone close to me that had a Begali Intrepid I would love to play with it to see what one feels like. In fact any of the bugs with magnetic actions would be worth checking out I just love the feel of my Bencher Hex key.
    W5PEH likes this.
  10. W5BIB

    W5BIB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Y'all didn't have ANY problems like I did ! The sound that the "keys" made was nothing to what my parents put-up with !!

    In 1962 I was a new general & was using an old Collins ART-13 xmtr. In case you don't remember these beasts... when using CW, the antenna relay was keyed with every single dit & dah !! :eek: It sounded like a Morse sounder (like from the old days of Landline telegraphy) only about 5 times LOUDER! - It's no wonder that my folks signed for me to go into the NAVY on the day I turned 17 :D

    The power supply was a 2400v Pole-Pig, center-tapped for 1200v & using a pair of 866's.

    An 866 Mercury Vapor Rectifier Tube is a thing of beauty & I had two of'em doin' their thang... w/each Dit & Dah
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
    NK8I, KE6US, WN1MB and 1 other person like this.

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