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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 have a T47/ART-13 I use for CW, AM op's your right its loud of course at 30,000 ft with aircraft engines roaring away the T/R relay wasn't a big deal. I wear a set of head phones with the side tone cranked up so I can hear what I'm sending hihi. The ART-13 is still a great transmitter 75 years later its still working hard as though it were 1943 try that with one of these $10,000 new fangled electronic gizmo radios not going to happen.
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  2. K5TSK

    K5TSK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I never do it, but the most practical thing might be to find the closest CW guy who has lots of stuff and see if he would let you try some out. Probably not going to let you change his settings, but you never know. Or you can buy stuff and let it collect dust while you use your (Vizkey, Vibroplex, whatever). Good luck. 73
  3. AE8W

    AE8W Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well, I decided to go with a sideswiper. I have a sort of an emotional link to bugs but don't want a lot of stuff laying around that I know I will not use. Maybe someday if I see a stupidly cheap deal and I have had a beer or 3 or ...

    I found a very good deal for a "previously owned" Begali Sculpture Swing. And, after a few days of pestering Bruna and he explaining that the, "... swing sideswiper key is very smooth and softer than Begali HST key… the Begali HST key can be slapped more without being worried … the Begali Sculpture Swing instead seems to be used with less hard and force ...". The description of my keying preference is completely contained in the description of the Swing. I was completely focused on the HST MK III which is less expensive. But the US ham that buys, tries, and sells ... popped up at the perfect time for me.

    I want to get my speed to at least 40 wpm and no one supports that with a bug. So, I am going with a cootie. Thinking about that statement, it sounds hilarious!!!:D
  4. K5TSK

    K5TSK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I understand the emotional tie 'thing'. Years ago, my cw Elmer liked my sk fist and offered me his Blue Racer. He knew how to use it. I took it home and tried it for a while but having settled into my Bencher iambic, just couldn't send worth a flip. Later, I gave it back out of respect for the equipment and told him he really needed to give it to somebody who could do it justice. Got out of ham for a bit. Got back in.
    Then joined SKCC and started rekindling my love for rustic cw. Bought a Vibroplex SK, then a Begali, then remembered the Blue Racer and wanted to give the bug thing another try. Decided I didn't want to destroy my Bencher right fist, so I started learning left handed on a Vibroplex Standard right handed bug, but left handed. Then got a Vizkey vertical right handed bug. Found I could send readable quiet code on it with my left hand 16-17 wpm to abt 25 wpm. I plant my arm and wrist on the desk and barely move my hand any more than I would with the Bencher. It doesn't move. It doesn't scratch. It doesn't make noise.
    Now I'm wondering what would have happened if I had had sense enough to try that Blue Racer left handed. And I'd give anything to be able to work Jake again, bug to bug. 73 Good luck.
  5. WN1MB

    WN1MB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    "Rustic CW." An absolutely perfect and beautiful description! Thank you for that.

    I recently purchased a 1964 Vibroplex Original at a local hamfest, which afforded me the luxury of inspecting and test driving before prying bills from the wallet. Next purchase a couple months later was a Vari-Speed, which works as it should, but I'm not completely happy with it. I'm thinking of going with a slide on tube/weight extension to simplify going QRS.

    Still haven't logged enough practice time to feel completely confident with the Vibroplex, but have made a few contacts with it - and the other ops could decipher my code. So getting there, I guess. Time. Practice. Patience.

    And a tip of the hat to the SKCC crew: some of the nicest guys on the air!
  6. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I started out in 1967 as a Novice. Used nothing but a J-37 straight key for 7 years, then got a Vibroplex Original (standard, grey base). Same bug has been my main key for 44 years.

    I mention this so you know where I'm coming from.


    1) Before you get a bug, you have to have a good straight-key fist. That's because a bug doesn't correct for timing errors the way a keyer does.

    2) A bug has to be set up right - and many of the adjustments interact. It's not like paddles where you can set things like spacing to whatever you want.

    3) Proper setup requires a way of measuring the weight of the dits and dahs. The classic way is to send a string of dits and watch the plate milliammeter on the rig - with a Class C final, it should hover at about 50% of the key-down value. Then send a series of dahs; it should hover at about 75% of the key-down value. (You did mention "rustic CW"....)

    4) I recommend starting out with a basic Vibroplex. The Original, Champion or Lightning Bug. Fancy finishes and jeweled bearings mean nothing in my experience; what matters is that you get a good one. The "Blue Racer" and "Zephyr" are the same mechanisms on a narrow base, meant to save space on the table. They are nice, but they tend to scoot around too much, and bring high prices.

    5) Most Vibroplexes don't go slower than about 15 wpm. So you need to be comfortable at 20-25 wpm.

    6) To slow down a round-pendulum bug, get a depth-stop for a drill. They are nicely plated, have a set screw, and aren't expensive. Look like this:


    Or get a replacement weight from Vibroplex.

    I don't know if you can still get parts for flat-pendulum bugs from them.

    73 es GL de Jim, N2EY
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  7. VE7PJR

    VE7PJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Some years ago a friend gave me a nice Lionel J-36 with no weight, and I got one from Vibroplex. If they don't still have them, Donnie Garrett at 2bradioparts has one that is twice the mass of the original.

    These days I keep one eye open at the scrap yards, and pick up interesting looking hunks of brass stock. I can usually make a weight to fit whatever I need. Not that it looks professional, but it does work!

    I was interested to see the difference in finish and fit between my old Original (which I've owned since new in 1977) and the Garrett Verta-Plex conversion which uses Vibroplex "top side" parts. I went with all new parts because I didn't want to take apart an old key. At first I was thinking, "Wow, Vibroplex sure didn't seem to put so much work into this new bug." Turns out most of that was just the normal "getting to know you" stuff. I LOVE that key now, even more than my VIZ vertical.

    I hadn't been on for a couple weeks. Went in the shack Saturday evening and cranked up on 40 with 50W. That Garrett was just like pulling on a good pair of gloves -- comfortable, everything just in the right place for my hand; made me sound better than I really am. That's the mark of a good key!


    Chuck VE7PJR
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  8. WN1MB

    WN1MB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

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  9. K5TSK

    K5TSK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well, my hat's off to you for wanting to improve your skill level. Pretty sure 40 wpm on a cootie would be impressive. Good luck. The speed range I mentioned with the Vizkey vertical is my limitation, not the machines. At 17 wpm deciphered on RBN, the weight is almost touching the damper. I've only lowered the weight 1/3 down to get that 25 wpm or better. A real 'bug' man could probably do 40 on this machine, so I'm not selling it short. Just know I can't do that yet. Best of luck.
  10. AE8W

    AE8W Ham Member QRZ Page

    For the time being, I feel like the village idiot on anything but a sk

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