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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. W9RAC

    W9RAC Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I did order it, black, thanks for the tip, 73 Rich
  2. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Update -

    I got an I1QOD Evolution bug.

    It is visually a work of art, but it is mechanically well-constructed as well. I have seen videos of operators slapping a bug and sometimes having trouble with getting it to stay in one place on the table. The I1QOD operates with a light touch and has a heavy base, so it doesn't move.

    The speed range was around 15-30 wpm with the standard factory weight, but a 1.9 oz weight slowed it down to 12-18 wpm. (The diameter of the pendulum rod is close enough to the Vibroplex that the aftermarket weight fit without having to drill it out.)

    I noticed that, even with the dit contacts parallel and aligned, there was "scratchiness" on the initial dit in the KX3 sidetone. I thought of damping it electronically with something like a "bug descratcher", but I read that some operators inserted a small piece of foam in the "U" of the dit spring. I tried this and it solved it. I saw no effect on the spring action for the timing of dit generation - all it did was mechanically debounce the first dit.

    The I1QOD only uses magnets for the lever return force. It uses a conventional "U" spring for the pendulum oscillation. The vertical pivots for the two levers have no discernible slop. All of the adjustment screws have knurled locknuts which do not get loose in use.

    The damper has a rubber O-ring to make the impact of the pendulum rod quieter. It makes a slight rattle as it floats in its support yoke. In 6 months of practice, I have learned that correct dit-dah transitions occur when the pendulum has finished one oscillation and is near the damper. If I transition then, the pendulum barely bumps the damper, but if I mess up the timing, the pendulum has more inertia and the damper has more work to do.

    I can send with it at 12 wpm now, without having to think about how to move the levers. It is most definitely a third skill, unlike a straight key or paddles. For me, getting the correct timing required holding my thumb and finger just over 1 inch apart and rolling my hand on the edge of my palm. The lever fingerpieces are 5/8" apart and the extra gap slows things down just enough to get the correct inter-element spacing. I practiced with the paddles set up on a second oscillator so I could compare the timing. I thought I was close, but PCW Fistcheck showed a few characters with issues, so I spent more time on them. Now I can send with a bug and it sounds just about the same as the paddles.

    This has provided the challenge I wanted in learning to use a bug and I'm looking forward to using it on the air.

    I feel a little bit like a kid with a 21-speed road bike for his first bicycle. I know 12 wpm is at the low limit of what should be done with a bug, but I hope to improve my skill and be able to "stretch it out" to 15 by summer.
    AE8W, WN1MB and W9RAC like this.
  3. AC3GO

    AC3GO Premium Subscriber QRZ Page WA9TGT

    If you don't want to space em out, contact Donnie

    My Bug can go down to 18wpm with standard weight, SPACED accordingly.
  4. W9RAC

    W9RAC Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    OK, I would have thought the weights would have been the same, yours and mine that is. So I would have thought the dits would have been the same also. Its easy to look around and read that the Vibroplex, as it comes from the factory is around 24 ish lowest speed, dits of course. The question was...... and is how is yours at 18 please. How do you space out the dits? 73 Rich
  5. AC3GO

    AC3GO Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yes exactly spaced out PLUS easy touch.

    I’m OK with a bug but can never be like the old timers were at 40 wpm plus!!
  6. W9RAC

    W9RAC Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    If the dits are automatically formed how do you space them differently?
  7. W6MK

    W6MK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Bugs were intended to be used at speeds of about 20 wpm and above where sending with a straight key can be uncomfortable for
    an op working all day, as in commercial service.

    At 12 wpm most ops would consider a bug to be overkill. Unnecessary.

    It sounds like your problems with sending have to do with timing. I would suggest you use a straight key to work on improving your
    timing. Work at a manageable speed, say 16 to 18 wpm. Timing is as much a mental challenge as a physical one. Once you
    understand timing in your head, it is readily transferrable to your use of your key. The important task is to internalize the correct

    It may well be, and I think it is for me, that 12 or 15 wpm is too slow a speed to use a bug easily. You may be fighting against
    the fundamental design goal of a bug. Bugs work very well at speeds of 20 to 30 wpm. Below or above that range, a bug may be
    a challenge for many if not most operators.
    AC3GO likes this.
  8. AC3GO

    AC3GO Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Perfectly stated. I can slow it down, but that’s me.
  9. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I am aware of the history of the bug.

    I have the timing down for a straight key, at 15 wpm. PCW Fistcheck confirms it.

    The reason why I have the bug set up for slow speed is because I can't copy at 20 wpm, yet. I can do 15, but I am just a beginner and the "procedural overhead" of a QSO is just a little bit too much at 15 wpm.

    I believe it is bad form to send faster than you can receive, so I send at 12 wpm for now. The goal is 15 by summer.

    Also, I thought I would develop some skill with a bug, even at slow speed, rather than wait until I am proficient at 20 wpm. Bugs are allowed by SKCC and, even at 12 wpm, they are less work than a straight key.

    Regarding timing, I didn't have any trouble with 1:3 dit/dah ratio or with sending consistent dahs. I had trouble with getting a consistent 1 dit space on dit/dah transitions. I would shorten it by moving my hand too fast. (Probably because I'm used to paddles/keyer with automatic inter-element spacing and element completion.)

    I've heard quite a few bugs on the air. Some are easy to copy and some have a horrible swing. I did not want to be a bug operator with a swing, so I decided to practice off the air until it sounded "clean".

    I'm there. Now I will work on speed. But meanwhile, I plan to use the bug for SKCC at 12 wpm. ;)
    WN1MB likes this.
  10. W9RAC

    W9RAC Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    At the risk of sounding argumentative, with the dit's being formed automatically, and using only factory weights I do not believe it is possible to achieve a series of different dits, with a Vibroplex Original Key by varying ones touch of the key. Having made around a 1000 QSO's with mine at 18 to 20 wpm I am at a minimum very familiar with the workings of it. If the dits are sent automatically for example, at 24 wpm minimum with factory weights, yes you can change the timing from between the ending of the dit to the beginning of the dah, or you can change the length of the dah but without changing the weight you can not change the automatic timing (speed) from its sending of the dits.

    If you were to send a series of 10 dits, no matter in which way you touched the key they would all be the same, each time, provided you allowed it to send the 10 in a row unimpeded. You can change the series of 10 dits speed by changing the weight. Which brings me back to the issue I spoke of earlier, sending dits at 24 wpm and then trying to slow the end product down by spacing out the dahs, either by length or time between. I have run across many OPs using this approach making the end result very difficult to impossible to copy. So much so there does exist a complete thread about it. "stop the bug swing".

    If a magical way of slowing down a semi automatic mechanical key exist I would like to read the complete process of how it is achieved, other than the less that desirable way I have previously described. 73 Rich...... listening
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019

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