The world's ugliest bug!

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by K5DH, Nov 17, 2018.

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  1. WA3LKN

    WA3LKN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would use a machine shop grinder to grind off the rust from the top and sides. I did this with a bug that looked like it had battery acid spilled on it and was severely pitted. The base ended up a little thinner. See photo after plating.

    The dit contact blued steel is available, and can be drilled with a spade carbide bit. Getting it bent may take some doing as it's some spring steel is brittle and can fracture. You can get the silver contact point from Vibroplex, or simply purchase the whole dit part from Vibroplex. You can solder the silver contact on the blued steel after grinding the bluing off or press fit it in the hole but the tolerances are tight.

    Good luck!

    Automorse 1.jpg Automorse 2.jpg
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  2. WA3LKN

    WA3LKN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hey I just saw that it was DONE! Great job!

    The original bugs came grey wrinkle or chrome plated. If you paint yours grey over the black it will look OEM.
  3. WB2GCR

    WB2GCR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Wait a second... what is that 3rd paddle for??
    What type of bug is this...?

  4. WA3LKN

    WA3LKN Ham Member QRZ Page

    That's a fully automatic mechanical bug.

    You can use it as a regular semiautomatic key or you can use it in fully automatic mode. Hence the extra paddle depending on how you wanted to use it:

    Paddle #1: dits.
    Paddle #2: dahs in manual mode like any other bug.
    Paddle #3: dahs in automatic mode.

    It was made by Hitchcox Bros. in Adelaide, Australia in 1918. The Aussies liked weird bugs.
  5. M6GYU

    M6GYU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Damn! I just tried to swipe that off the screen so I could read what you'd typed Steve. Now its all over my reply in the quotes!!!! Grrrrr!
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  6. K5DH

    K5DH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I figured out what to do about a weight for the TAC bug. I found some zinc-plated brass unthreaded spacers on McMaster-Carr's web site. The ones I bought are 5/8" diameter with a 3/16" hole. I bought 1/2" and 1" lengths. They cost $7 - $8 each. They sell other sizes that could fit other bugs; I know Vibroplex bugs use a thinner rod diameter. I drilled and tapped a hole for a #6-32 screw. Bought some steel thumb screws at Lowe's, only $1.22 for a pair. Came out pretty nice!



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  7. WB2GCR

    WB2GCR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ok, so is this the result - the metal - of merely polishing?
    Or has this been replated?


  8. K5DH

    K5DH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Bear,

    Just cleaned and polished the plated parts, no re-plating. There is some obvious wear and pitting on the plated parts, but they look pretty good. I replaced the screws that hold the thing together because the originals were trashed. I screwed the nameplate down to the base using #4-40 screws in tapped holes (it was originally riveted). The dit contact assembly is from the parts bin; it's probably a Vibroplex part. It had to be drilled out to fit. The finger pieces are Vibroplex parts, and the thumb piece is actually broken and re-glued where the stud from the finger knob comes through it (doesn't show in the photo, but you can see it in person). The thumb nuts on the wiring connections are from Lowe's. This project was a "labor of love", not a restoration. Definitely not "original". To quote the Reese's candy TV commercials... "Not sorry". It does have a nice, smooth feel to it.
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  9. KI4ZUQ

    KI4ZUQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Really looking GOOD! The data plate can be made like the original brand new! Check with those guys at Dremel makes a tapered cobalt bit that tapers from .125" to about .005" like a miniaturevtapered reamer for that spring steel. You may do about the same thing with the spring on a set of breaker points as a replacement...
  10. K1LKP

    K1LKP Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    likes with red SMALL.jpg
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