Those Vibroplex Bugs

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by W9HC, Aug 5, 2002.

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  1. W9HC

    W9HC QRZ Member QRZ Page

    I've heard lots of hams, mostly older fellows, talk about how much they love to send CW with a Vibroplex semi automatic "bug."  I don't doubt that they enjoy sending with this device, but does anyone really enjoy trying to copy one?


    1) Are these keys even capable of sending CW with the correct dot-dash duration ratio?

    2) Am I noticing this only because a few ops don't know how to use their key, and the rest of the bug users are doing just fine?

    3) Is it right to not answer a CQ because you don't care to copy the other guy's fist?

    This is not a rant.  Just wondering what others think.  I don't hear as many of these "bug" keyers as I used to, but I know some guys just swear by them, and others swear at them.

  2. W5ATX

    W5ATX Guest

    I love my bug. I tend to think I send fairly well with it, but I don't use it much anymore either. To err on the safe side, I'd probably use my keyer. But the quality of sending depends on the operator.

    Once upon a time I had a 9mm pistol that was not an inherently safe weapon. I used to call it "less idiot-proof" than most weapons. Of course all firearms are potentially very dangerous, but some are even more likely to cause accidental harm in the hands of the less intelligent. And I think the bug is the same thing. It takes time, practice, and effort to use correctly. It's a gadget that is most easily operated improperly, the operator left to his own devices. Too many folks should not be using bugs yet who continue to do so. Once upon a time the "Lake Erie swing" was considered a fairly harmless, if not even a bit melodic, style. Now I wouldn't care to copy it either.

    During WW2, the radio intercept operators on both sides were able to identify individual senders of cw on the air. German U-Boats were particularly well tracked in this way. The use of the bug was the prime reason. Of course individual straight key styles are different too, and even keyers to a lesser degree. But the bug is just . . . so individual sounding.

    Are you willing to take the time to get good at using it? If so, then by all means go for it. It'll be a lot of fun. But if not, then please, leave it in the curio cabinet (where my ww2 vintage bug is right now. It was a gift from my elmer who used it at US Navy 90 Church St NYC radio center for the duration of WW2.)

    Good luck and 73,

  3. KB9YFI

    KB9YFI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Please elaborate on this "less than safe 9mm" What was the make and model number and what, in your opinion, made it inherently unsafe? I have been in the shooting sports my whole life and have met very few weapons made by established companies that were unsafe when standard safe gun-handling practices were employed. If this gun where truly unsafe you should have sent it back to the manufacturer to have it upgraded. With today's product liability laws, very few firearm manufacturers will turn out an unsafe product. The testing is rigorous just for that purpose. If a defect is found they bend backwards to recall and fix any problems before they incur a loss which would hurt business and perhaps even cause insolvency or uninsurability. Perhaps the "danger" you perceived was not in the weapon itself but your unfamiliarity with the safe handling practices and special precautions inherent with that particular model. I'm waiting with baited breath for the details.

    Jim - KB9YFI
  4. N0XAS

    N0XAS Ham Member QRZ Page

    </span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (KB9YFI @ Aug. 05 2002,20:49)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE"> I'm waiting with baited breath for the details.[/QUOTE]<span id='postcolor'>
    What, did you swallow some sardines?

  5. KB1GYQ

    KB1GYQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    </span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (KB9YFI @ Aug. 05 2002,21:49)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">&quot;less than safe 9mm&quot;[/QUOTE]<span id='postcolor'>
    I once saw a gun with the following instructions: 1) put on safety 2) aim 3) release safety 4) fire. Talk about a bad idea... the action of taking off a &quot;safety&quot; will get you way off target.

    The biggest thing that makes guns unsafe is restricting access such that illegal acquisition and use is easier than legal.
  6. KB9YFI

    KB9YFI Ham Member QRZ Page

    </span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (KB1GYQ @ Aug. 05 2002,23:12)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">The biggest thing that makes guns unsafe is restricting access such that illegal acquisition and use is easier than legal.[/QUOTE]<span id='postcolor'>
    That should be engraved on the steps of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

    Beautifully said my dear man!
  7. KE7VE

    KE7VE Banned QRZ Page

    You can sent good standard code with a bug or you can send Lake Erie Swing. Having grown up just 3 miles from Lake Erie I actually like Lake Erie Swing....try sending my old call for 27 years, WB2RJR, on a bug with a little swing and you'll see why. It is like music.

    Ever been on the air in a qso at 30 wpm and get the feeling that you are talking to a machine? You know everything is just too perfect. You can check if you have a bug by sending some questions with some swing, people can copy this, machines have trouble. If suddenly it's QRM, QRN, QSB and have to QRT, you know the answer.

    73, Marty K7RKR (ex kg0ko, just got tired of sending that 0 and o, and being called kgok0, kgoko, and kg0k0)
  8. N4SL

    N4SL Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've used a Vibroplex bug for 29 of my 30 years of hamming... used to be, everybody used one!

    For someone just getting into ham, I'd recommend a keyer. Unfortunately, everyone sounds exactly the same on a keyer. Yes, &quot;unfortunately&quot;.

    For contests, my computer sends perfect code for me.

    For regular QSOs, I use my bug which doesn't sound like a keyer or a computer but I think it sounds fine. The critical thing is to learn to adjust your bug correctly, this is actually pretty hard to do! The very slowest you can send with a bug is 20WPM, most people have the dits set for 45WPM and send the dashes at 25WPM -- that's why they don't sound good. I've been guilty of this myself.

    So, buy a keyer and sound like everyone else. It's what I would do if I were learning CW now. I'm just thrilled anyone even wants to learn CW anymore, frankly.

    73, Steve N4SL
  9. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I don't answer anyone whose sending is difficult or painful to decipher, so that pretty much rules out my working about 90% of all &quot;bug&quot; users.

    The bad &quot;bug&quot; sending is not new, it's been with us as long as I've been a ham, which is 37 years now. The old timers who couldn't send properly with them back then are only older now, and got much worse.

    I used Vibroplex bugs in 1965-1966 and got pretty good with them, at about 40wpm. The moment I laid my hands on an old Hallicrafters &quot;TO&quot; electronic keyer and paddle, I sold the bugs and never intend to use one, again. Why expend more effort to sound not as good? Makes no sense to me. Kind of like &quot;yelling&quot; when a P.A. system is available.

  10. W5ATX

    W5ATX Guest

    YFI -
    The weapon in question was a Heckler and Koch P7M8 - known as the squeeze cocker.  Yes, with proper training it was perfectly safe.  I consider myself fairly well trained, having carried a firearm of one sort or another for the past 22 years.  But the P7 is a weapon designed for professionals (the wermacht to be exact) and adopted over the past 20 years by a variety of law enforcement agencies.  Safety issues have always cropped up with the P7.  

    The main &quot;glitch&quot; is that if the trigger is pulled (a major error, but one that apparently happens fairly often, even on the range) the weapon of course will not fire.  If the trigger is pulled THEN the weapon is squeezed hard enough to cock (as when drawing from a holster), the weapon will fire upon cocking.  

    The above scenario was corrected to a degree by new training.  Yet under stress, some folks will still make that mistake and shoot themselves in the foot.   And that is why I called it &quot;less than safe.&quot;  In retrospect, the term &quot;less idiotproof than others&quot; (no firearm is idiotproof, but the P7 is particularly quick to bite) is a better description.  

    The P7 happens to be an outstanding weapon, one that I particularly enjoy owning.  And in years of having them, I have yet to have a negligent discharge.  And I've fired a LOT of rounds through mine. In fact, I've NEVER had a negligent discharge.  But maybe I'm more careful than others, I don't know.  What I do know is this weapon, without careful training, a LOT of rangetime, and a healthy dose of respect, will bite the user more quickly than many other weapons.  

    Is it &quot;unsafe?&quot;  No, not if properly handled.  Again, for the P7, proper handling involves a bit more care I think.  If you've never handled one, you cannot fully appreciate what I'm saying.  If you have, then you know.  


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