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Vibroplex Bug Question - new to this

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KN4CQB, Mar 22, 2020.

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  1. K1APJ

    K1APJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    To continue the music analogy, my music teacher (1960's) offered the following advice regarding improvisations. He said that you should always play one chorus "straight," to prove that you really know the piece....

    I offer the same opinion on CW, a minor swing is an expressive variation of proper CW. But if you can't send proper CW to begin with, you are just making a mess.
  2. WA1GXC

    WA1GXC Ham Member QRZ Page

    "He passed the sign that he should have seen:

    Shift To Low Gear

    $50 fine, my friend."
    N2EY likes this.
  3. W6MK

    W6MK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Absolutely. I have a keyer and SL paddle on my desk for exactly that purpose. On my bug is a piece of masking
    tape with speeds marked at four weight positions.

    As far as I'm concerned the only use for a keyer is as a bug calibrator. :D
  4. VE3HIX

    VE3HIX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Now that's dedication!
    If you connect a regular bug to the ring of a stereo plug, then plug it into a keyer that is set to the bug mode, it should debounce or descratch your bug without changing anything else. It actually works here.

  5. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I actually use my vari-speed to give a rough indication of speed in WPM. I do this by using the Reverse Beacon Network to measure speed. It is not the most accurate indicator, I know, but I collect plenty of data points to help with this.

    Then, I set things up so the vari-speed is perfectly vertical at 20 WPM. I know my top (legible) speed on the Vibroplex is about 30 WPM, and I make a note of what angle the vari-speed is at to achieve that speed. Conveniently, this is about 45 degrees! So, half-way between those two settings should be fairly close to 25 WPM; etc.

    I actually do most of my rag-chewing at around 25 WPM. When I try to send much faster than that on the Vibroplex on QSOs longer than the "599 TU" type, my error rate becomes unacceptable, which other ops tend to gently but firmly remind me of by QRSing. Unfortunately, they usually overdo it and QRS down to about 18 WPM. So, I try to avoid the whole thing by staying at or slightly below 25 WPM.
  6. W6MK

    W6MK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Accuracy schmackeracy!

    Yes as bug musicians we do find that certain tempos are not our favorites.

    We do avoid the nastiness of overly-automated sounds.

    And, actually, when you can match your speed to that of the other op,
    you don't really need to know whether you're doing 22 wpm or 23 wpm or
    23.5 wpm! ;)
    KA0HCP and W5BIB like this.
  7. W4WVW

    W4WVW Ham Member QRZ Page

    What is a realistic minimum speed for a bug? It seems like most bugs I hear have the dits coming much too fast, no where near a 3:1 ratio. Also, I see various users adding weight in an effort to slow the dit production. I haven't touched a bug since the 60s and I never used it on the air. Curious what you seasoned ops think.
  8. WN1MB

    WN1MB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's an operator issue, not a bug issue. The classic 3:1 ratio is maintained by the operator's skill level.

    Though no expert, the bugs I've used had a stock low end speed of just shy of about 20 WPM. A Vari-Speed arm and weight or other mods can slow down the Vibroplex bugs. There's a right angle and vertical bug that is supposed to QRS stock down to around 12 WPM, if memory serves.
    WA1GXC and W4WVW like this.
  9. WA1GXC

    WA1GXC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Varies with the specific instrument. Every device has a reed-spring with slightly different characteristics. They were mass-produced as a tradesman's tool,
    not to travel to the Moon with NASA.
    With standard Vibroplex mass on the pendulum arm (1 square weight, 2 circular weights at far end) my 8 Vibroplex bugs have natural slowest speed about
    20 WPM (1921 model) to about 27 WPM (1942 manufacture, an outlier). I'd say normal range 22-24 WPM.
    As discussed in other forums here, my observation is some bugs take to lots of weight (mass) very well and some don't like it. I'm not a mechanical
    engineer but there's more going on than just mass and pendulum displacement.

    Blue Racers are fast--new ones, old ones, They don't count.
    Les Logan Co., original owner of Speed-X trademark and patents, also very fast. Mine sounds crappy after most careful adjustment possible.
    Telegraph Apparatus Company (McElroy) standard 2-weight loading. Made for professionals. 27 WPM.

    And yes, the post just above is spot-on. Bugs don't send bad code. Operators send bad code.

    Last edited: Jun 6, 2020
    N2EY likes this.
  10. W4WVW

    W4WVW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Operators.......I understand. So it appears that 20WPM or close is the reasonable bottom end of the speed scale. If an op is trying to send say, 15 wpm, he has to slow down the dahs and/or spacing.

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