Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KN4CQB, Mar 22, 2020.
Ideally the op has to first slow down the dits - which will be a mechanically determined speed - then manually slow down the dahs and spacing accordingly.
This is where the Vari-Speed and weight - or other methods of slowing the bug down come into play.
Or add a weight.
Extra weights are standard Vibroplex parts, though they're not cheap. A round weight can easily be assembled by using a drill stop like this:
maybe with a thumbscrew to replace the setscrew.
A square weight can be fashioned from a block of brass or steel by hacksawing/filing a slot and drilling/threading a hole.
The key (pun intended) to bug sending is to constantly remember that all a bug does is make dits. You have to do all the rest.
Ok, this is pretty much addresses my original question. With the added weight and "other methods", how slow can you go?
Maybe 12 wpm or so.
I find that lengthening the pendulum typically works much better than added weight.
That has been my experience, too.
However, there is no free lunch. Consider sending code with a hand key at 10 wpm. The operator instinctively (or should) make crisp dits. Musicians would think staccato - as opposed to legato (there's that Morse/musician aptitude parallel again...the precise placement of notes and the division of time).
Classic bugs "bottom out" speed-wise ~20 WPM due to a variety of things including arm length, arm travel, flex spring material and dimensions, etc. So if one lengthens the arm and puts the weight out there, the dit speed can be decreased. However, I find with this set up the dits lose their "staccato crispness." This is because of the increased contact dwell time - for lack of a better definition. The extended arm length dimension and relocation of the weight differ from the original design "proportions", if you will.
I've heard that the newer, brass right angle bug, or it's cousin, the vertical bug, can slow down quite nicely. If this is so, it's probably because these design "proportions" were taken into consideration.
Bottom line? I'd say it's that the minimum speed of a bug is going to be determined by the "dit quality." When that "dit quality" starts to deteriorate, that's when you're starting to fight the physics of the original design.
Sorry if my terminology is AFU. I'm not a mechanical engineer.
Yes, I agree with that completely. If you think of the 'mechanics' of the dit closure, that contact is actually slightly sliding across the contact. I run my bugs through my AEA MM-3 which has a 'debounce' circuit in it and it eliminates that 'scratchiness' that you hear on many bugs.
Vibroplex oughta make a little add-on box with a debounce circuit in it.
Many of us bug mavens prefer "fat" (legato) dits to staccato ones. Still, the scratchiness of dits, however fat,
can be irritating due to contact bounce.
Jackson Harbor Press sells a debounce device, PCB plus all vital components, for about $15. You need to
add input and output jacks and a battery holder or DC input jack. An afternoon's project including installing
in a tiny (or tinny) box like what Altoids come in. It might cost you $30 total. If Vibroplex offered such
a product, no doubt it would cost several times that.
Some bugs do not have sliding dit contacts; the Begali Intrepid is one. One side of the dit contacts
is a spring-loaded cone and the other side is attached very close to a pivot which minimizes the "slide."
Still the dits from the Begali benefit from a debounce circuit.
Use the right tool for the job.
If you're using a bug and have no physical challenges like arthritis, tendon problems, chronic muscle problems, etc., you probably have
no issue maintaining 15 WPM with a straight key. If you cannot form letters properly with a straight key at, say, 13WPM, I and many
of your fellow hams would suggest you shouldn't attempt using a bug--it is not appropriate for your level of code proficiency.
Those with physical impediments, the above does not apply to you.
I have a straight key, mounted on a long board, with 2 small alligator clips connected to the bug in-use at the time--always . When it's time to go below
about 21WPM that means the fellow or gal on the other end is comfortable with 18 and that's where where we communicate via straight key.
Don't use a circular saw to slice your bread in the morning. It sounds terrible.
And thank you.
THANK YOU for saying something that NEEDED TO BE SAID!
...when a bearded axe will more than do.