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Author Topic: Vibroplex Lightning Bug Question  (Read 7101 times)
KO7I
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Posts: 106




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« on: March 11, 2012, 10:10:40 PM »

Recently I picked up a Vibroplex Lightning Bug and I am having a little trouble taming it. I raided my fishing tackle box and added one large piece of lead, should I keep adding lead in order to slow it down until I get the hang of it?

Also wondering if I should be looking at a slower version of bug? Are there other models that are slower than the lightning bug? I am wondering is if the main lever spring to stiff for QRS operation?

Helpful tips welcomed.

Thanks & 73, Don KO7i
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WX7G
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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2012, 06:48:34 AM »

All the Vibroplexes I have had are fast. Adding weight I can get them down to about 15 WPM.

I have a Begali that can go less than 10 WPM right out of the box.
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K7KBN
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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2012, 07:14:39 AM »

Clothespins work for adding mass. The Lightning Bug isn't the best semi-auto key for someone who hasn't had quite a lot of experience with other bugs.  As WX7G says (and as "Lightning" implies), they're fast; that's what they're made for.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
K3STX
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Posts: 961




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« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2012, 08:26:19 AM »

With the single stock weight 25 wpm is about as slow as they get. What you want is a clothespin OR what you really want is some sort of "bug tamer". Vibroplex sells them for $33 (YIKES!!) and also Extend-a-dot. I have been told simply adding more weights to the pendulum is not the way to go, extra stiffening of the pendulum by the weights is not the way it is supposed to work.

The earlier bugs had thinner main-springs, so they could go slower with one weight, maybe 20 wpm. I think the Champions also had slightly thinner main springs, could send slower code (but not by much). Most of my bugs go 25-28 wpm with the "stock" weights (one big or two small round ones or one single square for Champion/Lightning).

With a bug-tamer you can EASILY get down to 10 wpm or less. Of course, bug-tamers are different for round vs. rectangtular pendulum arms.

Bugs are fun, keep at it. Alot more fun that paddles, and I was a paddle guy for over 30 years.

paul
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KO7I
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Posts: 106




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« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2012, 05:32:43 PM »

well, I have a tackle box full of lead. I guess I will keep adding weight of one form or the other. Thanks! Don KO7i
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K3STX
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Posts: 961




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« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2012, 05:58:06 PM »

Sure, you can do this. I don't know if I am imagining this or not, but I do seem to remember an OT telling me instead of adding weights to the pendulum (which is what you are doing), the preferred way was to simply increase the effective LENGTH of the pendulum and add the single weight to that. I think the idea is that too much weight on the pendulum arm itself will negatively affect the ability to vibrate effectively (if this makes any sense). The Extend-a-dot simply increases the length of the pendulum (as does the Bug-Tamer, but the Bug-Tamer extends it UP). Maybe I am all wet.

But regardless, even with two weights my Lightning bugs are STILL faster that a single weight on a Bug-Tamer. Also, if you plan to stay a bug-guy, the bug-tamer will last you forever.

paul
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W8JX
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« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2012, 06:54:13 PM »

I have a Lighting Bug as well that I got out of a estate sale several years ago. They do not slow down well even with added weight. They do not call them "lightning" for no reason. 
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2012, 11:31:31 PM »

An alternative to adding lead:

. . . Thin the mainspring with a file or (very careful!) hand grinder.

I haven't tried this, but it's in print.

        Charles
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K3STX
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« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2012, 04:24:01 AM »

An alternative to adding lead:

. . . Thin the mainspring with a file or (very careful!) hand grinder.

I haven't tried this, but it's in print.

        Charles
Wow, that is a pretty scary proposition!!! If you do this you might want to be prepared to actually REPLACE the mainspring once it is all screwed up.

paul
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NK6Q
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« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2012, 08:48:52 AM »

Ahhhrgg!  Back away from the grinder!!

I think this has already been suggested in an earlier thread:

Go to your hardware store and buy a set of brass stair gauges and put one (or both) on the Lightning Bug's pendulum

http://www.sears.com/craftsman-brass-stair-gauge/p-00939563000P

That's what I did for one of my bugs.  Works great.  A whole lot cheaper than the Vari-speed (which I also have, attached to my other Lightning Bug)

Bill in Pasadena
NK6Q
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KO7I
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« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2012, 04:36:37 PM »

I like the. Stair gauge idea. I did receive one private e-mail suggesting that I add a short length of 1/4" aluminum tubing to the weight. Kind of hard to explain using the keyboard of my smartphone.
I am also having proablem with oxidation on the contacts. I am working them over Deoxite. Hopefully I will get them to clean up. The bug is 1945 vintage. And it is in minty condition - except for my fishing weights hanging on it and those dirty contacts. 73 don ko7i
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N6GND
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Posts: 334




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« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2012, 05:15:58 PM »

The brass stair gauge idea is brilliant and cheap at $4.

I found by adding a modest amount of weight to the end of the existing pendulum I can get my Lightning down to a dit speed of about 17 wpm (from the minimum dit speed otherwise of about 25 wpm) which is a fine slowest speed. One can send at an effective even slower speed by increasing space between letters.

I did extend the pendulum length with one of the more expensive adapters and with it I can get the dit speed down to about 12 wpm which I think is as slow as a bug ever needs to go.

The Lightning has a wonderful feel and I love sending with it. It's a great bug and I got mine for $75 on ebay and it's in top condition.

I also have a Begali Intrepid which is far more adjustable than the Lightning. By fiddling a bit with all the adjustments I could get it down to a dit speed of 9 wpm. The Begali is quite an instrument, but the code it sends is no better than the Lightning's.
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NK6Q
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Posts: 202




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« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2012, 07:43:45 PM »

A Begali is God's way of saying you have too much money

(just kiddin', HI)

Bill in Pasadena
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VA7CPC
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Posts: 2357




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« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2012, 09:26:20 AM »

. . .
I am also having proablem with oxidation on the contacts. I am working them over Deoxite. Hopefully I will get them to clean up. The bug is 1945 vintage. And it is in minty condition - except for my fishing weights hanging on it and those dirty contacts. 73 don ko7i

Be careful!  Those contacts are solid silver.  Silver tarnish is conductive, so you _don't_ have to bring them back to "shiny" to have them work perfectly.

Alcohol, on a soft cloth, works fine to remove any dust or oil film that may be present.

.          Charles
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NK6Q
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Posts: 202




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« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2012, 09:30:14 AM »

Moving on to the subject of oxidation:

Silver oxidizes, there's no getting around it.  I work with silver every day in my business and have spent countless hours polishing the stuff:  which is what you need to do with the contacts (and back away from the emery cloth and emery file)

For Lightning Bugs it couldn't be simpler, as the "dit" spring is removable with one thumb-nut.  I have a thin piece of wood the thickness of the bend between the contact and back of the spring, which I keep handy in my jewelers screwdriver box and use on such occasions. 

With the wood protecting the spring from getting squashed, I'll put a dab of Simichrome polish on a piece of cardstock on a flat surface, then I'll rub the contact over the cardstock until the oxidation is polished off.  A quick wipe with a paper towel and it's good to go.  It's easier cleaning the other contacts, as they're either fixed on posts or don't require as much caution as the 'dit spring'.

I find it necessary to run a clean dry business card through the contacts every week or two to keep the contacts nice and clean. I may do the silver polish routine every 4-6 months, and usually do it as a matter of course when I rotate one of my bugs back into service on the station desk.
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