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Author Topic: Hearing more Bugs on the air.  (Read 14797 times)

Posts: 114

« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2014, 12:27:46 AM »

I have a Blue Racer Bug. More fun to operate history if you know how.

Posts: 2

« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2014, 01:55:46 AM »

Quote from:  link=topic=95089.msg737658#msg737658 date=1392928463
Some bug code is so awful I just tune by. Mostly horrendous spacing between dits and dahs and words. Some of it is not copyable.

I agree,I've heard an awful lot of very poor code sent with a Bug in my short CW career,maybe some Ops require a bit more off-air practice.

I've also noticed a lot of Eastern European Bug Key Ops who send extra dits,so "5" has seven dits and "H" has five or six dits.I would have thought that as dits are sent mechanically on a Bug there shouldn't be much trouble in getting it right,but I've never used one so maybe I'm talking through my hat!


Posts: 477

« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2014, 09:14:13 AM »

Just FYI...

A 'bug', or semi-automatic key, is the predecessor of the electronic keyers normally found today.  The bug made the dots by a spring bouncing on a contact.  The dashes were made manually, usually with your thumb.  They originated with the telegraph companies and the railroad telegraph.  While Vibroplex is the big name, there were several companies that made them in a bunch of different 'styles'.
A bug is less labor intensive than a straight key, but they do require work.  Learning to use one is also something that you can plan on putting a LOT of time/effort into!  And like a bicycle, you never really forget how to use one, but you can certainly get awful 'wobbly' after being off of one for a while.  Most bugs are for fairly high speed CW.  There are few that do the 10 - 20 wpm stuff, most of it is faster.  (Vibroplex does make a special thingy for slower speed now, it's a weight that will slow things way down.)  A bug is a two wire type key, doesn't require three like an electronic keyer.  Basically just a form of on/off switch.  Those auto-paddles use three wires because there are two separate circuits that produce those dots/dashes.  (Just to simplify/complicate things, most newer radios use a three terminal plug for all connections, key/keyer/speakers/etc.)
I remember learning to use a bug 'fondly'... now.  At the time it was the pits! Smiley  I have several, very seldom ever use them now, I'm just too lazy.  Oh well...
 - Paul

Posts: 85

« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2014, 08:32:21 PM »

I probably shouldn't mention this, but...

There have been times I've been able to break a pileup with the bug when I couldn't seem to make it through the clutter with the paddles and keyer. Maybe it sounds "just different enough" to get the DX op's attention.


Posts: 10

« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2014, 09:16:01 AM »

I have a bit of a "bug collection" Cheesy and I love to use them. The "bug tamers" by Vibroplex and others either add extra weight or extend the vibrating arm to slow down the bug. My normal setup has a bug set at 18 or so, in parallel with a bug set for about 25, in parallel with a straight key. At the moment it is a Junker but has been a clone of the Titanic key, the SKCC Pump key, among several others. Be careful or a key collection can sneak up on you!

A properly set up bug (videos are on Youtube that show how) is a joy to use. If you check the history, they were developed to help with fatigue and the "glass arm" problems of the railroad telegraphers. It uses a totally different set of muscles than the up and down straight key.

When I was a boy, every photo I ever saw, especially in Boy's Life, of a radio shack had a nice shiny, Vibroplex bug on the desk. Ham, ship, whatever, a radio shack without a bug was unthinkable. I love the history of them as well as the feel.

Posts: 5

« Reply #20 on: March 16, 2014, 12:15:43 PM »

It's all what you get used to.  In 1956 I went from a J38 straight key to a Vibroplex bug and managed to get up nto the low 40's.  Then computers came along and I switched to them. Keyboarding is easier on old fingers.  I also tried a Bencher paddle but the  rhythm of a bug vs the rhythm of a paddle drove me crazy, so I sold the paddle and stuck with the bug.

Now in my 70s, I find Im slowing down with the bug, so Ive picked up a "CW buddy"/keyboard for contesting,   Just plug it into the keyjack and go to town on the keyboard.

But I still  enjoy the bug.

No doubt about it, setting  upyour bug so the dits and dashes are properly spaced takes some practice.  A good operator takes pride in his spacing as much as his speed.   And keeping the contacts clear of sputtering takes some work ( I use De-Ox-It spray which  does a great job cleaning up dits)

Many  cw ops have complimented the sound of a "well oiled" bug,  and can recognize the unique rhythm of each operators fist.  I once had a 4 hr ragchew ( in the middle of the night) with a bug-user in Ontario, as we went back and forth.  It was a pleasure to copy him...easy on the around 35 wpm.

Posts: 0

« Reply #21 on: March 16, 2014, 01:19:12 PM »

A bug is nice to use with simple equipment - where maybe you don't want the extra complexity/expense of an electronic keyer  Grin

Posts: 321

« Reply #22 on: April 01, 2014, 04:48:32 PM »

Well, Deja Vu... I posted a similar reply to a guy asking about 'High end straight keys" I use a keyer when working DX.  I can easily run 40 wpm a keyer in the pileups.  But when I rag-chew, I like to light up one of my Drake 4 lines and use my old Vibroplex "original" (the chrome job with red paddles) that I bought new for $17.95  If you elect to use a bug, I beg you, I implore you, I kindly ask that you NOT try to pretend to be a tug boat operator on the Erie Canal.  Please don't try to put your personal "swing" on your characters, it just makes for absolutely HORRIBLE copy.  As a former commercial op *back when such things existed* we could tell who was on the key without such B.S.  to this old fart, "buggy cw" translates to **** fist.  Try to sound as much like machine generated code as you can.   Bil

Posts: 69

« Reply #23 on: May 12, 2014, 08:47:29 PM »

I have a '71 Original that I picked up on ebay to use in SKCC sprints. I have only been doing CW for 4 years and my comfort level is about 14-15 wpm, so I have the bug slowed down. The other day I was using an older, borrowed rig, which doesn't have an electronic keyer, so I used my bug to work a very nice ragchew (the other op was also using a bug). I found that it was very pleasant to use, and I make fewer mistakes than with a paddle. I don't mind working an op who is using a bug either. I find that the "swing" is kind of fun to listen to. I have a difficult time relating to people who can use a paddle but can't use a bug. I don't think one is much more difficult than the other. Both take a little practice to use well.

Just my 2 cents.

BTW I have a very good friend who routinely uses a cootie. His fist is also fun to listen to.

Garth, KF7ATL
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