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Author Topic: Vibroplex bugs: old versus new?  (Read 3208 times)
NI0C
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Posts: 2939




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« on: October 25, 2017, 07:19:52 AM »

I've heard some very good bug fists on 40 meters lately, which makes me want to try a bug again.  It's been fifty years, though.  I used to switch hit between a Vibroplex Original and a W9TO keyer. 

I'm asking for opinions concerning the quality of the Vibroplex bugs currently made versus the old ones-- are they as good?   I'll also entertain opinions concerning the advisability of an aging ham trying a bug after a long absence!  (I promise-- if I try this, I'll do lots of off the air practice first).
73,
Chuck  NI0C

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KE6EE
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Posts: 1876




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« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2017, 07:31:46 AM »

I have two older Vibroplex bugs--an Original and a Lightning. Both in perfect shape and 50 years old, purchased from
ebay or other classified source for 1/4 the price of a new one. They are out there if you spend some time looking. They work fine.

I have newer bugs too, GHD, Vizbug and Begali. I do prefer the newer designs to the old Vibroplexes but all work perfectly well.

I sent no code for 45 years between my college years and retiring. I had no trouble using a bug again. I much prefer the feel of a bug to that of a paddle and keyer. Although I originally learned to send with a straight key "American style" with my arm resting on the desk, when I returned to using Morse Code I adopted the "Euro" style with my arm in the air. Likewise the energetic style of sending with a bug appeals to me more than the micro-movement style of sending with a paddle and keyer. Different muscles and a different aesthetic.

I think if you learned Morse Code thoroughly as we all had to do back in the day when it was a part of getting a license you won't have difficulty making good handmade code with a bug (or straight key). My bias is that learning semiautomated code with paddle and keyer as people do today does not require as deep an understanding of the rhythm of code. Ops who have learned this way may have a more difficult time learning to send well with a straight key or bug.

Bugs are fun and their code is subtly more interesting to listen to.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2017, 07:37:38 AM by KE6EE » Logged
KB2FCV
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« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2017, 07:41:17 AM »

When I was a teenager & brand new into the hobby I used a bug a lot as they were fun to learn and use.

Nowadays I use the internal rig keyer and a set of paddles (Begali, usually) but I'll occasionally bring out one of my bugs. I find after a little re-adjustment I send just fine, if not better. As I am used to a keyer, I now tend to try to mimic the sound of a keyer with the bug.. as I want to make it easy as possible for the station I am working to receive me. There is still no doubt it's a bug, but it's hopefully a bit more pleasant to copy.

As far as build quality, I have not seen or used any of the newer bugs. My deluxe is from the 60's and my other bug is from the 40's. One thing I do notice is that the newer bugs don't have the lever to close the contacts for transmitter tune-up - something redundant for rigs today but necessary for rigs of yesteryear.
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W3TTT
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Posts: 271




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« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2017, 11:43:40 AM »

Just a few weeks ago the podcast DIT DIT DOT NET featured the president and owner of the Vibroplex company.  Lots of good info on the history and future of the company and all.  Everyone who is interested in the Vibroplex should listen in. 

DitDit.fm
https://www.ditdit.fm/
DitDit.fm is the podcast for Amature Radio Morse code and CW operators.
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NI0C
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Posts: 2939




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« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2017, 10:45:04 AM »

Just a few weeks ago the podcast DIT DIT DOT NET featured the president and owner of the Vibroplex company.  Lots of good info on the history and future of the company and all.  Everyone who is interested in the Vibroplex should listen in. 

DitDit.fm
https://www.ditdit.fm/
DitDit.fm is the podcast for Amature Radio Morse code and CW operators.
Thanks for the link.  The podcast gets off to a slow start, and I did not make it past the history of the Vibroplex president.  I guess I'm too impatient.
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KK7GB
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Posts: 54




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« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2017, 07:43:26 AM »

I just got through listening to the first three podcasts. I think you have done a great job of encouraging the CW beginner. Once I get off this graveyard shift, I will revisit relearning morse code again.

Thanks again,

Glenn KK7GB
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N2EY
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Posts: 4458




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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2017, 08:23:59 AM »

Just a few weeks ago the podcast DIT DIT DOT NET featured the president and owner of the Vibroplex company.  Lots of good info on the history and future of the company and all.  Everyone who is interested in the Vibroplex should listen in. 

DitDit.fm
https://www.ditdit.fm/
DitDit.fm is the podcast for Amature Radio Morse code and CW operators.

A big THANK YOU for this!

73 de Jim, n2EY
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NI0C
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Posts: 2939




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« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2017, 11:07:04 AM »

After doing some online shopping, I've decided I prefer a used Vibroplex-- one with some character.  I wish I had the one of the two that I used during the early 60's-- first one was a "Blue Racer," the second was an "Original Deluxe."  There seem to be plenty available.
73,
Chuck  NI0C
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KE6EE
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Posts: 1876




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« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2017, 01:10:11 PM »

After doing some online shopping, I've decided I prefer a used Vibroplex-- one with some character. 
73,
Chuck  NI0C

Good luck in your search Chuck. If you're just a little patient, I think you will run across a used Vibroplex
in fine condition, as good as new, at a very reasonable price.

My two Vibroplexes have gray, wrinkle finished bases which I think look great and aren't available new.

Mike KE6EE
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NI0C
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Posts: 2939




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« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2017, 06:46:26 AM »

Thanks, Mike.  I found I can have the best of both worlds, old and new, as Vibroplex sells used keys that are refurbished.  I settled on a 1945 vintage (almost as old as me) Original Standard, with grey base: http://www.vibroplex.com/contents/en-us/d28.html

Looking forward to practicing with it!
73,
Chuck  NI0C
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KE6EE
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Posts: 1876




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« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2017, 09:35:37 AM »

I settled on a 1945 vintage (almost as old as me) Original Standard, with grey base.
Chuck  NI0C

From the description that's beauty at a reasonable price.
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NI0C
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Posts: 2939




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« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2017, 09:42:02 AM »

I settled on a 1945 vintage (almost as old as me) Original Standard, with grey base.
Chuck  NI0C

From the description that's beauty at a reasonable price.
We shall see!  When I placed the order by telephone this morning, the guy who answered the phone was the person who restored the key, and he gave me a good description of just what was done.
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KE6EE
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Posts: 1876




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« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2017, 04:01:21 PM »

We shall see! 

Over the past seven years I've purchased five bugs, sometimes winning the usually-horrific bidding process, from ebay. I based my buying decision on the photos shown. I've never been disappointed.

I think you should be confident buying from Vibroplex.

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AA4OO
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Posts: 108


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« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2017, 06:19:59 PM »

I recently compared my 1970s era Standard Vibroplex bug to one made in the past few years.

There were some small differences.  Most notably the finger pieces of the older bug were molded more smoothly and without any sharp edges.  The older bug's damper mechanism had less slop and was quieter in operation.  The older bug's frame and posts had better chrome.

The new bug was certainly prettier because it was a deluxe model and was very shiny !

In operation both bugs performed equally.

I made a brief video comparing them...
https://youtu.be/p72vNAq_3pc

Richard AA4OO
http://hamradioqrp.com
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Lower your Power and Raise your expectations
NI0C
Member

Posts: 2939




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« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2017, 07:31:31 AM »

I recently compared my 1970s era Standard Vibroplex bug to one made in the past few years.

There were some small differences.  Most notably the finger pieces of the older bug were molded more smoothly and without any sharp edges.  The older bug's damper mechanism had less slop and was quieter in operation.  The older bug's frame and posts had better chrome.

The new bug was certainly prettier because it was a deluxe model and was very shiny !

In operation both bugs performed equally.

I made a brief video comparing them...
https://youtu.be/p72vNAq_3pc

Richard AA4OO
http://hamradioqrp.com
Well-- "ask and ye shall receive."  Richard, I am grateful for your very nice Youtube video.  While I was at it, I watched one of your others, too-- the one where you sent the word "Paris" on a straight key, a bug, and el-keyer.  Your fist is excellent, OM!
73,
Chuck  NI0C 
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