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Author Topic: New to a bug, struggling a bit  (Read 2416 times)
WD4ELG
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Posts: 209




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« on: December 26, 2017, 02:17:35 PM »

Santa left me a Vibroplex original under the tree.  I did a lot of research beforehand, and watched a lot of videos.  I also have the arm extender to allow me to send at slower CW speeds.

I am getting comfortable with it a lot quicker than I expected.  I need to watch the dash length always of course.

I do have it set/adjusted pretty much according to this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qekmyx31Uxw

For now, I am send CW at 13 WPM until I can improve.

The bug does not slide around the table at all, and I have a comfortable rocking of the wrist motion so far for sending CW.

However, I am struggling with something...my transition from a dot to a dash is "mushy."  It feels like there is not enough space between the transition.  I'm not sure how to fix this.  If I send a series of letter 'A' continuously, I can focus enough to get through it.  But if I am just doing regular word practice, I run into this issue.

Another problem I am finding is I sometimes send an additional dot.  Almost like I am not fast enough to release the paddle.

I would appreciate any guidance/tips that you OM's can provide.
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KE6EE
Member

Posts: 1905




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« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2017, 02:44:15 PM »

If you have been accustomed to using a paddle, you will probably need to adjust how you send.

I think the instructions in the youtube video to which you have referred are misleading.

The youtube producer mentions that the dit and dah lever travel adjustment should be about .015 in. I think this
is more suitable for paddle lever travel than for bugs, especially for a bug that is being used to send at the relatively
low speed of 13 wpm (assuming the proper dit length/speed for the overall speed).

Also there is no need for the dit and dah lever travel adjustments to be the same. I usually have my dah travel set
at about twice the dit travel.

More spacing is usually required for bugs because you need some distance to accelerate the pendulum so that it can
produce enough dits weighted properly, especially at a minimal bug speed of 13 wpm.

If you find that the dit to dah transition is difficult, open up the dah travel distance to at least 1/16 in. (that's four times
what is suggested in the youtube video).

I would begin with a dit contact spacing of at least 3/32 in. (.09 in) and a lever travel distance suitable for producing
a dozen properly-weighted dits at 13 wpm.

Your remark that the bug does not slide around the able at all suggests that my comments above may be helpful.

Most bug users I know do have trouble with bugs tending to slide around. Heavier bugs are often better bugs. I have
a Begali Intrepid bug which is quite heavy but I keep it on a sticky rubber pad (used for cellphones) to insure that it
does not move. I have used Vibroplex bugs which belonged to commercial marine ops who doubled the bugs' bases to
give them better resistance to moving.

The bottom line is that a bug demands a significant amount of physical input which a paddle does not. Thus you cannot
expect a bug to perform well, perhaps especially at low speed, with adjustment parameters similar to a paddle.

There are abundant youtube videos on bug adjustment. Look closely at the lever travel distances. Watch a few rather than depending on the advice of a single op. What works for him may not work for you.

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WD4ELG
Member

Posts: 209




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« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2017, 03:02:43 PM »

KE6EE, thanks VERY MUCH.  You nailed it...my spacing is similar to an iambic paddle, which I now see is probably not enough.
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KE6EE
Member

Posts: 1905




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« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2017, 03:52:07 PM »

My spacing is similar to an iambic paddle, which I now see is probably not enough.

I'm happy to try to help.

Also occurring to me: how do you send on a Vibro Original at 13 wpm? Usually the minimum (dit) speed
for those bugs is 20 to 22 wpm. To slow the dits down to 13 wpm you will need a LOT of additional weight or an
Extend-a-dot or other device which lengthens the pendulum.

If you are attempting to send at 13 wpm with a bug that usually won't go nearly that slow, you may be using
an inappropriate fast dit speed which to my ears (and other CW forum bug users) sounds quite nasty.
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WD4ELG
Member

Posts: 209




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« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2017, 07:59:36 PM »

Mike, I did some more tinkering and practicing tonight, and I am getting pretty close to sending bug CW that does not sound like a "bug"

I have to be careful to keep character spacing when switching from dot to dash, because I have a tendency with my big and clumsy hands to slap the paddle to the dash with my finger too quickly.

All other issues seem to be resolved now.

Oh, almost forgot to answer your question...I am able to slow down the bug to 13 WPM using this neat device, a pendulum extender, item Vibroplex Vari-Speed Kits VS-OBR:

https://www.dxengineering.com/parts/vib-vs-obr?seid=dxese1&cm_mmc=pla-google-_-shopping-_-dxese1-_-vibroplex&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIi5nB4KWp2AIV0rrACh1hfgAAEAYYASABEgKZn_D_BwE

I saw it in a video and realized that I need to "walk before I run" so to speak.
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K3STX
Member

Posts: 1597




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« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2017, 08:51:07 PM »

Your problem was solved within the first 5 hours of your post: PRACTICE. That is the name of the game. The video you reference is great. Everyone has their own opinions about bug use; I use the suggestions on the video the same way you do.

The biggest problem I have is bug movement. I don't want to drill holes in my desk, so my left thumb keeps everything in place. No "sticky pad" is sticky enouhpgh to keep my bug from moving.


Paul
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N2EY
Member

Posts: 4559




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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2017, 07:24:39 AM »

I have used a Vibroplex Original Standard since 1974. The advice given by others is very good.

1) Adjustment is important. Unlike paddles, you need a certain amount of travel in order for the dot pendulum to work correctly. Remember that everything is mechanical.

2) All a bug does automatically is make dits. Unlike a keyer, all the timing is on YOU; no bug will correct for timing mistakes.

3) A bug is more like a straight key than a keyer/paddles.

4) How slow you can send with a bug depends on the individual bug. Some will not go below 20 wpm without extra weights. Mine will go down to about 15 wpm with the weight all the way out. "Farnsworthing" your sending can do the trick - but it's a learned skill.

5) It is possible to send excellent code with a bug - so good that no one can tell what you are using. But it takes practice, practice, practice, and never being satisfied with less than perfection.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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K8AXW
Member

Posts: 6505




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« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2017, 10:02:59 AM »

I no longer use a bug.  I have a homebrew keyer and now a commercial keyer what gives me the option of self completing characters....or not.

I have become used to the self completing characters and when I try to use the NON self completing characters my code becomes very poor. 

I suspect this is what is going on with your bug.....you have to practice and perfect the timing and adjust out any mechanical latency between going from one element to another.

As with any aspect of Morse, practice is the answer.  Of course it helps when the bug is adjusted properly as well as practice.

After building the keyer written up in QST many years ago, I never looked back.  The only reason for buying a commercial setup was because I was convinced that a Kent key would work better.  The commercial keyer kit has several buttons that permits me to "can" messages or exchanges. 

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WD4ELG
Member

Posts: 209




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« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2017, 12:06:44 PM »

Again, thanks to all for the help.  Now that I seem to have it adjusted properly, I am getting a lot closer to sending CW that sounds like it's coming from a keyer (which is my goal)
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K3STX
Member

Posts: 1597




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« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2017, 10:51:48 AM »

If your dashes are coming off a bit more quickly than you would like after sending a bunch of dits, you can increase the spacing of your dash contact. That will allow more time for the lever to swing to make the dash contact. As you now know, the feel of sending pure "dahs" is a lot different than alternating dits and dahs. It is that extra travel from the dit contact; the pendulum arm is not quite centered when you are beginning to move the lever arm to make a dash.

Make sense?

paul
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WB0FDJ
Member

Posts: 178




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« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2017, 11:36:08 AM »

You probably already know about this but the Straight Key Century Club is a group dedicated to the use of mechanical keys on the air. The Weekend Sprint runs one weekend a month and is a great place to wade out into the waters if you are learning to use a bug; thats why I joined. I needed somewhere to operate where I wouldn't hear "QLF?" a lot. You'll hear a lot of "rusty" keys and hams learning the ropes on bugs. Speeds are usually around 15-18 WPM.

Doc WB0FDJ 73
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WD4ELG
Member

Posts: 209




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« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2017, 03:16:24 PM »

K3STX, I followed your advice and it has helped.

WB0FDJ, I am a member of SKCC but not active...but I will be now that I have the bug.
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KE6EE
Member

Posts: 1905




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« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2017, 04:12:19 PM »

K3STX, I followed your advice and it has helped.

I was away from ham radio for 50 years. Got relicensed and picked up a bug. It took maybe a year
for me to have the sense that my bug-sent code was up to snuff.

Bugs are not as easy to master as keyers. I have heard that in commercial and military radiotelegraph service,
any operator was allowed to use a keyer, but to use a bug required a test.

Listening to bugs on the air you will hear some good sending and plenty of not-so-good. Stick with it and
you will master it, even if it takes longer than you think.

The struggle is natural and to be expected.
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N3DT
Member

Posts: 1332




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« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2017, 03:40:58 PM »

As a novice in the 60's I had to get away from that J38 key. Found a Johnson bug and I started off with that. It wouldn't do under about 20+ wpm, so I used whatever weights I could get to attach to that pendulum. Worked for me, but as you've discovered the spacing of the dits and dahs can be way different for the speed you need to work at. I finally go so I could send pretty good code with that bug above 20wpm, but later on I went to a fully electronic keyer. I try the bug once in a while but boy it's a lost memory now. Hard to make those dahs properly now. The one thing I couldn't stand with the bug was the guys that had the 'Lake Michigan' swing. I couldn't even copy it because I did all my copy in my head and that musical swing just screwed me up, I still have trouble writing or typing CW to copy. Good luck with your bug, they're a real trip and yes physical to work with. I always had trouble keeping mine in place no matter what I did to it. Should have put a screw through it. But I worked a lot of CW with it. I'll never give it up though. Love that CW.
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K7KBN
Member

Posts: 3491




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« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2018, 06:19:52 PM »

I've never understood why somebody would have to hit the levers so hard as to make a Vibroplex bug move around on a desk top.  After I'd been licensed about two years (~1961), a neighbor who'd been a telegrapher for the Union Pacific RR gave me his Lionel chrome plated bug.  LIttle adjustment, little practices with the oscillator, and I got on the air.  Signal reports indicated everybody could copy just fine.

When I graduated from Radioman School in '63 I bought myself a Vibroplex Presentation (thirty-seven bucks worth of luxury!) - and the fitted carrying case for it.  That served me well on board ship, and never did it slip around.  Other CW operators used that bug, and none of them had slipping problems either.

It's a tool, yes - but like a micrometer (which is also a tool) you don't have to use it as a hammer OR as an anvil. Are the tension springs misadjussted?
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
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