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Author Topic: Vibroplex Lightning Bug: adjustments and cleaning contacts  (Read 7523 times)
W3HKK
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Posts: 593




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« on: February 27, 2011, 02:42:22 PM »

I find my Vibroplex bug hard to adjust.  And once I get the spacing right,  the manual settings loosen up.  Lots of fiddling later, its working well again, for a while.  And the screws on the bottom come loose fairly often as well.

I get plenty of comments on how good it sounds when its properly adjusted but the constant tinkering is annoying.

Also, the contacts need cleaning and Im not sure of the best way to keep them clean/polished.  Any suggestions?  Ive tried sliding paper between them to mildly burnish the surfaces.  And sometimes Ive used a piece of cotton cloth. 

Finally, I have a hard time getting the bug to go over 22-23 wpm even at minimum wt distance down the shaft.
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2011, 06:15:57 PM »

I'm not a Vibroplex expert, but here goes:

1.  To prevent screws from loosening, either:
. . . put a bit of _blue_ LocTite on the screw, or
. . . put a bit of silicone sealant on the screw

before you put it into place and tighten it.  [Don't use _red_ Loctite]   That should work for the screws up from the base.

For the adjustable screws on top, a bit of silicone seal should work.  Or, use some _thin_ monofilament nylon fishing line, and put it into the hole before inserting the screw.  The fishline gives you enough friction so that the locknuts should work. 

2.  The contacts are silver; you just need to clean the dirt off them, _not_ polish them.  A closely-woven cloth (cotton shirt / cotton sheet), moistened with alcohol (rubbing alcohol or denatured alcohol) should be all you need, pulled between the contacts when they're _gently_ held together.

3.  I think most people have trouble getting the speed _below_ 23 wpm!  There may be a problem with your mainspring (the flat spring between the paddles and the vibrating  "dit" arm).  Some owners ground away some of that spring, to reduce the bug's speed.   Or (not likely) there's a non-standard, very heavy weight on the mainspring shaft.

                  Charles
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W3HKK
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« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2011, 06:09:01 AM »

I tried the cloth and alcohol trick and it made a big difference.  Much smoother shape on dots and dashes now.  No sputtering.Thanks. 

Next step is to  see how long the tightness lasts after my last tightening of the screws.

Got my  speed set between 16 and 26 wpm depending on which end of the shaft the weight is set.   That should work for most of my qsos.   But Id like to get up over 30 to match my copy speed.  Funny how a simple thing can be challenging.
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PA3DEB
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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2011, 07:27:28 AM »

hi,

the trick to increase your speed is lowering the weight.
You can order all sorts of weights at the Vibroplex-site, or you could make one to your own liking.

73,
Kees, PA3DEB (Vibroplex-addict)
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W3HKK
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« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2011, 09:26:40 AM »

tnx Kees!  I didnt realize the weights were changeable, but on closer look I see the wt cylinder will slide out the back.
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W3HKK
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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2011, 09:31:49 AM »

I just removed the entire wt and the bug really flies!  So the proper wt will take some trial and error but maybe a third or a quarter of the original one will get me into the 30-35 wpm range
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PA3DEB
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« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2011, 06:22:42 AM »

glad it helped you, Robert!

73,
Kees
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N6GND
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« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2011, 10:09:24 AM »

I'm curious as to just how you have set up your bug. Generally, Lightnings can't be slowed below about 20 wpm without an extra heavy weight or some sort of device (for example the "Extend-a-dot") which essentially lengthens the pendulum.

Lots of people whose code-sending experience began using a paddle and a keyer don't realize that bugs work best with a significantly larger throw than paddles. If you set up the dit throw on the Lightning (measured at the close end of the thumb lever) at just over 1/16", so that the dit contact spacing is just under 1/16" (adjusted to make nice, fat dits), your bug should perform very well.
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K7KBN
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« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2011, 12:50:26 PM »

I've seen many, many Vibropleces (plural of Vibroplex?) with a couple clothespins fastened to the weight.  Cumbersome and clunky in appearance, but they still worked very well.

Probably played hob with the bearings, though...
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
N6GND
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« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2011, 01:38:19 PM »

And the clothes whose drying is enhanced by the movement of the pendulum must be very small. Like baby socks, or Barbie's or Ken's socks.
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W3HKK
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« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2011, 06:26:16 PM »

Im set at a tad under   1/16th of an inch.  This is a four year old  Vibroplex straight from the factory - all chrome with a red knob.  The weight is .75" long and .6" diameter.  Thats how it arrived.  Didnt know  you had a choice of weights. 

I space the contacts to get  nice relative spacing between the dots and dashes.  but it can be  hard to adjust properly for some reason.

I used a very similar Vibroplex Lightning bug back in the   late 50s early 60s and I was pushing 40 wpm back in those days.
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K3STX
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« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2011, 07:13:31 PM »

This is a four year old  Vibroplex straight from the factory - all chrome with a red knob.

I thought this was a Lightning bug, they have not made them for years!

If it is a reasonably new bug, your adjustments should not come loose THAT fast. Have you REALLY tightened-down the knobs? I guess you know this already, but they key to setting it up is to make sure the pendulum JUST comes to rest against the stop, not TOO much, just enough to stop vibration. It is all written out on the Vibroplex website, as you know.

paul
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W3HKK
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« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2011, 06:11:29 AM »

Despite much finagling, I can only get it to go  between 12 and 22 wpm depending  where on the shaft the weight is positioned.

I suspect my speed is limited not by the bug but by how quickly (or slowly) I  make the dashes, rather than the dots.  ie my actual hand speed.  I know its much slower  on the dash side. I can feel it.  In fact even if I remove the weight and let the shaft fly Im still around 25-28 wpm.  Now when I use the built-in memory keyer and wind it up to 35 wpm or so, I can copy fine. Both ways.

So at age 69 it may just be the brain telling the fingers to make dashes  takes a lot more "travel time" than it used to.

Bug runs nice and smooth now.

Thanks all.
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K3STX
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« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2011, 08:05:23 AM »

I am now completely confused. We are really talking about a bug here, right? With no weights at all, I would think the dits would be about 50 wpm. Are you saying when you put a weight on there you can get "dits" are 12 wpm dits? That is amazingly slow. I suspect this thing is set-up really strangely. Is the distance between the dit "post" and the dit contact on the pendulum about 1/8 inch or so?

The "travel time" for your dashes has nothing to do with the "speed" of the dits.

Every Lightning but I have ever had can NOT go below 27 wpm no matter where I put the weight.

I also don't understand how a memory keyer has anything to do with a bug!?

paul
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AE4RV
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« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2011, 08:15:37 AM »

I agree with Paul, this is very strange. I have a half-dozen bugs, mostly Vibroplex models (old and new) and I can't get any of them below about 25WPM without a Vari-Speed or an Extend-a-Dit.

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