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Author Topic: Vibroplex Lightning Bug Help!  (Read 4102 times)
W3JAR
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Posts: 49




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« on: March 16, 2014, 11:30:49 AM »

Hi Everyone,
I have a vibroplex lightning bug from 1963. Worked like a charm until this weekend where there is apparently a short on the bug. I have tried everything to trace where the issue is coming from, but can't seem to figure it out. When I connect it to the rig (with the contacts WIDE open) it sends a tone meaning there is continuity.

Since a picture is worth a 1,000 words, here is a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFZmI9pDo4U

The cable works fine as I use it between my straight key and the bug. When looking at it via a multi-meter, when connected to both posts and contacts open, it still shows continuity.

I appreciate the help and your expertise!
John (W3JAR)
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W3HKK
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Posts: 596




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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2014, 11:53:00 AM »

Almost has to be a short in the cable, either a tiny wire at the bug, or  at the plug, or if your using a stereo plug try connecting one wire to a different lug on the plug.   Those tiny wires are pesky.

While Ive not had a "short" I have had no cw when I key...UNTIL I reconnect  one wire to the other center connector.

Also double check the  parallel  brass  bars under the bug. A bit of tiny wire may have gotten lodged in there.

I use a chrome plated/red knob Lightning bug myself. and the contacts are the most annoying part.  But Ive found De-Ox-It to be a great spray to keep the contacts sparkling clean and the dits nice and crisp!
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W9GB
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Posts: 2616




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« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2014, 12:00:07 PM »

OBVIOUS (Visually) from your Video, first 10 seconds.

The Vibroplex Lightning Bug was designed for wireline (land line telegraphy like RR, Western Union)
and wireless (radio, maritime)operation.

Your Deluxe model has the Shorting Lever (red knob to right, as you look at front of bug).
From your video, that shorting bar/lever is CLOSED,
creating your short circuit (as it it designed to do).

gb
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W3JAR
Member

Posts: 49




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« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2014, 12:02:46 PM »

Thanks for the help. The cable seems fine since it works well with the straight key and when I use the multimeter on the bugs' two posts, it beeps (telling me the bug is shorted somewhere). I think the next step is to see what cleaning the bottom does and making sure the brass bars are set. I wanted to see if anyone else could have seen something that I might have been too slow to pick up.

The joys of ham radio!

In terms of the shorting bar, the second part of the video is me testing again with the shorting bar off since when I tilted it, the bar made contact.....
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W3HKK
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Posts: 596




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« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2014, 12:27:56 PM »

Another   possibility:   the three (or 4) topside posts holding the dot/dash and exit terminal ( and shorting post) should have about a 1/8th inch insulator ( plastic) at the base isolating it from the  bug base.  Likewise, the underside of the base  for the same 3/4 terminals should have the same- another  small plastic insulator.

If they are all present and accounted for, Id expect you to find a tiny wire shorting it out.  I doubt you've used any  zinc oxide paste like Penetrox ( used between sliding aluminum antenna elements)  but if it got on  your fingers or on the bug that could cause a short.

Let us know when you solve the mystery.
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W3JAR
Member

Posts: 49




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« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2014, 01:13:54 PM »

Hi everyone,
Thanks for the help. Mystery solved! The shorting bar tab was reversed and was making contact to the base. When it was flipped, worked like a charm.
Thanks everyone for your help! I knew it was a stupid issue like that!
Have a great weekend and NOW can finally get back on the air!

Take care!
John
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N6BIZ
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Posts: 18




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« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2014, 08:53:25 PM »

ONE OF THE PLASTIC INSULATORS ON THE BASE WENT SOUTH...
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N6BIZ
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Posts: 18




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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2014, 11:23:18 PM »

ONE OF THE PLASTIC INSULATORS WENT SOUTH OLD MAN
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N6BIZ
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Posts: 18




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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2014, 11:25:40 PM »

CHECK THAT LITTLE GROUND WIRE INSIDE THE TOWER THAT ITS NOT TOUCHING ANYTHING
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