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Reviews Categories | Keys & Paddles | Vibroplex Lightning Bug Help

Reviews Summary for Vibroplex Lightning Bug
Vibroplex Lightning Bug Reviews: 22 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $80 - $150 on eBay
Description: Semiauto keyer by Vibroplex. It is the pattern used by the US Navy ca. WWII and is distinguished by a triangular upper bearing mount and a single, cubical weight on a flat spring arm.
Product is in production.
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W2RDD Rating: 5/5 Jun 22, 2006 12:44 Send this review to a friend
Best of the litter  Time owned: more than 12 months
I've had this one twenty years. Probably purchased at a ham fest. It is the J-36 Signal Corps model. Date on plate...June 6, 1941...six months before Pearl Harbor. I think of that time and place every time I use it. It is the best of the half-dozen bugs I possess.
W8ZNX Rating: 5/5 Jun 22, 2006 11:52 Send this review to a friend
do love this old key  Time owned: more than 12 months
have lots of keys
some cheap some high end

key use the most
pre ww 2 Lightning bug
have had it for over 10 years
looks like it
escaped from the junk box

makers plate missing, switch missing
base repainted 50/60 years ago

it is the most loved key in my shack

if i could keep only one key

it would be my old Lightning bug


K2VCO Rating: 5/5 Dec 13, 2005 21:20 Send this review to a friend
Another vote for Vibroplex's best!  Time owned: more than 12 months
I want to add my vote for the Lightning as the best bug for everyday CW. Mine is actuually a Signal Corps J-36, manufactured by Vibroplex.

Here's what's good about the Lightning, compared to the Original:

1) Wide speed range, from too slow to too fast.
2) The weight stays where you put it.
3) This is subjective, but it just feels better!

Like other reviewers, I've used many other bugs. Some of them move around on the desk too much (Blue Racer, smaller Speed-X's), some of them won't slow down (most Vibroplexes except those made in the early '60's with thin mainsprings), some of them won't stay in adjustment, and some -- including a brand-new fancy Japanese bug with optical sensors -- just don't feel right.

I agree whith what another reviewer said: if you are starting out using a bug, look for a Lightning (or a J-36 or a Champion, which is almost the same). You won't go wrong. See you on Bug Night (Dec. 31)!
WB7QQR Rating: 5/5 Jan 7, 2005 13:15 Send this review to a friend
Worth Restoration  Time owned: more than 12 months
Smoothest, quietest, most comfortable bug around. My 1942 standard needs new nylon washers and spacers, but it's well worth Vibroplex's high prices for those replacement parts. I'll keep this one forever.
IK0YGJ Rating: 5/5 Mar 9, 2004 07:57 Send this review to a friend
* THE BUG * for all  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
If you are planning to switch to a bug, hunt in ebay and look for this one.
This is >>THE BUG<<.
Fast, reliable, accurate, lasting, easy to get on, silent. It has all the feature that may be desired from a bug. I took only one week to get used to it (coming from paddle 1 year experience).
In its slowest adjustment ranges from 25 WPM up to 60+.
If you get one, never sell it, I am sure you will use it during all the ham life.
I purchased one 1968 version in eBay for just 88$.
The frame around the damper allows also a secure transportation, without damaging it.
K9HCK Rating: 5/5 Nov 2, 2003 21:42 Send this review to a friend
I like it...  Time owned: more than 12 months
Have owned a Lightning Bug since 1966 and still get a kick out of sending good cw with it. I too dont understand Vibroplex's thinking in dropping it.
G3LIV Rating: 5/5 Nov 2, 2003 17:04 Send this review to a friend
Oldest but the best  Time owned: more than 12 months
I have owned a J36 made by Lionel since 1957 I purchased it for 1.10 thats about 50cents at the time. Its been used and part refurbished. But its still my favorite Bug.Its marked US Navy 1942.
I have some parts in a draw from an old incomplete J36. If you are short of a part to complete a J36 key maybe I have that bit you require.
Its nice to see keys like this kept going.
Shame it was dropped.
73 all you Old J36 Bug users
de Johnny G3LIV. ok QRZ.
W9LBB Rating: 5/5 Nov 2, 2003 01:13 Send this review to a friend
The BEST of the Vibroplex line!  Time owned: more than 12 months
Off and on for the last 25 years or so I've been collecting Vibroplexes, and except for some of the VERY obscure models (prior to 1925) I've owned and used them all. That includes such tasty models as a Norcross Vibroplex, Vibroplex Junior, both the prewar and postway Blue Racers, and even a Martin Engineering version or two!

Out of ALL of them, the Lightning Bug and it's various spinoffs (i.e., the Lionel and Bunnell made military J-36 versions) have to be my FAVORITE Vibroplex products for actual on the air use. As a vanity, I have an old model Presentation with it's much ballyhooed La Hiff adjustable mainspring; even it doesn't compare to a Lightning Bug's feel.

I agree with others on thier reviews; I can't understand WHY Vibroplex dropped this model. In my opinion, the Original would have been the logical one to drop if something had to go, because the Original is MUCH more expensive to produce. The Original is made of machined and milled castings, while the Lightning Bug is largely made up of bolted together metal stampings. Ironically, I've never found an Original that feels as GOOD as a well adjusted Lightning Bug.


Tom, W9LBB
VE7BGP Rating: 5/5 May 21, 2003 20:27 Send this review to a friend
Real Fun CW  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
A member of the club recently became a silent key I purchased a Chrome Ligntning Bug from his estate recently, circa 1970 the year I got my ticket. The old bug is in almost Mint Condition and very low milage on it or it was well looked after. What a nice bug to learn on. I thought it would be hard to use a bug after using a Bencher BY-1 paddles. I really think its easier to QRQ on this nice old Lightning Bug its got such a nice feel to it. Thank-you to the great Web sites to help me to get this Bug properly adjusted after that it's just a matter of practice. I got the hankering to try a Bug about 10 years at Field Day ago another operator was on a Bug and he had to drain out some Coffee and I took over on his Bug I think a old Blue Racer and made a few contacts on Tony's bug boy was Tony ever suprised to hear me getting contacts on his bug. He had a great Fist. I doubled up on Tony many Field Days taking turns operating & logging Tony shortly after that became an SK and True Silent Key not just a Silent Mike! my nickname for Phone only op's that pass away. See you on the air
73 Gerry
VE3WMB Rating: 5/5 Feb 18, 2003 23:18 Send this review to a friend
Very Nice Bug  Time owned: more than 12 months
I bought a 1970 Vintage Lightning Bug Deluxe on eBay a few years ago and love it. It is one of my favourite Bugs.
I found that by adding an extra weight I could easily slow it down to the 18wpm range. It looks and performs wonderfully. Too bad that Vibroplex gave up on this model, at least they stil have a limited selection of parts for it.
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