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Author Topic: Bugs and Bug CW  (Read 3001 times)
VK5EEE
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Posts: 1155




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« on: November 11, 2017, 08:57:28 PM »

I believe the fact that most bugs were actually designed for faster dits is testimony to the fact that it is the norm for a higher dit to dah ratio among post office, police and other networks that used bugs. They had to efficiently pass huge amounts of messages all day long without monotony and falling asleep, and without getting tired, e.g. glass arm. There is nothing at all wrong with sending dits at 30 WPM and dahs at 15 WPM and this sort of thing was regularly done, a high dit to dah ratio was simply the standard in many such services, world wide.

I do realize that there is an anomaly in that one particular group of people who are a minority in the world, like things to be robotic and even design their modern societies for robots and are creating robots out of people. Australia is a traditionally very laid back place and pace, so back in the day there was no rush and telegrams were likely churned out at a slower pace, the Australian made Simplex Auto bugs had an unusually low range of speed (dits) from around 15WPM to less than 30WPM, if I remember correctly when I measured mine. Thus no weights are needed by today's hams using this model.

The conclusion I have come to long ago regarding the criticism of dit to dah ratio against some, many or indeed most bug users, and I am not at all critical of anyone wanting to slow down their bug, you have to have it work the way you want it to. It's only reminded me of the fact which I think is not appreciated these days by some today that in fact these bugs were not defectively designed, nor were they used at 35 WPM and higher with a dit to dah ratio of 3:1. At those speeds the dit to dah ration and spacing ratio is certainly uneven.

But the tradition among the "rest" of the world to enjoy CW with varying lengths of dahs, and a higher speed ratio of dits, which was called various names, was very much frowned upon or disliked by those where sending was generally slower in the commercial services and variations, even today, are criticized. I'm not aware of French, Italians, Russians, all of whom have a long history of good CW and bug operating, criticizing what was quite standard and still is, and blessed I think, are those among us in the rest, who appreciate the styles and swing of bug music, with dits at a reasonable speed.

Remember Szondy's Bug Theorem: "Anything that is not a dit is a dah"

That will assist anyone to easily, once relaxed and appreciated, decode ANY bug fist or swing.

I'd like to stand it on it's head for Cooties (Side Swipers) "Anything that is not a dah is a dit" but that doesn't work :-)

Morse is in many ways like writing: you have different standard fonts: Times New Roman, Verdana, Ariel. Those equate to slight but consistent differences in inter-character and inter-word spacing as well as character spacing, on electronic keyers.

Then you have cursive writing, hand writing, block capitals, simple letters, or join ups: those equate to different fists and different ways of using or manipulating any mechanical key be it straight, bug or side swiper.

Among those handwriting styles you have any of those styles varying between neat and legible by anyone trained to read that style (e.g. join-ups i.e. cursive writing) or even short hand writing, and the less legible or even illegible.

Doctors' scrawl can be read by experienced pharmacists, so while it appears illegible to outsiders, it is in fact legible.

That said, sometimes I cannot read my own hand writing, and I've also fallen asleep on the key and woken up still sending and wondering if I sent anything sensible. I think I found out the answer to that: unlikely -- because I was at the receiving end of a friend who continued sending CW when he was falling asleep, and neither the words (seemingly random and unconnected) nor the sending (on a keyer, extra dits, irregular spacing, missing dits, missing dahs and extra dahs) resulted in an embarrassingly awful pseudo-random non-Morse.

With a straight key of course there is a lot of flexibility to any extremes but the slow speed, generally of necessity, makes it less hard to follow various fists. A cootie can go faster, and it is easy to vary speed rapidly even within a word or character, giving it a lot of flexibility, and making for nice listening to an afficionado but unintelligible to the uninitiated or untrained. There, the frequent criticism is that the internal spaces are too short, compared to official CW ratio, but this too is more often than not deliberate by the sender.

Sometimes I think I should do a long video showing numerous styles of straight key, bug and cootie sending, as well as examples of different but consistent and "perfect" keyer sending, then also examples of what would even among the fans of various styles, be considered as poor sending -- e.g. on a keyer, joining characters, and inconsistent spacing, or on a bug a bit harder to do something unacceptable, likely very short dahs, or on a cootie being unable to distinguish between a dah and a dit or a dit and a dah...

There are those who due to having the shakes or other problems, send in a way that they don't have too much control over, resulting in a dah being cut short, an extra dit or even a missing dit or more, and this is not poor sending, it is to be commended that someone still goes on air, because there ARE still many of us around who can piece it together, especially if they are heard regularly, and on a mechanical key.

But consuming sleeping tablets then staying awake and trying to send Morse, or being drunk and sending Morse, well, that really does only make limited sense to the sender and little or no sense to the listener. During such times one really should not be on the key.

I know it's a horse that has been flogged and will not be resolved, but I hope as always to introduce a little more tolerance to and appreciation of, the flexibility of CW.
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Long Live Real Human CW and wishing you many happy CW QSO - 77 - CW Forever

Support CW and join CW clubs. QTT: FIST#1124, HSC#1437, UFT#728, RCWC#982, SKCC#15007, CWOPS#1714, 30CW#1,
KQ4MM
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Posts: 24




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« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2017, 09:10:11 PM »

"Sometimes I think I should do a long video showing numerous styles......"

Lou, I'd watch that video, you should  do it, would be very interesting and of good use to us newbies to hear.

Cheers

Brian - KQ4MM
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VK5EEE
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Posts: 1155




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« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2017, 09:27:42 PM »

OK noted Brian... I'm very uncomfortable at the moment in terms of my situation and pressures (financial, health, environment) so I'm actually not in the right mood or position to do it now, but I will certainly keep it in mind for when I am. I have sometimes thought it would be helpful, and I've found the videos of other CW operators very helpful too, so I will try to do it some day!
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Long Live Real Human CW and wishing you many happy CW QSO - 77 - CW Forever

Support CW and join CW clubs. QTT: FIST#1124, HSC#1437, UFT#728, RCWC#982, SKCC#15007, CWOPS#1714, 30CW#1,
W0WCA
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Posts: 77




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« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2017, 03:12:44 AM »

Nah, no sale.  Crummy sending is still crummy sending.
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NI0C
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Posts: 2937




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« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2017, 04:59:35 AM »

Nah, no sale.  Crummy sending is still crummy sending.
Agreed.  Some of this directly contradicts what was taught by the ARRL by respected operators as W1NJM in the handbooks. We were taught to be able to tolerate and copy imperfect sending by others, while recognizing it as such, and striving for perfection in our own sending.
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W7ASA
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Posts: 473




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« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2017, 01:32:08 PM »

I missed the part about 'crummy sending' being advocated: didn't read that at all. What I did read was that good, usable and often pleasurable code is sent using hand keys, and in this case - bugs. OTOH - I hear poor, crowded and inaccurate code sent using paddle/keyers very often. The 'magic' of Morse code is not in the wand, it's in the Wizard.

I like my Mcelroy 1939, and the ops on the other end generally do too.

73

>Ray
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VK5EEE
Member

Posts: 1155




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« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2017, 05:09:33 PM »

good, usable and often pleasurable code is sent using hand keys, and in this case - bugs. OTOH - I hear poor, crowded and inaccurate code sent using paddle/keyers very often.

How true. It is much more common to hear poor and in some cases in parts unreadable CW on electronic keyers than on any of the mechanical keys. I wish I had your powers of simply summary OM Ray. I'm sure it'd please many people instead of wading through the book chapters I write!

The impression I get is also more common to hear people complaining about mechanical key sending than electronic key sending.

It is also the fact that mechanical key sending is in the small minority and thus perhaps regularly picked on by the majority?
« Last Edit: November 12, 2017, 05:12:16 PM by VK5EEE » Logged

Long Live Real Human CW and wishing you many happy CW QSO - 77 - CW Forever

Support CW and join CW clubs. QTT: FIST#1124, HSC#1437, UFT#728, RCWC#982, SKCC#15007, CWOPS#1714, 30CW#1,
N4OI
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Posts: 358




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« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2017, 06:05:11 PM »

[...]
There are those who due to having the shakes or other problems, send in a way that they don't have too much control over, resulting in a dah being cut short, an extra dit or even a missing dit or more, and this is not poor sending, it is to be commended that someone still goes on air, [...]

IMHO, This is the best argument yet for extending tolerance to all CW ops... 

73
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K8AXW
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Posts: 6357




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« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2017, 09:10:59 PM »

There is no excuse for poor sending!  Any "reason" is nothing more than an excuse!

At one time the only device for sending code was the straight key and men made a living sending code....civilian and military 8 hours and sometimes more per day!  I never heard of the "glass arm" BS until just a couple years ago.....here on eHam! 

As far as "glass arms" are concerned, I never heard of a British intercept operator developing "glass fingers" from copying traffic for 8 or more hours a day with a pencil!

IF a guy does develop a problem with sending with a straight key, such as arthritis or some other problem or he simple would like something to make life more enjoyable then go to a bug.  But if that step is taken, then the operator should master the bug and endeavor to send perfect code with the correct amount of dits as well as the proper ratio of dit length to day length.

As for sending imperfect code with a keyer.....it can be done but an operator really has to work at it.  The dits and dahs are electronically generated to the correct length as well as the spacing between the elements.  Of course he operator can set his own spacing between characters and words.  If he does, that's isn't from electro-mechanical sending but his own sloppy use of the device.

When a keyer is no longer an option then there is the keyboard.  There only the spacing between words can be screwed up.  Again, it's operator sloppy sending and no fault of the device. This boils down to failure of using the space bar on the keyboard.

I'd like for one person to tell me why it's OK to send code that doesn't sound "mechanical"  or perhaps a better questions is what is wrong with perfect sounding code?

I get tired of this discussion of why it's OK to send code any way you want and it should be acceptable by everyone.  Sounds to me like it's another form of PC!

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VK5EEE
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Posts: 1155




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« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2017, 05:56:18 AM »

I know I should not respond to this, but here goes...

With all due respect  Smiley

There is no excuse for poor sending!  Any "reason" is nothing more than an excuse!

Yeh, right, those with Parkinsons for example, should not go on air?! I call BS. There are plenty good reasons that are not excuses.

At one time the only device for sending code was the straight key and men made a living sending code....civilian and military 8 hours and sometimes more per day!  I never heard of the "glass arm" BS until just a couple years ago.....here on eHam!

Again, I call BS. Either you were not there back then on CW in the "Commercial" (non-Amateur services) or you have simply forgotten. Glass arm was indeed a problem, a real affliction, I've had it, MANY or even most of those who used straight keys for hours on end had it. You hearing about it here on Eham, and hams rarely suffer it as they don't send for hours non stop, ahh well...  BS.

As far as "glass arms" are concerned, I never heard of a British intercept operator developing "glass fingers" from copying traffic for 8 or more hours a day with a pencil!
You don't say. And I can tell you, that intercept operators DID indeed suffer "glass fingers" from writing at high speed intercept or using stiff mills for hours on end. Maybe you have selective hearing... not everyone was perfect and managed to avoid such things, at times, cramp is a fact of life.

IF a guy does develop a problem with sending with a straight key, such as arthritis or some other problem or he simple would like something to make life more enjoyable then go to a bug.  But if that step is taken, then the operator should master the bug and endeavor to send perfect code with the correct amount of dits as well as the proper ratio of dit length to day length.

BS!  Roll Eyes

As for sending imperfect code with a keyer.....it can be done but an operator really has to work at it.  The dits and dahs are electronically generated to the correct length as well as the spacing between the elements.  Of course he operator can set his own spacing between characters and words.  If he does, that's isn't from electro-mechanical sending but his own sloppy use of the device.

AGAIN utter BS, but you noticed that half way through your paragraph but did not notice the contradiction. An Op does not have to "work at" sending CW badly on a keyer, it is only as good as the ops reflexes and timing.


When a keyer is no longer an option then there is the keyboard.  There only the spacing between words can be screwed up.  Again, it's operator sloppy sending and no fault of the device. This boils down to failure of using the space bar on the keyboard.
BS -- it's usually not the lack of use of the space bar, but the lack of ability to type only very slightly ahead and not lag behind.

I'd like for one person to tell me why it's OK to send code that doesn't sound "mechanical"  or perhaps a better questions is what is wrong with perfect sounding code?

What are you on today OM?! I can't every remember anyone EVER saying ANYWHERE on ANY forum on air nor off air that there is anything wrong with perfect sounding code. Utter BS.

I get tired of this discussion of why it's OK to send code any way you want and it should be acceptable by everyone.  Sounds to me like it's another form of PC!
Yet more BS... I don't think Political (in)Correctness has anything to do with this. Perhaps try the nice thread on what keying methods you use, and what Tolerance level you have -- be proud of a "1" -- nothing wrong with it, but please, BS is BS!

Wasn't it Colonel Qaddafi who said: "Even a madman has a right to free speech, even if only to show he is mad" -- don't let my reaction on calling BS on every single one of your above statements stop you from calling me mad, nor from posting more along the lines of your arguments if you see reason in them!

73!
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Long Live Real Human CW and wishing you many happy CW QSO - 77 - CW Forever

Support CW and join CW clubs. QTT: FIST#1124, HSC#1437, UFT#728, RCWC#982, SKCC#15007, CWOPS#1714, 30CW#1,
K8AXW
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Posts: 6357




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« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2017, 08:46:49 AM »

EEE:  It's always good to read the works of a "word carpenter."  Unfortunately, what you build with words falls apart about as fast as you put them together.

I have no plans to enter into a pissing contest with you OM..... so let's just let it drop. 
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N9AOP
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« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2017, 11:48:32 AM »

'Glass Arm' is ever present.  Just ask the surgeon who needs to do 4 more carpal tunnels so he can trade in his Beemer.
Art
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KE6EE
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Posts: 1861




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« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2017, 02:21:37 PM »

'Glass Arm' is ever present.

You are more likely to develop glass arm/carpal tunnel from sending cw via keyboard than using a bug, cootie or a straight key Euro style.
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VK5EEE
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« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2017, 04:51:07 PM »

'Glass Arm' is ever present.

You are more likely to develop glass arm/carpal tunnel from sending cw via keyboard than using a bug, cootie or a straight key Euro style.
True that, THESE days where there are keyboards everywhere but not Morse keys Smiley

Like much cramp it seems to come mainly if you make a mistake in the posture of the hand etc, when having to send non-stop for hours at higher speeds on an up-down key (I don't know (m)any hams who would a contest at HIGH speed on a straight key!) it only takes one momentary tensing for it to trigger or set in. This was a very frequent occurrence in the old days of telegraphists, hence the need to quickly create the side swiper and it was the main selling point of bugs: send faster with less effort and avoid the cramp (glass arm) because the sideways motion simply does not create glass arm.

I used a computer keyboard and mouse 16 hours a day almost always 7 days a week without break in a "job" I had for many years, needless to say it brought about (forget what it is called, affects your hand) but when I ended that, the problem eventually went away. RSI is a fact and things are done about it these days, likewise "glass arm" was a big fact of life for telegraphists (not hams) and a lot was done about it because livelihoods -- in a world where there was no social security -- and thus even lives, DEPENDED upon it. Hence the double key (two straight keys end to end on their side) and better the simple hacksaw blade side swiper, and/or the more sophisticated (to manufacture) bug, became stock among those services with regular higher traffic: e.g. some police forces such as Interpol, some higher speed coastal stations, etc.

For ships operators, generally there were not endless telegrams to send non-stop for the entire 8 hour shift. So using a straight key was fine. Bugs were sometimes banned, and not usually practical on a ship rolling from side to side. The side swiper was better, but few used it, perhaps more among the East such as Russia where they generally sent their traffic at higher speed. In rough sees the simple straight key was hard to beat, and the speed of sending telegrams for most sparks in the west, rarely exceeded 20WPM, it was plenty, accurate.

So back to the Original Post in this thread, which I don't believe is "word carpentry" I stand by it with it's main points of argument:

1: Bugs were invented as a response to an essential need among telegraphists
2: Bugs were designed precisely back then, still work fine today, of high quality
3: Bugs were designed with precise weights for a deliberate range of dit speeds
4: Bugs were generally used with intended variable length dahs and higher dits
5: Bugs can be used to send "perfect" CW but there is no need, they ENHANCE
6: Bugs show that CW is more flexible than the robots of today care to accept
7: Bugs always have consistent dits no matter the speed, so are easy to copy
8: Bugs or sideswipers were standard/mandatory in some closed services e.g. Interpol
9: Bugs and sideswipers can produce the best CW music out there, with flexibility

Electronic keys also produce lovely CW if used correctly, there is almost NO flexibility however: a skilled CW operator would be sending perfect CW rhythm on an electronic keyer. These days with return to CW and many doing so on an electronic keyer from the outset, and others who think it is cool to run letters together or became lazy or are sending at a setting too slow for their intended speed, produce "harmful" CW i.e. CW that is inefficient and does not convey information at maximum "SNR".

On the other hand, all mechanical keys (bugs, straight keys, cooties) can make use of the flexibility of dit-dah lengths and spacings, in the hands of a skilled operator, to increase the maximum SNR during marginal conditions, even improving upon the official Morse. This is a simple technical fact, known to anyone who understands digital mode communications in depth: not only is speed decreased in poor SNR (Signal to Noise ratio) but the encoding may also change to achieve a faster throughput rather than failures and endless ARQ repeats. Thus, increasing internal character spacing, lengthening the dah within certain characters on a consistent basis, and other hand-crafted techniques will increase throughput in such conditions, by modifying the 3:1 ratio.

Let us not forget 3:1 ratio is rather arbitrary, but it DOES work well and best for most situations of throughput in International Morse, and that American Morse used a 2:1 ratio plus internal spacings, resulting in a MUCH FASTER means of human Morse communication in conditions of good SNR: so was that 2:1 ratio not superior to the 3:1 ratio: YES most of the time it WAS indeed superior. I.E. what would be 16 WPM in International Morse on a straight key may be 20 WPM or more on the same key with same effort by trained American Morse operator (I didn't calculate the exact speed increase, and it depends on the character average) BUT, it required more skill to become an American Morse telegraphist as the timing was more critical.

If we want to increase our speed on a bug, to say 30 WPM throughput, we can do this with LESS EFFORT if we increase dit speed to 40 WPM thus reducing the need to radically speed up the dahs and lessen the internal spacing, WITHOUT ANY LOSS of intelligibility IF the operator at the other end a) has no problem knowing dit patterns at say 40 WPM CW, b) has not been (mis)trained to only be able to recognize CW characters when sent at the 3:1 ratio. The speeding of the dits RELAXES the operator who can achieve a faster throughput with much less effort since on a bug the DAHS and internal spacings require the EFFORT.

Further, such style of sending becomes habitual and the norm, easy to follow, I even have such QSO across the Pacific with poor SNR without any significant disadvantage than if a keyer were used. What is important when copying CW in poor SNR is REFERENCE: you need to KNOW if the very weak R2 S1 signals are being sent at 30WPM or 3WPM, knowing the exact speed, and holding it consistent, greatly aids your decoding (same as with a computer decoder). Also, knowing the dit to dah ratio, greatly aids, and CONSISTENCY of style, e.g. if sending a D and or L with an elongated dah, this should be done consistently: every character must have the exact SAME style of being sent every single time: consistency. In such cases, I would argue, low SNR throughput is actually increased.

Certainly, when sending OR RECEIVING hours of endless messages, while it can be done on computerised or electronic perfect keying, just like "trance music" it can send you into a trance, and, ultimately off to sleep, but even before reaching that extreme, surely it is obvious to everyone there are progressive mental states between being wide awake and alert and fast asleep and comatose. To stay more toward the wide awake and alert end of the scale during hours of CW, the BUG supremely surpasses the electronic key, again so long as it is used with that added bug generally consistent variety, just as watching a film on TV you are less likely to fall asleep if the film is interesting, has the right balance of action, stress and calm, volume variation, etc. you can achieve a film that will keep most people awake, or one that will send most to sleep, and everything in between.

There is no ONE key that is superior to another key in EVERY respect. The advantages and disadvantages of each would be too many to enumerate, and would depend on your situation both personal and environmental, as well as the type of traffic (military, ham or commercial) the volume of traffic, and other factors. EACH one of bug, keyer, sideswiper and pump have their benefits AND their short comings/limitations. I suppose I could make a far from comprehensive attempt at listing pros and cons, for the benefit of anyone who may be interested and considering taking up a different type of key, but believe me the below list would be FAR from comprehensive:

PUMP (Straight Key):
PROS: Easiest of all to send at slower speeds up to 16WPM or more, easiest to learn quickly in the first instance, forms an appreciation of the exact and precise nature of dits, dahs, spacing, and the human control over those elements. Generally recommended as an essential first key for that reason. Cheap, easy to find, even free keys in good condition after over 50 years.
CONS: Speed limitation is lower, must be set up and used correctly (posture), good quality key is required to retain settings (gap, tension, lack of wobble), contacts must be clean and stay clean longer. Bulky, not easy to carry around a full sized pump.

BUG (Semi-Auto Key):
PROS: Given in the above post
CONS: Cost or availability for good quality bug, setting up may be tricky at first, is not designed to be used for 3:1 CW and thus requires some training and adoption of "Szondy's Bug Theorem" if unaccustomed to anything other than 1:3 CW. Bulky, heavy, impractical for mobile CW in vehicle or on a vessel, even not practical for light weight portable operations.

KEYER (Electronic):
PROS: when used correctly there is less effort involved in sending CW than on any other key type including computer keyboard. With training can send impeccable CW and quickly be recognised as an "excellent CW" op, if you are never heard on any other type of key ;-) Light weight, super light weight, good for mobile and portable use. Best for very high speed CW.
CONS: requires batteries, circuits, electronics, harder to learn than pump, requires more precise timing. Difficult for very slow CW.

SIDE SWIPER (Cootie):
PROS: Easiest key to create out of common parts, works well even with rudimentary home brew construction, simple. Flexible design, need not be heavy or bulky, gives a lot of freedom to send a different style of Morse which is often called "musical". Can be used easily at speeds from moderately slow to moderately fast (mid range CW speeds). Flexible CW output (may be a "Con" to some).
CONS: Training is not really a con, though it is very different in method of sending than other keys, learning and mastering can be surprisingly easy, contrary to expectation. It's hard to find a con for a cootie. I wanting to send perfect 1:1:3 CW, this requires more skill e.g. to increase internal character spacing, wider berth of hand/rocking/gap.

ALL CW keys are good, and every CW key is of course much dependent upon the skill of its operator but perhaps less so than FEARED!
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Long Live Real Human CW and wishing you many happy CW QSO - 77 - CW Forever

Support CW and join CW clubs. QTT: FIST#1124, HSC#1437, UFT#728, RCWC#982, SKCC#15007, CWOPS#1714, 30CW#1,
AA4OO
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« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2017, 05:10:15 PM »

From history of J.H. Bunnell.  http://jhbunnell.com/bunnellcohistory.shtml 

"In 1888, Bunnell introduced his double speed (sideswiper) key to help telegraphers avoid a "glass arm" (today called carpal tunnel syndrome). The original sideswiper, Style G, did not have spring tension adjustment. Most photographs show the style W, with a spring tensioner"
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