Man, this thing is "bug"-ging me...

Started by raybiker73, October 06, 2012, 08:38:04 pm

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raybiker73

I have always loved bugs, and always planned to learn how to use one once I got my ham radio license. They just look so awesome, all big and chromed and Art Deco-looking. So, I bought an old Vibroplex, which was advertisted as "good condition, all parts move freely." I guess that's true, inasmuch as the parts were moving freely around the bottom of the box.  :-\  But hey, that's the way it goes with buying used - you pays your money and you takes your chances. Plus, I like a fixer-upper, so I've gone ahead and torn it (mostly) the rest of the way apart. I think all the parts are actually HERE, which is a big plus. The contacts are so corroded that I can scrape the top layer with a fingernail, and about half of the screws either have gunked-up threads or seized locknuts, but that's OK. I think I understand how it's supposed to work mechanically, so if I just get each individual part back to a usable condition, then gob all those parts together.... well, it will probably take a few hours and a lot of cursing. Wish me luck!   :)

gil

Hi Ray,

At least once you're done, you'll know EXACTLY how it works!

Gil.

raybiker73

If my progress so far is any indication, when I'm done I think I'll know enough to go out to the shop and build a new one from old motorcycle parts.  :-\  Actually, it's not too bad so far. First thing I did was go through all the screws and bolts. A couple of them were bent, one of them about 15 degrees near the head.  Straightening them out was tense. This thing is no spring chicken, and those bolts weren't meant to be bent in the first place, let alone bent back again. But, everything went well. I had to use a needle file and clean up some of the threads where I straightened them out, but a test-fit shows they all thread in OK, and that all the locknuts are freed up and usable. I've got all these fasteners soaking in a little cup of Rem Oil right now to loosen up the rest of the gunk, and I'm firing up the Dremel and the polishing wheels to see if I can clean up the brass plate a little bit before starting on the body of the thing. Onward!

Prepper-related note: Aside from all the electronics tools you'll use, I've found that gunsmithing tools are some of the handiest things to have in your ham radio arsenal. A small brass mallet, a high-quality caliper and inch mic, a can of Rem Oil and a set of USAMidway gunsmithing screwdrivers will end up spending as much time on your radio bench as they do on your reloading bench. It's always good to have stuff that will multitask.

raybiker73

The operation was a success, and the patient survived! It works really well, but even at the slowest setting it's pretty fast. It'll take some practice to be able to keep up with it. For now, I stuck a clothespin on the end of the 2nd weight to slow it down to about 15WPM character speed. This thing is awesome.

White Tiger

Wow, Ray...that's every bit as pretty as a '49 Panhead!!
If you're looking for me, you're probably looking in the wrong place.

raybiker73

October 07, 2012, 01:23:54 am #5 Last Edit: October 07, 2012, 01:26:45 am by raybiker73
Yeah, but this doesn't leave a little puddle of oil on the floor underneath it.  ;D

EDIT: The serial number shows that this bug was made in 1949, so it isn't a pan, but you're on the right year!

Paul

For what it's worth, Vibroplex is very good about having replacement parts.  They aren't the cheapest in the world and may take a little time to get them, but they do have the parts.  I've only run across one other company that's better in that category, but they don't 'do' Vibroplex keys.  :)
- Paul

RadioRay

October 07, 2012, 06:58:08 am #7 Last Edit: October 07, 2012, 10:46:27 am by RadioRay
I love a bug.  Sure and they're not as "efficient" as a set of paddles with electronic keyer, they can 'get away' from use a bit and it's not perfect, computer generated code, but who cares?  My voice is not like the voice synthesizers that corporations use to keep their customers away frm the owners of the business...  In short - each bug has a slightly different feel, sound and 'texture'.  As long as I am sending from my own bench, I use a bug or a straight key, which is funny because I love miniature QRP rigs...  somehow having a key that weighs two or three times more than the transceiver is funny to me...

And if there is a Queen of Morse, it would have to be DA, from the coastal station KSM/KPH.  This is using a bug with real 'flair and doing it with inch and a half polished nails.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYhrSEERvbI&feature=colike

ZUT (Morse Forever!)


de RadioRay ..._ ._
"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry

White Tiger

Quote from: raybiker73 on October 07, 2012, 01:23:54 am
Yeah, but this doesn't leave a little puddle of oil on the floor underneath it.  ;D

EDIT: The serial number shows that this bug was made in 1949, so it isn't a pan, but you're on the right year!


Hah! I'd love to say "I knew that"! ...but it would only be too obvious! But all that chrome screamed Harley "Panhead" !

Had a friend who had one..rebuilt it several times on the dining room floor, the oil puddle told him "all was well"! Love the pic man, and I'm not even into CW!
If you're looking for me, you're probably looking in the wrong place.

KC9TNH

Nice restoration raybiker73!

For those who've caught the bug...
http://www.ae4rv.com/tn/education/bug.htm

(un-mute your sound)



gil

Where does the energy come from to keep it working as the dot paddle is kept pressed?

Gil.

raybiker73

It operates on momentum from the pendulum, like one of those desk toys with the steel balls. Here's a quick phone video:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/105252/bugmov.avi

gil

So, it would eventually stop after so many dits...?

Gil.

raybiker73

Yes, this one gets about 30 dits per press of the paddle,then it runs out of steam.

RadioRay

"Yes, this one gets about 30 dits per press of the paddle,then it runs out of steam."

How do you re-fill them with DITS?
"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry