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Re: [cw_bugs] Care, Feeding and Sending with Bugs [1 Attachment]

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  • David Ring
    Here it is: - Vibroplex Adjustment, Cleaning and Sending Technique - by David J. Ring, Jr., N1EA GOOD BUG SENDING TECHNIQUE Your wrist is rocked with the
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 11, 2009
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      Here it is:

      - Vibroplex Adjustment, Cleaning and Sending Technique -
      by David J. Ring, Jr., N1EA
      Your wrist is "rocked" with the same motion that you use when opening a
      door knob, the wrist and are lie on the desk and rock with that motion.
      The position in which you assume to use the bug would be just like you
      would grab a door knob or to receive a beverage bottle. You roll your
      wrist on the fleshy part of your hand back and forth. No finger movements
      at all!
      Finger motions are not to be used as they give carpal tunnel syndrome
      (glass arm) the idea is to rock the wrist with a bug and cootie key.
      Unfortunately the paddle used with an electronic keyer must be tapped with
      fingers at high speeds :(
      I know it might be silly to say this, but it is much easier to send when
      both feet are on the floor not angled to the left or right, but straight
      and senders body is straight and not turned. It is much easier - try it
      if you don't believe this.
      The following is time consuming but I find it always works and I do this
      routinely and it takes time but it saves time because it eliminates
      If your bug is old, take it completely apart and clean (especially) the
      contacting surfaces, including the underneath connecting strips
      (especially around the screws), the countersunk hole for the grounded
      binding post, the silver contacts, the surface where the U shaped dot
      spring contacts the vibrator, and the two beveled pins of the trunnion
      assembly (the pins on which the main lever pivots in the frame), and make
      sure that the cups into which the pins fit are clean of debris.
      I use the cotton wadding with metal polish which is sold nationwide, and
      a stick pencil type eraser to clean the more stubborn parts and then use
      Flitz metal polish to finish the metal cleaning. If you have an
      ultrasonic cleaner (jewelry cleaner) put some ammonia and water in it,
      with a few drops of Dawn dish cleaner liquid and use for 15 minutes, then
      repeat with clean water. I dry everything in a toaster oven for 1 hour
      at 140 degrees F.l
      A bug has to swing far enough to compress the U spring - it doesn't send
      like a paddle - you use your wrist - you shouldn't get tired with this
      key - if you are, your probably doing it incorrectly. The dash spacing
      and tension should be adjusted for reliable dashes.
      See the "Art and Skill of Radiotelegraphy" by N0HFF available several
      places and in several languages on the Internet for good advice on sending
      and general tips.
      Old bugs have a screw which holds the lever against the trunnion post.
      This can be adjusted up and down. Later bugs do not, and the alignment
      of the dot contact and the dash contact must be done by adjusting the top
      and bottom trunnion screws. The bottom trunnion screw is held fast (and
      will strip unless this screw is loosened) by a screw on the rear side of
      the frame. You must use a long handled screw driver to get to this
      screw! Loosen this screw and you will be able to loosen and tighten the
      bottom trunnion screw and raise and lower the position of the lever.
      The lever should be adjusted so that the height of the lever / mainspring
      / vibrator assembly is such that the contact on the U shaped dot spring is
      vertically aligned with the dot post contact.
      The alignment of the dash contact can be done (after the above is done)
      by loosening the small contact plate and adjusting.
      All final adjustments should be done so that the contacts are touching and
      completely aligned so that the contacts meet as fully and directly as
      Bugs used for radiotelegraphy vs bugs used for landline telegraphy were
      set to approximately 60% of a VOM meter reading in resistance.
      If your power is 1500 watts key down, it will still be 1500 watts on each
      dot closure - but the dots will give different meter ballistic movements
      different results - but rest assured they are still full power.
      That being said, dots with a dot/space ratio of about 100:60 OR 1.67:1
      will give better copy than dots with a 1:1 ratio during radio conditions
      on typical hf bands. Or instead of 1.00 to 1 - dots sound better about
      1.5 to 1.67 to 1.
      If you buy some silver cleaner you can clean them. If you can find 1500
      grit wet/dry sandpaper, you can smooth them out. You can also buy a
      burnishing tool from GC Electronics for $1.57 which is an extremely fine
      file that is about 1/4 inch wide and about 1/32 inch thick which was
      designed especially for that purpose. I use 800 grit wet/dry sandpaper
      (very lightly and with care) then 1500 grit wet/dry and finally I polish
      with Flitz metal polish which is a very very low grit polish;. The
      contacts if done this way will come out like mirrors.
      Vibroplex sells a contact cleaner that is a narrow long strip of fine
      crocus cloth folded back on itself and glued together. It works very
      nicely. You can make a bunch of them by taking a piece of contact
      paper, folding it in half, then putting rubber cement (from Office
      Supply store or bike shop) and putting a heavy large book on it until
      it dries. Cut into 1/2 inch strips the narrow way. To use hold the
      contacts together with your hands (be very careful of the fragile dot
      contact spring!) and rub in and out by drawing and pushing the strip
      through the held closed contacts.
      Metal polishing the contacts. Simachrome is nice, but Flitz is much
      better. I have a brass based Scotia paddle that I hand polished to a
      mirror finish with Flitz two years ago. It is a mirror and it is as
      golden as the day I polished it - which is simply amazing. Flitz has
      an anti-corrosive in it.
      You MUST clean the contact after using polish and it is recommended
      that you clean it after using a Vibroplex cleaning strip. I use
      isopropal alcohol 91% for this as water around a Vibroplex is not nice
      as it can creep into where it will rust the base or screws.
      I bought a 5% spray De-Oxit as an experiment as it was quite costly.
      It so impressed me that I bought the 100% pure product (even more
      costly but per "unit" of percent, much cheaper. I swear by it. The
      contasts last nearly *forever* but being near salt water (800 feet)
      they do go bad within six months.
      Old-timers insisted upon sizable gaps. In fact, a significant gap for the
      dit lever moved against a significant spring resistance sets up a good
      vibration of the mainspring for producing dits and avoiding scratchy and
      bouncing dots.
      The limit screw adjustment for the damper is adjusted just so the end of
      the swinging pendulum contacts the damper. The bug is also quieter when
      the damper doesn't move as dramatically.
      The dot spring will have more tension than you might be accustomed to.
      The spring tension returns the lever after sending dots quickly and it
      also makes the lever move with more force which sets up a stronger impact
      on the dot spring which results in much stronger and less problematic
      dots. This is the cure for poor dots if the contacts and the other
      connections are clean.
      The trunnion screws (they hold the lever and allow it to swing) should NOT be lubricated.  Lubrication of such a small bearing causes more problems than help.  It attracts dirt, dander and dust, and on some keys that have been "oiled" the lubricant had gotten between the main lever and the dash lever.  This sticky residue causes the levers to stick when the dash lever is used.  This problem is much more common than most people realize!  Clean off the lubrication with ammonia then water and let dry for a few hours before reassembling. Moisture will weld your screws to the frame when the water turns iron to rust!  
      Also take a strand of stranded wire or a pin and clean out the trunnion screw cavity.  I use a cheap ultrasonic cleaner with ammonia or Formula 409 to degrease and clean.  I usually follow up with another 5 minutes of water and Dawn dish detergent then five more minutes with just water.  Dry for a few hours and reassemble.
      When tightening the trunnion screws, they should be adjusted with the key set wide so you can feel the drag.  If the lever drags no matter what, it is rough and should be smoothed with 600 then 800 then 3000 grit wet/dry sandpaper (or other) and tried again.  The correct adjustment is the best of "minimum up and down play with minimum drag" - when adjusted correctly, the lever will move slightly up and down as if it is tightened too much it will bind.
      When you have bad dots, the hard to diagnose problems that I've routinely
      found are: The terminal connectors are loose and the round cylinder
      shaped nut is not holding the base tightly when the bug sends dots the
      contact is intermittent. The dot spring is loose on the vibrating arm.
      When the contacts crash, the spring conducts intermittently. Similar
      happens for all the contact path on the connecting straps - if one is
      loose or corroded, it will produce poor dots.
      David J. Ring, Jr., N1EA
      Former Commercial Radiotelegrapher
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