Thursday, March 16, 2006


It's been a few weeks since I finished restoring the Vibroplex Original that I acquired on eBay. Now it's time to use it; as I have detailed in a previous post. Practice makes perfect; but there are also a few other resources that I am taking advantage of to help myself become a "veteran" bug user.

The first thing is to enlist the use of a "bug tamer". Even after installing all the weights I have on the pendulum of this thing, the speed is still way too high. By ear, I would estimate somewhere between 25 - 30 WPM. I can copy that; but I'm not comfortable sending that fast. My top reliable accurate sending speed poops out at about 23 WPM right now. So I have enlisted the use of a device to help mechanically slow down the vibrations of the pendulum.

It's nothing more than an aluminum tube which fits over the end of the pendulum, and extends outward. It has a weight at the end. With that installed, I can vary the speed of the bug depending on where I locate the "original" weights on the pendulum. I can slow the bug speed down to about as low as 13 WPM or so. I have it set right now, so that I am at about 18 WPM. I don't want to go too fast, even though I can normally send a little faster. I don't want to develop any sloppy tendencies.

The other thing that I have been using that is a tremendous help is a CW reading program on the computer in the shack. No ....... I'm not using it to decode CW coming off the radio. Sorry guys, but it my eyes, that's akin to blasphemy. But how I do use it, is as follows:

I get the computer program running, turn on the K2 and turn the AF gain all the way down. Then, I turn the VOX circuit off so I can key the rig without putting out any RF. The sidetone still sounds; because on the K2, the sidetone level is independent of the AF gain. So with the AF gain all the way down; and no RF coming out, I can use the K2 as a glorified code practice oscillator. At this point the CW reading program will decode whatever I send !!! I figure that if I can get to the point where I can send good enough so that the computer can reliably read it; then I must be sending out decent (at the very least) Morse Code.

So far so good. I'm still making mistakes, getting used to making those manual dahs is a pain. But what's coming out on the computer screen is starting to be, more often than not, legible copy. By the way, the CW decoding problem that I use is available for free from the AmQRP Website. You can click here, to get it.

73 de Larry W2LJ

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