Large Homebrew Bug

Here is a homebrew bug that I picked up in April 2022 at the Belton, TX hamfest. It’s LARGE and HEAVY! It was also locked up tight when I picked it up. I generally would pass on most homebrew bugs, but this one was different, having a very intricate hinge mechanism. I could tell the quality was very high despite it’s large clunky size. The price was right at only $20 so I brought it home.

The inner base is actually wood with a very heavy steel frame that’s been chromed. The paddle and button are also wood and larger than ‘standard’. The dit and dah contact, as well as the circuit closer knobs all have wooden buttons.

As mentioned the key was locked down tight with no movement possible with any adjustment. I brought it home more as a shelf queen to admire the machinist craftsmanship of the unknown maker.

I soon discovered the mainspring had been bent at an odd angle. With a lot of luck, I was able to unbend the main spring without breaking it, allowing movement and further adjustment. Surprisingly, it started to make some rather decent code. After adding a bit of dental floss to the dit spring for pre-tension, the key sent just as well as any Vibroplex I own!

Home Brew Bug

Here’s a size comparison with a Vibroplex Original bug.

All in all, I’m very pleased and surprised that this tank of a key ended up sending great code. I really wish the machinist craftsman who built this had signed his work. A las, this name is lost to history. I look forward to adding this bug to my rotation on the air!

73 Paul N6EV

Leave a Reply