I’m Going Buggy

Last year at Dayton, I bought a used Vibroplex Original bug for $50. The stainless steel plating wasn’t in the greatest shape, and the silver contacts needed cleaning, but I thought I’d gotten a pretty good deal.

Well, I never could get it to work quite right. I thought it was just that I didn’t know how to adjust it properly. Whatever the reason, it just didn’t work quite right, so while I played around with it from time to time, it mostly just sat on the bench.

About a month and a half ago, I decided to once and for all to figure out what was going on. I played with the adjustments, but again didn’t get good results. I did notice, though, that the contacts were in really bad condition. It looked as though someone had taken a file to them. That’s a real no-no for key contacts.

Fortunately, Vibroplex has a relatively low-cost service for contact replacement. For $40, they’ll send you a complete set of new contacts. There are a couple of caveats, though:

  1. You have to send in two contact posts so that they can replace the contact point on them.
  2. The order form on their website has the wrong address on it.

Both of these issues caused a delay. I first sent the order to the wrong address, and it took a week for the Post Office to return the letter to me. Then, I didn’t understand that I had to send in the posts, so that delayed my order. ┬áThe second issue was my fault, but the first is Vibroplex’s fault.

I finally got that all straightened out, and the parts arrived on Wednesday. I put the bug back together yesterday, and now it works like a charm.

The only problem is that the dits are very fast. I’m going to have to experiment with ways to slow that down. Vibroplex makes a thing called the Vari-Speed that does this, but it costs another $35, and I’m not sure I want to spend that much more. In any case, I’ll be practicing with the bug and hope to “get buggy” on the air soon.


  1. Dan,

    WB9LPU’s BugNapper is a much better choice for about the same price – $37, I think.

    Larry W2LJ

    • Dan KB6NU says:

      I just Googled “bug napper” and found a bunch of references to the device. I didn’t, however, find a place to order one. Do you have a link for that? From reading your blog, you apparently have one.

  2. Jim W8JPM says:


    Congrats on the bug …..

    Here are a couple of YouTube movies that will help you properly adjust your bug. Both have been very helpful to me, so thought I would pass them on to you:

    For the Vari-Speed ….. I was going to buy one, but at the time they didn’t have any in stock. There are a couple inexpensive things you can do yourself.

    One thing you can do is to use a couple of drill stops. These are the little rings that you put on a drill bit to stop drilling a hole at a desired depth. I think Home Depot sells them in the tools section. They come on a card pack with 6 or 7 different sizes for the drill bits. Use as weights on your pendulum rod. I use one small size with a larger size over it.

    I also use an old squeeze type paper clip device with a magnet attached to the back so you can put it on a file cabinet or any metal object….. the hang your memo’s or papers from it. I squeeze it open and put it over the bug weight screw, then add metal flat washers or objects to get the weight I like. If you want to send faster at any time, just take the clip off.

    Always enjoy and learn from your blog. Thanks.

    73 de Jim/W8JPM LARK member. ZUT

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