The Telegraph Key
No apologies or excuses, I am a CW man by choice. I love
morse code, it sings to me, and I can do decent speed on it. It
is my mode of choice.
To produce this music, I use a Vibroplex Vibrokeyer. It is
fashioned from the early bug key designs of Vibroplex.
In 1903, the Vibroplex corporation produced a semiautomatic
telegraph key. The motion was side to side, rather than up and
down. Pushing the paddle to the right produced a dash as long as
the paddle was held to the right. Going to the left, a spring
would oscillate and send a series of dots.
This design allowed the telegraph operator to send code for
hours without fatigue or "glass arm" which is what they called
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in those days. The medium in 1903 was
usually land line telegraphs, notably the railroads.
As wireless radio gained popularity, many bug keys were sold
to wireless hams and commercial stations. These keys are still
produced and sold Today, 110 years after they
first rolled out of the assembly line.
As technology progressed, electronic keyers -first with vaccum
tubes, and later with transistors - appeared. The electronic keyer
is somewhat easier to adjust and produces not only the automatic
dots, but also the dashes can be automated.
Two such camps exist. The model I have has a single paddle,
and produces dots to the left and dashes to the right.
The other mode uses a dual paddle, one for dots and one for
dashes. This mode uses Iambic which allows for some
letters to autocomplete by holding both paddles together. The
paddles are squeezed with the dot or the dash leading, and thus
a dot and a dash are sent with just one motion of the hand.
This can be kinda nice, but I am old dog and my wrist was
trained on a straight key and a regular bug in 1959. Thus the
Iambic keyer does not suit me.
The Icom 7410 has a built in electronic keyer, it can be
set for straight key, bug key (dash as long as lever is held),
automatic dashes, or Iambic. I have mine set for automatic
dashes using the Vibrasender single paddle key.
Vibroplex, of course, will sell you a straight key, a
mechanical bug, a single paddle or dual paddle key. They come
in a variety of styles and finishes, from painted steel to
gold plated. Your wallet, pride and preference will dictate