1945 Vibroplex Lightning Restoration

Got this key on eBay from a Pawn Broker. He didn’t have any real clue about what it was so I got it cheap. The key is in incredible shape and so is the storage case that came with it. I cleaned it up and then made a “dit tamer” which screws in to a small hole I tapped in the existing pendulum weight. That got me down to about 18 WPM. With the weight off the dit speed is about 22 WPM and with the arm removed all together, the dit speed is about 30 wpm. That’s why they called it the Lightning!

Close up of the homebrew dit tamer.

Close up of the homebrew dit tamer.

1945 Vibroplex Lightning Bug Restoration

1945 Vibroplex Lightning Bug Restoration


Overhead view of 1945 Vibroplex Lightning restoration

Overhead view of 1945 Vibroplex Lightning restoration

A Poem about CW by Troy Weisenheimer, W0ROF

It’s more than dots and dashes,

It’s a place.

A sanctuary for those who’ve learned

To love the mysterious magic of

Thoughts arriving in mile-long strings

On roads of ether or wire.

Even more, it’s peace,

A shield from the disordered sounds

Of traffic, angry people

And industrial clutter clatter,

Within its warm mantle

We find soothing respite.

And the patter of bright ideas it is,

The sharp focusing of others’ thoughts

From miles beyond our vision’s range,

As in a dream we sit so still,

It floats in our ears and stirs our minds

With concern, remembrance, speculation

And mirth.

And code is music,

From sounders and speakers it dances

In the shack to each sender’s inner clock,

And comes butter-smooth, deliciously swinging,

Or choppy staccato from a “fist” praising definition,

Or perfectly metered, flowing exquisitely

From the gentle hand of an artist.

A place,

And peace,

Intelligence and


Code is more than dots and dashes. 

Cut Numbers…Where Did They Come From

Here’s a little snippet from the Ham Radio History Yahoo Group about the origination of cut numbers.

“Cut numbers” were used extensively on the maritime CW bands:

Every ship at sea sent its weather observations (“OBS”) every six

hours (0000Z, 0600Z, 1200Z, 1800Z) to what ever shore station it was

in contact with. These WX OBS were encoded into 5-digit number groups,

always beginning with 99xxx.

After I had a dozen or so vessels lined up and QRV to work one at a

time, I’d only have to send AA NN, and the ship at the head of the

line would burst forth with their number groups, beginning with the

99xxx group.

These OBS were a perfect opportunity for vessels to use the

abbreviated cut numbers, and were very much appreciated by us shore

station operators.

73, Jeff KH6O

(formerly with NMO, USCG CommSta Honolulu)