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CW keying problem with bug

K0FG_Fred
K0FG_Fred Member ✭✭

I don't know if this has to do with the new version just installed, but it just started happening after the update. I have seen posts about CW rcv using the new version but have not seen anything about CW xmit.

Flex 6400M with 3 different keys hooked to the aux port with a breakout box, straight key, sideswiper and a bug. All worked fine before I upgraded. Now whenever I key the bug maybe 1 out of 10-15 touches I get no xmit. When this happened I tried holding the key down and wiggled all the wires and connectors going into the breakout box plugged into the acc jack on the back of the radio. I even took off the breakout box and tightened the screws on pins 4 and 10. Can't find anything to help.

This does not seem to happen when using the straight key or the sideswiper, only with the bug. Also iambic paddle plugged into key jack works fine. I only have the problem with the bug. Tried 3 different bugs and 3 different lines connecting the bugs to the combiner box where the keys are linked together. Then I plugged directly into the breakout box at the acc jack and got the same problem, this eliminated the combiner box and wiring to the breakout box at the acc jack.

Seems like the problem is not in the wires connecting the bugs into the Flex since I connected directly into the breakout box. Also the other keys go thru the same combiner box and then 1 line plugs into the breakout box and only the bug is affected.

Any ideas? Other than - just don't use the bug?

Fred, K0FG

Comments

  • Steve Ellington
    Steve Ellington Member ✭✭

    Fred

    I'm using the 6600 here but use a bug daily. I have not noticed any change since the update.

    How did you verify there was no xmit? Did you listen to yourself on another receiver? Is your keying

    going away in the sidetone also or just the RF output?

    Are both dahs and dits affected or just dits? Are the dits lite or just as heavy as before the update?

    I don't know how the rig can tell if you're using a bug other than the dits being on the verge of not connecting.

    BTW: I also use the 9 pin jack for straight, sideswiper and bug keying.

  • Ted S
    Ted S Member ✭✭

    Did you try the bug directly to the key jack vs the acc jack? I would also put a scope on the line and look at the keying waveform into the acc jack and compare to RF waveform, make sure the dits and dahs are both there when it won't Xmit. If the side swiper works, I would expect the bug to work.

    Does the dropped Xmit only happen with dahs or both dits and dahs? If only the semi-automatically generated dits, maybe it's a timing issue with Flex software.

    Ted, WR4T

  • K0FG_Fred
    K0FG_Fred Member ✭✭
    edited May 5

    I verify there is no xmit because the MOX and power button do not turn red, and there is no RF indicated on my power meter. And the rcv just keeps going.

    This happens on both dits and dahs, most noticeable on the dahs. When sending a string of dits you can hear that occasionally one is skipped. But push the dah side several times and eventually it will just not xmit at all. Let go of the dah paddle, push it again, maybe a couple pushes and it xmits again.

    Evidently the Flex is pretty smart, it knows when I use a bug. Played with the straight key and the cootie and they work perfectly. The speed on the bug dits is set to 18-20 wpm, would go faster but can't copy any faster than that.

    The sidetone for the cw sounds fine, don't notice any difference from what it sounded like before.

    Did not plug the bug directly into the key jack, it probably will not work properly there, tried doing that before I bought the breakout box and it did not work, even tho the manual says it will.

    Fred, K0FG

  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Broomfield, COMember, Super Elmer Moderator
    edited May 5

    Hi Fred, this sounds like dirty contacts on the bug. I just squeeze a piece of clean white paper between the contacts and pull it through a few times under moderate pressure. Usually keeps me going for months. My biggest offender is my AME key which is brass screws against a brass post. The pivots are loose enough that the s.c.r.e.w. doesn't hit the post in exactly the same spot every time, so I have to wiggle it to get it to work.

    My new (ish) Begali Simplex key has virtually no play and has not given me any trouble at all.

    EDIT: The s.t.u.p.i.d bad-word editor has a dirty mind... I had to fix the word for machined helical fastener...

  • K0FG_Fred
    K0FG_Fred Member ✭✭

    Thanks Len.

    I love those ****. Must be lots of dirty old men on this board cuz I see them a lot.

    That was my first thought also so I cleaned the contacts. When I put on the second bug I cleaned the contacts on it also. Ditto for the third bug.

    Keep trying, I'm willing to try almost anything.

    Fred, K0FG

  • Steve Ellington
    Steve Ellington Member ✭✭

    Len:

    The problem with thinking it's caused by dirty bug contacts is that his sidetone still squawks when he

    keys it. Somehow his MOX isn't keying the rig however.

    If that sidetone sounds good then it means the bug is doing its thing ok.

    Now we all know this is impossible. Somehow the Flex knows you're using a bug.

    The only unique thing about bugs is they often produce "contact bounce". A dit may produce multiple scratchy sounding dits. These bounces will show up on a scope as a damped wave similar to that of the ancient spark gap transmitters.

    How about hooking up an external keyer in place of the bug and put it in "bug mode" just to see if

    clean dits cure the problem.

    Another thing to try is putting a capacitor across the bug. Something like .1uf and see if that cleans things up.

    Yea I know all this was due to software changes but we gotta try..😁

  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Broomfield, COMember, Super Elmer Moderator

    Another point of failure on bugs is the ground connection as it usually relies on the signal passing through the pivot bearings. In the old days when there might be 40 V or more across the keying contacts, a few ohms of contact or pivot resistance didn't matter much. In today's world of 3.3 V and microamperes of current, fractions of ohms matter.

  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Broomfield, COMember, Super Elmer Moderator

    Good catch Steve, I was concentrating on it not working and passed up the sidetone comment.

  • Steve Ellington
    Steve Ellington Member ✭✭

    Yes and he tried 3 bugs 🤐

  • Steve Ellington
    Steve Ellington Member ✭✭

    But did he try 3 cables?

  • K0FG_Fred
    K0FG_Fred Member ✭✭
    edited May 6

    As I said the rig does not key. When I press the dah key and the radio does not key the receiver keeps on working.

    I tried 3 different bugs and I tried 3 different cables. I plugged each bug directly into the breakout box connected to the acc plug.

    Have heard about contact bounce. But could it happen to 3 different keys all at one time? Will see if I can find a .01 uf cap to try. Have used 5-6 bugs in the last few months and they all worked fine.

    Do not have an external keyer.

    Testing some more, when I push the dah paddle sometimes the mox and power light turn red and then after 1/2 second or so they return to normal states and the rcv begins. Never hear any sidetone tho when xmit fails, just the lights change very briefly and then it all goes back to rcv, while the key is still pressed.

    After dinner I came back to the shack and it seems to be failing much less frequently now. Sometimes it keys fine many times before it fails. Does not seem to be band or power dependent.

    Guess these 1960s Vibroplex keys are too high tech for me.

    Fred, K0FG

  • Steve Ellington
    Steve Ellington Member ✭✭

    Well just for fun.... Have you tried plugging a bug into the paddle jack and changing it in the menu? Just turn off "Iambic". I believe things take a different path that way... Maybe it will reveal something.

  • Arizona Mike
    Arizona Mike Member, Unconfirmed
    Hi all,

    I realize the OP has a bug keyed issue, but can anyone confirm that the other various CW TX and RX issues have been resolved?

    I am primarily a CW operator and have “anxiety” related to ordering a new Flex.

    I contacted Flex but have not heard anything back as of yet. Any assistance is greatly appreciated.
  • KD0RC
    KD0RC Broomfield, COMember, Super Elmer Moderator

    Hi Mikie, I am a 50/50 CW and phone operator and have had no problems with CW keying on my 6400. I did not have problems with it before, so it was one of those things that bothered some and not others. I normally shut off my rig at night while some leave it running 24/7 (especially those who run remotely). This may or may not be a clue as to why the problem never bothered me.

    You might want to check with [email protected] about their 30 day return policy. That way, if you get the rig and don't like it, you can send it back.

  • Geoff AB6BT
    Geoff AB6BT Member ✭✭✭

    K0FG_Fred

    If you take a clip lead with aligator clips and short the contacts on the bug does the rig key?

  • K0FG_Fred
    K0FG_Fred Member ✭✭

    On the occasions where the dah paddle did not cause the rig to xmit I held in the paddle and shorted the contacts on the bug and no it did not key the radio.

    Seems like now the mox light is coming on but no rf output.

    Fred, K0FG