My Morse Key Collection

1. Straight/Hand Keys

 

  W. Nye Speed X 320-003 Model with Shorting Switch

This is my first ever straight key. I did consider a J38 key but I went with the famous Speed X made by W.Nye of Bellevue,Washington. It has fast action and easy adjustments. The Speed X company  describes this as ‘the perfect straight key’! It is mounted on a brass base. This key features a shorting switch and a original Navy knob.

J.H.Bunnell, NY US Navy ‘Flameproof’ CJB26003a Key (NOT IN COLLECTION)

This is a US Navy CJB-26003a Key. This particular one was made by the J.H.Bunnell of New York. This purchased from a HAM’s inherited collection probably from his father. This was a bargain buy of 32Euros. This has the US Signal Corps Orange Stamp on the base of the key. This key was based on the early Luftwaffe key. Only one 26300a design Luftwaffe key is known to exist.

Purchased from: DL7AEU.

Code of Manufacturers of the 26003A Type Keys:

  • CJB- J. H. Bunnell
  • CTE- Telephonics
  • CMK- McElroy
  • CMI- Moulded Insulator Co.
  • Bendix had their stamping on the plastic wire cover.

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Supreme Radio Key – Christchurch,NZ 

This is a Supreme Radio Key made for radio amateurs from 1973~1993. It was made by Eric Sorenson of the Tricity Radio House on 209 Manchester Street, Christchurch. Now the radio store is gone. He also crafted the Supreme Bug Key, a well made silver Vibroplex Original Clone. There are three known to be existing on the web. There are also three radio keys existing on the web. Each Supreme Radio Key would fashion a coloured spark guard.

Some keys have this sticker on the side: ‘Supplied By Tricity House LTD, 209 Manchester Street CHCH’

I thank DL4PY & F9WT for the information.

Prices:

1973 6 NZ $
1990 42 NZ $
1993 100 NZ $

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Elliott Brothers London GPO Pattern Key – London, Great Britain

This is a classic General Post Office key (GPO Key). Every postal/telegraph office would have a same type key like this. A GPO Pattern key would be wired up to a sounder in a resonator and it would sound clicks. Not a common find in New Zealand these days but it was used in postal offices of New Zealand. Although the brass and the wood is in bad condition, due to its historical value, it will not be restored.

 

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Ham Key Company, Ham Key HK 4 Combination Paddle/Hand key

This was made by the Ham Key Company, St Louis in the 70s. This key is also based off the legendary Brown Bros Combination key. Although I have not yet tried the Brown bros combination, I hope I do in the future. This combination key is not too common but not too rare. I am quite happy with the extremely crisp action paddles and the arm-down American style hand key.

2. Vibroplex Bugs

1907 Norcross Vibroplex Single Lever Bug

 I am honoured to have this bug, manufactured in Norcross, Georgia. When Horace G Martin moved operations from NY to Norcross with a contract between United Electrical Manufacturing Company. This bug above is a single lever bug made in Norcross. A very quality crisp-action bug that easily produces clean dots. One of the best bugs out there.

1907 Norcross Vibroplex Double Lever Bug

This bug was made when Horace G Martin moved operations from NY to Norcross with a contract between United Electrical Manufacturing Company. This bug above is a single lever bug made in Norcross. A callsign, K5PRW and the name ‘Earl Switzer’ is engraved on the base. After a short research, K5PRW was owned by William E Switzer, so probably William Earl Switzer. According to historical records, he was a IBM machine operator and possibly a ham radio operator.

Horace G Martin New York Double Lever Bug [awaiting restoration]

This bug was manufactured just after when Horace G Martin moved operations from Norcross to New York. It has a Norcross style damper. It is a little wrecked key but I will restore it some day. Looks like the previous owner put a post-1950s silver U spring unit.

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1914 Vibroplex-Mecograph Premier Bug

This was found in an antique shop in Bisbee, Arizona in March, 2008 by Thomas M French. This was named the Vibroplex-Mecograph Premier bug because it was basically a Premier model made with Mecograph parts and Vibroplex parts by the Vibroplex company after the purchase of patents by Mecograph from Nellie.E.Bellows in 1914. This is one of two only known Vibroplex-Mecograph key (Other one is a copper striped base Model X owned by Bill Holly) but the only one existing Vibroplex-Mecograph Premier bug. I shall write an article about this bug soon. John Casale’s Mecograph Premier Ad

1922 Vibroplex T-Damper Single Lever Bug

This is the only one existing single lever bug with a T style damper, with a transverse nameplate and a 3-5/8 base. Tom French called this ‘The Monster’ bug. It has a very big base.

1921 Vibroplex Junior Model Bug (Before & After)

This was a superb find. It came with an original Vibroplex Junior Leather case. Presumably used by a Western Union telegrapher or a railroad telegrapher. According to the serial number archives, it was born in 1921! During the restoration, the thumb piece broke in half, so I made a temporary replacement finger piece. Also I found some interesting things about this particular bug. There was a ‘G’ on the finger piece and the same ‘G’ on the base on the bug. Any ideas or clues? Could this be a surname or first name?

3. Other manufacturer bugs

Circa 1914. A/E Electric Company, Albright license bug

I am very honoured to have this particular bug that was owned by Mr Thomas French, W1IMQ (SK) who sadly parted the world this year, 2016. He had a research project on Albright bugs, especially its nameplates and discovered two types of the Albright license. This bug above seems to be an early A/E Electric Company bug and a 1904 Vibroplex clone.

Circa 1914. Possible ATOZ Electric Co. Clone Bug 

I acquired this bug key in 2016. It came with the original wedge. I bought this to restore it but to my surprise when I received it, it was in remarkable condition. The bug is very heavy, it also has its original japanning.  Some polish residue was left on the U spring and some places. It was obvious someone has polished the key. It is one of the best bugs I have ever had. Although maker is not confirmed, I believe it is most close to the ATOZ bugs. It is possible to be a Vibroplex Clone model by the O.M.Thomas Electric Company but it is not confirmed.

4. Other odd keys

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Homebrew Cheapo Key, Free Motion ZL Sideswiper 

A proud homebrew cheap sideswiper made out of paper clips, few screws and etc. I cannot buy a paddle key now so I made one for myself. I called it the ZL Free-Motion Sideswiper Cheapo Key. Its a nice pocket size key.

5. Code Keyers/Oscillators

IMG_0352RadioShack Realistic Cat. 20-007 Transistor Code Oscillator

My first CPO(Code Practice Oscillator) made by RadioShack. It was sort of a new old item. It came with the original set of instructions, the packaging box, and the foam casing. The oscillator seemed never opened for use. It runs on 2 C Cell Batteries. Another Ebay purchase. There is no volume control and a Mono plug lot for headphones. The tone is inconsistent sometimes but that adds the vintage charm.

Purchased from a very very nice gentleman,  VO1UK.

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Home-brew Code Practice Oscillator

I got this for 14 dollars. This oscillator was home-brewed by a ham in New Zealand. It is a common IC555 Circuit but the tone is adjustable and the volume as well. It features a headphone jack as well. Very nice portable size and its light-weight! Probably the best code oscillator in the world, operates with one 9V battery.

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Ham Keyer HK5A- (For Sale)

This came with my Ham Key HK4 unit but sadly the keyer is decorational…. The circuit looks fine but the connection to the battery holder is corroded. I might be able to fix this if I can get hold of a battery holder.

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UK Made Pixie Key by T.Smith- FOR SALE $1

My first telegraph key, well sort of….. I bought it off Ebay from a gentleman named Trevor Smith. It is a good travelling key for field trips. I might try to get my hands on a WWII era military spy key.

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CommtelUK Code Practice Buzzer (NOT IN COLLECTION)

A set with my pixie key. A pocket sized buzzer compatible on any straight key or bugs. It is a buzzer. In my opinion the buzz quality is better than the William Nye Speed X key Oscillator buzzer, 450 Model Practice set by E.F.Johnson or the Japanese code practice sets.

 

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