Electro-Bug Jr s/n 2935

Electro-Bug Jr.

The Electro-Bug Jr., made by Electro Mfg. Co. of Fresno, California, probably around 1927, for the amateur radio market.

Here’s something a friend showed me and let me photograph. He’s more into clocks than telegraph keys, so asked me to research it. I’d never seen such a thing before, thinking that all “bugs”* were Vibroplexes, but apparently not! At this site I found information that the “Jr” moniker is there because it lacks the electromagnetic assist that the Electro-bugs had. Indeed, as you can see from the photos, it’s just a plain bug.
Electro-Bug Jr.

Electro-Bug Jr. view from right-hand side.

Apparently the Electro company started in Fresno, California, which is surprising as Fresno is still in the middle of nowhere, and back in 1927, Fresno was tiny and not near any major trading crossroads. But they eventually moved to San Francisco. The bug shown in the photos was apparently made in Fresno.
Electro-Bug Jr.

Electro-Bug Jr., closeup of an adjustable spring on the left hand side. The paddles are to the right.

And this site claims that the Electro-Bug Jr. was made for the amateur radio market! And this YouTube video shows one in action! This site shows an Electro-Bug Jr. made in San Francisco in 1928, which then dates the one shown on this post to 1927.
Electro-Bug Jr.

Electro-Bug Jr. nameplate, giving Fresno as the location of manufacture, probably indicating it dates from 1927.

The bug I show in the pictures here is incomplete in that it doesn’t have the adjustable weight needed to create dits. But it’s interesting to look at the connector at the end of the cable—rather unorthodox in today’s world!
Electro-Bug Jr.

Electro-Bug Jr., showing how the cable connects to the bug. The cable has a metal tip, which goes in the hole, and the user tightens the screw to make a good contact.

Following are several photographs that I took today.
Electro-Bug Jr.

Electro-Bug Jr., showing where the other contact connects to the bug, also showing the mechanical connection of the cord to take the strain off the connectors themselves.

Electro-Bug Jr.

Electro-Bug Jr. cable connection. Rather unorthodox by today's standards, this is the connector that goes into the radio.

Electro-Bug Jr.

Electro-Bug Jr. side view

Electro-Bug Jr.

Electro-Bug Jr. bottom, showing serial number

Electro-Bug Jr.

Electro-Bug Jr., showing underside of paddle. Note the split paddle. (No, this is not an iambic keyer!)

* A “bug” is a mechanical keyer. Pushing the lever in one direction allows the operator to send “dahs” individually by hand. However, pushing the lever in the other direction creates a series of mechanical “dits.” So (in my mind, at least), it’s half a keyer. An electronic keyer creates “dits” when pushed in one direction and “dahs” when pushed in the other, without having to make each dit or dah individually. Most HF radios these days have electronic keyers built in. On the rare occasions I use CW, I use my beloved Bencher paddle to run the keyer.

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5 Responses to Electro-Bug Jr s/n 2935

  1. Art Rideout, WA6IPD says:

    I have an Electro-Bug Jr but the name plate does not say that it only has Electro Mfg Co no serial number and weighs about 4 pounds, it came in a nice wood box. It’s in excellent condition and I think I may start using it. Sixty-five years ago I could do 20 wpm but not so good these days. Art WA6IPD

  2. dcasler says:

    You are correct. Sorry for the error. I no longer have access to the key, so I can’t do an updated video. 73

  3. Wes Lewis says:

    I believe that the plug does not go into a radio, rather it slips under the spring contact on a straight key. This way, the operator could quickly upgrade to a BUG without any wiring changes. These were in the telegraph days when the BUG was not a “company issue”. Operators brought their own to work, plugged them in, took them home at the end of their shift. Most old Vibroplex’s were this way; rather clever. ….Wes W7WSL

  4. Glen Martin says:

    I have not seen one of these before. An interesting variation of the bug key.
    I learned Morse code as a Boy Scout at Camp Pendelton , USMC. Had to receive at 5 WPM to earn First Class Rank, and that was a challenge for me being dyslexic, etc.
    Most always sent at 25 to 30 wpm, but receiving was difficult. Had times as a grade school or high school student when I sent at a rate of about 60 to 75 wpm. No one believes me now, with my stiff arthritic hands. Too much with the pugilistics or boxing, and karate and judo.
    Thanks for your website and videos. Have a great day.
    Glen, N0QFT, “Russky”, “the Little Colonel,” “Avagadro,” “Greaser.”

  5. John Plecki says:

    Hello Dave. I have an Electro-Bug jr. With a sn of 1008 on the bottom of the base plate. How old would you suppose it is? Picked it up at a hamfest. 73, de KD9BYW

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