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The Vibroplex iambic paddle found on this page is the standard version. The company makes an "Upgraded" version which has a "jeweled spring-loaded movement". Both styles look the same from the outside. The upgraded model has jeweled trunion screws and pins thus meaning that the pins ride on jewels instead of metal on metal. The pins on the upgraded model are rounded at the end whereas on the standard version they come to a point. Vibroplex claims the upgraded model "gives the key a slightly more “free” feel than the standard trunion pin and screws have.

The paddle above has a serial number of 407584 and was built at the Knoxville, Tennessee location some time after 2009.

The Vibroplex iambic standard paddle first appeared on page 212 in the December 1979 issue of QST and is still in production today.

The Vibroplex description of this key is as follows:

"It's called the "Standard" for a reason - the benchmark of iambic paddles.  More than 100,000 of this model have been sold.  Standard non-jeweled spring-loaded movement iambic paddle with ECO-BLACK powder coated textured base. Bright decorative chrome top parts."    

  

The Vibroplex company  

Founded in 1905 in New York.  

In 1907 Mr. Martin briefly moved the company to Norcross Georgia and sold his keys under the name of United Electric Mfg. Co.

By 1910 Vibroplex bugs were manufactured back in New York and were sold under the Vibroplex name and  New York  on the nameplate.  

1979 the company went from New York to Portland, Maine.  

In 1995 S. Felton Mitchell Jr., WA4OSR, purchased Vibroplex and moved the company to Mobile Alabama.

In 2009  Scott Robbins, W4PA purchased The Vibroplex Company and relocated it to Knoxville, Tennessee. Currently the company is located at 2906 Tazewell Pike, Suite A2B, Knoxville, TN 37918.  

Vibroplex is the oldest continuously operating business in Amateur Radio.  They were founded in New York in 1905 by Horace Martin, the inventor of the semi-automatic or "bug" Morse code key.  After many years in New York and a handful of ownership changes over the 115 year period, Vibroplex has been operating in Knoxville, TN since 2009. Vibroplex keys are manufactured in the USA and they presently manufacture Morse code keys under the Vibroplex and Bencher brands. In addition Vibroplex manufacturers INRAD(International Radio) which is aftermarket crystal and roofing filters for use in transceivers and receivers from the 1960's to the present day. The company also supplies the  OEM filters for the Elecraft K3S transceiver. In 2017 the company introduced the INRAD line of microphone and headset products. To complete a ham station the company also manufacturers the Par Endfedz antennas for both single and multi band operation.  

With W7FG Vintage Manuals, Vibroplex creates reproduction manuals for vintage Amateur Radio, shortwave radio, scanners, audio and test equipment.  They have 17,000 titles in stock for both service and operation manuals for equipment dating from the 1930's to the present day.  

In addition, Vibroplex is the North American distributor for Spiderbeam, Easy-Rotor-Control, mAT-TUNER automatic antenna tuners, 4O3A Signature Products, and DXPatrol receivers.

If it comes from Vibroplex you known it has to be good! Although I personally prefer their pre Knoxville TN keys as the few that I have examined seem to be built with a touch better quality then their modern day equivalent.

Another way to look at Vibroplex is from a quote by S. Felton Mitchell Jr., WA4OSR, “The Vibroplex name is older than amateur radio and has come to represent the one piece of equipment in the ham shack that symbolizes the interest, camaraderie, and esprit de corps of the world-wide ham radio community.”

  

  

The picture on the right is of the  bottom of this key. Notice the three rubber feet. That is not a manufacturing shortcut but rather done intentionally. Many Vibroplex keys are found with three(3) feet on the bottom. The reason why three feet are better than four is because if one of the feet is at a different height from the rest the key will wobble on a desk. With three feet the key will always sit stable when in use.

The picture on the left is a close up of the black paddles. While tough to see in the picture, the edges of the paddles have a much sharper edge then their older counterparts. The Vibroplex paddles from before the company moved to TN have a much nicer rounded edge as seen on this Vibroplex bug from the 1980's.

The picture on the right shows the serial number of this Vibroplex iambic paddle which has a serial number of 407584 and was built at the Knoxville, Tennessee location some time after 2009.

Provenance:

I purchased this key in August of 2020 and upon doing so I inquired about the previous owners ham radio call sign. If possible I like to keep any provenience with the key. Below is the reply from the seller.

"As far as the call sign for the keyer, there has never been a person attached to the key other than the owner and builder of the key at Vibroplex. This key has only been tested to make sure it works properly. No one has ever used this key to communicate with another person. It shall be your honor. I was given the key as a present and have not made time to join the network of ham radio users.".

I have attempted to plant another ham radio seed in the seller but so far my efforts have been unsuccessful. 

References:

Vibroplex company: http://vibroplex.com/ 

Tom Perera's(W1TP): Telegraph Collectors Guidebook

Tom Perera's(W1TP): Telegraph Collectors CD-ROM

Wiki Vibroplex page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vibroplex

Vibroplex collector: http://www.vibroplexcollector.net/

Vibroplex Collectors Guide by Tom French W1IMQ

N0UF Vibroplex plates: https://www.qsl.net/n0uf/vibro-plates.htm

Birth dates of Vibroplex keys by John Elwood, WW7P

The Vail Correspondent No, 9 October 1994

  

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