My trip into Teletype RTTY

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This blog author has been licensed as an amateur radio operator since 1984. I entered as a Tech Plus, but found 2-meters to be boring. I wanted to get on HF and see what was out there.

After my father-in-law bribed me with a Drake TR-4C if I passed my General, what the heck could I do but upgrade. Unbeknownst to me, my dear FIL was working on a big surprise for me. He had seen my keen interest in the assorted RTTY teletype machines in his basement shack. He had several different machines each doing a different speed (60, 100 WPM) and mode (Baudot, ASCII) I was always impressed that he could copy the news reports and he knew Hank Aaron had broken the home run record before it was reported on the news.

Dear FIL procurred an old Model 32ASR and began converting it to a RTTY machine. He built a homebrew TU and installed it. I call it old, but at the time, it was miles above the old Model 15.

I felt very special when I was presented with my new toy. I had a tape punch and tape reader on the machine. I kept about a dozen pre-punched tapes hung on the wall. These consisted of transmissions I used over and over, such as personal info, RTTY net preambles, etc. We lived in a manufactured home at the time, and often my dear hubby would hear the machine running as he came down the driveway. He would think to himself, “Oh heck, dinner is late tonight!”

I think back to these days often when I am at the W4HOD club station working a RTTY contest. Using a computer terminal and Writelog are really a huge improvement in operating and I enjoy them very much. But, in my mind, I like to travel back in time 25 years and remember the muted smell of machine oil from the machine, and the distinct feel of the rolls of teletype punch tape.

Here is a link to more detailed info on a Model 32ASR.

Post written by AA4YL

Okay, the OM wants to add someting!

Dave here, (K4ANU, a call I inherited from my Dad).

Just a few comments about RTTY.

I remember the whole end of the trailer shaking when that thing was running, especially when someone on the sending end forgot to turn off the diddler – that used to annoy Dad to no end. He was essentially an electronics engineer without the credentials. The TU he built was like a watch, a small box crammed full of stuff, worked like a charm. One day, Cheryl took the thing apart and, of course, couldn’t put it back together. Upon presenting it to Dad, in pieces, he rolled his eyes and said, “Keep that girl away from screwdrivers!” and this became a running joke. He was very proud of Cheryl due to her enthusiasm and fearlessness – taking stuff apart is easier than putting it back together!

I grew up around Amateur Radio and wasn’t overly interested in it as a result. When Cheryl first saw Dad’s shack (which, to me, looked like the helm of the Enterprise), she was fascinated and took to it like a duck to water, which delighted Dad.

Typically, when we visited my parents, Mom and I would go out in the yard (she’s where I got my love of plants ) – Cheryl and Dad would go down to the basement where the shack was.
He was licensed in 1955 ( I think ) and , of course, back then if you wanted it, you built it. There were tons of surplus equipment left over from the War, and parts were easy to come by. The trick was putting them together. I feel sure that some of the things he built are still working today. He was a remarkable fellow.

Although I rarely use it, I’m proud to have his call. As Dad used to say, ”All I need is a ‘s’ and I’d be K4ANUS!”. I think it’s ironic when someone sees my call and thinks, ”Wow, a K4A call, must be an old hand!” Not really…

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