Mobile home #1 shack

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From 1971 until 1976 I lived in a series of three mobile homes. These three photos show my ham shack in the first mobile home, circa 1971-1972.

In 1971, fresh from (finally!) graduating college with an associate degree, I set up a shack with the Navigator transmitter and SX-117 receiver. I also dragged home an old Western Union teleprinter I had in my dorm room. I and two other hams had three machines connected on a 60 mA wire loop between our dorm rooms, with the cable running out windows and across roofs. This teleprinter got me on the air with RTTY, but was soon replaced.

The following photo shows the shack around 1972. Two receivers are present – my original Hallicrafters SX-117 and a Hammarlund HQ-215. I have no idea why I needed a second receiver. Maybe I thought a solid-state receiver was cool.

I dabbled in RTTY with this station. On the left is a MITE teleprinter that replaced the Western Union teleprinter. On top of the MITE is a homebrew "solid state tape reader" (reads the label). In front of the SX-117 is a homebrew keyboard that transmitted Baudot teleprinter codes. The keytops are shirt buttons with dry-transfer letters applied!

While in the Navy, I was trained to maintain and repair MITE teleprinters, so I later searched-out one for my ham station. The gaping slot in the front is for a keyboard, but my MITE didn't have one; hence the homebrew keyboard.

I can only describe the MITE as nervous, high-strung, noisy, and fragile. It was an attempt to make a smaller teleprinter than the Teletype models 28KSR and 28ASR in use at the time. It was smaller, and it did work, but oh my gosh! The Model 28 gave the impression of "gliding along" as its type box swung into position for each character. Pressing a key resulted in a smooth motion on the keyboard that left no doubt that the key was pressed. The MITE, on the other hand, didn't "glide" in the least. It was more of a bang-bang operation. "Don't-make-me-tense-or-I'll-fly-apart!"

My transmitter was a Hallicrafters HT-44, a companion to the SX-117 receiver. A hallicrafters speaker rests on top, along with what appears to be a Whisper fan screwed to the transmitter case. Maybe it got hot running RTTY.

To the left of the HT-44 is a homebrew keyer I made from an article in QST magazine, back around 1964. It used RTL logic chips and had a 3.9V power supply (vs. today's ubiquitous 5V). At the time, I had a hand-operated printing press (with hand-set metal type), so I printed a paper front panel for the keyer.

notice that no hand paddle is plugged into the front panel jack. Instead, there is a ¼" stereo phone plug minus its plastic shell. I soldered two contacts from an old pinball machine to the phone plug, and twiddled them with my fingers to send code!

I used this keyer and "mini-paddle" for many years. I still have both, and they both still work.


Updated July 28, 2017