Thursday, January 29, 2015


     Some time ago, I chanced on a nice Yankee No. 100 tool set.  Readers suggested I keep watch for a No. 106 boxed set of "radio tools," which, other than a soldering iron or copper, contains about everything you'd need to build a 1920s-type radio -- and is plenty useful on later equipment.
     I have seen a few come and go at princely prices, including a lovely store display version.  They are fine tools but not on my budget.  Or not until some months ago, when a slightly-grubby one showed up on a well-known auction site.  The serious collectors weren't after it but many of the tools were there; it was hard to figure out what was going on with the little drill, which appeared to have been taken apart.  The wooden case is the most difficult part to find -- the No. 105 kit offered all the tools except the drill, at half the price and in a cardboard box -- and the case was certainly there.
     It arrived in disappointingly worse shape than the original listing showed, due to a poor packing job.  Adjustments, as they say, were made.
     The mystery of the disassembled drill was simple enough: it was the wrong drill.  This proved no hardship; the little Yankee "Radio Drill," No. 1431, is commonly found and inexpensive.

     At present, I am repairing the case, starting with the badly cracked bit holder.  The two long screwdriver blades are missing, as is the uncommon Ratchet Tool Holder No. 230.  They may be a very long while in the finding.
     The incorrect drill is nevertheless a treat: a No. 1530 Ratchet Drill, which can be set to operate in five different modes: plain, left-handed ratchet, right handed ratchet, right-hand double, or locked.  The last is handy when tightening or loosening the chuck, the simple ratchet modes only respond to one direction of turning the crank -- but "double" turns the chuck clockwise no matter which way the crank is turned! 

Thursday, May 29, 2014


     It is modeled after one published by Bud in the 1930s:
     I'm not too unhappy with how it came out.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


     Any more, hams are not required to keep logs - but it is nice to have a record of who you heard from, and when.  Here are a couple for portable and mobile operation -- Field Day is coming up!
      The upper one is an ARRL original, found at a well-known online auction site.  The lower is one I made when I took a ham station along on an extended out-of-town trip.
     ARRL version is "shirt pocket" size, 6¼" by 4".  Mine is 8½" by 5½", trimmed from standard-size pages with one cut.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


     A selection of old keys -- and one new one -- from the Dayton Hamvention:
"Pendograph," with a base-supported vertical pendulum for forming dits.

Pendograph close-up.  The owner let me try it -- very nice feel.  It's a "release of tension" design like the Mecograph: the reed is flexed at rest, and released to vibrate when you work the left paddle.

"Automorse," an Australian-made fully-automatic mechanical key.  Full-auto for International Morse, as used on radio, anyway:  the third paddle is for the long dahs of landline Morse, and that's manual.

This is a Mecograph, one of two versions.

The original machine for live coverage of news -- cut into the nearest telegraph wire and get to sending! You see these in old photos of press coverage of sporting events and Presidential appearances.


A full-auto, all-mechanical key built by Indy's own brilliant Richard Meiss. He knows more about the physics of bug keys than any man alive. This key is palm-sized, and uses a mechanically-varied mass to switch between dits and dahs.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


     No copyright -- and no wonder; if you want to use these fonts, you're going to need a set of Speedball pens! 
      Full-size, this is a large image, intended for your use when lettering by hand.  The 16th Edition "Speedball Text Book - Lettering - Poster Design - For Pen Or Brush" that accompanied it, you'll have to find for yourself. It's a delight from another century, a succinct guide that presumes the reader has a modicum of talent or the patience to get the job done the hard way.  They're on to the 23rd ed. now; it would be interesting to see how much has been kept.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


     Richard Post offers a wonderful collection of free, downloadable typewriter fonts at his site!  Royal's "Vogue" font is very similar to the typefaces used for labeling on some Millen ham radio gear.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


     Shot on 8mm, right there in 1948 -- and what a collection of vintage transportation hardware!