Monday, February 15, 2016


     T. R. McElroy was a blazing fast telegrapher -- any code, any time.  He worked both landline and radiotelegraphy, and set speed records.

     But he was ambitious, too.  In the 1930s, he started manufacturing semiautomatic telegraph keys of his own design, massive, heavy bugs that suited his own style -- and which appealed to plenty of others, too.

     The original Mac bugs were heavy, rectilinear keys with their own style, a little "Arts & Crafts meet heavy industrial" look.  But the times --and the styles -- were changing and shortly before WW II, Mac introduced a series of streamlined telegraph keys unlike any any other, culminating in the S-600 Super Streamspeed semiautomatic key, possibly the most graceful "bug" ever made.

     I own a few Mac keys and recently bought an accessory:
     There's an uncommon Bakelite-based Streamkey at far left, followed by a Telegraph Apparatus Co. (not Inc.) copy* of the wrinkle-finished metal-base Streamkey (you can tell by the bulge in the lever arm at the contact area) and a pair of chrome-plated McElroys.  The Streamspeed is at far right, and it handles just as fast and sleek as it looks.  At the very back, the accessory and its box: an Oscillatone code-practice oscillator.  They are not especially rare and this one was offered at a very low price -- how could I pass it up?

     Restoration will be interesting.  The Bakelite is likely to be very brittle.

     There are still McElroys in the electronics business.  They're not making telegraph keys any more, but the name lives on.
* TACo was a co-venture between McElroy and Hallicrafters.  They built copies of Mac Streamkeys and their own interesting semiautomatic key, sometimes known as the "hole-in-the-wall" bug.


  1. Fame in your lifetime (tough luck on the fortune); one of your pages got a mention on the QRP-L list hosted at (free membership, shared group password required)

    Bill...The Knight T-60 had 2 "crystal" sockets on the front panel; one for
    a standard FT-243 crystal, the other, below it, for a VFO plug having the
    same pin dimensions as an FT-243. Such plugs were available in those
    days. I have one.

    T-60 data here.....

    The E.F. Johnson "Challenger" had the octal socket for crystals.

    "Challenger" data here.....

    Looks like the "Navigator" had them, too. Note the round crystal hole,
    with dust cover....



    Fred W2AAB

    On Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 8:09 AM, Bill Cromwell wrote:

    > That's what is in some of my store-bought transmitters - Knight T-60 and
    > Johnson Ranger and I think one or two others. They still work well after
    > all these years. I think those are used in some of the "command set"
    > transmitters too where they were used with an xtal mount with an octal plug
    > but will accept FT-273 xtals.
    > Sockets made specifically various xtal form factors are readily available
    > - just not at the dollar store or the big box places.
    > 73,
    > Bill KU8H
    > On 04/21/2016 07:54 AM, James1787 via QRP-L wrote:
    >> I did exactly this on a "glow bug" I built many years ago. It works fine!
    >> 73, James KB2FCV
    >> Sent from my iPad
    >> On Apr 20, 2016, at 6:01 PM, Stuart Rohre wrote:
    >>> There is of course, the old two crystal socket by using four of the
    >>> contacts of the standard octal socket to fit FT 243 and similar rock
    >>> spacing. Thal allows you to add a switch to quickly QSY between two
    >>> crystals.
    >>> -Stuart Rohre
    >>> K5KVH


    The post that kicked it off, with the homebew FT-243 idea

    Jim N5IB and I have been brainstorming a solution to the unavailability of
    sockets for FT243 crystals. We've come up with something that works well
    enough to share.
    What you do is use two 2.5mm (3/32") audio jacks, mounted on 0.486" centers,
    for the crystal to plug into. If you are using a metal front panel and panel
    mount jacks, you'll have to isolate the shell of the connector from the front
    panel with fiber washers or something similar. Tie all the contacts of each
    connector together, and there you go!
    Hope this is useful!
    73 Dave Cripe NM0S


    Possibly of greater interest is the post below that mentions AF4K sells FT-243 sockets. Not cheap but if you crave something OEM-like, it might fill the bill.

    AF4K sells both ceramic and plastic versions. See

    73 de Lee
    Lee Hiers, AA4GA


    Sorry if this post is jumbled. The edit & preview window is only 4 lines long here. Makes it tough to edit.
    73, Jim

  2. Don't know if this will help, but:

  3. mutli-tasking he has it down.