Toy Telegraph Sets

There are many different kinds of toy telegraph sets made for youngsters. Most of them function with batteries and flashing lights or a buzzer. Many of them have a Morse code chart included either on the unit or in the instructions. Some of them were made for the Boy Scouts of America to be used in conjunction with the merit badge program.

Newman 1915 toy keys

This is a crude pair of strap key and sounder on black bases. They were built for simplicity, ease of construction and low cost. Yet they function. They were patented in 1915 by Newman.

Pentoy Star Signal Set Pentoy box

This is the "Star Signal Set." The box says it is "a complete sending and receiving unit; telegraph, night-blinker and wireless buzzer with Morse code." It was manufactured by the Pentoy Company with addresses in Philadelphia, PA and New York, NY.

BSA Nat'l Supply Service Nat'l Supply Svc Box

This brown strap key unit is the "Official Boy Scout Signal Set." It was made by the Boy Scouts of America National Supply Service Division, with addresses in New Brunswick, NJ., Chicago, IL., and San Francisco, CA. It carries the Boy Scouts of America National Council Insignia and has the Morse code printed on top of the unit and in the instruction manual. It sold for $1.95 including batteries.

DC, AC, and Rectification

Direct current is current that flows in only one direction. Alternating current is current that cyclically reverses direction of flow. Two reversals make a cycle. Changing the amplitude means changing its intensity or magnitude. Changing the frequency changes the rate of the cycle. A rectifier is a device that converts AC to DC. Some rectifiers work during the entire cycle of an AC current, and they are called Full-wave rectifiers. Others work only during half the cycle, and they are called Half-wave rectifiers. The rectified current isn't a steady DC current, but still fluctuates with what is called Ripple.

Ryan triple signal set Triple signal set box

This is the "Official Boy Scout Triple-Signal Set" by the John P. Ryan Company of Philadelphia, PA. It also carries the National Council Insignia. It is very similar to the Pentoy set in construction.

Fleron signaler Fleron Box

The common Fleron signaler looks nearly identical to the unit made by the BSA National Supply Service Division. The Fleron signaler was made by M.M. Fleron and Son, Trenton, N.J. and has the Nation Council Insignia. The case is bakelite.

Brumberger Signal Set Brumberger

The Brumberger Official Codemaster Radio-Telegraph Signal Set would buzz, flash or click with code. It looked similar in design to the Fleron signaler and the National Supply Service Division units. It came in a bright red box with the two units and connecting wires inside. Brumberger was located in Brooklyn, NY.

Blue Western Union unit side of WU unit

The blue Western Union standard radio telegraph signal sets seem to be everywhere and are recognized by most people. It was a battery operated set with the Morse code inscribed on top of the raised portion of the metal box.

Perhaps it's a sign of the times (progress?) that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers have replaced toy telegraph units on store shelves in recent times...

An Easy Crystal Radio Set

Build a Radio that Works with No Battery!

Here is an easy AM Broadcast Crystal Radio Set you can build in a half hour for about $3, and all the parts are available from Radio Shack. All you need is a 1N34 germanium diode, a 47K resistor, 50 feet of insulated #22 or #24 wire, an earplug, and a good ground and wire antenna. This kind of set used to be built on a Quaker Oats box, but I've modernized it here to a 2 liter (empty!) plastic soft drink bottle. The instructions state that you need to use a special high impedance earplug. But any regular old cheap earplug will do as long as you have a fairly good antenna and ground. The signal is plenty loud enough using a regular earplug and the antenna clip attached to half of a 160 meter dipole (120 feet of copper wire), though it would be louder yet with the recommended earplug.

Click the "Plans" button to go to the Xtal Set Society website where the detailed plans and an explanation of how the set works can be found and have fun!

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