An Introduction to


Irvin M. Hoff, K8DKG

Frederick Electronics Corporation

Frederick, Maryland

   Amateur radio teletype is one of the most fascinating hobbies available today. Watching a machine print a message automatically from some remote point thrills the average person immensely, whether young or old. This is true whether the message is coming from the next room or from around the world. Most people have visited at one time or other a newspaper office or radio station where the Teletype machines were clacking away with incoming news from various “wire services” such as Associated Press and haired Press to mention -a couple. Persons who normally have little or no interest in other forms of commercial or amateur communications will stare at such a machine for extended periods of time, captivated by the knowledge it is constantly printing information of interest. Even if a machine is constantly repeating test information such as "THE QUICK BROWN FOX (etc.)" individuals will watch the printer indefinitely.

   As is true with any hobby, amateur radio teletype will probably appeal to only a limited number of individuals who will wish to obtain the equipment and use it on amateur frequencies to “talk with” other equally-interested individuals.

   I don't know what type of individual this person may be. but this booklet is being written for him—to give an overall picture of what is being done with amateur radio teletype today as well as background information which will enable this person to assernble, connect and operate the necessary equipment to not only print incoming radio teletype signals but to transmit as well. assuming he is already a licensed radio amateur.

   Perhaps we should point out that it takes no license to merely copy signals from the air, as it is possible some readers may wish only to receive and not transmit--several of my friends are not radio amateurs at all, hut are still capable of printing conversatons from amateurs.

 The old type RTTY terminal



   There are nearly a-s many different aspects of amateur radio as there are amateurs with imagination. Some individuals like to handle traffic from the servicemen overseas; some are interested in Civil Defense work; some see how many foreign countries they can contact; some like to use Morse code while others prefer voice communication; some like to buy all their equipment and a few-build everything; some fellows are Primarily interested in technical subjects while others prefer talking about the weather; some branch off into associated fields such as moon bounce. VHF. research, amateur television and of course our present discussion — amateur radio teletype.

   This list is far from complete but shows the versatility that is available to the enthusiast interested in radio communication. Eventually such a person will necessarily develop an interest in one of the aspects of amateur radio perhaps more than the others. particularly if that aspect offers a: the same time an opportunity for personal pleasure as well as advancement of skills and knowledge.

   Just picking up this publication shows some interest in the field of radio teletype by the reader, so perhaps it is now time to mention a few things that can he done with radio teletype.

The new type of of RTTY Terminal



  1. Amateur Two-Way Communication. While it is always interesting to watch a Teletype machine printing general in. formation such as newscasts, it is much more interesting to have it print a per. serial message intended for you alone. Amateur two-way radio teletype is little different from normal voice or Morse code contacts, other than it is an entirely different form of communication. Many little “tricks” can he accomplished that cannot be done with voice or Morse code and these will he mentioned shortly.

  2. Unattended Reception Via Automatic Means. One of the most fascinating things a machine can be fixed to do is operate even though a person is no~ present. On voice or Morse reception this would not be possible and the transmission would he “lost forever”’ if the recipient were not present arid listening carefully However, a Teletype machine print; on regardless. Associated with this is an additional advantage that allows the operator to leave the equipment running indefinitely on a specific frequency and his friends can leave a message anytime during the day or night—thus offering the advantages of scheduled operation without presenting the restrictions of both operators being present at the same time, or even any special time.

  3. QSL Cards. Many amateurs in their spare tune typos up tapes which can then he played at automatic speed later. These tapes often contain ‘QSL Cards” which have their call letters and a quick run-down of the station equipment as well as a typed-in verification of the contact and date. It is always interesting to watch these being transmitted, and often if there are visitors present. the operator will request if you have any such tapes to send for their interest and enjoyment.

  4. “Pictures” of Famous Persons. Some of the more talented operators make “picture portraits” on tape for later transmission. Ralph Larsson of the Teletype Corporation has perfected this ability to a high degree and many of his pictures have been made available to various operators who then pass them along via radio teletype to interested parties. Again, when visitors are present, the operator often asks if you would please send any such pictures for them to see.

  5. Traffic Handling. Teletype certainly offers an ideal means of quickly and accurately handling traffic, as not only does the machine print at 60 w.p.m.. but also gives a copy of what is being transmitted. Clever operators can have a “typing-reperf” machine running at the same time which puts the incoming signal on tape for later replay. It is also possible to “retransmit” the incoming information directly on another frequency.. thus relaying the signal instantaneously to a second station. We might say at this time that the field of traffic-handling has the greatest potential yet to be developed in amateur radio teletype, since it offers many advantages that neither voice nor Morse code can make available,

  6. Foreign Countries. Although a majority of radio teletype operators are in the United States, a surprising number of foreign amateurs are already on radio teletype with more doing so all the time, particularly in Europe. The DX-enthusiast will find ample opportunity to contact many countries, and WAC (Worked all Continents) is easily possible—in fact one of the more active DX-enthusiasts has worked over 53 countries on two way radio teletype.

  7. MARS Transmission. Military Affiliated Radio Stations are turning more and more to the use of radio teletype for general message and traffic-handling as more affiliated amateur stations are obtaining tile equipment. Certainly there will he some readers who have picked up this publication in order to assemble a station for MARS use.

  8. Technical Aspects. The individual interested in the technical side will find ample opportunity to develop new circuits for his station; to program his equipment to print only those messages directed to him; to improve reception through methods not yet developed; to incorporate advanced ideas which may not appeal to the average enthusiast. and in general to advance the state of the art.

  9. Civil Defense. Many counties are turning more to radio teletype for primary defense systems. since more reliable communications are possible while a:the same time some privacy is offered on the frequency. Again, radio teletype offers an ideal means of traffic-handling.

  10. Record Copy. After the conversation has been terminated, the operator may either discard or retain the printed copy. This offers many advantages. particularly with respect to handling traffic. However, even on general conversations, information may have been received which the operator may want to keep in his files for later reference. Also the newcomer may frequently monitor conversations by individuals much more expert than he, that he wants to study over later.

   These are but a. few of the many things that may be accomplished on radio teletype —- others being equally possible. hardly a week goes by hut what some enterprising individual thinks up a new use to which the machines can he put. A majority of these schemes are involved with some form of automation or traffic-handling.

   Many of these ideas would appeal to you and inc if only somebody took the time to publish some of them. Fortunately, most amateurs are quite proud of their achievements and are quite willing to tell others about them in the hopes the other person might be able to use the idea or even improve it. Such exchange of information is unique to amateur radio where few individuals profit financially to any extent in the process. In this manner we all benefit.