Wireless Telegraph Key

Description (Brief)
Until recently, “wireless” meant radio and operators used keys to send radio messages via Morse code. This wireless telegraph key operated a Poulsen arc transmitter on the Italian-made dirigible S.S. Roma. The Roma, purchased by the U.S. Army in 1921, was destroyed in a landing accident at Hampton Roads Naval Station. Henry Epsal was in the rescue party that entered the airship and retrieved this key before the ship was destroyed.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
telegraph key
date made
1920
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
rubber (overall material)
slate (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 1 3/4 in x 2 7/8 in x 6 1/4 in; 4.445 cm x 7.3025 cm x 15.875 cm
ID Number
EM*319445
catalog number
319445
accession number
238754
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Communications
Telegraph Keys
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

Comments

"note the heavy duty contacts on this key vs all the other keys. Transmitters like the arc type had very heavy current flowing through their contacts, so they had to have much heavier contacts as well as heavier springs to break the contact."

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