Mechanical Practice Sets

Mechanical Practice Sets, as the name implies, are simple "telegraph" instruments designed to produce a clicking sound without the use of electricity. Instead of current flowing through a sounder coil, the key lever is pressed and it strikes against another piece of metal, often in the same shape as a sounder anvil. They were used by people learning to send and receive Morse Code.

Some of these mechanical sets are just a simple lever key, while others have fake sounder coils designed to look like the real thing. The most elaborate ones will have a key and "sounder" mounted separately on a board similar to a KOB, but with a metal rod connecting the two units.

Below are several examples of mechanical practice sets from around the world:


A very early mechanical set made by WD Putt & Co, Wellsville Ohio. Patented in 1870. This set has a separate key and sounder on a board like a KOB. A metal rod under the base connects the two units so that when the key lever is depressed, it pulls down on the sounder lever to make the clicking sound.


The Morse Perfect Mechanical Telegraph Instrument. Patented in 1883.


One of the more common mechanical sets, made by JH Bunnell, NY. It's basically a sounder without coils and the keying knob is attached directly to the lever. The lever strikes against the anvil, making a loud clicking sound.



Another mechanical set by JH Bunnell. This one has separate levers for the key and "sounder". Another version, called the Beekman Electromechanical Combination Set (pictured in the ad at the right), has actual sounder coils that can be powered by a battery. I have never seen one of these sets in real life.



A mechanical set by ES Greeley, NY. This particular set has fake sounder coils to give it a look of being a real sounder, but they are just for show.



Another set similar to the Bunnell made by Voltamp Co.



A British mechanical set made by Walters Electrical, Model 40S. It operates on the same principle as the Putt set above.



A homemade mechanical practice set made from a British GPO key and sounder.



Another British made mechanical set, maker unknown.



A French mechanical set, marked Alban-Lafon (Evreux). This mechanical set uses a simple sounder inside a resonator hood to help amplify the sound.



An interesting mechanical set called The Telegrapher, made by Allison & Guinan Mfg Co, Cleveland Ohio. Includes a paper chart showing the American Morse Code.



Another very simple practice key that screws onto the edge of a table. Maker unknown, likely German made.