Hamtext Cartridge

At the February 2010 meeting of the Fresno Commodore User Group (FCUG), Roger Van Pelt demonstrated the Hamtext cartridge, designed to transmit Morse code via short wave radio, and how Commodore computers fit into the process.

Roger brought an extensive collection of equipment to make Robert Bernardo's VIC20 part of a ham radio setup, including the Hamtext cartridge, a small DVD player (to serve as a monitor for the C64, which was used in lieu of a shortwave transceiver), a Kantronics Interface (in essence, a radio modem), and the necessary software. Roger describes the software as “halfway between a terminal program and an instant messaging system." The item that garnered the most interest was a World War II era telegraph key that Roger’s uncle used in Europe during the 1950s.

To summarize briefly, Roger used the C64 as a stand-in for a short wave radio transceiver. But instead of receiving the Morse code signal from another transceiver, it generated the signal itself (via software and telegraph key) and sent it to the Kantronics interface. The tone-generating software was developed by Mike and Carlsson of the Denial VIC20 Forum, from requirements provided by Roger. The interface then converted the signal to a TTL signal which the Hamtext software on the VIC displayed as text on its screen. The Hamtext software is also able to translate text from the VIC to Morse code and send it to the transceiver via the interface. The telegraph key was plugged into the joystick port. As Roger operated the telegraph key, we watched the text appear on the monitor of the VIC.

You can see a video of the demo here.

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Click photo for a larger view - Photos open in a new window

Roger and FCUG president Robert Bernardo setting up the Hamtext demo Roger's antique telegraph key The Hamtext cartridge without its shell
Roger and FCUG president Robert Bernardo setting up the Hamtext demo Roger's WWII era telegraph key The MMC64 cart for the C64
    
The Hamtext Cartridge The Hamtext board Kantronics Interface
The Hamtext Cartridge The Hamtext board Kantronics Interface

 

   
Roger makes the menu selection Transmission type menu Roger operating the code key   
Roger makes the menu selection Transmission type menu Roger operating the code key
   

 

    
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External view of Hamtext cart More about the J-38 Telegraph Key
 
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Updated April 22, 2010