W4DFU in 1934. The Gator Amateur Radio Club has a long and storied history. The W4DFU amateur radio station was established in 1934.

One of our local hams, Earl Tonjes W4NG, was a teenager in 1934 and told us about hanging around the club with the college students, and getting his license right before W4DFU was issued.  The station was near by the 1930 built football stadium (now The Swamp) in an area of cow pastures.

Our club only has records back to 1947 and what equipment was used in the early years is unknown. Gary, W4GAL has donated a replica of a 1930's era transmitter using mostly 1930s parts, with some WWII vintage parts mixed in.  The transmitter was constructed by W0LO, Kenneth Trites of Iowa (born 1916), reproducing in around 1980 what he used in the 1930s.

Front Panel

Top view

Bottom view

Back view

Click for larger photos

According to W4PSH, Adrian Snow, (who restored our Collins 75A2 and 32V3) the radio as built is representative of the type of equipment that was available in the 30’s when W4DFU was first licensed. 

Some of the parts are correct for the period but others (RF chokes, meter, some of the mica capacitors) are not of the same vintage. At the time generally the wood base would be of a solid type of wood, the plywood used would have not been available in the 1930s.

The transmitter had a unique way of two position meter reading selection, by plugging in a phono plug to either of two jacks on the front panel. The cord with the plug passes through the front panel and can be seen on the bottom view.

One shorted 47 tube is present. A period correct replacement balloon-type tube is rather expensive ($40-$50).  Even more importantly it would be cost prohibitive to construct a supply and provide a safety enclosure for the transmitter as the 500 volts with exposed components would be dangerous.

Even with all three tubes in function the transmitter on 40m (single bander) would probably only have 3-4 Watts output and is crystal controlled making on the air usage problematic.

It sure is a nice find and of great interest to those interested in the days W4DFU got started...

See our Archives Page for More Club History

W4DFU in the 1950s