The pulse-dial telephone and its associated mechanical exchange represents the pinnacle of late-19th and early-20th century electromechanical technology, but its vestiges have disappeared from view with astonishing rapidity. [Matthew Harrold] is a telecoms enthusiast who’s been kind enough to share with us the teardown and refurbishment of that most signature of pulse-dial components, a telephone dial. In this case it’s on a rather unusual instrument, a British GPO outdoor phone that would have been seen in all kinds of industrial and safety installations back in the day and can probably still be found in the wild today if you know where to look.
The teardown soon identifies a dial that runs very slowly and is sorely in need of a clean. There follows a detailed part-by-part dismantling of the dial mechanism, followed by a careful clean, polish, and reassembly. He notes that a previous owner had used grease to lubricate it, probably the reason for its slow operation.
When we make a telephone call in 2020 it is most likely to be made using a smartphone over a cellular or IP-based connection rather than a traditional instrument on a pair of copper wires to an exchange. As we move inexorably towards a wireless world in which the telephone line serves only as a vehicle for broadband Internet, it’s easy to forget the last hundred years or more of telephone technology that led up to the present.
In a manner of speaking though, your telephone wall socket hasn’t forgotten. If you like old phones, you can still have one, and picture yourself in a 1950s movie as you twirl the handset cord round your finger while you speak. Continue reading “A Vintage Phone In 2020”→
Right up front, let us stipulate that we are not making fun of this project. Even its maker admits that it has no practical purpose. But this 3D-printed Commodore-style rotary dial keypad fails to be practical on so many levels that it’s worth celebrating.
And indeed, celebrating deprecated technology appears to be what [Jan Derogee] had in mind with this build. Rotary dials were not long ago the only way to place a call, and the last time we checked, pulse dialing was still supported by some telephone central office switchgear. Which brings us to the first failure: with millions of rotary dial phones available, why build one from scratch? [Jan] chalks it up to respect for the old tech, but in any case, the 3D-printed dial is a pretty good replica of the real thing. Granted, no real dial used a servo motor to return the dial to the resting state, but the 3D-printed springs [Jan] tried all returned the dial instantly, instead of the stately spin back that resulted in 10 pulses per second. And why this has been done up VIC-20 style and used as a keypad for Commodore computers? Beats us. It had to be used for something. That the software for the C-64 generates DTMF tones corresponding to the number dialed only adds to the wonderful weirdness of this. Check out the video below.