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Object Identification Help: Likely part of an old Military Radio

Dwurban

New Member
Hello everyone.

Hopefully this is the right place to post this, I've been asking all over the internet for help identifying this object I have pictures of and this place seems like an active place to ask. I'm not the first person to try identifying this, but I do believe I've been the most active searcher as of recently.

Anyway, as I said, we have pictures of this unknown object that I, and several others, have been trying to identify for quite some time. We only know of two of them existing. Both were used as movie props, which is how we know about them and have pictures of them. But trying to find where they came from is a complete mystery. They were found sometime in the early to mid 1980s in California, likely at an electronic surplus yard like Apex Electronics. Both objects are made of aluminum and weigh 2 pounds. The only writing on it are the words VOICE, TONE, and RECEIVE (though RECEIVE has been sanded off on both objects). Below are some pictures of the objects.

IMG_2208 1.jpg

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IMG_2199 1.jpg

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IMG_2191 1.jpg

IMG_2189 1.jpg

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j8u0YuS.png

Our best guess is that it was from some sort of portable military radio. The ears on the sides would act as belt loops, and the VOICE and TONE were markers for a switch, similar to other military radios. Despite our best efforts, however, no one can find a clear, definitive answer as to what these things are and where they came from before being used as props.

I've asked several other forums about the object, so I figured I'd try here as well. Any help you all can provide is very much appreciated!
 

rjenkinsgb

Active Member
It looks almost like a battery case of some sort - are the cavities the right size to take C or D cells, by any chance?
It could also be from a field telephone type system, I believe some of those could be switched between voice and tone (morse code) operation.
 

Dwurban

New Member
are the cavities the right size to take C or D cells, by any chance?
I don't personally own either of the two objects, but I believe you can fit 4 D batteries inside it. Theres no sign of any sort of spring or other connector inside the two holes however, at least not anymore. If it held batteries, it was probably larger dry cell batteries, especially considering the object itself is probably rather old

Heres a link to an image album online that shows more pictures, including ones with measurements, so you can get a scope of the size of the thing:
 

unclejed613

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
i've seen this same question with the same pix a few months ago, i don't remember if it was here or on reddit. IIRC there were several responses with pictures and descriptions of the original piece of equipment this goes to...
 

unclejed613

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
if i were to make a guess it would be some type of avionics from WWII to 1960. there were navigation systems which used the radio and audio tones. with vacuum tubes, a radio took up a lot of space in an instrument panel, so having a switch to switch the receiver from voice to tone reception would make sense. modern radios don't take up as much space, and it's not uncommon for an instrument panel to have 4 or more radios, and dedicated radios for the avionics. another possibility would b a squelch switch, in "voice" mode the squelch would break with any signal, but with "tone" the squelch would only break with a particular audio tone, which means you don't have to listen to everybody's chatter.

i never did find the original posting, i think it was on reddit, and without remembering the actual wording of the post title, it's like looking for a needle in a haystack of needles (wait.... wouldn't that make it a "needle stack"????)
 

Dwurban

New Member
If the post was on Reddit, it was probably posted by me, I've made like 50 posts on there asking about this object. Unfortunately, however, I definitely have not gotten any replies that outline the piece of equipment it comes from. Or at least, not any with photographic or other definitive proof. I've gotten some confident claims as to what it is, usually with people saying they've seen one in person, but none of these people were able to prove it. If it's was on here though, I'll take a look through the posts and see if I can find anything.

Thanks for the help, both for the potential lead and ideas as to what it could've been!
 

unclejed613

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
one problem with identifying this as a piece of a particular radio system, is that when you buy military surplus radio equipment, you get the radio, sometimes the power supply, and sometimes cables, etc... that go with it. what you rarely see is the stuff that's mounted on the vehicle, like remotely operated switches (which is what this item seems to be) those items are usually either still on the vehicle when it's scrapped, or removed for surplus sales, but virtually never ends up with the radio. it's usually sold with no information what it goes to.

one company that MIGHT be able to identify that switch is https://fairradio.com/our-products/ they have been around since 1947, and always have lots of interesting gear for sale. they have in the past had complete commo rigs (including the vehicle) listed.
 

Dwurban

New Member
Yeah, I'm starting to think it might have come from a navy vessel, since most of them were scrapped and it's possible that two of the objects would have landed in Apex in the 80s. Would also explain why someone told me he's seen one on a museum ship before.

As for fair radio, I've actually been there before and didn't have any luck finding one or finding information on it. Some of my colleagues tried as well. There's plenty other places similar to it that we haven't tried or even found yet though, maybe one of them will have the magic answer
 

unclejed613

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
As for fair radio, I've actually been there before and didn't have any luck finding one or finding information on it.
what i meant wasn't browsing the site, but emailing them... they have been in the surplus business since WWII surplus began to be sold by the DOD in 1947. if anybody knows about obscure details of surplus electronics, it's most likely to be FRS.
 

Dwurban

New Member
what i meant wasn't browsing the site, but emailing them... they have been in the surplus business since WWII surplus began to be sold by the DOD in 1947. if anybody knows about obscure details of surplus electronics, it's most likely to be FRS.
Oh I've done more than browsed their site, I've emailed them and went to their business in person. I asked people working there, and no one there knows what it's from. I never did hear back from the email though, I could try it again

You might try this site:
I'll give it a shot, thanks!
 

unclejed613

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
one question that might give a clue (assuming it's US military surplus) did it have paint on it? if so, what color? for US military, the general rule is green or sand color are used by the army or marines, neutral grey is the navy, and black or unpainted is usually the air force. there are likely to be exceptions (in the army, the radioteletype crypto boxes and the SWR meters were grey).
 

Dwurban

New Member
one question that might give a clue (assuming it's US military surplus) did it have paint on it? if so, what color? for US military, the general rule is green or sand color are used by the army or marines, neutral grey is the navy, and black or unpainted is usually the air force. there are likely to be exceptions (in the army, the radioteletype crypto boxes and the SWR meters were grey).
As far as I know neither object was painted, unless its gray color is from a coat of dark gray paint on top of bare aluminum, but I don't think this is the case. Inside of both large holes though is a layer of yellow chem film, which theoretically could've been on the entire object prior to being used. But this was likely just used to prevent corrosion and has nothing to do with the actual color of the entire thing
 

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