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Universal automatic morse keyer

PIVOŇKA was a universal solid-state battery-powered automatic morse keyer that was developed in the early 1960s in Czechoslovakia by the 6th Goverment Department for the secret state police (StB). It was intended for use in combination with a variety of Cold War spy radio sets including the NEPTUN, NEPTUN II and LIPAN radios [2]. PIVONKA 1 is also known as TI-509 and as OTA.

The device is fully transistor-based and was derived from the valve-based morse keyer of the 1956 PLUTO receiver. It is housed in a square hammerite grey metal enclosure that measures 11 x 11 x 4 cm. At the bottom is a rubber pad to prevent it from sliding away when it is used.

The keyer is operated by means of a transparent plastic paddle that has to be inserted into a hole at the front right, and secured in place before it is used. When the device is not in use, the paddle is usually stored inside the enclosure that can be opened with a slide-lock at the front.
IVONKA automatic morse keyer

The device is powered by two 1.5V AA-size batteries that are installed inside the enclosure. A white slide-switch toward the rear of the top panel is used to turn the device ON or OFF. The two knobs at the front are for adjusting the audio volume and the speed of the dashes and dots. For monitoring, an earpiece can be connected at the rear. Also at the rear is a 3.5 mm jack socket for connection to the transmitter.

  1. Pivoňka is the Czech word for Peony.

IVONKA automatic morse keyer Operating the keyer Opening the keyer Interior Battery compartment (2 x 1.5V AA-size) Connecting the earphones IVONKA with earphones Keyer output (to transmitter)
PIVONKA was developed in the early 1960s, when small transistors gradually became available to the general public. Before the keyer shown above was ready for release however, the functional protype shown below was made. It contains the same circuit, abeit in a different enclosure.

The image on the right shows the prototype version of the PIVONKA keyer. It consists of a Bakelite box with a transparent plastic panel at the bottom. The device measures roughly 11 x 8 x 3.5 cm and has a transparent plastic paddle sticking out at the front. Contrary to the final production version, the paddle of the prototype is fixed and cannot be removed easily.

At the rear is a sliding metal panel that gives access to the battery compartment, which accepts two standard 1.5V AA-size cells.
Early PIVONKA protype

At the front is a recessed potentiometer that is used to adjust the speed of the dashes and dots. On top of the unit are two 3.5 mm jack sockets. The one closest to the front is the socket for the headphones. The one towards the rear is the output which connects the unit to the transmitter.

Early PIVONKA protype Operating the PIVONKA prototype Recessed speed knob Sockets for earphone and output Battery compartment Closed battery compartment Detail
  1. PIVONKA technical manual
    Date unknown. Scanned August 2015 from faded copy of original document.

  2. PIVONKA prototype diagrams
    Early 1960s. Scanned August 2015 from faded copy of original drawings.
  1. Anonymous, PIVONKA keyer - THANKS!
    Devices kindly donated by anonymous former user. July 2015.

  2. Louis Meulstee, Wireless for the Warrior, Part 4 Supplement
    Forthcoming. Accessed August 2015.
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Crypto Museum. Last changed: Wednesday, 19 August 2015 - 19:45 CET.
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