S-R Cotel Straight Key

Een onbekend stukje Engels seinsleutel-werk, dat dankzij de informatie van Rob, PD2RSW, niet meer onbekend is.
Onderstaand exemplaar is een nieuwer type, wel van Engelse makelij, van het merk S R . Hier onder de vertaling van de Engelse tekst, die Rob mij stuurde.

Deze sleutel is een S-R Cotel "straight key". De WT8Amp-sleutel heeft model gestaan voor dit exemplaar en is iets groter geworden. Hij werd gemaakt door de reeds overleden Jack Sykes. ( overleden in Juni 1997 op de leeftijd van 95 jaren)
Hij werkte bij een kunststof-fabriek Cotel en verzamelde het afval dat daar overbleef en fabriceerde onder de naam "Lingard Electronics" deze seinsleutels. In 1986, toen hij 84 was en nog steeds seinsleutels produceerde, zei hij: "Er zijn nu 50.000 van mijn seinsleutels over de gehele wereld verspreid".
Overigens verkocht hij ze niet, maar verstrekte ze gratis aan diverse scholen en instituten.
Er bestaan ook S-R cotel keys met een morse "sounder" er aan vast gekoppeld...

Dit is de S-R-Cotel straight key.

Mr. Tris Thorne, MM0TJR, was so kind to send me more information about this typical key, a part of our mail-exchange :


I noticed you have a S-R cotel key in your collection. I can give you a little information on this key: it was as you say made by Jack Sykes, for his business Lingard Electronics, which (amongst other things) produced morse learning "laboratories" (like a language lab) for Navy and other government training centres around the world, up until the 1990s.
The S-R stands for Sykes-Robertson. George Robertson was another electronic engineer who at one time worked in Ferranti's in Edinburgh, but he also was in business with Jack Sykes producing the electronics for the language labs and morse labs.
My home island (Sanday in Orkney) was where Sykes-Robertson's little factory was based, making these and other products in the 1960's and 1970's. we still have about 1,000 of these keys in their component parts on the island! I was selling some -very few - on ebay in the last 10 years. You can tell if it came from my ebay sales, because there is a very small T T scratched onto the underneath side of the key base.
Cotel is still in business, a plastics mouldings company making knobs and things! But they don't know anything about this famous key.

Best regards,

Tris Thorne

After asking Tris if it was allowed to publish his story, he sent me the following mail.:

Yes of course it is OK! these back stories are what make curiosities like a special morse key interesting.
Somewhere I have a booklet from the 1960s, of Lingard, which shows the schematic of an audio oscillator for a practise set.
in about 2006, I went to the old Sykes-Robertson workshop, to try to find an old CB radio that I had dropped off there for repair when I was a kid. I didn't find it but I had a chat with George Robertson and also had a "rummage" in the workshop.
There was plans for in-car radar systems to assist with driving in fog, and also proposals for "automated traffic management" (basically semi driverless car technology) for a Hong Kong project, all from the 1960s and 1970s. amazing to think that they had involvement in that stuff that is (slowly) becoming a reality now.
George died in about 2010 and Marion Robertson (George Robertson's wife) died earlier this year. one of George's sons is a computer engineer in Orkney. I believe from talking to Marion, after George's death, that automatic cars were one of George Robertson's pet projects.

I wonder if George Robertson was the "visionary" in the pair of Sykes-Robertson, but Sykes was the one with the "boring" (but profitable) bread-and-butter work (ie, the morse labs and language labs). You know what I mean?

I use an SR Cotel key in my little HF station, and I have a few keys which my sons play with. The specific colours and styling of this SR Cotel key go very well with my Skanti TRP8255 marine set, so much so that I wonder if it was designed with Skanti equipment in mind. Certainly the old Skanti radio sets were used by military and government organisations.

So thanks to Tris!!!!!

De sleutel, gezien vanaf de andere kant.

Het zijaanzicht.

De "Tensioner", drukveer.

De letters S-R duidelijk zichtbaar.

Tussen de twee schroefgaten de naam Cotel.

En natuurlijk, Made in England.(Eigenlijk in Scotland)


De onderkant van de key-base. ( Sorry Tris, I cannot find "tt" on it)

Hier staat wel een vreemd tekentje......, rechts naast de schroef.

De herkomst van de sleutel is nu bekend en ik heb hem op hoogglans gepoetst.