Chaz Cone

The Phone Patch

    Hams are licensed to act in service of the community when called upon.  But most non-hams have no contact with (or opinion of) Ham Radio on a day-to-day basis.

    The phone patch is one thing that hams can offer to leave a positive feeling about Ham Radio with the public.  In the 50s and 60s, long distance (particularly international long distance) phone calls were expensive.

    It was a trivial electronic design project to connect a telephone line to a ham radio station.  This device, known as a "phone patch" enables a non-ham sitting in his or her home, talking on the telephone, to use a ham's station at the other end of the phone call to talk to another ham station which, in turn, was connected through his telephone to someone else (another non-ham) sitting in his or her home.  While it took two ham operators working in concert to make this happen, it's been done routinely for decades.  Here's a diagram of how it works:

    Once the patch is established, the non-ham participants do have to take turns. They say something and then "over" so the transmittint Ham operator knows to flip the switch to receive and vice versa.  It's a bit clumsy until you get used to it but it works fine.

    Now in the age of world-wide cellphone service, phone patches have become dinosaurs -- but they still work!