Quirky Ham Radio Gadgets from Yesteryear: The Wouff Hong and the Rettysnitch


Well, the Wouff-Hong is not so much a gadget, but it has been a part of Ham Radio lore since 1930’s.  What is a Wouff Hong?  According to 1930 edition of The Radio Amateur’s Handbook:

The Wouff-Hong is amateur radio’s most sacred symbol and stands for the enforcement of law and order in amateur operation.

The story goes that T.O.M. ( The Old Man) wrote stories in the American Radio Relay League’s magazine, QST,  titled Rotten Radio.  It excoriated bad operating practices using caustic humor and satire.  It was in one of these stories that the Wouff-Hong was born.  It wasn’t until after his death that it was revealed that T.O.M. was non other than Hiram Percy Maxim otherwise known as W1AW.  Hiram served the ARRL as president for 22 years after which the ARRL built a new memorial station that has been known from that day forward as W1AW.


The Wouff-Hong was also given away as swag at the 1938 ARRL National Convention in Chicago.  Occasionally these show up on eBay and is something I would love to have in my station, even though it really has no function in radio.  It’s just a great piece from the very beginning of Amateur Radio.


Another piece of Ham Radio lore includes the much more sadistic looking and sounding Rettysnitch.  Story goes that in 1921, the Washington, DC Radio Club presented a sample of the Rettysnitch to the league’s traffic manager saying it came from the Old Man himself.  The Rettysnitchwas supposed to be used to enforce decency on the Ham Radio Bands.

There’s much more to the Wouff-Hong and Rettysnitch lore than I can put in one post, but these are some of the earliest examples of ham radio lore.  Even the word Ham, so frequently used to identify amateur radio operators, has a lore that can be discovered in the ARRL’s history section.

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About the Author

Joel McLaughlin
Joel is a consultant in the IT field and is located in Columbus, OH. While he loves Linux and tends to use it more than anything else, he will stoop to running closed source if it is the best tool for the job. His techno passions are Linux, Android, netbooks, GPS, podcasting and Amateur Radio.