Image Using a pedal wireless transmitter

TLF ID R3174

This is a photograph, possibly taken by John Flynn (1880-1951) and measuring 8.2 cm x 8.2 cm, of an elderly woman seated at a pedal wireless transmitter with three girls behind her. There is no microphone but the woman is operating a morse key. The woman and one of the girls are wearing earphones. The words 'AIM Pedal Transmitter' are written in black in the top right-hand corner.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset shows a pedal wireless transmitter, which was a vital tool of the Royal Flying Doctor Service - the Service was founded in 1928 in the outback by a Presbyterian minister, the Very Reverend John Flynn of the Australian Inland Mission; it is responsible for flying to urgent cases, giving first aid, transporting patients to hospital, giving advice by radio, and flying a regular clinic circuit to areas without doctors.
  • It illustrates the use of a portable pedal-operated wireless - in 1929, there was no regular source of electricity in the outback, telephone links existed only near larger towns and radio communication was practically unknown; to solve the problems of communication, Flynn asked Alfred Traeger (1895-1980), an electrical engineer from Adelaide, to design a transceiver that would generate its own power though pedals.
  • It shows a person using a Morse key, where today a microphone would be used - to use these early transmitters, the operator needed to know the code of dots and dashes invented in 1835 by American inventor Samuel Morse (1791-1872); these dots and dashes were produced by pulses of electricity, which could be transmitted clearly over great distances.
  • It shows how bulky and unwieldy Traeger's transmitters were - they retailed initially for £33, were adapted from a pedal electrical generator used in the First World War and were still being used widely through the 1940s.
  • It is an example of a photograph that has been turned into a lantern slide to be used in lectures about the Australian Inland Mission - Flynn documented many aspects of life in the outback through his photographs; the lectures were given to inform people of the work of the Mission and, ultimately, to solicit support and finance.
Year level

1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • History
  • Studies of society and environment
  • Technologies

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Description: Content provider
  • URL:
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements