It can be part of a registrar’s work to find out, what an artifact actually is. It might sound strange but there are many objects in this world that might leave you clueless if you never saw them before. This pen is such an object that began as a “What-is-it”, an unidentified object with unknown use. This is a story about how the object got its name and meaning back.
As a registrar you start with looking at the object to find out about its use and if possible about its context. In this case it was among a donation of a radio ham which suggested that it might be something you use for fixing a ham radio equipment or something. Our closest guess was that it was a circuit tester, but somehow this explanation didn’t satisfy us.It was too far away from the circuit testers we knew and already had in our collection. If in doubt, it’s best to ask. So we send a request over the mailinglist of the RCAAM with the following picture and description:
while working on a donation from a radio ham we came across this really weird item.
It is about 6,7 inches long, the diameter is 0,44 inches. It has a clip on the side like to attach it to one’s shirt pocket. You can turn the red plastic knob at the rear end in a 90 degrees angle until it gives a clicking sound. You can twist off the red thing with the metal bolt at front end, so you can insert two AA-batteries in the shaft. Inside of the red transparent plastics thing at the front you can see that the metal bolt is soldered to something inside the pen and also soldered with a little lamp (not betting on anything, but it seems to be a light bulb, not LED) inside.
As we all know, networking works. No one came up with a better guess than a electrical continuity tester, but one colleague pointed us to an electronics shop in Berkeley/California/USA saying: “These folks would be able to answer just about anything regarding electronic devices”.
The answer came within hours, straight and clear:
I think it’s a Buzz-it.
It’s a signal injector
Now we knew it was a kind of small oscillator to analyze what part of a radio didn’t work. We even had pictures of a similar device including a short manual.
I think it’s a great example that working with collections is never boring. It includes a great deal of detective’s work and sometimes even international collaboration.