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Telefunken PE-484
Miniature direction finder

The PE-484 was a body-wearable miniature direction finder (Kleinstpeilempfänger) with a wide range of accessories, introduced around 1958 by Telefunken in Germany. It could be carried inconspicuously under the operator's clothing and was intended for tracking down clandestine radio stations. In some countries the PE-484 was used until the early 1980s.
The PE484 is a beautifully crafted receiver with a body made of Bakelite. It has a very ergonimic design with metal support pins at either side, allowing it to be strapped to the body with the supplied canvas belt. It is fully self-contained and is powered by three internal rechargeable batteries.

Special body-wearable antennas were supplied, allowing the entire setup to be hidden under the operator's clothing. A thin wire, hidden in the sleeve of the coat, connected to a field strength meter that was carried on the left wrist.
PE-484/3 receiver

The PE-484 came with a lot of dedicated accessories, such as the much sought after wrist-watch field strength indicator, packed together in a leather briefcase. An extended version came with even more accessories, and was packed in a large leather suitcase (see below).

The receiver covered all frequencies between 0.057 and 20.6 MHz, with the exception of the 0.443 to 0.498 MHz section, divided over 10 frequency ranges. Each frequency range had its own tuning could that also acted as the frequency scale. It was inserted from the side of the receiver. When strapped to the body, the tuning scale could be observed by the user.
The closed leather briefcase The open leather briefcase, revealing its contents PE-484/3 receiver Inserting a tuning coil Wrist watch field-strength meter The meter on the wrist Interior of the receiver Interior of the receiver

Plug-in coils
In the table below, all plug-in coils that were available for the PE-484 are listed. In many cases, only a selection of these coils would be ordered with the receiver. Especially the lower four ranges I to IV (0.057 to 1.08 MHz) were often omitted.
One coil would usually be placed inside the receiver. Five alternative coils were stored in a sturdy leather box that could be attached to the waist belt. The remaining 4 coils were stored inside the flap of the leather briefcase.   
Typical plug-in tuning coil

Leather box containing 5 tuning coils The tuning coils inside the leather box 5 spare tuning coils in a leather box Typical plug-in tuning coil Rear of a plug-in coil, showing the contacts. Inserting a tuning coil

Coil From To From To
I 0.057 MHz 0.114 MHz 2630 m 5250 m
II 0.112 MHz 0.224 MHz 1338 m 2680 m
III 0.220 MHz 0.443 MHz 676 m 1363 m
Gap 0.443 MHz 0.498 MHz    
IV 0.498 MHz 1.08 MHz 278.0 m 602.0 m
V 1.06 MHz 2.225 MHz 135.0 m 283.0 m
VI 2.18 MHz 4.51 MHz 66.5 m 137.5 m
VII 4.45 MHz 8.8 MHz 34.1 m 67.3 m
VIII 8.6 MHz 12.9 MHz 23.25 m 34.8 m
IX 12.7 MHz 17.0 MHz 17.65 m 23.62 m
X 16.8 MHz 20.6 MHz 14.55 m 17.85 m

The PE-484 can use several antennas. First of all, it can use the internal ferrite antenna. For good direction finding however, it needs a (directional) loop antenna and a vertical (omni-directional) help-antenna.

For the latter, two variants are available: an antenna pair made of cloth-encapsulated wires, and a set of fixed antennas. The fixed antennas are intended for field use in combination with the tripod and antenna head. The image on the right shows the body-wearable loop antenna.
Cloth directional antenna

Cloth directional antenna Cloth antenna wire entry point Cloth help-antenna Cloth help-antenna Unfolded window antenna Window antenna hinge Telescopic rod antenna The tip of the telescopic rod antenna

Leather briefcase
A standard inconspicuous brown leather briefcase was used for storing the receiver and the basic accessories, such as the additional tuning coils, the user manual, the antennas and the wrist-watch field strength indicator.

In most cases, this is how the PE-484 set was delivered. In the extended version, the briefcase was packed inside a larger leather case, together with a tripod and some other accessories. It made the PE-484 suitable for open field use and static measurements.

The open leather briefcase, revealing its contents Leather box containing 5 tuning coils

Storage case
The PE-484 receiver and all of its accessories can be stored inside a rather large black leather suitcase. This includes the standard brown leather briefcase that is intended for daily use, and a tripod for the fixed directional antennas.

The images below show how the various parts are stored inside the high quality suitcase. The rightmost image shows the antenna head that can be mounted on the tripod for outside field use.

Contents of the suitcase The briefcase inside the suitcase Taking the briefcase out of the suitcase Control sticks and sound funnel Antenna head

The PE-484 can also be used for static field measurements when mounted on the supplied tripod. A special antenna head with two fixed antennas is then connected to the receiver.   

Tripod Antenna head Plastic ruler Angle meter Unfolded window antenna

Other accessories
A complete PE-484 set comes with many other accessories, including a screwdriver, rain coat, waist belt, battery charger, etc. Some of these accessories are listed below. Others may be described elsewhere on this page.

For connectivity between the various components of the set, some thin short cables are supplied. These cables all have a rather rare 2-pin plug at the end. Be very careful with these cables and plugs are they are extremely difficult to replace.

User Manual Headphones Raincoat Screwdriver Canvas waist belt Voltage meter Battery charger Inter-connection cables

The PE484 receiver is easily opened by loosening two screws at one end of the back panel. The other side of the back panel has a hinge, so that you can swing it open like a door. Opening the back door, reveals the electronics inside the receiver. It consists of two miniature Telefunken valves and 5 first-generation transistors.

To the right of the electronic circuit are two mechanical filters. The batteries are in the front compartment. They are mounted in three battery holders that surround a 5-pin 270° DIN socket.
Interior of the receiver

Opening the receiver Interior of the receiver Interior of the receiver Interior of the receiver Interior of the receiver Interior of the receiver

Different versions
Over the years, different version of the PE-484 direction finder have been made by Telefunken. The device was improved and redesigned a couple of times and finally a completely different model was issued. Although the interior of the various models can be quite different, they have the model number PE-484 in common.

The exact model is identified by the suffix to the model number. In the initial version was called PE-484/1. It was completely valve-based. It was follwed by the PE-484/2 and the PE-484/3, which was a hybrid (i.e. valves and transistors). Eventually they were followed by the PE-484/4 and finallt the PE-484/5, which was a fully transistorized device.

Eventually, in the 1970s or 1980s, the final model was released as the PE-484/9. It was a fully digital device and its design was completely different from the earlier PE-484 models [3].
PE-484 in block buster movie
The PE-484 direction finder can be spotted in the Dutch 1977 block buster movie Soldaat van Oranje (Soldier of Orange). In the film, Dutch actress Bruni Heinke plays a Dutch woman who collaborates with the Germans. As an employee of the German SD (Sicherheits Dienst), she wears the receiver on her waist and the field-strength meter on her left arm.
When the Germans try to locate a clandestine transmitter operated by the Dutch resistance, they first use a rather large vehicle in order to determine the area in which the transmitter operates. Then, the Telefunken PE-484 is used in the last few blocks, in close proximity of the transmitter.

Although the PE-484 is a post-war receiver (1958), the film makers thought it was similar enough to the German Gürtelpeiler (waist belt direction finder) that was used during WWII. Real war-time Gürtelpeilers are extremely rare.

The PE-484 that was featured in the film, was part of the personal collection of Cor Moerman. It is now part of the collection of the Dutch Ham Radio Museum - Museum Jan Corver - in Budel. Screenshots courtesy and copyright 1977, Rob Houwer Film Company, The Netherlands.

  1. Telefunken, Kleinstpeilgerät PE-484/2 Teil 1
    Vorläufige Kurzbeschreibung und Bedienungsanweisung (German).
    User Manual for the portable direction finder PE-484/2. Germany, April 1959.

  2. Telefunken, Kleinstpeilgerät PE-484/2 Teil 2
    Vorläufige Beschreibung Wirkweise mit Schaltbildern (German).
    Service Manual for the portable direction finder PE-484/2. Germany, April 1959.

  3. Telefunken, Radiogoniomètre miniature PE-484/9
    Brochure for the Telefunken PE-484/9 (French).

  4. Louis Meulstee, RDF Receiver PE 484/2
    Wireless for the Warrier. Volume 4. September 2004. ISBN 0952063-36-0.

  5. Rob Houwer Film Company, Soldaat van Oranje
    Movie (Eng.: Soldier of Orange), 1977.

Further information

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