Tag: radio

Kits and other fun stuff from eBay

Kits and other fun stuff from eBay

 

I admit it; I am a gadget freak!  Ever since I was a little guy and I heard an announcers voice come out of a radio, I was hooked.

radio parts

There was indeed something magical about listening to a baseball game on the radio.  We had this Zenith floor standing Radio with that magic green eye in the dial.  Lights from the dial illumined the room as often you would find yourself transfixed on their voice and their description of the action on the field.

Those days are gone.

We have ample flat screen TV’s in super ultra 4 K extra high definition! Whatever all that means.  Much like having a stereo that faithfully reproduces a square wave frequency from 20 to 20 KHz when the human hearing is good up to 12khz or 14Khz tops, one has to wonder.  How many colors can my eye slash brain actually discern?

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Satellite Radio offers some nostalgia for those of you who like Johnny Dollar or the Shadow knows.  There are many more stations that one can listen to on road trips.  The art of producing such a radio broadcast is probably all but lost today.

What you can hear on the radio itself, pales in comparison to what the radio used to provide.

AM radio is basically talk radio or news all day.

FM radio, of course, is everything from soup to nuts.

Portable radios of not too long ago, 70 years or so, were tube based.  Two batteries were required, and of course, the longevity of the batteries was not that great.

The TR-1 was the first radio that was a joint effort between two companies.

tr1

 

Other companies jumped on the bandwagon with the advent of the transistor.  Now you could build a portable radio and power it with inexpensive batteries.  This device would fit into a shirt pocket or purse comfortably.

I have purchased two kits from eBay sources that are radio’s that mimic those of today.

One was a straight AM radio with a similar design to those of 60 years ago.  There were no directions included with them that a non-Chinese writing, reading person, could make much sense of.

Building the device using the knowledge that I have, I was able to get it working satisfactorily.  The AM FM radio kit that I bought was also lite on instructions and some parts.

Thankfully the parts missing were easily obtained from my supplies of parts.

This radio contained SMT (surface mount technology) which is always somewhat fun to “weld” as they say in their instructions.  I don’t guess that there is a word for solder in Chinese.

I am always thrilled when I first power up a kit, and it works from the get-go.  No smoke or other short circuits. Noise with modulation did indeed emanate from the speaker.  Soon enough there was a ball game being broadcast which, caused me to pause for a moment.

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After everything seemed to work as it should, I finished the assembly installing it into the case provided.

The difference between this radio and one of the 70’s was that there are three integrated circuits inside this radio.

  • One of them is the AM radio.
  • Another is the FM Radio
  • The third is the amplifier

Now give that some thought for a second.  The significant parts of the radio were all on chips.  The SMT chip is the FM radio.  The eight-pin DIP is actually a stereo amplifier chip.  The third which had I not looked carefully at resembles a transistor complete in a TO 92 case.  Three legs only.  That is the AM radio which is actually a several transistor AM radio.

All of the rest of the components are supporting components that they could not build inside the chips.

A handful of capacitors and a few resistors, switches and one variable capacitor.

The FM radio oddly enough does not track linearly as it should.  At either end of the band the stations come in, but in the middle, there are “birdies” and dead space.  This might very well be a design flaw in the circuitry.  You can get all of the stations, but they are not where the pointer says they should be.  After adjusting the trim cap on the variable capacitor, I was able to get stations to come in but again not where they belong.

The AM radio is another disappointment.  Yes, it works, and I can get the stations to come in where they should however…. The strong stations swamp the weaker stations.  I have two strong stations close to my house, so they indeed swamp the receiver.  If you ever had a crystal radio, this is much like that only it has a speaker and power.

Some quick research on the AM chip, I learned that this is a flaw of the chip.  One person has designed a circuit to lower the voltage to the semiconductor alone.  This modification supposedly allows the AGC to act correctly inside the chip enabling the radio to have more selectivity.

I have ordered some of the AM chips.  I plan to “play” with that design myself to see if indeed there is a way to build a radio with that chip that is satisfactory.

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As a Ham Radio Enthusiast, when I see a complete dual band handheld radio with a flashlight and FM broadcast radio built in for under $50 dollars, one has to wonder how the major brands will compete with this.

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In short the Chinese have multiple “kits” that are on eBay.  I firmly believe that many of these kits were sub-assemblies for larger apparatuses that were discontinued.  The market for DIY folks like myself is rife with such things as most of us don’t need instructions.  If on the other hand, you are one of those “step one, step two, folks these kits may not be for you.

The lack of instructions requires that you bring to the table a wealth of experience.  Knowing how to “weld,” solder is mandatory.  Having some idea of what you are building so you can take precautions with static electricity and of course high voltages is also a good idea.

One of the “kits” on the way is a device modeled after the Tesla coil.  There are high voltages present.  If this turns out to be worth it, I will blog about it.

tesla plasma

If it works as expected audio from some device should modulate the plasma.

Why, why not?  It might modulate the gases inside CFL tubes or neon lights too!

Hope you enjoy the blogs and of course take advantage of your tinkering time.

-Best

 

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Are we cooking ourselves? Here is some food for thought.

Are we cooking ourselves? Here is some food for thought.

 

As a technology minded person, I often wondered about those who design cordless devices.  In particular, I am addressing phones.  I assume some government agency somewhere spent millions of your tax dollars to come up with what someone thinks are safe levels of radiation.

Maybe these people know more than the rest of us, or maybe they don’t.

Case in point.

The standard cordless phone in 2017 most probably transmits to the base either at 900 MHz or 2.4 GHz.  While your phone may advertise the higher frequency of 5.4 GHz that is most probably from the base to the phone.

Split frequency designs like this are prudent as it takes more power to transmit higher frequencies.

Now, these cell phones that we all carry around transmit either in the 850 MHz range or 1.8 ~1.9 GHz range.

MHz (Mega Hertz) stands for millions of cycles per second,  GHz is (Giga Hertz) or billions of cycles per second.  So every second depending upon the frequency, the RF (radio frequency) cycles millions or billions of time.  IE 2.4 GHz is 2 billion, four hundred million, cycles per second.

Frequency should not be confused or conflated with power.

Power for our conversation today is watts.  How much power or how many watts of RF (radio frequency) are we talking about?

Cell phones transmit up to 1.7 watts of power.

Cordless phones transmit as much and possibly more than a cell phone.  The interesting aspect of this is there is this DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) technology that has been around for a little while now.  They sell it as a plus but European studies have shown this might be more hazardous to your health than its predecessor.

The base of this technology is transmitting full power all the time whether your phone is in use or not. If the base is next to your bed or on your desk you are constantly bombarded with 5.4 GHz or at the least 2.4 GHz of radiated power in the form of RF.

Move it away from your body.

Why am I writing about this?

Ever since the first cell phones came out I wondered what they were doing and why.  These phones are always talking to the cell towers announcing their availability and telling them where they are while checking in.  The phone was and is smart enough to adjust its power level depending upon what is needed to communicate with the tower effectively.  The reasons are many but the main idea is to “talk” with one cell tower at a time.

My phone, even today will often time be warm in my pocket, or just sitting on the desk.

While we really have no idea what a smartphone is doing all the time, you can bet if it is warm, it is transmitting something.

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I built this little device with a few diodes.  I will not belabor the technical aspects of this device other than to say it does not have any batteries.  These devices are passive in that the only way that they are energized would be by outside energy fields or EM (electromagnetic) forces.

I got the idea from the crystal radio of my youth.  Yes, I built one and housed it inside a pen casing.  With a single diode and a coil and very little know how I had a radio that would pick up local radio stations and never needed a battery.

Since my original device that I designed and built years ago, I found this version on the internet for a few dollars.

Setting this thing on top of my phone it soon became obvious that the cell phone is transmitting constantly.

  • Is it looking for data?
  • Is the phone talking to the tower?
  • Is the phone talking to my Wi-Fi network?

The answer is yes.  We really have no idea if the phone is doing anything else in the (tin foil hat category).

Now with 1.7 watts of RF at 2GHz, give or take, right next to your ear hole, one has to wonder if that is healthy.

Out of curiosity, I moved my device around the phone to discover that the most of the radiation or highest amounts come out of the phone right by the earpiece.  Why?

Knowing RF and the possible link to brain tumors, lymphoma and other nasty things why would the engineers put the transmitting antenna where it would be closest to your head?

This is the iPhone 6S.

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My curiosity got the best of me so I checked my cordless phones.

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The light powered strictly by RF from the phone is very bright, right on the ear hole and down by the mouthpiece, the light, or power output is nonexistent.

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Imagine that your phone has enough RF power to illuminate an LED to full intensity and that energy is being pumped into your head right through your ear hole and of course next to your skull.

Tell me; why in the hell would you not put the antenna at the base of the phone where it would be furthest away from the body/brain?  The energy required to light the led dissipates with distance.  Logic would dictate that the less energy radiated close to your brain would be a good thing.

The pictures speak for themselves but now you know what you are looking at.

What can we do?

First off, we should ask the government for our money back that they paid for these studies.  One would think that if they can come up with SAR (specific absorption rate) and what is safe that just maybe they might have said, “you know, you phone makers should place the transmitter/antenna away from their brains.”

It is kind of like that commercial where the bank is being robbed and the guard says, “Oh I am not a guard, just a monitor… you are being robbed.”  What good is the FCC if they cannot think outside the box? The government, which they are part of, is to protect its citizens from faulty designs, much like the Corvair of the 60’s.  Where is Ralph Nader these days?

It is amazing to me that they did scientific studies to figure out how much tissue would cook or be damaged by rf.  Then they came up with the acronym SAR and finally did nothing more about it.  “Look for a phone with a low SAR rating.”  Are there labels, using this phone can cause brain cancer?”

What is so germane about 2.4 GHz and why am I sounding a little stressed about this?

That box in your kitchen that burns popcorn so nicely happens to work in that same frequency range.

Since there are millions of microwave ovens out there the FCC put broadband Wi-Fi, cordless phones, and many other unlicensed transmitters that the public uses in that same frequency range as the microwave oven.   Part of your license on each piece of equipment reads something to the effect that this device must accept and deal with  RFI or radiofrequency interference.

How does the microwave oven work and what does that have to do with my phone?

Microwave energy excites the molecules in stuff causing them to move faster.  Much like rubbing your hands together you get friction which causes heat.  That is how a microwave heats your lean cuisine dinner or left-overs from Sunday Brunch.  Yes it uses more power but I ask you, would you stick your head in your microwave to see how long it takes to fry your brains?  Consider the cell phone or cordless phone like a microwave crock pot, it might take longer but eventually, something is bound to be heated up.

Just for you people who think that I am a tin foil hat kind of person think of this one. 

How many of our urchins you call grade schoolers now have the very latest iPhone sticking out of the back pocket.  A trip to any mall will answer this question.  Even if it is a hand me down generation 5, it puts out all sorts of power right next to that thinner more malleable skull and younger more tender, still forming brain tissue.

Then there is this whole blood brain barrier thing that doctors talk about.  Does it really seem like a wise idea to put that kind of power that close to those newly formed brain cells?  They are future tax payers you know. Wink wink…

Possibly one of them will say, “someone should really put the transmitter in the base of this thing away from my brain.” Will it take a child to figure this out?  Maybe a riot on the Berkly campus to get the attention of corporate america who might tend to overlook such things.

I know, I am gettin my tin foil out… 

With telecommunications being a multi-trillion dollar industry it is no wonder that this is overlooked.  Much like the back scatter x-ray porn scanners at the airport which virtually strip search you, there is a greater good.  Bombarding our bodies with ionizing radiation is not harmful as long as the government says that it is ok. (sarcasm)

Calling attention to it might cost Nokia or Apple or Panasonic a few dollars.  What is the big deal about a few brain tumors, “can you hear me now?”

Since industry will probably not respond, how can you protect yourself?

Blue Tooth technology also uses RF in the same 2.4 GHz range but the power is very low.  A class one transmitter uses about 1mw or Millie Watt.  There is a newer headset that wraps around your neck with the earpiece extending from them.  That would put the blue tooth transceiver around your neck away from your brain.

Try to always use a headset or speakerphone, and if they still have them, a corded phone.

Use e-mail or text and by all means try talking to people face to face.  I know that is a radical concept but, I don’t think you are in danger of getting exposed to radiation that way.

About the device…

While the original crystal radio of my day used a 1N34 germanium diode this device uses nine 1SS86 diodes one tied to the other with an LED as one of the diodes.  The legs are purposefully left long like that as they act as the antenna to capture any energy that might be present.

If you are creative you could make it look like a bug with a tail and a head that glowed.  Just a thought.

I am not claiming to be an expert on any of this.  Just a person who thinks common sense is in limited supply.  These days we too readily accept that which is, without asking why.  Ask Why!

Cheers!

Scott

 

Am Radio kit from China

Am Radio kit from China

Cheap Chinese Radio Kit

As a radio enthusiast from way, back I thought that it might be fun to build a radio from a kit.

A quick search of eBay turned up a simple six transistor kit for less than $10.

I was interested in a kit that was as close to the radio’s we had in the 1960’s which would leave out anything with integrated circuits.

Ordering the kit it was about 3 weeks  before it arrived and another 2 months before I opened it.

 

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Radio kit from China
Not wild about the color of the case nor the front plate, but this is a kit, not a work of art; right?

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notice the 2 transistor places marked v4

The board looks pretty straight forward.

Problem 1… the instruction are all in Mandarin.

T2, T3 and T4 Are not interchangeable.

 

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Parts list for AM Radio
Those character by the purple blotch are the designations of which are which.

On another part of the document is a chart for the resisitor color code.  Since I know what it is I can work it backwards and figure out what the colors should be.

 

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There you go…the primer as it were. BBROYGBVGW 
Now working this backward…The IF cans were identified.

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T5 is the audio output transformer and it too has a key.  Notice the white dot on the board and the slightly raised up bump on the housing of the transformer.

The rest of this was simply to populate the board correctly and see if you guessed right.

 

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board before final parts installation.
I noticed on the circuit board that there were traces that were not completed for some reason.  If I could read Mandarin I am guessing that possibly those are stages at which you could do tests before completing the entire circuit.

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Notice the C and the D… There is also an A and a B which are not completed either.

 

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Over to the left of the board you can see two of the incomplete circuit paths.

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This is why the kit is so inexpensive.
If you look carefully at the parts layout you will notice that V4 and V5 should really be V5 and V 6 as there are two V4’s wich in our nomenclature would be Q4,5 and 6.

So not only are the instructions worthless to those who cannot interpret Mandarine the printing is flawed.

 

IMG_0930
Schematic showing amplifier. 
My review and guess of this “kit” is that someone bought a bunch of them because they were dirt cheap as the printing was flawed.

The kit does not use a detector diode which causes it to lack sensitivity.  My guess is that they are using the driver Transistor as part of the detector as well.

Since these are silicon transistors and not germanium that too hinders the performance as a detector.

Once built you must insert a 455Khz signal with the variable capacitor open and tune the black If can for maximum sound output.

Using a non-metallic tuning tool you can then tune for your radio stations.  The two adjustments on the back of the variable cap work in conjunction with the oscillator and the last IF can to set the stations on the dial accordingly.

Even though this kit was cheap, unless you have some pretty good radio savvy, I would take a pass.

As an FYI the speaker is very tinny sounding.

I took a short video of it working but, the video type is not compliant with WordPress.  Sorry about that.

-Best

(c) All rights Reserved 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GreCom PSR 700

GreCom PSR 700

Tacky radio

psr-700

Well, one would think that I was about to write a commentary on some DJ, or perhaps some radio personality that was messy, or ill fit for their job but, that is not the case.

This is actually a technical article regarding the GRECOM PSR 700.

This radio is actually a very nice, easy to use scanner, for the person who wants to listen immediately without punching in all of those dozens of frequencies.

The data base comes on a small SD card that you simply install in the radio under the batteries and it is then menu driven with familiar controls as it mimics the old iPod in many respects.

I picked up the radio the other day as I have not used it in over a year.  With Trumps visit coming up and all of the protesters I thought that listening in might prove interesting.

When I picked up the radio it literally stuck to my hand.  This thing was made in China and I am guessing that like their famous capacitor flub up they too did not do something right with the chemical makeup of the case on the radio.  The plastic actually started to break down and reacted with the atmosphere “I am guessing.”

If you run your fingernail along the back of the plastic the “sticky” actually comes off and adheres to your fingernail much like the glue on those nasty little labels that you find on so many things that you buy now days.

Going on the web looking for a solution there was not one.  There are others that have reported this but, Grecom is out of business.   I am guessing that the refund or warrantee of all of the radios that this affected was too much for them and they abandoned those customers.

I took the battery cover off and simply tried to wash it.  Dish soap and a brush just made a sticky mess of both the brush and my hands.

Even if it worked you could not run the radio under water so some other form of “fix” was going to have to be discovered.

Goo Gone to the rescue.

Using Goo Gone and that little plastic tool that you use to take laptops of smartphones apart worked nicely.

Simply get a little goo gone on your finger and rub it on to the area that you want to clean.

After it sits for a few minutes use the tool much like a scraper and small deliberate strokes and you will see the sticky crap come off and pile up at the end of the stroke.

If you feel comfortable dismantling the radio first that might be your best bet as any mistake will have this stuff inside your radio.

I carefully did this too all of the surfaces removing as much as the sticky stuff as possible.  I then got a cloth rag and with some force rubbed and buffed the rest as best I could.

I finished the process with “Windex,” and a paper towel. Dampen the paper towel with Windex, never spray it on to the radio.  Small deliberate forceful strokes, removed the rest of the nastiness that was nothing more than flypaper on my radio.  Cosmetically the radio is not as pristine as it once was, and the lettering that was under the sticky mess disappeared as well.

The radio is still usable, and does not stick too anything any longer.

If you are thinking about buying one of these online think twice as you may be buying a sticky mess.

This is not for the faint of heart and I am disappointed that I spent that kind of money and have a radio that clearly is not as pristine as it was when I bought it.

If you have one of these here is the page for downloads and if you want third party out of warranty service..  I contacted them several days ago and no response so, your mileage may very…

http://www.greamerica.com/

346589

108556-03 108556-04 GooGone-4oz

-Best

© All Rights Reserved 2015

Vintage Radio’s

Vintage Radio’s

  • How about a post that has nothing political in it?
  • How about a post that is instructional and interesting?
  • Think I can do it?

Me personally, sometimes I feel like someone is going to have to develop a twelve step program to break the addiction of collecting and repairing these things.  Truth be known some of these are highly collectable and some are well, just not.

I am guessing that if one saves them long enough the radios that are not collectable today will be at some point in the future.

To that end, I collect those that are “collectible” today as well as radio’s that are unique or sought after for some reason ie the Owl Radio from Clash of the Titans.

Owl Radio from the 60's

More often than not I will purchase a collection of radio’s from different sources.  I might purchase the entire collection because one of the radio’s in that collection is collectable or I might get them because I need parts that I know they will render.

Radio from lot

The bottom line is the case must be intact.  It must look good with no cracks etc.  If it is busted all to hell it turns into a parts piece and devalued substantially.

Today I worked on a radio that was marketed to the US although it is typically marketed to the Russians.

Spica
Repaired, aligned and cleaned up….

Someone had worked on it sometime in the past as the slugs were all out of place.  I guess it is terribly irresistible to resist  putting a screwdriver in the transformers and trimmer caps, as I get more radio’s that have been tweaked, by someone with a screwdriver, instead of the proper alignment tool.

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Having said that this radio defies common logic, in that the wire colors that we come to expect over here in the states is backwards.  Red which normally denotes positive, was the negative lead and of course that made the black wire positive.

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When I first apply power to one of these radios I do so with a variable supply.  Turning the radio on first, then slowly increasing the voltage from 0 to whatever the voltage should be whether it be 3,6 or 9 volts or somewhere in between.  The trick is to have a power supply with an amp meter.

Most transistor radios draw very little current.  If you start to raise the voltage and the current starts to jump and maybe hold at 10 milliamps or so, check your polarity.

Bottom line is that after I figured out that the power leads are opposite of what one might expect the next thing needed was an alignment.

In most radio’s like this you start with injecting a signal at 455khz.  After tuning the proper transformer and trimmer cap for this, than I move on to tweaking the rest of them for maximum sensitivity at 1600, 55 and finally around 800khz.

The process takes less than a five minutes and when finished the radio is as good as new.

Most of these vintage electronics need new caps “electrolytic capacitors.”  Caps made in the day were expensive so the manufacturers used the minimums that they could get by with.   Tracing and/or injecting a signal one can usually tell which if any caps are bad, and within moments, have the audio back to where it should be.

Radio needing new caps.
Radio needing new caps.

Some of the newer capacitors on the market are NP or non-polarized!  Too often I pull out and old cap to find I did not remember which direction to install the new one as I need to keep the negative and positive leg in the correct holes.  With NP caps simply install them and move on.

I suggest that you take pictures before taking too much apart as without a print if a wire pops off, you can have a devil of a time figuring out where it went.

Six transistor radio’s are the most common and really all you need to pull in strong station and actually differentiate between the different stations without too much overlap.

Eight Transistor Radios have much better sensitivity and are able to differentiate strong stations from weak ones thus, you can have much better selectivity.  My favorite radio to actually keep batteries in are the 8 transistor variety.

Some manufacturer’s in the day found that they could use the PN junction as a diode but yet claim that they had 10, 12 or even 16 transistors!  The unknowing public equated that to the “jewels in a watch.”  The more the better and so they had a gimmick until some government agency clamped down on them.  If the transistor is being used as a diode it cannot be counted as a transistor.

Ross to name just one of the brands was one of the manufacturers that became famous for this tactic.

Shortly after Bell labs came out with the transistor Raytheon and a company named Idea came out with the first transistor radio.  It was know as the Regency TR-1.

regencyTR-1

regency_mod_TR1_schematic

These are highly collectible even today.  Around $100 might get you one that the case is basically in tact.

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This is a nice looking example of the TR-1

Before this portable radio’s were tube based and used two different batteries to play them.  One of the I believe was a high voltage battery known as the “B” battery, and one drove the filaments and I think it was 1.5 volts.

HARPERS_JAPANESE_SMALL_TUBE_PORTABLE_BROADCAST_PERSONAL_RADIO_GK-501_BATTERY_COMPARTMENT

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I have a few of these but, with no availability of the B battery, I think that other than something to sit on a shelf; it is a waste of time and energy to collect.  Your mileage may vary…

If I get enough interest I might post more radio stuff in the future as I work on many of these and it is a hobby.

See, no political rhetoric on this post, I can do it!  🙂

-Best and 73

© All Rights Reserved

eBay and Honesty

eBay and Honesty

By the title you can guess where I am going with this post.

ebay_logo

I am a big boy and smart enough to know when a deal is too good to be true… Having said that some folks are just over the top dishonest.

I collect and with some luck restore, vintage electronics.  I don’t do it for money; I do it because it gives me pleasure.  I enjoy repairing something that someone else could not for one reason or another and… Sometimes I simply enjoy the challenge.

Small hand held radios
This is NOT the lot that I am writing about…

Small transistor radios from the 50’s and 60’s are a specialty of mine in that when I was a kid I thought that it was magic.  How someone in one place could have their voice come out over a speaker in a small battery powered device well, was magic.

Thinking back on those days I wonder what I would have thought about smart phones?!

Mobile

Selling and buying on eBay has its challenges and I think its opportunities for people to be a little better.  With the feedback scenario it somewhat forces us to play nice; and that is a good thing.

dsr5star

While we should not need such a thing to play nice, that is simply the way of man. I wish it were different.

I often will purchase a “lot” of radio’s or a lot of some electronic thing that maybe I am looking for one or more of a certain kind in the lot and then sell the rest or repair them and sell them or what have you.

One such purchase was a purchase of a handful of RCA Radio’s from the 60’s.

When they arrived I opened the box and noticed straight away that they all rattled which meant that they had been taken apart.  “That was not noted in the description.”

Upon taking the backs off not only had they been taken apart but they had obviously been in some sort of flood situation as they were covered on the inside with mud. “Also not noted.”

To further the “insult” some of them had parts missing from them, also not noted.

I paid a fair price for these as if they were simply “not tested.”

When someone says something like, “I don’t know how to test this.” Translated, “I did everything that I know how to do and this thing does not work!”   I get that and I understand that people do this but… to sell something that has been taken apart, things removed from and oh by the way, had been under water!  Folks, that is wrong on so many levels.  This type of activity gives eBay itself a black eye and I think messes with the whole concept of eBay in that it is a self-policing community.

This blog is about one of those radios and how I managed to bring it back to life in-spite of the fact that it was pretty much ready for the re-cycle bin.

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Taking the back off of the radio it pretty much just came apart looking as you see it.

The mud and rust are all one needs to conclude that this was under water and most probably in a flood situation as this is also the way the rest of them appeared.

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Normally when water gets on electronics there is an acidic effect that actually eats the traces and I did not see that here.

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Removing the circuit board and cleaning both controls with contact cleaner as well as washing the board I could then dry it and apply power to see what needed to be replaced if anything.

IMG_2231One small capacitor by the volume control was the only part that needed replacing.  The rest was simply cleaning the mud out of the controls and doing a simple alignment.

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Miraculously, the speaker just needed the dust blown out of it and while it is certainly not perfect it plays about as loud and with the fidelity that a radio of this age will have.

IMG_2230 Here is the radio after cleaning and repairing with a new battery shield installed.

IMG_2232 Radio after repair and cleaning.  

People ask me when I am looking, what am I looking for in old electronics….

First and foremost, the case must be in tact. 

The more damaged the case, the less of a collectible it is.  The problem with transistor radio’s is that they are portable!  Portable means that they get dropped, knocked about etc.

One of the radio’s I purchased was a Walkie talkie which I paid top dollar for.  When I got it I found that it too had been under water but the board was green with corrosion and since it was surface mount technology with corrosion it was trash.

Folks, I will ding you if you knowingly sell crap.  I have not had too many that I have dinged but, I expect some modicum of honesty.  I sell as well as I am overly honest about what I sell as I would rather not get top dollar and have a satisfied customer than someone like me who feels the need to blog about it!

If it has been under water, tell the folks, it has been under water or under the chicken coop or what have you.  the simple truth is that not everything that you own is worth anything on eBay or Craig’s list or the local junk shop.  Somethings just need to be thrown away!

Had the fellow with the handful of radio’s been honest about them I might still have bid on them as the cases looked ok but at least I would have known that I was buying plastic cases that had been under water and, had parts missing!

Many people will not take returns on electronics and do you know why?  People will buy them, take whatever parts off of them they were looking for and then return them as not working!  So, they have screwed it up for everyone as I will certainly not take returns on electronics!

This is where it works really well if you take the time to “ding” a dishonest seller or buyer. If they do not make it right, than you know what to do.

If you have some old electronics that you would like to sell, drop me a line.  I have purchased radios from all over the globe and while I am not trying for a number that would have me move out of the house to store them, I am interested in finding some that I don’t currently have.  It does not have to work, it just needs to look good and have all of the parts.

-Best

(c) All Rights Reserved 2015

Technology, Have we gone too far?

There are days that I long for the twisted pair; you know the POTS line or (plain old telephone service.)  Yes, the one that hooks up to the one phone, on the wall or in the hallway in that special little nook that was designed by the architect for it. I would even go back to the dial phone, as I think that it was not only a simpler time, but probably a more reliable form of communication. OK, maybe not, but since we were not on it all of the time we had no idea when it was not working.  The phone after all was not for kids..

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I don’t know how many of my friends had a dial phone but, if you did not, you missed out.  Calling a radio station to be the 25th caller was a real chore back in the day.  If you won and I did once, it was a real conquest!

Speaking for me personally, I have at least 6 email addresses, the cell phone, the business phone, fax lines, house phone and of course SMS text messaging and even IM on FaceBook.  I am also a ham radio operator and have half a dozen radios that can all be going at the same time, but most of the time not.

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No, not me, but my station back then looked a lot like this!

It would seem that I should be able to be reached.  Back in the day, I had a pager as well although, that thing was really nothing more than an electronic leash; for whoever had the number.

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When I was a kid if I wanted to talk with a friend, I would go get on my bike and ride to their respective homes and ask the “parent who answered the door” is “fill in the blank” home and can they come out and play?  Yes, a little like the Cleavers..

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When I was a little more sophisticated, (8years old,)  I used a Walkie Talkie to talk with my friends that lived within a half mile or so.  That in a large part prompted me to get my ham radio license at a whopping 13 years old.  With that; I have visited with thousands of folks all over the world, but that is another story for another day.

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The Smart phone, which is why I am writing today, is a marvel of technology.  It is the Swiss army knife of communication!  With that device I can call anywhere in the world from just about anywhere.  I can send text messages and pictures of whatever interest me.  I can get them as well.  I can send a video to someone or receive the same.  With Facetime or Skype, I can live video chat with people too!  I can watch movies or play games and yes, I can poke someone on facebook from the waiting room at the Dr.s office. The camera quality is such that if I had the mind to I could take a “quality picture of my dinner” and post it on facebook as we all want to see what you ate for dinner, right? Wink wink.  The camera part is really quite true, it is a really decent camera for a phone!

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There are some issues with this however; of which I wish to expound upon.  First and foremost, SMS text messages (at least with my phone and service) are not guaranteed to make it.  Back when e-mail was new, the common greeting on a phone call was “did you get my e-mail?”  E-mail is not 100%, it never has been, and it never will be.  E-mail is more reliable today as the servers are more persistent and the internet is more robust.  It is still not guaranteed to get there.

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Text communication whether SMS or e-mail or chat on some service can be dicey as you don’t get the facial queues that you do; well… in person.  One can discern some queues in tone of voice when on the phone but, without emoticons and “LOL,” we might not know if the person was serious or kidding!  That type if communication leaves lots of room for miss-communication.

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We are in fact a world in transition regarding our communication. I have many “friends” on Facebook but, how many of them know me personally?  How many of them know my favorite colour or type of food, or I theirs for that matter?  So one has to ask, just how good of friends are we?  Would they even want to be my friend in person?

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When is the last time that you spoke with your neighbors?  Do you know their names or anything about them?  I have two new neighbors of which I have made a point to introduce myself to, welcome them etc but, I also made a point to know their dogs name, and introduce myself to him as well.  You should have seen the owners face light up when I took the time to get to know his pooch! I am not bragging about myself; or chastising you, I mention this because I realize that most of us pull into the garage, and close the door behind us.  We leave the same way and “in my case” I use a lawn service so I don’t even have the opportunity to meet while I am butchering my grass. “hence the lawn service, I ruined the yard when I cut it the first time.”   It was tiff grass I think, and my mower was not made for it…. I think.  That is my excuse and I am sticking to it!

Don’t depend on text or e-mail as it is not super reliable.  There are times my phone will go off in the middle of the night, with all sorts of text messages, from days ago!  I keep it with me most of the time but I have to admit, it too feels a little bit like a leash at times.

You know the old story about the lost invitation to the party, it may really have gotten misplaced.  If something seems out of character with the person that you know, trust your instinct and call. If the invitation to the party does not arrive, call.  If you were not invited well, re-evaluate that friendship.  If you sent them a text, they may not have responded because they did not get it!

Finally, turn off the computer, phone, and tablet and unless you are watching a movie with the family, turn off the TV too.  Spend time with those that you love, as you never know when or if you might have the opportunity to do it again (if ever.)  Life is too short to have regrets and when I see complete families out at expensive restaurants, all on some phone, or some device well….it makes me a little sad for them.  What memories will the children have?  What about mom and dad when the kids are gone?

To me eating out is an event.  To some, who do it all the time it is simply eating.  I can eat at home but there is the preparation and the cleanup.  If I eat out I am “served!”  There is not preparation and no cleanup and there is also the friendly exchange of conversation not only between whom I am eating with but, I also make a point to learn the servers’ name, and use it.  While they are, “serving me;” I make certain that they know I appreciate them.

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Life is about making memories.  Good or bad, life is what it is.  One day, not too many years ago I was taking my daughters friend to a college across town.  After we left her college I picked up a bolt in one of my tires which left me and my daughter stranded on the side of the road in a less than great area of town.  It was summer about 110 degrees on the side of the highway.  It was about 300 after I got the car jacked up and about 500 when I discovered that the oil change service that rotated my tires had not put the tire lock key back in the glove box!  We had no water, and now I was back out in the heat taking the jack back from under the car all the while having her call the auto service. You know *4357… Yeah that one.

After getting back in the car, the auto service had no information on me or the account and would not send a wrecker.  Even after I told them that I would pay the wrecker just please send one! They refused to help because I was not a customer they were not obligated to lift a finger.  The auto service was paid for through the cell phone carrier and it is insurance that you pay for monthly.  We were a customer and the customer service girl just fat fingered it when she looked up the phone number, you know the 10 digit phone number that should have been on the screen in front of her!?

Very long story short, after witnessing drug deals, going through gas to keep the air on and doors locked and wondering if the car would overheat, and having to go to the bathroom, we finally got a wrecker right at 5 in the afternoon, rush hour traffic!  We had been out since 9am without food or water or bathroom, on the side of a busy highway since about 10 am.

Even though that was not a great memory, it is a memory, and I did get to spend the entire day with my daughter with no computer to compete for my time with her.  OF course in retrospect, I don’t think either of us was real great company…

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Is a poke on Facebook, or a text to someone, more important that being with friends or family in person?  I too am guilty but, I try to be aware of it and resist the temptation.

-Best to you and those that you care about!

Yesterday, A simpler time.. #radio #vintage

Nostalgia is not lost on me.  To that end I truly enjoy bringing things back to life of the electronic type, that should have otherwise gone in the dumper.

Currently there are countless transistor radio’s that were dead and now work once again at least as good as they did new, and some of them probably better as materials are now better.  While the challenge of transistor radio’s is finding the parts; tube radio’s magnify that issue as no one is making new tubes for radio’s that I know of.

My latest project is this Tube Radio that I have had well over 30 years.  I bought this for next to nothing and of course it did not work.  If the case is in good shape and the parts are all there, that is about all I require.

The Radio is an Emerson 744B that was made in 1954.  It sold for $34.95 which, back then was a heap of money.

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Sadly there are many that will read this blog and not know what a tube is.  With that in mind I have taken pictures of my latest project and will “splain” a few things as we go.  The glass objects are tubes. These either are dead in the case of the rectifier tube or weak or leaky as with the rest.

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The tubes house a filament, some metal structures that emit and collect electrons as well as things that control the flow of the electrons.  Some house a thing called a “getter.” The Getters sole job is to collect and burn off any o2 that should get in by way of the pins.  The getter is coated with a chemical that accomplishes this.

The British refer to these “tubes” as “valves” and in actuality that is a much more accurate description as that is in essence how they work.

This is the audio output tube in action.  Notice the filament is glowing.

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Here is a top view of the radio in operation.

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Here is a bottom view of the radio showing the point to point electronic components.  If you know anything about electronics you will notice the modern parts that I have installed, replacing the parts that failed.

Back in the day, capacitors were expensive to manufacture so they would use just what they needed and nothing more in terms of capacitance.  Today that is not the case and with technology I was able to offer much more capacitance and higher working voltages to the circuit for around $6.

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One old .05 MFD capacitor is still in the radio and functioning so I left it.  The white square capacitors replaced two of the three .05 which are now .047.

The two modern electrolytics replaced the huge combination capacitor that some “purists” will actually disassemble and install the newer capacitors inside of it.  I know very few who are going to take the metal bottom off of the radio and look underneath to see the parts.  This radio sounds like a new one.

Here in North Texas we have a station that plays music from the era that this radio came from.  http://www.kaamradio.com/

Big  Band music I just never get tired of….   Anyway, this radio sounds great playing that station.

 

-Best to you and those that you care about..

 

Ebay, some things to watch for.

 

 

Greetings to you and so long 2013! 

 

I have spent a number of years on eBay and for the most part been happy with the services and products.  Having said that a few stand out in my mind and I thought an airing of the facts might help someone else.

 

Sites like eBay have accountability built in however; many of us don’t leave a negative rating when the person deserves it, thus skewing the results.  Some of us leave them a bad mark because the item was defective or what have you when it was clearly marked “as is no returns.”

 

I have been known to leave them a positive feedback but then voice my concerns for their way of doing business in the comments.  For instance one fellow sold me something and then just threw it into a “if it fits it ships box, no packing and barely any tape.  Why the post office took it is another story but it did make it.  The box did not survive and the device inside looked as if the Cowboys used it for a football.  Anyone reading his feedback will see that he needs to step up his shipping game.

 

Here is my argument, see what you think.  I have always felt that we are too litigious of a society, we are “sue happy.”  Anything goes wrong and there is some lawyer somewhere looking to make some money and will take the case no matter how petty the suite.  Much like sharks; the more hungry the beast, the more appetizing a license plate or old shoe looks as opposed to a “wrongful death suite” that just don’t fall into “everyone’s” lap..

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Is there a time to sue and is there a time to leave a negative rating?  The answer is yes to both.  If you are suing someone because you see it as a way to make money; (much like the lawyer,) than probably not.  However; if you are bringing legal action as a way to hold the entity accountable, and possibly get them to change the way that they do business, than I believe that you are not only justified, but you should.  The same is true about not leaving five stars. 

 

Did they earn it?

Was the description accurate?

Was the product or service delivered as expected?

Was the shipping “normal” or was it high?

Was the item packed correctly?

If there was a problem, did they go out of their way to make it right?

Did they communicate with you until it was resolved?

 

Online buying has evolved over the years and I would suspect that the day of shopping via printed catalogue will be history in the next few years.  With companies like Amazon, and others, it seems that the market place is much larger, only limited by internet access and access to the mail, or UPS or what have you.

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I collect, purchase and refurbish old radio’s, purely as a hobby.  I visited a re-cycle plant a few years ago where I saw home electronics being shredded, ground up, pulverized etc.  While there is a need for this, I really would like to salvage some of “Americana” via its technology of the 50’s and 60’s and before, for the next generations.  This quest has me looking for and purchasing unique antique e-stuff and than looking for the parts to repair it.  Few young people today know what a tube is or how it works.  We have managed to pack a video camera into wristwatch that still tells the time and only a few years ago (60) the transistor was replacing the tube allowing for smaller power supplies and of course smaller radio’s.  We got the first transistor radio in 1954 which was a combined effort of Texas Instruments and Industrial Development Engineering Associates.  A year later over 100,000 pocket radios were on the market.  That is when Raytheon jumped in to make a better radio hence came along the 8 TP 1 which basically was a radio that doubled the amount of transistors incorporated from 4 to 8 allowing for better sound.

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eBay seems like a natural place for this as it is rife with all kinds of these things.

 

Here are some things that I learned over the years that may help you and or might guilt the person or person’s who practice this type of behavior to stop it.

 

When selling an old “transistor radio” the seller said, “I am not sure how to test this.”  Translated “I have done everything that I know and this thing is dead.”  If you are incapable of installing a 9volt battery and turning a couple of knobs to see what happens, than perhaps you should not be selling on-line.

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“I put a battery in and just static, there are no AM stations in my area.”  Unless you live on the moon or in a cave or a solid brick building, there are radio stations that you can hear, that is especially true if you have the internet and cell phone.  Translated, “this thing is screwed up and I will say this in hopes that someone will buy it.”

 

I guess what I see most of is that “I got this at an estate sale and have no way to test it.”  Folks, the most idiotic person out there knows that it is worth more money if it works and most people who buy at an estate sale know more than just a little about what they are buying.  So, translated, “I did everything that I know, called all of my normal resources and this thing appears to be dead so I will say I don’t know how to test it and it will be someone else’s problem.” 

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A few others that I have received over the years are “for parts or repairs.”  Now this is fair game.  Accompanied along with pictures so people can see what they are bidding on, I now know that it is dead, that you don’t know how or don’t want to repair it and you want to move it.  Here is where the rub comes in.

 

I have bought many such radio’s to find that someone had opened them up and removed parts to repair another radio and then sold what they did not want as “for parts or repair.”  Translated, “I took what I needed, but I am not going to tell you that there are parts already gone.” The real problem is that I can’t prove that is what they did, but I can watch them and not purchase from them again.

 

Another “parts or repair item” is this, electronics that have been under water.  Folks, it is dishonest to sell something as “unknown condition,” parts or repair, I don’t know how to test etc if the item has been under water!  It is ruined if that is the case.  Case in point, I purchased a “lot of 3”  RCA radio’s from the 50’s.  Three radios’ that were of an unknown condition, “for parts or repair.”   There were fuzzy pictures of the cases and that was about it.  By the time you bid against others looking for these little collectables, pay shipping to find out that they are worthless well; that is just wrong on so many levels.  Not only were parts missing out of the three, each and every one was filled with mud.  The cases are not pristine so I pretty much threw away money and have nothing to show for it.

 

My last bone of contention is really the first radio that I bought like this.  As a long time Ham I started my radio hobby with a borrowed Hallicrafters SX-99 back in the late 60’s.  If you have not experienced what I am going to relate, you have missed out.  There is something magical about sitting in front of a radio such as this and listening to stations from all over the world; bask in the glow of dial lights, knobs and meters swaying with the signal strength. It is as if you are somehow connected to the station on the other end. I remember listening to a station in Hawaii and for a few moments I was there.  Shortwave used to be much more influential than it is today.  I think it was used as a propaganda method as well as a way to get information into areas that were blacked out by their local government. To control the people, you control what they hear, see, read and so forth.  We still do it today but that is another blog.

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I think a huge part of the success of eBay is people, much like me, trying to reclaim that lost moment through an old radio or trinket or favorite toy.  I started my search looking for one of these radios.  They are popular these days so the bidding gets intense and they frequently go for much more than they are worth.

 

Found one and bid on it. After an intense bidding war I got it from a local store and by local I mean in Texas.  Bad news there, not only did I pay premium dollar but, I had to pay sales tax.  Good news, I arranged to pick it up some weeks later when we were both going to be at the same event saving me $40 in shipping.

 

At first glance the case was not right; I could tell that it had been dropped.  Looking through the top cover everything else seemed rough but workable.  The money I paid for this the radio should have been turn key but alas, it was not.

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After getting it home I pulled the case off of it thinking I would straighten it out, to discover that this radio must have sat in a barn where water was allowed to enter it every time that it rained and stay until it evaporated.   My guess is that it was in this barn for years.  A restoration of that radio would mean replacing each and every control, the capacitors and who knows what else.  These things are very old and finding parts for them is not as easy as one might think.

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The person, who sold it to me, took it on trade. The person who traded it to him is likely the person who knew its history, and just did not care.

 

So here is my last bit of eBay advice, if they took it on trade, you may want to think about looking elsewhere as that is another escape clause if you are unhappy.  “No returns, all sales final etc” are just things that I tend to stay away from.   Now I know why some take no returns as there are those out there who need a part and will buy your item, take the part that they need from it and than send it back to you as a DOA. You are then held hostage by your eBay rating. 

 

I would rather eat a bug than take advantage of someone or a circumstance or in this case, steal from someone.  Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone felt that way?

 

Watch their feedback, if it is less than 100%, why is it that way?  If you get had by someone; warn others by leaving them less than positive.  eBay has a good resolution center which I have used before but this was really only when someone sold me something that they did not have to sell.  This happens more than you might suspect.

 

Hope that you have a great New Years and that you can use this to your advantage or at least to protect yourself, friends and family from the less than scrupulous people out there.  And by the way, some of the junk on eBay really does need to go to the e-cycle place, especially if it has been under water.

 

Best to you and those that you care about and Happy Bidding!

 

 

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