Tag: transistor

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?!

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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.

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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

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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