Tag Archives: Radio Repair

Pavel fixes a stereo lock in the Eton E1

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Pavel Kraus, who shares the following guest post:


Eton E1 – fault in stereo reception

I recently became the owner of an Eton E1 receiver, which I obtained on eBay from the USA.

The receiver is great, everything worked, error-free display. The only problem was that even FM and strong local stations did not play stereo even though stereo reception was set in the menu. The stereo text on the display flashed several times when the stations were not tuned in precisely, but after the stereo tuned, the text went out. I know that stereo reception is not the most important thing for this receiver, but it bothered me that there was a defect at all.

The Sanyo 3335 stereo decoder is used in this radio. The stereo reception switching threshold can be set with a 10kohm potentiometer which is connected to terminal 4 of the integrated circuit:

I disassembled the radio by loosening the screws on the back of the radio. The receiver is divided into two parts. I removed the XM module and disconnected the part of the radio with the display from the flat wires on the second printed circuit board of the radio

I then removed the screws on the circuit board located at the back of the radio.

I removed the printed circuit board and found a matching resistor trimmer on the other side of the circuit.

Then I connected these two points with a wire (when running on batteries) so that I could turn on the receiver:

After tuning in to a strong local transmitter, I carefully turned the trimmer until the stereo sign lit up and listening to the headphones made sure the sound matched the stereo. I repeated this at several local stations.

The receiver now plays stereo perfectly and the settings do not affect other parameters of the receiver. After assembling the radio, I was able to enjoy quality stereo reception.

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Guest Post: “Tinkering with History”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bob Colegrove, who shares the following guest post:


Tinkering with History

By Bob Colegrove

One of the attractive aspects of radio as a hobby is that it has so many specialties to channel our time.  Just for the sake of classification, I would group these into two categories, listening and tinkering.  I think the meaning of each category is fairly intuitive.  Probably few of us approach our interest in radio in the same way.  Most of us have dabbled in more than one listening or tinkering specialty.  Perhaps we have been drawn to one particular area of interest, or we may have bounced around from one to another over a period of time.  I know the latter has been my case.

Tinkering might start with a simple curiosity about what makes the radio play, or hum, or buzz, and progress to an obsessive, compulsive disorder in making it play, hum or buzz better.  Unfortunately, over the past 30 years or so, the use of proprietary integrated circuits, as well as robotically-installed, surface-mounted components have greatly short-circuited what the average radio tinker can do.  For example, I have noticed a lot more interest in antennas over that period, and I think the reason is simple.  The antenna is one remaining area where a committed tinker can still cobble up a length of wire and supporting structure and draw some satisfaction.  But the complexity and lack of adequate documentation have largely kept newer radio cabinets intact and soldering irons cold.  Bill Halligan knew you were going to tinker with his radios, so he told you how they were put together.  The fun began when you took your radio out of warranty.  If you did get in over your head, there was usually somebody’s cousin not far away who could help you out.  The following is a sample of how one resolute tinker managed to overcome the problem of locked-down radios in the modern age. Continue reading

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Radio Waves: Radio 77, RRI Personality of the Year, Radio Repair in Iraq, and Bernard’s Collection of 500+ Radios

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!


The DJ Who Broadcast to One Listener for 40 Years (Narratively)

The Deke Duncan show on Radio 77 had it all — the latest hits, bouncy jingles, and a DJ who was born to be on the airwaves. In the 1970s it ran around the clock, several days a week, playing to the smallest audience in the world: Deke’s only listener was his wife. Radio 77 was based in a shed in Duncan’s backyard in a small English town, and everything on the show was a figment of his imagination. “My ultimate ambition would be to broadcast my radio station to the rest of Stevenage,” he told the BBC’s Nationwide TV show, when they visited his shed in 1974.

In a new podcast episode from Snap Judgement and Narratively, Duncan, now 75, reveals how he made up the news, the weather, and even the commercials — and kept Radio 77 alive for over forty years. It was Britain’s ‘pirate’ radio stations that inspired him, he said, recalling the rock’n’roll ships that broadcast illegally from international waters in the 1960s. But the young DJ’s dreams had been dashed when the BBC turned down his job application.

“They said, ‘I suggest you go away and get yourself a real job,’” Duncan recalled. (Check out an original Radio 77 show, recorded in 1974.) [Continue reading…]

RRI Personality of the Year (Radio Romania International)

Dear friends, RRI continues its traditional polling of listeners on short wave, the Internet and social media, with a new challenge, in a further complicated context generated by the Covid-19 pandemic. We would like to ask you which person you think left their imprint on the world in a positive way in 2021.

We are preparing to designate, based on your options, “The Personality of the Year 2021 on RRI”. Will this person be a public person, an opinion leader or a regular person with a special story? The decision is yours. We would also want to ask you why you picked that particular person. Continue reading

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Frank seeks guidance to repair his Sony AN-100E antenna

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Frank Sturzaker, who writes:

I am a new SW listener in the UK and am using an elderly Sony ICF SW100E picked up from selling website here in the UK fairly cheaply as a starter. It gets excellent reviews and seems to do what is required very well. A couple of weeks ago I also picked up a non-working Sony AN-100A external antenna at a charity / thrift store here in the UK. Cheap because not working.

The antenna section simply pulled out of the plastic case so I opened it up to have a poke about inside to try to solve the problem.

The antenna has been “ripped” from however it was mounted and has taken the thin metallic shaped piece / strip that somehow connects it to the circuit board and twisted it. I would guess that this has happened when trying to rotate the extended antenna when the extending sections had become too stiff to rotate – the pieces visible from outside the unit would not rotate inside the fixed section that sits in the unit.

Photos

1 – This is what I bought (although the antenna itself was in the correct place in the case):

2 – This is a close up of the base of the antenna when first bought:

3 – The two halves of the case with the antenna in place but about 0.5″ short of where it should be:

4 – A close up of the ‘loose pieces’ from inside the case and the bottom of the antenna – on the right are the pieces that were left on the antenna and on the left is the this metal piece that makes contact with the circuit board from the antenna

5 – Photo of antenna screw hole in rear of case from inside – the broken plastic is obvious round the screw hole:

6 – Photo of underside of circuit board showing the flat metallic area where the metallic strip from the antenna makes contact:

My questions about how it all fits together (as a starter) are:

    • Is it ONLY the screw from the outside holds the whole antenna assembly in place or is it fixed with glue etc. when originally shipped? It looks to have been ONLY the screw because there are no traces of any adhesive etc.
    • Should the antenna be able to rotate at its lowest section – like on the SW100E?
    • Is the thin metal strip fixed to the circuit board by anything (solder??) or does it just ‘brush against’ the metallic surface?
    • If I simply fix the antenna in place with epoxy or similar and run a connector between the bottom of the antenna and the circuit board will this work or are there other things that should be done or done in a specific way?

If someone can help then great. I repeat, I am not an electronics wizard – a master with a soldering wand I am not!!!

I could go at this like a bull at a gate but advice would be appreciated if there is any out there.

Post readers: if you can offer Frank some advice, please comment. Also, if you own an AN-100E and could share some internal photos, that might help him sort out how it was originally attached inside.

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Caveat Emptor: A quick note about buying vintage solid state radios

Even rare NIB (New In Box) finds can have age issues internally

After posting links to a few used radios online yesterday, SWLing Post contributor, Jim Teddford, commented:

The thing to remember when buying solid state mulitiband radios online is that you’re buying “a pig in a poke.” Meaning you are buying a radio at your own risk. Radios from the 70s/80s/90s-(Panasonic Command Series and the Sony classics: ICF-6800, ICF-2021, etc.) are now to the point where components like capacitors, displays, knob/switches etc.are failing due to age. Unless you can repair or restore the radio, don’t buy it. Just admire the photo online.

Jim has a valid point here and it’s one I echo a lot when readers contact me asking if they should, for example, be looking for a used Sony ICF-2010 instead of a new radio like the Tecsun H-501x.

Although I bet 1970s-1990s era solid-state radios have much better longevity than our newer DSP receivers, at this point you must assume components will need to be replaced.

I’ve purchased two Panasonic RF-2200s in the past decade and both needed to have capacitors replaced, an internal cleaning, and DeOxit applied to the switches and pots. I assumed this much when I made the purchases. Mechanically, the radio worked well, but…what…four decades(!?!) of age will take a toll on the internals.

I’m not an expert on re-capping and restoring vintage radios, for that I rely on folks like Vlado and Chuck. Mentally, I set aside a budget to have work done on the radio and I add that to the purchase price.

Most of the time, components like capacitors, resistors, inductors, etc. can be replaced with no issues.

Keep in mind, though, that some items particular to any one model–like digital displays and integrated circuits–may already be obsolete. I’ll be the first to admit that if a digital display doesn’t work on a used solid state radio, I skip it for this very reason.

So when a newcomer to the radio world asks me they should purchase a used Sony ICF-2010 or a modern portable that’s still in production, my tendency is to dissuade them from the vintage set unless they have the skill or funds to give it a little TLC if needed.

With those disclaimers out of the way, I must say that I’ve yet to meet a modern DSP radio that has the audio fidelity of a 1970/80s era solid state radio like the GE Superadio or Panasonic RF-2200. And the Sony ICF-2010 or the Panasonic RF-B65? Both are still benchmark receivers and can wipe the floor with many of our late model radios.

In a nutshell: if you’re willing to put a little time and money into re-capping, repairing and restoring a reputable solid state radio, go for it! Otherwise, stick with a late model receiver that may even be backed by a manufacturer’s warranty.

Me? I’m willing to take the risk and invest to give these vintage portables a new lease on life!

SWLing Post readers: What do you think? Have you ever purchased a solid state radio that failed shortly after purchase? Have you ever restored a solid state radio? Did I miss any important points? Please comment!

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Vlado restores Mike’s vintage Sony CRF-160

Sony CRF-160 Dial

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Michael Schuster, who shares the following guest post:


Vlado works his magic on my Sony CRF-160

by Michael Schuster

Back in the 1970’s my grandfather gifted this solid-state portable to me as it was more than he needed. It was the first “real” radio I can remember owning, and it initiated my habit of scanning the dials into the wee hours of the morning. I began my serious SWLing using this set as it had excellent sensitivity, dual conversion design, big booming audio, and generous bandspread tuning for each major SW broadcast band.

One of the best-known SWL programs at the time was Happy Station on Radio Nederland, and I have distinct memories of listening in our back yard one summer afternoon when the show came up on the African Service over the Madagascar relay. My family was astonished at the program coming from so far away and even more so when Tom Meijer happened to read my letter over the air during the mailbag segment!

Fast forward many years (and two moves) later, it sat on a shelf until, trying it out again, I was dismayed to find both slide rule tuning dials, and the rotary drum band selector, to be frozen in place. And so there it sat until….

In a few online forums I kept hearing about a magician named Vlado at Ham Radio Repair. He specializes in restoring old sets, and has the courage and curiosity to tackle just about anything. Thinking this might be my last chance to bring this fossil back to life, and armed with a scanned copy of the service manual downloaded from the Radio Museum web site (the Internet is a marvelous thing) I began a several months’ long email exchange with Vlado entitled “Would you be willing to work on…”

He is chronically swamped with sets to work on, and has little room to store pending jobs, but was more than willing to have a look. Several months, and one pandemic later, we touched base again and I arranged to ship this monster off to him. Vlado is especially interested in the stories behind old hardware, so I shared its history with him as it adds that extra “human factor”.

The radio is in great shape as he noted, but needed a total rework of the tuning dials and drum selector. He also replaced all of the electrolytic capacitors (most were leaking as pictured), replaced some tiny light bulbs with LED’s, and realigned all of the circuits for maximum performance.

Unpacking and trying out the restored set was a true blast and somewhat miraculous. It performs just as I remember and now sits on the shelf, this time in use rather than in storage, booming its audio across my basement work room.

Now this set will probably outlive me as it did my grandfather; hopefully it will end up in the hands of an appreciative recipient for the next generation of radio enthusiasts.


Thank you for sharing this repair story, Mike. I visited Vlado’s home a few weeks ago and saw the box labeled “Sony CRF-160” in-line to be repaired. As Vlado worked on it, he sent me a couple of photos, too, because I believe it was the first time he had ever worked on this particular Sony model. It is certainly a gorgeous radio–wow! And I do love your philosophy as it’s the one I adopt too: keep vintage radios alive and working beyond our generation. 

Vlado is truly the most capable ham radio repair guy technician/engineer you’ll ever meet. He’s also as honest as the day is long. If you have a vintage or late-model solid-state radio that needs repair or restoration, contact him.

Click here to check out Vlado’s website HamRadio.repair.

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My Replacement Stand Journey for the Grundig G6 Aviator

 

Guest Post by Troy Riedel

I’ve mentioned here in the past that I am an astronomy hobbyist first, and an SWL hobbyist second (call SWL my cloudy nights hobby).

A couple of years ago my Grundig G6 suffered from the troublesome “sticky” body that afflicts all of the Grundig/Eton radios of that era.  I used the recommended cleaning agent as has been posted here (Purple Power) to remove the sticky residue.  It worked great – but I discovered one must be very careful using this cleaner.  Why?  Excess cleaner seeped into the crevices where the radio stand mounts, was not fully removed/dried, and the cleaner “ate” the nubs off that hold the radio stand in place.  The result: a broken radio stand!  Right Photo: you’ll see glue residue smeared on the broken stand – where I tried to make & glue new nubs and failed miserably.

Through my astronomy hobby, I discovered someone (Joel) who 3D prints some astronomical accessories.  After ordering & receiving three quality products, we established a friendly rapport.  I asked him if he knew of anyone who 3D printed and commercially sold radio stands.

He replied “No” – and frankly he wasn’t quite sure what I was referring to – but he essentially conveyed “if you supply me a photo and dimensions, I will gladly print one that you can try”.  Great news!

After supplying him a photo and supplying dimensions, Joel printed off a stand plus a spare and shipped it to me.  Unfortunately, it did not fit … the side nubs were simply too small.

I wrote-off the encounter as having been worth the nominal cost & effort.  But Joel was not ready to write this off!  He asked for more details re: why it didn’t fit (we designed the stand about .25mm too thin – a small tolerance but significant in that the stand simply would not fit – the nubs were too small at the thickness that was printed).  We consulted, both made recommendations, then Joel promptly 3D printed another stand (v.2) and mailed it to me.

The end result: it fits perfectly – works perfectly.  I now have a replacement G6 stand and I feel my little Grundig Aviator Buzz Aldrin Edition (note the astronomy connection) was now, once again, whole!

 

For those who’ve replaced radio stands before, the biggest obstacle is *not* breaking it when you try to insert it into the back of the radio.  A tried and true trick is to freeze the replacement stand, so it contracts very slightly (by the mm), and then insert it into the body of the radio.  The great thing about this stand: it is designed with a cut-out on each side.  This cut-out allows the stand to ever-so-slightly flex (better – and probably more safely – than the freezing trick). This design allowed me to safely and rather effortlessly insert the stand without fear of breaking it.  And the stand’s thickness is quite capable of supporting the weight of the radio (note: the plastic of the 3D printed stand is not quite as hard as the OEM stand but it is still more than capable of supporting the radio’s weight).

I’m sharing this because Joel has added the G6 stand to his little BuckeyeStargazer Web Store , for $10 – what a great deal for us suffering G6 folks with broken stands.

At this time, the Buckeye Stargazer only offers the G6 stand.  But, who knows?  Before I came along, he didn’t offer any stand.  You might be able to cajole Joel into prototyping another stand?  For that – you’d have to contact him directly to see if he were receptive to more experimentation.

So, thanks again to the Buckeye Stargazer!  It’s always nice to tie my two hobbies together: astronomy & shortwave radio.

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