Tag Archives: Vintage Radio Repair

This Norelco B5X-88A/03 table radio has a story and a caretaker

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Edward Ganshirt, who shares the following guest post:


Pamela’s radio

 

A neighbor gave me this radio. It had a story.

It is a Norelco B5X-88A/03 Table radio AM FM SW1 SW2. (You can see it takes up the whole kitchen table…that is why it is called a table radio). Has very good sound.

The speakers are 600 ohms, not 8 ohms, and uses bypass capacitors instead of an audio transformer.

Now about the carnation: I think my neighbor had thoughts that I may be giving it a Funeral and interring it in the backyard. (It has a nice finish you usually see on caskets)

Her Father was a Doctor who had his practice in the house and had this radio always playing low volume in the waiting room. He served in WW2 and brought this back in the late 1940’e. She inherited it and had it serviced a few times by a local repairman who since passed. Taking it apart I noticed several mechanical problems after removing an abandoned yellow jacket’’ nest.

The FM dial string was wound wrong so 88 MHz is where 108 MHz should be and vice versa. I restrung the dial properly but when tuned the string flopped off the pulley, so I fabricated a string restrainer to prevent this.

Also the station selector was scratchy and intermittent. To solve this, I played the garden hose with a forceful stream of water on the switches then dried out the chassis in the hot summer sun. Sprayed volume control restorer on all the switch contacts. After that, it worked perfectly. The remaining issue was the walnut veneer I sanded with 400 grit paper then coated with clear Krylon .

Now what to do with it!

Well I used her same sweet talk charm she used on me to take it off her hands to take it back, this time fully functional and I even demo-ed it. It had the wonderful mellow sound that she remembered and was so pleased.


What a true gentleman you are, Ed! Thank you for sharing the story of this Norelco table radio–what a gorgeous machine! I’m so pleased you were able to surprise Pamela with her father’s radio,  fully restored! 

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Radio Waves: Questions About New HF Stations, Towers Damaged after Hurricanes, Evolution of Ham Radio, and The Vintage Radio Repairman

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!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Ed, Paul, Bennett Kobb, and Kanwar Sandhu for the following tips:


Questions Remain as New HF Stations Wait for Licenses (DMRNA.info)

Here is the story by Bennett Kobb:
As previously reported here at DRMNA.info, the New York company Turms Tech LLC has applied to the FCC for a license for International Broadcast Station WIPE in New Jersey. The license would cover a station already built under a FCC Construction Permit, and would allow it to begin regular operations.

The FCC announced on August 13, 2020 that this license application was accepted for filing, a routine stage at which the FCC examines the application, and might even visit the station, and if everything is in order it will be licensed.

We’re not sure everything is in order. The application for Construction Permit placed the transmitter site at N 40° 57′ 40.38″, W 73° 55′ 23.97″, the broadcast and communications center surrounding the famous Armstrong Tower at Alpine NJ. Its Application for License, however, specifies N 40° 51′ 40″, W 73° 55′ 23″. (Hat tip to Alex P for noting this discrepancy. More about him below.)

While the substitution of 51 for 57 in the coordinates might seem a simple typo, the FCC typically has no sense of humor about coordinate errors. Commission examiners may wonder why a station intended for a historic radio-TV facility ended up among some Manhattan apartments.

The deeper question with WIPE and another, apparently similar station WPBC, is what these stations are really for and what that means for the FCC Rules. WIPE was extremely vague about its program plans, but told the FCC that it will transmit data obtained from third parties using Digital Radio Mondiale. Putting that tidbit together with exposures in a series of public articles in the media and tech blogs, it would seem that audio programming will not be the central mission of this peculiarly named station, whose principal is a financial executive and forestry entrepreneur without any broadcast experience we could find.

We suspect instead that the WIPE data stream will be used not for broadcasting to the public — the only function permitted to International Broadcast Stations under FCC Rules — but instead will be used for private communication with foreign exchanges for high-speed trading.[]

KSWL-TV tower crashed into buildings near 210 Interstate Hwy (Brad Dye)

Images of tower damage in Lake Charles, LA Bottom photo by KATC-TV of KSWL-TV tower crashed into buildings near 210 Interstate Hwy

After bombarding coastal areas of southern Louisiana with wind gusts up to 130 mph and a storm surge over nine feet as a hurricane, Laura swept north while also spreading over Arkansas Thursday. Laura weakened to a tropical storm early Thursday afternoon, with winds at 70 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Laura is predicted to move through the Tennessee Valley and the Mid-Atlantic today into tomorrow.

Power outages from the storms totaled over 900,000 as of Thursday afternoon, according to PowerOutageUS. The site collects data from utilities nationwide. The bulk of the outages were in Louisiana and Texas, according to ABC News. Mississippi reportedly had over 9,400 customers without power as of Thursday morning, reported the Clarion Ledger.

Louisiana and Texas had the most cell site outages as of Thursday mid-day, according to the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System. Of the 4,650 cell sites served in Louisiana, 380 were not working. Over 200 of the site outages were due to a lack of power, 141 had a transport issue and 16 were damaged.

Calcasieu and Cameron counties were hit especially hard. 140 sites (75 percent) were not working in Calcasieu County and 20 (69 percent) were out in Cameron County.

Of the 17,621 cell sites served in Texas, 113 were non-operational.

Jefferson County was the hardest hit, with 39 (15.8 percent) out of 247 sites not working. Just over 45 of the non-working sites were out due to a lack of power, 41 for transport reasons and 20 were damaged, according to DIRS.

Cable and wireline companies reported 192,915 subscribers out of service in the affected areas; this may include the loss of telephone, television, and/or Internet services.

Three television stations, five FMs and one AM reported they were off-air.[]

Ham radio is dying! No it’s not, it’s evolving (K0LWC)

I’ve heard ham radio is dying since as far back as I can remember. It’s one of those common sayings you always hear. Like, “get off my lawn,” and “kids these days.” But is it true? Is there any evidence to support this? Let’s take a closer look.

Data from the ARRL shows that ham radio licensees are increasing. When you look at the chart above, you see two significant markers that are likely driving this growth.

  • The removal of the code requirement by the FCC.
  • The economic collapse of 2008.

The Morse code requirement was always an intimidating part of obtaining your General FCC license. Learning Morse code is like learning a second language. It takes time and effort to learn, and that’s not a bad thing. However, it doesn’t change that it scared many people away from the hobby. When the FCC removed this requirement in 2007, I believe it opened the door for many who spent years on the fence. Then you have the economic downturn of 2008. What does that have to do with ham radio? A lot.

After the economic downturn, the United States watched as survivalism, now commonly calling “prepping,” entered mainstream culture. People were worried as the country was involved in multiple wars and our economy was on the brink of collapse. Citizens stocked up on food storage, water, firearms, and…communications equipment. As our country spiraled into more turmoil ham radio licenses steadily increased to more than 750,000 by the end of 2019.[]

The Vintage Radio Repair Man (Great Big Story–YouTube)

Click here to watch on YouTube.


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Radio Waves: Radio Stations in the Movies, Opposition to ABC Budget Cuts, Numbers Stations, and Student Repairs Vintage 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!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Tracy Wood, Michael Bird, and David Shannon for the following tips:


How accurately have radio stations been portrayed in TV and movies? Alan Cross rates them (Global News)

Over the last century, radio stations have been the subject and the setting for a number of TV shows and movies. This, for better or worse, is how the general public perceives how real-life radio works. I’ve rated this selection of radio-centric shows and scenes through the years.

1. WKRP in Cincinnati (1978-1982)

Authenticity Rating: 3/5

Every time people of a certain age hear that I work in radio, they inevitably ask “Is it anything like WKRP?” The answer is both yes and no.

The show’s creator, Hugh Wilson, did come from a radio background, serving time as a sales rep at WQXI, a top 40 station in Atlanta, so he was certainly well qualified. His characters were slight caricatures of the real thing: the general manager who was often clueless about what was happening with his station; the harried program director; the burnout morning man; the trippy nighttime DJ; the sleazy salesperson; the squirrely newsman; the naive copywriter; and the receptionist who secretly runs the place. I’ve worked with each of those people multiple times.

The show was groundbreaking in its use of music. Up until WKRP came along, no one used real music in the soundtrack. It was all stock stuff, soundalike material made up by studio players. But viewers of WKRP heard actual songs from bands they recognized — something that eventually created endless licensing headaches when it came to syndication and issuing the show on DVD. That remains the reason why the show isn’t streamed anywhere. (Hugh Wilson explains the music issues here.)[]

Australians overwhelmingly oppose ABC budget cuts (ABC Friends National)

According to a new survey, 76% of Australians oppose any further cuts to the ABC’s budget and 49% believe it should get more Federal Government funding

The findings of a Roy Morgan national opinion poll serve as a warning to the Government that voters have had enough of budget cuts to the national broadcaster. Successive Governments have reduced ABC funding by a total of $783 million since 2014.

Read the survey here [PDF].

The survey shows Australians overwhelmingly turn to the ABC in times of crisis, underlining the national broadcaster’s critical role in the bushfire crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. ABC Friends commissioned the opinion poll, which was carried out by the independent research group, Roy Morgan.[]

What is number station and story behind it? (US Updates)

Fictional novels about number stations have been created in the minds of most people. Many people think of the number station as a ghostly, creepy, mysterious or supernatural symbolic message. But are the messages fictional novel about numbers stations  at the number station really mysterious? In today’s discussion we will know what number station is and why somebody finds it fictional novel about number station?

We all listen to the radio more or less. There are basically two types of radio listeners, such as FM radio stations and radio stations broadcast from the Internet. There are also radio stations of other frequencies and their different names. Such as high frequency or shortwave, extra high frequency, ultra high frequency limit through which there is also satellite signal and police scanner report.

Amateur radio, pelagic and air stir are also included in these frequencies. Today we will learn about high frequency i.e. shortwave radio station which is also known as fictional about number station. This number is used to send symbolic messages to various intelligence agencies and the military. This number station has been in found since the First World War and has been the center of attraction for many years. For many years some of journalists have tried to decipher the mystery of this number station.[]

Coronavirus: Student repairs vintage radios during lockdown (BBC)

A teenager who restores and repairs old radios says he loves the “unexplained charm” and history of the wireless.

Diogo Martins, from Oadby, Leicestershire, has been able to spend more time on his hobby during the coronavirus lockdown and has added to his collection of vintage radios.

“Without a doubt many of these radios have a family history where families have gathered around to listen to music and information, and it’s that history which I find so endearing,” he said.

The 19-year-old electrical engineering student said in restoring them he is “continuing their legacy”.

Video journalist: Harris Millar


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Expectations after dusting off a radio that’s been in storage

Realistic DX-150A (Source: Universal Radio)

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Alfred, who writes:

I purchased a Realistic DX150 radio when it was first introduced. I used it for many years and then stored it away for some time. A few years ago I decided to use it again. After the bandspread control was repaired at a local radio shop, I used it for a short time and then stored it away.

Yesterday, I took it off the shelf to see what was on the air waves. I did not have much success in getting any broadcasts to tune in strongly/clearly. I am writing to ask what my expectations should be – given the low performance of the radio and the state of shortwave transmissions these days. The mechanical aspect of the bandspread control needs attention again. My question is: Should I be able to pick up transmissions at some good level/ quality?

Thank you for your advice and recommendations.

Alfred, thank you for your inquiry and I hope you don’t mind that I’m sharing it here publicly because I’ve been receiving so many similar questions in the past few months.

I assume with so many people sheltering at home because of Covid-19 and, suddenly, having time available to catch up on projects and pastimes, they’re pulling solid-state receivers off of the shelf and putting them on the air again!

You asked: “Should I be able to pick up transmissions at some good level/ quality?”

A simple question, with a potentially complicated answer!

A simple answer first…

If your DX-150 is still electrically and mechanically functioning as it should, and you have it connected to an effective antenna, then yes, you should be able to receive transmissions!

Caveats…

As I’ve told numerous others who have resurrected solid-state gear from storage, there’s a good chance gear that’s a few decades old could have dead or leaky capacitors. Sometimes the symptom of this is a “hum” in the receiver’s audio, but bad capacitors (or “caps” as we like to call them) can also cause less obvious issues with the radio’s overall performance. If you’ve tried everything and suspect your radio needs repair, there are some great repair technicians out there. My friend Vlado is one of them, but I think he may have paused repairs during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Radios that have sat on a shelf or in a basement for years may also have built up oxidization on switch and knob contacts. Carefully applying a product like Deoxit on contacts can make a world of difference and bring your radio back to life.

In addition, if you haven’t hooked up your radio in a couple of decades, you may be surprised by the amount of radio interference and noise (RFI) our home electronics generate. A random wire or indoor antenna that worked well in the 1970s might not work at all if you have high levels of RFI where you live. RFI has the same effect on your radio as a noisy restaurant environment has on your ability to hear a friend who is speaking at a normal volume level across the table from you. RFI can deafen your receiver. There are antennas that can help mitigate RFI, and there are also techniques you can use to help mitigate it.

Depending on where you live in the world, you will find the shortwave landscape isn’t the same as it was, say, in the Cold War years. Fear not! There are still numerous broadcasters out there, so people who say shortwave is “dead” simply aren’t listening.  Check out ShortwaveSchedules.com and Prime Time Shortwave for what’s out there and where to find broadcasters on the bands. If you like music, I highly recommend Alan Roe’s guide to music on shortwave.

The Tecsun PL-380 is one of several compact portables that can be purchased for $50 or less.

If you find that you’re not hearing anything on your DX-150 (or other vintage radio)–even after following some of the advice above, yet you still want to explore the shortwaves–you might consider investing in a modern portable radio. Not only do modern portables sport a digital frequency display (which helps locate stations), but they allow you to take your listening to the field. You will be surprised what you can receive when you walk or drive to an area far away from man-made electronic noises. Tabletop radios like the DX-150 are not terribly portable. If you’re looking for some portable shortwave radio suggestions, check out this post. (Incidentally, if you found this post because you’re mainly seeking an AM/FM radio for local news and info, check out this post.)

Getting back on the air…

Alfred (and others who have recently contacted me) I hope this post gives you some helpful guidance. In truth, there are still many other issues that could affect your ability to get the most out of your vintage solid-state receiver. Let’s assume, though, that the solution is simple! Give it a go, and take your time tuning across the bands on different days and with your receiver in different locations.

My hope is that SWLing Post readers will also comment on this post with other suggestions to help you back into the world of SWLing!


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Jon’s Sony CRF-160: Should it stay or should it go?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jon Helberg, who writes:

Greetings!

During our COVID-19 shutdown I located my old Sony CRF-160 which has been closet bound for some years now, however it has always worked as new.

[…]Other than the broken toggle switch for the light, all knobs and dials work, are present and accounted for. Upon powering up after many years in storage it lights up just fine and appears to be operational, however once powered up the volume control and every knob I turned brought loads of static to the speakers indicating corrosion of contacts, etc., so I just shut it down without testing any further.

The power cord has become a bit sticky as some plastics and rubber do over time, but of course that easily can be cleaned up. The entire radio case and front cover is intact (nothing broken, warped or bent), with the standard wear marks on the outside but otherwise fine. I do not have the box, manual, or any other accessories. The telescoping antenna looks as if it may have been slightly bent at one time (not kinked), and it extends and retracts just fine.

I have owned this radio since new but raised a family who used it as well (kids broke the light switch), so I do know it worked the last time I used it before storage, but I haven’t used it since other than just turning it on as I have mentioned above.

Photos

I don’t do much with radio any longer other than listening to AM, therefore this radio had no value to me other than sentimental (purchased it after an Army tour with ASA as a radio intercept operator), therefore looking for your thoughts on whether it’s worth getting repaired, or just focus on selling on eBay, or somewhere else?

I would have no idea as to its value, who could repair it, or the cost involved.

Tough decision, Jon, so thanks in advance for allowing me to share your inquiry here with the SWLing Post community.

I’m hoping readers can comment with thoughts on the actual value of the radio, the availability of spare parts (toggle switch), and their thoughts on whether you should keep or sell it.

I’m a nostalgic guy, so my inclination would be to keep it unless you really wanted to liquidate it for funds, or you simply have no attachment to it at all.  As custodians of vintage radios, I also feel we should try to keep them in working order.

In terms of repairs, I know my good friend Vlado (at HamRadio.repair) could re-cap it and make it like new. If you could locate a parts radio or simply a similar toggle switch, Vlado could sort that out too I’m sure.

Post readers: What are your thoughts? Should Jon keep the Sony or sell it? Are parts easy to find. Please comment and include any relevant links!

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Restoration of a USN version of the ARC-5 command set receiver

(Source: Southgate ARC)

Gregory Charvat N8ZRY writes on Hackaday about an un-modified-since-WW2 surplus CBY-46104 receiver with dynamotor.

He writes:

I’ve been told all my life about old-timey Army/Navy surplus stores where you could buy buckets of FT-243 crystals, radio gear, gas masks, and even a Jeep boxed-up in a big wooden crate. Sadly this is no longer the case.

Today surplus stores only have contemporary Chinese-made boots, camping gear, and flashlights. They are bitterly disappointing except for one surplus store that I found while on vacation in the Adirondacks: Patriot of Lake George.

Read the full story at
https://hackaday.com/2019/12/12/wwii-aircraft-radio-roars-to-life-what-it-takes-to-restore-a-piece-of-history/

Video

Video description: Repair and restoration of a USN version of an ARC-5 command set receiver. This model covers 1.5-3 Mc, runs off its original dynamotor, with no internal circuit modifications. This radio is original with the exception of a small number of caps that tested bad which were re-stuffed. Build date is Feb. 42, who knows where and what this radio may have been involved in?

I’ve always wanted a functioning ARC-5 command set to accompany my BC-348-Q receiver. This article has inspired me.

Post readers: Anyone own a functioning ARC-5 (or any variants)? Please comment!

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Ed restores a Hallicrafters S-72L cabinet


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Edward Ganshirt, who shares the following:

This is a Hallicrafters S-72L “barn find” I restored.

This turned out to be a furniture refinishing project and not a radio (electronics) restoration job.

It is a 1949/50 era portable with batteries and 1 volt tubes.

When I brought it home the cosmetic condition was such, I kept it away from the litter box out of an abundance of caution to prevent it from being buried by the cats.

This is a very early portable radio made out of plywood and coated with brown wall paper fabric imitating cheap portable record players and luggage of the era.

I decided to laminate it with cedar drawer liner to give it some class instead of vinyl wallpaper.

While learning to laminate wood is another skill outside the scope of this article, The trick when applying laminate is to prevent bubbles forming under the laminate.

Also all divits and dents should be filled in with Bondo or wood filler. The surface is lightly sanded with very fine sandpaper and at least 8 layers of gloss water based floor varnish applied and allowed to thoroughly dry before the next coat.

This radio has nice audio quality, It has a BFO and tunes the longwave band through 11MHz.

The only regrets is cleaning it aggressively which took away a lot of the “old radio smell”, but the cedar aroma will keep the moths out.


Fantastic, Ed!  Thanks for sharing. I think you made a considerate upgrade to the S-72L. Great to hear this radio plays well and has excellent audio. I found one at a hamfest once in slightly better cosmetic condition, but much worse electrical condition than your pre-restoration unit. I’m sure I took a photo of it, but I can’t seem to find it in the archives.

Post readers: any other Hallicrafters S-72L owners out there?  Have you ever installed wood laminate on a radio cabinet? Please comment!


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