Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lab grown quartz crystals: How its done.

Following up on yesterdays post regarding the manufacture of radio crystals from natural quartz crystals, I was able to find this video from the AT&T archives showing the relatively new, at the time, method of growing quartz crystals in the laboratory.

The video, produced in 1962, shows first the frustrating failures and ultimately the ability of Bell Labs staff to reliably produce the invaluable quartz crystals.

Very little of the technology we value today would have been possible without the hard work and perseverance of these early pioneers.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Crystals Go to War - 1943

One of the things that always fascinated me about radio was the ability to take discrete components and craft something that could pluck invisible radio signals out of the air. Once I learned more about electronics, some of the magic was replaced by admiration for the many generations of engineers and experimenters that had developed the radio art. Until recently, the theory behind crystals had not solidified (crystallized?) in my mind and so they remained one of those "mysterious devices".

The following film, like most produced during WWII, is a thorough explanation of the history and technology behind radio crystals. It was produced at a period when crystals were instrumental in securing reliable communications between military units, saving lives and coordinating the moment of supplies, troops and equipment.

I hope you'll find it as interesting as I did.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Richardson "5" Update

Thanks to members of the excellent Antique Radio Forums and to a Mr Richardson (No relation, I think) I have found out more about the history of this receiver. It turns out that the set had been restored in the past from fairly sad shape after being purchased at an AWA swap meet in New York.

Underneath the top desk of the radio is the text "Oct.17.1996 Billy Richardson" which confirmed that the radio had originally passed though his hands while being brought back to life.

However I'll let Mr Billy Richardson tell the story in his own words:

I'm guilty of owning the Richardson "5", guys. It was in poor condition when I bought it in an AWA swap meet in New York way back there years ago. I restored it to the best of my ability to its original condition a few years later. It was not a restoration that had anything special going for it, so it was never shown in any of the contests around the country. It was working OK when I finished it, but I can understand why it doesn't work now.

To the best of my recollection, Richardson radios were first advertised as a superheterodyne kit. Their main feature was "self evident wiring", or something like that. Naturally. they didn't get away with selling a superheterodyne kit and the next and only ad I saw after that was a small one for the Richardson "5". It used the same type of wiring.

Here again I speak from a poor memory, but the wiring for this set is one long piece of rubber coated flexible wire. Along its entire length it has lugs that simply pierce the rubber cover to make an electrical contact. Not a good thing, because only one or two strands of wire may be making contact and a wee bit of oxidation is all it would take to break the connection. This was the case with the original wire, which was also hard and brittle. I replaced it with NOS flexible wire that looked exactly the same. The finished job is an ugly sight, just like the original. All the lugs are spaced an equal distant along the wire, regardless of how far it has to go to the next connection and most of the wire is too long for those connections. In other words, it's a jumbled up mess of wire and not something to be proud of.

I recognized the photo of this set immediately as being mine because of the label under the lid. There was enough of the original left to make a good copy and I thought the reproduction turned out real well.

Billy Richardson

Alan Douglas of the Antique Radio Forums found a clipping from Radio Retailer & Jobber Oct.1925 which told of Mr Richardson's exit from the Richardson Radio Corporation. Given the very short period where any advertisements were made it seems like this corporation didn't last very long at all, perhaps only a year or two at most. In the Radio News of 1925 the January issue has quite a large advertisement while the December issue has only the smallest note possible ... perhaps a sign that things were not going particularly well.

The only additional information I could find regarding either the Richardson Radio Corporation or Mr Richardson himself come from the clipping of the Princeton Alumni Weekly, August 1936.

Unfortunately it concerns what must have been his early death and does not specify the cause which would have been appropriate at the time.

DAVID WELLES RICHARDSON '22
The Class records with deep sorrow the death of our classmate, David W. Richardson, who died at his home in Mt. Kisko on July 16.
Dave spent the first two years out of college in the radio business. He helped organize WOR and was the president of the Richardson Radio, Inc.
He then entered the employ of Joseph P. Day and for five years was head of the private sales department. About a year ago he entered the brokerage business with Harris, Upham & Co. and on July 1 entered the employ of Eastman, Dillon & Co.
Dave was married in 1932 and has a son, David Welles Richardson, Jr. To his widow, his son, and his father we extend our deepest sympathy with the assurance that we will not soon forget him.
    For the Class of 1922
    William E. Stevenson, President
    G. M. L. LaBranche
    Hunt T. Dickinson
    Robert Buechner, Secretary. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Richardson "5" - 1925

I recently purchased a Richardson "5" TRF receiver and after bringing it home discovered somewhat disappointingly that, although in excellent condition appearance-wise, this radio is not going to play without a significant amount of work.

Although it was sold to me with the opinion that it did play, I think it more likely that it played at some point in the past ... although I'm willing to give the seller the benefit of the doubt.

The Richardson Radio Inc of New York seems to have appeared on the scene in 1925, lasting perhaps a year and then vanishing. The Richardson "5" features neutralization but doesn't appear to mention licencing that technology from Hazeltine so this may have had something to do with their short life.

The chief problem seems to be the wiring which is soldered in only a few places and otherwise consists of stakes or posts that have been pushed through the insulation of the wires in the same way that inexpensive garden lights are sometimes put together.

Given time, almost 90 years in this case, the poor contacts and gradually deteriorating insulation have done a good job in turning almost every connection into an intermittent connection. When I powered the radio up it was obvious that the two stages of audio amplification were working but touching any wire in the RF amplifier or detector sections just changed the quality of the noise in the headphones. I was never able to tune in a station or even see if the RF sections were working.

So, I have a choice. This radio can either be dust collector on the shelf and an example of how not to wire a set or I could re-wire it using proper soldered connectors which wouldn't be "authentic".

Not sure what to do exactly. Not that I will be diving into it any time soon, I still have the AK20 restoration to complete before I start anything else.

It didn't come with a speaker but I didn't find any evidence that Richardson Radio ever sold a loud speaker and the example at the top of the page uses a "Superspeaker Console" from the Jewett Radio & Phonograph Co.

The Richardson "5" uses a six volt "A" battery and "B" battery voltages of forty five and ninety volts. When running from the ARBE III supply I set the "A" battery voltage to five volts so there is little risk of burning the five 01A tubes too brightly.

All-in-all I would say that it is a handsome set that will look good on the shelf and may eventually be made to work again. It will be interesting to see what difference the neutralization makes to a circuit that is essentially identical to the AK20.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Atwater Kent - Model 20 : Important Documents

One of the first things I do once I have acquired a new "treasure" is to gather together all the information I can find and stick it in one place.

To this end, here is what I have found online and scans of some of the paperwork I have acquired. Most will be specific to the Model 20 but some may also cover other Atwater Kent radios:

Sadly I do not have a high resolution scan of the Model 20 log card which I believe is Form F 103, can you help?

This is Form F 194 which would suit a single dial Atwater Kent radio.

The file is scanned at 600DPI and if printed at the same resolution it should be the same size as the original.

A small amount of cleanup may be required to print correctly on your printer.

Download the PNG file HERE (49MB)
At the right is the "Radio Log Cards and Important Instructions" envelope which was used to organize all the paperwork. This would typically be held in between the two clips inside the radio.

If you are wondering what those clips were used for, now you know!

The file is scanned at 600DPI and if printed at the same resolution it should be the same size as the original.

A small amount of cleanup may be required to print correctly on your printer.

Download the PNG file HERE (57MB)

This is the back of the envelope so you can see the fold patterns and get an idea of how it was put together.

I plan to clean up these images and generate a pattern which can be printed out via a large format printer at a FedEx office or similar.

The pieces I have are too fragile to use and would crumble if handled more than a few times.

The file is scanned at 600DPI and if printed at the same resolution it should be the same size as the original.

Download the PNG file HERE (56MB)
I have several of the loud speaker instruction sheets and they seem to be generic enough to suit any of the horn type loud speakers. As far as I know they all have a similar adjustment underneath and all users should heed the warning about connecting them to the receiver with the correct polarity.

As with all the images I have used full color images so you can see the original colors and then change it to black and while to increase contrast for printing.

The file is scanned at 600DPI and if printed at the same resolution it should be the same size as the original.

Download the PNG file HERE (54MB)
This is the Atwater Kent Radio Service Manual from 1928.

This manual covers from the Model 10 to the Model 52 including accessories such as the power units and loud speakers.

This manual was a pain to find so hopefully this will help some people out and ease frustration.

Download the PDF file HERE (8MB)





This is the Atwater Kent Radio Instruction Book Vol. 2 from 1925.

The instruction book covers the Model 10 through to the Model 24 and contains important photographs showing battery cables, battery boxes and other accessories.

Download the PDF HERE (14MB)








I'm looking for high resolution scans of the following two forms: F91A and F101 as shown in the picture below. If you have scans or can point me in the right direction I would appreciate it!