Monthly Archives: August 2016

Adding a Transmitter to the Hallicrafters Sky Buddy, 1941


The Hallicrafters S-19R Sky Buddy receiver came out in 1939. This six-tube receiver tuned the broadcast band up to 44 MHz, and sold for a relatively modest $29.50. The set contained a power transformer. The receiver functioned adequately for hams, in addition to serving as a decent shortwave broadcast receiver.

Lloyd Broderson, W6CLV, of Salinas, California, owned one of these for his station receiver, but decided to add a few improvements, which he documented in an article in the August 1941 issue of Radio News.

His first changes were cosmetic. Apparently dissatisfied with the looks of the black control knobs, he decided to paint them a different color. Similarly, the black screws were replaced with nickel plated screws. Carrying handles were also added. He also replaced the speaker grille with a silver colored version, personalized with his call letters.

His first electrical improvement was the addition of some tip jacks which could allowed the receiver’s power supply to be used for other equipment. These jacks provided a handy source of 6.3 and 220 volts.

With these mundane improvements taken care of, he set about adding a transmitter to the set. He noted that plenty of space was available inside the cabinet, so he added a 40 meter transmitter, employing a 6L6. While his onboard transmitter was for 40, he noted that with different crystal and coil, the same idea could be used on other bands. An end-fed antenna was connected to the transmitter output through a mica condenser.

The transmitter input was limited to about five watts, the limiting factor being the power transformer: “Any attempt to load the 6L6 to more than 25 ma. will result in the transformer becoming excessively warm.” He noted that a larger transformer could be added and the power increased several times. But as many QRP’ers have discovered, the 5 watts proved quite adequate, and the author reported working all U.S. call districts, as well as stations in the possessions.

The final modification was the addition of a code practice oscillator. This was done by keying the BFO with the set tuned to a broadcast station. He noted that “many of the boys now joining the Signal Corps have learned the code by using a similar arrangement.”

The author also reported that the newly minted transmitter-receiver could easily be taken to the field.

Click Here For Today’s Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Cartoon

1941 College Dorm Radio


On this date seventy-five years ago, Bates Fabrics, Incorporated, ran this ad in the August 18, 1941, issue of Life Magazine to answer the question that was undoubtedly on everyone’s mind: How were college students decorating their dorm rooms? The company put together a College Board consisting of students from the outstanding universities, and they conducted a survey of over 8000 students.

97% of the respondents believed that an attractive room helped any freshman get off on the right foot. Apparently, 3% believed that a dingy room was the way to go. 86% of the students said that they preferred bedspreads with matching draperies, and a third of them already had them. Fortunately, Bates just happened to sell exactly that: matching bedspreads and draperies, and the Life ad highlighted some of their popular designs.

The Yale men shown above preferred the “Cattle Brands” design, which, according to the ad, proved an overwhelming favorite in men’s colleges. And as you can see, these Yale men also had a radio in their dorm room. The radio sitting on the desk appears to be a Zenith model 5-G-401.

This radio was Zenith’s very first portable, sporting a lineup of 1A7, 1N5, 1H5, and 1A5, in addition to a 117Z6 rectifier. The set retailed for $44.95, and could operate off either AC power, as it probably did in the Yale dorm room, or with batteries.

1941Aug18Life1On the Left Coast, the co-eds shown here preferred a “gay, sun-country pattern on homespun ground” for their bedspread and drapes. They apparently preferred to listen to phonograph records on what appears to be a wind-up non-electronic phonograph.

Click Here For Today’s Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Cartoon

1946 Two Valve British Portable


Seventy years ago, the British magazine Practical Wireless, August 1946, carried the plans for this two-valve medium wave receiver for the beginner. The circuit was a regenerative receiver, followed by one stage of audio amplification sufficient to drive a speaker.

The set was constructed using “baseboard” components on a cabinet made of plywood. The antenna coil was wound around the cabinet and then covered by leatherette. For strong stations, the built-in antenna was sufficient, but the set had provisions for external antenna and ground.

Apparently, even after the ravages of war, some beginners still had a fear of the soldering iron, and the “baseboard” construction did away with the need for soldered connections, as the author explained:

Another reason is that many amateurs still prefer to make use of baseboard components, rather than chassis components. They can understand such parts better; moreover, there is no soldering to do–a ]ob which the beginner greatly dislikes, for he sometimes makes soldered connection to the wrong points. Some constructors cannot solder successfully at all, and to try to connect four wires to a single pin socket on a chasis valve holder is not only irritating to the amateur, but he also knows in his bones that the connections are far from being satisfactory.

But despite the solderless construction, the author is confident: “As soon as the set is switched on, some programme should be heard immediately. Tune in the station properly and gently apply reaction to increase the volume. If nothing is heard, wait a few minutes. A programme may have just finished. Try tuning in the other station.”

If waiting and tuning didn’t do the trick, the author suggests reversing the leads of the tickler coil, which might have gotten reversed.


Click Here For Today’s Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Cartoon

1966 Two Tube Regen


Fifty years ago, the August 1966 issue of Popular Electronics carried the plans for this two-tube shortwave receiver. The set featured band switching, and covered the broadcast band through 30 MHz in four bands. Billed as a “real powerhouse,” the set employed a 12AT7 dual triode, which served as RF amplifier and regenerative detector, followed by a 6AK6 audio amplifier which could drive either a speaker or headphones.

The set ran off AC power, and used a power transformer, which rendered it relatively safe.


Click Here For Today’s Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Cartoon

1946 FM Converter


After the War, the FCC moved the FM band from its old home at 42-49 MHz to its current position at 88-108 MHz. This shift delayed the popularity of FM broadcasting, since all prewar FM receivers were rendered obsolete. For the serviceman dealing with frustrated owners of prewar FM sets, one possibility was examined in the August 1946 issue of Service magazine.

The magazine contained the plans for the converter shown here, which would allow owners of the prewar sets to listen to the stations appearing on the new FM band. For simplicity, the converter had its own tuning dial, and the old receiver was left on 43 MHz. The converter consisted of an oscillator containing a single 6SA7. The author noted that this tube wouldn’t function at 100 MHz, but it worked in this circuit since it was merely oscillating at 45-65 MHz, well within its published specifications. By tuning this local oscillator, the result was an IF of 43 MHz, which would be picked up by the old set.

In addition to construction details, some discussion was given to antennas for the new band. The author noted that in most cases, an outdoor antenna consisting of brass, copper, or aluminum tubing about 4-1/2 feet long would suffice. This was mounted outside, horizontally, and fed at the center with twisted pair. For locations with strong signals, an indoor antenna, perhaps an existing curtain rod, would suffice.


Click Here For Today’s Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Cartoon

Ray’s Radio Service, Glendale, CA, 1941


Here’s what the inside of a prosperous radio shop looked like 75 years ago, as shown in the July-August 1941 issue of National Radio News.

It shows Ray’s Radio Service, 108 W. California St., Glendale, California, owned by Ray R. Linganfield. In his letter to the magazine, Linganfield reported that his wife was the inspiration for getting into radio when she asked, “why don’t you try to get into the radio business.” He took a $25 a week job at a music company, and spent all of his remaining time to National Radio Institute’s course. Based upon the practical experience and theory, he found that radio cam very easy.

Soon thereafter, he opened his own repair store and showed a net profit of $1200 in the first six months. He quickly built up the store shown here, and reported grossing over $2000 a month.


Click Here For Today’s Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Cartoon

United Press Shortwave Monitor Station, Valhalla, NY, 1941


Seventy-five years ago today, this days issue of Broadcasting, August 11, 1941, carried this image of the shortwave listening post and receiving station of United Press at Valhalla, Westchester County, New York.

The magazine noted that the station’s existence had previously been a rather well kept trade secret, but had only recently been revealed by the press agency. The station had originally started in 1933 with a single operator, whose sole duty was to copy a Morse broadcast from Paris. By 1941, the station employed a dozen operators, and received scores of broadcasts daily from 15 to 20 capitals around the world.

The station was connected to the wire service’s network by a high speed printer connection to New York, and on a busy day for European war news, carried as many as 40,000 words per day.

The station was housed in a farm house, with the surrounding acres dotted with receiving antennas.

Click Here For Today’ Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Cartoon

1941 Car TV


New York probably didn’t have a distracted driving law in 1941, and the August 1941 issue of Radio Craft proudly proclaimed that “Car Television is Here!”  The first commercial TV broadcasts took place on July 1, 1941, and according to the cover photo, the gentleman shown here was able to tune them in, even though he was driving around the city.

But upon closer examination, it appears that the motoring public wasn’t in any danger when TV hit the airwaves.  According to the magazine, the cover photo is a “composite illustration,” and car TV was a coming thing.  The magazine promised, however, that a future issue would show how to build one.

Click Here For Today’ Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Cartoon

FDR and Churchill Meet, 1941

On this date 75 years ago, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill had their first in-person meeting of the war, aboard the U.S.S. Augusta, in Newfoundland.  While it was their first meeting as world leaders, the two men had actually met once earlier, in 1918, although Churchill didn’t recall the meeting.

The Lend-Lease Act had passed in March of that year, and it was clear that America would be involved in the war.  At their meeting, the two men drafted the Atlantic Charter, which included eight common principles to which the two countries were committed.  They agreed to a postwar world in which neither country would seek territorial expansion, and with liberalized trade, freedom of the seas, and international labor, economic, and welfare standards.  Both men agreed to the need for restoration of self-government for the occupied countries.

Churchill announced the Charter in this speech given a few days later:

Click Here For Today’ Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Cartoon

A Radio For Every Recruit, 1941


With the United States having its first peacetime draft, there were a lot of inductees away from home needing a way to stay connected and entertained.  The August 1941 issue of Radio News pointed out the opportunity this afforded radio dealers in the form of a “radio for every recruit.”

The article noted that most–but not all–draftees had an income of $21 per month, hardly enough to splurge on a radio.  Instead, the article noted that most sales were made to the families of the soldier.  In fact, one dealer had the fortunate circumstance of having his ad for portable radios happen to appear on the same page of the newspaper listing the names of draftees.  He did record business as the families of those servicemen hurried to his store to buy one of those portables.

Army officials cautioned that it was best for soldiers to wait until after their permanent placement before buying one more belonging to drag around.  But battery portables and compact sets were proving popular, and some men were using radio-recorders to make records to send home instead of letters.

Click Here For Today’ Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Cartoon