In the 1950s and ‘60s, Popular Electronics and other magazines carried ads for strange looking machines called Geniacs and Brainiacs. The ads claimed they were “electric brains” that could play Tic-Tac-Toe and NIM. A while ago, I bought several sets on eBay and I would like to share my experiences of learning about them and my sometimes frustrating — but successful — efforts to get them to work.
The C22 — one of my holy grail audio electronics acquisitions — is known for quality in engineering and construction and audiophile performance. The C22, which originally sold for $330 in 1965, now sells for between $3,000 and $6,000, depending on condition. Even if you don’t own a C22, by following along, you can pick up pointers for your own vintage restoration project — especially when it comes to restoring improperly serviced gear.
After retirement a few years back, I started collecting AA5 radios, restoring and selling them. People would ask whether they picked up FM and, of course, they did not. I started thinking about how to add FM capability without destroying the AA5’s AM operation. Here is my solution.
Nixies were introduced when vacuum tube hardware automatically provided the high voltage they require. These days, circuitry typically runs on five volts or less, so finding the +170V or so for Nixie anodes can be a bit of a challenge. Here are three transformer based ways to obtain that high voltage in line-powered semiconductor-based devices.
Teardowns of vintage gear in which you carefully note component values, construction techniques, and create a schematic from scratch are a great introduction to vacuum tubes. The next level (and the focus of this article) is to restore tube-type devices, starting with a tabletop radio. Not only will you learn to work with the technology, but you’ll have something of value when you’re done.
In this article, I’d like to share how the primitive crystal sets of the ‘50s and ‘60s worked and hopefully stir some distant memories for those of you who also built one of these mysterious listening devices. I also hope that you’ll consider introducing your kids and/or grandkids to the world of crystal sets.
One hobby that’s prevalent today is restoring antique radios. Once you have an antique radio, it’s nice to listen to it. Unfortunately, the content of present day AM radio stations leaves a lot to be desired. There’s nothing comparable to the type of programming that was on the air in the heyday of radio broadcasting. The solution to this dilemma is to use a low power crystal-controlled AM transmitter to broadcast age-appropriate material to the antique radio. Such an AM transmitter is the subject of this article.