Photos of Phones and Phonographs (occasionally)
National Vintage Communications Fair
Ian, Chris and I went to the NVCF last weekend. It’s a bit like a combination of a specialist antiques fair, a car boot sale, and the contents of your grandads garage.
As well as all the old radios, televisions and telephones, there was a selection of test gear with amusing manufacturer names. Pfft! Wayne Kerr!
I was called over to one stall to try and identify this piece of equipment. It was apparently recovered from a BBC building somewhere, and it’s an optical disk player. The disk has sound encoded on it as a black line of varying width. There’s a lamp on one side and a photoresistor on the other. When the disk spins, the amount of light falling on the photoresistor changes the current passing through it, giving you audio. It’s only got one disk, although it appeared to have several (5?) messages recorded on it. The photo detector didn’t appear to move though, so I think changing messages was probably a manual operation. These machines were often used to play back messages like “all lines to London are currently engaged” or similar messages.
I didn’t get any closer to identifying it, and whilst I was intrigued by the message it might contain – I wasn’t intrigued enough to find space in the car for it. Besides, Chris had filled most of the car with radios by that point!
I managed to spend about a tenner and got various bits and bobs including this clock unit. The displays are interesting. They’re a stack of plastic laminates, each one has a numeral engraved on it. Each laminate has a lightbulb which illuminates it from the edge, causing the numeral to glow. It’s quite clever, and undoubtedly pretty. It’s a bit tricky to drive with modern technology (and where’s the fun in silicon anyway?!) so I’m going to build a clock out of uniselectors to drive it instead.
I think I can get away with 1 uniselector for the hours (using 24 outlets of a 25 outlet uniselector, with two banks driving both digits and a third bank which can be used to skip the last position) and two uniselectors for the minutes (one per digit, each with 2 banks. One to drive the display and the other to skip unused positions) – the circuitry to step the uniselectors once a minute should be fairly straight forward.
It would be easiest if I can generate a 1 minute pulse from somewhere, but I’ll probably drive it with a 30 second pulse so it’ll be compatible with a GPO master clock if I ever get one!
Along with the associated relays, that should all fit nicely in a box underneath the display.
Great. I needed a new project…
Blimey I’m behind with this one! The weekend before last, I went to the Dean Forest Railway Thomas Day. It was a fun day out with my niece, nephew, sister and her hubby. Thomas himself wasn’t as photogenic as I’d hoped, but I liked these shots of 9681 (or whoever 9681 was pretending to be)
For me, the highlights of the day were the story we had read to us as we went up the line from Norchard to Parkend on Daisy the DMU, and the diesel stealing Thomas’ carriages while he dozed off in the station. The fat controller waking Thomas up with a bucket of water was hilarious.
North Yorkshire Moors Railway
Back on the 13th April – the Saturday of this years BJC – Charlie, Emily, J and I went for a ride on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. It’s taken me ages to get around to processing the photos, but here they are..
There are some also rans in this months album, but I think I probably overcooked the post work a bit.
Avoncroft Telephone Swapmeet
It was the THG Swapmeet at Avoncroft museum of historical buildings today. I didn’t take much with me to get rid of this time (partly because I’ve got rid of a lot of stuff already, and partly because I was too lazy to organise getting rid of anything) but I came back with a pile of books, some posters, a Buzby tea tray, a box full of useful krone spares for the railway (including some test leads which should make verifying anything we do much easier) and most of an AT&E Type 6 phone.
I’ll write up more about the phone some other time, but I’m dead excited about it – because it’s the phone which would have been supplied with my small PAX (and probably my larger one as well, but I can’t find any documentation to confirm that) - I’ve been looking for one for almost 3 years now and have at last managed to find a base, dial, and handset. I’m missing the case, but I can probably modify a 706 case to fit, which will do until I can get the “right” case) If anyone has one lying around they’re willing to part with, I’d love it!
Yeah, I thought not.
Also happening at Avoncroft today was some kind of civil war re-enactment. The avoncroft website says:
Experience British troops of the 1770s drilling and making ready to take control of the rebellious American colonists. The Lexington Militia will try to prevent the redcoats from searching their homes and town. Will King George’s army be able to keep control?
But I could have sworn the lady said it was described as “the last English civil war” – although, I suppose the begining of the war of independance could be thought of as an English civil war. Still, they looked jolly dangerous with their guns and whatnot, even when they were just chilling out with their ladyfolk!
I had a bit of a poke around Avoncroft as well while I was there. They’ve got a lot of buildings, and I’ve seen some of them before – but have never explored properly. They’ve got some dead good stuff! My favourite was probably the ice storage house because it was dark and echoey – unfortunately it doesn’t photograph very well, because it’s just a circular brick chamber with a lot of insulation. The windmill made up for that though…
Their prefab house was amazing (I really wanted some old guy in a cardigan to sit in the chair for me to take photos of, but there wasn’t anyone suitable around, and you could only view the rooms from the doorway anyway) but their prefabricated church was just as ace, and much easier to photograph!
While I had my camera out, I also took the time to sit down for 10 minutes, have a good think about my surroundings, plan a photo, and then shoot something for this weeks photo-challenge. It was this gnome. I rather like him, and am quite please with the wonky breaks-most-of-the-rules composition.
J and (no so silent) Bob the Dog are staying with me this weekend, I took Bob out for a nice long walk this morning, and he picked up a stick. Usually I can persuade him to put a stick down, but he was more than a little keen to hold on to this one despite it being more of a log than a stick.
In other news, BOV failed it’s MOT yesterday mostly on various faults with the brakes, but also a bit of welding needs doing around one of the front suspension mounts. So it’s booked in for that on Tuesday…
New (old) Razor
My Dad gave me his old Gillette 195 “fatboy” adjustable safety razor today. According to the date code on the bottom (F4) it was manufactured in Q4 of 1960. I’ve been shaving with a safety razor for a couple of years now (in between beardy periods) and have been truly won over from disposables/modern razors.
They may only use one blade at a time rather than the 5 blades the “Gillette Fusion” or the “Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5″ have – but I consistently get a better shave with a safety razor, I find them more comfortable to use, and the blades work out cheaper than modern cartridges or disposables so I can’t really see a reason not to use them.
At the time of typing this I have a full beard, but it’ll be gone by tomorrow morning. All courtesy of a 53 year old razor.
As a bonus, it came with a Gillette Blue blade. I don’t intend to use that for shaving (as it’s clearly been used) but I do intend to use it to build a foxhole radio. Which I’ll post about when I’ve done it!
These are the mugs I use at work. So far, remarkably few of our Valued Customers ™ have taken the hint.
1990s Dance Music Pun #46
This post is updated in real time
At the weekend, J bought some new cat treats for Penny. They’ve got catnip in. They send her a bit mental.
This weeks photo-challenge is “Be my Valentine” – I had several ideas, but happened on a chap flying this kite on Sunday afternoon. I think this probably works better than most of the ideas I’d come up with.