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Because I live in New England, year round outdoor projects are a no-go, and since I have no garage, I can't work on car projects all year long either. I needed to keep myself busy during the winter.

Aside from cleaning out the workshop/basement this winter, I went and put together an electronics workbench



I've been into electronics since I was born basically. My dad owned a TV and Radio repair shop for like 20 years, after working at it since he was 14. He sold the business in the mid 90s, as the business was getting slow because a. the city the shop was in was declining rapidly and b. a lot of stuff was going from complex repair to replace whole boards or throw the TV out. Also, he got a fuck load more money than the building was worth because the city wanted to tear it down and build a school. So he brought the business home, doing side work here and there and went to go work for a larger TV and Appliance dealer in their repair section (Later moving over to sales).

Needless to say, I've always been into electronics. I'm partial to the vintage stuff, because that's what I grew up with - my dad has always had some kickass radios around the house. Aside from that, I'm just positive I was born in the wrong decade. So heres the workbench. The top and lefs came from Ikea. The top is green because a. its awesome, and b. it was the cheapest top they had - 5 foot top for like $26.



The magnifying lamp on the left was at my dad's workbench for the last..oh I dunno, 20+ years? It was made in wonderful Worcester, MA. The lamp on the right I bought at Ikea for like $9. I'm very impressed with it. Bought a 18w directional daylight fluorescent. Bright motherfucker.

this is my soldering iron, an old Weller. another hand-me-down. Might need a new pencil, this one's getting finicky.



Above the bench, this rack was an Ikea special, I keep my solder, my multimeter and other small shit in em. Above that is a chart of all of the Ohm's law equations. Quick reference guide.



And above all that is my BK variac isolation transformer:



Basically, it protects me and my house from what I'm working on, while also allowing me to choose how much power goes to the device, from 0-130ish volts. And if you happen to know about any of this kinda thing, BK makes some good shit.



This is my toolbox, an older wooden machinist box. It needs some work. Some kid enjoyed taking things apart too much when he was 8. (Yeah, that would be me.) The tupperware on top is another Ikea special. like 4 bucks, and the boxes are perfect for putting pieces of a project in to keep everything together and not losing pieces.



Under my desk are my speakers, CS-88's, a box of assorted wire, cords, and wall transformers, a box of projects and parts, and a very special box.







The box of tubes. This old Zenith box is actually highly collectible by Zenith fanatics. My dad used to take this along to jobs when he would go work on console radios and television on house calls. I have a couple big ones down in the basement. Likely clean them up and sell em. Maybe toss a bunch of tubes in em to drive the price up. I loaded this box up with all the tubes I have. My dad still has a box or two of tubes laying around i need to go through.

Well, thats the work bench. Lets get on to the first project, shall we?
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:43 PM someone else is offline  
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Typhoon43
 
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Nice stuff! I've always wanted a nice setup for working on electronics. I'm jealous.
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:59 PM Typhoon43 is offline  
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My first project was putting together a stereo and CD player for my mother. the carousel on her stereo died, stopping it from playing CDs, and she doesn't have any desire to own an ipod. I took this as a chance to have some fun

I'll preface this first: I didn't do a good job documenting.



I took a flight case a DJ buddy of mine used to transport his CD's with before he went digital. I gutted it and cut 5 holes. 2 for woofers, 2 for tweeters and one for a car headunit. I was initially going to build my own cage for the head unit, but I managed to find one I had lying around.



the back. The holes were roughed out. They didn't need to be exact for the speakers. The one for the head unit was too big (we'll see this later) and I had to shim it.



I picked up an ok set of components from crutchfield on black friday - they are Sound Ordinance. They actually sound pretty good.



and heres the back with the speakers loaded in.



I mounted the crossovers up in each corner. Build quality seemed fairly decent. I was surprised.



And this is the last picture I have of the build. As you can now notice, the headunit is on a slant. This held me up fixing it and straitening it out, so I was on a time crunch to finish. It actually sounds excellent.

I used a Pioneer head unit that puts out about 22w rms, the sound ordinance components, a switch salvaged from a previous project, a 120mm panaflo case fan, a computer power supply from an old desktop, and a 12v DC, 1amp wall wort transformer.

I used the transformer to act as the 12v "always on" of the car battery. Wired it all up, and put an outlet box inside the case, and wired that to a plug. Now this way, the power supply can be shut off and the radio can remember stations, volume, and time. Any specific questions on wiring and what not, post and I'll answer them, but I didn't see the need to list it out here.

Total cost? $50, for the pair of component speakers. Everything else was re-purposed from something else.

I'm heading off to the gym, but later tonight I'll post up whats coming up next project wise. The new stuff is far more interesting, IMO. Teaser:

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Old 12-28-2012, 03:01 PM someone else is offline  
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Old 12-28-2012, 03:09 PM IcW@teR is offline  
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gee
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Nice setup, really nice - that old power supply you've got is a gem. I'd eventually invest in an ESD mat to work on, a nice DMM, and maybe a regulated/adjustable soldering iron if you feel like doing SMT soldering etc.

Nice boombox build - I've built a couple portable boomboxes over the years, using 12V sealed lead acid batteries and homemade class D amplifiers. I'm about to build a Boominator:

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/class...y-machine.html

Got all the bits/pieces, just need to get around to doing it.
Old 12-28-2012, 05:35 PM gee is offline  
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So - onto the things I have coming down the pipeline.

Admiral 4F22 tube radio with the Rotoscope Antenna. The antenna pops up, and then can turn around until you get the best signal. Complete aside from the ADMIRAL lettering on the front. From what I've been told, and from the research I've done, these are fairly rare, from 1957ish



Hallicrafter WR-600 AM and Shortwave radio. Exactly the same thing as the SR-120 with a different cabinet. By all regards, a nice starter shortwave radio. Plus the name just means money. runs the All American Five tube lineup, a common configuration of tubes in american made radios



Magnavox FM040 AM/FM tube radio - Nice wooden case, missing a knob and the cover for one knob.



RCA 8-x-544 - AM tube, from 1949. Case is in good shape, but this one will need a thorough going through out back. It appears someone thought they knew what they were doing.



RCA 65U - AM tube, from 1947. This one is a basket case, and is going to need a full resto. Someone thought painting it was a nice idea, and its a mess inside. Got this one for $1, and I figured it would be good practice for EVERYTHING, because this thing is a tragedy. My oldest set.







Travler 5305A - cool little portable radio, similar to the Admiral. this ones complete and looks good, Need to fix the hinges on the back, otherwise the case is nice



And this isn't a project, but just a cool diagnostic tool: A tube tester





Now this one isn't all too fancy, and iirc, this came as a kit and you would put it together in your own case. This one is basically good enough to determine if the tube has any shorts and if its generally good. Not going to be able to tube match on this one, or get exact readings, but its good enough for what I'm doing at the moment. My dad has a Heathkit or BK hidden around somewhere, as we dig we'll find it.

Aside from the Travler, I haven't tried powering up any of these radios to determine the extent of the work needed. Best way to power up an old radio like this is to do it slowly to reform the caps. The capacitors in these old radios were never meant to last this long, and the electrolytic fluid in them tends to dry out and effect performance. By "reforming them", bringing the power up low and slow, you can sometimes get the capacitors to cooperate properly and at least give you a baseline to work off of. I'll turn them on, put em on the variac at 35v for 3-4 hours, then bump it to 70-80v for another hour or two and then crank it to 115-120v to see what happens.

They are all going to need a re-capping of the filter condensor at the very least, and any molded paper caps or film caps, and then new grounded cords, and anything else they need.

In the next post, I'll show you the current project.
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Old 12-28-2012, 06:05 PM someone else is offline  
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Nice setup, really nice - that old power supply you've got is a gem. I'd eventually invest in an ESD mat to work on, a nice DMM, and maybe a regulated/adjustable soldering iron if you feel like doing SMT soldering etc.

Nice boombox build - I've built a couple portable boomboxes over the years, using 12V sealed lead acid batteries and homemade class D amplifiers. I'm about to build a Boominator:

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/class...y-machine.html

Got all the bits/pieces, just need to get around to doing it.

Well, when you see what I plan on working on the most, an ESD mat is not high on the list, nor is equipment to do real precision soldering. This one is good enough for MOST things. I have a fairly nice ECG DM-78A multimeter right now, and access to a fluke should i really need super high tolerance. I need to put another shelf up to bring down the BK's fat sister, the DC power supply.

That boominator looks like fun. I definitely was thinking of doing another one now that I learned a few things from the last one.
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Last edited by someone else; 12-28-2012 at 06:27 PM..
Old 12-28-2012, 06:11 PM someone else is offline  
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The current project I'm working on is a Zenith K731 AM/FM tube radio. You saw the chassis on the bench:



A really nice radio, even by today's standards. Uses a speaker with a horn, and sounds excellent - except for the abusively loud hum. The wavemagnet antenna, you see it on the case back behind the chassis, pulls in AM like crazy - I was pulling in 1010 WINS the other night from New York (I'm just south of Boston).

Hiding under that Pedroia t-shirt is the case:







It really is a great looking radio - I cover it up so my cat doesn't get any bright ideas with the grill cloth - that shit is not cheap and not easy to come by.

I've got some NOS multi-can caps from when my dad was a tech, and so I pulled a couple of them out to test this unit, and as I predicted, the filter condenser is bad. I'm ordering parts tonight

That's all I've got for now. I'll get some pictures up in the next few days of some troubleshooting and I'll show you what some of the old parts used were. Shit has changed in 60 years, haha. I'll even try to get a video up to show the difference a new filter will give.
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Old 12-28-2012, 06:21 PM someone else is offline  
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:22 PM SamFarber is offline  
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Tex Arcana
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My dad used to take this along to jobs when he would go work on console radios and television on house calls.

I'm jealous you got the chance to do that shit with your dad. Mine died before we could get into such cool things--he was an electronic genius that had his own recording studio, built his own gear, and moonlighted as a DJ at a local station.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:07 PM Tex Arcana is offline  
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I'm jealous you got the chance to do that shit with your dad. Mine died before we could get into such cool things--he was an electronic genius that had his own recording studio, built his own gear, and moonlighted as a DJ at a local station.

Yeah, my dad has done some coooool shit. aside from the TV and Radio repair, he worked as a broadcast engineer at the old WBET FM in Brockton, MA for a good stretch as well. That was before my time. But I grew up running around in his Dodge Ram van from house call to house call and growing up in the shop. Good times.

My dad is one of those guys who didn't grow up in money - hell, he had to rebuild the engine in his 54 or 56 Dodge before he could learn to drive - so he always learned to fix something before it got trashed. He knows (more than) a little bit about a lot of things. I'm 25 years old and his vast array of knowledge still surprises me sometimes.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:16 PM someone else is offline  
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gee
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Yeah, my dad has done some coooool shit. aside from the TV and Radio repair, he worked as a broadcast engineer at the old WBET FM in Brockton, MA for a good stretch as well. That was before my time. But I grew up running around in his Dodge Ram van from house call to house call and growing up in the shop. Good times.

My dad is one of those guys who didn't grow up in money - hell, he had to rebuild the engine in his 54 or 56 Dodge before he could learn to drive - so he always learned to fix something before it got trashed. He knows (more than) a little bit about a lot of things. I'm 25 years old and his vast array of knowledge still surprises me sometimes.
That's fucking awesome - the old radios, and having a "broadcast engineer" dad.

I designed AM/FM broadcast transmitters at my last job, spent plenty of time with broadcast engineers. They're a special breed - one of our guys used to call them "hilbilly macgyvers". Extremely smart/clever, having the need to modify every single thing they get their hands on in some way, always having some sort of interesting hobby or side project (ham radio, drag racing car, lasers..), and always having a story to tell.
Old 12-28-2012, 08:40 PM gee is offline  
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That's fucking awesome - the old radios, and having a "broadcast engineer" dad.

I designed AM/FM broadcast transmitters at my last job, spent plenty of time with broadcast engineers. They're a special breed - one of our guys used to call them "hilbilly macgyvers". Extremely smart/clever, having the need to modify every single thing they get their hands on in some way, always having some sort of interesting hobby or side project (ham radio, drag racing car, lasers..), and always having a story to tell.

hahaha you hit the nail right on the head basically. we both volunteer at the local cable access channel, and hes on the board. we're the ones fixing stuff and setting stuff up and such, and he'll come up with some way to use something that I'd never think of. even with shit around the house or whatever, he's got some tried and trued oddball fix for some of the weirdest shit
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:51 PM someone else is offline  
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Tex Arcana
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Yeah, my dad has done some coooool shit. aside from the TV and Radio repair, he worked as a broadcast engineer at the old WBET FM in Brockton, MA for a good stretch as well. That was before my time. But I grew up running around in his Dodge Ram van from house call to house call and growing up in the shop. Good times.

My dad is one of those guys who didn't grow up in money - hell, he had to rebuild the engine in his 54 or 56 Dodge before he could learn to drive - so he always learned to fix something before it got trashed. He knows (more than) a little bit about a lot of things. I'm 25 years old and his vast array of knowledge still surprises me sometimes.

My dad was like that, but at the other end of things: drummer, pianist, sound system engineer, radio head, etc. I got the mechanical end of things, it seems. That might've come from my grandmother trying her damnedest to prevent me from getting into anything like that at all.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:53 PM Tex Arcana is offline  
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lollersk8s
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On your boombox you should separate the speakers internally. Check the Vas specification, should be on a page that comes with the speakers - as a bonus you can make each compartment close to "ideal" size if there is one, but usually for sealed configs bigger is better.

However since they are playing different material (ie stereo) they do need to be separated and should not share the same volume.
Old 12-30-2012, 04:10 PM lollersk8s is offline  
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