NEWS AND LINKS
Work continues to fill in the gaps in the material on this site - please visit regularly to stay up to date on progress. And of course, there wouldn't be a News page without YOUR news and comments - keep them coming! News items initially posted here will be incorporated into other pages later if appropriate. News more than about a year old can be found on the News Archive page, accessible from this page. Also on this page: links to sites of those who have helped, and to other sites of interest.
30 August 2020: A lively little set
Having built the BBC Focus two-transistor radio, with its unselective crystal detector front end, I was keen to try out a Davey transistor reflex design. Would a receiver of this sort offer the same degree of sensitivity and selectivity as a leaky-grid-with- reaction valve receiver? My chance to find out came during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown.
This is both a regenerative and a reflex receiver. The RF signal from the ferrite antenna is amplified by the first transistor, OC44 or equivalent, then part of this amplified signal is fed inductively back into the tuning coil (regeneration). Having been rectified by a diode detector, the audio signal is fed once again (reflex) to the same transistor for amplification. Further amplification is provided by a subsequent stage or stages.
Building this set was fun, but it was not all plain sailing, and I am indebited to a knowledgeable friend, Andy, for his help (perforce by phone and email). About the size of a house-brick, it's a lively little set, well worth the effort and with room for experiment.
I describe the history of the design, and the construction of my version, on a new page: THE TRANSISTOR REFLEX SETS.
1 August 2020
Covid-19 forces postponement
of a very special meeting
I hope that all my visitors and correspondents have stayed safe and well during the pandemic.
For me, it has been an opprtunity to complete the reflex receiver above, but it also forced
the postponement of a meeting that will give me a great deal of pleasure when it can take
place. Early in 2020, Gilbert Davey's daughter Claire, who lives abroad, told me she
planned to visit the UK, and some detailed plans were made for a meeting with her, members
of her family, and Hugh Castellan, who has made outstanding contributions to this site.
Unfortunately the Covid-19 pandemic intervened, but we are resolved to re-arrange
this meeting when it is safe and feasible to do so.
1 August 2020
A career story that
Gilbert Davey would have
been delighted to hear
In late July, David Hills sent this message:
Hi Les, I have just come across your site on Gilbert Davey after googling for the DAF91 single-valve radio I built as a kid back in the late 1960s. The book that pulled me into Radio was on the shelves of the Library of my home town of Thornaby on Tees in Teesside, and I have been racking my brains for the last couple of years trying to remember the name of the author of the book I got the circuit from. I could remember it was Fun With Radio, but foggy memory told me it was by an author named “Davies”, so I had been going round in circles with no success, until I searched on the DAF91 which threw up your wonderful website. I also built a two valve amplifier which I believe came from Fun With Electronics and I’m sure as I browse the resources now available through your site that belief will no doubt be confirmed.
As per the preamble on your welcome page, I am now one of those ageing baby-boomers who have the time to indulge in old fogeydom, and with your site I can now indulge even further. I will be sure to share with you anything of interest in respect of Gilbert Davey that I may come across.
Many thanks for providing this wonderful resource, as I attribute my ongoing interest in Radio and Electronics to the writing of this wonderful man that inspired me over 55 years ago at the tender age of 8 years, and to learn more about him and his writing is something that I will now thoroughly enjoy.
Best Regards, David Hills.
I replied to David thanking him for his kind words, and asked him whether he had had a career in electronics. Here is his reply:
My interest in Radio and Electronics that was sparked by Gilbert Davey aimed squarely at a career in something to do with the topic and I set my sights on joining the General Post Office as an apprentice on the Telecoms side. My preferred option at the end of the apprenticeship was to work in the Transmission Area as opposed to Telephone Exchanges, which eventually led to me working on Radio and Microwave systems deployments and maintenance, so not in the design area but working with real hardware which even today is still my preference. From the GPO (BT), I moved into the sales and marketing of Cellular systems with Motorola, which grounded me very well in RF Planning as I had a natural aptitude for an understanding of how RF propagated etc. From there I moved to Lucent Technologies as their Director of Product Management for GSM Wireless Systems, which proved very interesting as I was asked to transfer the technology to the USA for them. This gave me a two-year expat assignment selling and building GSM Systems in North America. From there I moved to the GSM Association as their Executive Director for Technology, which led me to work with the major standards bodies for wireless around the world. [GSM: Global System for Mobile Communications - protocol for 2G mobile networks]
In 2004 I decided I’d had enough of Corporate life, and we moved to Australia for 9 years where I contracted in various Telecoms organisations with much less stress and a far better work/life balance. We returned to the UK in 2013 for my son's secondary education, which has proven very successful, and he will be off to Cardiff University in September. He has not inherited my love of radio and electronics, but loves using computers and games consoles, which is a bit of a consolation prize for me!
So Gilbert Davey definitely set me on a very interesting life to say the least! I am also a licensed Radio Ham (G6PYF) and still love building things and making them work. The Operator side of the hobby was and still is secondary in my interest.
I’ve already started looking for parts to build the one-valve set, and I will certainly keep you informed if I ever get to finish it!
Best Regards, David.
Thanks for your additional notes on your career, David. It's a story that Gilbert Davey would have been delighted to hear! Latest on David's one-valver is that he has purchased the variable and fixed capacitors, and a DAF91 plus valveholder. His next steps are to build the base and panels, put the rig together, and then build a suitable power supply. I look forward to receiving further news!
14 January 2020
More news from Down Under
Following my last site update, my corresspondent Austin Hellier, who has sent me details of
several Davey sets he has built, wrote:
Hi Les, I know that my rough attempts at Davey's crystal sets probably didn't impress anyone, but I still had a lot of fun making them, and they worked. I absolutely drool over your readers' pristine reproductions, and wish that I had the original parts, more tools and a proper workspace to do a better job.
I've built a few one-valve Armstrong style receivers, using those 1T4 and 3V4 valves and I've always gotten good local reception on them, picking up 10 out of a possible 12 stations. My last effort used an old Raytheon 6418 mini tube, sent by a netfriend in America! The difference between Armstrong and Davey was primarily the feedback control, with Armstrong designs using a pot, and Davey using a small value variable capacitor.
There are two Narrowcasters at the top of the AM Band that are elusive on simple sets: 1656 Voice of China, and 1701 Radio Brisvaani, a Hindi speaking ethnic broadcaster which sported a 400-watt transmitter some distance from me. To pick either of them up on any home-made receiver is an accomplishment.
Nevertheless, it's always good to hear from you and peruse more new readers' sets, news, any history about Davey and his books etc. I'd just like to thank you personally for all your hard work in producing the website as it brings back many happy memories of the fun we all had reading Davey's books and doing our best to make his sets.
Thanks for your message and your kind words, Austin. The fact that your sets work is the important thing! And I would guess that you have more radio theory under your belt than I have. I was grateful to have your pictures and stories, and look forward to hearing about any other Davey-inspired projects you do. Your remark about the difference between Davey and Armstrong regeneration will prompt me to swot up on how Armstrong did it.
I hadn't come across the term "narrowcaster" before, and I had to look it up! In the UK we have an increasing number of radio and tv services for ethnic minorities, and we also have local radio. I suppose we could also use the term "narrowcast" for any niche programme that is transmitted on a mainstream network, such as "Gardeners' Question Time" (BBC Radio 4), or even "Gilbert Davey's Radio Sets"!
|Other recent news||News up to around a year old follows. Please see News Archive page for older items, including those relating to Gilbert Davey's death in April 2011.|
12 January 2020
This site is ten years old!
Well, it doesn't seem like ten years since this site was launched in March
2010!   That's mainly because working on the site has been rewarded many times over by the great
pleasure of receiving contributions by site visitors from near and far. Here are reminders of
some milestones over these ten years.
November 2010: First of many contributions to the site by Hugh Castellan, including his re-creations of some "lost" Davey designs.
April 2011: Death of Gilbert Davey, aged 97. I had not been in touch with Mr Davey, but after his death I was put in touch with Tom Dougall, a former colleague of his who had drawn upon information from my site for a tribute in a newsletter for former Pearl Assurance employees (Davey had been a full-time insurance official with Pearl). In turn, Mr Dougall's memories allowed me to put together a fuller obituary that was published in the July 2011 edition of Practical Wireless (pp8-9).
May 2011: The BBC Studio ‘E’ one-valver. Inspired by this thread on the UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Discussion Forum, one of the first aims of my site was to locate and, if possible, publish the leaflet that accompanied Davey's 1957 TV series on this famous one-valver (one of his propotypes pictured). The BBC had not kept a copy, but after 14 months Doug Brown visited the site, and sent me scans of his leaflet. With his permission and that of the BBC, I was able to make it available once again. See The Studio ‘E’ Leaflet.
Shortly afterwards, I heard from John Winter, a friend of Gilbert Davey's family, who kindly sent me scans of four Studio ‘E’ scripts which Davey had preserved through several house moves. Selected extracts from the scripts were placed on the site. Later, John Winter kindly sent me the scripts themselves. See The Studio ‘E’ Scripts.
March 2012: Gilbert Davey's daughter Claire contacted me, and we have been in touch ever since. Claire has contributed several key items to the site, and has been most supportive.
March 2012: The BBC Focus transistor receiver. Davey's second BBC receiver featured on the Focus prograame (the re-named Studio ‘E’) in March - April 1959. As did the earlier BBC set, it inspired many young people to take up technical careers. The BBC had kept this leaflet, and gave me permission to re-publish. See The Focus Transistor Set.
October 2012: By this time, my source pages for Davey's post-war writing were virtually complete.
November 2013: Full details of two "lost" Boy's Own Paper designs, reconstructed by Hugh Castellan after patient research and brain-cudgelling, were re-published here by permission of Lutterworth Press, together with Hugh's circuit diagrams and my notes. See YOUR DAVEY SETS.
March 2015: Some of Davey's pre-war writing rediscovered. Among his Army records was a list believed to have been typed by him as part of the formalities for enlistment in the Royal Signals during World War 2. This led me to over thirty articles for Practical Wireless and other journals. Selected articles were re-published on the site with permission from Practical Wireless. See Pre-War Writing. Earlier writing remains to be found.
December 2018: British Vintage Wireless and Television Museum posted a link to my site on their own web site. The Museum's web site is at: https://bvwm.org.uk/index.htm
July 2019: A National Interference Crisis? I discovered a series of Letters to the Editor of Wireless World (December 1957 - April 1958), that began with a correspondent's concerns that young users of the Studio ‘E’ receiver (see above) would cause an interference nuisance if they allowed it to oscillate. Permission to re-publish the series of letters was kindly given by the Editor of Electronics World (successor to Wireless World). See Studio ‘E’ under fire!.
Gilbert Davey's designs are still inspiring enthusiasts in Britain, Australia and elsewhere, very many of whom have sent me stories of how Davey's writing led them to take up careers in radio or electronics. Thanks to all who have contributed their stories, memories and information over these ten years - it continues to give me the greatest pleasure to receive them. Using the resources of the British Library and other archives has brought many pleasures too, as has dealing with rights-holding organisations and individuals when seeking permission to publish their material here.
On 19 January, I posted the above summary on the UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Forum and received some kind words in reply. The post has received over 900 views to date. I cannot tell whether this is reflected in visits to this site, as I do not have a visit counter.
7 January 2020
Thank you to everyone who replied to my last two update emails indicating their wish to continue receiving
them. In all, around two thirds of my dozens of contacts replied, many of whom were kind enough to add
words of encouragement or news of Davey-inspired projects in the pipeline. I look forward to hearing
more about these.
The contacts from whom I have not heard have been deleted from my list. If you find new content on re-visiting the site, and wonder why you didn't receive an email, this is the reason. Please contact me, and I will gladly add you to the circulation list again. All new contacts are now asked to indicate their preferences.
7 January 2020
That tingling feeling:
The Midget AC Mains 2-valver
John Shepherd wrote to me just before my last update, but as that update was time-sensitive, I
held his material over so as to prepare it for the site without haste. We cannot show an
actual set here, but this is a a memory of one . . .
John remembers building a small mains-powered radio from Boy's Own Paper some time in the early 1950s. Although he no longer has the set or pictures of it, he has sent me scans of a circuit diagram and components list which he had copied out by hand, from which it was easy for me to identify the design for him.
It is the Midget AC Mains 2-valve radio, published in the July 1954 Boy's Own Paper. This 2-stage receiver (detector-with-reaction and audio amplifier) employed the famous EF50 high frequency valve that had played an important part in radar installations and high-frequency communications during World War 2. It also used a non-isolated power supply for HT, which was safe provided the proper precautions were taken as set out in the article.
John writes: I now realise how potentially dangerous it was. There was no earth wire, or mains transformer to isolate the chassis. Instead, one side of the 240 volt mains was connected directly to the metalwork. Sometimes I felt a tingling sensation when touching exposed metal parts. That was the cue to reverse the two-pin plug in the socket to prevent the chassis from being live. I am fortunate to be here to write about it. Although John no longer has the set itself, his images (with his schoolboy handwriting and the discoloration of age) are well worth sharing. They, together with his story, have been added to the YOUR DAVEY SETS page.
Please see News Archive page for news more than about a year old,
including items relating to Gilbert Davey's death in April 2011.
Links to those who have helped:
(Links on this page and throughout
the site were last checked on
29 August 2020.)
BBC Written Archives Centre
has assisted with documents, information and copyright permissions on BBC material.
British Library https://www.bl.uk/ is the gateway to the British Library's vast resources. Under "Catalogues and Collections", select "Explore the Main Catalogue". Anyone can use the Catalogues, but you have to sign up as a Reader to see books etc. The catalogues are sometimes awkward to use, but they were the key to much of the information on this site.
Kelly Books and Magazines https://www.radiotimesbacknumbers.com/ Source for two 1950s copies of Radio Times. Many other vintage backnumbers in stock.
Practical Wireless https://www.warnersgroup.co.uk Under their previous owners (PW Publishing Ltd), Practical Wireless published my tribute to Gilbert Davey, and gave me permissions and much help in making available images of his pre-war articles. The magazine is now owned by Warners Group. Their online radio bookstore at https://www.radioenthusiast.co.uk/ handles subscriptions and orders for archived issues (back to 1965) on searchable CDs.
Maurice Woodhead's extensive site http://www.vintageradio.me.uk/ covers circuits, component data, restoration etc. The details of the Teletron HAX coil pointed to the probable identity of my similar 50s-vintage one-valver coil.
UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Forum https://www.vintage-radio.net Hundreds of discussion threads on all aspects of vintage radio and audio. The BBC 1-valver! thread (to which this link leads) was one important inspiration for this project.
Lutterworth Press https://www.lutterworth.com/index.php Permissions to reproduce several Boy's Own Paper articles and book extracts.
|Other sites for radio and tv - history, restoration, resources:||
Sites marked * have kindly added links to this site - my thanks go to their Webmasters.
https://www.bvws.org.uk/ British Vintage Wireless Society - events, auctions, resources, and a beautifully produced Bulletin for members. The Society also caters for vintage television interests.
https://bvwm.org.uk/index.htm * The British Vintage Wireless and Television Museum, West Dulwich, London. Managed by the British Vintage Wireless Society (see above), the former home of Gerry Wells, obsessive collector and restorer of radios and TVs. A must-see cornucopia of vintage nostalgia. Open by appointment only - please phone in advance on 020 8670 3667.
http://www.vintage-radio.info/ Paul Stenning's archive of component and servicing data, vintage radio documents, and vintage technology books. Currently raises an internet threat warning on my PC.
http://www.earlywireless.com Lorne Clark's site, with good theory pages, and an excellent page on electrical safety.
https://archive.is/www.mds975.co.uk * Mike Smith's vast eclectic radio technology and history resource, now archived. Navigation now difficult, as linking between pages has not been preserved.
http://www.oldatheart.co.uk "Grandad" tells "Junior" about vintage technology - reel-to-reel tape recorders, radiograms, telephones with dials that you dial . . . Beautifully written.
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3wrzo_fabrication-d-une-lampe-triode_tech   A charming French video showing the step-by-step manufacture of a triode valve in a "cottage-industry" way that makes you feel you could do it too! No longer viewable with Internet Explorer - use another browser.
http://www.pasttimesradio.co.uk/ Richard Booth's repair service for vintage radios and amplifiers, "Junk Shop" for new and salvaged spares, and a growing resource of tuning dial images.
http://www.vintageradioworld.co.uk/index.htm * Site belonging to Tony Thompson, author of Vintage Radios. An ample resource for anyone interested in any aspect of vintage radio. Tony made it known that he was going to archive his site, but it was off the air when last checked.
http://www.tvstudiohistory.co.uk Martin Kempton’s excellent site with a wealth of information on current and past TV studios.
http://www.whirligig-tv.co.uk * Terry Guntrip's cornucopia of vintage tv entertainment, programmes and milestones, with many movies and audio clips. Hours of fun!
http://www.turnipnet.com/whirligig/radio/index.htm Visit Terry's companion site for vintage radio entertainment memories, facts and clips.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g99kFlgtlrM Interview with Vera McKechnie recalling her early career including her time on the Studio ‘E’ programme. No longer viewable with Internet Explorer - use another browser.
https://www.youtube.com/user/britishpathe/featured British Pathe's youtube archive of films on numerous topics - but search "wireless" for radio topics, or "cycle radio" for two cycle radios! No longer viewable with Internet Explorer - use another browser.
https://www.worldradiohistory.com/index.htm Formerly the American Radio History site, a great resource for British radio enthusiasts. Scans of issues of several British radio publications including Amateur Wireless, Modern Wireless, Popular Wireless, Practical Wireless, Radio Constructor and Wireless World. This page https://worldradiohistory.com/BOOKSHELF-ARH/Bookshelf_Hobbyist.htm leads to scans of books by several well-known British authors, including some of Davey's books, listed under "Gilbert Davy" (sic), and also to a scan of the BBC's own copy of the Focus transistor set leaflet (incomplete - the entire leaflet is available on this site with the permission of the BBC and other rights-holders). Much of the material on the American Radio History site must still be in copyright (the BBC leaflet certainly is). If the site owner (David) has obtained reproduction permission for those of his claimed five million pages still in copyright, this represents a considerable achievement.
http://www.jumpjet.info/Pioneering-Wireless/index.htm Early British, Australian and American radio publications. Some overlap with the American Radio History site (above).
See also CONSTRUCTION RESOURCES page for links to component suppliers and other sources of useful information.
Sites relating to the
Boy's Own Paper:
Informative pages on Boy's Own Paper and Boy's Own Annual.
http://www.philsp.com/index.html Phil Stevensen-Payne's "Galactic Central" site with extensive indexes of children's books, comics and magazines.
http://www.philsp.com/homeville/BJSP/0start.htm#TOC Steve Holland's site, British Juvenile Story Papers and Pocket Libraries index, operates as a satellite of "Galactic Central", and lists the contents of many editions of Boy's Own Paper.
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