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Topics - TC Chris

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Chat / '56 Buick
« on: March 20, 2019, 08:34:23 PM »
This is mostly for Greg.  I've posted a video of the 2019 St. Patrick's Parade in Bay City, MI here:

Now I suspect few of you will give a hoot about a parade in Bay City ("where's that?"), but Greg may want to go to 5:50 in the video where there's a very nice '56 Buick to be seen.

By the way, the answer to the question above is "It's where Chris's '61 Chevy lives."  I had considered entering the car in the parade and taking along my mother, who is 96 and lives 1/2 block from where the parade starts (where I was standing).  She declined to participate  and I couldn't find any other volunteers.  The car was in the parade in 1964, for a nutty political group I was in (my excuse:  youthful stupidity) and then in 1965 for the high school band (cheerleaders rode in it).  Maybe next year.

Chris Campbell

Radios / FM-33 radio
« on: March 06, 2019, 11:06:28 PM »
I've had the FM-33 radio sitting on end in a corner of the kitchen for quite a while.  It needs new filter caps, as when I plugged it in a couple years back it sounded hummy-grainy,  I was sort of hoping that my capacitor stash would hold whatever it needed.  So I took it out to the shop, on the table saw workbench, and took it apart.  As usual, there were a coupe hidden screws to slow em down.  When it was apart, I identified the caps' values and checked the stash.  Nope, not a one.  Mouser, here we come.  Lately I have been buying extras whenever I order parts like that so in the future when I need one, it will be there.  I have finally figured out the Mouser online ordering system so it's not too had.  The radio uses an 1893 lamp, and that's likely dead too, so  ordered a bunch of those.

The radio has a 6x9" speaker and a little cone tweeter.  The amplifier output transistors are push-pull and fairly sizeable.  It's a stereo radio but the second speaker unit wasn't with it when I got it. I'll make do with a misc. one until I get it working, and then maybe make up one to match the radio's shape and style. The chassis and cabinet both appear to be of Asian build.  The amplifier chassis caps are Nichicons.  I'm hoping that the Nichicons are still functional.  The power supply caps are less elegant. 

Now I've got to wait for the caps to arrive.  That may give me time to find a place for the GE radio in the house.   I got my little Zenith 6G05 table radio going after its rectifier lost 1/2 of its center-tapped heater.  The tube tester apparently only lights up the higher-voltage half, so it didn't show up as dead when I tested.  In the radio, however, it interrupted the series-string heater line and nobody lighted up.  A  new 35W4 solved the problem.

Chris Campbell

Music / Ray Charles and country music
« on: February 25, 2019, 07:21:57 PM »
In 1962, Ray Charles released his "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music."  I was in high school but still remember that it created a ruckus.  Ray Charles?? Country music??  It completely flummoxed people.  But his recordings sold really well.  Why?  Well, it was simply great music making, using great materials. Every time one of those songs comes on the radio, I reach to turn up the volume.  Many of us don't understand that  rural southern black people listened to much of the same music as rural southern white people--country music on AM radio.  There was no segregation in the listeners. 

One of my tests for music is whether other people beyond the original performer can play it and make it enjoyable.  That;s one of the great virtues of the "American Songbook," the collection of 20th century "standards" that have been performed by many pop performers and jazz musicians.  Ray Charles shows us that these country standards are durable, too--they can be performed by other people and in other ways, and find an audience.

NPR's "Fresh Air" had a segment on the re-release of these recordings today and you can read or listen to it here:

Chris Campbell

Music / Iris Dement
« on: February 24, 2019, 07:07:24 PM »
I just found this cool YouTube video of Iris Dement singing an old American hymn, "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms."  I was reminded of her version by tonight's "American Routes" radio show, which looked at music from movies.  This was used in the wonderful 2010 remake of the movie "True Grit" by the Coen Brothers.  The American hymnbook, white and black, has given so much to our culture.  The soundtrack for the film is based on old hymns.  I bought the CD right after seeing the film.  Here's the link:

Chris Campbell

Music / Flamenco
« on: February 19, 2019, 10:03:13 PM »
When I was out looking for an LP in my "miscellaneous" section I found a bunch of flamenco recordings that I had forgotten about.  They're mostly on  minor labels and the first two sound surprisingly good.  Right now I'm listening to one on Pickwick/Design Compatible Fidelity. 

Their claim is that it's a stereo recording that can be played on mono equipment "for the first time" (their emphasis).  I just noticed that they don't assert that it will be without damage, but they imply it.  Not sure how they can make that claim... maybe they figured that anybody playing a stereo record with a mono cartridge wasn't any too picky anyway.

Mine was in perfect condition and sounds really good.

Chris Campbell

Music / Zenith demonstration record
« on: February 17, 2019, 11:05:21 PM »
This is my second try.  I hate it when I forget to click "post."  #@$&*!!

I was looking for a record in the LP files and found a misfiled one--"Hootenanny Special."  You can guess the era from the name. It a Zenith "Collector's Item."  It has some commercial folkies (New Christy Minstrels, Brothers Four) and a Dixieland group (Village Stompers)  then some more genuine folk singers like Pete Seeger and the  Clancy Bros.  Then there's a "dynamic young balladeer from Minnesota" named Bob Dylan.  It actually sounds pretty good, especially Dylan.  He sings a version of "House of the Rising Sun" that I haven't heard before.

Chris Campbell... hitting "post" this time

Music / Boz Scaggs
« on: February 17, 2019, 05:51:04 PM »
This week's "American Routes" is on one of my public radio stations right now--this week, an interview with Boz Scaggs and a lot of his music, music by people who influenced him, etc.  He wasn't a one-trick pony so his career has been durable.  He seems to have avoided the drug trap that catches lots of musicians too.

Chris Campbell

Music / Marty Robbins
« on: February 12, 2019, 07:27:28 PM »
Today the public radio morning news program had a piece on the competing speeches in El Paso yesterday.  Under some sound clips they played Marty Robbins's "El Paso."  I just love it.  It's a story in a 4-plus minute song, with his wonderful voice.  Chuck Berry had another story in his "Promised Land," a tale of a transcontinental voyage in a  3-minute pop song, one that always brings a lump in my throat at the end when he sings, "tell the folks back home this is the promised land calling and the poor boy's on the line."  But same with Marty Robbins and this melancholy song.  It's wonderful.  And so when I got to work I pulled it up on the computer, followed by "Don't Worry About Me" and "Singin' the Blues."  Damn, what good stuff.  Marty had a unique voice and taste in music, and an interesting life as well.

Sometimes it's nice that we don't have all the music around us all the time. Each time I stumble on Marty Robbins it's another revelation and a new pleasure.

Chris Campbell

Music / John Prine
« on: February 11, 2019, 08:34:31 PM »
Any other John Prine fans here?  He was on Chris Thile's public radio show, "Live from here" on Sat.  I got to hear it 2x because it plays on our public music station on Sat. and then repeats on the news station on Sun.  His lyrics are always surprising, moving, and revealing.  He stood head & shoulders over the younger pop singers on the show.  An American original....

Chris Campbell

Phonographs / Video of V-M Model 359
« on: February 10, 2019, 08:18:21 PM »
Today I decided to tackle an easier project than diagnosis of the old GE radio.  I've been walking around this V-M Model 359 portable phono that has occupied floor space in my shop since I got it free at a yard sale a couple years back.  It was minus speakers.  Today I did some preliminary lubrication of the V-M 1275 changer motor bearings, idler wheel, turntable and spindle bearings) and then hooked up some speakers to see if I had sound.  Yes, I did, but not very impressive.  So I replaced the filter caps.  That took a bit of time and lots of trips between shop and house to get stuff.  But eventually it was done, and still didn't sound very good until I hooked up some more efficient speakers.  It's a three-tube amp--one 50EH5 output for each channel, and one 12AX7 to drive them.  Not a lot of oomph.  I still haven't checked the stylus.

Here's the YouTube video link:

Chris Campbell

Record Changer Repair and Restoration / GE changer
« on: February 10, 2019, 12:01:45 PM »
When I was doing a bit of cleaning and lubing on the GE Wildcat's record changer, I noticed that the turntable thrust bearings, the ball bearings under the turntable, were not greased.  They were clean of any lube.  I thought about greasing them lightly, as most other record changers have greased ball bearings, but then I figured that this must have been a GE choice so I didn't.

I lightly oiled the spindle bearing area and the idler wheel axle and cleaned up the arm horizontal bearing by squirting with WD40 to dissolve whatever old crud was giving it resistance.  It works fine but I wonder about those ball bearings.

Chris Campbell

Music / Modern recording technique
« on: February 07, 2019, 07:11:24 PM »
Well, my movie going failed because the theater closed for bad weather.  Got there and the doors wouldn;t open. ???  Then I saw the little notice.

The NY Times had an article today about the decline in popular music recording techniques, especially the extreme levels and compression used on recordings.  It's odd--as we have improved our technical capacity to record well, we have chosen to make recordings worse.  Here's the article:

The focus is on pop music.  Classical and jazz recordings don't compete online or on radio in quite the same way so there aren't the incentives to ruin them.

This isn't the first go-round with intentionally ruining recordings.  RCA had a technique called "Dynagroove" that was designed to sound good on crummy equipment.  There was a time when every instrument had to have its own mic, which led to lousy sound.  Early on there was the extreme or fake stereo ("ping-pong effect").  Early digital recordings often sound harsh because some engineers accepted the notion that if it's digital, it must be perfect, no matter what your ears reported.

Check out the article.

Chris Campbell

Phonographs / Video of two portable phonos
« on: February 06, 2019, 11:10:51 PM »
Tonight I did a bit of cleaning/lubrication on my ultra-low-end GE Wildcat portable, then did a video of it playing.  After that I added a video scene of a V-M Model 359 portable, minus speakers, just to show it off.  The videos include a brief view of my GE E-86 radio, waiting for its new tube.  Thrills galore! Unmatched excitement! See it all here!

Chris Campbell

Chat / Listening
« on: February 02, 2019, 11:39:26 PM »
It's late at night and a good time for listening.  First I fired up an old communications receiver, a Radio Manufacturing Engineers RME-84 that friends had given me.  I had recapped it partially and bought a new tube for a dead one.  The tubes are all Loctals except the rectifier (5Y3) and output amp (6V6).  I hooked up the long wire antenna in the back yard and was pleasantly surprised by lots of radio.  The broadcast band had stations everywhere and the lower SW bands were active too.

What's interesting is that this has the same tube count as the GE E-86 I'm working on. Both have tuned RF and 3 IF transformers, with a single-ended output.  The RME is just light years ahead in sensitivity and selectivity, at least as the GE sits right now.

And then I pulled up Brenda Lee singing "I'm Sorry" on YouTube.  It's one of those classic recordings that the internet lets us enjoy whenever we want.

Chris Campbell

Chat / On the subject of appliances....
« on: January 30, 2019, 06:07:01 PM »
We wandered  off into appliances.  The same people who like old electronics and old cars seem to favor old appliances as well.  Some may recall that I replaced my 1965 clothes dryer a year or so ago.  Not a bad run....

But this questions requires special knowledge.  An electric coffee percolator has a little thermostat that switches it from percolating temp to idling temp.  Does anybody know what the temperature is for it to make the change?  I can't even recall exactly what the circuit looks like. Maybe we've got a percolator expert here.  I have a device that doesn't stay warm enough after perking.

Chris Campbell, in the Polar Vortex

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