Vintage Electronics

Valves and other vintage electronics

A web scrapbook by Michael Saunby

A selection of old electronic things I've found, collected, restored, built, dismantled, read about or encountered in some way. There are other pages on the site with projects using current technology such as the MSP430 microcontroller and Nokia Internet Tablets.

Valve broadcast receivers  - "wireless sets"

These are quite commonly collected and the better sets combine high quality electronics with stylish furniture. The most sought after tend to be those made in the 1920s and 1930s.  Later mass produced sets are often less interesting and less attractive, but there are some nice ones to be had - some 1940s sets with bakelite cases are popular with interior designers, and some FM receivers from the mid  1950s can sound very good.    

Almost certainly the "golden age" of wireless.  The superhet, indirectly heated (mains) valves, permanent magnet loudspeakers and other innovations of this period gave sets that can still perform well today. 
   1936 Monodial AC Super with "Tuneon" neon tuning indicator and variable selectivity.  1938 Ekco RG 489 with push button motor driven tuning.

Wartime "utility" and post-war austerity made its mark on set design.
 Sound Sales DX Plus One  Sound Sales Special Six with push pull KT61 output.

Miniature valves and FM broadcasting kept development going despite massive competition from television.
 Sound Sales A-Z Radio Unit Leak Troughline

The transistor arrived in the 1960s, but valves kept going for a while. 
 Leak Troughline III Armstrong 127M

Test equipment

It must be hard for those new to electronics with the now widespread use of cheap DVMs to appreciate how very expensive test equipment was, even just a couple of decades ago.  Today not only can new test meters, signal generators and the like be bought very cheaply but vintage stuff can be had for just a few pounds, sometimes even for free.  The exception tends to be old valve testers which can cost many hundreds of pounds.

Valve amplifiers

Are fairly easy to build, don't require lots of test equipment and can be used and enjoyed every day. Though the voltages involved might kill, so read, practice and THINK before trying to build or repair valve kit.

Places to learn more about valve amplifiers

Amplifier projects

It seems that these days I always have a couple of valve amplifier projects on the go at any time.  Here's what I'm working on now, or hope to work on soon.

Push-pull amplifiers

Single-ended amplifiers

Valve pre-amplifiers

The best valve of all, if it can be obtained, is probably the Mazda ACSP3. This was designed with a special view to low hum and microphony, and is widely used by the B.B.C. for microphone amplifiers. Even with this valve it is found that individual specimens vary in their hum properties, and selection is again desirable.- P J Baxandall. Wireless World, Feb 1947








Electronic Clocks


FACIT 1125

Horse racing (handicapping) "electronic computor"

An interesting little analogue computer from 1962.


Hearing aid



Very much not my specialism but an amazing invention that over the years provided pretty much all technology behind radio, audio and computing.

Want more stuff like this?

Try these other websites -

Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM)

This looks like an interesting use for vintage tuners and receivers such as the Sound Sales DX Plus One.

I'll need to convert the signal to a 12kHz IF.  Here's a circuit using a FET - how modern!  I think I'll stick to a good old triode-hexode.

Here's a more sophisticated converter using the SA602

There are sample files here

and using one of these I was able to check that my install (on Ubuntu) of Dream DRM Receiver was working.

Info on using Dream software here

To comment on anything on this site please leave a note on my blog -  Michael Saunby