How did you get started?

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How did you get started?

Post by Guest on Fri Jan 18, 2013 6:02 pm

I know most of us have introduced ourselves when we signed up but I thought it would be nice to discuss how we got started with radio and TV repair. Was it as a young boy, was it how you made your living, or did you decide to make it your hobby late in life? I think this will help us to get to know each other a little bit better, so I’ll start.

My interest in radio’s started at a young age in the late 1950’s. We were having a big family picnic and my Uncle Joe decided we should have a radio to listen to. Well, we were out in a field away from any power and Uncle Joe brought an old car radio, speaker, antenna, and car battery to the picnic. He hooked everything together and propped the antenna against the trunk of a tree. I was amazed at watching this radio play out of the car and how simple it seemed to set it up. My dad gave me a couple of old car radios and a battery and set it up in the basement as a way to keep me out of “trouble.” I got more curious and decided to take the cover off one of the radios to see what was “buzzing.” I was fascinated by the vibrator and all the tubes. I remember those vibrators used to “stick” and you would “smack” them to get them going again. From there I moved to table radios, everyone was bringing me their old radios when the word was out I liked to “fool around” with them. Dad got a little nervous when I started on TV’s and decided to teach me how to be safe around high voltage. I continue to work on TV’s and radios as a way to pay for my education and purchase some test equipment which I still have most of today.

After high school it was time for a formal education, and I went to the Connecticut School of Electronics where I learned a great deal from and old Navy Chief. This education landed me a job with Southern New England Telephone Company, where after a few years SNET decided I was worth sending to their engineering program. I was stationed in New Haven and went to classes on their dime, taught by Yale professors. This was a lucky break for me and opened the door to Bell Labs. Then luck failed me, I was at Bell Labs about a month, working on a project and waiting for a permanent position. Well on January 1, 1984 the bell system was divested and I had to return to SNET. I was disappointed and decided I wanted a change of jobs and location. I’ve always loved Virginia and have many relatives in West Virginia, the state where my mother is from. I picked up my family and purchased a nice little farm and a few duplex houses to rent out. I got a job with Comdial Corp. as a Product Manager and Field Engineer helping with the design of their phone system and training of their dealers. Comdial started to go “toes up” in 2000 and I was busy making plans for my own business. In 2001 I became an authorized Samsung dealer for their Business Phone Systems, which I still do today. At this time I have gone into semi-retirement and now have time to get back to my lifelong dream of working on tube radios.

What is your story? Smile

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Re: How did you get started?

Post by N7ZAL on Fri Jan 18, 2013 6:25 pm

My Dad had an interest in electronics and became a ham. That interest was absorbed by me and at age 9 he bought me a Knight Ocean Hopper receiver kit. That was the spark and I spent many nights winding coils and trying to find out what frequencies I could receive. Relatives and neighbors would give me their "broken" radios that I would strip down for parts. Got my amateur license at 12 and used those parts to build transmitters and receivers. Later I built Heathkits, starting with a DX-20, going to a DX-60, then an Apache.

Went into the AF and got formal electronics training in cryptographic communications. Got out and got an engineering education under the GI Bill. Worked in intelligence and later for a major electronics company. Got laid off after 11 years and started my own Electronics Corp.

Got lung cancer and it generated serious reflections on life. So, went back to boat anchors, writing, painting, and traveling throughout the west. Still doing it.
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Re: How did you get started?

Post by Bill Cahill on Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:54 pm

My electronics interest was sparked in a strange way. At the age of 4 my father tried to interest me in electronics by building several Heathkits, including a crystal radio.' However, the spark never took place, much to my father's dissappointment.
At about the age of 7 our family tv broke down. It was the deflection yoike. It had partly shorted, and, caused the set to have a 1" wide vertical picture.
My mother called the repairman from RCA to come service the set.
I got interested in watching, which made the both of them very nervous.
I watched him take the back off the tv, take a bunch of things off the big round thing in the middle, and, replace a funny looking round thing with a bunch of coils on it. He told me it was called a yoke, and, stretched out the picture.
I watched him put all the parts back on, and, then he plugged his own cord in to the chassis. I saw a bunch of glass things lighting up. He called them tubes. I wanted to get closer, but, he warned me to stay away because of very high dangerous voltages.

I went around to the front, and, saw the picture. I was amazed, and, asked how they got all those people inside that big round thing. He said, they aren't in there. It's a picture of people taken with a camera far away.
I was amazed at how that big round thing showed a picture, and, he said those little glass things made the set work.
My mother made me go to my room, which dissappointed me. AFter the repairman left, she brought me the old yoke from the tv for me to play with.
Well, that was my first love with tv's, and, radios. From there it bloomed.

I was pulling junk out of peoples' trash cans to take home. Some people gave me old tv's, and, radios to play with. This was great! It didn't make my mom too happy because I was bringing home other people's trash, and, wors, yet, plugging them in.

I started pulling junk radios, and, things our of our family attc, which upset my mom very much. But, it just piqued my interest even more.
I was given several old radios, some of which still worked for awhile when I got them.
At the age of 16 I got my first job at a tv repair shop. I worked for a very nice boss by the name of Craig W Knox. He owned the small business. As my training started taking place in earnest, my interest grew. That first year he , and, the other repairman, Gene Petuna brought over about 14 old tv's to the basement, which upset my mother very much. Some of those sets never got fixed. Others I got playing for awhile.
My interest took a back seat in 1971 when I lost my job, and, family problems worsenned. However, the spark of interest never died.
In 1978 my interest re bloomed. After moving to Fl. from Kalamazoo Mich. in 1986, my interest re kindled, and, I started restoring them full blast.
I would like to than my mentor Craig for his teaching me many things, for friends who taught me stuff, for reading books in libraries to teach myself electronics, learning how to read schematics, properly solder, and, leaarning how to trace circuits, and, troubleshoot.
To this day I am still learning, and, love it. I always find something new around the corener in my repairs.
Bill Cahill

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Re: How did you get started?

Post by Motorola man on Fri Jan 18, 2013 10:47 pm

For as long as I can remember, I've always been intrigued by electronics. As a young child, I would take my toys apart to see how they worked. In my teenage years, I took a liking to home and car stereo equipment. After high school, I took a job with a major electronics retailer, selling car stereos. I put countless hours and the majority of my paychecks into building a completion grade system for my truck. In the process I learned a lot about acoustics and electronics, which gave me a really good headstart when I started college. Several months after beginning my formal electronics education, I was offered a job as an installer at a Motorola dealership. I quickly progressed through college and worked my way into a technician position. Fast forward 15 years... I'm a service manager / technician / sales person and occasionally, an installer for the same company.

That's my technical background, now on to my musical passion. In my mid teens, my taste in music began to really develop. It quickly evolved from 1980's heavy metal and 1990's alternative / grunge to jazz & big band. I don't know how I got into it because no one in my life listened listened to music from the olden days. I started playing the guitar and joined my high school's jazz band. My love for 40's music really blossomed at that point and continues to grow to this day. While I listen to everything from Motzart to Metallica, I'm much more content to listening to Mathis, Mercer and Miller.

A few years ago I decided that old music deserves to be played through an old radio. I found a cheap late 50's model tube radio in a thrift store, that needed lots of TLC. Though my electronics education and experience had never crossed paths with vacuum tubes, I dove right in. With a little elbow grease and some educated guessing, it was up and running. I had officially caught the radio bug and so began my collection.
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Re: How did you get started?

Post by willy3486 on Fri Jan 18, 2013 10:53 pm

I don't remember when I really got the bug. I remember being facinated when I was about 6 at the guts of a junk TV. My dad was cleaning up this place they rented and I got a couple of selinium rectifiers off of it before it was gone. They looked like a tractors plow to me for some reason. Next I was about 12 and my sister had a TV in the shop. The guy said the HV was shot and not worth fixing. He asked if he could keep it for parts. I got upset because I wanted it. He asked why and I told him I wanted to take it apart. He gave me a truckload and I was hooked.

I got into making stuff from magazines like radio electronics. I would go to Western Auto and they had a small area where they would also sell Radio Shack stuff in this one corner. The guy who run it was probably less than 5 foot but a older fellow. I could look eye to eye to him. Anyway I would go in and he would always ask what the latest project was. I went to this old repairmans building. He had a building that was probably 75x 200 and filled to the top with old junk. It was a time capsule. In the back all the stuff was from the 20s. Then 30s on up then 40s all the way to the 70s stuff up in the front. I died and went to heaven. I wound up getting a couple of jukesboxes from him, a 39 seeburg and a 48 seeburg.

I got my first job in a shop at 14. As I got older I would hit yard sales for junk. Then when I was in tech school I would hit yard sales and fix stuff I found. I would sale the stuff and make spending cash and buy more. I got in with a fellow who had second hand store. We made a deal that I would check his TVs and he would give me the guts of ones that didn't work and old radios. It worked out good as I got a few going, most were junk. I would gut them and he would make book cases.

During this time I bought out what was left of the first shop I bought. There wasn't much good stuff but I did get a Hickok tube tester I still have. I got out of school and one guy wanted me to buy his shop test items. So we worked out a deal and I bought my second shop. I worked in a vending company on jukeboxes, then a repair shop ,then a salvage store repairing items. I then when to work in a factory in the 80s and got into computers there.. I have made my living on computers since then. I bought a third shop out in the early 80s. I have tried to buy a few others but they asked way more than the value. I had one guy who wanted to pick through and buy some of my tube stuff. I said all of it or nothing so he wasn't interested. I am glad I didn't sell.

About 20 years ago I was in Radio electronics I think a couple of times and another magazine I can't remember the name. It was on my shop and another was for a radio I built from scratch. I got busy with life and family so radios took a backburner until the last year or so when our daughter went to college and I have less to do. We have been doing for my MIL who is in her 80s . She is losing her house to a road project and we are almost finished. So now I can play.

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Re: How did you get started?

Post by harold wright on Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:02 pm

I wanted to fly but that was out of the question when I was young, so I thought radio/tv might be almost as good. Apprenticed in local radio shop in HS (before VICA, DO, etc) a couple of hours a week instead of study hall. Later took correspond. course from NRI then enlisted in USAF and was radio repairman. Learned code, got ham ticket and I was hooked. Have had same call for 56 years.
BTW, I finally did get into aviation for a 40 yr. career.

Harold
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Re: How did you get started?

Post by fixinmyphono on Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:15 pm

My Father used to work on tv-radios when I was a mere lad.He had most of the equipment I guess.But It never interested me as I was too busy with football and baseball.When I turned 50 I was at a flea market and saw this old Webcor Phono, It looked like it was all there so I bought it for 30.00 and took it home .It hummed, so I got on the internet and looked for the cause and found sites like this which explained why and how to fix it . So after some reading and preparation I Repaired it to working order.After that The flea market(and local radio club) yielded many new Radios and phonos to tackle. It provides much needed down time after a long work week..Im still learning alot along the way,and hope my Dad is looking down and smiling....... Smile Doug
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Re: How did you get started?

Post by sprman on Sun Jan 20, 2013 12:12 pm

Got started at age 15, 1970 my dad was a HAM W 3JVJ SK now tho.Got my 1st EH Scott in 1978 and still have it.Took Electronics in HS and took 2 year Tech school in 1985. Sprman : )

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Re: How did you get started?

Post by scottj5395 on Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:10 pm

I was raised by my grandparents and grew up in their tv repair shop in Malta, Mt. My first job was stripping the old tv's, pulling tubes and other usable parts. He was also a HAM w7zof. I studied for my novice license in my teens. Turned 15, got my driver's license, discovered girls and booze so the HAM thing went by the way side. I'm now 44 and only recently began with radio's again. I wish I would have paid more attention to my grandpa and grandma in all areas of my life back then. A lot of missed wisdom.
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Re: How did you get started?

Post by Guest on Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:29 am

I've always had a subjective interest in radio and it's commercial history, but my working with equipment started when I entered the Army at 16 and was trained in communication equipment repair. In 1974 the Army used a mix of both tube and solid state equipment and I became proficient in the repair and maintence of both. I reenlisted and was trained in microwave communications and telephone multiplex systems and worked in a strategic microwave and HF/SSB radio network. Entering civilian life in 1981, I worked for an Air Force contractor operating microwave relay stations on their test and training range, conveying telemetry and video for the cruise missle test programs. I then took a job with Sperry Univac as a QC bench technician in their defense systems group. I tested microwave transmission components, traveling wave tube video and data amplification systems , high voltage power supplies and helmet sight systems. After being laid off, I began working in FM 2-way radio, doing mostly bench repair. After another lay off, I worked for a time in weighing and measurment systems and process logic controls. I now work as a journeyman electronic technician in CCTV, radio, fire and intrusion alarm and card access systems. I enjoy getting the old radios working again as they did when I was little, and seeing the wonder on the little ones faces as they can see the works glowing and making the same sound in a different and wondrous way.

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Re: How did you get started?

Post by ChrisH664 on Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:42 pm

As a few mentioned earlier my dad also repaired radios and tv's to help generate some extra income into the household as a part-time paying hobby. He worked for the DAV in Topeka full-time. He was a veteran of Korea so the GI bill paid for his training. He tried to teach me when I was 15 but my dis-interest at the time and his bad temper made for not a good afternoon.

The year 2000 I bought a good sized box of tubes at an auction. Knew nothing about them but figured they may have some value. Hey wait..to sell them you better test them. Hmm..dads old tube tester. Sold them well then kept buying more tubes and then radios but the radios I really liked. I'd buy one then rats it doesn't work. Well heck I have dads' equipment and the internet I bet I can teach myself the basics and here I am.
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Re: How did you get started?

Post by btse6 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:18 pm

The radio bug bit me in about 10th grade, in the late 1950s. My father still had the old RCA tombstone he’d bought new in the 1930s, only by then it was relegated to the basement. It had a short wave band on it and somehow I learned about it and became fascinated. I learned how to get QSL cards and received a modest number. Wish I’d kept them!

Then while I was in 11th or 12th grade the local power company had a contest. You built a simple, board-mounted electric motor from plans they gave you. It used a large nail and some wire and ran on a “D” cell. I entered and won! Woo Hoo! Then they burst my balloon by informing me that I was the only one who entered. As you might now suspect, it was a very small town. Either that or I was the only nerd in town. I think they consulted with my Dad as to a prize and the result was a 1959 or 1960 ARRL Handbook. Then I went off to college and all of that sort of stuff got forgotten (BTW, I never became a ham operator.)

In the late Eighties I was perusing the shelves of Half Price Books, and what do I see but a 1960 ARRL Handbook. A light (or was it a vacuum tube) went on, old memories were kindled and I snapped it up. I’ve never looked back and in nearly a quarter of a century since then I’ve gone through a couple of hundred radios, everything from an A. C. Dayton XL-5 from the mid 1920s to 1960s tube-type AM-FM AC/DC radios. I also like home-brewing and have built a couple of versions of the Simplex Super from that 1960 ARRL Handbook.

One of my best-ever finds occurred at an automotive swap meet, back when I was into antique cars and just starting out in the old radio hobby. I passed a van and did a double-take when I looked inside. It was filled with large cardboard boxes packed with vacuum tubes. “How much for all of it?” I asked, and this rather seedy looking guy says, “Um, how ‘bout $75?” There were about a dozen 45s and just about every other type you can mention. I’ve rarely had to buy a tube since that day. That haul would be worth a couple of grand today, I’m sure.

What a great hobby!

Tom

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Re: How did you get started?

Post by scottb on Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:02 pm

My Grandfather gave me a radio when I was 12 and a year later it quit working. I knew my 7th grade science teacher owned a repair shop before starting teaching. I asked him if he would repair it and he said NO!!! Then he told me he would teach me how to repair it after I read the books he gave me. Probably the first real books I ever read!! LOL I read the books and with his help, I fixed the radio.
I was hooked, I was buying radios at auctions and rummage sales and fixing them. My parents collected antique clocks, so we were at auctions almost every weekend and back then radios were cheap.
I now have to add this!!
I started repairing TVs, my math teacher lived next door to us and called me to fix his TV. I found the horizontal tube shattered with evidence of water being spilled into the set, so I replaced it with used but good one from my stock. Keep in mind this is the early 1970's so I did not know what to charge, so I said 5 bucks and with a grumble I got paid.
Well this teacher was bragging in school about how the dumb kid next door fixed his TV for 5 bucks. This got back to my science teacher and he really taught me a lesson!!!
He told me, I have a skill that is worth money and if i am to be a true pro, I need to charge fair prices!!
Now, Super bowl Sunday, Vikings VS Steelers, I get the call to fix the neighbors TV again. I went over, found beer spilled into the back of the tv and the horizontal output tube shattered again. This time I told him it would cost around 15 dollars, if this was the only problem. I was thrown out of his house and he called my parents telling them I was running some kind of scam!!
My parents agreed with me, so now this guy is going nuts and calls my science teacher asking him to come fix his TV before the super bowl. My science teacher told him I still work to cheap and if he has to come fix his TV, emergency service on super bowl Sunday it will be at least 50 bucks. Well this guy called my Mom and told her he would pay 25 bucks to fix his TV and I told my Mom, I am
smart enough to know how to fix MOST TV problems, but I am not old or smart enough to deal with drunk stupid customers, I will leave that for the seasoned pros!!
Well, he badmouthed me in the neighborhood and flunked me in math. My parents wanted to fight my flunking, but I decided to take 3 weeks of summer school to make it up, just to put this guy behind me. Best thing was my math summer school gave me a test the first day, I passed and he stated I did not need to attend summer school and let me go with a passing grade for the year.
I never fixed anything for anybody until I took a job in a repair shop, then I just told everybody who wanted something fixed to bring it in to the shop as I am not allowed side jobs.

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Re: How did you get started?

Post by DancingBear on Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:39 pm

My father had the soul of a gypsy and avoided any type of steady work. Today they would have a TV show about him but in the 50's he was just a guy who cruised behind stores and shops in Monterey County(Cal) and found a way to make a living in salvage.

As a boy I saw him tear apart things to toss into a burn-barrel. I had no idea what they were as we were poor, rural folks who looked at life through books and radio. TV was a few years off for our family.

Somehow my father and I suspended our lifelong hassles enough to come to an agreement I could take one thing from any pile of junk he brought home before the burn barrel...with the stipulation that I had to put it back if I couldn't identify it and make progress on a repair of some sort.

Once he learned I was serious he relaxed the rules a little. It was our only period of truce over a lifetime of difficulties but maybe a very valuable one. I spent hours in the tiny library we had access to and read everything possible on electronics/mechanics. I found neighbors who had numerous copies of magazines from the late twenties/thirties. Paid off later on when I went in the Air Force and employment. I still use more knowledge gleaned from that junkpile than I did in college. Before our local trash dump was "improved" I scammed many items from the large pile of metal/appliances off to the side on the way in. My wife used to claim I came back from the dump with more than I went. She was right.

Tony

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