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.
14 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).
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.
Work on the site will continue as time permits.
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.
16 July 2019
The BOP Crystal Super, and
TV through your fillings!
Just after my last update, Cliff Foxcroft emailed with his memories of trying to get a Davey
Hi Les, I got interested in radio when I received as a present a kit of components on plastic mounts that you wired together to create any one of about half a dozen circuits. These later became popular through shops like Tandy and Maplin, but I think what I had was one of the first. It looked a bit plasticky but it did work.
I used to read Boy's Own Paper in the early to mid 1960s and I remember building a transistor radio to one of Davey's BOP designs. I think it may have been the "Crystal Super" from November 1963. I would have been about 13 at the time. I gathered the components from two shops. One was Home Radio in Mitcham and the other was a shop in West Croydon whose name escapes me.
I wasn't very knowledgeable about electronics, but I figured if I followed his instructions all would be well. I certainly remember getting one or two OC72 transistors and I do recall the Lady Jayne hairgrip heatsink idea. [See the GILBERT DAVEY page.] My dad at the time worked for the Mullard Radio Valve Company in Hackbridge, and I think he got me the diode. Looking back, it sounds more like a souped up crystal set rather than a proper transistor radio, but I am pretty sure that was the one.
When it was completed I switched on, but all I could get was BBC Television sound. I checked all the connections etc, but I was baffled. In the end I wrote to Gilbert Davey, not really expecting a reply. However he responded quickly with a handwritten note to explain that I must have reversed a connection or something similar. He went on to recount the story of a person who lived very near to the Crystal Palace TV mast and who apparently was able to hear the transmitted sound via the fillings in his teeth. Not sure I believed that, but it was a nice touch. Unfortunately I never did get the radio to work, nor did I keep his letter.
I gave up building stuff when I had enough money to buy "the real thing", but a friend of mine was really into DIY electronics. He went to work for Post Office Telephones and later built a colour TV from a kit!
Regards, Cliff Foxcroft.
Thanks for your recollections, Cliff. Gilbert Davey seems to have been very conscientious in trying to reply helpfully to readers' queries, so it's a shame his reply failed to help you. One does hear tales of people being able to hear broadcast sound via their fillings (or the kitchen stove) when very close to a transmitter. If you lived somewhere near Mitcham or Croydon, you were fairly close to the Crystal Palace mast yourself.
You're right that the "Crystal Super" is just a crystal receiver with an amplification stage. Whilst it was adequate for listening conditions when the design was published, its lack of selectivity often disappoints those who build this sort of receiver now.
|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.|
4 July 2019:
A "Davey" kit radio?
A small aluminum label on the front panel identified it as a "Davey", which led me to your site. This radio uses a single No 30 valve [directly-heated triode, UX 4-pin base]. The coil appears to be wound on a segment of 2 3/8 inch diameter PVC pipe. The variable capacitor and tuning knob appear similar to many that I have seen on old Atwater-Kent radios. The baseboard looks like mahogany. The front panel is approximately 1/8 inch thick "Masonite" tempered wood fiberboard.
In addition to being involved in Ham Radio, I'm a professional woodworker, and the prep work done on both the base and the front panel looks so good that I think that they may have been mass produced, and wonder if this radio may have been sold as a kit. The golden oak case is well done. I would really appreciate your comments and any additional information you can provide. The wiring appears to be very similar to that shown on your site for the single valve radio using an HL2K or similar valve except that my radio uses only one variable capacitor but has two 12-position rotary switches to vary the inductance.
I replied to Paul: This set might, as you say, have been inspired by a Davey design, but I think it could equally have been put together by anyone who understands one-valve sets. I am quite sure that the set has nothing more to do with Gilbert Davey himself than that. I have no evidence that he ever went into manufacturing radios, or even that he lent his name to radios or kits produced by someone else. Davey was a full-time insurance official, and practised his radio hobby and writing in his spare time. He never visited the USA to my knowledge, although his books were imported for US hobbyists.
I agree that the set’s workmanship is of a high standard. It could have been made from a kit, but there is nothing that a well-equipped hobbyist could not do, except perhaps making that “Davey” badge.
Although it is styled as a 1920s set, Paul and I agree that it does not have any great age, and was almost certainly put together from components of various ages. The resistors, toggle switch and rotary switch control knobs look modern, as do the hex spacers supporting the valveholder. This appears to be a through-hole type intended for chassis mounting (surface-mounted valveholders with side terminals would have been used typically on period baseboard-built sets). The valve is oldish, of course, and the variable capacitor and its knob might have some age too – I see what Paul means about their similarity to Atwater Kent components.
According to Paul's diagram, one switch selects which tapping is connected to the aerial; the other selects the grid tapping. My first guess before seeing Paul's diagram was that tuning was done wholly with the switches, with the variable capacitor as the reaction control, connected to its own section of the coil. Now it seems there is no reaction in this set! Davey designed several “home-brew” coils, but I don’t know of any design of his that used tapped coils with two rotary switches in this way, and I don't know of any one-valvers of his that lacked reaction.
In short, a very nice set. Paul says he has not fired it up yet, so I look forward to hearing how it performs when he does.
The “Davey” badge must remain unexplained unless YOU know its origin - Paul and I would love to know!
4 July 2019
Studio ‘E’ under fire!
|A newly-discovered series of Letters to the Editor of Wireless World has led to yet another page in the section dealing with the Studio ‘E’ one-valver. Just after the series aired in 1957, a correspondent wrote to Wireless World expressing concern that the receiver, if allowed to oscillate, would cause unacceptable interference to other listeners' reception. Davey was obliged to defend his design. These letters throw new light upon the germination of the Studio ‘E’ broadcast series and the receiver's design, and upon the steps that Davey took to minimise nuisance interference. The last letter sets out his general approach towards designing sets for young beginners to build. They also include a delightful evocation of the “magic” of the radio hobby by a third party coming to Davey's defence. The letters are reproduced here by kind permission of the Editor, Electronics World, successor publication to Wireless World, and of the British Library whose images appear on the page. See the new page at Studio ‘E’ under fire!|
4 July 2019
Davey's early writing
|The above find came about as a result of a search for Davey material on the American Radio History site, which includes backnumbers of many early British radio magazines. The holdings on that site are incomplete, both in terms of titles and editions for each title, but - unlike the British Library's much more complete holding which has yet to be digitised - they are searchable. That search turned up the above Wireless World series of letters, and one or two other leads which I will be pursuing. So there's much still to be done the old way for the time being!|
4 July 2019
Privacy and Data Protection - As explained in recent email messages to existing correspondents,
I have decided to follow UK best practice and ask them (UK and worldwide) to tell me whether or
not they wish to continue to receive my update emails. This may seem unnecessary to those
of you who get in touch frequently, but after over nine years running the site it seems best
to give people this opportunity and not to take anyone’s preferences for granted.
THANK YOU to all those who have already replied! But may I gently remind those who have not yet replied that they will not receive future update emails unless they indicate by 25 July 2019 their wish to continue receiving them.
New correspondents will also be asked their preferences after they contact me.
Naturally, I hope that you will wish to continue to receive my update emails. Replies will be dealt with as follows:
1: If you tell me you would like to receive further updates, you will receive them as before.
2: If you tell me you have decided not to receive further updates, your data will be deleted immediately.
3: If you have not responded either way by 25 July 2019, your data will be deleted, and you will not receive further email reminders after then.
4: Whatever you decide, you can change your mind at any time - just let me know.
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
8 JANUARY 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 http://www.eclipse.co.uk/~lk5092/page2.html 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!
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.
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!
http://www.americanradiohistory.com/index.htm A great resource for British radio enthusiasts as well as for Americans. 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://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Bookshelf/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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