The British Library's Catalogue . . . was
the key to much of the information on this site. 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.


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The man who introduced radio
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30 November 2021: Another Davey short-waver

Ged Whitney's short-wave set
    Ged Whitney's short-wave one-valver, with split-floor chassis lined with foil.

    Reproduced by kind permission.



Back in June, Ged Whitney emailed me with details of his recently built short-waver, conjuring up memories of a Davey set he built years ago:
Hi there,   I got your site from the latest copy of SPRAT magazine.   Excellent and fascinating site!
Well, you ask for sets designed by Davey that folk have built, so attached is a picture of a "repro" version I knocked up a few years ago, when I found a copy of the book Fun with short waves at a rally.   It took me back to my first one-valve effort built with my father in about 1969 . . . I got the book at that time from the local library, and scrounged the parts from local TV shops, the surplus shops of Manchester back then, or those "unofficial" dumps you used to find alongside the canal or a farmer's field . . .
Of course, having followed ham radio, and also a professional career in electrical engineering (see what happens when you get the bug), I just decided to try and reproduce my version.   The chassis is bigger than Davey's measurements, but so was the one I built as a lad - I think I might have got the dimensions wrong at the time.   With a decent bit of wire, it works fairly well.   The power supply is a mains device, with a switch for HT of either 50V or 100V, and DC for the heaters at 6.3V.   The set works well with either HT setting.
If I get the urge to build another one of these (probably better!) I'll forward you the details . . .

Ged's set is based upon one of those detailed in Chapter 3 of Fun with Short Waves, 1st edition, 1960.   (Similar designs appeared in Chapter 4 of both the second and third editions - 1968 and 1979.)
Thanks to Ged for his message, photo and kind words.   It looks like a very nicely-built set.   Ged's short-waver now appears, with a few more details, on the YOUR DAVEY SETS page.

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.

30 November 2021
AM broadcast decline
The autumn brought news of further cuts to AM broadcasting as the BBC and others migrate to digital.   It seems unlikely that FM broadcasting will come under threat in the short term (a recent Government report on broadcasting suggests 2030 at the earliest), due to its usefulness for car drivers, local and community services and other political considerations.   Even AM seems likely to persist in areas with difficult reception such as the Scottish Highlands.   But with medium wave increasingly deserted, what can those with Davey sets or restored commercially made sets do to keep them operational with a reasonable choice of stations?   On the CONSTRUCTION RESOURCES page, I have summarised the options available, including two new developments recently publicised on the UK Vintage Radio Restoration and Discussion Forum.   Please see that page for direct links to the threads involved.

20 June 2021:
SPRAT magazine features
Lewis's Focus receiver
Lewis Thomas, whose Focus transistor set was added to the YOUR DAVEY SETS page a few months ago, wrote to me again:
Hello Les,   Thank you for the web site update notification and including my Focus set.   I think you did a really good job with this article and I am very pleased to have it included on your web site.
I have seen a draft copy of the article that should be included in the QRP Club SPRAT magazine soon, however, I guess because of the space available it is not as detailed as your version.

Thanks for your message, Lewis – glad you like the write-up!   Lewis's article was duly published in SPRAT magazine in June 2021.   Unfortunately, it seems that you have to be a QRP Club member in order to see the article.   See http://www.gqrp.com/ and my news item dated 14 February 2021.   Lewis is still considering building Davey's Ether Ranger shortwave receiver as his next "therapy project".

24 May 2021:
Output transformers for Davey's
transistor reflex receiver
Hi Les,   I found your website from a link from another website.   Great website and great info, I will definitely bookmark it.
I may also try to build the Davey transistor reflex radio.   Yours looks beautiful and the cabinet you made looks professionally done.
If I may ask, I have one question: Where could I find a 30:1 speaker matching transformer?   Would you recommend using a Bogen T725 multi-tap speaker matching transformer?
Frank - KF2YD Princeton, New Jersey.

I thanked Frank for his message and kind words.
I could not really comment much on the Bogen transformer - it seems to be quite big and possibly over-specified for this job.   My transformers were all less than a 1-inch cube.   As I mention in my write-up, I had four transformers to try, whose specs were either sketchy or completely unknown.   I tested each of them by feeding the secondary with a small AC voltage (4.5 volts from memory) and measuring the voltage at the primary.   The secondaries were of course low resistance so I used a series resistance of 9 ohms and noted the actual voltages developed across the windings themselves.   Some of the transformers had tapped windings, so tests were made using both the whole winding and each half.   The transformer I chose had a calculated turns ratio of about 36:1 when half of the tapped secondary was used.
The other three transformers had calculated turns ratios as low as 2.5:1, but they all worked fine, and none caused excessive current draw.
Frank replied:
Hi Les,   I did some transformer calculations and to get a 36:1 ratio using an 8-ohm speaker the primary impedance would be close to 10,000 ohms.   I found a LT700 transformer and it has an approximate ratio of 20:1 and 1.2K to 3.2 ohm which I will try.
I also plan on experimenting with a few of the ingenious radio designs that Sir Douglas Hall designed.
Appreciate your help, Les.
73, Frank.

I look forward to hearing how Frank gets on, both with the Davey reflex set and with the Sir Douglas Hall designs.

27 February 2021:
Safety then and now
Jozef Bubez wrote with a safety concern, and some memories of a time when safety seemed less of a concern than now.   He also sent some pictures and notes about some experiments he is doing on home-made inter-valve transformers.
Hi Les!   Although I recall little usage of Gilbert Davey's books, it was all good stuff, and I was certainly aware of them back in my teens in the 1960s in which decade my interest in home-made radios began.
Cautions about dealing with mains and high voltages cannot be overemphasised. While we might pass off some of today's safety ideas as belonging to the "Nanny state", you only make the "big mistake" once!
The circuit
[shown at No 12 (That Tingling Feeling) on the YOUR DAVEY SETS page] contains one such potential "nasty" - the connection between one side of the mains and earth.   Obviously, if we connect the live pole to earth something will blow!   But to my recollection - even in the old days - connecting neutral and earth together was frowned upon.   If my understanding is correct, neutral and earth are bonded together at the sub-station but should not be joined anywhere else.   At the very least, I think the direct connection would need to go.   If an earth were needed, grounding should be made by a capacitor not greater than .01μF rated at full mains voltage.   On top of this, we need to build the set in such a way that no supposed 'earthy' parts of the set can be touched, very much on the lines of the old ac/dc radios.   Far better to have an isolated HT winding.   These days, in the absence of the correct transformer, I would consider a reversed mains transformer fed by the transformer supplying LT.
All of my '60s efforts used British-based 2-volt valves.   Running from dry batteries was expensive in turns of pocket-money, the first step in the right direction being the acquisition of a 2V ex-Government unspillable accumulator.   Charging was from a local garage initially, but when the price went from 6d (2 1/2p) to 2/6d (12 1/2p), other means had to be sought.   My chemistry teacher who supplied the acid suggested that the physics teacher would be willing to oblige with charging, and so it was for some months - bung the battery in my school-case, leave in the physics lab at 9am and retrieve at 4pm - until I sorted a charger using a re-purposed selenium rectifier from an old TV and a transformer from a dud 'Pilot' radio.
Those fun days are now almost a lifetime away, but some interest persists.   About a year ago I decided to look into the possibility of a home-made inter-valve transformer.   22,250 turns of 48swg later, we have a viable prototype with a nominal 2.5:1 step-up and a frequency response from 200Hz to over 10kHz assuming a hypothetical 20k impedance valve.   The low frequency response is very dependent on signal level and at higher levels improves to 90Hz.   Contrary to what all the old books tell us, DC in the windings seems to have relatively little effect.

Jozef sent these pictures of his prototype inter-valve transformer, including a card mockup showing how he builds up the laminations using simple rectangular elements.

Jozef Bubez's prototype transformer


While the prototype uses a wooden cotton reel, a purpose built cardboard and paper former looks quite feasible and would have almost four times the winding space compared to the cotton reel.
All the laminations are 'I' types, 1/4" wide and 42mm long, so the whole effort is very much in the 'midget' scale of things.   The material is from an old tape wound transformer of unknown origin. Having a foot-operated chassis corner-cutter makes lamination cutting a nice easy job!
I may get around to an output transformer on similar lines, and even a small balanced- armature speaker which of course needs no transformer.
Best regards, Jozef Bubez.

Thank you for your most interesting message, Jozef.
You are quite right about this safety issue of course.   You will notice that at several places throughout my site (including the YOUR DAVEY SETS page) there are warnings about safety, especially as regards power supplies, and that readers must assess their own competence when dealing with these outdated designs, which would not be acceptable today.
The Midget AC Mains Two-Valve receiver is one of several Davey designs which did not have isolated power supplies.   This design was first published in the Boy’s Own Paper in 1954, and was then clearly considered acceptable enough to appear in the first four editions of Fun with Radio from 1957 to 1965.   Each time there was a warning not to earth the set, and to ensure that the chassis and control knob grub screws were protected.
I have added to the cautionary note at the end of the text accompanying the circuit.
I like your story about obtaining acid and getting your accumulator charged at school.   I doubt whether that would be acceptable to Mr Health & Safety these days either!
Best of luck with the transformer development. Interstage transformers must be scarce items these days, and restorers of period sets from the 1920s and 1930s might be a potential market for a transformer that looks the part, especially as the originals with their fine windings can be written off by damp if they have been stored poorly.
Jozef replied:
Regarding the 2V accumulator, the chemistry teacher would likely be doing a ten year 'stretch' these days, and as for the 13-year-old carrying a 'suspect' device, he might expect to be shot dead seven times in six seconds!
Many thanks for your remarks on the inter-valve transformer.   Looking around there are people who have managed to re-wind these things.   Corrosion, brittle formers and the limited life of shellac all have their part to play.   Maybe there could be a market for replacement 'innards', but for now I expect this to remain for home use only.
Best regards and thanks, Jozef.

15 February 2021:
"All your Own"
Hello Les,   What a great site for evoking memories - your site is now book-marked!
I can remember Huw Weldon demonstrating a one valve radio on BBC - I wonder if it was a programme called ‘All Your Own”?   Time passed and I was given a 1 valve kit - a VP23 (ARP12) - for Christmas 1958.   I built it into a Lings Turkish Delight wooden box and switched it on on 31 December 1958 and heard Baltic Trawler skippers who had celebrated New Year an hour ahead of us.   (I was allowed up very later that night!)
Our school Art teacher then got us into building a 1T4 TRF later into 1959 when he started a radio club.
Best wishes, Bruce (McCartney) GM4BDJ

Thank you for your kind message, Bruce.   Yes, Huw Weldon’s programme was “All Your Own”.   If I remember rightly, it featured children demonstrating things they themselves had made.   And what an impressive Art teacher you had whose interests spilled over into Radio!

14 February 2021:
A bouquet from Davey's
(near) namesake
Hi Les,   I just received your latest update heads-up and I have to say . . . all you have on there makes such interesting reading.   I really enjoy all the topics and articles you have on here, and of course, it is still growing.   Keep up the good work!
Regards, Walter Davey (no relation, I’m sure).

Thank you very much for your message, Walter - good to hear from you again (See News Archive, 20 March 2013), and I hope you're staying safe in these strange times.   It's good to know that the site is appreciated! I'm sure there's more to find . . .

14 February 2021:
Gilbert Davey and F J Camm
After my last update, my correspondent Graeme Zimmer kindly drew my attention to several references to Gilbert Davey on the World Radio History site (either I missed them during my own trawl there or they have been added since).   These mostly entailed adding entries to the Source pages, but the most interesting item is a letter that Davey wrote to Practical Wireless in 1990.
In anticipation of PW's 1,000th edition (July 1990), veteran readers were invited to write in with memories of the magazine's early days.   In his response, Gilbert Davey referred to its former Editor F J Camm's lack of generosity with by-lines when his (Davey's) articles were published in the 1930s, although he had received an attribution for an article published in 1954, in the last years of Camm's Editorship, by which time he was better known.
The letter reveals that Davey was still experimenting into the 1990s.   With his letter, he had enclosed a copy of his PW March 1935 article for an all-mains short-wave three-valve set, the prototype of which was still in working order, as also was the set built by a family friend that first sparked Davey's interest in radio, albeit with many alterations.   An image of Davey's letter as printed has been added to the GILBERT DAVEY page with kind permission of the Editor, Practical Wireless.

14 February 2021:
Another Lockdown project
I hope that all my visitors and correspondents are staying safe during the continued pandemic.   For the time being, it has put an end to any research for the site other than what can be done online.   As noted elsewhere, during the first UK lockdown I built the Transistor Reflex set.   During the latest lockdown, I put together a mains-operated battery eliminator to a modern published design, as an alternative to the rechargeable battery pack that has powered my one-valvers up to now.   Brief details of my unit, and a link to the published design, have been added to the CONSTRUCTION RESOURCES page.

14 February 2021:
Memories of an
"incognito" BBC Focus set,
and a rebuild
Hello Les,   I have only recently discovered your web site dedicated to Gilbert Davey and his radios, a very comprehensive source of information, interesting and well put together.   Thank you for your effort and putting this web site together.
When I was 8 years old I was given the 1965 Boy's Own Annual; it included the BOP Ether Ranger radio by Gilbert Davey.   I always thought I would like to build one, but never did.   I built my first radio by copying a friend's set - we had no circuit diagram nor any information as to who had built it.
I recently came across a copy of the Annual in a second-hand bookshop, and was taken back in time when I read about the Ether Ranger.   I was interested to find out more about Gilbert Davey, and that is when I found your web site.   When I read the Focus leaflet I recognised the circuit as that of the radio that I had built some 50 years before.   I checked with my friend Martin who had the original, and he agreed that it must be the same radio - unfortunately Martin no longer has his radio to compare.   I have recently built a copy of my original Focus, using many of the original parts - my construction skills have improved a bit over 50 years!
I remember that the
[original] radio worked surprisingly well but the selectivity was not so good, and this one is very similar.   The original radio was powered by a 9V battery, and so is the latest version.   However, there is a lot of white noise (probably the old OC71 transistors), this was reduced by using 3V (2x AA cells) with little loss in audio volume.
Thank you and best regards, Lewis Thomas G4YTN.

My thanks to Lewis for his kind words and his story.   His pictures of a very nice looking Focus rebuild have been added to the YOUR DAVEY SETS page.   Lewis tells me that he is a member of the G-QRP Club - see http://www.gqrp.com/ - which is open to anyone with an interest in low power (QRP) communications.   The Club was started by the late Rev George Dobbs (famous for his Ladybird book Making a Transistor Radio and his articles in Practical Wireless).

Earlier News: 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
13 February 2021.)
BBC Written Archives Centre https://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/bbc-written-archives-centre/zdy9scw 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.
https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3wrzo   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 World Radio History site (above).
http://405-line.tv/ British Heritage Television, the project to bring 405-line TV back, with authentic scheduling and content to reflect the Golden Age of television.

See also CONSTRUCTION RESOURCES page for links to component suppliers and other sources of useful information.

Sites relating to the
Boy's Own Paper:
http://www.collectingbooksandmagazines.com/bop.html   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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