Zenith Transoceanic – Y-600

Finished the <a href=”TO-Y-600_refurb.php”>TransOceanic Y-600</a>. This is a magnificent radio and turned out nicer than I could’ve expected. A fortunate turn on this model was that the 1L6 tube is in good shape. Although in fairly ready supply, the tube has reached ‘unobtainium’ prices, even though solid-state substitutes are available. In any case the 50A1 was replaced with a solid-state replacement, which provides very stable current and voltage regulation, which is a good thing given the expense of the 1L6 tube.

Hallicrafters S-38B

Finished the <a href=”http://mikeyancey.com/S-38B_refurb.php”>Hallicrafters S-38B</a>; it’s seen some daily use in my office at work. This is my first run-in with the AC-DC power issue and I found a way to route the power cord ‘HOT’ through the switch to eliminate (unless the house wiring at the socket is reversed) shocks from a faulty cabinet insulator.


I snagged three Astron power supplies recently from a listing on Craigslist. It was quite an inexpensive buy, but they were heavily abused and needed some repair, so overall, it won’t work out to a huge profit, but it gives me an opportunity to apply some skill and come out on top.

The previous user, I’m told, was a car-stereo seller and used the Astrons in a large display of car stereos.

From the group, there was a 35-amp RS-35A which, after testing, appeared to be in fine shape; only the fuse was out of order – the previous user had replaced the 8A ceramic fuse with a 10A glass, 3AG fuse – both incorrect and unsafe. The large value would allow more current to be drawn than what it was designed for; ceramic fuses are more resistant to breaking given the high current. Replaced the fuse, tested the supply for regulation under load and it’s now powering my FT-897D.

The two others, both RS-50A models were substantially abused and showed signs of having been run well over-current and for longer than the 50% duty-cycle.

But both still provided regulated voltage!

Both had incorrect fuses – replaced both with correct 10A, ceramic fuses. One had a 20A, 32V fuse (on the 120V primary!). Both had burned wires and the large filter caps (100,000uf in one and two 51,000uf in the other) were toasted.

Astron supplies replacement parts, so I’ve already repaired and tested the newer model with the single 100,000uf cap. Now waiting for two 64,000uf caps to repair the other. I had to make replacement 13.8-volt ‘common’ cables with black, 10ga wire. That ought-a hold ’em.

Heathkit HW-101

The <a href=”http://mikeyancey.com/HW-101_refurb.php”>HW-101</a> refurb is now complete. This seemed like an extensive redo, but was not, because many of the boards went mostly untouched. It began with a redo of the HP-23 power supply with an HP-23RL board from The Heathkit Shop. And it ended with replacement of two of the Carrier Oscillator crystals, which with age had changed too much to adjust with serial or parallel capacitance.

For kits anyway, this was the pinnacle – the tip-top. No one would ever make a 20-vacuum tube transceiver again.

Tragedy Strikes!

My 25-year-old Weller WTCP gave out.

I was repairing one of the two Astron RS-50A power supplies I picked up recently and when I swapped the tips to get more heat out to the massive transformer center-tap… nothing. No clicking. The neon light was on, but no heat was home. It was a terrible discovery.

I’d had that old iron since Mostek. I think I bought it at some employee discount. Lots of projects from the old days and from recently were completed with that good ol’ tool.

So, my choices were to buy a replacement soldering pencil from Fry’s for $69.99, or just get a new one; the WES51 is not much more and is ESD and has a variable heat control. So I sprung for the new iron. But now: what to do – part out my old friend? Can’t let that 2A transformer go to waste. But I can’t hack apart an old friend. Aw, heck, went right back to Fry’s and snagged a TC-201A pencil to go with it. Now it’s the garage soldering iron. I think we have soldering covered here at the house.

A $10 Scope

My B+K 1435 Oscilloscope went down over Thanksgiving weekend. Really, it went down – it fell against my chair (I shouldn’t keep it propped up like that, I guess). However – the “A” channel input went bad. I took it all apart – screws everywhere on the carpet.

I was so close to parting it out then W5AAN (Ginger) urged me to keep trying on fixing it. Turns out these old scopes are old-school. The traces are nice & wide and the parts aren’t surface mount (SMT). I wound up fixing a total of three problems with it.

The pot for the “A” channel vertical positioning had two broken traces right near the pot. I was able to easily scrape and short ’em with a bit of component lead wire. Soldered those on and it worked just great.

Got it all back together and found that now the “B” channel didn’t work. Well by this time, I know where everything is – opened it back up and the lead to the center conductor on the BNC connector had broken. Soldered THAT back into place and now the scope works great.

It works so well I’m considering buying some new Gel batteries for it – it’s a portable model and while it was all apart, I tested the charge circuit to be working.

Perseverance. My $10 scope soldiers on…

Heathkit IG-102, Solid State Edition

I’d recently heard about a conversion of a tube Signal Generator to Solid State. I found the original article in a great old book called ’99 Test Equipment Projects You Can Build’, by 73 Magazine. I snagged the book from eBay for only $2.00 (plus shipping). My copy is a small hardback, red cover. Print’s kinda small.

Same article mentions adding a three-range (10khz, 1mhz, 10mhz) crystal calibrator on-board (since you now have boatloads of room inside without the tubes and the transformer).

Each ‘half’ of both tubes is replaced with a FET Pin numbers are mentioned, so you go underneath (unfortunately sticking the leads in the tube socket holes won’t work…) and solder a FET lead to a Socket Hole. I think there’s one socket hole (besides the filaments) that remains unconnected.

I’ve written on the schematic which FETs appear to work. I settled on MPF-102s, although I tested a couple of versions. The book project specifies four 2N5951’s.

An IG-102 FET Conversion Schematic

There are two resistor changes (actually mods) due to the lowered voltages:
Solder a 75 ohm resistor across the existing 33k (see left of ‘BF Front View’ switch.
Solder a 90 ohm resistor across the existing 4.7k (see above V2A 1/2 6AN8). On some models the existing resistor may be a 10k.

There are no other changes other than what’s marked at bottom of the schematic (removing the cord and power supply. Replace w/9V battery. I also did the fancy LED thing. Nice to know if it’s ON so you don’t run down the battery.

I also added a ‘wall wart’ plug for outside power. Fancy.

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