Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

IconProjects, musings about guitar builds, guitar repairs, vintage tube amplifiers, old radios, travel, home renovation, and other stuff.

Not a yacht OR a boy

Hokay. You are familiar with TV show The Simpsons, yes? You know character "Dr. Nick," yes?

Please imagine this next bit in the voice of Dr. Nick:

Dr. Nick: "Hi, kids!"

Kids: "Hi, Mr. Yr Fthfl Blggr Man!"

Nick: "Today, kids we have a lot of pictures! Pictures of a modern radio!"

Kids: "Oooh, modern. No vacuum tubes, Dr. Nick?"

Nick: "No, kids, but we have lots of TRANSISTORS!"

Kids: "Boooooooo!"

Seriously. Can you believe it? No tubes today. I am here to work on my trusty Grundig Yacht Boy 400. I've had this radio since new - probably 15 years. I realize it doesn't have any tubes in it, but it still rocks. (I can't be labelled as a total curmudgeon. After all, I make a living using COMPUTERS for crying out loud).

And until writing about it just now, I never gave much thought to the name. Grundig made a whole series of "Yacht Boy" radios, beginning in the late 1950s. I suppose, like Zenith's marketing of the Transoceanic with the pictures of Gentlemen Sailors hunched over navigation charts on their expensive boats with their Zenith radios at the ready, the Yacht Boy name is supposed to conjure up images of ocean liners, yachts, Handsome Gentlemen, trophy wives, seasickness, beer, and radios with lots of buttons and Other Cool Stuff.

Or something like that.

At any rate, back to reality. The long and the short of it (ha! antenna - long and short!) is the antenna bracket inside the radio broke a number of years ago. The antenna still works, but it's a bit wonky and I decided to finally get a round tuit and fix it. Zo, ve fixy, yes?

But first...a little about this amazing little radio.

Designed in Germany, made in Portugal. Zat ess zee modern Yurrup for choo.

As it says on the front: LW/MW/SW/FM Stereo PLL Sythesized Dual Conversion. Basically all the frequency coverage of my however-many-pounds-it-is of Hallicrafters SX-62. Local/DX sensitivity switch, SSB reception, selectable bandwidth and a tuning meter. And runs on AA batteries or a wall wort. For it's size, it does sound good. All in a little radio dat kin fit in de palm of de hand.

And I can't forget the way cool two (count 'em) digital clocks for local and UTC time.

However, do not get me wrong. It ain't as cool, nor does it sound as amazing as my SX-62, which of course, does have push-pull 6V6 tubes, a big honkin output transformer, I put high grade coupling caps in it too, so it sounds wonderful. And to be honest, the tuning with pushbuttons on the Grundig is for the birds.

But the little Grundig is pretty neato nonetheless. I put lots o'pictures on here so's you kin see how many features it has. These things were made in two versions - the first was black, and the second was silver. Both are out of production and have been replaced.

In their day, they were extremely popular. The main competitor was the dreaded Sony ICG-7600. Lots of back-and-forth about both models. I wanted a Grundig for the basic fact that it had great reviews, an enthusiastic following, and it was NOT a Sony. I personally just don't care for Sony products and have had a LOT of bad (read unreliable and short-lived...) experience with Sony. Sony: hunk of baloney.
But don't send your hate mail to me please...YOUR mileage may vary. Dis iz jus my opinion, dig?

I keep this radio on the nightstand and pretty much use it every day. Have heard tons of shortwave from all over the globe. Most recently was picking up the BBC World Service to West Africa. With nothing more than the whip antenna on this puppy.

At any rate, we're here to fix the antenna. The antenna is held on with a sort-of-clip device. Choo need a whole new back to put on the thing, since ze antenna ees part of zee whole back assembly. These days, Grundig is known as "Eton" (at least in the US...not sure about the rest of the world). So I rang up Eton and to my surprise, they still stock the part. Notice, of course, that the new one is big deal.
Zo, vhut ve do? Well, lesse, let's unscrew these four screws on the back. One is hidden under the little "stand" flap on the back. Once they are off, we're into the world of little plastic tabs holding the two halves together. These things always make me very leery...cause they can just break off. In this case, I sort of squeezed the bottom of the case (in the old radio world, it would be a 'cabinet' but this is plastic...) and whoosh! it came apart in two halves. And I mean that to say, it came apart the way it was supposed to - like a clamshell - rather than "it came apart in two halves cause I done did broke it." That would not be good and I would have used some special technical language in that case. But it did not and I did not.

If you've opened up some sort of electrical device, you know that feeling when you first see the insides. What will await you? What will it look like? (Don't ask me about the inside of this 1930s Grunow I have that spent years apparently stored in a barn).

I hadn't seen the inside of a YB-400 before reaction was: Well lookit that! So this is what a modern (well, sorta modern) radio looks like!

Egads! A million billion zillion solder joints! I shudder just looking at these things. And lookit all the SMDs (surface mounted devices). The arrow points to some of 'em - they have NUMBERS! I am visualizing little tiny people soldering all this in...I think not. You know, back in the day, a lot of the radio and electronics manufacturers hired women to do wiring on their assembly lines. I've seen quite a few pictures of them. It was because their hands are smaller and because they can do much more accurate work than men. No, I made the last part up. But it's probably true.

These days, I believe there are machines of a robotic type that do the soldering on the PC boards. And no wonder nobody really troubleshoots something like this - what a headache that would be.

I held out some vague hope that with a nice new back on hand, I'd be able to see how the antenna mounts and possibly suss out what happened to the old antenna and maybe be able to repair it. This hope came partially true. I can see how the thing's held on there - there is a tab the end of the antenna slides under and then screws down to. Pretty cheesy construction, I have to say.

I can see how it broke. The mount lets you pull up on the antenna so as to rotate it. But that puts a lot of stress on the tab and...crack. But the upside is on mine at least, I could still use it.

But there's no hope on fixing the old one. The arrow is the direction I slid the antenna out; the tab is broken and the broken bit has gone to that place in the sky that broken antenna tabs go off to.


I happen to have a English radio (I know what you're thinking and you are WRONG) that I need an antenna for! Maybe just maybe we can affix the old Grundig antenna to it, yes? We'll revisit this later.

Note to Database Man, if you are reading this: no wry comments about the Germans and the English together on a radio, ok?

The rest is easy. Put the new back on, clip the tabs in, put the screws back and There You Have It. This is an awful picture - I still haven't mastered this digital camera thingy as you can tell - but you get the idea. Back to cruise the airwaves another day.


Post a Comment 1 comments:

  • Daniel said...
    March 8, 2009 at 11:31 PM
    Hmmm, I think I just saw something about Brits and Germans using radios together.

    - Database Boy

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