January 1930 Radio-Craft
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio-Craft,
published 1929 - 1953. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
as "the festival season from Christmas Eve till after New Year's Day or especially in
England till Epiphany." In 1930 when this article appeared in Radio-Craft magazine, most
likely everyone knew what Christmastide was, but not so much today; hence, I provide
the meaning. Wikipedia
goes into more detail. While reading and scanning vintage magazine articles throughout
the year, I set aside ones specific to holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween,
etc., and post them during their respective seasons.
This story is about the trouble caused by a well-meaning
but unqualified family member attempting to fix a radio that wasn't broken by gifting
dear old Dad a
Balkite trickle charger (which the radiomuseum.org website happens
to have in their collection of data) for his battery-powered radio set. It also mentions
using a potato
to test the DC polarity of a power supply or battery. Last but not least is the "Hemco"
socket plug adapter, a type of which is still in use today
(much to the dismay of some safety advocates).
A Christmastide Muddle
By George F. Carpenter
The street mains in the heart of the city of Washington, D. C., furnish direct current;
the pole lines on the outskirts of the city furnish alternating current, and thereby
hangs a Christmas tale.
The old Georgia colonel's home on B Street, Northwest, was the scene of a lively Yuletide
gathering; his husky and prosperous boys and girls with their flocks came to bring their
Christmas gifts. Among them, Bill brought Daddy a Balkite trickle charger.
The old Colonel's set was a six-tuber, the joy and pride of the household, built to
order by an expert who very cleverly supplied the "A" and "B" current from a power board
consisting of Clarostats and Tobe condensers and a couple of chokes which smoothed out
all the pulsating ripples.
Bill had an idea that the old Colonel's set was using the "A" battery for filament
supply (instead of a part of the filter, as planned) and, with a show of pardonable pride,
he produced his trickle charger, filled the jar with the acid electrolyte and said:
"Now Dad, no more battery trouble for yours." The old man replied, "I haven't any
battery trouble whatever; but if this device will make it any better, why, go ahead."
Bill disconnected the plug which fed the power board, connected the trickle charger
to the battery terminals and plugged in his charger on the direct-current wall socket.
Soon there was a smell of something burning followed by a puff of ill-smelling smoke
that brought consternation to all the group. Bill snatched the current lead from the
wall socket and disconnected the trickle leads from the "A" battery terminals. He put
back the power plug - correctly, he thought - but he had failed to notice the slot cut
in one side of the plug which denoted correct polarity. The set would not function; wrong
polarity. Poor Bill, how was he to know? He didn't have, a voltmeter, nor did he know
how to get a polarity reading with a potato.
I was hastily summoned by telephone: "Dad is afraid his set is ruined; I'll give you
$20.00 if you'll only have the set working by midnight; please come quick, etc." It was
then 11 p.m. There had been a family row and a glance at the centre table told its own
tale; there lay the ruined trickle charger - some of the acid had spilled on the top
of the beautifully - inlaid mahogany table, and mother was angry.
I went over the power-board panel so nicely secreted in the cabinet; a touch of the
test clips on my voltmeter leads told me that polarity had been reversed; I pulled out
the power plug, gave it a turn so that the slot showed on top, threw on the power, turned
the dials a bit and the loud speaker boomed out. "This is station PWX, Cuban Telephone
Co., Havana, Cuba." The old Colonel was jubilant and vowed never to allow anyone to monkey
with his set again. The old mother asked me if I could fix it so the colored lights would
burn on her Christmas tree and in the dining room; and I happened to have a "Hemco" 3-way
socket plug in my tool bag which solved her problem. On the stroke of midnight I left
the old Colonel's mansion with $20.00 in my pocket, and listened to the church bells
pealing forth their message of peace on earth and good will to men.
Posted December 2, 2015