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Radio and Electronics Kits from the 1950's and 60's

Kits of parts to make Radios have been around since the 1920's.
This list features kits that were reviewed in popular magazines or from the original documents that came with the kit.
If you have anything I can add to this list (or even built one of these kits) please get in touch.
Take a look further down the page for your comments on some of the kits

HAC model C & E advert
HBL Kit Advert
RCS Kit Advert
REP 1 valve kit

Richard Needham has acquired a Roamer 10 kit and is putting the build details on his site.

Radio Exchange Bedford Roamer 10 Transistor Receiver

A message from Brian (G0KSI):
Looking at your radio kits of the 50's took me back to when I worked in the packing stores for Norman H.Field,Snow Hill, Birmingham. This was in the mid 50's and my job as a 15 year old was to pack his radio kits. There was a mains three valve TRF the Atomic,a superhet the Meteor(four valve I think) and a portable called the Good Companion. For homework he made me construct these kits at home and then write down good points and critiscisms. I used to love tucking in alongside Mr.Fletcher his engineer and watch him perform miracles on badly constructed kits.Norman H.Field is now deceased,and I have to say he was a tough employer,but such happy days.He ignited in me a love of electronics.
A note from Allan Haynes who built a few kits in his early years.
First one is - Jason JTV 2 Tuner. I had one, linked to my Reflectograph tape recorder, still got that, but not the Jason, though the mounting holes are still visible on the trolley ! Fairly sure I got mine ready built, not as a kit, would be around 1965. The tuner module was called the Fireball, possibly by Cyldon, and was the standard tuner used in many VHF TVs of the day. I think I must have had some problems with the Jason, as I remember recording a failry important Proms concert ( the last one Stokowsky ever conducted) off transmission but had to use my B&O Beolit 611 portable as the tuner instead. (Still got that too !)
Henrys' Transfive. Built one in 1961. Very pretty little cabinet - but the advert didn't make it obvious that this is a straight TRF set not a superhet. The reaction is combined with the volume control making it extremely difficult to use, and it used the split power supply PP11 battery which is no longer made. And no volume control at all on LW - "...just rotate the set...". A huge disappointment and I've never forgiven Henrys' for their marketing of it. 6/19/6 worth of junk at a time when I was earning 9 a week. I still have it, and it has probably only done about 2 hours work in 49 years. Instructions and circuit diagram too, slightly chewed by the rats in the garage. I have been threatening for ages to replace the works with a ready-made Chinese FM chassis. Will send a picture if you like.
Henrys' Capri. Fascinating excercise to build with no space at all between the components, but sensitivity, selectivity and sound quality so poor that I threw it in the bin before its first birthday. And something that looked like a Henrys' Quintet, the "pocket" version of the Transfive, but I'm sure it was a superhet and came from somewhere else, though in the same red 5"x 3" plastic case. In the end that turned out to be rubbish too and didn't survive long. But the case is still here, I built a square wave oscillator (Practical Wireless) and put that in it, still in frequent use here as a signal tracer. Picture when I get around to it. In view of all the above it's hardly surprising that once I started earning proper wages I bought something much better - a B&O Beolit 611, with FM, MW, LW and Marine band, runs on 6 D cells and with frigged speaker response to produce excellent bass from a fairly small unit. Bought in 1966, the first time I used my brand new Barclaycard, for 34 odd. Still using it today, it has never faltered. I'll probably remember a few more disasters later on, watch this space !! Best wishes, Allan Haynes.
Oh, and a PS.
I'm still using the same soldering iron issued to me by the BBC in 1964, a Litesold 25W, the one with the nice transparent handle with the neon in it..


Last updated 28.3.2010

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