About Cool386.

Here are some other things about me besides my interests in vintage electronic and mechanical technology.
Where does the name "Cool386" come from? Back in 2000 when I was establishing a new internet account, I was looking for a new user name. The computer I was setting up the account was a 386DX40. Hence the name. That computer is still working in 2013, with Windows For Workgroups 3.11. These days, very few sites will work properly on early Netscapes (this one will), so it is mainly for file storage now.

The Blue Mountains.
My home since 1988. The Blue Mountains is part of the Great Dividing Range, to the west of Sydney. The settled area consists of two ridges, roughly running east to west. I live on the southern ridge, the most populated, for it was along here the first path was found to the Central West in 1813. Most of the population is centred around the railway line and highway which runs along this ridge, spanning most of the towns from Lapstone to Lithgow.
Surrounding these are numerous gorges and valleys. Most of the area is national park. To the south is the now flooded Burrogorang Valley which supplies Sydney with most of its water. Highest elevation is a little over 1000m.
On the western side of the mountains are the famous Jenolan Caves, and the town of Oberon, famed for forest industries and trout fishing.
Climate is quite variable, with the upper mountains towns, Wentworth Falls to Lithgow being cool, even in summer. A day or two of snow anytime from May to October is not unusual.
The mid mountains towns, where I live, are somewhat milder. In fact, despite the elevation 600~700m, it is warmer than parts of western Sydney. From Linden to Bullaburra, one can enjoy outdoor activities even in winter.
Further down, Lapstone to Springwood, the climate is not hugely different to parts of Sydney. One fortunate aspect of being in the mountains is lack of summer humidity.

The Blue Mountains is a famous tourist attraction. However, since WW2, only the upper mountains is now seen as a tourist destination. This is the area from Wentworth Falls to Mt Victoria, renowned for majestic valley views, quaint cafes and tearooms, and antique shops. Bushwalking is a major drawcard, with a lifetime of trails to explore. Mountain biking, abseiling and horse riding are also very popular.
Tourism is the major income for the mountains. Unless you work in tourism or hospitality, chances are you commute to Sydney for work.

Mountain Biking and Walking in the Blue Mountains.
I spend a lot of time out in the bush around the mid mountains towns, mostly mountain biking on the fire trails. Being away from the tourists, the mid mountains fire trails are fairly quiet, and on some of them you wouldn't be seen for days. The Blue Mountains is said to have some of the best mountain bike trails in Australia.
Some of my favourite rides are:

Some of the walks I've done are: Most of these are documented elsewhere on the internet.


Beaches and outdoor areas.
I'm a very regular beach goer. Not surprisingly, this entails a lesser or greater degree of travel from the Blue Mountains for most places I go to, although there are a couple of nice pools out in the bush I like to visit.

Clubs/Societies.
I have been a member of the Historical Radio Society of Australia since 1993, as part of the Sydney group. This is a highly recommended organisation if you are into vintage electronics. I attend the bi-monthly meetings at Winston Hills Public School. There is a technical talk followed by an auction. You will pay far less than ebay!

Since 2002, I have also been part of the Model T Ford Club of Australia. I attend the monthly meetings, and also the Sunday runs with some of the other members.
As I have full registration for my Model T, I don't actually need to be part of the club to drive my car, but it's a useful way to meet others to discuss and learn about the cars, as well as the fun of driving in a convoy of Model T's.



The Model T Ford.
Since I read the service manual for the Model T Ford when I was 18, I had decided it would be the perfect car. I liked the logical design and the fact parts were still easy to get. It was not until 2002 that I actually bought one. The Model T that  I ended up with was an early 1926 tourer which came from Shepparton. It was traded in on an early Falcon, around 1961, at Billabong Motors in Lockhart. To cut a long story short, one of the owners of the business was going to restore it for a window display, but things didn't go to plan so he put it up for sale. It's a low mileage one owner car from what I can tell. I spent the later half of 2002 getting it driveable, and then had it registered in May 2003. I've had a fantastic time driving it, with many interesting adventures. I have kept the car in original condition except of course for replacing worn mechanical parts. The most memorable trips have been those to Parkes in Easter 2004, and Echuca for the 2008 Centenary rally.



Reading.
A lot of my spare time is spent reading technical material. I have virtually a complete collection of all the well known Australian electronics magazines. It is from them that I owe a considerable amount of electronics knowledge to. I first set eyes on Electronics Australia in May 1977 because it had the Dick Smith catalog included. Now, I have the complete set from 1939 (then called Radio and Hobbies), through to the last issue in 2001. I am still subscribing to the last magazine in Australia, Silicon Chip.
I also have a lot of U.S and English magazines; Practical Wireless, Practical Television, Practical Electronics, Radio Craft, Radio News, Radio Electronics, etc.
Aside from that is Model T Ford related literature. I seldom read non fiction these days, although I did more in the past. I used to spend a lot of time in the State Library of NSW but that all died when the library made it so difficult to get any books out it was no longer worth visiting.



Music& Radio.
From growing up in the 1970's, that's my favourite era. Particularly disco and one hit wonders. Bands like Sherbet, Bay City Rollers, Abba, and Skyhooks were the 'in thing' back in my primary school days. Bands like Silver Convention, Chic, and The Trammps and solo artists like Maxine Nightingale, Marcia Hines, and James Taylor, gave the era a happy uplifting feel. Steeley Dan and the Doobie Brothers would rate highly in my favourite bands from this era.
My tastes did widen as time went on, to include some 1960's and 1980's music as well. Motown artists like The Four Tops, Gladys Knight, etc., have always been a favourite. I thought music declined in the 80's, with the death of disco leaving us with rather tuneless creations. But there were some good ones; Swing Out Sister and ABC come to mind. From the 90's the 'mass produced' music started to appear - and I stopped listening. I also like some rock - AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, The Angels, Rose Tattoo.
I have always been an avid radio listener for here it was where I found all the music. I never had the luxury of being able to buy a record.
My first valve radio, an Astor NJ, was bought for $7.50 in a second hand shop in Crows Nest in 1978. It needed a 5Y3 which came from Harrison's Radio & TV in Northbridge. My next radio was an Electrosound radiogram chassis given to me by a family friend in late 1978. This was followed by an AWA 449MA mantel set found in a council cleanup early 1979.
Radio was good back then, partly helped by the right kind of music. Most of the time I listened to 2UW or 2SM, although for a short while, 2KY and 2GB did in the mid 70's have a music format. Sunday nights during 1980 and 1981 were spent listening to the 2UW top 40, hosted by Ward Austin. I'd have the National RQ-222 cassette recorder ready and waiting to record songs I was after. Once the cassette was full, I'd transfer everything onto reel to reel tape, using my grandfather's 1959 Sony TC-101. Sunday mornings had the American Top 40 which I also listened to.
This was a time of live announcers playing records, so there was a much more personal feel. These days, radio is a dying medium, largely automated with predictable and conservative formats. It's relevance to many is diminishing with the internet and mp3 players taking its place. Most rural stations are networked after hours to one of the capital city stations.
In the early 80's I started listening to 2WL and it became my favourite station up until the 90's. Although in Wollongong, it put a strong signal up the coast and was received well at home and in the car. It's listening to 2WL that gave me a taste for bands like Steely Dan, Hall & Oates, and the Doobie Brothers.
I didn't find a lot worth listening to throughout the 90's, with the Sydney AM music stations changing their format or transferring to FM. But, in the 2000's that changed when 70's/80's formats started appearing. These days I mainly listen to 2CH.
DXing has always been an interest. It mainly developed from discovering out of town stations didn't have the limited playlist format of the Sydney stations. Back in the late 70's, to get 3XY in Melbourne was always the ultimate goal. 1982 saw me receiving 2ZB from Wellington, NZ. These days, with better aerials and receivers, and being away from the electrical interference prevalent in Sydney, DX reception is taken for granted.



The 1970's and growing up.
An era I spend a lot of time reminiscing about. I would say that in my lifetime, it was the happiest decade, and probably the best time to be a kid growing up. The technology of the time fascinated me, then as it does now. By 1976, I had really developed my interest in electrical and electronic things. I started off with simple light bulb circuits, then progressed to a Denshi Block SR-3A electronics kit. In 1977 was my first real electronics project I made from scratch; a 6V power supply. I still have it today.
We had eight AM radio stations and four TV channels in Sydney, and believe it or not, that was quite sufficient entertainment. Less TV channels meant that more good programs were crammed in, rather than the present day situation of an excess amount of channels filled with padding. Our first colour TV, a Pye 26A1 (T29 chassis) was bought in 1975 from Norman Ross in Chatswood (a chain of appliance stores). This set currently resides in my living room. Television reception was easy being all VHF.
I was born in 1968, in Crows Nest, a suburb not far from Northbridge, Sydney, where we lived. With a long time family connection to New Guinea, we spent quite a lot of time in the town of Goroka, living there from 1970-1972 permanently, and then during school holidays until 1980. Some time was also spent on Norfolk Island in 1972, and again in 1973, as my grandparents lived there. I was very fond of Norfolk Island having nothing but good memories from my time there. Back in Australia, I went to the local public school in Northbridge, before being transferred to one private school in North Sydney (which shall remain nameless). That was a bad mistake which caused a lot of psychological damage.  It was a very macho, aggressive place, and woe betide anyone that wasn't good at sport. I spent two years there before going elsewhere.



Goroka in the 1970's.
In 1970 my family moved back to PNG (then TPNG) because my father had taken a position with the DCA as Air Traffic Controller at Goroka airport. The house in Sydney was rented out.
The house we lived in was what was known as a "DCA house"; it was a common style of house in PNG that was usually occupied by DCA employees. They were also the most well equipped and largest of the government constructed housing styles. Ours was the house on the corner of Leigh Vial St (the road to the hospital) and the Highlands Highway.

Our house for 1970-1972.

My mother worked in the bookshop over on the other side of town in the main shopping area, and my brother, three years older, went to Goroka Primary School.
We had to two green VW's; a Beetle which my mother drove, and a Type 3 station wagon which my father drove.
This time of my life was the first I can remember being interested in mechanical and electrical things. My father used to make Airfix models which interested me, and then there were the little blue electric motors at the bookshop / toyshop.
In early 1972 we left Goroka; my parents did a trip around Hong Kong and environs, and my brother and I were sent to Norfolk Island to stay with the grandparents. Then our parents arrived on Norfolk Island in time for my 4th birthday there. Soon after it was back to Sydney.
My father returned back to Goroka in 1972, after we had settled back into Sydney, and resumed work with the DCA. However, the house he now had was not the same one. The new one was also a DCA house, but opposite Rotary Park in Pursehouse St.

The part of West Goroka where we lived; the main road to the right is the Highlands Highway. The roof of our house is looking rather rusty nearly 50 years on.

I have since been able to establish it was Lot 21, Section 15. Our neighbours one one side were the Steamships Flats, where some of the Steamships supermarket employees lived. I don't know who the neighbours on the other side were, but my father said he worked in a bank.

Our neighbours; the "Steamships Flats".

My brother and I first saw this new house when we went up for the school holidays in August 1974. It was like our first house, but I was disappointed it didn't have the ceiling fans. It was, from now until the end of 1980, the place of many of our school holidays (my father didn't have to pay for our air fares, this being a lurk of working for the DCA).
By today's standard the expat housing in PNG was very basic, but it was certainly well equipped and comfortable. Most houses were fibro with polished wooden floors and built on concrete stilts. Internal walls were usually fibro or Masonite. Ours was three bedroom, all of a good size. The laundry was under the house. There was also a dining room, lounge room, and a kitchen with all the usual things. We had a Chef electric range in ours. Above it was a Vent-Axia exhaust fan. The main rooms were all lit with 40W Thorn fluorescent lamps.
Water supply was from six 1000 gallon rainwater tanks, and there was a pump in the laundry. Reticulated supply came in 1975 to West Goroka, but we didn't connect to it. As it happened, that was a wise move because in December 1980, the town water supply failed for something like a week. We had a septic tank, as did most of Goroka, but in August 1980 the main sewer was connected. The treatment plant was a few km out in the direction of the golf club.
Under the house there was a plaque stating the date the house was built (1967), and the paint colours used. Paint was Dulux, I recall.
The house was fed with the usual single phase 240V supply; the power poles in the street being steel rather than wood. Interestingly, circuit breakers were the standard, and so was fluorescent lighting - ahead of the rest of Australia at the time. Most fluorescent light fittings in PNG were a type made by Thorn based on an English design.

Telephones in PNG were the British 700 series but were often fitted with the standard PMG 6 pin plug as used in the rest of Australia. It is unclear why 700 series phones were used when the country was still an Australian territory. Our phone number was 721665.
An early photo I've seen shows a series 300 magneto telephone in use in Goroka. Even in 1980, the telephone book gave instructions on using manual telephones, so there were presumably manual exchanges still in some places. I have since discovered that Goroka had a 500 line manual exchange operating into around mid 1971. This was replaced by a 1000 line automatic exchange (and thus the 700 series automatic phones). I cannot remember a telephone at our first house, so do not know if the manual exchange was central battery or magneto. The magneto phone I mention was in an office situation so may have been an extension on a PMBX.

Like virtually all houses, ours had a solar water heater. There was no mail delivery, so everyone had a post office box. The post office was opposite the top of the airport near the police station. A bit further on was the Bird of Paradise Hotel. For telephone communication outside of the town, it was all via microwave repeaters down the Highlands to Lae and there was a tower on the post office for this. Previously there was a HF radio link.
It was common when making calls to Australia that the link would be too congested and a recorded message would tell you to try again later. "Your call has failed overseas...."
Mains supply was originally from a local diesel power station, although there was a small hydro electric plant, but the Ramu River hydro-electric scheme took over that by the mid 70's. I recall visiting the hydro power station at the time, all underground.

One thing that people in places like Australia would be unaware of was that expat houses also had in the back yard, a house for the "houseboy". The houseboy would be employed to do the menial tasks, like washing and cleaning, for the expat in the main house. Some also did the cooking. Ours just did the the cleaning. The houseboy's house was pretty primitive in comparison, and he lived there with a wife and son and daughter. It did at least have electric power and its own tank. The pump was a hand operated one though, which filled a header tank on the roof for a gravity supply. Given the frequency of power failures, that was an advantage over us with the electric pump. No doubt, having a houseboy would be seen as very politically incorrect these days, but it was all very normal and no one complained.
He had a vegetable garden for himself. Given the large size of the block, his family living there was certainly not intrusive.

In 1973, my father established Kotuni Trout Farm, outside of town on the way to Mt Otto. He successfully experimented with rainbow trout which seemed to grow quite well in the climate. So, it was the done thing every afternoon after my father finished work at the DCA to go up to the trout farm. Being in the tropics at such elevation, flights into and out of Goroka stopped in the afternoon. This was because the cloud cover set in and there was no visibility. PNG is scattered with plane wrecks...
Kotuni provided some local employment to the nearby villagers, and became quite successful. Around 1977 or so, my father also became involved in a company called Seafood Marketing. It was located around the corner from the main shopping area in East Goroka, in a complex that had a clothing shop called "Coltra Fashions", and there was also the Lantern Restaurant, owned by Cam and Judy Bennett. They had a son my age, David.
The Lantern restaurant was always our point of call for dinner on the first day of the holidays, and the last. It later moved and was then part of a motel.
There were two supermarkets in Goroka; Burns Philip and Steamships (known locally as "Steamies"). It was a quaint feature of those times in a small town that the shops would close for lunch. If you were in a shop and they turned the lights off and then back on again, you knew it was time to finish your shopping. Steamies was the more well stocked of the two supermarkets from what I recall. Of course, shops still shut at 12pm on Saturdays.

Because of my asthma at the time, I spent 2nd term of 1975 in Goroka, to avoid the Sydney winter. This was May-September. It was the year of Independence, so the town was well decorated in preparation. I went to school at Goroka Primary for the duration; the headmaster was Mr Denholm, and my teacher was a Ms. Schwarz. I don't remember a lot about the school because I was there for only a few months. I didn't make any lasting friends there, but it was quite a decent place. I remember the Friday afternoon movies at the school, shown by Mr Denholm. I think you had to pay 10t to get in, and one time I forgot, but I was still let in. I was not pleased returning back to Sydney life after my few months in Goroka.

Some time around 1975/1976 my brother and I made friends with a guy my brother's age from North Goroka. His name was Scott Guest and was also the son of an expat. Scott used to come around just about every day when my brother and I were in Goroka during the school holidays, and would come up to the trout farm with us. For a short while there was also a girl from the Steamships Flats; I can't remember her name (Jemma?), and she also appeared briefly during school holidays around the time. I think she may have relocated to Seymour in Victoria. Scott almost became part of the family. I believe Scott became a boarder at a school in Caloundra.
I remember the 1976/77 Xmas holidays; I got my first fluorescent torch; a battery/12V type under the brand name of "Prince", and also a National AM/FM radio. In May, I got my first streetlight; a double 20W Multi Lighting. There was a junk room out the back of TDE (Turner Davey Electrical) where 2nd hand stuff existed, and there was an employee there who was kind enough just to give stuff like that to me. I still have that streetlight, and a few other light fittings, to this day. Out the back of TDE there were usually fluorescent tubes in the bin. Most of the them still worked, so it provided a source for my collection and experimentation with fluorescent lamps. There was really only one hardware supplier as such, Summerscales & Lambert, which is were all the trout farm plumbing came from. Again, the PVC pipe used was not to become common in Australia until much later. Down the bottom of West Goroka was the industrial area. The meat pies and pasties from the "Golden Crust Bakery" were a frequent part of my lunch time diet. Then there were the "trade stores". If you wanted cheap batteries or kerosene lanterns, these were the places to go. This was an early insight to Chinese manufacturing because most of that type of goods was imported from China. Little did the rest of the world know what was in store 30 years later...
I used to buy these "Yaming" light bulbs from one trade store. I liked them because of the semi circular filament shape.
There were no electronics components shops; the closest to anything like that was Brian Bell in Port Moresby.

The trip up and back always seemed so tedious. It was a 2hr 45min flight from Sydney to Port Moresby when it was a direct flight. Until the Qantas and then Air Nuigini 747's started flying to Port Moresby, there was a change at Brisbane airport which delayed things. From Port Moresby, we changed to a Fokker F27 for the trip to Goroka. Later, this was an F28 jet. It was always a good feeling landing in Goroka. The customs people must have thought I was a bit strange, because I'd always take a suitcase of electrical stuff back and forth; things like soldering irons, electric heaters, lights, etc. I had a small amount of stuff in my bedroom in Goroka which sadly I never was able to retrieve. Getting off the plane at Port Moresby was like walking into a blast furnace, but one quickly acclimatised. Goroka on the other hand had the perfect climate, always very mild, and no humidity. In the wet season, it would always become suddenly quiet at about 4pm; there'd be a little wind, and then minutes later, down came the rain. This happened every afternoon. By evening it stopped, and the next morning would always be clear sky.

For Xmas 1979/80,  I made friends with a guy just across the road whose family moved up to Goroka during the previous year. His name was Wayne Riddle, my age, and his father worked for the Posts & Telegraphs dept. I can't remember his name, or Wayne's mother's name, but they were a really nice family, from Beacon Hill in Sydney. Then there was Jens Junghans who lived on the other side of Rotary Park, also our age. The three of us would hang out all day, riding our bikes around Goroka while parents were at work. It was a fantastic way to grow up!
Entertainment was what you made yourself. There was of course no TV, and only one radio station, the NBC (National Broadcasting Commission). I used to listen to Radio Australia quite a lot on short wave as an alternative program. As it was, the NBC trying to be everything, couldn't just play music all day. The NBC was relayed to all the towns from Port Moresby. In Goroka, the frequency was, I think, 900 Kc.
Good results were to be had on a crystal set at home with not too long of an aerial.
I also did a lot of book reading; Alfred Hitchock and the Three Investigators stories were read, and re-read, along with a few Roald Dahl books. My father had various New Scientist issues and some some Electronics Australia issues.

My father in his entrepeneurial style, had set up a video library around 1979, called A.I. Video (Agents International). I think it was in partnership with Cam Bennett. There was a competing video library in an adjacent shop, and this was soon taken over by A.I. Video. With no TV broadcasts, there was a market for recording programs in Australia, and renting out the tapes in Goroka.
There was someone in Brisbane doing the recording, and every so often would send a carton of tapes up. After a while, the tapes would be sent back to Brisbane, and recorded over again. The video system was the Philips N1700 VCR format. Once the competing shop was taken over, we had to look after Beta and U-Matic as well. One holiday job I had was to copy the VCR tapes onto Beta and U-Matic.
The rate of head wear in the N1700 machines was quite bad compared to the other formats. It seemed that my father was always changing heads in the machines. The TV sets customers had were Philips of the K11 and KT2 series.

In the May 1980 school holidays, Wayne and I set up a telephone line between our houses. It was the first thing I did after getting off the plane that morning. From my kitchen porch railing, a wire went to a tree in the park, down the tree, under the road through a stormwater drain, and then into Wayne's bedroom. The line was a twisted pair with lots of joins, and on first power up it didn't work. It seemed something was open circuit. Rather than find where it was, I connected both wires together as one, and connected the return circuit through the earth. It worked perfectly. The line was soon vandalised at ground level, so we changed it so it went straight across to Wayne's house.
I recall one embarrassing incident when the garbage truck reversed all around Rotary Park because the line wasn't high enough!
We set up our phone line during the May and August holidays and used it alot. Sadly, Wayne returned to Australia sometime after August, so that was the end of that. The new P&T family to move into his house were nothing like Wayne's. Their son, Wade, was a bit younger, but the parents were also overprotective. He wasn't even allowed to ride his bike to the end of the street!
My father then introduced me to Craig Lamb, who lived near North Goroka, as a friend for the 1980 Christmas holidays. I don't recall much about him, except his parents also went to the Aero Club, and one night we changed the fluorescent tubes outside his house from white to yellow. We thought we'd get away with, leaving people wondering how the lights changed colour, but apparently they saw the whole thing!

1980 was also when I first did any house wiring. A worker at Kotuni, Karl Gendua, had built a small house there so someone could always be on site. His brother Linus, had wired the house, but I helped install all the fittings. I often wonder what happened to all the people I knew in Goroka.
Sadly, and unknown to me at the time, the 1980 Xmas holidays would be the last I saw of Goroka. My father returned to Sydney, winter of 1981. He did the recordings for A.I. Video for a while but it was the end of an era. Last I know of Kotuni Trout Farm was some other people took it over, but someone poured petrol into the water supply killing the fish and I think it shut down soon after.
They took a house up from Goroka to be reassambled at Kotuni. It was originally near the Bird Of Paradise, but was due to be demolished to make way for shops. My father and I had a look through it and I took the phone of course. Apparently, we lived in this house for a short time before moving to Leigh Vial St. I don't have any memories of it though.
While I reminisce about Goroka, the reality is that PNG has gradually descended back into 3rd world status with an increase in crime. The pretty well maintained houses and gardens have been let to run down as their expat occupants left. Seems typical of a country when its previous colonial power gives it independence. It would have been impossible for the good times to continue, had I been able to keep staying there.



The 1980's.
The start of secondary schooling at Sydney Grammar. I remember the early - mid 80's being a largely carefree time. While in some respects society has improved with social attitudes since then, it is much more stressed and aggressive now. The population at large is noticeably less happy.
1982 was the start of my telephone collecting. This started with a visit to Tempe disposals, and a colleague of my father's giving me a 1965 PMG wiring manual.
It was 1983 when I really got stuck into television. While I'd been around television sets for years, it wasn't until now that I could really begin to understand them and fix them. And, so began my TV collecting from the council clean up campaigns every few months. By 1990 I had about 200 sets in my collection. Late 1983 was when I embarked on my biggest and most daunting project; the Radio & Hobbies 17" TV set. However, I had the chassis and cabinet from a 21" set, so I built the set using that. I bought a new 21CBP4 picture tube from Thomas electronics, for $50 which was all the money I had! Taking it step by step, it was successful and by actually building it I learnt a considerable amount about electronics. All the things I'd read about were now making sense. 1984 was the year of the 5" TV with a 5BP1 tube. Encouraged by the 21" set, I wanted to build another set. This one was totally from scratch, drilling the chassis and winding the IF transformers.
In 1985,  I quit school to start at North Sydney Technical College, doing the Electronics Engineering Certificate course. It was here I got my "piece of paper" to say I was a qualified electronics technician. With my previous experience in electronics, I was at a considerable advantage and had a very easy time with most of the subjects.
In 1988 my parents had bought a property at Woodford in the Blue Mountains. Having never been a city person, I moved there permanently in 1991 - one of the best things I've done. I had to start commuting 100km to work each day, but the benefits were worth it. In 1995 I bought my own place not far away.


The 1990's.
The start of my working career in 1990. While I had been doing repairs for family friends for a while, that only gave me pocket money. I was offered a job as a Technical Officer Grade 2, at North Sydney Technical College (North Sydney TAFE). Initially I worked one day a week as I was still completing the EEC course, but commenced full time in 2nd semester. Now, employed in a real job with a real wage, I started saving for a house. This I bought in the mid Blue Mountains in 1995. The 90's was when my TV/VCR repairs were at a peak. I had no shortage of customers and was churning through the repairs at a rapid rate. I had earned a reputation amongst my colleagues of being good on the jobs  no one else could fix. It was also an era when TV sets and VCR's were still quite easy to repair. By the end of the decade, more microprocessor and surface mount technology appeared. There were still plenty of mid 1970's sets coming my way to repair, and a few monochrome models too. I was also doing a few aerial installations.
1998 saw me get the internet. I had always been rather uninterested in computers, apart from some BASIC programming in the 80's. But, now I saw an application with the internet and the things I could find there. Now, I had reason to be interested and learn. I started off with a 486SX33  with 8Mb of RAM, WFW3.11 and a 33.6K modem. I had an account with One Net and was limited to 56 hours per month before extra charges were added. Unthinkable now!


The 2000's.
This was the Model T decade. A lot of time was spent working on the T and attending club runs. It was also my introduction to swap meets and markets. I used to enthusiastically attend the big swap meets; Wagga, Ballarat, and Bendigo. It was a lot of fun, but after a few years I had accumulated too much, and there actually wasn't much left I was interested in. A lot of swap meet stalls are now owned by dealers with inflated prices, and ebay had a large impact.
I started my interest in mountain biking in 2001 with a cheap bike just to explore the trails near home. It developed into quite an obsession and a collection of bikes.
Life changed somewhat with my family moving to Tasmania in 2003. Now, I was on my own in the mountains. A job restructure at the end of 2005 was very stressful, and I found myself appreciating the beaches and bush even more as an escape from the stress and obnoxious people. Whilst I did eventually get my old position back, it was never the same. I didn't feel the same kind of belonging to my work, and by now the travelling was becoming very tiring. Projects and repairs I'd do in the evening after work barely happen now. Once the house was paid off I immediately started working towards an early retirement. The good times can then begin...


The 2010's.
In 2012, I finally got a Monitor Top referigerator. I had wanted one of these since seeing one of at my friend's grandmother's house in 1979. This was a huge learning curve, more so than the Model T, delving into the foreign world of refrigeration. Exactly a year later I got another. This time things were becoming second nature so restoring the second one was much easier.
December 3rd of 2013 at 9am saw the last analog TV signals being switched off. I recorded the whole thing optically, with an array of TV sets on all the channels, as well as direct recordings on VCR's.
It was a poignant moment as I drove to work afterwards, looking down at Sydney knowing that the AM and FM television signals that had existed since June of 1956 were no longer. Now, reception was entirely in the digital world. On a positive note, I reflected on the fact that unlike in the UK when the 405 line system was shut down, we now had cheap digital tuners which allowed the continued use of old sets. I was the subject of two newspaper articles on the subject at the time. My TV collecting reputation had got around...
At last an end was in sight for work, with a move to a location even further away proposed by my employer for early 2017. This would be impractical to travel to, and so will be the perfect point at which to quit. 24 years of train travel has taken its toll, and with all the sick people spreading their illnesses on public transport, it had become very unpleasant.

I commenced long service leave on the 19th June 2017, for 18 months. When this finishes the plan is to finally resign. As I write this, it is the last day of August 2017. The most noteable thing about having been off work for 2.5 months is how much better, physically and metally I feel.
I have not been sick since the end of May, which was the last time I caught a train. It is a Utopian existance for now, very relaxing, and I don't have to associate with people I don't like. I feel no connection with TAFE now and do not miss work at all. The only thing I have to be careful of is money because I am on half pay. One bill can wipe out a week's pay, so timing when I pay them is important.
No longer having high speed internet to take advantage of at work, I finally got ADSL at home. Some would be surprised I had dial up internet for 19 years! However, the ease of just being able to turn on a computer, and use any site whenever I like, can be a bit of a time waster (as it was at work).
It is rather amusing when people think I would have nothing to do when I stopped work. It is true that some people have no life outside of work, but I'm the opposite. So far, I've been getting plenty of beach time, and I am getting through my tidying up and sorting of my junk, as well as getting projects done. What is really great is being able to catch up with my friends any time, rather than hoping I had a free day on weekends.
It's also great for going to the beach - instead of worrying if the weather is going to be crappy on the weekend, now I can just go on the next clear day, whenever that is.
Now that I'm in the mountains most of the time, I've found I've acclimatised to the winter temperature much more so than when I was commuting to work. I found myself now being able to wear shorts through winter.


Cars.
Being a mechanically minded person, it was only natural I'd develop an interest in cars. I went through a car phase in the late 80's when I did quite a lot of work on them for myself and friends.
The first car I was involved with was a 1972 Renault 12 which had belonged to my grandfather. However, that didn't last long when one night a drunk driver ran into it before driving into the kitchen wall of our house in Northbridge. Mainly because of a college friend, I became obsessed with RT80/RT81 Toyota Coronas. So, with the insurance payout on the Renault, I got a 1970 Corona. In retrospect, it was a bit of a shit box, but loved it to death at the time. It's the car I got my licence in. The clutch was worn out, but I became skilled at driving with a slipping clutch and the guy doing my driving test was none the wiser.
Like all 1970's cars, the rust had set in so it was the procedure every year before the registration inspection to scrape out the rust, fill it in, and repaint it.
Meanwhile, my college friend told me about a 1973 Datsun 180B which the owner had dumped outside his block of flats and would I want it? It was in Kensington, so one morning we went and got it. It had a blown headgasket and no back brakes, but we eventually started it and I drove it home. What really surprised me was the handling, for it had independent rear suspension. It turned out to be a much better car than the Corona which was eventually given to a family friend. The bodywork was in appalling condition, with a dent in every panel except the driver's door. Both rear guards were about 25% plastic filler, and the paintwork was peeling. It looked like a classic wreck, but with fantastic performance. I did a lot of work on that car, but sadly one morning driving to work, it was written off when a snob in a Merc drove through a red light at me. The 180B's chassis was bent so there was no hope for it being repaired. Its replacement was a 1975 TA22 Celica, not very practical, but I liked the look. In 1994, I bought something I should have years before, a dual cab YN58 Hilux ute. It turned out to be the ideal vehicle, being able to fit large TV sets and other stuff with ease. I'm still driving it over 20 years later!
I lost interest in modern cars in the early 90's once they all became generic plastic bubbles, all computer controlled with fuel injection.

Memorable Electronic Projects:
1976: First mains project being a simple lamp. Unfortunately, the switch in the light socket had a tendency to short out from time to time and it blew the fuse at my grandfather's flat at Nelson Bay when I took it there in the August holidays.
1976: At the age of eight, I started experimenting with fixed electrical fittings. I got my first batten mount light socket, architrave switch, and power point. Later I got a fluorescent lamp.
1977:  6V 150mA power supply. Being deprived and unable to afford dry cells to power my electronic experiments, I built this in the August holidays of 1977. It was just a DSE-2851 transformer feeding a bridge rectifier. I didn't add a filter condenser until years later. As I also discovered later, one of the diodes in the rectifier was open circuit (and still is).
1978: An issue of "Easy Electronics" inspired me to build their variable power supply. Capable of 1A output at 6 to 12V, it used a DSE-2155 transformer feeding a rectifier via a rotary switch. Output was fused. Needless to say, my excessive demands on it meant constant fuse and diode blowing.
1978: A very crude inverter using a horn relay and a 240V-14V transformer. This was more of an experiment than a proper project. The use of a relay as a vibrator was never reliable, and knowing nothing about arc suppression, the contacts started to weld together. Furthermore, the half wave operation was incredibly inefficient.
1979: A real death trap this one; I made a power supply capable of about 250mA DC to run small motors and lamps. I wanted to use a valve and found that in order to overcome the high voltage drop, the mains was used via a 75W light bulb. The heater of the 5Y3 was fed off a 6.3V transformer (naughty!) and there was no isolation from the mains. The output voltage was of course dependent on the load. Such naivety back then!
1979: My first practical inverter, using a V5123 vibrator running a battery charger transformer backwards. It worked well except for one thing; the output voltage was low - about 180V. I did not understand transformer ratios at this time.
1980: Attempts at radio transmission using spark gap technology. I tried modulating with a carbon microphone....you could hear that something was being said, but not what it was. A telephone buzzer was used to drive a car ignition coil with the carbon microphone.
1980: Telephone to friend's house across the road where I lived in Goroka, New Guinea. We used a set of Plessey magneto field telephones. Single wire with earth return was used.
1981: Attempts at voice frequency radio transmission. Very short range! The method was to feed the speaker output of an Electrosound radiogram (push pull 6V6's) into a car ignition coil primary; the secondary simply connected to a long wire aerial. To receive, a long wire aerial was connected to the microphone input of a radio/cassette recorder.
1981: Built a primitive CRO, using a photocopier corona power supply (16KV) to feed a 16" TV CRT. The timebase was just 50 cycles fed into the horizontal yoke winding, and the vertical was a 2N3055 modulating the DC through the vertical yoke. Rather poor gain with only one transistor which wasn't even biassed!
1982: Solar powered radio which would have worked had I known about biassing silicon transistors! The prototype did work as it used a germanium transistor which will function at low levels without external bias.
1982: 4 Line Central Battery Telephone exchange. This was to drive my CB telephones I'd been acquiring from Tempe disposals for $2 each.
1983: Got into CB radio this year, with a 9 channel National CB radio that was being sold off cheap by Dick Smith.
1983: 50W inverter. A much more professionally built inverter, using a V5258 vibrator. I used this to power my 12" Princess TV set and Sanyo radio cassette recorder in the car fairly often. Performance was good.
1983: Later in the year I attempted a 21" TV set based on the May 1957 RTV&H design.
1984: With the success of the 21" set, I built the 5" September 1957 design with a 5BP1 CRT (I bought the remaining 5BP1 stock from Deitch Bros. for $2 ea.) I used more modern valves in most of my version, such as 12AU7's instead of 6SN7's. Before I built the IF strip, I used to feed in video from my Philips N1700 and Grundig 2X4 Plus VCR's.
1984:  Built my first valve radio using a 6BL8 and 6BM8, based on EA's Three Band Three.
1984: (Xmas holidays) It was becoming evident that I couldn't see what was going on with my TV sets in the electrical sense, so I built a CRO from June 1960 RTVH, again with a 5BP1. It got me by quite well, even when I started Tech, I could do the labs at home.
1985: As a tech project I built a 2 valve car radio with 6BM8, 6BL8 and 614 vibrator. It was based on my mains operated version of the Three Band Two.
1985: My inverters got bigger! As another tech project I built the June 1982 EA 300W inverter. Unfortunately I found some design faults, with the voltage regulation unable to deal with low power factor loads. Also, the idea of blowing a fuse on thermal overload was just dumb! This inverter was rebuilt in 2004 with improved overload protection and auto start, in preparation for my 12V home lighting plant.
1985: As another tech project, I built an AM stereo radio with the EA stereo decoder design and valves for the rest. The converter was 6BL8, IF 6CQ6, and audio a pair of 6BL8's. Instability was dreadful and was the start of my dislike of superhets.
1985: Added automatic regeneration to my 6BL8/6BM8 regenerative receiver. I also added a synchronous vibrator power supply with a V5124 vibrator and an RF amp stage to allow both mains and car operation. I clearly remember going down Bulli Pass listening to 2WL playing Steve Miller's "Big Old Jet Airliner" on this radio. This radio also spent a day out in a boat jammed into a milk crate with a car battery, on Lake Munmorah during the May holidays. Coming back down the F3 I remember Debarge singing "Rhythm of the Night" on 2UW. I had a lot of attachment to this radio...it would perform everywhere. Alas, the medium wave band lost its appeal in 1987 and the chassis got more and more mutilated as I tried adding various kinds of FM receiver. Eventually pulled the whole thing apart in 1988.
1986: Bike radio. Using 6 germanium transistors, I made this superhet to work off my bike generator. Of course since I insist on class A amplifiers, this radio used a single ended output stage. Performance was quite good actually with the radio strapped to the top tube and the speaker on the handlebars. Lots of filter capacitance kept the radio operating for a while when the bike stopped.
1987: With the closure of 2SM as we knew it, the AM band was no longer enticing, so this began my super regen receiver experiments to receive the FM stations.
1987: Two transistor reflex receiver experiments. I was duplicating 1950's transistor radio designs that used only two transistors and could drive a speaker.
1988: Learnt all about TV aerials this year and the virtues of using 300 Ohm ribbon for UHF. No more snow!
1990: I discovered the Pulse Counting FM receiver. At last I had a simple FM receiver that gave good sound with good sensitivity.
1990: First experiments with the Philips TDA7000 IC led me to make a mains operated FM receiver with this IC. Valves were 6X4, 6AV6 and 6DX8. Live chassis power supply used with my original DSE-2155 transformer to power the heaters.
1991: Capacitor discharge ignition.
1992: My portable FM receiver to listen to on the train, now that I was commuting to Sydney from Woodford every day.
1992: Radio telephone. This used normal PMG telephones with a radio interface to talk to a friend in Sydney. It was a very elaborate selective call system with voice activated switching. I even had an answering machine at my end! It worked quite well over the 80km distance.
1993: Reproduced Baird's 30 line mechanical television. I'd been wanting to do this since I was 12!
I have finished the receiver ( aka. Televisor) but have yet to do the optics and electronics for the transmitter. I got the Nipkow discs cut by a place in Smithfield and drilled the holes myself.
1994: Nixie Tube alarm clock. Based on a 1973 ETI design, I incorporated an alarm function. This clock still wakes me every morning. I converted it to 12V operation in 2011.
1994: 12V 20W fluorescent light. Always had a fascination for 12V fluoro lights, but the ordinary 6-8W ones were boring, so I made a real mains brightness one with a 20W tube.
1995: Clock UPS. With the unreliable mains in the Blue Mts, I had to build this. It uses 10 D size NiCads as backup supply and will keep the clock going for about 1.5hrs.
1996: My second and somewhat more professional attempt at  the  Fremodyne FM receiver.
1996: 60W vibrator inverter. This replaced my 1983 model.
1996: 12V Pulse Counting Receiver. Self contained with varicap tuning and vibrator power supply.
1997: The start of the Galaxy MDS pay TV decoders. I designed many versions over the next couple of years. Eventually I had such refinements as remote control and automatic decoder switching.
1997: With 2SM reincarnated as the ultimate radio station ( this was my dreams come true...not one thing in their playlist I didn't like), I recreated my AM stereo radio with 6AN7, 6N8, 2 x 6AW8's and a 6X4.
1997: TRF receiver using one stage of RF amplification and infinite impedance detector. Valves are 3x 6BX6 and 21A6.
1998: TRF receiver with 3 RF stages. Always wanted to compare a TRF set to a superhet or regenerative set. It's about in between as I found. So I built one, with 6L6 output and 6SN7 infinite impedance detector. The fidelity of this receiver is superb.
1999:  Reincarnation of the Three Band Two in its most basic form with 6BL8 and 6AL5 rectifier. I built this in a modern plastic instrument case.
2000:  Pulse counting receiver in the same type of plastic case as above. (They sit on top of each other in their matching cases). I could get away with a live chassis power supply to keep the set compact.
2001: 250W inverter for my solar powered shed. This uses the EA Feb. 1979 design but I added a few refinements such as auto start.
2002: Micro FM receiver. One 12AT7 valve provides headphone reception of FM stations.
2003: 6 to 12V converter. This is to operate things like a tyre pump in my Model T Ford.
2003: Two transistor reflex radio. Another of my germanium transistor specials, this has excellent performance with speaker reception of Sydney stations at home and on the train.
2003: One Tube FM Tuner from Popular Electronics. I'd had the article for a while and finally built it, more out of curiosity as to its performance than anything else. It was pretty dreadful.
2004: Model T Ford radio. TDA7000 IC fed a 3 valve amplifier powered from a synchronous vibrator. The TDA7000 receiver was mounted under the dash with the speaker above the steering column and the amplifier/power supply under the seat.
2005: AM/FM tuner/amplifier using a 6CM5 for the output. Rebuilt for 12V operation in 2011. Added automatic regeneration control in 2014.
2006: Improved Model T Ford radio using all valve circuitry including a super regenerative detector for FM reception.
2006: Installation of wiring, solar panels and wind generator for 12V home lighting plant.
2008: One valve battery receiver using a 1J6.
2008: One valve FM receiver using a 6DX8. This was an attempt to make a loudspeaking FM radio with the minimum of parts.
2008:  Three valve regenerative receiver. A reincarnation of my 1984 model. Automatic regeneration control added later.
2010: 12V valve superhet
2010: TV aerial from RTV&H December 1956.
2011: 12V VHF receiver
2012: 6 to 9V converter for Model T ignition.
2012: Power supply for coffin set. Converts 12VDC to A, B, &C supplies for the 1929 Renown Special Three.
2012: Self oscillating 20W 240V inverter with germanium transistors.
2013: Model T Ford coil tester.
2014: Low power AM transmitter.
2015: 2" TV receiver.
2016: Another 5BP1 television receiver.
2017: Valve car amplifier.




 
 
 



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