A GECoPHONE at Standen House

Discussion in 'The Barracks' started by SteveDee, Oct 8, 2018.

  1. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    One of many interesting objects I noticed yesterday, while walking around Standen House, was this 1920s Crystal Set.

    Its basically an AM wireless for one or two people to listen via headphones to the LW and MW broadcasts of the day.

    It requires no batteries or mains plug because there is enough energy in local transmissions to drive high impedance headphones. All that is required is a long aerial wire, an earth connection, and a servicable detector (in this case a "cat's whisker").

    This set originally cost over £5, a tidy sum in the mid-1920s, and certainly beyond the reach of either set of my grandparents. But by the early 1960s, I was able to build my first crystal set from bits robbed from old radio and tv chassis (a germanium diode used in place of a cat's whisker).

    So it set me wondering. I believe some POWs were able to secretly build simply radios like this during WW2. Where did they get the parts? And how were they smuggled into the camps?
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  2. Blutto

    Blutto Plane Mad

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  3. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    Thanks Blutto, that's brilliant.

    I didn't know the trick with a razor blade, and making 'headphones' with nails, wire & a tin can is pure genius.
  4. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

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  5. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    Thar's amazing, a 130V powered valve wireless!
  6. SteveDee

    SteveDee Well-Known Member

    A story comes to mind which is almost opposite to the 'POWs building radios' stories.

    Around about 1970 I found myself working with a guy I will call "Ray". Ray was a teenager in the 1950s so was called up for national service just a few years after the end of WW2.

    He and a fellow solder were keen on constructing radios and electronics in general, so set about building their own set from whatever they could find. I can't remember where they were stationed, but within the grounds of their camp there was an old mobile radar unit. It hadn't been used in years and was really just a broken object that the solders used to climb over or run around when they were training.

    Ray and his radio mate had most of the parts they needed for their project, except for a mains transformer. So they had the idea of cutting one out of this old radar unit, and replacing the control panel so no one would notice.

    All was well until a few months later when someone decided to refurbish the mobile radar unit.

    Long-story-short; Ray and his mate owned up to taking the transformer and were arrested, found guilty of sabotage, and sent to Colchester Military Prison.

    Ray told me that conditions there were unbelievable. The staff were violent, and the inmates were given very little food. Within 3 weeks, Ray was hunting for food scraps in the pig swill bins where stuff from the kitchens was dumped. He couldn't imagine being worse off if he had been in a German POW camp.

    I like to think that these days, the military have a duty of care over our sons & daughters when they sign up for military service. Although even in the last 30 years there have been some dreadful tragedies.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018

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