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Hints, Tips and Solutions (Do NOT post requests for help here) If you have any useful general hints and tips for vintage technology repair and restoration, please share them here. PLEASE DO NOT POST REQUESTS FOR HELP HERE!

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Old 26th Dec 2013, 8:55 pm   #1
Stylo N M
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Default Improvising with Household Items.

Hi all,
This is a thread where you might like to add any hints or tips about any household items that you might have had to hand, which got you out of a jam at the last minute, and really looked the part when completed.

For example, I used the wire hanger from an old calendar, bent it into shape, and fitted it as a tuning dial pointer. It looked great from the outside, and with a tiny piece of red felt stuck on the end of it that you get from the craft shops I was quite proud of it.
Also, using tiny plastic cotton bobbins, with the ends cut off, to push into holes drilled for extra ventilation.

(If you throw it away today you'll need it tomorrow)
Paul.

Last edited by AC/HL; 27th Dec 2013 at 2:14 am. Reason: Readability
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Old 27th Dec 2013, 8:54 am   #2
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

I guess that using the cardboard tubes out of old toilet rolls as coil formers doesn't quite qualify..... However, I do collect odd bits of all forms of materials as an act of faith, properly sorted in to ferrous, non-ferrous, polymeric and "other" types. I just love the feeling you get when you desperately need a bit of "something"....and there it is, just waiting to be made use of .
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Old 27th Dec 2013, 9:26 am   #3
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

I once made up some replacement bias- and filament-voltage-potentiometer knobs for a restored no-name 1920s 3-valve radio by using hexagonal nuts from old 3/4-inch brass compression-fittings. A modelmaker acquaintance turned up some brass bungs to fit inside the nuts, with a 1/4-inch hole bored down the middle for the spindle. Nuts were then soldered to the bungs and the final result looked rather chunkily appropriate given the overall design style of the radio.

Old radiator-valves also provide inch-and-a-half lengths of 1/4-inch-diameter brass rod, and the gland-nuts can be repurposed/cleaned up to serve as nice brass bushings where you want to extend or support a control-spindle.
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Old 27th Dec 2013, 8:50 pm   #4
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

I used a short length of white plastic covered net curtain wire to replace the broken extending aerial on a R/C car remote, Screwed an eye into one end for safety and clamped the other end inside the remote. Worked a treat.
My four year old grandson can now use his car again !.
This idea might work as a temporary fix on a transistor radio.
Peter W.........Reelguy.
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Old 28th Dec 2013, 9:45 pm   #5
mike_newcomb
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

Hi,

a couple of days back, a relative had one of 'those' jackplugs on a tablet psu that would only connect when held in a certain position.

A short length of toothpick, including the point, overcame that problem.

Regards - Mike
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Old 29th Dec 2013, 3:26 am   #6
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

When I was working at Plesseys in the early 1970's, they made a robust stubby antenna for one of their prototype hand-held military radios from two lengths of steel tape measure, cut to length and laid face to face, rivetted together at the ends, and covered with a rubber boot. Not sure what they used for production as I wasn't involved in that project.
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Old 29th Dec 2013, 9:28 am   #7
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

The "tape whip antenna" was used in the production versions of the PRC344 military-airband manpack radio as well as for the elements of an elevated discone antenna for use with the same radio. It was also one of the options on several US 1960s/1970s manpacks.

I've used the plastic-coated-spiral curtain-wire with a length of 16G copper wire fed down the inside and soldered/araldited into a "N" connector as a quick 2-metre portable antenna.
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Old 29th Dec 2013, 9:59 am   #8
vinrads
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

Last Christmas I used the innards of a small tape measure from a cracker, as a tuning band on my Atwater Kent radio perfect size.
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Old 29th Dec 2013, 12:57 pm   #9
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

I wanted to use a WS-19 in a static display. It was mostly cosmetically fit but the tuning knob for the B-set was missing.

I used the serrated lid off a large diameter coffee jar cut down to about 1/4 inch and sprayed black. Looked good!
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Old 29th Dec 2013, 7:49 pm   #10
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

Again on a seasonal note, a standard Christmas pud basin made a very serviceable substitute for the unaccountably missing plastic pod (some versions have a built plywood section instead) which isolates the tweeter in an original model Leak Sandwich loudspeaker. Perfect fit and very similar dimensions all round to the bowl initially fitted: I wasn't able to compare its response curve but it sounded fine to me

Paul
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Old 29th Dec 2013, 9:23 pm   #11
Barry Lloyd
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

Last year I smashed the glass on my favourite test meter. It doesn't owe me anything, as I've had it for 35 years, and it wasn't new then, but It's not as big as the Avo and I understand its foibles. Needing a small piece of thin glass I went round the corner to the local charity shop and bought a small picture frame. I think it was around 50p. I cut the glass to size and glued it into the meter. Success! This year I may even get a new battery for it, though I'll probably have to buy that.

Barry
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Old 30th Dec 2013, 11:51 pm   #12
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul_RK View Post
a standard Christmas pud basin made a very serviceable substitute for the unaccountably missing plastic pod (some versions have a built plywood section instead) which isolates the tweeter in an original model Leak Sandwich loudspeakerl
Reminds me of a little early 50's Fergy TV I bought at the NVCF a couple of years ago. Although the back cover was present, the metal cone covering the sharp end of the CRT was missing and had been replaced with a tub from a microwaveable pudding. Thin and soft, it afforded very little in the way of protection!

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Old 31st Dec 2013, 6:54 pm   #13
llama
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

A PW TRF design in the '60s used toothpaste caps as the knobs for tuning and volume. It's an idea that has stuck with me but I've never tried.

In a similar vein, I needed "cheeks" for an inductor I was winding and used the caps off baby food squeezy sachets and holt-melt glued them on the ends of a ferrite rod before winding on the wire. I'd actually been saving them as wheels for a Mister Maker type activity but this use is better!

Graham
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Old 1st Jan 2014, 11:08 pm   #14
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

My first oscilloscope had a 5BP1 CRT. A large hole in the front panel had an equally large red plastic plant pot inserted into it, sitting on the outer step near the 'top' of the plant pot. the base was cut-out and the conical inside was lined with draught-excluder foam. The CRT slid in and was pulled back into the foam from its base clamp.

Bill-and-Ben technology!

David
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Old 6th Jan 2014, 11:32 pm   #15
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

Quote:
Originally Posted by G6Tanuki View Post
I've used the plastic-coated-spiral curtain-wire with a length of 16G copper wire fed down the inside and soldered/araldited into a "N" connector as a quick 2-metre portable antenna.
Me too, except I used a bit of piano wire from a model shop - make a nice springy antenna.
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Old 7th Jan 2014, 12:28 am   #16
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

Some lengths of thick cardboard tube from a carpet shop turned into rear-loading housings for the KEF B110 drivers ina set of speakers I built. Not directly domestic stuff, but free...

David
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Old 7th Jan 2014, 9:05 am   #17
llama
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

I've been saving RFID tags for a few months. I see a printed coil and presumably some simple electronics in the centre. With the shortage of Toko etc coils, these must be useful for something RF-ish!
Graham
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Old 7th Jan 2014, 3:52 pm   #18
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

The foam washers from packs of CD's/DVD's are the ideal size for using behind DAC90A knobs.
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Old 8th Jan 2014, 12:41 am   #19
ben
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

I recently had to find some replacement earpads for several educational headsets. The outer surface was torn and the foam below was showing its age.
They were I think 9.5cm in diameter, and all the ones I found were too small. The 'official' ones were over my budget, especially since I was working on multiple units. So I decided to make some. I needed some fairly wear-resistant, wipe-clean material yet which was soft on the ears.

Solution: an old leather (or leather substitute!) padded handbag from a charity place for 1€!
I used black, but plenty of colours available ;-)
Cut the pads to size, stitched to the old bases. Job's a good 'un.
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Old 8th Jan 2014, 12:07 pm   #20
MALC SCOTT
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Default Re: Improvising with Household Items.

When iI was a kid, an old man at the top of our street had a bar of soap with two knitting needles stuck in it for a set top aerial for his old Brc 850.
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