Here’s The Norwegian Tape Deck Teardown You’ve Been Waiting For

“They just don’t build ’em like they used to” is a truer statement every year. Whether your vice is CRTs, film cameras, or tape decks, you’ll know that the very best gear simply isn’t manufactured anymore. Even the day-to-day stuff from 60 years ago is often a cut above a lot of today’s equipment. [Anthony Kouttron] shows us this with his teardown of a Tandberg TCD301 from many decades ago.

The Tandberg unit is beautifully finished in wood and metal, a style of construction that’s fairly rare these days. It’s got big, chunky controls, and a certain level of heft that is out of vogue in modern electronics. Heavy used to mean good — these days, it means old. That’s not to say it’s indestructible, though. It’s full of lots of old plastic pulleys and fasteners that have aged over the decades, so it’s a little fragile inside.

Still, [Anthony] gives us a great look at the aluminium chassis and buttons and the electromechanical parts inside. It’s a rats-nest design with lots of discrete components and wires flying between boards. You couldn’t economically produce this and sell it to anyone today, but this is how it was done so many years ago.

This non-functional unit ended up being little more than a salvage job, but we’re still glad that [Anthony] gave us a look inside. Still, if you long for more cassette-themed teardowns, we’ve got the goodness you’re looking for!

Waveform Generator Teardown Is Nearly Empty

We always enjoy [Kerry Wong]’s insightful teardowns, and recently, he opened up a UTG1042X arbitrary waveform generator. Getting inside was a bit of a challenge since there were no visible screws. Turns out, they were under some stickers. We always dislike that because it is very difficult to get the unit to go back together.

Once open, the case reveals it is almost completely empty. The back panel has a power supply, and the front panel has all the working circuitry. The box seems to be for holding the foot and preventing the device from getting lost on your bench.

The power supply is unremarkable. There are a few odd output voltages. The main board is a bit more interesting, especially after removing the heat sink. There are two channels, but the board isn’t laid out, with a lot of segregation between the two channels. That makes sense with the output sections clustered together and the digital section with the CPU, FPGA, and the DAC in close proximity.

The other side of the board connects to a very simple display board. It would be interesting to compare this to a circa-1980s AWG, which would have been far more complicated.

Making a waveform generator with a microprocessor and a DAC isn’t hard. The hard part is the output stages and maximizing the operating speed.

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Voice Control For A Vintage Heathkit Radio

Most modern ham rigs have a voice activated transmission (VOX) mode, although we don’t know many people who use it often. When a transmitter is in VOX mode, it starts transmitting when you talk, and then, when you pause for a second or two, the transmitter turns off. Many old ham transmitters, though, didn’t support VOX, so Heathkit sold the VX-1 “electronic voice control” to add VOX to older transmitters. [Jeff Tranter] shows us inside a clean-looking unit.

These devices were sold from 1958 to 1960 and used tubes and a selenium rectifier. The device is connected between the microphone and the transmitter. It also sat between the receiver and the speaker to mute audio while transmitting. The original unit had a screw terminal to connect to the outside world, and some of the screws had live line voltage on them. The unit [Jeff] examines is modified to have phono jacks along with a few other repairs.

The wiring looks like a tube radio. Tubes are above the chassis, and point-to-point wiring is underneath. There is also an unusual sealed selenium rectifier. [Jeff] shows how the device works using just a receiver. A few minor repairs were needed.

If you are interested in getting your ham license, most modern radios support VOX out of the box — no rhyme intended. We do, however, love that old Heathkit gear.

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Danish Vintage LRC Meter Reveals Inside

Modern test equipment is great, but there’s something about a big meter with a swinging needle and a mirror for parallax correction that makes a device look like real gear. [Thomas] shows us a Danish LCR meter (or, as it says on the front, an RLC meter). The device passes AC through the component and uses that to determine the value based on the setting of a range switch. It looks to be in great shape and passed some quick tests. Have a look at it in the video below.

An outward inspection shows few surprises, although there is an odd set of terminals on the back labeled DC bias. This allows you to provide a DC voltage in case you have a capacitor that behaves differently when the capacitor has a DC voltage across it. Continue reading “Danish Vintage LRC Meter Reveals Inside”

Vintage Particle Counter Is A Treasure Trove Of Classic Parts

If you need a demonstration of just how far technology has come in the last 40 years, just take a look at this teardown of a 1987 laser particle counter.

Granted, the laser-powered instrument that [Les Wright] scored off of eBay wasn’t exactly aimed at consumers. Rather, this was more likely an instrument installed in cleanrooms to make sure the particulate counts didn’t come out of range. As such, it was built like a battleship in a huge case stuffed with card after card of electronics, along with the attendant pumps and filters needed to draw in samples. But still, the fact that we can put essentially the same functionality into a device that easily fits in the palm of your hand is pretty striking.

[Les] clearly bought this instrument to harvest parts from it, and there’s a ton of other goodness inside, including multiple copies of pretty much every chip from the Z80 family. The analog section has some beautiful Teledyne TP1321 op-amps in TO-99 cans. Everything is in immaculate condition, and obsolete or not, this is an enviable haul of vintage parts, especially the helium-neon laser at its heart, which still works. [Les] promises an in-depth look at that in a follow-up video, but for now, he treats us to a little tour of the optics used to measure particulates by the amount of laser light that’s scattered.

All things considered, [Les] really made out well on this find — much better than his last purchase.

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Teardown Of Two Russian Missile Sensors

Recently [Michel] received two packages from Ukraine containing some salvaged Russian electronics that once belonged to (presumably) a 9K38 Igla, Vympel R-27 or similar infrared homing missile, as well as a Fiber Optic Gyroscope (FOG) from an unknown missile, though possibly from the Tornado family of MRLSes. The latter uses the Sagnac effect to detect the phase shift between two laser beams being injected into the same fiber when the fiber, and thus the device, are rotating. The advantage of such a gyroscope is that it is effectively solid-state, requiring only some optical components, amplifier stage and as shown here an Altera Cyclone II FPGA to integrate the results.

The 16-channel linear infrared array sensor is more basic, with a matching amplification channel for each optical receiver element, which are fed into a multiplexer IC in a rather remarkable looking ceramic-gold packaged DIP format, with what looks like a 2004 date code (‘0424’). Although both are rather damaged, [Michel] figures that he might be able to restore the FOG to working condition, assuming no crucial and irreplaceable parts are missing. As useful as FOGs are in missiles, they also have countless uses outside of military applications.

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The Height Of 1960s Dental Electronic Technology

If you’ve ever been to the dental surgery and found yourself requiring some gum surgery, the chances are you’ll have found your dentist wielding an electronic probe to cauterise the flesh. It’s evidently some form of RF device because you are usually required to hold one of the electrodes while it’s being used, but annoyingly, for an engineer, it’s hardly the time or place to ask how it works. For the curious, then, [Keri Szafir] has the box of tricks behind the probe and is subjecting it to a teardown.

The box on her bench isn’t the one you’ll find in your dentist’s toolkit today, but its distant ancestor from the 1960s that integrates multiple functions into a single box. It’s a very period enclosure with typically 1960s-style vacuum tubes and point-to-point wiring. There’s an HF oscillator using a pair of EL81 power pentodes for that electrode you always wished you could ask your dentist about, and unexpectedly, a thyratron, a type of gas-filled switching tube not dissimilar to a thyristor, in a separate circuit for dental pulp testing. We’re not dental experts here at Hackaday, but [Keri] has done the research and explains the device in the video below the break. At one point, she observes that it’s quite a scary machine to be connected to a living person, and we can concur with that.

Her bench has provided a few projects here in the past, including one of her amplifiers. While it might be fun to tear down a more modern version, you are better off asking for old dental burrs.

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