SPECIAL PROJECTS


In the final years of the 20th century I decided to diversify the activities of Radiocraft and develop several exciting new ideas. Some of these had an application in the vintage radio field, some did not. Several were developed with the generous support of Tim Fraser, owner of the Fraser Label Company Ltd., a specialist printing firm based in Richmond, London. The Retrovisor (tv) was developed in partnership with Bryan Webb of Wizard Solutions, now sadly deceased.

Apart from the enormous expense of patenting, the biggest problem with all these projects lay in the marketing. Often, what seemed like brilliant ideas would wither and die when exposed to the cold commercial reality of the marketplace. In general I found that people are very conservative in what they are prepared to invest in - or buy for themselves. Any dramatically new idea meets a wall of inertia.

Here's a brief description of these projects. Many now have a dated look to them. Most resulted in products which were taken to market but some remained simply as ideas and one (NBTV) is really a hobby. Click on the links below and enjoy !

 
 

Harmony range

Harmony dial

HARMONY

The year 1988 saw a continuing economic boom in the UK. Designer objects were in great demand for decorating people's rooms, particularly by the so-called 'yuppies' whose values had become fashionable.

Developed to fill this need, the Harmony was inspired by the round-topped 'cathedral' look sought after by radio collectors. This compact receiver was available in a choice of four colours.

Special features included 'Tailored Tone' for excellent sound quality and 'Artificial Warm-up' on this transistorised set - for mimicking the valve radio experience !  Harmony's colourful dial was screen printed and back-lit by three lamps.



 

BLOCKHEAD

Three alternative approaches were developed to make this ''one-time'' valve, intended for sealing in the necks of whisky bottles - to prevent refilling with counterfeit liquor.

This project never progressed beyond the design stage, since the original golden promises of commercial interest never materialised once I had actually come up with a design.

Blockhead
  COPYCODER

Copycoder

The Copycoder, an optical encryption panel, was always my favourite product, since it incorporated some entirely new optical technology which I had independently developed in response to a request from industry. Before the Copycoder, nobody knew if such a device was possible.
 
The Copycoder was a flat plastic panel (containing patented lens elements) which was placed between a document and a photocopier. From the photocopier an encrypted version of the document would emerge.

The Copycoder would also work in reverse, ie. viewing the encrypted copy through it would enable this to be instantly decoded and read.

Today the Copycoder is on the market as a coding toy. More at www.copycoder.com .

Copycoder demonstration
 


Detinnitiser III illustrated

DETINNITISER

In April 2003, following an ill-advised course of intensive neck massage, I suddenly started suffering from tinnitus, a distressing condition which causes a phantom 'sound' to be heard continuously. In my case this was a high-pitched shrieking whistle in both ears. Although it would vary throughout the day, there seemed to be no escape from it. My quality of life seemed to have gone. For a while I even considered doing myself in.

I then started to develop various ideas in an attempt to relieve this condition. Two lines of inquiry met with success. The first was to wear a small amplifier which only amplified sound around the tinnitus frequencies. This replaced the tinnitus 'noise' with information-bearing sound and the brain then couldn't hear the tinnitus. The second method involved generating a special signal which exploits a natural effect in the hearing system called 'residual inhibition'.

Today this has been taken much further and the fifth version of the 'Detinnitiser' is in small-scale production. A smartphone "app" is also in prospect.

Click here for more information: www.detinnitiser.com

 

  405-LINE MODULATOR

These crystal-controlled VHF modulators were available for a time. Placed between a video recorder playing a 405-line tape - and a vintage tv - they made possible the viewing of programmes on early television sets using the now-obsolete British transmission standard. For more on vintage television, click HERE.

 

Modulator
 


NBTV

One of my more unusual hobbies. I spent untold hours constructing these television devices which used various low definition 'narrow-band' (thus NBTV) technical standards, involving mechanical (rather than electronic) scanning of the picture.

 
 

Above left you see my 'Grosvenor' constructed in 1997 - the first 30-line colour television set produced since 1928 !  And on the far right, there's a full-colour camera and monitor working on 45-lines and using coloured fluorescent tubes to produce the modulated light. In between, we see a 60-line mirror screw - the world's largest - built in 2012 (out of its cabinet) - and the resulting picture.

There's a yearly Narrow Band Television Association convention at Loughborough University where such things are demonstrated.  The NBTVA is a thriving club devoted to NBTV. Click HERE to take a look.  Lastly you can click HERE to see a 240-line test card as it would appear if transmitted in frame-sequential colour (127KB .avi). Be sure to have your movie viewer set to 'repeat forever' or it won't work.

 

 

OPTICAL BROADCASTING

 

This - almost literally "blue sky" - project is currently ongoing in 2016.

The idea is to broadcast a complete (old style analogue) vision-and-sound television channel by modulating its radio spectrum onto a beam of light.

There is lots of potential - and a lot of problems - to this idea. At time of writing a working test rig has successfully been completed.

The system's bandwidth is huge, but since it will only work in good weather conditions, it's felt that its potential lies with providing a service for vintage television enthusiasts rather than mainstream commercial applications.

Click HERE for the ongoing project notes.

 

 

 

PANDORA

This was an automatic 'invisible ink' ticket reader.

On inserting a ticket into the slot bearing an invisible message printed in photochromic ink, there would be an internal 'flash'. On removing the ticket - lo-and-behold - you could read the message.

 

Pandora

 

RADAPTOR

Radaptor

 

This was the second in my line of FM converters intended to enable reception of FM programmes on AM-only vintage radios, and this model used self seeking FM tuning.

The first product, called the 'Magic Box' had been a unit containing a car radio as the FM tuner and included an AM modulator built up on Veroboard.

 
REALAXATOR

The Realaxator (yes, the spelling is correct) generated an artificial sound which resembled ocean waves breaking on an exotic shore. It actually was very effective, and on many occasions it put me to sleep before I could switch it off - running down the battery !

Realaxator

 

 

RETROVISOR

This lovely product was the world's only 'retro' tv - namely a modern colour chassis housed in a high quality TV22-style fibreglass cabinet. It went through three generations and today these sets are out of production and very rare and valuable. Occasionally a reconditioned/guaranteed as-new example becomes available again through Radiocraft. Please email me if you want to be kept briefed.

 
 


You can read the whole story of the project HERE. and take a look at the brochure HERE. There is also more information on the Retrovisor HERE.

 


SPEEDY FM

The last in the line of my 'FM converters', this model did not incorporate a tuner, instead you plugged it into the small ancillary radio provided. This feature also made it easy to connect to any other audio source. SpeedyFM used a high-quality balanced-modulator circuit.

  SELECTAMATIC

Selectamatic portal

Founded in 1998, Selectamatic was my very own 'dot-com' which featured an elaborate JavaScript-driven ''web store'' where novice visitors could easily build their own web sites by selecting from a large range of templates and add-ons.


RADIO RESTORATIONS
TINNITUS RELIEF
SECRET MESSAGE FUN
A NEW 405-LINE TELEVISION SERVICE
Radiocraft Central
Detinnitiser
British Heritage Television

 
 

     
   
RADIOCRAFT
Main Street, Sedgeberrow, WR11 7UF, United Kingdom.