Where can I get my own vintage tv ?

There are regular swap-meets held all over the UK, Europe and the U.S. If you're in the UK, start by attending the National Vintage Communications Fair in Birmingham, England. Here, no membership of a society or club is required.

The magazine 405 Alive, the premier magazine for all interests related to vintage television is no longer published but is now incorporated in the bulletin of the British Vintage Wireless Society.

How much do they cost ?

There's a comprehensive listing of television prices on our Valuations Page.

Sets are only rarely are sold in working condition. Indeed (in the UK) to sell a set and state it is 'in working condition' is to imply the vendor has legal responsibility for safety and reliability, so this is an unwise course of action !

If you want to use your set, unless you are knowledgable yourself, do not try to repair it. The voltages inside television sets can KILL !!!  

What signal do I need to fire up my vintage television ?

British vintage televisions will only produce results from a long-obsolete type of television signal. This means that not only is the picture made up of fewer 'lines' (405 instead of 625), but also the radio carrier wave used is of far lower frequency than the one used today. So what's involved ?

First, it's necessary to provide an appropriate 405-line video signal for the old set. This is generally achieved by stepping down the more modern 625-line signal down to 405-lines, through the use of something called a standards converter.

Secondly, the 405-line picture has to be carried into the set atop a radio carrier of the appropriate frequency. This task is performed by a modulator.

Details of the US-made 'Aurora' converter/modulators are available online. One of these (the SCRF405A) is suitable for using with British vintage televisions and with import processing and VAT, costs around £200. These units have had excellent reviews.

Vintage television cathode ray tubes cannot presently be refurbished. There is an attempt ongoing to create a facility in the United States.

In the future, a 'Heritage Television Service' is to commence broadcasting to the London area on 405 lines. Successful unpublicised tests took place in spring 2011. Further unpublicised transmissions are likely soon.

Another idea that has been explored is licence-free 'optical' broadcasting, with the Channel 1 signal modulated onto a fan of light from a transmitting tower.

How to get in touch with other like minds...

The major British discussion venue is Paul Stenning's redoubtable board here.