Respected Contacts and Friends

 

Last Update: May 2002

 

Valve and Solid State Amplifiers

Hugh Dean, close colleague and friend, teamed up his Aspen Amplifiers operation with associate company Printed Electronics to market his exceptional amplifier designs. While Hugh himself had successfully developed and marketed innovative valve//solid-state hybrid amplifiers, (notably his Glass Harmony and the LifeForce models), Printed Electronics was created to market the "AKSA" on a much larger scale, via the web.

Hugh is a massively talented designer; erudite, learned, energetic and highly focused. His designs are eclectic in the extreme, and I both love this and find it extremely challenging to keep pace with. Nobody seems to have told Hugh that one is either "valve" or "solid-state", and if you're "solid-state" then you're either "bipolar" or "MOSFET".  An early life on a rural property, where of necessity he was technician, mechanic, construction engineer, doctor, vet, teacher, student, cook and bottle-washer all, is what Hugh attributes this too, which I can well understand.

Hugh Dean

The AKSA is a Class AB solid-state design of apparently conventional topology. It is in fact quite exceptional. It's a modified but generally conventional "Lin" topology, designed by listening to it rather than structuring it to meet measured specifications. Normally one might design an amp to meet a spec. and then perhaps "voice" it to achieve acceptable sonics. The AKSA is what happens when you start out the other way around; by "voicing" an initially crude amplifier design, over and over again, never allowing measured performance to compromise sonics, beyond that which is necessary to keep it stable. It's an unusual design methodology, and a wonderful amplifier, with valve-like warmth and emotion, and a tight, forward soundstage, both sonic features I've found quite unlike solid-state amplifiers I'm used to.

Anthony Holton is an exceptionally talented amplifier designer, hailing from Launceston in Tasmania. I had the pleasure of meeting him at his folks' home a few years ago, albeit quite briefly (I gather he's moved elsewhere since). I was simply amazed at the prodigious scale and precision of Anthony's work, with several very extensive solid-state designs on show and on offer. He clearly has a touch of the amplifier "rev-head" bug I reckon, (as do I), with his line-up including an 800W Class AB monster, and a big Class A "which I only run in the winter time, as the room gets too hot in the summer, with it running, even with the window open."

Anthony Holton

At the time I visited, Anthony earned his living both as a very competent electronics and computer tech. and increasingly through sales of his designs, which came as no surprise. He was also the only "Trekkie" I've ever met (well, I've probably met others, it's just that they haven't revealed themselves to me, so to speak), with a tremendous collection of video movies. I wonder if he has a full home-theatre set-up now for Trekkie screenings, which must surely be most impressive?

The Melbourne Audio Club, first formed in March 1974, is an active group who are interested in music and its reproduction. It comprises people of all ages who reside generally in metropolitan Melbourne, but also in country Victoria and interstate, united in their interest in music, audio and home theatre. The Club is independent of any form of commercial affiliation, and is one of the oldest and largest audio clubs in the world, now twenty seven years on.

The Club holds a General Meeting on the third Wednesday of each month, usually at the Willis Room, Whitehorse Centre, Maroondah Highway, Nunawading. These meetings normally follow the lines of a presentation of equipment by one of the many Melbourne based audio retailers, or a presentation arranged by Club members highlighting equipment owned or built by the members. Prospective members and guests are welcome to come along. Full Members are eligible to join in the many home meetings which occur during every month".

Melbourne Audio Club

Retrovox, owned and operated by guitar amp and valve enthusiast David Crittle, is based in Wagga Wagga in southern NSW. I was fortunate in having the opportunity of visiting him there a few years ago, and he toured me around a virtual Aladdin's cave of military surplus and other valve and electronics gear, all contained in what seemed like a never-ending chain of stores and warehouses; an amazing experience. My modest budget was cut in no time!

David Crittle's Retrovox

David is well known as a scrupulously honest and fair trader; he'll still drive a firm deal, and he's not giving the stuff away gratis, but you'll be dealing with an impeccably trustworthy source, and an immensely knowledgeable and approachable one at that, and one that, obviously, I highly recommend.

Old Colony Sound Labs has got to be about the best on-line bookstore ever (only an 'umble opinion, guv'nor . . . ). Prices from the U.S. to Australia are certainly "competitive” although if there's anything to kill a deal it's the freight cost - as from many U.S. commercial sources I've purchased items of one kind or another from, you get the goods very promptly, but pay an arm and a leg for the service. Suggestions that the item could in fact just as well, (and for a lot lower cost), be sent via snail mail via Vladivostok and Tierra del Fuego, fall on deaf ears and the parcel get$ $ent ju$t the $ame.

Old Colony Sound Labs

Gintaras Sakenas operates as K. W. Tubes and hails from Vilnius in Lithuania; he's a prolific eBay seller of valves, mainly Russian military surplus from his huge collection, operating under the nickname "lempos".

By all accounts he's a seller of the highest integrity, fairness and promptness - over 500 "positives" - most are more like rave reviews - attest to that! I've never met Gintaras, but the intensity and energy of the guy impresses me; aspects readily perceived from his website and selling style; fast, communicative and friendly. I guess he's had to overcome the incorrect notion that Lithuania is too far into the unknown to deal safely with - coming from Australia (and before that New Zealand) myself, I certainly can well understand the difficulty in battling such a perception. We really are part of a world community these days!

Pierluigi Bertolini runs a very impressive, energetic and enthusiastic website covering, amongst other things, his strong interest in valve amplifiers and in vintage radio restoration. Well worth a visit and a browse, for sure! Pierluigi has an excellent collection of schematics available and listed. I remain most grateful for his help in adding to my small collection of Pioneer vintage amplifier circuits.

Pierluigi Bertolini

Vintage Radio

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Luca Rossi

Hailing from Tuscany, Italy is young engineer Luca Rossi. Luca has established a very substantial website library of technical schematics covering vintage radios, test and ancillary equipment. The effort that he's put in is huge, and I love websites like his; busy, informative, energetic and with little gems squirreled away waiting for the visitor to burrow down and find. Luca has started out assembling his collection of service information in a similar way that I did; starting as a novice to vintage radio repair and discovering the difficulty in obtaining service info right at the outset, and becoming focussed on trying to do something to address this issue freely. Email Luca and discover for yourself his generous, friendly nature and goodwill. I have to say too that there seems to be something generic about Italian folk I meet on the web, and Luca fits the mould; tasks and projects are approached with a gusto, an enthusiasm, an infectious good humour that is hard to resist!

File Compression for Schematics; In late 2001 I had a series of email discussions with Luca in which he explained the technique for file compression he was using, to put his schematics on his webpage at the minimum practicable file-size. It took me quite a while to cotton on to what he was doing, due partly to language difficulties but mostly due to ignorance and lack of knowledge on my part!

I subsequently realised that what he was doing was really clever; taking advantage of the fact that schematic diagrams are, if cleaned up properly during the initial scanning process, only ever black-and-white (i.e. 2-bit) images. This being the case, a bit of software Adobe manipulation allows a CCITT Class 4 compression algorithm to be used, resulting in better file compression than I've ever been able to otherwise achieve, while still maintaining acceptable readability. When the light-bulb lit up (d'oh!!!) and I tried the process and saw it working, I summarised Luca's notes and information, and you can read it all here.

Paul Ledger built up a most remarkable Australian Vintage Radio website some years ago, with a substantial gallery of indexed images, perhaps now in need of another enthusiast’s interest. He let me use his pictures of the original units my Classic chassis would have originally belonged in. I gather that some time ago Paul lost most of the off-line website files in a computer crash, and the enthusiasm to build it all back up again has waned, overshadowed by more recent interests. He could well be in the market to let someone else take over the site. “Maintaining it means thumbing through old mag’s for piccies of old radios and gear etc. etc, and then editing them to go on the site” he told me.

Paul Ledger's Australian Vintage Radio

Paul is a friendly, intelligent fellow living in Somerset, on the north coast of Tasmania. I was fortunate enough to be able to meet him for an hour or so in mid-2000, and enjoyed his relaxed take on life, generous spirit, and above all his ready but kindly wit. These days Paul is an intense and highly experienced eBayer, trading in valves and collectables very extensively. I purchased several 6EA7/6EM7’s from him in early 2001 and can heartily recommend dealing with him!

The Historical Radio Society of Australia, (inc.) was formed in 1982 by a group of enthusiasts committed to the preservation of Australia's radio heritage. From it's origins in Victoria, the HRSA has become a nationwide organisation of over 900 members, with affiliated groups all around Australia. Members of the HRSA come from all walks of life, but are united by a common interest in radio. There are a number of informal "special interest" groups within the organisation, concentrating on particular facets of the hobby. HRSA members hold regular meetings at a number of locations around Australia Meeting activities include radio displays, auctions, technical discussion and trade in radio components.

In July 2001 I became Member No. 1652.

Brian Smith’s Wireless Workshop is "Australia's foremost specialist mail order supplier of Electronic parts, books and other items of interest to vintage radio and audio enthusiasts"

Brian Smith's Wireless Workshop

I am deeply indebted to Brian for his help with schematics and advice for a newbie to the world of radio restoration. Brian supplies an incredible range of items at very realistic prices and I have nothing but admiration for his efforts. A visit to his website will be well worth your trouble; you’re sure to find some real treasures!

Malcolm Bennett is a contact whose services I unreservedly recommend. Malcolm is an absolutely excellent source of service information for vintage radios and such. An absolute gentleman, with a service so prompt and efficient I found it hard to keep up with!

Charges are more than reasonable, the quality of the information provided excellent, and as I say, the service provided is absolutely second to none. Malcolm hails from Kent in England, and while now retired from a career as a software engineer, has been repairing and restoring all kinds of valve equipment for over 35 years. His website business, Vintage Radio's, is introduced thusly;

"I have been running Vintage Radios in its current state for about the last 20 years, and have been in the Radio/ Electronics Industry all of my life. Vintage Radios is in the business of restoring and repairing vintage and antique radios alongside buying and selling of the same. I will repair, buy and sell almost any equipment as long as it contains valves (tubes)."

Rod Smith

Rod Smith hails from Queensland and is author of two "gallery" style volumes on Australian vintage radios. Although not attempting or claiming to be definitive works on Australian vintage radio, these are most significant reference resources. Both books feature substantial (black-and-white) photographic collections of most if not all Australian makes and models of the valve radio era.

"The Best Years of Australian Radio" (1988)
"More Australian Radio" (2002)

The first, "The Best Years of Australian Radio", (1988), is organised basically by year of manufacture sequentially, which I personally found a bit cumbersome to use quickly as a reference. (I made my own listing by model of those brands I'm interested in to get around this).

The second volume, "More Australian Radio" (2002) is organised and indexed quite differently - basically by brand, and for my purposes I found this much quicker and easier to use. Both books are very comprehensive and now amongst the most valuable in my library, and represent a huge volume of work to put together and publish.

 

Mates

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Michael Carden

Michael Carden and I worked at Panasonic in Sydney together. He’s an erudite, intelligent and experienced electronics tech. who’s since been living in Canberra for several years now.

Amongst his passions, nay “obsessions” is bike riding, both “road” and “mountain” varieties. So it comes as no surprise that his home-grown website has started out featuring a mountain biking bash!

John Marshall

P. M. C. Hill is a Real Estate company owned and run by my close friend and Panasonic colleague John Marshall and his talented wife, Melanie. They live on Scotland Island in the middle of Pittwater, in the northern suburbs of Sydney. Access is across the water only, and for some reason John needs literally a fleet of putt-putt boats to accomplish the commute to and from work (it appears to be highly variable which of them is working on any given day). But in any event John and Melanie enjoy a most wonderful and unusual (near the heart of a major city) lifestyle.

"While being part of Sydney the residents of this area enjoy a lifestyle greatly different from that of their "mainland" neighbours. The Island and Bays have a great sense of community and a somewhat rural atmosphere.  If you are looking for a change of lifestyle or a weekender or holiday house 40 minutes from the CBD of Sydney then a look around the Pittwater area is well worthwhile."

 

Internet

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AlphalinkAlphalink is the ISP I’m now with. In late 2000 I changed ISP's from Ozemail to Melbourne based Alphalink (after about two years with Ozemail). I'm glad I started with Ozemail as a novice internet user, as their support was right there, by and large, when I needed it, odd early hours of the morning notwithstanding. Alphalink is "thinner" in terms of support, but by and large I need it less these days, fingers crossed. Consequently I'm now taking advantage of Alphalink's budget price package - about 1/3 the price of much the same thing from Ozemail, and 10Mb rather than 5Mb of server space for my website.

 

FastCounter and bCentral FastCounter is a very handy (and free!) website traffic counter. Set up is quick and easy, and quickly produces a block of html code that you cut and paste to whatever html page editor you're using. The counter itself is relatively unobtrusive, and the requirement to link to the Microsoft bCentral site in exchange isn't an onerous one.

Dreamwater website hosting

Dreamwater is a free website host that I'm really really impressed with (so far!!!). It's easy to use, and reliable, and with 50Mb of space free has added a significant dimension to my web presence! There are a number of constraints one has to be aware of, and at first glance they seem severe. But I'm finding little trouble in accommodating them, and have been able to use the Dreamwater facility to add two huge sections on selections of U.K. and Australian vintage radio schematics and pictures. The constraints that were key from my point of view were;

 

Yahoo! Briefcase on-line file storage
Sharemation free online file storage

Sharemation andYahoo!Briefcase are my latest group of "Free On-line File Storage" providers that I'm using. I see now that the standard technique amongst this fraternity is to advertise "Free" file storage, and then announce the imposition of charges "due to insufficient revenues" sometime later. I guess that sufficient punters decide that it's too much hassle to migrate away in response to such arbitrary notification, and decide to stay and cough up the rental. Space newly vacated by bludgers such as me is simply readvertised as "free" space, perhaps in the guise of a "new" provider. Quite a good little commercial ruse really, I guess!

Yahoo!Briefcase offers 30Mb free, with apparently few strings attached. I'm hoping that with the Yahoo! affiliation it might be around for a while (for a change . . . ) It seems easy and straight-forward to access and use, but, again, time will tell! Sharemation offer 5Mb free. Perhaps I'm to be deluged with spam emails as the quid-pro-quo in their cases, I don't know. I really do wish these folks would all be a little more up-front about what the true nature of their commercial methodology and agenda actually was, is all!

Addendum 12/01: PowerSearch joins the A-grade whacker's club; their offer of 5Mb free quickly reduced to shite.

Addendum 4/02: Yahoo!Briefcase now has a major question mark . . . .From late March 2002 they closed off public access to files stored there; visitors had to "join" themselves to access my files. That was tolerable, but now I find only html, gif and .jpg files can be accessed by anyone other than myself, even then. So the large number of .zip'd files I make publicly available there, have proved severely problematic . . .

FloppyCenter free online file storage

FloppyCenter is another one to join my Meat Whackers list, effective 11/01, having gone chargeable too. Just don't think I'm bitter or nuthin! FloppyCenter provided 10Mb free, with the promise of an additional 2Mb per "friend" that you dobbed in as an additional victim, to a maximum of 60Mb total. That's just 25 friendships one had to compromise to achieve full whack! Their file storage system seemed to work well enough, although the site was often blocked or inaccessible for some reason for the few months I used it after June '01.

i-drive; "Doh, gee, now we've hooked some punters with our "Free" claims, let's $slug$ 'em bigtime!"

i-drive are a another bunch of whackers that temporarily became successor to Xdrive for me, when, after a year or more of fee-less operation, from May '01 Xdrive decided to start charging! Not unreasonable to do so, for sure, but that cut paupers and bludgers like me right out, which was their intention I guess. i-drive was somewhat different to Xdrive to operate, although I had the same difficulty uploading files that I had had with Xdrive (which should tell me something about my access line, huh!). Initially I was just grateful that there was a viable alternative (free!) host for the 20Mb of odds-n-sods files I had up there, augmenting this website! Within just a few weeks of Xdrive going "chargeable" however (and a weekend wasted migrating to i-drive), i-drive went "chargeable" too in June '01. F........g A-Grade Whackers!

XDrive; now no longer free, but I'm grateful for the year's support they provided before.

Xdrive Express was a free service (until May '01) that provided users with on-line storage space, accessible by anyone knowing the access password, anywhere, at anytime. I had about 20Mb of files associated with my website up on Xdrive (until May '01, when I migrated to i-drive when Xdrive introduced fees for their service) and made the password freely available. This enabled me to have the introductory and principle articles on a given subject on my website, and anyone who's keen enough to want to go further could go and dig such out of the Xdrive site. I have to say that it was slow and tedious to download from, in my experience. Mind you my access line is pretty basic. Of greater concern to me was that I could but rarely upload files bigger than about 300kb without the transfer halting (but erroneously reporting successful completion!). However, all in all, I was most appreciative of the Xdrive facility and would rather have had it than not, so I shouldn't gripe!

Search Engines

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Altavista Yahoo Google MSN

Any search engine that goes to the trouble of listing me, (and getting my type of website listed by search engines appears to be no mean feat), earns my vote! There's no real question, (to me anyway), that get listed on Yahoo remains the "mission critical" one - I read somewhere that it's the only one where the is some human vetting of websites as acceptable for listing or otherwise, and I noticed significant additional hits after I got listed by it. But myself I don't use it much, and have never really understood what makes it particularly significant. I guess I just don't search often for the sort of information that Yahoo is best placed to find. Google remains my favourite, for a quick, initial shot-gun search, producing good results fast.

Anzwers Riot Lycos Hotbot

I'd give AltaVista a Guernsey too - I've had some good results using that, and revisit certain things I like to keep an eye on with that too. Lycos is the only one that I wondered about for a while; getting listed by them seemed to be all about money, money, money, so it's not one that inspired me to try out properly.

Copernic Search Engine Co-ordinator

If I want to be more careful and burrow more deeply into something then Copernic 2001 Pro is hard to go past. It's just brilliant, and sort of makes using individual search engines somewhat redundant.

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