Monday, December 28, 2009

Bob Crowley explains how to hook up an Argonne AR-57 to a Zenith Clock Radio

Something about that AR-57 dual crystal micro phone caught my eye early, and the $3.89 price tag at Lafayette Radio Electronics helped too.  Here I am explaining to cousins Cathy and Bobbie how you can get a regular tube-type clock radio to act like a PA system.

If you look closely, you can see the perforated back of the transformerless, hot chassis radio placed loosely so that the interlock cord still connected power with most of the back open. The ability to electrocute oneself at a young age is a right we have apparently lost with the advent and widespread use of wall warts to power everything.  Existential risks aside, coupling the high impedance of the Argonne AR-57 dual crystal element to various points in the radio - would give interesting and sometimes loud, feedback generating results, which were fine since  "Paperback Writer" was playing on WBZ's Nightline Show with Dick Summer at the time, along with much other pyschedelia like The Beacon Street Union, and The Ultimate Spinach.

The way to do it, if you must, is to connect two series caps of 600V to each microphone lead, one to the chassis, the other to a stick as a probe.  Turn the radio on and find the detector, and that will work. Listen for your own voice, or loud feedback.

It was Winter, but the window was cracked open enough to let various antenna feedlines through the opening and over to a shortwave radio - a Hallicrafters S-38, which I still have.  Actually a lot of that junk you see in the background is still in place at my mother's house, another time capsule.

Location: Newton Centre MA, off Langley Rd, near the Hammond Pond Woods.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Waterworks Steam Engine - predating Steampunk by over a century

Unlike  an interior shot of the engine room of Captain Nemo's Nautilus in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, this seemingly Jules Verne inspired four story high, triple expansion Levitt Steam engine is absolutely real.

The story is that my friends Jim and Jamie knew the engineer, Bruce, who was in charge of this out-of-commission pumping station that still is located in Chestnut Hill, MA, very close to Boston College.

We made several visits to this amazing time capsule of gages and valves, and an incredible array of German silver fittings, and huge flywheels that went through the floor to the decks below, with cast iron spiral staircases leading to service decks covered with more gages and oilers.

At that time I was the proud owner of a Nikon F with a 50mm F2 lens (the F1.4 was much desired, but costly) and a small supply of Kodak Ektachrome T transparency film with an ASA of 100, process E4.  Film and processing were expensive and I had other things to do with the $10 it would have cost to process this cassette, so I put it aside,  in 1972, only to find again in 2005.

So I sent it to a lab called Rocky Mountain Film Services or something, and they promised to process it properly, and if I was lucky, there would be some image remaining.  After a long wait, I was surprised to see a pile of underexposed prints show up at my door - disappointed and angry I was - because they had processed the E4 film as a color negative!  Aghast I put the film away. What a loss.

Then, last month, I bought an Epson 750 pro film scanner.  This is the same scanner that produced the good scan of Hemlock Gorge that is shown elsewhere on this blog.  So last week I finally pulled out "The Waterworks Negatives" and got to work, using the Epson scan utility, some patience, and a dose of Photoshop, and here is the result.

Click on the image for a larger view.  I think I will do this again, and at even higher resolution.

The Boston or Metropolitan Water Works fell under the Metropolitan District Commission which was eventually folded into the State Police.  A few years ago, the roof of this building had holes in it from neglect, and the brass, steel and wood were badly corroded. Now it is a partially restored museum, and some of the space has been converted into extremely expensive condominiums.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Speed Graphic Chop Job Gets Weird

It all started out innocently enough, I thought. Shortening an Anniversary Speed Graphic, first stripping off the leather, sanding, filling and cleaning up the brass.  Then out came the red Dykem, a marking dye used for scribing metal surfaces and other machining tasks, and for coloring and staining, but here applied directly to the mahogany in a cavalier way.  Chopping a Speed Graphic so that the lens to film distance is shorter should allow the use of a wide angle 65mm Angulon with a 6cm X 12cm rollfilm back.

All of this is related to transducers and the rest of the material in this blog, but that's not apparent yet.