Sunday, October 19, 2008

Don't Spin The Dial!

From the late 1940s’ BR (before remote) days until we got rid of the rotary tv dial, the constant admonition to kids was, “Don’t spin the dial!” Supposedly it was going to do something to the channel selector; when I became a radio-tv engineer, I realized it did nothing but polish the contacts – actually a good thing.

Rotary dials, for channels 2 through 13; when the mandatory all-channel tuners came in, you had another for 14 through 83. Did anyone really think we weren’t going to spin through nearly 70 UHF channels?

And that mysterious channel 1 – what lies there? Ages ago, someone told me it was an FBI or CIA channel. Actually, there used to be a channel 1, but no channel 2; that space was a pre-existing Amateur Radio band, which the FCC moved to what had been channel 1. No mystery, no conspiracy – just the ham radio ops.

There’s enough room (on over-the-air tv) between channels 4 and 5 to fit in another channel. It’s used for all sorts of two-way radio stuff. There is just loads and loads of room between channels 6 and 7. You wouldn’t believe how much real estate lies between channels 13 and 14; you could drive three buses, side by side, through it.

Technically, television in the U.S. hasn’t changed since 1941. That’s like driving a car that runs on 67-year-old standards; you want a ’41 Chevy? In February, that all changes and we almost update to the 21st century.


Anonymous ruthc said...

We, too, were told to stop at each channel, and yelled at when we didn't. When the contacts did go we found a way to "fix" them. If we stuffed a piece of cardboard in back of the dial everything connected just fine.
Looked strange, but we were kids---we didn't care.

October 22, 2008 12:42 PM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

That's pretty much what I would have done in my repair shop.

Parts: $0.00
Labor: $20.00

October 22, 2008 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blogs are very interesting, Tom.

October 23, 2008 6:13 AM  

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