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Gizmos A - Z

Accoson Sphygmomanometer

Aibo ERS-111 Robotic Pet

Aldis Folding Slide Viewer

Airlite 71 Aviation Headset

Amerex Alpha One Spycorder

AKG K290 Surround 'Phones

Apple Macintosh SE FDHD

Avia Electronic Watch

Aitron Wrist Radio

Aiwa TP-60R Tape Recorder

Amstrad CPC 464 Computer

AlphaTantel Prestel

Atari 2600 Video Game

Atari 600XL Home Computer

AVO Multiminor

AVO Model 8 Multimeter

Bambino Challenger Radio

Bandai Solar LCD Game

Bellwood, Bond Spycorder

Betacom BF1 Pianotel Phone

Binatone Digivox Alarm

Binatone Long Ranger 6 CB

Binatone Mk6 Video Game

Bio Activity Translator

Biri-1 Radiation Monitor

Bowmar LED Digital Watch

Brydex Ever Ready Lighter

BSB Squarial

Cambridge Z88 Computer

Candlestick Telephone

Canon Ion RC-260 Camera

Cartex TX-160 Multiband Radio

Casio VL-Tone Keyboard

CD V-700 Geiger Counter

CD V-715 Survey Meter

CD V-742 Pen Dosimeter

Channel Master 6546

Chinon 722-P Super 8 Cine

Citizen ST555 Pocket TV

Clairtone Mini Hi Fi Radio

CocaCola Keychain Camera

Coke Bottle AM Radio

Commodore 64 Home PC

Commodore PET 2001-N

Concord F20 Sound Camera

Craig 212 Tape Recorder

Craig TR-408 tape recorder

Daiya TV-X Junior  Viewer

Dancing Coke Can

Diamond Rio Media Player

Dictograph Desk Phone

Eagle T1-206 Intercom

Electrolysis Cell

Electron 52D Spycorder

Electronicraft Project Kit

Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart Radio

Etalon Luxor Light Meter

Euromarine Radiofix Mk 5

Exactus Mini Add Calculator

Fairylight Morse Set

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Ferguson FC08 Camcorder

Ferguson FHSC 1 Door Cam

Fi-Cord 101 Tape Recorder

Fi-Cord 202 Tape Recorder

Fidelity HF42 Record Player

Fleetwood Globe AM Radio

Franklin LF-390 Guitar Radio

GE 3-5805 AM CB Radio

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GPO Keysender No 5

GPO Telephone Series 300

GPO Telephone Type 746

GPO 12B/1 Test Meter

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GPO Ring Microphone No 2

Gramdeck Tape Recorder

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Grundig EN3 Dictation

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H&G Crystal Radio

Hacker Radio Hunter RP38A

Hacker Radio Mini Herald

Hanimex Disc Camera

Henica H-138 Radio Lighter

Hitachi WH-638 Radio

Hitachi VM-C1 Camcorder

HMV 2210 Tape Recorder

Homey HR-408 Recorder

Ingersoll XK505 TV, Radio

International HP-1000 Radio

Jasa AM Wristwatch Radio

Juliette LT-44 Tape Recorder

Jupiter FC60 Radio

JVC GR-C1 Camcorder

JVC GX-N7E Video Camera



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Kodak 56X Instamatic

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Kodak EK2 'The Handle'

Kodak EK160 Instant Camera

Kvarts DRSB-88 Dosimeter

Kvarts DRSB-90 Geiger Count

Kyoto S600 8-Track Player

Magnetic Core Memory 4kb

Mattel Intellivision

Maxcom Cordless Phone

McArthur Microscope OU

Memo Call Tape Recorder

Microphax Case II Fiche

Mini Com Walkie Talkies

Minolta 10P 16mm Camera

Minolta-16 II Sub Min Camera

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Minolta Weathermatic-A

Minox B Spy Camera

Mohawk Chief Tape Recorder

Motorola 5000X Bag Phone

Motorola 8500X ‘Brick’

MPMan MP-F20 MP3 Player

Music Man Talking Radio

Mystery Microphone

Nagra SN Tape Recorder

National Hyper BII Flashgun

NatWest 24 Hour Cashcard

Nife NC10 Miner's Lamp

Nimslo 3D Camera

NOA FM Wireless Intercom

Oric Atmos Home PC

Panda & Bear Radios

Panasonic RS-600US

Parrot RSR-423 Recorder

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Philatector Watermark Detector

PH Ltd Spinthariscope

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Philips EL3302 Cassette

Philips EL3586 Reel to Reel

Philips PM85 Recorder

Philips P3G8T/00 Radio

PL802/T Semconductor Valve

Plessey PDRM-82 Dosimeter

Polaroid Land Camera 330

Polaroid Supercolor 635CL

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Prinz 110 Auto Camera

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Psion Organiser II XP

Pye 114BQ Portable Radio

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Realistic TRC 209 CB

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Roberts R200 MW/LW Radio

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Ronco Record Vacuum

Sanyo G2001 Music Centre

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Science Fair 65 Project Kit

Seiko EF302 Voicememo

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Sharp CT-660 Talking Clock

Shira WT106 Walkie Talkies

Shogun Music Muff

Sinclair Calculator

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Sinclair System 2000 Amp

Sinclair Super IC-12

Sinclair X1 Burtton Radio

Sinclair Z-1 Micro AM Radio

Sinclair Z-30 Amplifier

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Speak & Spell

Sony Betamovie BMC-200

Sony CFS-S30 'Soundy'

Sony DD-8 Data Discman

Sony CM-H333 Phone

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Sony Walkman TPS-L2

Sony Rec Walkman WM-R2

Speedex Hit Spy Camera

Standard Slide Rule

Starlite Pocket Mate Tape

Staticmaster Static Brush

Stuzzi 304B Memocorder


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Taylor Barograph

Tasco SE 600 Microscope

Technicolor Portable VCR

Telephone 280 1960

Thunderbirds AM Can Radio

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Tomy Electronic Soccer

Toshiba HX-10 MSX Computer

Triumph CTV-8000 5-inch TV

TTC C1001 Multimeter

Uher 400 RM Report Monitor

Vanity Fair Electron Blaster

Vextrex Video Game

VideoPlus+ VP-181 Remote

Vidor Battery Radio

View-Master Stereo Viewer

Vivalith 301 Heart Pacemaker

Waco TV Slide Lighter

W E Co Folding Phone

White Display Ammeter

Wittner Taktell Metronome


Yamaha Portasound PC-10

Yashica AF Motor 35mm

Yupiteru MVT-8000 Scanner


Widget Of The Week

Kvarts DRSB-01 Radiation Monitor, 1988

Strictly speaking the manufacturing date for the Kvarts DRSB-01 pocket radiation monitor is mid 1992, however, this one is the later Mk 2 version, and the Mk1 (on the left in the picture below), was where it all began, a couple of years after the terrible Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident in April 1986. That’s enough of the history lesson, suffice it to say this is just one of several personal radiation monitors manufactured in the former USSR, in response to widespread public concern over radioactive contamination.


Technically it is fairly unsophisticated, basically just a ‘ticker’ -- as they came to be known -- and that’s pretty much all it does in response to a source of radioactivity. It is definitely not a Geiger Counter, as they were frequently and misleadingly described, for the simple reason that it doesn’t count anything. In fact there are no displays, just a pair of LEDs. The green one, marked ФОН indicates normal background radiation with the occasional flash (and accompanying tick), whilst the red one, labelled ВНИМАНИЕ means ‘Attention’ and when you see that light up, you know it’s time to get the hell away from whatever is making it flash and tick!


Radioactivity is detected by a Russian-made SBM20 Geiger Müller tube – they’re the brass-coloured cylinders in the photograph. In the world of radiation monitoring this is a bit of a classic, noted for being small, remarkably sensitive and, at one time, incredibly cheap. A lot of them have been made over the years and they are still being used in many modern radiation detecting instruments. The SBM20 is sensitive to the two most hazardous forms of radioactivity: Gamma, which is the nasty and most dangerous sort, and Beta, which is a lot less damaging, though you still wouldn’t want to keep a source of it in your underpants…


You may have noticed that the Mk1 version has two SBM-20 tubes, and this made it very sensitive, possibly to the point where it was producing too many false alerts, or it was just a cost-saving measure, either way the Mk 2 only has one tube and it is unlikely that most users would have noticed, but it was a great shame for the small band of Geiger Counter enthusiasts in the west.


During the mid 1990s a great many surplus DRSB-01’s were being sold across Europe and the US, often for just a few pounds; the first ones I bought cost less than £10 each. Most of those sold in the early days were the twin-tube Mk1 version and they were bought in considerable numbers, by experimenters and even some companies, essentially for the SBM-20 tubes. Apart from their high sensitivity and military grade build quality they cost a fraction of the price of Geiger tubes made in the west, which tended to be less sensitive, needed more elaborate circuitry and in many cases were encapsulated in glass, which made them extremely fragile.


Back now to the DRSB-01, and as you may be able to see from the internal photograph, there’s not much to see. The plastic case is simply and cheaply made and it is powered by a pair of AA cells, which can last for several weeks. The lower half of the circuit board is responsible for generating the 300 or so volts needed to power the GM tube (the black cylindrical component in the bottom right hand corner is a ‘toroidial’ high voltage transformer); the upper half is concerned with detecting pulses from the tube, driving the two LEDs and generating the ticks from a piezo sounder. It is a characteristically messy design, with loose wires and tacked on components – typical of state-owned Soviet factories in the 80s and 90s – but it works, and they were surprisingly reliable.


What Happened To It?

There’s not a lot of information available on the Kvarts factory, prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union, but I am fairly certain that they were involved in the manufacture of military equipment; later they went on to become a leading maker of scientific instruments; their present status is unknown. The DSRB-01 appears to have been in production until at least 1995, by which time it was it had become rather dated and despite a facelift, with those snazzy yellow and orange stripes on the front panel (the Mk1 has a very plain appearance) consumer demand had long since tailed off.


I bought a fair few DRSB-01s and other Russian made instruments, like the DRSB-88, DRSB-90 and Biri-1 during the late 90s and early noughties. Prices were incredibly low to begin with and I resold a few of them on ebay at a small profit for £20 to £25 but as stocks started to run out Russian suppliers put up their prices and they virtually disappeared from view, until the Fukishima accident. Quite a few turned up on ebay, presumably from old Soviet stockpiles, often for ridiculous amounts of money and I remember several being snapped up for more than £100 but supplies ran out very quickly and in the last few years they have become quite rare.


It is difficult to say what sort of money they might fetch nowadays, though one thing is certain, it is nothing like those mad post Fukishima prices. No one would seriously consider using one as a radiation monitor but they could have a certain novelty value and might appeal to collectors of Soviet era technology. If nothing else they are worth at least as much as the SBM-20 tubes they contain (currently around £10 - £15 apiece), so the Mk 1 version is the more desirable, and providing it is in good working order £10 - 30 might be a reasonable price  



First seen               1988

Original Price         £?

Value Today           £10 - £100

Features           Hard Beta/Gamma sensitive SBM-20 Geiger Müller detection, built in sounder. Dual LED display (‘Background’ and ‘Attention’), on/off switch

Power req.                     2 x 1.5v AA cells

Dimensions:                   150 x 65 x 23mm

Weight:                          118g

Made (assembled) in:    Former USSR

Hen's Teeth (10 rarest):  7




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