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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

Astatic D-104 Desk Microphone

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

Boots CRTV-50 TV,Tape, Radio

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

Computer Novelty AM/FM Radio

Concord F20 Sound Camera

Craig 212 Tape Recorder

Craig TR-408 tape recorder

Dansette Richmond Radio

Daiya TV-X Junior  Viewer

Dancing Coke Can

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Dictograph Desk Phone

Dokorder PR-4K Mini Tape

Eagle T1-206 Intercom

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Electron 52D Spycorder

Electronicraft Project Kit

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Ericsson Ericofon Cobra Phone

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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Gowlland Auriscope

GPO Headset No. 1

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

Grandstand Video Console

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

Internet Radio S-11

James Bond TV Watch

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 Brownie Starflash

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Kodak EK160 Instant Camera

Kvarts DRSB-01 Dosimeter

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

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Minolta 10P 16mm Camera

Minolta-16 II Sub Min Camera

Minolta XG-SE 35mm SLR

Minolta Weathermatic-A

Minox B Spy Camera

Mohawk Chief Tape Recorder

Motorola 5000X Bag Phone

Motorola 8500X ‘Brick’

Motorola Micro TAC Classic

MPMan MP-F20 MP3 Player

Music Man Talking Radio

Mystery Microphone

Nagra SN Tape Recorder

National Hyper BII Flashgun

National RQ-115 Recorder

NatWest 24 Hour Cashcard

Nife NC10 Miner's Lamp

Nimslo 3D Camera

NOA FM Wireless Intercom

Novelty AM Radio Piano

Optikon Binocular Magnifier

Oric Atmos Home PC

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Panasonic RS-600US

Parrot RSR-423 Recorder

Pentax Asahi Spotmatic SLR

Philatector Watermark Detector

PH Ltd Spinthariscope

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Philips EL3302 Cassette

Philips EL3586 Reel to Reel

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Philips P3G8T/00 Radio

Pion TC-601 Tape Recorder

PL802/T Semconductor Valve

Plessey PDRM-82 Dosimeter

Polaroid Land Camera 330

Polaroid Supercolor 635CL

Polaroid Swinger II

Polavision Instant Movie

POM Park-O-Meter

Prinz 110 Auto Camera

Prinz Dual 8 Cine Editor

Psion Organiser II XP

Pye 114BQ Portable Radio

Rabbit Telepoint Phone

RAC Emergency Telephone

Racal Acoustics AFV Headset

Radofin Triton Calculator

Raytheon Raystar 198 GPS

Realistic TRC 209 CB

ReVox A77 Tape Recorder

Roberts R200 MW/LW Radio

Rolling Ball Clock

Ronco Record Vacuum

Sanyo G2001 Music Centre

Sanyo M35 Micro Pack

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Science Fair 65 Project Kit

Seiko EF302 Voicememo

Seiko James Bond TV Watch

Sekiden SAP50 Gun

Sharp CT-660 Talking Clock

Shira WT106 Walkie Talkies

Shogun Music Muff

Simpson 389 Ohmmeter

Sinclair Calculator

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Sinclair System 2000 Amp

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Sinclair X1 Burtton Radio

Sinclair Z-1 Micro AM Radio

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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


Talkboy Tape Recorder

Taylor Barograph

Tasco SE 600 Microscope

Technicolor Portable VCR

Telephone 280 1960

Thunderbirds AM Can Radio

Tinico Tape Recorder

Tokai TR-45 Tape Recorder

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

Wallac Oy RD-5 Geiger Counter

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

AN/PRC-6 (RT-196, TR-PP-8) Walkie Talkie,1963?

In almost every film and TV show made about the Korean or Vietnam wars you’ll see these iconic walkie-talkies, usually in the thick of the action. It goes under several different names; the official US Military designations are AN/PRC-6 and RT-196 but to those who used it, it was often known, sometimes affectionately, as the Green Banana or Prick 6. (For the record and in case you were wondering, AN/PRC is US Military-speak for Army Navy/Personal Radio Communications).


Development work on the PCR-6, led by US electronic manufacturer Raytheon, began in the late 1940s and it was intended to replace the even more famous SCR-536 ‘handy-talkie’, used throughout World War II by US and allied troops. The key design requirements were that the new field radio would be smaller, lighter and more efficient than its predecessor. This was achieved through the use of newly developed sub-miniature valves or vacuum tubes, It has 12 of them (plus one normal-sized valve), in a frequency modulated (FM) transmitter-receiver circuit operating on the 47 – 55MHz band, with a choice of up to 44 crystal-controlled channels. Together this provided better range and sound quality plus longer battery life than the SRC-536. To say it was a success would be an understatement and not only was it manufactured in vast numbers in the US throughout the 1950s and early 60s, it was also produced under license in France, Germany, Greece, Israel and Italy, to name just a few and it continued in service with the US military until 1972; solid state variants were still being made, and used several years after that


This one is a actually TR-PP-8, which is the French made variant and it is essentially the same as the US original, though there are differences in the tuning mechanism, which we will come to in a moment. It was designed from the outset to be idiot proof and virtually indestructible, and in those regards it does brilliantly! The microphone and earpiece are built-in and conveniently located for one-handed operation, even if the user is wearing a helmet. There are just four simple controls; the press to talk button is on the left side, a rotary volume knob is on the other side, below the earphone is the main on/off switch, which doubles up as the selector switch for the internal microphone/earphone or an optional external telephone handset, and on the top is the channel selector knob. On the French model the channel knob operates a rotary carousel containing the crystals and their associated tuning components. In the original US version the crystals and tuners are fixed.


The case is a two-part aluminium casting, held together by four clasps and there are rubber gaskets and seals throughout, to keep out moisture and dirt. Extra protection in the form of waterproof covers for the mike and earphone were also produced and there is a screw cap cover for the handset connector. The case is airtight too, and there is an air valve on the underside of the case that the user is supposed to close when the unit is not being used. The reason for this is unclear but it may be that it’s a way of protecting the valves if the unit is transported by air in unpressurised aircraft. On the back of the case there’s an elaborate adjustable webbing strap, designed to make it easier to hold, with or without gloves, and slung over the shoulder when it is being carried.


The PRC-6 was supplied with a whip antenna of ingenious design. It’s a 60cm length of laminated steel strip, not unlike the spring steel used in retractable tape measures (but a bit thicker), which makes it very durable. When not in used it can be safely bent and wrapped around the case, held in place by the case clasps and a small clip. A folding direction-finding antenna was also produced for the PRC-6 and this could be used to help locate other users in difficult terrain.


The transmitter has an output of around a quarter to a third of a watt (250 – 300mW) and the claimed range on open ground was around 1.6km or a mile or so but this dropped off significantly in heavily forested areas or jungle terrain, down to just a couple of hundred metres or so. It’s primary use was to provide short range communication between ground forces and mobile units; the manuals also suggest that it can be used to communicate with aircraft but this seems a tad optimistic given its relatively low power output.


Service and maintenance were given a very high priority and the electronics are contained in a single and easily replaceable module. The valves and crystals could also be replaced or changed in the field by untrained personnel if necessary. The only real operational problem is the battery, or rather batteries. Since it uses valves it requires several different voltage supplies, which for the record are  +1.5, -4.5, +45 and +90 volts DC. Needless to say the disposable battery pack these things used are long gone, (they weighed over 1kg and apparently lasted around 10 hours with normal use), so anyone wanting to get one of these old beasties up and running faces a challenge. It can be done, though and several websites have plans for power packs using modern batteries (the + 45 and +90 volts can be produced by stringing 10 x 9 volt PP3 type radio batteries together), and there is plenty of room inside the case so it is certainly do-able. Valves and spare parts are still available on the web, though they are becoming increasingly expensive and difficult to find as the years go by.


I found this one at a regular Surrey antiques fair and almost didn’t spot is as was in such a filthy state. The stallholder said he picked it up in France but didn’t know what it was, suggesting that it might be an early cellphone. He obviously wasn’t attached to it and readily accepted my offer of £5.00. Before parting with the cash I had a peek inside and it was relieved to see that the seals had done their job well, apart from a few spider’s webs it appeared to be in excellent condition.


The biggest problem was corrosion on the outside of the case where the metal had been exposed but rather than leave it or try and patch it up I removed all of the innards and stripped the case, and all the metal fittings, back to bare metal. As it turned out the corrosion damage wasn’t too bad and most of it could be cleaned up with Dremel tools. There were one or two more serious patches but these were filled in with resin and sanded back to a smooth, and now virtually invisible finish. Several coats of filler-primer and two of olive drab later and it looks like it has just come out of the factory.


The webbing straps were a bit weather-beaten but they responded well to detergents and fabric conditioner and apart for the loss of colour, should be good for a few years yet. The exterior labels and data plate were in poor condition. Replacements are available but I decided to make my own using a PC image-editing program and a combination of scans of my originals and photos from the Internet. These were laser printed onto clear OHP film and the back sprayed with silver paint. I defy anyone but an expert with a magnifying glass to tell them apart from the real thing.


I haven’t yet got around to testing it but a close inspection of the electronic module suggests that there is no reason, barring failure of one or more valves, why it should not work. It is going to have to wait, though until I have mustered the energy and inclination to build a power supply


What Happened To It?

The PRC-6 was manufactured by several different companies, in various countries around the world so it is difficult to say when production finally ended. Valve-based versions made in the US probably didn’t continue much beyond the early 1960s as by that time transistors had become sufficiently reliable and could do a better job, though for several years it appears that old PRC-6s were kept in service by replacing the valve unit with a solid-state curcuit module.


Until a few years ago quite large numbers of decommissioned PRC-6s were coming on to the consumer market and selling for the equivalent of just a few pounds, though a lot of them were beyond repair and it wasn’t unusual for collectors to buy several at a time and with luck have enough usable parts to make one complete unit.  In fact it is a wonder that any of them have survived -- see below:

From The AN/PRC-6 Field Maintenance Manual:


75. Methods of Destruction

  1. Smash. Smash crystals, tubes, main chassis and handset, using heavy tools. If none of these are available use one piece of the case as a hammer.
  2. Burn. Burn everything that cannot be smashed completely, including instruction books. Use gasoline, kerosene, oil or incendiary grenades.
  3. Explosives. If explosives are necessary use firearms or grenades.
  4. Disposal. Bury or scatter the destroyed parts in slit trenches, fox holes or other holes or throw them into streams.

In stock condition the PRC-6 operates on or close to one of the amateur (Ham) radio bands but the circuitry simply isn’t good enough to make it useable so there are quite a few examples PCR-6’s where the original guts have been removed and replaced with modern communications equipment.


At the time of writing there’s usually a dozen or more PRC-6s and European variants on sale on ebay. Typically around half of them have very badly corroded and battered cases, and are probably unsalvageable, nevertheless the prices remain high and even what look like complete basket cases can fetch £50 or more. However, be warned that many of them are in the US so shipping can be expensive. There are always a few from European countries, often in slightly better condition but although the shipping is cheaper they tend to be quite expensive. I was definitely very lucky with mine but it isn’t unique and they can still be found at bargain basement prices, at boot sales and antique sales, but be prepared to do at least some restoration work. 


First seen              1950

Original Price        £?

Value Today          £75 (0315)

Features                 6-Channel FM transceiver, 6 channel operation 47 – 55.4MHz (44 channels possible with 200kHz separation), 300mw RF output (range up to 1.6km/1 mile in open), 13 sub-miniature miniature valves (5678 2G21 5672 5676 3B4), water resistant casing with pressure equalisation valve, 51cm flat flexible steel antenna, optional telephone handset, optional directional antenna, webbing handgrip & sling 

Power req.                    Proprietary battery pack (+1.5, -4.5, +45 & +90 VDC)

Dimensions:                   370 x 110 x 125mm

Weight:                          2.2 kg (3.2kg inc. battery pack)

Made (assembled) in:    USA/France/Germany etc

Hen's Teeth (10 rarest):  6




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