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 Post subject: Signal generator.........
PostPosted: Nov Thu 11, 2010 3:20 am 
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Joined: Sep Wed 29, 2010 10:01 pm
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Location: virginia
hi all. since im fairly new to this hobby i was wondering what kind of signal generator you might recommend. i will be using it to align standard am/fm radios. also, what is a fair or average price to pay.

thank you
bert


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PostPosted: Nov Thu 11, 2010 3:27 am 
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Location: Howell, Mi
As far as price...I don't know...but I can give you this advice. Do not get a "vintage" piece of equipment. Yes Sir...no tubes. A calibrated output is not necessary but would be nice too.

Query the forum, and you'll get a list of threads. This topic has come up in the past.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Thu 11, 2010 3:59 am 
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Location: Mission Viejo, southern California
AM is easy, FM more complex. I've got an old Philco 077 which was given to me by other forum and SCARS member. After re-capping, it works fine. However, the dial is not accurate, and the amount of variation changes depending on teh band, and dial position. Instead of a frequency counter, I went with an idea I saw on a U-Tube video. I bought a nice phase-locked loop radio at radio shack. I set it to the desired freuency, then clip the signal generator lead to its antenna (or lay the lead close to its antenna), then adjust the signal generator until they are both at the same frequency. You'll understand one you hear such a set-up. Now I have a nice radio which receives all kinds of frequencies, and can accurately set the signal generator.

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many of my radios http://s269.photobucket.com/user/FSteph ... t=3&page=1


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PostPosted: Nov Thu 11, 2010 5:13 am 
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...and don't buy anything that you can't fix yourself.....well, within reason - if the price is right....... :wink:

There are plenty of 'nice-to-haves'......but you can still do the same with inexpensive gear, but know how to use it!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Thu 11, 2010 7:18 am 
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RCA WR50B is a good one to get started with. Eico 330 is nice. You will find many vintage signal gens.... one problem is setting a precise Freq (because the dial is not percise enough). Typically the next thing you will want is a Freq counter (digital) to know what freq you have. You can use a good portable SW radio with digital freq setting (as apposed to analog). This can be used as a poor mans way to set a signal gen, but than a nice portable SW radio. You can get good ones that will be wonderful MW/SW/FM radios for under $100. I have some digital HP signal gens that are kind of expensive and overkill for starting. I went through about 5 signal gens, buying, fixing, using, selling, upgrading. It was fun learning experience and I appreciate the newer fancy stuff much more.

Yes the search features. The site is having some technical issues, but you should find some old threads in the topic. Bottom line there is NO perfect signal gen and you will tend to out grow one or have other needs, thus you get another signal Gen. I have three of them.

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Tube: AM/FM Zeniths, RCA, TrueTone table tops; Transistor: Kaito KA1103, TenTec RX320D, Pioneer SX780


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Thu 11, 2010 1:12 pm 
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Location: Utica, NY 13502 (USA)
I have a wide range of signal generators of various types but find the popular and plentiful Eico 324 perfectly adequate for aligning typical vintage AM and FM radios. You can always find these on ebay. Here are some that are available now. Most sell for around $20.

http://shop.ebay.com/i.html?_nkw=eico+3 ... m270.l1313

Dave


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Thu 11, 2010 3:10 pm 
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Location: Annapolis, MD
Thought problem: If we invest significant time and energy making a 50 - 75 year old radio look authentic, why would there be any problem with using the older test equipment? In fact, I would think that the real purist would use only equipment endemic to the time period of the set they are restoring.

Flip side: Once the set is aligned, no-one will ever know how you did it....

You do not need fancy equipment to align a BC radio


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Thu 11, 2010 5:01 pm 
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Joined: Oct Sat 20, 2007 3:36 am
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Location: Southern NH, 03076
This question comes up so many times its actually a nuisance :lol:

Check the archives first to understand the details and tradeoffs; just about every question possible has been covered.
And then ask specific questions if there are any remaining.

Carl


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Thu 11, 2010 8:59 pm 
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pixellany wrote:
Thought problem: If we invest significant time and energy making a 50 - 75 year old radio look authentic, why would there be any problem with using the older test equipment? In fact, I would think that the real purist would use only equipment endemic to the time period of the set they are restoring.

Flip side: Once the set is aligned, no-one will ever know how you did it.... You do not need fancy equipment to align a BC radio

You ask and answered your self. I think you know that fancy equip is going to be faster and more accurate. How much more accurate can you get or need? With skill and all kinds of "technique" you can make old test gear work to align a BCB AM tube radio. Push button digital 100% sure of Freq and attenuation to a hair (which you can consistently set) is really nice. Old tube gear takes time to warm up and stabilize. To be fair fancy solid state does benefit from 10-20 min of warm-up, but it's more stable than free running oscillator tube Gens could ever be hot. With tube gear you have to set it and check it and go back and check it again.

An old signal Gen with out a Freq counter is too vague for my taste. I perfected using the SW radio to set, got to where I could set it to 1-10 Hz, double checked with a Freq counter. The process used SSB, a computer and WWV. It was fun and time consuming, but that is the only way to get that close using a digital PLL SW SSB radio. Some use the signal strength LCD on a portable SW radio not SSB.... the resolution is poor and you can be off way more than 10 Hz.... May be that is OK. A 100 Hz is not going to make a difference on a AA5 radio. A signal GEN is also used for trouble shooting, and any old tube gear is fine for that.


To answer WHICH ONE.... here are some I'd consider if I was starting out. I would try and stay under $60 for these except where noted.

A Eico 330 solid state, goes 100 Khz to 70 Mhz. For FM 108 Mhz you could use 2nd harmonics (aka 54 Mhz = 108 Mhz I think).
Image

RCA WR50B. 45 Khz to 40 Mhz Compact tube signal Gen
Image

This came under the brand name Leader, Lafayette and others, not sure of the Model, but this is a B&K version 2005B, 100 kHz to 150 MHz. The price is $295, never! You could get a used HP digital for that money. However it's still made is a good sign. B&K made good service hobby grade gear. They now make more professional digital stuff but it's out of the budget for hobbyist.
Image

The Sencore SG-165 is nice but kind of a cult classic and desirable for the FM sweep function. They go for ~$150 or more. It is made to align AM and FM radios.
Image

B&K E-200D solid state. Never had one looks nice, 100 Khz to 212 Mhz (I think)
Image

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Tube: AM/FM Zeniths, RCA, TrueTone table tops; Transistor: Kaito KA1103, TenTec RX320D, Pioneer SX780


Last edited by gmcjetpilot on Nov Thu 11, 2010 9:43 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Thu 11, 2010 9:11 pm 
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Location: Annapolis, MD
For the record, I do not practice what I **appear to** preach. My scope is a solid-state Tek 7403 military equivalent. Why? It's the first one I found that was in my price range.

It has about 5,000 transistors and I absolutely DREAD ever having to repair it.....

We had a saying in the motorcycle repair shop 50 years ago: "If it works, it's OK."


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Thu 11, 2010 10:43 pm 
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Location: Erie, PA
I can recommend the RCA WR-50B as a good "starter" signal generator. (Not the C version- it looks identical but is early solid state and not as reliable as the tube 50B). The 50B has some nice features for a little service generator, and cleaner sine wave output than what is typically seen from many generators of other makes similar to it from the same time period. Not that a super-clean sine wave is real important for aligning BC receivers, but dollar for dollar why not get something closer to what a signal generator is supposed to be?

These typically sell for $40-50, and when you move up and re-sell it, you'll get the same money back out of it. If you keep working on nothing but broadcast radios, the WR-50B will work fine. If you move up to communications receivers or any applications more serious, the little tube service generators just won't fill the bill as they don't have the precision or stability you'll want. (This led me down the road to synthesis and pushbuttons :D )

-Mark-

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Sat 13, 2010 11:31 pm 
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Joined: Sep Thu 23, 2010 6:37 am
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Location: Powell River BC Canada
Start with a working Heathkit SG-8. Use it for AM. For FM you'll
need a generator which probably not have the AM bands anyway,
as well as a oscilloscope. The SG-8 should be worth about $25.

Download the SG8 manual and reead it while you are looking
for a generator.

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de
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Amateur Radio Literacy Club. May we help you read better.
Steve Dow
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Wed 17, 2010 10:28 pm 
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I have to throw in my 2 cents on this one. The guys (and gals) on this forum have helped this noob out with the test bench and have saved me from many novice mistake purchases and frustration. I was dead set on spending in the 3 digits for a working 606B. That generator (arguably the finest tube analog), run into a frequency counter to let you know exactly what frequency your on is great for any broadcast tube radio.
Once you get into the Hammarlund/Collins etc gear you're gong to want something more. I was suggested an HP 8640B, and have been grateful ever since. Bottom line, your signal source needs to be more stable than what you're aligning. I got mine on epay for 50 bucks because the seller described a symptom that (after some research) pointed to a very common problem with these units, and is very easily fixable. These pop on on the "bay" from time to time with these problems, and you can get, and fix one too, and have yourself a nicer generator than you'll probably ever need. Feed it with a thunderbolt for reference, and then you'll REALLY get the warm fuzzies!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Wed 17, 2010 11:02 pm 
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Joined: Sep Thu 23, 2010 6:37 am
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Location: Powell River BC Canada
Just a point about getting the best generator you can. When you
restore a radio, you pass through it once. Gettting to know how
to use primative tools is why training programs include mastery of
such things as sextants and card indicators on steam engines.
You need to know how to fly your way out of trouble.

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de
VE7ASO VE7ZSO
Amateur Radio Literacy Club. May we help you read better.
Steve Dow
ve7aso@rac.ca


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 Post subject: Re: Signal generator.........
PostPosted: Nov Mon 05, 2018 1:03 am 
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I too am finally going to need one of these. I have no kit at all except a simple lamp limiter I made. Most of my work to date has been more rebuilding but no diagnostics. So for example now it would make life easier to send a 465 kilocycle into my Russian radio IF circuit. Given I read very old text books back then grid dip meters were often used. Anyway given my very restricted budget I need a generator that will take me close to 20 megacycles. Or at the very least some way to test IF stages. I know with some very high IF stages you can use a domestic receiver but most my IF digits are 470 khz. P.S. I tend to avoid Ebay so maybe my best bet is a vintage radio mag or fair.


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 Post subject: Re: Signal generator.........
PostPosted: Nov Mon 05, 2018 7:26 am 
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Joined: Sep Thu 23, 2010 6:37 am
Posts: 12437
Location: Powell River BC Canada
For someone entering the field of radio restoration, there exists a brick wall. The
service instructions for alignment include a signal generator.

The instructions presume familiarity with usage of generators.

At this point it might be better to buy a new signal generator, or an old
simple one from a seller reputed to deal with properly working gear.

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de
VE7ASO VE7ZSO
Amateur Radio Literacy Club. May we help you read better.
Steve Dow
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 Post subject: Re: Signal generator.........
PostPosted: Nov Mon 05, 2018 6:42 pm 
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I neglected normal diagnostics for quite some time. This put me at a disadvantage although I did plenty of soldering and voltage or resistance tests. I read through the instructions for a 1960 car radio I have and it is all fairly clear. This tells you where the oscillator tuning is situated (with pics) and the correct frequencies to use with the generator. They normally give you the band in metres. I may be able to get by for now using a limited frequency generator just to cover the IF's. I will have to look about. Sometimes you can drop on bargains.


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 Post subject: Re: Signal generator.........
PostPosted: Nov Mon 05, 2018 8:23 pm 
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Joined: Sep Thu 23, 2010 6:37 am
Posts: 12437
Location: Powell River BC Canada
When it comes to old radio service gear, an add in your local paper just
saying what is wanted, may get you free stuff.Especially from an old
tech who would be delighted it is going to some use again.

You might end up with a truckload,

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de
VE7ASO VE7ZSO
Amateur Radio Literacy Club. May we help you read better.
Steve Dow
ve7aso@rac.ca


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 Post subject: Re: Signal generator.........
PostPosted: Nov Tue 06, 2018 1:23 am 
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Good idea. I did advertise once for unwanted, vintage radios and got inundated with calls. A former service engineer from Ireland left me three big tube sets.


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 Post subject: Re: Signal generator.........
PostPosted: Nov Tue 06, 2018 1:35 am 
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Joined: Sep Tue 30, 2014 6:08 am
Posts: 5955
Location: Norfolk, VA
Avoid Wavetek stuff - particularly their line from the 70s 1001, 2001, 3000/3002/3004. Repeat, avoid. Their later RF (2410/2410A) and sweep gens were decent.

All the kit-type AM stuff is decent, and for FM, I've used the Leader LSG-17, Sencore SG165 or an HP 8640. For stereo multiplex work, the Leader LSG-231 was specified by Panasonic for our warranty work. They run sub-$100 and work well.

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"Capacitor Cosmetologist since 1979"
USN Retired 1984-2006 (Avionics/Cal)


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