Surfin’: Whacking Radios


By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

This week, Surfin’ discovers a new way of fixing radios.

I won a Radio Shack Realistic Astronaut 8 circa 1972 multiband receiver at an auction for $1 a few years ago. It had minor cosmetic wear and tear, but functioned like new after I sprayed all the switches and pots with an electronics cleaner.

It had been my garage radio ever since, and sits on top of the refrigerator in the back of my workshop.

It is still a mystery to me how it happened, but one day this spring, the radio fell off the top of the refrigerator and onto the concrete floor. After the fall, the radio had two problems.

1. Its handle came apart, but I was able to put it back together easily.

2. The red pointer that moves across the dial became dislodged. Instead of moving freely in its groove, the bottom of the pointer now dragged along the clear plastic window of the radio dial. As a result, whenever I changed frequency, the top of the pointer moved along as it should (more or less), while the rest of the pointer followed along at a 15 degree angle. In addition, the drag caused the dial mechanism to move slowly and unevenly, so I figured that eventually the dial mechanism would fail.

I sought out instructions on how to disassemble the radio, so I could get the pointer back in its groove.

Searching the Internet was fruitless. I did find Realisticdx, a Yahoo! group for vintage Realistic shortwave receivers. The group had some information on my broken radio, but not enough to do the job I had to do.

I e-mailed QST “Vintage Radio” columnist John Dilkes, K2TQN, and asked if he had any ideas. Although John does not collect transistor radios, he kindly offered some suggestions that I pursued, but so far, I found no solution to my problem.

I decided to fly solo and take the radio apart without guidance. There were no screws at the front of the radio where the damage had been done, but there were screws on the back. I figured that I had to start at the back of the radio and work my way toward the front from the inside.

I removed the back cover and the battery/ac line cord storage compartment to reveal the guts of the radio. Viewing this cacophony of electronics, I concluded that the prospect of disassembling it all and reassembling it correctly was slim.

I studied the problem for a while, then loosened a few screws to see what that would do, but concluded that this was a mission impossible. So I reassembled what I had disassembled and powered up the radio to make sure it still worked. It did, and I resigned myself to living with the out-of-groove pointer until the dial mechanism finally gave up the ghost.

Then I had a thought: If the force of hitting the floor caused the pointer to slip out of the groove, maybe I could use force to get it back in the groove.

So I gave the front of the radio a good whack with my open hand and lo and behold, the pointer jumped back in its groove and the dial mechanism now works as Radio Shack had intended.

Until next time, keep on surfin’!

Editor’s note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, seeks the unusual in radio. To contact Stan, send e-mail or add comments to the WA1LOU blog.