Test Card F

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An institution! Never to be forgotten and I will certainly always remember the famous BBC Test Card! During my twenty years or so as a Television Technician this wonderful piece of analogue art would light up the screens. As an apprentice I used to time the start of the BBC2 Test Card with it’s music at Nine O’clock in the morning and try to guess which tunes would play first! Sometimes my favourite two tracks would come on first!

The test card of course was used for setting up and aligning colour televisions. The blackboard and noughts and crosses marked the centre of the screen. The cross was used to accurately align the Red and Green Static Convergence, the horizontal and vertical lines on the blackboard were used to align the Blue Static Convergence. Other outer white lines were used to set up the Height, Width, linearity and dynamic convergence controls. Many an hour spent trying to get the alignment ‘that little bit better’ and wishing you had never started!

During bad days the smile of that little girl and the relaxing music became quite theraputic when things were not going right!

So who is this little girl?

Her name is Carole Hersee, daughter of the Engineer and Designer George Hersee. She made her first appearance on BBC2 in 1967. (Where are you now Carole?)

Check out the Test Card History site and this great news page from the BBC about Test Card F

What about Test Card ‘C’ and the music? ….click HERE!

How about your own Test Card F Wallpaper? ….click HERE!

Some facts:

Carole Hersee has had more television airtime than Carol Vordermann, Coronation St, News 24 and Bart Simpson! (all put together!)

The ITV Test Card F which was transmitted from Winter Hill, was a 35mm photographic colour slide and flying spot scanner. (I actually held the slide!!)

The clown’s name is called ‘Bubbles’

Carole Hersee is four years younger than me!

Telpro Kids!

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The only picture I have of me working on televisions! here I am with Brian quality checking some Telpros. OK…this was a set up… the photo went in a management magazine, so the televisions were not actually connected (note the wires!) We were given a couple of newly ironed white coats to make it look good. (In reality, I wore a short grey dust coat!)
Do you like the long hair and flared jeans?

Back in the 1970’s Telefusion launched it’s own version of the Decca Bradford television called the ‘Telpro’. The circuit was identical to the Decca 2230, but the chassis and components were totally different. At first production started with the black and white TV called the M101 followed shortly after by the Telpro Colour Receiver.

Production started at Cobden Mill (where I worked) then later moved to a new factory at Kearsley. I remember the very first employed production line girls (Janet and Susan) fresh out of school who later became managers on the production lines (where are they now?)
I was involved a bit with the design of the Telpro by telling Gerald, the design engineer and radio amateur, who I was pally with at the time, that it was not a good idea to use cheap foreign transistors, especially in the video output drivers! I got them changed to proper ones!!

I worked at the Heywood warehouse later and set up a Quality Control system for incoming goods from different suppliers, including Telpro. Managed to get them to change a few things at the factory like the convergence yolk, which cause havoc to the convergence of colours after the sets had been moved.

The Telpro was a good little earner for Telefusion and even produced a prototypes of a new model based on the Decca 80 /100 system.

Sadly…Telefusion was taken over by Visionhire, who didn’t want to know when it came to producing televisions, so promply closed down the factory at Kearsley!

The end of an era!

R.I.P. CRT

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Well, the end is nigh!

The Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) has served us now for many years, but now there is a DIGITAL replacement…the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) Alright, I gave in about about four months ago when I bought a 32″ LCD Television to replace our Grundig 26″ CRT TV.

Many memories of the CRT. These beasts were made of solid glass with a vacuum inside and were incline to ‘IMPLODE’ if you didn’t treat them right! When I worked at Telefusion as an apprentice this was a common occurance if you dropped a Television on the floor or dropped the CRT that you had just removed. Scary stuff!!
One day we had a flood at the Gower St Mill when the fire sprinkler system went off just above the CRT store. One of my tasks was to take the CRT’s out of the wet boxes and send them down a conveyer belt to the floor below for re-boxing. What a sight when a conveyer belt full of CRT’s started to slide down the belt and collide with each other ‘BANG!!’ glass everywhere, we all ran for cover!!

These beasties needed 25000 volts on the final anode to make them work and the rubber connection clip would hold that charge for a heck of a long time because the CRT made a perfect capacitor. The final anode had to discharged before even touching the CRT, and what a crack it would make with a couple of screwdivers! Changing a Colour CRT was a regular job and I must have changed hundreds in my time, but always wary of the static voltage still on the frame even when discharged.

I once had a stint as an apprentice at CRT testing and re-juvinating (blasting) – a scary job!

No…I won’t miss the CRT…it served it’s purpose, but let digital technology rule on this one!!

Rest in Peace! (See the link!)

Digital Birthday Cake

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My 41st Birthday Cake to celebrate my advance in Digital Technology!

In 1995 I finally made perhaps one of the most important decisions of my life …. to buy a brand new PC Computer!

After weeks of heartsearching my final decision came down to:
Do I buy a second hand 384 processor computer or buy a brand new 486 processor computer at a price tag of about 600 quid, a lot of money at that time. I looked at Simple Computers first, but could not get through to them on the phone to find out more and possibly order. Then, out of the blue came a flyer through the letter box the same day from a company with a shop on Bradshawgate in Bolton, offering a 486 SX25 (25Mhz), 8Mb RAM, 240MB Hard Drive, monitor, keyboard, mouse for just over 400 quid! A real bargain!

I will always remember that afternoon at 4.00pm meeting Kath (my wife) and kids outside the shop on Bradshawgate, about this time of I remember. In we went and asked for the computer on offer, at the time Windows 3.1 was extra, but I couldn’t afford that! We waited a long time in the shop while my machine was built and finally the boxes came in. Slight problem…they had no boxed monitors, so they let me take another monitor on show while they ordered my new one.

WOW!!! A brand new PC!

I remember loading up the boxes outside the shop on double yellow lines and driving off with a huge smile on my face! At home I sat on the carpet putting it all together, then going next door to borrow their discs of Windows 3.1 (7 floppy discs) It worked!
The next day we went off to MFI to buy a neat little trolley which fit nicely in our bedroom.

Never looked back…a lot of money, but what the hell!

My friend Doug supplied me with unlimited software and tons of advice for the PC. I’m still trying to remember the name of that shop that I bought it from…it will come to me one day!
Ahhh! ‘ESCOM’…Kath has just told me name of the company!

The PC served me well, I added a CD ROM drive later, updated the memory and put in a 486 DX80 processor.

Sold the computer a few years later and built one of my own….cool!!

How things have changed, last week I bought a 1GB flash drive! (Pen stick) GigaBytes were unheard of in the days of ESCOM and 486 machines.

Melissa…Digital Native!

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Here she is…meet Melissa…or ‘M’ as in James Bond!

This kid is a true Digital Native, button pressing and screens are her life. This kid can use a Sony Mobile Phone/Camera and send (blank) texts to numerous people on her Mums contacts list. She can shout ‘Cheese!’ in the Pub and take high quality photos of other people eating next to us. This kid can play computer games and loves ‘Mouseclub’.
During visit to PC World she managed to switch off the computer that controlled the displays of all the widescreen HD televisions sending half the store into darkness!
This is the kid who tells me that I must turn off the NTL box before I can play her favourite DVD so that no intereference is on screen!

A true Digital Native ‘M’…what will the future hold for you Melissa?

By the way….Melissa is just two years old….scary!!!

R1154 Transmitter

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I cannot believe that I actually had one of these in my shack, and in good condition, before I tore it apart! It’s the famous R1154 Transmitter that was used during the war in Lancaster Bombers.
Here is the story…

At the time I was working at Telefusion Ltd as an apprentice in my first year repairing UHF TV Tuner Units (Valve ones…PC86 and PC88) In the same room as myself was an Australian guy who used the sophisticated alignment equipment for Transistor Tuner Units. He was a licenced Radio Amateur in Australia and I thought he was really clever because he could use a ‘UHF Sweep Generator’ and Oscilloscope to accurately align these little beasties with their AF138 and AF139 transistors.

When he decided to move on and return to Australia, he asked me if I wanted this R1154 Transmitter, so I went to his house in Worsley with my Dad to collect this and a few other items. My intentions were to get the R1154 working, but it became obvious that it linked to other devices and would be impossible to get this going alone. I remember removing the front plate of this transmitter and seeing a row of huge high power valves in a line as though they were about to take off into space! The two meters on the front and also another seperate RF Meter that I used later to measure the RF Output of my Topband Transmitter.

So guess what I did with it?

I decided to gut it and remove everything that would be useful, particularly the coils, tuning capacitors and meters. The coils were connected to huge switches and the tuning capacitors to the brightly coloured knobs. Most of the case and knobs were thrown away, but the coils, capacitors and meters were all put to good use.

At the time it was a heap of junk….but now….I wish I could have put it in cold storage and then onto Ebay!!

Yellow Van!

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Watch out! Watch out…there’s a yellow van about!

The yellow van is owned by the Post Office Radio Service and driven by Gerry Openshaw G2BTO. Gerry was our local Post Office inspector, he was well respected and the sight of his van when working mobile would make any Radio Amateur quake in his boots!
When I was first got my Amateur Radio Licence the airwaves were monitored by the GPO and if you were to (God forbid!) step out of place and say something you shouldn’t on Topband, a visit from Gerry Openshaw was imminant. He had the power to close down your station at anytime.

Gerry is a great bloke! He came to inspect my station shortly after gaining my licence and very thorough it was too then signed my log book. Part of his job was finding Pirate Stations and at the time Topband was rife with them. (I tell a few amusing tales about them…stay tuned!) Using state of the art direction finding equipment, Gerry was able to pinpoint a station to within 10 yards…scary!!
I met Gerry once in town, his famous yellow van was parked outside the pastie shop on Churchgate and he was enjoying a pastie and taking direction finding readings on one of our local pirates. “Come on Steve…i’ll show you how it works” he said. There was the state of the art equipment…a ferrite rod, a map and an Eddystone EC10!! I thought the back of this yellow van was packed with equipment! Television Interference was another one of of his roles. Television Interference (TVI) from Radio Amateurs (and other sources) was a big problem. My friend Neil had a ‘Korting’ Colour TV and Gerry spent a lot of time trying to solve the problem by adding various filters.

Gerry has a long history of Radio Communication and has a great story to tell of his role during the war at Bletchley Park and the Enigma Code.

Cracking the secret code http://archive.boltoneveningnews.co.uk/1999/1/29/782592.html