Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Bye bye analogue telly

   It is with some sadness that I note today sees the turning off of the final UK terrestrial analogue TV transmitter in Northern Ireland. Not because I miss Ceefax or because I hanker again for the days of only three, four, or five channels, but because analogue TV was what gave me my start in electronics when I was a teenager.
    When my contemporaries were doing more conventional 1980s teen stuff like riding BMX bikes or burning away their money on Pac-Man, I was hunting through skips for discarded TV sets, fixing them, learning how they worked, and using them as sources of components for my other electronic projects. I must have had hundreds of them pass through my hands, mostly the sets from the colour TV boom of the early 1970s. I learned the foibles of the Philips G8, the Decca Bradford and the ITT CVC5, I understood how an analogue PAL decoder worked and I picked up what is now one of the most useless skills around for an engineer, converging a delta-gun colour CRT.
    I remember some of my projects, the UHF transmitters fashioned from tuner cavities and the scary spark generator using TV EHT parts. My DX-TV setup, my home-made satellite receiver, and those weird Lockfit transistors. And the FM bugs made in IF cans, or the stereo valve amplifier using dirt-cheap PCL86 TV frame output valves. I made a lot of awful projects, some useless projects, other scary projects and one or two really good projects from discarded TV parts.
    As you might expect, I never had to pay for a TV until I was 35 and wanted an LCD panel.
    I still have one or two sets left over from that period. A few black and white sets of varying sizes, and a solitary ITT CVC5 colour set, rather battered. I sometimes fire one up with a Humax set-top-box, but there's no practical reason for me to keep them. Too good to throw away though.
    I feel privileged to have grown up as an engineer in the 1980s. Not only did I get the explosion of 8-bit microcomputers, I was also lucky enough that the electronic devices of the day were accessible enough to understand. I pity today's teenagers for whom electronic devices are highly integrated and surface-mount, they have such a restricted opportunity for experimentation.
    So bye bye analogue telly. I can't say I'll miss you in 2012, but I'm indebted to what you gave me. I doubt I'll see your like again.

1 comment:

  1. Hi John and others

    I collect early UK colour TV’s and would love an ITT CVC5 or RGD (even better) to add to my PYE hybrid and G11, Philips G8 and Bush T20 examples now fully restored.
    I also have SONY KV1300, 1800,1810,1820(in white) all fully operational plus a poor cabinet but excellent tube 2000 which a good cabinet would be very welcome.
    Based in Harrow, please contact me should you be able to help an ex repair man re living his youth.