Ride the Wave of Curiosity: Vacuum Tube Radios Vs. Transistor Radios by@ranlily

Ride the Wave of Curiosity: Vacuum Tube Radios Vs. Transistor Radios

In general, the radio is constructed by mechanical devices, electronic devices, magnets, etc. It receives audio signals emitted by broadcasting stations through converting electric wave signals. After the invention of the vacuum tube, the circuit and receiving performance of the radio had undergone revolutionary progress and improvement, that is vacuum tube radio. Later, with the development of technology, radios with transistors as the core gradually became popular. It's what we know as a transistor radio. Radios are still widely used for many functions. Here two main radios will be described in detail below.
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Ranlily Phlio

An electronic amateur work at Hongkong

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Introduction


In general, the radio is constructed by mechanical devices, electronic devices, magnets, etc. It receives audio signals emitted by broadcasting stations through converting electric wave signals.


After the invention of the vacuum tube, the circuit and receiving performance of the radio had undergone revolutionary progress and improvement, that is vacuum tube radio. Later, with the development of technology, radios with transistors as the core gradually became popular. It's what we know as a transistor radio.


Radios are still widely used for many functions. Here two main radios will be described in detail below.


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Vacuum Tube Radio

The valve radio, also known as the vacuum tube radio, was a product of the early 20th century, and immediately became the new favorite of that era with the launch of the broadcasting station.


By the late 1920s, vacuum tube radio equipment replaced the primitive spark-gap systems on most merchant ships.


This new equipment could send and receive signals virtually worldwide, by using high frequency or "short-wave" bands. Tube technology allowed radio signals to be tuned with much greater precision than spark-gap. The basic design for tube radio was perfected by the 1930s and continued in use on merchant vessels into the 1980s.



1.1 Classification


AM (Amplitude Modulation) Radio


In the era when tube radios were popular, AM radios were mainstream products. Amplitude modulation wave modulates the high-frequency carrier with audio signal.


Its waveform is symmetrical, the amplitude is the same as that of the modulated signal. The audio signal is obtained after a high-frequency component is filtered out. In addition, the frequency of the carrier signal (the frequency of the broadcasting station) is the carrier frequency.


AM radios can receive medium-wave and short-wave broadcasts, and some can receive long-wave broadcasts. Since the mid-band frequency interval has been unified to 9KHz, its highest audio frequency is only 4KHz. So the sound quality is affected because of large electromagnetic interference. There are two main types of AM radios: direct-amplifier type and external (self) differential type.


1.Direct-amp radio, also called high-amp radio, its typical circuit structure is as follows:


(High Amplifier)—Detection—Low Amplifier—Power Amplifier


A circuit that uses a grid detector circuit and high-frequency positive feedback is called a regenerative radio, which can obtain higher sensitivity and amplitude selectivity. A regenerative radio with high amplifier and short wave can receive AM telegraph signals.


Most of the old Japanese-made radios have such circuits. Direct-amp radios are prone to self-excitation of high-frequency signals, high-end and low-end gains are uneven, and regenerative radios without high-amplification have poor selectivity.


In addition, the reed speakers with poor sound quality are generally used, so they are gradually replaced by superheterodyne radios. Simple regenerative radios mostly use reed speakers, which have high impedance (about 10K) and high sensitivity.

It can be directly used as the load of the power amplifier tube, but the frequency range is only 350~3000Hz, so the sound quality is poor. Later regenerative radios applied moving coil speakers, and the sound quality was better.


However, because of low impedance, an output transformer is required, and its primary impedance must match the load impedance of the power amplifier tube. Moving coil speakers are divided into permanent magnets, constant magnets and excitation.


Among them, excitation horns are used in AC electronic tube radios, and their excitation coils can also be used as filter chokes.


2.Heterodyne Radio


The heterodyne radio adopts a frequency conversion circuit.


The signal is generated by its high-frequency oscillation circuit and the input signal has a certain frequency difference.


After the two are mixed, a fixed intermediate frequency signal (455~465KHz) is generated. Some people call the oscillation frequency higher than the signal frequency a heterodyne type, and vice versa.


Heterodyne plus intermediate frequency amplifier circuit is called superheterodyne. This type of circuit requires a single electron tube to oscillate, and later a multi-pole or composite tube dedicated to frequency conversion appears.


The superheterodyne type is the most common circuit of commercial radios. It has an automatic volume control circuit and can add tuning instructions. The circuit principle will be described in detail later.


The superheterodyne radio can obtain more stable and higher gain due to amplifying the fixed frequency. The disadvantage is that there is image frequency interference.


The circuit structure of a typical superheterodyne radio is as follows:


Frequency Conversion—Middle Amplification—Detection—Low Amplification—Power Amplification


3.Autodyne Frequency Conversion Radio


Using ordinary pentodes for frequency conversion is only suitable for the mid-band, and the middle frequency is 175KHz. Due to the popularization of special frequency conversion tubes, it is rarely used now.


FM (Frequency Modulation) Radio


FM radio is a radio that transmits radio signals through the use of FM frequency modulation carrier.


Due to the shorter wavelength, the signal transmitted is much better than that of the radio that uses the AM wavelength. However, due to the short wave, the transmission distance is relatively short.


FM wave uses the audio signal to modulate the frequency of high-frequency carrier. Its advantages include strong anti-interference ability, high signal-to-noise ratio, good frequency bandwidth and sound quality, in addition, the audio frequency can reach 20Hz~15000Hz.


Because the FM wave works in the ultra-high frequency band, it can accommodate many radio stations. With its linear propagation characteristics, the same frequency can be reused at a distance of hundreds of kilometers, which can effectively solve the problem of congestion of medium and short wave radio stations.


Modern FM broadcasting is compatible with stereo and mono channels(in the early days of stereo broadcasting, two frequencies were used and two radios for reception). Some hobbyists are likely to use a simple super-regenerative circuit to receive FM broadcasts. Because it works in a self-oscillation state, the work is unstable and has strong super-noise.


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1.2 Advantages and Disadvantages of Valve Radio


Advantages of Valve Radio


  1. The valve tube circuit has a simple structure and good anti-overload performance.


  2. The characteristics of the power amplifier circuit of the tube radio are better than those of the transistor or integrated circuit power amplifier. The screen current of the Class A power amplifier circuit with an output transformer for output impedance matching has little change at zero signal and full signal. So the performance is stable, the distortion of the line work area is very small, and the harmonic content is very rich.


  3. The speakers used in valve radios are generally larger in diameter than those of transistor or integrated circuit radios.


  4. The IF circuit characteristics of tube radios are better than those of transistor or integrated circuit radios.


  5. Have collection value.


Disadvantages of Valve Radio


As for the shortcomings, valve tubes that are large in size and used as basic components, built-in accessories are also bulky, power consumption has also increased, the overall quality has become poor, inconvenient to carry, and poor seismic performance.


In addition, it is very difficult to make FM stereo radio devices, because early tube radios can only receive shortwave and medium waves. These shortcomings eventually led to the replacement of tube radios by transistor radios.


1.3 German Vintage Valve Radio Models for Sale


AEG Radio

Blaupunkt

German EMUD

Graetz Vintage Radio

Grundig Vintage Radio

Hornyphon Vintage Radio

Vintage Koerting Radio

German Metz Vintage Radio

Vintage Nordmende Radio

Philips Vintage Radio

Vintage Saba Radio

Vintage Siemens Radio

Telefunken

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Transistor Radio

2.1 Transistor Radio Overview

The transistor radio is the second generation radio after the valve radio. Compared with vacuum tubes, transistors are small in size, light in weight, resistant to vibration, long in life, and low in power consumption.


These kinds of radios can be made compact and have relatively stable performance. Therefore, after the advent of transistor radios, a large number of portable radios and pocket radios have emerged. They are very convenient for daily use.


The Regency TR-1 was the first commercially manufactured transistor radio by developed by Texas Instruments and IDEA Inc., introduced in 1954.


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Transistor radios use transistors to process and amplify signals. Simple to use, it is a small transistor-based radio receiver.


2.2 Selection Matters

To choose a good transistor radio, you must first understand four basic relationships:


  1. The larger the chassis volume, the better the sound quality.
  2. The larger the horn diameter, the better the sound quality.
  3. The larger the battery volume, the longer the relative service life of the battery.
  4. The longer the magnetic bar, the higher the sensitivity.


Secondly, we should also pay attention to five points when selecting:


  1. The change after the power supply voltage is reduced should be small. When selecting, you can have listening trial, because the impact on a high-quality radio should not be significant.
  2. The distortion of the offset radio should be small. After finding a radio station, having the left and right adjustments, the distortion should be small. In addition, there should be no whistling sound, otherwise, the frequency characteristics of the intermediate frequency part are poor.
  3. The volume change should be small when turning the button.
  4. Human body induction has little influence. When a person's body is close to the radio, it will have a certain impact on the work of the radio. This situation is particularly obvious for shortwave.
  5. The noise should be small. Noise generally includes electrical noise and mechanical noise. Turn the radio to a place where there is no station, and turn on the volume to the maximum. At this time, the minimum sound is better. Listen to a program to check whether there are noises caused by resonance of certain components when the volume is loud. Finally, you should also pay attention to whether the tuning knobs and buttons are coordinated and effective, and whether the shell of the radio is damaged or not.


2.3 Transistor Radio Brands for Sale


Edifier

GAORUI HOME TEXTILE

SONY

Rolton

HALFSUN

Panda

Soaiy

Nintaus


3 Radio Further Development

With the advent and development of integrated circuits, transistors have been replaced by integrated circuits, that is the third-generation radios invention, sometimes also known as semiconductor radios.

After the radio uses integrated circuits, not only the size can be made smaller, but also the reliability is high. As the number of integrated circuit components is getting larger and larger, radios made with it have better performance and more functions. The integration of radios has become an inevitable trend.


First published here.

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