Kit Horror Stories / WRL Screen Modulator

Glen Zook gzook at YAHOO.COM
Fri Oct 11 19:55:02 EDT 2002

I have heard of various horror stories of how kits
were wired.  But, until today, I had never really seen
something that qualified as such.

About a week ago, I was "surfing" through eBay and
came across what was listed as a WRL microphone
preamplifier.  Well, a quick look at the photo of the
item showed that it was not a preamplifier, but the
relatively scarce WRL SM-90 screen modulator which was
made for the Globe Chief series of transmitters.
Since there was less than 15 minutes to go on the
auction, and since no one had bid on the items (there
was a pair of high impedance headphones thrown in), I
bid the minimum.  Well, I "won" the auction.

The "goods" arrived this afternoon.  A quick look
inside the modulator didn't show anything wrong.  But,
then I took a closer look.  The modulator consists of
a small printed circuit board, an audio transformer,
an Amphenol microphone jack, an octal plug, and an
octal socket mounted within a metal project box (the
two tubes are inserted in holes in the side of the
box).  Every part had been mounted on the circuit
board, each lead brought through the opening, turned
over, cut off to about 3/16 inch long, and a "spot" of
solder had been put on the end of each wire!  Not a
single wire was soldered to the circuit board!

The same thing had been done with the octal plug and
the octal socket.  A drop of solder had been applied
to the end of each wire and not a single wire was
actually soldered in place!  Obviously, whoever built
this kit over 40 years ago did not have a "clue" as to
how to build it!  Also, there is no way that the
modulator could ever have worked.  Thus, the person
who built it probably put it aside, forgot about it,
and eventually it showed up as part of his/her estate.

Now, I have no "beef" with the seller.  He is not an
amateur, only ended up with the items as part of an
estate sale, and put them up as what he thought they
were.  I have been in contact with him not about this
particular item, but we have been exchanging
information on other subjects.  He is, in my opinion,
a real nice guy!

I had heard some "horror" tales from people who worked
at Heath about some of the kits that were returned for
service.  But, until now, I could only consider them
to be "urban legends"!

I have already cleaned the board and actually soldered
all of the components in place, as well as actually
soldering the plugs and jack.  All that is left is to
modify my Globe Chief 90A and then I can try to relive
my first day of upgrading from novice, for my first AM
contact was made on a Globe Chief 90A using an SM-90

But, I can now "feel" for those who had to rebuild the
various kits that were returned as "problems"!

Glen, K9STH

Glen, K9STH

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