"When was the last time you did some troubleshooting on 1970s tech? Let us know in the comments below."
Well my knees are feeling a bit creeky, and I'm 70's Tec
NASA knows the how but not the why of a telemetry data routing snafu that caused "garbled" information about the 45-year-old Voyager 1 probe's position to be sent to mission controllers on the ground. The space agency's engineers announced a fix of the issue last night, saying they'd discovered the data was being routed …
I have an old Fender reverb unit (solid state) that was made in the 70's. A few years ago I took it completely apart, cleaned it out really well with contact cleaner [the dust inside stank like cigarettes, bad enough to give me a headache], and re-soldered the solder joints on the circuit board and cleaned up the 1/4" audio jacks and whatnot. Worked a LOT better (had proper gain again) and no more scratchy noise.
The traces on the circuit board looked like they were done by hand using a French Curve. And the parts have a LOT of space between them, not like a pocket radio from the same time period where parts are all crammed together.
(the reverb itself sounds really good when playing surf-style music or Brian Setzer kinda stuff)
Used to do mine like that when I was doing my final year BSc project - a mixture of black tape and 2x Alfac transfers.
Designed with coloured pens on 0.2” graph paper, then overlaid with drafting film and transfers/tape for each layer, and then sent off to be reduced to create the final photo etching masks.
One of my first work projects after my degree was writing a high resolution printer driver for our new PCB CAD system, and I never used the transfers again.
I've recently been working on replacing the transformer in a '70s NAD 3070 receiver.
Was made more difficult by it being a specific part with 35-0-35V, 25-0-25V, 19-0-19V and 0-14V windings. Only place to find one was from a scrap one, which just aren't around. Eventually used a transformer from a 3020 (which are more common, so are scrapped more frequently) plus a small auxiliary transformer for the tuner and tuning scale lamp (which was replaced by LEDs).
Just finished last week (I had previously re-cap'd a while back before the transformer shorted some windings). Sounds amazing again.
Not quite so complex, and not quite so remote, so I guess it doesn't really count, but you did ask!
Missing the 70s by 2 years my Casio FX180P is still in use - as it was released in 1980 it's probably still 70s tech - though the move from LED to LCD was a huge improvement for my high school/uni budget. From a new 9V alkaline battery each week during a levels to a pair of AAs every 5 years or so at Uni and ever since.
The delay might not be secrecy of course - it'll take time to confirm that there actually is a problem with the craft, not the telescope, the decoder software - you don't announce a problem in the Voyager spacecraft until you've done your due diligence and confirmed that your end works fine.
> The original engineers must have been almost obsessive.
They were just engineers: Measure thrice, cut once. None of that "you need to build that a lot faster and cheaper" marketing malarkey.
Just look how long older appliances lasted, compared to modern ones. All right, the older appliances couldn't spy on you, but if push comes to shove that's something I can live without, if absolutely necessary.
Just look how long older appliances lasted, compared to modern ones.
cars... older ones just run and run and run... in an accident, you can actually buff out the damage... with modern cars, there's no amount of buffing damage out and they seem to be engineered to be thrown away after 5 years... it really is a sad state of affairs...
There's no question that Alfa have been plagued with by far the worst corrosion problems, but other makes were not routinely rust proofed and would develop their own issues over time. I remember my Dad complaining when replacing the sills on a Vauxhall Chevette. He had to cut out so much metal before he could find something he could actually weld to.
I had an Alfa 147 for a while, absolutely lovely car, and notably rust free. I believe most manufacturers began using galvanised metal in the early 2000s, before mine was made. Good to keep an eye on the subframes though.
1980s cars in general being the exception. They were exceptionally bad, nearly all of them, and in the mid '90s finally started to get better again. One can find a number of '70s and earlier cars on the used market in decent running shape, and a number from the '90s forward, but not a lot from the '80s. Besides, even if they did run, who really wants a Ford mustang-that-looks-like-an-escort, or a K car, or any of the other hideous machines that were built in that era?
The oldest tech I'm still using and maintaining is a database app that I wrote in the early 80s, but the data in the database goes all the way back to 1971. In the earliest days it was actually a list updated with a typewriter. (I still had a typewriter until 1989.) I use it about 3 times per week, booting up an old multi-boot machine with a 20-MB DOS partition. I was never able to set up an emulator that could support the FCBs properly, but it's become a concern. It's an ancient ThinkPad, and built like a tank, but how long can it keep going?
Pretty sure that there are very few bugs in the code, but I sometimes edit it to add functionality. I remember adding a rolling window for the Year 2000 problem, and there was a decade tweak around 2011, too. However the main recent modification was a new statistical function that was added about 3 or 5 years back. Major problems because I had forgotten about the internal editor, so when I used an external editor the handling of the CRLFs was quite different.
But my actual interest in the story was whether this explains the anomalous location and velocity data. I read about it in a book called "13 Things That Don't Make Sense". Can't find any current references to those anomalies.
im working on openqm i have front ended it with a python IDE. openqm is essentially the PICK OPERATING SYSTEM (1965). Unbelievably that OS is still infastructure, eveywhere. Corporate. having moved (back) to it, from python, I was going to build it up using python. The power. Its not all cobol. its not all. Degraded systems. microsoft = 'the dark ages of tech'
Is it what came up in 2015 as - "Writing in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, Nathan Schwadron of the University of New Hampshire, Durham, and colleagues reanalyzed magnetic field data from Voyager 1 and found that the direction of the magnetic field has been slowly turning ever since the spacecraft crossed into interstellar space. They believe this is an effect of the nearby boundary of the solar wind, a stream of charged particles that comes from the sun.". Being, mystery solved (probably)?
Iirc, the anomalous velocity and location data that puzzled the Voyager team was eventually found to be due to an unaccounted for imbalance in the heat radiation from the probes.
About a year ago I squirted some deoxit into the scratchy volume control of the tuner-amp I built in the mid 1970s, and still use. It's right in front of me now.
A few months ago I repaired the signal generator that I built just before the tuner-amp - it had gone unstable due to a dried out tantalum cap. That's sitting on the
kitchen workshop table.
"It's not yet known why the probe started sending telemetry to the wrong box,"
I'm not saying it was aliens... but it was aliens. Somewhere out in the Interstellar region, a group of cockroach-like creatures huddled around a display give a collective cheer as Thwap pushes the single blue button on the Voyager control panel and returns to his scout craft. That should keep the earthlings busy for a while...
Was the condenser made of brass plates? I used to have a couple of beautiful brass variable condensers that came out of a pre-war (WW II, that is) radio, but alas no more, I left them at home when I went to university and they vanished without trace when my parents moved house.
I dropped in to see how my chicken/duck/quail shed commission was coming along and a unit next door caught my eye. There was a chap in their making capacitors from rolled up copper sheets and airgapped for the audiophiles.
Wait till they hear about the problems caused by changes in air pressure/humidity: "yea I could hear the thunderstorm coming because the rise in humidity extended the bass range beautifully"
Always a pleasure to work on vintage Hi-Fi gear. I was gifted a broken Quad 33/303 system (a long haul to the Isle of Mull to fetch it, but that's a different story). The 33 pre-amp rattled because one of the plastic cased electrolytic caps had literally exploded. A full rebuild of both units, new caps, metal oxide resistors, reconfiguring for PNP power transistors, etc yielded a very decent amplifier, better than new.
Although originally "free" + the upgrade kits, it then started to get more expensive as I *had* to get the matching FM3 tuner, then another 303 for bi-amping a pair of modified Wharfedale speakers, then... I'll stop there before I think too much about it.
I've got a 33/303 that plugs into the telly for proper listening to music - though for really proper listening to music I have to wait for the FM2 to warm up - something on Buxtehude on R3 a couple of days ago (he must have been mono) worked really well as it distorts the lower organ registers far better than any Bose crap!
I ended up supporting some very specialised equipment a couple of years ago that was based on hardware logic. It dated back from probably before PLCs were thought of. The documentation was very poor and incomplete and inaccurate. All based on CMOS 4000 logic and various obsolete analogue multipliers etc. Nightmare.
I have a Mullard 10W valve amplifier sitting in my garage that I built for my Duke of Edinburg project in the mid 1960’s Think the soldering may need ‘touching up’ now. Another project for when I ever get round to it. I’m 76 now so possibly an heirloom project for my grandchildren !
There is not 'altitude' without a gorund reference. Altitude is a flight thing, this is a spacecraft. Attitude is what matters - I.E. Where is it pointing? This is also a thing planes worry about and have controls for. You may be confused because attitude, to a large degree, is how you change altitude, but the control surfaces actually change attitude. (V'Ger uses thrusters, because - space).
It is funny, I don't like things because they are old, I like them because the mindset for making and building back then are so different from today, and you can see that when you work on them.
Old mechanically controlled devices from the 70s and earlier just amaze me in general compared to the current "build it from plastic and slap a computer on it to make it work right" methodology.
I buy old mechanical woodworking gear (delta\beaver\rockwell) to fix, tune up and use.. The oldest I have in my wood shop is a bandsaw from 73 which you can actually still get most parts for new as they use nearly the same design for the modern made in China ones.
Lots of old tube guitar amps that I bought cheap and fixed up going back to the 60's including a Fender 400 PS that could heat my house...and deafen the neighborhood if I dared turn the volume knob past 1..
My main stereo is a Marantz from 74 I fixed up (mostly a good clean on that one) along with some other gear from the same era that need new capacitors every so often.
There is an Eico tube amp from the early 50s that I had to replace some pots on if that counts. It sounds amazing.
I've re-surrounded quite a few Advent Large Speakers from the mid 70's, in fact I have 4 sitting next to my LCD TV as the main sound system...I don't have a soundbar though.
Early 70s corvette I've had forever that has a problem with melting off the rear tires when the accelerator is depressed rapidly.
I don't have any 70's synthesizers to work on and play, but I really (really) wish I did...
I've tuned up my other half's Singer and Babylock sewing machines from the 60s/70s and they will probably work for another 30-40 years now.
Coleman camp stove from the 60s (maybe 50s) that needed a good clean. Two of their lanterns from the 70s that work great after a clean up as well.
I put a new motor in our Coleman house furnance from 77, but we did end up changing it out for something more efficient a year later. The squirrel cage and motor is going into a sanding down draft table at some point.