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Vintage Radio

Many valve radios were battery-powered but a lot of the battery types used are now obsolete and no longer available. However, with a little ingenuity, sets that would otherwise be static displays only can be restored to full working order.

By Rodney Champness, VK3UG

When we stop to think about it, our civilisation would almost grind to a halt without batteries. Without them, there would be no iPods, no mobile phones, no handheld remote controls, no torches, no hearing aids, no battery-powered radios, no cordless mice or keyboards and no cordless telephones, to name just some of the equipment we now take for granted. Even worse, we would have to hand-crank our cars to start them if we didn’t have batteries to do the job for us!

Click for larger image
This view shows an assortment of old Eveready 1.5V cells and batteries, together with a 3V battery at far right. A Burgess 4.5V battery is also shown.

Batteries were used to power many early valve radio receivers, particularly in areas where mains power was unavailable. These batteries consisted of both primary (non-rechargeable) and secondary (rechargeable) types. A primary battery is one that uses up its chemicals in an irreversible reaction and is disposed of after use (ie, after it has gone "flat"). By contrast, secondary batteries can be recharged because the chemical reactions that take place inside them are reversible.

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