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Vintage Radio

A great variety of valve receivers were designed and produced for the domestic market in Australia. These ranged from complex, multiband receivers to relatively simple sets designed for the bottom end of the market. This little receiver falls into the latter category and although it's a reasonable performer, it could have been much better.

By Rodney Champness

The Mullard Meteor 600 came onto the market in 1947, at a time when Australia was still recovering from the restrictions and scarcity of raw materials due to WWII. It is housed in a relatively small brown bakelite cabinet but the components are not squeezed in, as they were in some small sets of the era.

As can be seen from the photos, the patterning on the front of the cabinet is rather unusual and this accentuates the round dial scale and its escutcheon. It is an interesting feature and helps make the set reasonably attractive in appearance.

Another feature is that the chassis is easily removed from the cabinet. This simply involves removing the two control knobs plus four screws from the bottom of the cabinet that secure the chassis in place. The chassis can then be slid out of the cabinet, complete with its loudspeaker and dial scale.

The dial scale is circular and has a red background with yellow station markings and a yellow dial pointer. There are a few stations from NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia shown on the scale but none from Western Australia. This initially made me wonder if the set was even marketed in WA, although I now think it probably was. That’s because the ratings shown for the power transformer indicate that it can be used at 40Hz, which was the mains frequency used in Perth at that time.

The Mullard Meteor 600 covers the broadcast band from 540-1620kHz and has a fairly simple tuning system. This uses a control shaft to drive a drum attached to the tuning gang via a dial cord. The dial cord is simply wrapped around the control shaft three times and the ends attached to the dial drum so that it can be rotated one way or the other. However, although the mechanism is simple, replacing the dial cord requires removal of the dial scale to gain access to the drum.

One interesting feature is the way in which the volume control works. It doesn’t work in the conventional manner which is to vary the audio level that’s fed to the audio output stage. Instead, in this set (and a number of others of the same era), it varies the back bias to control the gain of the first two valves in the receiver and hence the audio output volume.

The volume and tuning controls are symmetrically located beneath the dial, with the volume control on the left and the tuning control on the right. As with many other receivers made at that time, there is no on-off switch and the set has to be switched on and off at the wall socket.

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