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Vintage Radio

Built in Australia more than 50 years ago, this AWA 157P 7-transistor radio is still in good condition and required only a few minor repairs to restore it to working order. It's built like a valve receiver, with point-to-point wiring and no printed circuit board.

By Rodney Champness

Transistor radios were well-established as a consumer item by about 1960, the year the AWA 157P was first manufactured. In fact, electronics hobbyists had been introduced to transistors as components as far back as 1954. “Radio & Hobbies” often carried ads for the Philips OC44, OC45, OC70, OC71 and OC72 series germanium transistors. These usually sold for around a pound to thirty shillings ($2 to $3).

By 1958, quite a few transistor receivers were coming into the country from Japan and Australia was also starting to produce sets at that time. These sets were quite a practical proposition if you lived in a city where one or more reasonably powerful radio stations were located.

Some of the early Japanese-manufactured receivers used a phenolic board that had holes punched through it, with the pigtails of the components wired to each other as required by the circuit. These sets were quickly followed by designs using true printed circuit boards (PCBs). However, it was necessary to be quite careful when installing or replacing parts in such early sets, as too much heat easily lifted the tracks off the board.

Australian manufacturers were slower off the mark when it came to using PCBs and the AWA 157P 7-transistor set featured here retained the point-to-point wiring techniques of the valve era, despite being circa 1960. And although the transistors were not mounted in sockets (as some manufacturers did), several are mounted through rubber grommets that are in turn fitted to the chassis.

These transistor mounting grommets are roughly located where valve sockets would be otherwise be fitted in an “equivalent” valve set. So the 157P was very conventional for its time. Compared to Japanese sets of the same era, they would have been more costly to produce.

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