ARS NB9M

Remembering the Electra Company


Vintage Manufacturers 0 Comments 02/22/2018 

Cumberland Indiana

Posted By: Bradley Stone (UncleBrad)

For nearly five years, spanning 1978 - 1983,  I worked as an Electronics Technician in the original Bearcat manufacturing and service facility in Cumberland, Indiana.  Electra was one of the best places I've ever worked, and were among the many innovative consumer electronics companies which sprang up in and around Indianapolis.  Al Lovell, a former employee of Regency (also in Indianapolis) invented a curious, inexpensive device - the Little Tiger - which allowed police and fire transmissions to be received in a nearby standard radio.  Lovell also conceived the idea of a police scanner, and Electra built the very first ones in his meager facilities. 

I performed component-level troubleshooting of the BC-210, BC-250 and some of the very early full-duplex wireless telephones.  It was at Electra that I met a number of good ham operators, and finally got my first ticket (KA9OWA).  Betty Taylor, WB9IGY, sold me a nice Heathkit SB-102 in time for my Novice ticket.  I worked all 50 states on that transceiver, with a 5BTV vertical antenna clamped on a mobile home.  Betty could fix anything.  She was one of the best technicians I've ever met.

As demand for the products grew, the facility grew.  I remember predicting the end when the parent corporation, Masco, opted to incrementally move production and support to Warez, Mexico (now one of the most crime-ridden areas on the planet).  The quality of the produced products from Mexico was awful, and this was my first lesson in economics: reality is first measured in terms of stockholder dividends.  Eventually the name and assets were sold to Uniden, and the "Electra family" was no more.

Count them all: Regency, Texscan (where I worked in 1984), Genave, RCA, Trilithic, Mallory, Wavetek, Western Electric, Ritron, Grahams Electronics, American Electrionics, PTS.. these were innovative companies providing good opportunities for Hoosiers, and they're all gone.  But if I close my eyes, I can still turn a BC-210 on its side and program in all the test bench frequencies.

Here are some links for more information on the products made by Electra:

https://www.radiomuseum.org/dsp_hersteller_detail.cfm?company_id=8351

https://www.repairfaq.org/REPAIR/F_BC_Repair.html

Attached is an in-house newsletter dated February, 1981.  On the last page is the announcement of my engagement to my future wife, Brenda. 

In the pictures we have the Electra Christmas party, 1980.  Looking closely, yours truly can be found seated at a table, along with my old friend Mike McMillan (who later was in my wedding).   There also is a picture of the line BC-210 support team from about 1984, at the ill-fated 33rd and Post service facility.  These were great people to work with, and I still miss them.  But if I hear Rod Stewart's Do Ya Think I'm Sexy on the radio again I'll surely blow a fuse.

Al's son David, W9DAG, has restarted Electra, and appears to be focusing on contract design, prototyping and design with limited repair of the old products:

http://www.electracorp.com/

 

 

 


Description Comment  
Bearcat SCANNER in-house newsletter, Feb 1981

   Below is a picture of my latest project.  After doing the transceiver thing, with a CE20A, mated to a SX-115, then the next transceiver project, a 10A mated to any Drake R4 series receiver, I had an idea.  Those transceiver projects have a lot of oscillators, and even the crystal oscillators can drift as they warm up, which requires re-zeroing the transmitter to the receiver from time to...  READ MORE
- Bradley Stone (UncleBrad),  10/27/2019 
  

Favorite HF Nets

Sell/Swap, Vintage Radios & More
Category: Nets
All times are in Eastern unless otherwise indicated.  Frequencies are in Megacycles. Recommended HF NetsNet NameDayTimeFREQ/ModeSwan Technical NetWednesday2200 UTC14.2925 +/-  /USB3898 Traders NetWednesday8 PM3.938 / LSBBoatanchor NetWednesday7:30 PM CST3.870 / LSBWA9ZTY Vintage AM GroupSaturday7:30 AM3.885 / AMMidwest Classic Radio NetSaturday8:30 AM3.885 / AMSwan Technical NetSatu...  READ MORE
- Bradley Stone (UncleBrad),  08/29/2019 
  

W1LSB Finds an EBay Treasure

This 1964 WRL catalog was addressed to Major General Butch Griswold – K0DWC
Category: Vintage Manufacturers
I was first licensed as a novice in 1958, and the WRL catalog was really dominant in those days, with the Globe King, Globe Champ,  and all of the lesser models gracing its pages.  I had a Globe Chief 90 and often dreamed of owning the bigger iron in those pages.   I have since collected most of the WRL catalogs from 1954 to 1964, and the last one turned out to be an interestin...  READ MORE
- Bradley Stone (UncleBrad),  04/30/2019 
  

Crazy EBay Prices!

Pictures of radio suckerbait on the world's largest online auction!
Category: Crazy EBay Prices!
Below are some screen shots of incredible prices demanded by some EBay vendors.  Since posting an auction is free as long as the item is not sold, it costs nothing for the unscrupulous vendor to display their (often unremarkable) wares as if they were priceless artifacts.  Enjoy. ...  READ MORE
- Bradley Stone (UncleBrad),  03/22/2019 
   These excellent examples of the Swan Twins are from the estate of John Thuren, AA5T of Houston, Texas.  John had checked in to the 20M Swan net with these very desirable "big Swans" until a few years ago. A big thanks to Eddie, NU5K, who handled John's estate and placed these on EBay.  He packed them well, knowing they are indeed an important find.  Also...  READ MORE
- Bradley Stone (UncleBrad),  12/21/2018 
   W9RAN started playing with RTL-SDR dongles about 6 years ago, and knew they were going to have a big impact on the radio hobby.   But since these $15 receivers only tuned the VHF and UHF bands, he designed a wideband upconverter to make HF coverage possible, and described how it worked in an article in Jan. 2013 QST "Cheap and Easy SDR".   The "RANVerter" as...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (rnickels),  08/09/2018 
  

2018 Cave City Hamfest

Cave City, Kentucky, 3/3/2018
Category: Activities
Barry, AC9NK and I attendended the 2018 Cave City hamfest, which was awesome this year.  The facility was packed, with lots of vendors.  We enjoyed the company of my friend Tom, N4LID for dinner the night before. Tom, who is blind, had not been able to get to the hamfest for many years.  You will find more pictures at the Kentucky Phone Net site.  A big thanks to Rod, N4ZIF, fo...  READ MORE
- Bradley Stone (UncleBrad),  03/04/2018 
   The tube-type Linear Master Oscillators (“LMO”) used in the Heathkit SB-Line equipment is a very stable and accurate means of controlling the frequency in the equipment. Unfortunately, as the units age, many LMOs develop a “warble” when tuning. This “warble” usually stops when the frequency control knob is not rotated. However, accurately “zero-beating&rdq...  READ MORE
- Bradley Stone (UncleBrad),  02/08/2018 
  

NB9M Studio C Installed

A creative solution to managing big boxes in limited space.
Category: The Radio Shack
(Shown: 1/7/2018 checkin with the DX-60 Net on 3880, using the DX-60/HG-10B/HO-10 and the RME-6900)Using furniture-grade 5/8" plywood, simple tools and cold garage during Christmas vacation, I constructed Studio C, which occupies the south wall of the shack.  Exploiting a sturdy, existing cabinet with drawers that I've had since I was a kid, I devised a scheme to reliably handle the ...  READ MORE
- Bradley Stone (UncleBrad),  01/07/2018 

VIEW News Item

The FACOM 128B (Japan)

Technician keeps the 1959 computer humming.
VIEW News Item

Bob, W9RAN, announces the VERSA-TR

Featured in the December 2018 issue of QST
VIEW News Item

Check Out the National NC-183D!

Thanks to Jerry, K9GAS, for this superb example.
VIEW News Item

W9RAN Restores an Eldico TR1-TV

Globe King competitor gets a new life.
VIEW News Item

2017 W9DYV Boatanchor Event

July 22-23, 2017 Jonesborough, TN
VIEW News Item

Build Your Own Altair 8800 Personal Computer

Go back to 1974 and the dawn of home computing with this Arduino-based kit
VIEW News Item

SK: John Clemens, W0BD

Designer of the Mosley CM-1 Receiver

(There are currently no Blogs.)