ARS NB9M

Remembering the Electra Company


Vintage Manufacturers 0 Comments 02/22/2018 (This is a Level 0 Resource)

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, Ritron, Grahams Electronics, 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

   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 
  

Remembering Fielden Farrington

CBS announcer, writer, author and announcer
Category: OTR
Remembering Fielden FarringtonAuthor, announcer and long-time CBS writer Fielden Ward Farrington was born July 4, 1909 in Clinton, Indiana.  He was my great-uncle; the younger brother of my grandmother, Thelma (Farrington) Stone.  Two weeks prior to his birth, his older brother Leo passed away with scarlet fever.  His father Harry, a talented carpenter, built the house in which...  READ MORE
- Bradley Stone (UncleBrad),  12/16/2017 
  

Super Hoosier DynaLoop

Construction and Description of a 160M loop antenna
Category: The Radio Shack
The Super Hoosier DynaLoop consists of four 35ft (average) utility poles buried an average of 5ft, 125ft LMR-400 from R&L Electronics, a 5KW-rated 4-1 balun, rope and marine-grade hardware (mostly from EBay) and a 20ft length of 300ohm ladder line..  The closest pole is nearly 100ft away from the shack.  The poles are 140ft apart.  The antenna is far away from any powe...  READ MORE
- Bradley Stone (UncleBrad),  11/25/2017 
   The hamshack is the result of a lot of thought. Featuring four 120V circuits on 200A service, as well as a 240V circuit for the amps, the idea was to have at hand dedicated equipment per band.  About 12 'X 18', carefull planning allows for sufficient room to both work and play.The shack is air conditioned and heated, with numerous switched antenna options for HF/VHF and UHF. &nbs...  READ MORE
- Bradley Stone (UncleBrad),  08/04/2017 
   I picked these up at the 2107 Sturgis, MI AM Swapmeet, amidst a pack curious OMs.  What a find!  Jerry replaced the original transformer in the linear power supply with a new AL-811H transformer.  The cosmetic condition of these relatively hard-to-find Gonsets is astonishing.  There is one front panel scuff on the GSB-101, and a few inperfections in the cases (original pai...  READ MORE
- Bradley Stone (UncleBrad),  07/30/2017 
  

W9DYV Jonesborough, TN 2017 Event

Pictures of forums, swapmeet and other activities
Category: Activities
Here are some pictures from the 5th annual event at the estate of W9DYV, Wes Schum.  This is truly becoming THE place to be for serious vintage communications enthusiasts.  Thanks to Nick Tusa, K5EF and all the others involved in the forums and hands-on workshops.for their participation, and also to John and Diane Voght, our hosts in the beautiful Storybrook Farm Bed & Breakfast. &nb...  READ MORE
- Bradley Stone (UncleBrad),  07/30/2017 

VIEW News Item

Brother Stair Back on the Air Soon?

Released on January 24 with a $750,000 bail
VIEW News Item

Check Out the National NC-183D!

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

Keep WWV on the Air!

Sign petition to request continued funding today.
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
VIEW News Item

Philo T. Farnsworth Fiasco

Forgotten Relics of Inventor of Electronic TV
VIEW News Item

New Arrival: Swan 700CX SS-16B Transceiver

This 1974 powerhouse features two 8950 PA tubes and a 16-pole filter.

(There are currently no Blogs.)