Friday, August 31, 2007

Beginning of a new era?

Here is my new classroom at the new school.

Today the 'keys' were handed over in a photoshoot with the Bolton News. I have spent most of the week helping with the big move. On Monday the staff return to school followed next week by the children. You can see from my classroom millions of boxes, now multiply that by 100 and that will give some idea of the task ahead next week unpacking!

This is a 21st Century 'Digital School'

Camera Imaging for security, Digital TV and Audio points in each room, Interactive Whiteboards, piped audio and alarm systems and even eco friendly lighting that senses when you are not there to turn off the lights! Trouble is...they have these in the toilets as well, and they have no windows, so you have to keep moving or the lights go off!!


Thursday, August 23, 2007

End of an Era!

This is my classroom, empty and totally ripped apart. A lot of memories and a lot of kids!
You can see my interactive whiteboard and blackboard, my chair in the corner where I sat and talked to the children on the carpet.
Above the Whiteboard is the Video Conferencing Equipment ready for moving down to the new site. A super piece of digital technology!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Writing on the board!

Today I went into school to begin the big move down to our new school site. My classroom was completely empty with everything ripped off the walls and rubbish on the floor. My Interactive Whiteboard was still up and next to it part of my blackboard which was revealled when the 'Whiteboard' that replaced it was removed. This is what I wrote on the blackboard for the very last time with CHALK before the new whiteboard was fitted.
Look at the dates...we have been waiting since 2001 for the closure of the school and now at last, it is actually happening!
I was only 4 years out!
Here is an example of Chalk and Digital Technology (Interactive Whiteboard) working side by side.
The new school looks fantastic, wiring is fully integrated including digital TV, Microwave Broadband link and a 'Server Room' to house the servers and other digital equipment.
A 21st Century School! WoW!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Did I really look like that?

This photo was taken by Barry G3WIS back in 1973 (I think!) Nothing digital can be seen here at all!
In the centre is my faithful Halicrafters SX24 receiver with one of my first attempts at a 2m convertor, my multimeter to the left and external (large) S Meter attached to the receiver. Next to the SX24 on the right is the re-built Topband Transmitter with a vernier dial. To the left of the SX24 is a Crystal Controlled Calibrator and an old Cossor Oscilloscope bought from a 'junk sale'. On top of the shelf is my first 2m transmitter with a QQV03-10 valve which I later re-built.
The Tilley Lamp was in the corner, but you can't see it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Summer of Love!

1967 - Forty Years Ago! The Summer of Love!

This was the year when music started to make a real influence on my life! The six weeks holiday in Summer '67 became a milestone, every Sunday afternoon recording the latest Top Twenty with Allan Freeman on my Ekco reel to reel tape recorder with a microphone in front of the transistor radio! The Monkees 'Alternate Title', Scott McKenzie 'San Fransisco' I can remember and sing all the words now. This was a wonderful time, I was 13 years old and just discovering pop music...what a year! I started to buy 'Musical Express' and even attempted to read it, although some of it went completely over my head. I also bought my very first single ... 'I'm a Believer' by The Monkees.
Summer 1967 was the time when for the first time I encountered electronics. Earlier that year I built an 'Electric Shock Machine' made up following a visit to my Uncle Bill in Harwood one hot sunny afternoon to see if he could provide me with a transformer to make one up. In fact he built (on the spot) a very small transformer and buzzer to produce the best 'Electric Shock Machine' in the world! I took this device to school with me just before the holidays and had it 'confescated' by the Headmaster. He said I could collect it after school. I sheepishly knocked on his door at 4.00pm to ask for it back where he looked up at me from his work, handed it over and muttered "Not again boy, not again!" I don't think he had a clue what it was!

In Summer '67 my Uncle Bill (Bill Kay) made me a kit with nuts, bolts, transistors, resistors, capacitors and wires. It was a Monostable Multivibrator connected to a carbon earphone which produced a tone electronically. I was amazed with it! This launched me into the world of Analogue Electronics which would change my life completely for the next 20 years!

The mixture and influence of both music and electronics in the Summer of Love is unforgetable!
The image above is our 1960's week to celebrate the opening and closure of our school, my life now 40 years on!
Links: Monterey Festival

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I remember that Radio Amateurs in Bolton like G3XCI and G3YGJ used HRO's as their main receivers. I went to Tom's Cottage in Harwood (G3XCI) and he showed me this wonderful receiver with it's plug-in tuning modules and weird looking dial. In fact, hundreds of these receivers were used during the war at Bletchley Park for monitoring and code breaking.
One night in Winter 1970 I went to the Bury Radio Society with my friend Pete on a Tuesday night for the meeting. When we got there nobody was there! It seems that we got the date wrong! As we sat in the empy room wondering what to do as buses to and from Bury only run once every hour, a guy walked in that we had never seen before. We chatted with him and he was coming to the club for the first the date wrong. Then out of the blue he asked us if would like and old HRO receiver that he had at home and was going to throw it away. We were stunned...come and collect it he said! We had no transport, but the bus was not due for another hour or so so we walked down to his house on Manchester Rd, about a mile away to collect this beast. We carried this heavy HRO complete with PSU and tuning module all the way back to the George Hotel in Bury where we waited for the next bus. Then, we had to take it back to my house on the bus!
What did we do with it then? Well, we decided to 'Toss for it' if I win I give Pete my R109A and if he wins he gives me £10...fair enough? Trouble is...Pete lost...and he wasn't happy, cos he wanted it the end I let him have it and he gave me some money.
Imagine how naffed I was when a month later he sold to the guy on St Georges Rd for a fiver!!!

I never understood why???
We still stayed friends though!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

End of an era?



Went into Bolton town centre yesterday, got out of the car on the car park on Great Moor St. behind the old Odeon Cinema. This is what I's the Odeon Cinema being demolished and you can see the old insides of this beautiful picture house.
I could see the exits, balcony, fancy decorations and even the toilets!
This building has been left derelict in Bolton for years with it's white marble effect front and steps. Quite an imposing building!

Many memories of the Odeon...Saturday Morning Club, Saturday Afternoon Matinees ...cost 2 shillings to watch back in the 1960's! I took Kath (my wife) here on our first dates in the 1970's! (I seem to remember watching the Led Zeppelin movie here, sat in the balcony!)

I did like going to the was plush...carpetted...and next to the bus station!


In the 1960's I remember bands used to play here as well.

"It was one of Bolton's best-loved venues and hosted 1960s acts such as Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Searchers, Dusty Springfield and Freddie and the Dreamers. Following interior rebuilding, its three screens showed thousands of films before it closed in January, 1983, when it was turned into a bingo hall amid protests from cinemagoers."

The sound quality and acoustics in this cinema were superb even in the days of analogue technology and the picture quality is not much different than it is today! They still play the same Pearl and Dean music before the adverts in the Multiplex Dolby Digital Cinemas in Bolton now...only difference is it's surround sound!!

Quote from the Bolton News:

"It is the end of an era as workmen move in to demolish the former Odeon cinema building in Bolton town centre.
Developer Woodthorpe Homes wants to turn the venue -which also hosted pop music acts such as Roy Orbison, Chuck Berry and the Bee Gees - into an 11-storey hotel, residential and retail complex.
The scheme includes 50 luxury apartments, offices, basement parking for 86 cars and offices and shops on the ground floor. The hotel section would occupy up to the eighth floor."

Cinema History:

Lido Cinema: now a huge building of luxury apartments.

Capital Cinema: turned into a JJB Sport's Centre then demolished and replaced with a tax office!

Queens Cinema: became an Asian Cinema then demolished and rebuilt as a Comet store.


Back in 1971 when I built my first topband rig I needed to power it, so I built from scratch, a nice 300 volt PSU on a shiny new aluminium chassis. BY100 rectifier diodes bought from a rally (which were leaky!) and smoothing capacitors which came from TV sets. I built this up with two ot three 16 microfarad capacitors lined up like missiles on the chassis. The PSU was 'hummy' to say the least, but it powered the transmitter! friend Paul came to my shack to see my new transmitter...

"CQ, CQ, CQ, ....Oh...the PA meter is not reading right"

"CQ, CQ ...what's happening...the inputs dropping...look Paul"

"I'll try again....CQ, CQ ... watch's going down!"


A capacitor bounced from the ceiling and the floor and the shack half filled with disgusting, pungent, oily, waxy white fumes! My ears rang and when I looked round mine and Paul's head and shoulders were above the smoke and everything else was submerged in white smoke! The marks of this catastrophy can still be seen in what is now the garage at my brother's house, the dint in the roof.So what was the cause of this?Remember the 16 microfarad capacitors? They were only rated at 250 volt and my transformer was pumping out near 350 volt into leaky rectifiers! Never again!

The chassis was a mess, buckled and covered in sticky wax and paper, thing is, the explosion went downwards as well which messed up my bench. Bit's of waxy paper could be found for the next few weeks in places you would not imagine!er...Paul didn't come back after that!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Tilley Lamp

My shack at home consisted of a brick out-house joined onto the house with a coal shed and outdoor toilet next door (it was state of the art in those days!)

My 'shed' had a re-enforced, flat concrete roof which had a crack right down the middle and leaked. So there I was with a polythene cover to capture the water and my shack underneath, where I was building 350v Power Supplies! SCARRY!!

The biggest problem with my Radio Shack was heating it. At first I went in the evening with just a light on and a coat, then later I used a tall paraffin heater which kept me warm, but left condensation all over and boy did it smell!! (Not good with high voltage everywhere)

The Tilley Lamp was a Godsend...I still don't know where it came from, but this little beauty would heat up the whole shack and made it warm and cosy, even on a cold and frosty night. I can still see myself snuggled up to the glow of my Tilley Lamp, pumping it up every half hour or so to keep it going. A marvelous invention!

The great thing about the Tilley Lamp was that it was portable, so I took it along to Field Days up on Rooley Moor to heat up the tent. Wonderful!!