Powering Your Antique Battery Radio

Posted on Feb 7, 2014

Many antique radios run on batteries. These include tube portables, such as the Zenith model K-401 shown below, and `farm` radios, which were used in rural areas where there was no other source of electrical power. This article gives you some history on battery use in old radios and advice on how to power them with modern batteries. It also give

Powering Your Antique Battery Radio
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s plans for two inexpensive battery eliminators that you can build, with additional suggestions and technical data. All early radios used batteries ”as many as three batteries in the earliest sets. These batteries were known as A, B, and C. Radio engineers soon designed circuits to eliminate the C battery in a typical radio circuit. That left two battery supplies, A and B. Rechargeable nickel-cadmium battery packs didn`t exist in the "good old" days, but some owners of "farm" radios used rechargeable lead acid batteries, of the type still used in cars. Often, the only available battery was taken from the family truck or car. When the battery ran down, the farmer could simply hook up the battery to a generator and recharge it. For the portable radio user, the price of mobility was a large, heavy, disposable zinc-carbon power pack. Early battery sets had several drawbacks. A dead battery could leave you radio-less in the middle of a crucial broadcast. Lead acid cells could leak acid, which might drip out of the radio cabinet onto your lovely Persian rug. Worst of all, if you accidentally reversed the A and B battery connectors, you could fry your radio`s precious tubes. Recognizing these problems, radio makers, many of which also made and sold tubes, sought to develop battery-less radio sets. Perhaps more radio tubes could do part of the job of expensive disposable batteries. Radio tubes offer two important features. A tube...

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