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sabato 11 aprile 2015

Panasonic RF-2200 test on MW

A video showing a quick scan of medium wave band in the evening with an old Panasonic RF-2200 receiver, before and after my restoration work on it.

Panasonic RF-2200 restoration adventures - Final

This is the last post (here the previous one) of a series about the restoration of my Panasonic RF-2200 vintage receiver. This is about the final cleanup of the radio. In one of posts I spoke about restoring proper behaviour of switches and potentiometers by using the renowned DeoxIT products from CAIG Labs. While these products proven to be very effective in my case, however I suspected I had used a bit too much of them for each device. So before re-mounting the case of the radio, I wanted to try to remove out any excess of DeoxIT from inside switches and potentiometers, by spraying a lot of compressed air into each device. Well, the amount of DeoxIT that came out from potentiometers were really in excess! It spread out over the main circuit board - without causing any damage, luckily - and I had to carefully remove it with compressed air, paper towel and some cotton swabs.
My recommendation is to use only the strictly necessary amount of DeoxIT (or similar product), especially if it is in the liquid form (the spray form usually contains a reduced grade of product, which easily evaporates together with solvents).
I already had cleaned up the front panel, back panel and the knobs in a soapy bath of warm water (see pictures below), using a soft brush for the panels and a toothbrush for the knobs.

Now I had only to re-mount the radio and proceed with renewing the black plastic of the case. I started with trying the Novus 3 Heavy Scratch Remover, but it did not a great job. I have found it too thick and a bit waxy, difficult to remove when it permeates the small wrinkles and scratches on the black case, causing it to look a bit milky and opaque, not that good really.
Then I tried to repair to my error with a normal, typical spray polisher for car dashboards. Boys, it did it! Faster, easier, cheaper and very effective: ideal for my needs. The results are in pictures below. Far from perfect, but good enough in my view.

That's all folks! I hope you have enjoyed your reading (thank you for that!) and may be you have found something useful for your own restoration project. These beatiful old ladies are well worth the effort.

Panasonic RF-2200 restoration adventures - Part 4

So here we go again. Since latest post of this series (you can find it here if you like), I managed to complete my restoration of Panasonic DR-22 (a.k.a. RF-2200BS).
In this post I will try to summarize what happened during the alignment work on the radio and to provide some suggestions that I learnt from this experience. It was quite a time-consuming activity for me, requiring care, patience and attention, because of both my limited experience in this task and the number of adjustment points on the main board of the radio.
Here below you can see the testbench, with the RF-2200, a simple digital oscilloscope and a good RF generator (I borrowed both the scope and the generator from a laboratory at my workplace). For most of the checks, the digital scope was connected to the speaker wires, where I had connected a 8 ohm, 7W resistor just to provide a safe load for the audio amplifier of the RF-2200.

The big coil made of red wire on the gyro antenna of RF-2200 in picture above, was used to transfer the RF signal from the generator to the receiver during MW alignment. I didn't try to open the gyro antenna to expose the internal ferrite rod and get a better match with the RF signal from the generator. I wanted to avoid any risk of damaging the gyro antenna itself, which is a vital part and one of reasons of the very good MW performance of RF-2200. For the same reason, I didn't performed the adjustment of the MW antenna coil, which is one of the steps of the MW RF alignment process.

For the alignment, I relied on the detailed step-by-step procedure described in the RF-2200 service manual (you can easily download a PDF copy of it from the web).
With the exception of a few cases, the procedure is fairly clear and simple to follow, but there are quite many steps to go through. Some of the checks require the front-panel controls (for example, the AFC/bandwidth selector) to be set in a specific way and I found it easy to forget this point, in the middle of a number of adjustment operations. When you see that adjusting a given coil ferrite core or trimmer capacitor does not produce visible changes on the signal level, I suggest to stop for a while and to carefully check that the setup for that specific procedure step is correct. It is happened sometimes to me that one front panel switch was not correctly set. More frequently than desired I also realized I was simply adjusting the wrong coil or capacitor...
Compared to what is suggested by the service manual, often I have had to raise both the signal level and the modulation depth (in particular, during AM tests) from my RF generator, in order to get a good signal reading on the oscilloscope. For higher SW bands (SW3, SW4, SW5, SW6), typically I needed to set at least 75% modulation depth. This could also be caused by the high level of RF noise in the lab (at my workplace) where I was performing my measures.
Sometimes I reduced the level of audio output (by the volume control) to avoid clipping of the signal in the audio amplifier, which made it not possible to look for the point of maximum amplitude during a given adjustment. In similar cases, however, first measure should be to reduce the output level and/or the modulation depth on the RF generator.

If possible, I suggest to use plastic screwdrivers to turn ferrite cores of coils and transformers and for trimmer capacitors. This allows for an easier adjustment, by removing the magnetic/capacitive effects of a metal screwdriver.
In some cases, a plastic screwdriver does not provide the required torque. In such cases, be extremely careful: using a metal screwdriver for adjusting coils and transformers exposes to a non negligible risk of damaging their magnetic cores, which I did actually with L2 and L3 coils of the FM section (luckily not heavily enough to put them out of work).
Adjustment of trimmer capacitors is very touchy. I needed to proceed very slowly and with very small increments of rotation angles in order to be able to identity the position for the maximum signal amplitude.

All in all, I'm pretty satisfied with the results of the alignment. Even if it has been quite a demanding task, I think it was definitely worth to do it. Now my RF-2200 works much, much better than when it came into my hands from eBay. In addition, I learnt a lot and I had a lot of fun while trying to bring it back to its better days.

Tecsun PL-660 vs Panasonic RF-2200

At the end of my Panasonic RF-2200 restoration adventures (more in a dedicated post soon), I wanted to perform a very quick and simple comparative test on medium wave with my brand new Tecsun PL-660. The result is documented in the short video here below: