Halcyon Portable

 This receiver probably dates from around 1928 and appears to be complete although at some time in the past woodworm ate some of the aerial frame, but this is easy enough to replace. The set is typical of the period 1927 to 1929 and bears a striking resemblance to other models made by Marconiphone, Beethoven and McMichael.


 Opening the lid at the top (note the early parental lock!), reveals the controls. The wavechange switch for Long and Short Waves and the volume control. See detail of Long & Short here and volume control here

Tuning is accomplished by rotating the lower horizontal knurled knob which connects to a nice brass air-spaced variable condenser and, if it's too dark to see the markings, there's a push button for dial illumination. The upper slightly larger horizontal knurled knob above the dial doesn't rotate the tuning condenser so I'll need to investigate if its a fault or if its used for another purpose such as fine tuning or reaction control.

Sockets are provided for headphones (marked "telephones") and an external loudspeaker.


 Here you can see the Maker's name "Halcyon London" and the serial number "12537"


 User's needed to note down the dial settings for their favourite stations and you can see here some station settings from 1928 and 1929. Halcyon conveniently provided a list of the most popular broadcasts, and it's this information that allows for very accurate dating of the set. From the markings it's my guess the owner lived near London. The tuner setting for Daventry Exp indicates the set was in use before 1930. Newcastle was operating on 244m in 1929 and Bournemouth was operational on 258m from 1929. London was only working on 358 only during the year 1929 and Cardiff only broadcasted on 323m for the first half of 1929. Plymouth on 396m again only operated on that wavelength for the first part of 1929 as did Glasgow on 401m and Aberdeen on 311m. The user has noted the wavelength for Manchester as 278m but in fact he made a mistake as the correct wavelegth was 378m which maybe explains why he never put a tuning setting against this station?

Of course, once the series of meetings had taken place to decide on how to clean up the carcophony on medium waves in Europe every station was allocated their own wavelength. This meant that stations could be heard without much interference from others, and manufacturers could make sets with dials showing popular broadcast stations. Those sets appeared not long after this model from Halcyon. Around this time also appeared superhets which meant single knob tuning and no need to carefully set the reaction control as they didn't need one.

 Medium Wave






















 Tuner Setting




 Long Wave





 Radio Paris








 Tuner Setting      




 A view of the rear of the set. There are lots of battery connections. Three different HT leads, 48V, 120V and unmarked plus two grid bias leads -3V and -6V, two accumulator wires and a couple of negative wires.


 Surprisingly, all the original valves seem to be present and these are quite interesting. All are of Mullard manufacture and I vaguely suspect some are made in Holland because they carry two different numbers. Some are marked "BVA" and I wonder whether this means exactly as it implies? Paper labels have been added to indicate the type number and some operating voltages.

From left to right... PM3, PM3 (7L288), PM3 (7L298), 7L288, PM4 (1188)... all are 4 volt types and the set would of course need a 4 volt accumulator rather than the more common 2 volt type to power their filaments.

I have an idea that the rightmost valve marked PM4 which was designed for power output applications should be in the leftmost position which is the speaker output valve whose place is currently occupied by one of the four PM3 valves.


 With the wooden interior assembly removed from the case you can see the frame aerial, somewhat scruffy because of the damaged woodwork.


 A view of the loudspeaker which if you look carefully is slightly too big for the chassis and a cut-out has been made in the frame aerial. Maybe this design change was made after complaints about distortion caused by the speaker cone fouling the woodwork?


 Inside the dark grey box you can see these strange looking parts. They are 4-pin plug-in coils, presumably a pair for the long wave band and a pair for medium waves.


 Below you can see typical woodworm damage to the thin plywood aerial frame. The wood comprising the centre ply is almost all eaten to dust.


 The set shows promise for renovation, but I'll need to check various things before I start. In particular the speaker coil and the interstage transformer which I spotted behind the speaker cone, I'll need to check its windings. You can see in the picture of the coils some verdigris (that's copper acetate) which can also appear on the very thin wires used for coils and if its too plentiful the copper wires will have gone open circuit. As with many early sets the wiring is not easy to trace because the colours are all very dark and look much the same. The wavechange switch which is pretty much inaccessible has a very large number of wires connected to it.

 Below, after removing the plywood surrounding the frame aerial, I fitted new lengths. Surprisingly the woodworm had limited their feasting to the outer pieces of the plywood sides. Maybe they liked the taste better than the main carcass? There are a few holes in the rest of the cabinet but not serious enough to worry about as the wood remains solid. I can fill these in with putty, coloured to match the wood, if necessary. With the new parts in place the frame aerial wires are nice and tight.

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