The R210 communications receiver

 To see a prototype of this model... scroll down

  I must admit to knowing nothing about this model when I first acquired it, but my thanks go to Jan Poortman, PA3ESY from Goor in Holland, for sending me some very useful info (reading this again in 2019 I see that was back in January 2002 when post rather than broadband was the only option!). Jan has a T1154 which can work on 40 or 80 metres and when I get my vintage station back on the air I look forward to a QSO!

I've now been contacted by Jerry Mayfield who worked in Bridgnorth at the old ATE factory which was once RGD. The factory appears to have ceased production of domestic radios badged RGD in 1952, then continued with the name Regentone, who bought them out, until 1960 when they were bought by STC who sold sets badged as KB or ITT. RGD had moved to Bridgnorth around 1940 as part of the government plan to move military radio production away from areas likely to be bombed. ATE took over the factory in 1952 until 1964 when it was taken over by Plessey who had bought out the ATE company. Plessey were rationalising production over their new empire so various sites switched over to new product lines or were simply phased out. The Bridgnorth factory was adopted by Decca Radar in 1968. I'm a little unsure of the dates and the goings on but Decca Radar was bought by Plessey and part of the business moved to a factory in Liverpool city centre where I worked for 20 years, whilst the design and manufacture of the Radar hardware was moved to Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

During all this takeover business, Jerry tells me he remembers the R210 being made at the Bridgnorth factory. Maybe this set was a natural follow on to the WW2 radios made by RGD because the older technical staff at the factory must have been RGD trained? After rationalisation of product lines Plessey concentrated the design and production of military radio equipment at Southleigh (research), West Leigh (development) and Ilford (production).

I bought this example of the R210 at the Ringwood street auction in 1999 (before it stopped) for a couple of pounds. This was quite a high bid! I remember the auctioneer, each week saying before the start of proceedings, "a pound is the minimum bid NOT the maximum bid". In the end they packed it up as they couldn't make ends meet. The set came with an external mains power supply and it worked OK except the filmstrip dial was damaged.

The receiver has a tremendous weight for its size and must have spent its service life in something like a Centurian tank. It formed part of the "Larkspur" range of British Army sets introduced in the 50s. The mechanical design has a chain drive and loads of gearwheels together with a very long tuning scale fitted between two rotating drums. It looks pretty similar to the R216 VHF receiver made by Ekco.

The R210 uses a collection of B9A and B7G valves fitted in diecast chassis sections.

Frequency coverage is in 7 bands viz.

2-3MHz, 3-4.5MHz, 4.5-6.8MHz, 6.8-9.1MHz, 9.1-11.4MHz, 11.4-13.7MHz and 13.7-16MHz.


 The set was evidently abandoned when the dial filmstrip broke. I removed it but haven't worked out how to fix it! I kept the parts in a box but there was an avalanche in the workshop one day and the box contents spilled out so the odd part may now be missing.



Side view showing part of the wavechange switch assembly


Top view showing dial film winding drums, chain drive and gear trains

I've now recovered this receiver from a spare room where it's been residing for 17 years and must now search for various dial parts which needed replacement or renewal. I've regained interest now that I have a similar R216.

More info to follow including pictures taken with a decent camera. The originals were taken in August 2000 with a Sony camera using a 3.5 inch floppy disk as memory and reduced in size for dial-up Internet which I recall ran here at something like 35kbs on a good day.



 Here's some better pictures of my first R210.

The yellow finish has been done very professionally and it's hard to say whether this was done by its last owner, an Army Depot or even the manufacturer. I guess it was done by the last owner.

The receiver has a couple of pairs of leads sticking out the back terminating in a choc block. These went to a home-brew power supply which came with the set. At first sight I thought these were a pair for valve heaters and a pair for HT, but looking at the PSU, it has a jack socket on the front so the thinner wires are for the loudspeaker/headphones and the thicker wires for the vibrator and heaters.

If you're interested you may like to compare these pictures which, from the date on the capacitors dates it to 1958, with those of my second R210 which is a prototype dated 1955.

The vibrator in the yellow receiver is indicated as "VB1" and carries the codes Z1-6130-99-110-2609 and B4/SS/691



I acquired the example below in 2019





 I haven't had time to open the case and examine what's inside but I did notice that the front panel differs from the yellow example above in that the lettering is engraved and filled rather than being raised. I suppose that casting the lettering might have saved some money?

I suspect one of the front panel RF connectors is also different from that in the production run?

Now the interior revealed. Maybe untouched since 1955 as that's the date on the condensers? The coils and trimmers are arranged perfectly.




 That cylindrical object is a 24 volt vibrator.



 I suppose I should feel some attachment to this receiver as it was developed by ATE with whom I served my graduate apprenticeship after leaving university. After 20 years, in 1985, I was transferred from the old Linesman factory in Liverpool to the Christchurch site of Plessey where each of the older buildings is still known by its old SRDE designation... SD4...SD5 etc.... SRDE produced the original design of the R210 and who knows... maybe in the same hut as I worked?

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