Beemon

1956 Sonomatic Restoration

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The 981707 is the Sonomatic, and the 981708 is the Selectronic, the Buick wonderbar radio. It has extra tubes for signal seeking. They are identical on the outside except for the script in the face plate. I can't imagine GM radios being too wildly different on the inside, so if it is different, then maybe based on where it was manufactured, the inside chassis could be out of an Olds or something.

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7 minutes ago, Beemon said:

The 981707 is the Sonomatic, and the 981708 is the Selectronic, the Buick wonderbar radio. It has extra tubes for signal seeking. They are identical on the outside except for the script in the face plate. I can't imagine GM radios being too wildly different on the inside, so if it is different, then maybe based on where it was manufactured, the inside chassis could be out of an Olds or something.

 

Oh, I grabbed the wrong image...

 

Either way, there were multiple manufacturers, and as I recall the difference was in the pre-amps. I promise you all of mine are Sonomatics and look identical from the outside. 

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As I lie in my bed tonight, listening to the cold March wind, I think of my Sonomatic in my 55. Cold. Alone. I think of sliding in beside her. I hesitate as I reach for her knobs.  Am I stupid for thinking I can turn her on at such a late hour and on such a cold night? I gently turn on her switch. I'm joyed to see the soft welcoming glow on her face and here the soft  hum of her vibrator. I can imagine her power transformer stirring to life as he feels the pulses surging through his windings. Her cold filaments, responding to the stimulations, begin to glow a soft pink. Her plates feeling the inrush of warm energy long to pass it on. Her hook up wires are willing but her resistors say no. It's too soon. Her capacitors will not be denied.  Growing ever more charged and surging with energy until they can hold back no more, they empty themselves into the waiting speaker.

Softly she sings me to sleep..................Bob

 

 

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27 minutes ago, First Born said:

Dang, Bob, you trying to out do Bernie??:D

 

  Ben

 

Oh Boy! No more $16 a gallon red wine for me. ....................Bob

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7 hours ago, Bhigdog said:

As I lie in my bed tonight, listening to the cold March wind, I think of my Sonomatic in my 55. Cold. Alone. I think of sliding in beside her. I hesitate as I reach for her knobs.  Am I stupid for thinking I can turn her on at such a late hour and on such a cold night? I gently turn on her switch. I'm joyed to see the soft welcoming glow on her face and here the soft  hum of her vibrator. I can imagine her power transformer stirring to life as he feels the pulses surging through his windings. Her cold filaments, responding to the stimulations, begin to glow a soft pink. Her plates feeling the inrush of warm energy long to pass it on. Her hook up wires are willing but her resistors say no. It's too soon. Her capacitors will not be denied.  Growing ever more charged and surging with energy until they can hold back no more, they empty themselves into the waiting speaker.

Softly she sings me to sleep..................Bob

 

 

This will forever change my perception of turning the Queens knobs. 

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10 hours ago, Bhigdog said:

As I lie in my bed tonight, listening to the cold March wind, I think of my Sonomatic in my 55. Cold. Alone. I think of sliding in beside her. I hesitate as I reach for her knobs.  Am I stupid for thinking I can turn her on at such a late hour and on such a cold night? I gently turn on her switch. I'm joyed to see the soft welcoming glow on her face and here the soft  hum of her vibrator. I can imagine her power transformer stirring to life as he feels the pulses surging through his windings. Her cold filaments, responding to the stimulations, begin to glow a soft pink. Her plates feeling the inrush of warm energy long to pass it on. Her hook up wires are willing but her resistors say no. It's too soon. Her capacitors will not be denied.  Growing ever more charged and surging with energy until they can hold back no more, they empty themselves into the waiting speaker.

Softly she sings me to sleep..................Bob

 

 

Just don't get in his way when he walks around front to the dagmars.

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In an effort to bring this thread back to the issue at hand, the solid state RADIO vibrators will work well but I will state two precautions at this time:

1.   Replace the buffer capacitor(s) (condensers) in the power supply.

2.   Always start the engine first then turn on the radio.   DO NOT turn on the radio first and then start the engine.  This precaution is even mentioned in the original owners manual with mechanical vibrators.

Joe

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Thanks for the heads up, Joseph. All the condensers have been replaced. I had to make a new buffer condenser by putting a 1kV .01 uF and 1kV .022 uF condensers in series to make a .0068 uF 2kV condenser. In the images above, you can see it - its the blue and brown disc capacitors that are next to each other. I also had to make a 630V .005 uF and a .004 uF condenser by putting two .22 uF condensers in parallel.

 

Apparently there is a 2-3 week wait time for shipping, so I ordered a working vibrator off eBay for $25 that will be here on the 8th. It'll hold me over until I can do the swap, let me diagnose some more, and have a backup vibrator in case the solid state unit doesn't last.

Edited by Beemon (see edit history)

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To answer Kosage's question, there might be parts that interchange, but the radio itself will not. 54-55 will swap with just a knob change. 

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Beemon:

Good luck with this radio.   Above you discuss two .22 uF capacitors in parallel.   Connected this way you will have the equivalent of .44 uF.   However, two .0022 uF caps in parallel will give close to .004 uF.

Joe

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11 minutes ago, Joseph P. Indusi said:

Beemon:

Good luck with this radio.   Above you discuss two .22 uF capacitors in parallel.   Connected this way you will have the equivalent of .44 uF.   However, two .0022 uF caps in parallel will give close to .004 uF.

Joe

Joe, you're right. It was a typo, oops! In any case, I've checked all capacitors and all are within 20% error of the original schematic. This project has given me some good practice on DC circuits, to say the least.

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17 hours ago, buick5563 said:

To answer Kosage's question, there might be parts that interchange, but the radio itself will not. 54-55 will swap with just a knob change. 

 

and repaint of the dial pointer, 54/white, 55/red (fluorescent orange) 

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On 3/3/2017 at 6:59 AM, First Born said:

Dang, Bob, you trying to out do Bernie??:D

 

  Ben

Hey!  I overhauled my radio to do AM/FM/CD/MP3/Bluetooth/and open the garage door, all with voice recognition, no knobs at all. I got all ready to test it on the road and commanded "Open the garage door!"

On the third request the speaker calmly replied "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

 

The Sonomatic AM works just fine now.

Bernie

Edited by 60FlatTop (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, 60FlatTop said:

Hey!  I overhauled my radio to do AM/FM/CD/MP3/Bluetooth/and open the garage door, all with voice recognition, no knobs at all. I got all ready to test it on the road and commanded "Open the garage door!"

On the third request the speaker calmly replied "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

 

The Sonomatic AM works just fine now.

Bernie

 

That's because you tried to make her into something she wasn't. They're sensitive like that. I, on the other hand, had a satisfying evening with my Sonomatic because she knows I love her for what she is................Bob

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56 minutes ago, Beemon said:

Even if she has leaky wax capacitors?

 

Me too but we both still function, after a fashion..............Bob

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16 hours ago, Bhigdog said:

"Open the garage door!"

 

That's the problem -- you needed to program the command such that 'pod bay door' = 'garage door'.  As is always the case with computers, GIGO...  ;)

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It's worse than you could imagine. Here is the first day of the garage computer panel.

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The web-based thermostat was originally tied to that blue CAT5 cable. It is finished off now and runs through a a buried 1" poly pipe for the 130' to the house to my firewall switch. (I'm not much for wireless). Today the RJ45 is plugged into a CISCO 20 port switch mounted on the white board. Never know what I will tie in. And there is 8 terabytes of storage on the network for car picture storage and stuff.

So voice command for a garage door? Why not. It's just so frustrating to think "Bernie" is interpreted as "David". When we deleted Mike the compare stack shifted. We should have made Mike=null.

It is not right for a guy my age to know the octet for my garage web thermostat.

Bernie

 

 

 

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Back with some news!

 

The place I bought the vibrator from (the one Matt linked to) said delivery in 2-3 weeks, well it showed up today and I got the chance to place with it.

 

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Original vibrator is obviously dead, so time to gut it out.

 

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17191071_10155838708945830_1592344860653

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At this point, I have to say I felt like I had the onset of Parkinson's trying to solder that micro chip to the original wires.

 

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They say the unit never needs to be serviced, that it's the be all end all... I've heard that one before, so I made sure I had an easy way to pull it back out. Just double looped a piece of string and inserted the chip with it on the bottom. If I ever need to get it out, just need to give a light yank. I then filed the burs off the can from opening the sides up so it wouldn't cut the string, and pushed it down into place over the string and everything, for a clean original install. The manufacturer said that the chip doesn't generate any heat, so I'm not worried about it.

 

After all was said and done, I was a bit hesitant to turn the radio on. Did a final check to make sure there weren't any shorts in the B+ side of the radio. Everything checked out fine. Turned the radio on, warmed up and - very faint static. I could tune into a radio station, but I could barely hear it on full volume. There was also a slight buzz noise. Not a vibrator buzz, but probably a transformer buzz. AC voltage was in the ballpark.

 

17098574_10155838708985830_6178005119236

Turns out, the 12V6GT  lit up in a blue flame on the inside, so I shut down the radio immediately. My grandfather swears he's never been in the radio before, but there was a spare 12V6GT tube in the glove box (it was missing a pin, didn't seem to matter). Turned the radio back on, nothing had changed. Then I noticed that the smaller tube shown (12BE6) was burned on the top where the heater is located. A quick search shows that these two individual symptoms are tell tale signs of bad tubes (obviously lol).

 

So now I'm at the point where the radio functions, but the signal is not being amplified. I guess it's all tube work now, and without a tube tester, I'm now at the mercy of replacing every individual tube. On the bright side, I might get some spares. One step at a time. I'm really glad at least the 0Z4 tube is functioning. I think playing it safe while I wait for the radio swap meet this weekend, I'll make a solid state 0Z4. Interestingly in the documentation that came with the VBN-1 chip, it said to use one 470 ohm resistors with 1N4007 diodes vs two 220 ohm resistors in series. Both will work as resistance is additive in series (440 ohms total with two 220 ohm resistors). The 470 ohm resistor sounds more clean, but I also like having two resistors in each leg. Either way, it's to reduce the B+ voltage just like the 0Z4 rectifier tube. Attached is a diagram I made.

0Z4.jpg

Edited by Beemon (see edit history)
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I've said it before, this kid never ceases to amaze 👍  Ben, any chance you could land a tube tester at the radio swap meet or are they to expensive to consider. 

 

 What a thread!

 

 

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I'm having trouble keeping up with this thread because of CSS issues, but I'm glad you are getting sound. I have a tube tester, but as I recall, not all of the tubes in this radio are on my test chart. Of course, last time I did this we didn't have the internet; but I think I have all of the specs now so I can run the tubes. I think last time I replaced the vibrator, 12V6GT, and some caps. I don't think I could test the pre-amp tubes because I didn't have the data. Last time I bought a NEW tube, Radio Shack sold them with lifetime guarantees. Do some Google searching and you may find some equivalent tubes.

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What is the B+ voltage at each of the 12V6 tubes?  I can't see yours, but it is normal to have some light display...they also generate a small amount of x-rays.  To see if the basic amplifier circuit is working feed an audio source to the outer of the 3 pins on the volume control.

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