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Vintage Tape (Audio), Cassette, Wire and Magnetic Disc Recorders and Players Open-reel tape recorders, cassette recorders, 8-track players etc.

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Old 7th Jul 2018, 6:37 pm   #41
TonyDuell
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

Yes, I think cats are moderately easier to control than this wire .

My wire is a bit thinner than that, as I said about 3.5 thou. I don't think it's that critical. And for various reasons (not to be put here to avoid the Moderators...) I have reservations about the spools I've seen on Ebay.

I think perhaps I should get on with another project while I think about the wire. Keep on fiddling with the tangled spool too, I may get an end to come free. I will of course read and respond to this thread. I am certainly not giving up on this machine!
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Old 8th Jul 2018, 7:00 am   #42
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

Tony, I have a spool of wire, it has a 41mm centre hole and is 0.1mm thick. It came with my KB EWR60, I dont know if it would fit on your machine?

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Old 8th Jul 2018, 12:18 pm   #43
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

That would almost certainly fit. The wire I have is a little under 0.1mm diameter, but I don't think it's that critical. And my hub, that the centre of the spool fits on, is 40.7mm, so 41mm should be fine there.
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Old 11th Jul 2018, 8:02 am   #44
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

I've put a few more photos of the machine in the same album as I mentioned in post #16.
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Old 11th Jul 2018, 2:08 pm   #45
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

The thermal fuse looks like the one on my old Phillips AC bridge.
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Old 11th Jul 2018, 3:29 pm   #46
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

I wonder if there was any Philips 'influence' in the Agaphone. The gain control (sets recording level and playback volume in the obvious way) is one of those pots that Philips used in their 1940's radios with a separate mains switch fixed to the front (spindle side). This is shown in a couple of my photos.
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Old 15th Jul 2018, 7:33 pm   #47
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

There certainly was a connection. From the Swedish wikipedia page on Philips (translated) (https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philips):

"1923 the Swedish AB Philips with 40 employees was formed. Philips owned the Swedish radio and TV brands Dux and Concerton, as well as Radiola and Stella for a while, as well as Aga radio and televsion. From 1940 the production of radios and later TVs took place in Philips factory in Norrköping. Production stopped in 1979."

So it certainly makes sense that there are Philips parts to be found in your Agaphone.

On the other hand, the Wikipedia article on Aga (https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aga_(f%C3%B6retag) ) just mentions that the radio and TV production was sold to Philips in 1971 which would be much too late. Could be that Aga used Philips and Electrolux to manufacture sub-assemblies. (Aga made some tape recorders in the 1960s which were based on the ubiquitous BSR TD10 chassis for instance.)

Great thread BTW. I've seldom seen such a detailed description, teardown, and photos of a wire recorder. Regardless of the audio quality, they are rare enough to warrant saving.

As for sound quality, wire recorders were also marketed for music recording, however, the takeup reel would have been much larger, often doubling as a record player turntable to make a combined wire recorder / record player, no doubt to make it economically feasible for the general public. I've got a couple of those, and I don't find that wow and flutter are the main issues when recording on the device. But the large diameter take-up reel means that the relative fluctuations due to varying wire thickness are much smaller than with the Agaphone small diameter reels.

The wire is probably not terribly special as far as wire recorders go, but I think it might be hard to find a modern-day substitute with the required properties, so finding an old spool of wire, not necessarily the same type of spool if some way can be found of winding one onto the other, is probably the easiest way to go.

Last edited by ricard; 15th Jul 2018 at 7:48 pm. Reason: More info on Aga.
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Old 15th Jul 2018, 9:18 pm   #48
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

The reels on your instagram page look very similar to the smaller Armour reels (the one on the right on the picture a bit down on this page: https://www.smecc.org/wire_recorder_care_&_repair.htm) that were fairly common among many consumer machines such as Webster-Chicago, or the Swedish Luxor. Your reels look like they hove some form of cogs on the inside of the hold though.

I measured the (smaller) Armour standard reels I have, and the outside diameter is 71.3mm, the hole 41mm and the thickness 15.6mm. If this matches the diameter of the spools for the Agaphone it could be that they adopted a standardized spool inside the magazine, which if would make it easier (both then and now) to procure wire.
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Old 16th Jul 2018, 5:03 am   #49
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

Thanks for the information on the connection between Aga and Philips.

On other points. The reel does sound to be the same size as yours. The space where the wire goes is almost exactly 0.5" (12.7mm) with flanges 1.5mm thick. That gives an overall height of 15.7mm, same as yours. The outside diameter is around 71mm. And the hub it goes onto measures 40.7mm diameter. There are grooves (quite shallow) on the inside of the hole in the reel, there is a spring-loaded ball on the side of the hub that locates in one of them. I am not sure if said grooves are essential though.

My guess is that Aga did design the machine for a standard reel. From looking at web pages, it appears that Aga sold the reels separately, to be fitted into the cassette (they can be inserted and removed without tools).

I think I mentioned that I like recording devices of most types. This is my first wire recorder, I know the audio quality will be inferior to many of the tape recorders I own, but that doesn't bother me. I regard it as an interesting device to be restored.
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Old 17th Jul 2018, 12:17 am   #50
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyDuell View Post
There are grooves (quite shallow) on the inside of the hole in the reel, there is a spring-loaded ball on the side of the hub that locates in one of them. I am not sure if said grooves are essential though.
The machines I've seen (which admittedly are not many, and most are of the Swedish Luxor brand) use reels with a smooth surface inside the hole, and the matching spool carrier in the recorder is also smooth, with a spring loaded ball. Apparently the friction is enough to keep them in place.
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Old 17th Jul 2018, 4:44 am   #51
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

Apart from the ball, the spool carriers on the Agaphone are smooth. There are no male splines on them to engage with the hub.

I suspect smooth-hole reels would work fine on this machine.
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Old 17th Jul 2018, 8:52 pm   #52
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

One could imagine that the detents in the spools are supposed to mate with the ball, or rather, one of them will, in case the friction would not be high enough otherwise.

The thing is, with the Agaphone, the take-up spool providing the drive is identical to the supply spool from the looks of it. The classic wire recorders in the 40's and 50's used a larger, often non-removable, take up spool, often doubling as a grammophone turntable. So perhaps they wanted to ensure that there would be no slippage during record or playback, hence the detents.

I asked a collector friend of mine and he verified that it is the standard Armour spool (as used by Webster-Chicago (Webcor) et al) that is used in the Agaphone. (He wasn't sure about the wire speed though, but that is of no consequence unless you actually want to play back wire recorded on other machines.)
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Old 18th Jul 2018, 5:08 am   #53
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

The two spools are identical, in fact the magazine/cassette is symmetrical with no indication of which way round it is to be fitted. Since you can't turn wire over and use the other side (as you do with tape) this seems a little odd.

I think you're right about the grooves in the spool hole being to engage with the ball to prevent it slipping. It certainly seems to work that way.
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Old 18th Jul 2018, 11:31 pm   #54
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

Does the machine have a fast foward function? Many wire recorders can only play at normal speed forwards, yet have a fast rewind function, so one way to achieve fast forward would be to turn over the magazine and rewind the wire and then turn it over again.

Other than that I agree there would be no good reason to turn the magazine over. (It would be useful if one wants to listen to the recording backwards though although that would seem to have little practical use.)
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Old Yesterday, 12:37 am   #55
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

.0036 inch is the diameter of recording wire. The first recording machine I ever saw was my dad's Webster-Chicago model 80 wire recorder, which I still have.

Speed is more or less 2 feet per second. The takeup drum on my machine is somewhere around 4 1/2" diameter and turns at about 110 rpm. No capstan, so the speed of the wire from moment to moment depends on how much wire is on the drum.

As an experiment, some years ago I ran a one hour spool (approx. 7300 feet of wire) all the way to the end, and then started another spool of wire over all of that for several seconds, just to hear how much faster the wire ran. What music I heard was just a half step sharper than normal, suggesting the speed at the end of an hour spool was about 6% faster than at the start.

Rewind speed on the W-C machine is something like 7 times the record speed, so an hour's worth of wire requires 8 1/2 minutes to rewind, provided it doesn't break/snarl at some point.

Usable frequency response is somewhere on the order of 70-3500 Hz. No HF pre-emphasis in record either, but does employ AC bias via the 6V6 output that in 'listen' is the small power amplifier.

About the only wire recorder I know of that had a capstan drive was Magnecord's first product, the SD-1, introduced in 1946. It used the same large-hole spools as the Webster-Chicago machines, but was intended as a studio-quality deck. AFAIK it was the only wire recorder with two speeds; frequency response was said to extend to nearly 10 kHz at the faster speed of 4 feet per second (48 ips).

Last edited by EMI BTR 3; Yesterday at 12:45 am. Reason: Added Magnecord content.
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Old Yesterday, 5:06 am   #56
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

There is no fast forward on the Agaphone. Just normal forward and faster rewind (the pulleys on the bottom of the drive spindles are different sizes, as seen in my photos). I guess a ratio of about 3 or 4 times. So turning the magazine round would be a way to get fast(er) forward.

The wire is indeed about 3.6 thou diameter. I'd assumed it was a nominal 0.1mm (3.9 thou) being a Swedish machine, but perhaps not.

On the Agaphone there doesn't seem to be any freqeuncy correction/preemphasis in the amplifier on record or play. It does use HF bias, using one of the triodes in the ECC33 as a hartley oscillator (also used for erase in the normal way). The other half of the ECC33 is the output stage of the amplifier. Of course being a dictating machine, audio quality and constant speed are not that important. Provided that the message that has been recorded can be understood later (e.g. to have it typed) then the machine has done its job.

Still trying to untangle the reel of wire I have...
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Old Today, 6:28 am   #57
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

I don't know about the Agaphone, but at least Luxor licensed the wire recording technology from the Armour Research Foundation, and one might assume that that included not only things like the design of the spools but also the thickness of the wire too. (The attached image is from the license sticker found inside a Luxor TR75S).

I've always found it interesting that wire recorders tended (at least those I've read about and come across) to use AC bias despite the fact that since these machines were expensive in their day, especially for dictating machines one would have thought that cost saving measures such as DC bias or erase would be attractive for manufacturers. Or perhaps DC bias is more disadvantageous when used with wire compared to tape - I don't know.
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