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Old 12th Jan 2020, 3:51 pm   #1
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Default Gilbert Davey's Radio Sets site is 10 years old

Some Forum members already know my web site at devoted to the work of Gilbert Davey (1913-2011), writer on radio and electronics for young people, both in the Boy's Own Paper and in his own books. My site was launched in March 2010, so it is approaching its tenth anniversary. Some milestones over these ten years might be of interest to members. A version of the following text currently appears on my News page, with appropriate links to other pages.

November 2010: First of many contributions to the site by my long-term correspondent Hugh C, including his re-creations of some "lost" Davey designs (see below).

April 2011: Death of Gilbert Davey, aged 97. I had not been in touch with Mr Davey, but after his death I was put in touch with Tom Dougall, a former colleague of his who had drawn upon information from my site for a tribute in a newsletter for former Pearl Assurance employees (Davey had been a full-time insurance official with Pearl). In turn, Mr Dougall's memories allowed me to put together a fuller obituary that was published in the July 2011 edition of Practical Wireless (pp8-9).

May 2011: The BBC Studio 'E' one-valver. Inspired by this thread: , one of the first aims of my site was to locate and, if possible, publish the leaflet for the famous one-valver that featured on Studio 'E' (a BBC children's magazine programme that was a precursor of Blue Peter) in the autumn of 1957. The BBC had not kept a copy, but after 14 months Doug Brown visited the site, and send me scans of his leaflet. With his permission and that of the BBC, I was able to make it available on the site.

Shortly afterwards, I heard from John Winter, a friend of Gilbert Davey's family, who kindly sent me scans of four Studio ‘E’ scripts which Davey had preserved through several house moves. Selected extracts from the scripts were placed on the site. Later, John Winter kindly sent me the scripts themselves.

March 2012: Davey's daughter Claire contacted me, and we have been in touch ever since. Claire has contributed several key items to the site.

March 2012: The BBC Focus transistor receiver. Davey's second BBC receiver featured on the Focus prograame (the re-named Studio 'E') in March - April 1959. A crystal receiver with two transistor amplification stages, this design meets criticism nowadays for its lack of selectivity. Its appeal was that it was a small and easy-to-build receiver using the then still novel transistors, construction of which viewers could follow on the programmes. As did the previous BBC set, it inspired many young people to take up technical careers. The BBC had kept this leaflet, and gave me permission to re-publish.

October 2012: By this time, my source pages for Davey's post-war writing were virtually complete.

November 2013: Full details of two "lost" Boy's Own Paper designs, reconstructed by Hugh C, after patient research and brain-cudgelling, were re-published. Due to post-war paper shortages, BOP did not print full details of some designs, but only sent them out as duplicated sheets to those who asked for them. My downloads include the original BOP articles (by permission of Lutterworth Press), together with Hugh's circuit diagrams and my notes.

March 2015: Some of Davey's pre-war writing rediscovered. Among his Army records was a list believed to have been typed by him as part of the formalities for enlistment in the Royal Signals during World War 2. This led me to over thirty articles for Practical Wireless and other journals. Selected articles were published on my site with permission from Practical Wireless. The Army list was not complete; earlier writing remains to be found. This is complicated by the sheer number of "wireless" periodicals in the 1920s and 1930s, and the tendency then not to attribute articles from relatively unknown authors (as Davey was then) by name. Also, some holdings, such as the British Library, are very complete and documents can be searched for electronically, but digitising individual documents is taking place on a priority basis, with ancient radio hobby journals very low on the list! Others (e.g. the AmericanRadioHistory web site), though searchable both for and within documents, are not comprehensive.

December 2018: British Vintage Wireless and Television Museum posted a link to my site on their own web site. They then asked if this was OK - of course it was!

July 2019: A National Interference Crisis? I discovered a series of Letters to the Editor of Wireless World (December 1957 - April 1958), that began with a correspondent's concern that young users of the Studio 'E' receiver (see above) would cause an interference nuisance if they allowed it to oscillate. Davey was obliged to explain the precautions he had taken to minimise the possibility of nuisance. The letters include a delightful evocation of the “magic” of the radio hobby by a third party coming to his defence. Permission to re-publish the letters was kindly given by the Editor of Electronics World (successor to Wireless World).

Gilbert Davey's designs are still inspiring enthusiasts in Britain, Australia and elsewhere, many of whom have sent me stories of how Davey's writing led them to take up careers in radio or electronics. I would be glad to hear from anyone (either via this Forum or via my web site (email address on the homepage) who has memories or information relating to Gilbert Davey or any of his designs, or has plans to build any of them.

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Old 12th Jan 2020, 7:23 pm   #2
dave walsh
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Default Re: Gilbert Davey's Radio Sets site is 10 years old

Very interesting Les. I have at least two of his books. One was in my school library and in those early sixties days, when Radio Info could be relatively scarce, I used to go through it regularly. Thanks for bringing us up to date with the history of a very significant individual. This kind of history, overall, is sometimes more interesting than even the sets themselves!

Dave W
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Old 12th Jan 2020, 10:24 pm   #3
Red to black
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Default Re: Gilbert Davey's Radio Sets site is 10 years old

Thanks for the link to your very interesting site Les, just spent an hour or two on there, now added to my favourites

I too recall borrowing Gilbert Daveys books from both the school and the local library back when I was a youngster

I never did build any of his valve designs, but did build some of his transistor ones but with homemade coils.

Thanks again for a nice trip down memory lane
I don't suffer from Insanity. I enjoy every minute of it.
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Old 12th Jan 2020, 10:25 pm   #4
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Default Re: Gilbert Davey's Radio Sets site is 10 years old


Cracking site and utterly superb, I’ve viewed it many times.

The Fun with Radio book was my starting point with constructional radio projects.

The valve base pin connections in the Fun with radio book proved really useful in making home brew amplifier projects as were the chapters on audio amplifiers in both the Fun with Radio and Electronics books.

I remember going into the local library as a young lad and looking at the picture of the Leak TL12 plus in the Fun with Electronics Book and thinking ‘what a great looking piece of equipment and one day I’ll have one of those’... Well, dreams do come true and I got one a few years later!


Last edited by Valvepower; 12th Jan 2020 at 10:27 pm. Reason: Triping Errot
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Old 19th Jan 2020, 3:44 pm   #5
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Default Re: Gilbert Davey's Radio Sets site is 10 years old

Dave, Red to Black, Terry,
Thank you for your kind comments. I hope to be able to add some very interesting news to the site in a few months' time.
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