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Old 12th Sep 2022, 1:21 pm   #1
KesterLester
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Default Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

I would be interested to hear from any of you who has access to a Pye television built in 1953 (or earlier, but ideally from 1953) which is still in working order and which is capable of displaying modern day BBC transmissions (presumably using some kind of adapter box you will have made ...).

I am asking because I am a Fellow of Peterhouse, the oldest of the colleges of the University of Cambridge. I have always been told that in 1953 (long before my time!) the Fellows of Peterhouse were given a television by the Pye electronics company so that they could watch the coronation of Elizabeth II when it was broadcast live.

The aural history of the college reports that the Pye television in question was kept until such time as it was no longer in working order, and thereafter it was lost and not replaced. Although undergraduate and graduate students of Peterhouse have probably purchased many televisions over the years, the Fellowship (which on the whole is a little more “traditional”, and aware of the status of the college as the oldest) never purchased another television, having probably decided it would not catch on. Indeed, "the television" is sometimes called "the electric television" in college, partly with tongue-in-cheek, but perhaps because of how strange the Pye may have seemed in comparison to the rotating mechanical television the older Fellows may have seen previously.

The reason I am writing to you is because it would be fun if, for the Coronation of Charles III, the college could have the loan of a television of the same vintage that its Fellows used to watch the Coronation of Elizabeth II, given that it hasn't had any other television in the interim. Perhaps some of us could set it up in our combination room as a sort of 're-enactment' with a modern twist. This is just my personal idea -- it doesn't come with necessarily any wider support within college, but I thought I should ask here first to ascertain whether it's even technically possible.

This morning I have written also to the Museum of Technology in Cambridge and the Pye History Trust, as both hold a lot of Pye equipment. But it's too soon for me to have heard back from either.

Christopher
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 2:29 pm   #2
Dave Moll
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

If the college doesn't have a television, does the room in question have access to a television signal?
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 2:45 pm   #3
KesterLester
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

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Originally Posted by Dave Moll View Post
If the college doesn't have a television, does the room in question have access to a television signal?
The Fellow's common room has wifi (and probably wired internet sockets), so it would be possible to get an internet-derived signal in the room easily. About 10 years ago I remember seeing the coax (or equivalent) draped across the roof above that common room (perhaps from the last coronation). However I do not recall an aerial being connected to it, either then or now, and now even the wire seems gone. There is a small bell-tower-turrent adjacent to the fellows common room, so one could climb that and put an aerial inside the top of it about 3 storeys above ground. Whether the bell (or brick of the turret) would be bad for the signal, though, I can't say, but there is probably space to put an aerial on whichever side of the bell is best for reception if a radio-source is better than a wifi/internet derived source.

[ I am aware that the Graduate Student Common Room has a TV and a TV license -- but I don't know how they get their signal. It may not be aerial-derived. I could check, but it's some what irrelevant what the Graduate Students do as they are in a different bit of the college. ]
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 2:51 pm   #4
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

Cambridge is not known for good terrestrial TV reception at the best of times. It might be possible to use an internet stream as a feed, but this is not straightforward.

It's possible to do what you want, but it's technically complex. There's also the issue that you are using 70 year old hardware, which inevitably brings reliability problems, and there may even be health and safety concerns too.

If you seriously want to proceed with this, you will need to assemble a group of technically competent volunteers to do the necessary design and implementation, and they should be made aware of what they're taking on. There are good reasons why film and TV production companies generally add old TV images digitally in post production rather than having actual working vintage TVs on set.
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 2:56 pm   #5
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

Attached is image of bell turret (left) large chimney (right) and fellows common room (centre). Chimney shows vestige of bracket that may have once held an aerial.
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 3:00 pm   #6
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

In 1953, TV reception in Cambridge would have been from Alexandra Palace in London, so a substantial aerial would have been needed. People were obviously less concerned about listed buildings back then.
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 3:05 pm   #7
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

Upon further investigation, there is an old aerial in the belfry though considerably more modern than 1953. And its coax is unceremoniously cut. Perhaps the college aural history is not entirely correct about the lack of a TV in the interim. Or maybe the (newer) aerial was just for someone who lived in one of the attic rooms. See pictures attached.
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 3:17 pm   #8
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

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Originally Posted by paulsherwin View Post
If you seriously want to proceed with this, you will need to assemble a group of technically competent volunteers to do the necessary design and implementation, and they should be made aware of what they're taking on. There are good reasons why film and TV production companies generally add old TV images digitally in post production rather than having actual working vintage TVs on set.
I would muck in myself. I have some amateur electronics experience (in other posts on this forum you can see the vintage mobile phone I built a few years ago). But I have zero experience of TV signals, or CRT driving, so certainly I would need the help of others (in addition to the loan of the actual set and the experience of the set's owner).

People who might like to join such a team, or who can recommend people near Cambridge who might join, would be welcome to post here or message me.
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 3:36 pm   #9
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

OK, just to summarise what you will need to do. You will need to connect a streamer such as an Amazon Firestick or Google Chromecast to an HDMI / composite video digital/analogue converter, then connect the analogue CV signal to a 625-405 digital standards converter. Some of these have VHF modulators built in, but if not you will need a separate modulator which will create the VHF Channel 1 signal to connect to the vintage TV aerial socket. All this is perfectly doable, but it's complicated and there's a lot to go wrong.

A separate issue is the aspect ratio. All modern TV has a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio rather than the almost square 5:4 ratio still often used in 1953. If a 16:9 picture is displayed on a 5:4 or 4:3 TV, everything will be squashed horizontally with people looking like matchstick men. There are partial workarounds for this, but it's one more thing to consider.
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 3:50 pm   #10
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsherwin View Post
Cambridge is not known for good terrestrial TV reception at the best of times. It might be possible to use an internet stream as a feed, but this is not straightforward……….

If you seriously want to proceed with this, you will need to assemble a group of technically competent volunteers to do the necessary design and implementation, and they should be made aware of what they're taking on. There are good reasons why film and TV production companies generally add old TV images digitally in post production rather than having actual working vintage TVs on set.
Contrary to earlier times, Cambridge nowadays enjoys strong UHF terrestrial TV signals from the Sandy Heath transmitter and also has comprehensive Virgin internet distribution on fibre and coax cable. The university also has its own fibre optic network.

A Virgin TV box would avoid any ‘working at heights’ involving antennae, bells and bell towers. Whether Peterhouse was included in the ‘Cabling of Cambridge’ (now Virgin) in 1992, I don’t know. There may have been objections!

Others can best advise on the conversion of the output of a Virgin TV box into a VHF signal compatible with a 1950s Pye set. Personally, I remember watching the Coronation on an excellent Pye FV1. Cambridge’s poor signal from Alexandra Palace certainly motivated Pye to designs sets of high performance. However, I’m ashamed to admit that trusty FV1 was long ago dissipated into the component spares box.

As already mentioned, the Cambridge Museum of Technology would be a good starting point.
Martin

P.S. Paul’s point on the aspect ratio issue is well made. Reducing the height on a 12-inch set to suit a 16:9 aspect ratio would leave rather little to look at.
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Last edited by Hartley118; 12th Sep 2022 at 3:56 pm. Reason: Added PS.
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 3:55 pm   #11
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

I think current Virgin boxes are HDMI only. Older boxes had composite video analogue outputs and these could be connected directly to a standards converter.

Most external Freeview boxes also had CV outputs if a UHF aerial is available. Some of them also gave some control of aspect ratio conversion.
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 4:16 pm   #12
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hartley118 View Post
Personally, I remember watching the Coronation on an excellent Pye FV1. Cambridge’s poor signal from Alexandra Palace certainly motivated Pye to designs sets of high performance.
The late Karen Orton owned a restored/working Pye FV1C. This might represent part of the solution here. I am putting out feelers...

Steve
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 4:24 pm   #13
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

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The late Karen Orton owned a restored/working Pye FV1C. This might represent part of the solution here. I am putting out feelers...
Steve
Thank you and good luck.
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 4:31 pm   #14
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

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..... then connect the analogue CV signal to a 625-405 digital standards converter ...
My initial investigations following your advice have lead me to conclude that the standard converter will be perhaps one of the hardest devices to get hold of. While there are some nice pages such as

https://www.radios-tv.co.uk/standard...to-the-aurora/

which summarise the converters that there have been and are, very few seem to be easy go get hold of. At least I am not seeing any sale on ebay right now. Assembly of the "hedghog" is just within my capabilities, but it would be a major job to complete. I think I would prefer to buy (or borrow) an aurora, but finding one seems hard. Hmm. I can see why this is not a trivial process ....
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 4:49 pm   #15
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

Not the same, I know, but listening to it on a 1953 Pye radio would be trivially easy. Most of us will have.P75 or similar knocking around ready to do it’s stuff.
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 5:06 pm   #16
paulsherwin
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

Many forum members own an Aurora, and may be prepared to rent one to you, especially if they live in the Cambridge area.

As Nick says, using a period radio is much easier! Maybe you should bear that in mind as a fallback option.
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 5:40 pm   #17
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

Christopher

I have both a Goodmans GDR11 Freeview set-top box and Aurora digital 625 to 405 line converter both of which you are welcome to borrow.

The Goodmans DVB is unusual in that it has both Scart and RF modulated outputs which enables the user to use a scart enabled receiver to set the box up, following which, you can watch DVB programmes on both 625 and 405 line televisions simultaneously.

The Goodmans also allows the user to choose the aspect ratio. Letterbox, 4:3, or compromised. It has to be said that not all transmissions are modified but it is always possible to find a happy medium. The user guide can be downloaded from the web.

So, all you need is the UHF aerial lead to be extended to the viewing room and 1953 TV, ideally a tabletop.

I shall be at Mill Green Museum for the BVWS Murphy day on Sunday September 18 from 11.00am onwards should this help.

Additionally, please PM me should it help to explore the offer and exchange contact details.

Chris
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 6:14 pm   #18
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

If your set was actually manufactured in 1953, and not earlier, it was probably the classic Pye V4 "Washboard".
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 6:16 pm   #19
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

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Additionally, please PM me should it help to explore the offer and exchange contact details.
Thank you. I will. A trip to the mill would be fun.
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Old 12th Sep 2022, 6:21 pm   #20
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Default Re: Loan of a ~1953 Pye Television in working order requested for Coronation ...

Does the college have a TV licence?

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