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Old 25th Oct 2017, 8:47 pm   #1
Richard_FM
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Default Hotel Panel Radios

Does anyone have memories of using these radios?

Outside of the Fawlty Towers episode Communication Problems they are very hard to encounter, now that having TVs in hotel rooms has long being standard.

The last one I remember using was in a hotel in Crete.

One of the channels played a loop of pop songs that were 3-4 years old, but had some glitch where it would keep playing part of one particular song again & again.

On another forum someone mentioned staying in a hotel which had a pre-1967 panel in-situ (the buttons were labelled Home Light & Third) but not working.

Did this type of panel receive signals from a central unit or could the push buttons be tuned like a TV?
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Old 25th Oct 2017, 9:18 pm   #2
russell_w_b
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

I remember my parents and I stayed at a hotel in Tadcaster, near York, when I was about ten. There was a wall-mounted box above the bed with several 'piano-key' style buttons on it.

Me being me, I pushed the buttons and was delighted to hear several radio stations on tap. I pushed the fifth button. Silence. Then a lady's voice saying 'Reception here. What is it?'

'Er, er, what time is breakfast?' said I, thinking quickly (and hoping not to get told off!).

I saw one in Oban about the same time (late 1960s) but never since.
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Old 25th Oct 2017, 9:21 pm   #3
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

My memory of them suggests that they were just extension speakers provided with selectable programme feeds.
There would presumably have been a rack of receivers feeding them, I'd imagine 100V line with perhaps a 1W transformer and a variable attenuator in each panel.
I might well be wrong, though.
Edit: As Russell suggests, they sometimes had intercom facilities too.
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Old 25th Oct 2017, 9:33 pm   #4
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

I have spent more time in hotels over the last 40 years than I care for.

Both the The UK and elsewhere.

If they worked at all they were just a speaker and a volume control with push buttons to select the program.

Usually 3 to 6 radio channels and or pre recorded "lift music"

Sometimes there was an intercom function.

Mostly they were connected up on the same cable that was used for the room telephone.

Cheers

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Old 25th Oct 2017, 11:02 pm   #5
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

Eagle used to make the bedhead units. They were 100v with about half a watt tapping, channel selector and volume controls. Much the same as was used for hospital radio to bedhead units using stethosets.

I think I saw a hotel with a version with an alarm buzzer, I think you turned rotary switches to select the hour and minutes in 5-min segments - so probably 2 x 12-way rotary switches - with 24 wires plus a common back to a central controller (something like a uniselector probably) that energised the appropriate hour and minute wire, paralleled to all rooms.

American schools used to have a similar system, usually one channel for programme, intercom and all-call.
https://www.bogen-paging.com/catalog-product-pi35a.aspx

In one of my public address books there is a description of hotel systems that relayed music from the ballroom as well as radio programmes, and guests could rent a key from reception to turn the bedroom speaker on, or put coins in a slot, if the music wasn't free.

Gaitronics used to make one for accommodation units in oil rigs. Their unit had a detector circuit which responded to a permanent supervisory tone; if the tone was lost for any reason the unit defaulted to channel 1 at max volume for emergency announcements. That might have been a locally-tuned FM radio as I think it used a single coax for programme feed.

A more modern eqquivalent
http://www.ziztel.com/bed-head-units.php
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Old 26th Oct 2017, 6:47 am   #6
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

The only one I specifically remember was in the Holiday Inn in Wolfsburg in early 1985. That was a radio, and could be tuned into anything that was receivable, which in terms of the English language was only the transmissions for the forces in Germany. I don't remember what wavebands it had, might have been MW only
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Old 26th Oct 2017, 6:55 am   #7
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

I lived in a block of flats in Balham. London in the 60's. They had a selector switch for the stations with a volume control.
At one point, the people in the flat below played theirs so loudly that in desperation I shorted mine out.
Much quieter then !
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Old 26th Oct 2017, 7:16 am   #8
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

There was a similar device on an overnight ferry I travelled on once (Hoek van Holland to Harwich) with a choice of three or four radio stations (one of which was silent during my crossing) and an option for an alarm, I think either 1 or 2 hours before docking.

I didn't examine it too closely, but I suspect it would have consisted of little more than a 100V line transformer switched across different cores of a multi-core cable.
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Old 26th Oct 2017, 9:11 am   #9
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

A restaurant in Arillas, Corfu has a Biennophone 47 HL-S on display, not in use. The owner told me that he rescued this when a large number were removed from a hotel. According to Radiomuseum it is a two valve (ECC85 + ECL86) TRF with diode detector.

https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/bienno...rans_47hl.html

http://www.biennophone.ch/60er.htm

Finding three cafes/restaurants in Corfu with valve radio receivers on display added interest to my cycling holiday in May this year earned me the nickname Radiohead.

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Old 26th Oct 2017, 11:13 am   #10
dseymo1
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

An interesting find, but that looks like a straightforward standalone reciever, rather different from the panels under discussion.
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Old 26th Oct 2017, 11:47 am   #11
Neutrino
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

More details of the Biennophone 47 HL-S from Radiomuseum:
Main principle TRF with diode detector
Wave bands Long Wave and/or Very Low Frequency (VLF).
Details Wired Wireless Receiver (RF!)
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Old 29th Oct 2017, 8:47 pm   #12
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

Long wave cable radio (HFTR) was apparently quite common in Switzerland and (Northern?) Italy, hence the Swiss origin of this radio. I guess they sold them to hotels as well as a more sophisticated alternative to non multiplexed 100V systems.
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Old 29th Oct 2017, 9:16 pm   #13
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

A number of Murphy sets from around 1960 have separate aerial connections for "Swiss LW" despite not obviously being export sets. It's an RCA phono socket to the right of the normal aerial and earth wander sockets. You can just about make it out on the Radiomuseum picture if you zoom in.

https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/murphy_a684a_68.html
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Old 29th Oct 2017, 9:43 pm   #14
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

The Pan Pacific Sonargon hotel in Dhaka, Bangladesh still had something similar fitted to the bedside units when I was last there a couple of years ago. It didn't seem to be connected to anything though. The hotel was probably built in the early eighties.
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Old 31st Oct 2017, 5:08 pm   #15
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

The Pye factory in St Andrews Road Cambridge had a system like this to feed the benches headphone audio with BBC R1-4.
R2,3,4 were from FM but R1 was MW.

The Student Engineers ran a CW net using Q meters Sig Gens and anything else available to make a beat against it. Keying by tapping wire to headphone jack earth.

That net was always busiest just before the canteen opened. The girls working on the line really didn't like it....
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Old 31st Oct 2017, 6:18 pm   #16
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

The Nottingham YMCA had them in the bedrooms in the late 60s. Rotary switch with maybe 5 positions?

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Old 31st Oct 2017, 7:05 pm   #17
Richard_FM
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

Thanks for all the feedback.

I remember one of the classrooms at my primary school had an odd socket on the wall with 2 holes in.

I assumed this was a redundant 5 amp socket, though all the other sockets were standard 13 amp ones. All the wiring was in conduit pipes rather than plastered into the wall, with this socket being on a separate conduit & looking long disused with many layers of paint on.

The school was built in the early 1950s, & the above talk had me thinking it might have been used for a radio system originally.
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Old 31st Oct 2017, 8:13 pm   #18
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

I remember that these were common in hotels in the 70s. The ones I saw were all in small rectangular teak veneered boxes affixed to the wall usually next to the bed. The front was aluminium with a ‘speaker grill, volume control and a 6? position selector switch to choose a radio program. I can’t remember the name on the box but somewhere I have a used one I found at a radio rally.
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Old 31st Oct 2017, 8:45 pm   #19
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

This was probably a Reliance one, made by Reliance Systems (later GEC Reliance). I worked for them for a few years as a design engineer. They generally used 4 individual FM tuners for the wireless - the concept was to keep the nickable bit as cheap as possible. Also versions with a rotary switch, and with an analogue clock (powered off the Radio 2 signal).

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Old 9th Nov 2017, 10:55 am   #20
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Default Re: Hotel Panel Radios

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob_Moss View Post
Also versions with a rotary switch, and with an analogue clock (powered off the Radio 2 signal).
How was the clock powered from the radio2 signal?

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