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B&W TV The prototype that went into production

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In the early 60s in Australia, several makers introduced 11" valve portables to compete with GE's Compactron based offering.

One maker, AWA, took the task very seriously and spent the money and development hours to create a game changer with their P1 model.

Another maker, Astor, also developed a new 11" portable, but with a bare minimum of tooling investment. This is the story of that TV, and how I came to acquire one of these somewhat rare and desirable sets.

Astor's Series 7 chassis was basically their test bed for Philips' then very new and revolutionary "decal" valves. They were heavily promoted to setmakers on the basis that they'd allow a much simpler and hence less expensive TV to be built. They were eventually to be used by several setmakers, Philips of course, but also HMV, Kriesler and Astor, as well as a couple of smaller makers. Pye did not use them, they went straight to silicon planar transistors, bypassing the decal era entirely.

The prototype Series 7 chassis was built, hand wired, no PCB, and using their very new compact turret tuner. It was a very compact chassis. Someone had the idea that it could be made into a portable. To avoid injection molding tooling costs Gainsborough, their high-end cabinet maker, was asked to make a suitable polished timber case for it.

And so this little TV was born. It was an immediate sales success, but one wonders now if Astor made any money out of them, they were

Astor S7 Deflection under Chassis

obviously a very labour-intensive build.

Astor used the exact same circuit for their long-running Series 8 large screen chassis, using a PCB this time.

These little TVs now bring stupid money. They are very popular with the retro caravan enthusiasts. And the model appears in the movie "The Dish".

Mine was acquired from a collector who had another one in better condition. It had obviously seen caravan service, screwed down to a shelf, and the tuner was now held in place by one very loose screw. The tuner has thrashed around and mangled the IF traps (these are an obvious design afterthought!). It also appears to have done a lot of work because the decal valves were very tired. CRT is good though. And the volume pot was stuffed - only word to describe it!

It didn't work when I first fired it up. That was a dirty contact in the 6AL3 damper socket. The tuner needed a proper clean and its cover restored - it had been jemmied open to allow contact spray to be squirted in.

Next step is to do a vision IF alignment. Fortunately I have a copy of the original instructions for this, which include some not-obvious steps.

Anyway, here it is so far!

Astor S7 Schematic
Astor S7 Chassis Service Position
Astor S7 Signal end
Astor S7 test card


Posted : 01/01/2024 8:14 am
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The wooden-cased portable reminds me of the Decca "Gypsy" portables in the UK, available in 12" and 15" versions - but these were solid state.

Posted : 01/01/2024 9:29 am
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For those who are interested, here is a translation of the valve type numbers.

Replace the E with P to get the series heater equivalents with which you will be more familiar.

6AL3 = EY88

6CM5 = EL36

6DX8 = ECL84

6ES8 = ECC85

6GV8 = ECL85

6HG8 = ECF86

6U9   = ECF201

6X9   = ECF200

6Y9   = EFL200

Posted : 02/01/2024 8:43 am
Jayceebee, Nuvistor, Lloyd and 1 people reacted
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Here are a couple of stills from "The Dish" that show this model TV

The Dish Security Guard Desk
The Dish Astor S7 One Small Step

The TVs and other props in this movie were period correct (e.g. coffee cup, desk lamp, walkie-talkie) and the pictures off the TV screens were not faked.

The movie also has a couple of Kriesler TVs and a 50's Admiral.

Apparently, all the rack gear shown in the movie was still stashed away in a storeroom on the site and still worked when switched on!

When the moon landing happened, I was working as a TV service guy. I had to get the TV I was called to fix working so I could watch it. The fault was an O/C vertical lin pot!

Posted : 03/01/2024 12:16 am
Lloyd reacted
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@irob2345 Surprising how small things like the lin pot stick in mind due to the circumstances. I was doing the same job in 1969 as you were, long time ago, I seem to have forgotten much more than you can recall.


Posted : 03/01/2024 8:27 am