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B&W TV Tiny telly! Sinclair MTV1B

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Lloyd
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I’ve been out hunting again today, at Newark antiques fair, and came across this little tiny telly! I have been after one for a long time, I already have some of the FTV1 model, one of which is boxed.

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All the ones I’ve seen before were either in lousy condition, or seriously overpriced. I was quite pleased when the lady on the stall said it was £25, but she was happy to take £20 for it, and it’s in really nice condition, complete with its protective case!

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on returning home I fitted some batteries to see if it would work, it came straight up! In the workshop I could tune in the workshop RF signal clearly, but the picture was too tall, and off centre, I was in 2 minds as to whether or not to open it to correct it, especially as 1 of the case screws is hidden under the serial label, and another under the sticky back foam pad in the battery compartment. 

I decided to go for it, and carefully peeled up the end of the serial number label to reveal one screw, and the foam pad to get to the other, the remaining screws are under the telescopic antenna.

Then things got a bit scary, trying to separate the 2 halves of the case, there is a bit of a clip at the front above the on/off/volume control, and it didn’t want to budge, but then it did and the CRT lifted up at the front with the top case, I didn’t think much of it and pushed the tube back down into place on the bottom case, I connected the battery pack and powered on and was greeted with a blank screen! I had a good look around then spotted something that made my heart sink… there was a black tubular bit on the tube base, which looked like it was protecting the evacuation pip, and it was sitting distinctly wonky, and it seemed loose too, I immediately thought the worst, that I’d snapped the pip off the tube and killed it! But on picking up the set with the power still on the picture appeared!

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Turned out that the set is very sensitive to magnetic fields, and I’d sat it on top of another of the day’s purchases, a GEC radio, with a permanent magnet speaker! So after a bit of a sit down I set about finding out what preset does what, and adjusted the picture so it was the right size, and central. It now looks pretty good! 4 of the presets are hard to get to without removing the guts from the case, but I was able to push them round from the side.

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The set goes back together a lot easier than it comes apart, and a bit of hot air helps stick the label back down. It’s not a bad little picture! Not very bright, but it is clear and very watchable.

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Posted : 12/04/2024 9:43 pm
helloekco, LSmith, ntscuser and 5 people reacted
irob2345
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A very courageous design effort for its time!

I'd never seen one running before. You did well!

 
Posted : 13/04/2024 3:50 am
Lloyd reacted
Nuvistor
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@lloyd Great job, the boss got one for evaluation and we all thought they would never sell which such a small screen so didn’t get any more. Now many watch TV on similar size phone screens and are quite happy.

We did sell the sample to an older teenager, his mum brought him back the next day, he had spent all his savings on it, could we take it back. The boss gave him his money back and I am not sure what happened to it after that. The boss was a gentleman, always tried to do the right thing. 

Frank

 
Posted : 13/04/2024 6:34 am
Lloyd reacted
Lloyd
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@irob2345

It certainly was a courageous design, it’s amazing how they managed to shrink down everything to build a working TV, and when you look inside the thing there really isn’t much in it! If they had rechargeable li-ion batteries back then I think they could have made it even smaller still! 

@nuvistor

I think Sir Clive was just too early with his designs, maybe if he’d bought this out in the late 80’s it would have been more of a hit, the picture on it is probably the best I’ve seen on a pocket tv, the later flat tube types aren’t that good, always with wonky pictures, and the LCD ones were pretty naff because the pixels were so big.

My first pocket TV was a Citizen colour LCD one from around 1998, I remember being really excited to finally get one! The excitement wore off very quickly when I realised the signal was total rubbish where we lived, and we put up with a grainy picture on the main set from the roof aerial. It did get some use on holidays, where the signal was better! But it got the most use at college when the World Cup was on, it was being passed around the room so everyone could watch!

 
Posted : 13/04/2024 9:24 am
slidertogrid
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That was a bargain Lloyd! I had a friend at college in 1978 who worked for Sinclair he could buy returned MTV1 and later on MTV1B models very cheaply, Sinclair apparently had a lot of returns! I bought a handful over a period of a year or so and they always attracted a lot of interest despite the fact that they wouldn't work very well without a connection to an outside aerial as the signal strength in Peterborough wasn't great.

The faults were always minor because if we got one that couldn't be repaired he could swap it for another returned set and I don't think that ever happened. I do remember breaking a tube though! My friend got me a replacement, no questions asked... 😉. My Dad sold a few at work he could sell almost anything there, especially on pay day!

 
Posted : 13/04/2024 10:44 am
Lloyd reacted
RichardFromMarple
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Nice to see, these seem to be the safest bet of the Sinclair TVs as the MTV1 had soldered in rechargeable batteries & the TV80 had a non standard battery pack.

I've got 3 1990s Japanese pocket TVs, one a Sony with the same periscope style screen as the TV80 & 2 Seikos.  Currently they are in storage.

 
Posted : 13/04/2024 11:22 am
Lloyd reacted
Elektrofix
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Oh boy.

No, how cute is that TV.
It is wonderful that these sometimes overlooked devices are being saved.

 
Posted : 13/04/2024 3:29 pm
irob2345
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Are those little CRTs still around?

I had a crazy idea to build a TV using only battery valves. Might be possible using one of those CRTs.

(Like - imagine transistors had never been invented. Where would we be now?)

 
Posted : 14/04/2024 5:08 am
helloekco reacted
Cathovisor
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Posted by: @slidertogrid

That was a bargain Lloyd! I had a friend at college in 1978 who worked for Sinclair he could buy returned MTV1 and later on MTV1B models very cheaply, Sinclair apparently had a lot of returns!

Doesn't surprise me in the slightest - Sinclair's production engineering was terrible. I went through three of the "Grey Watch" before I had one that worked properly; one jumped twenty seconds at the count of 20, so it would literally go 18 - 19 - 20 - 40 - 41 etc.

 
Posted : 14/04/2024 9:56 am
slidertogrid reacted
Cathovisor
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Posted by: @irob2345

Are those little CRTs still around?

I had a crazy idea to build a TV using only battery valves. Might be possible using one of those CRTs.

How about older camcorders with CRT viewfinders?

 
Posted : 14/04/2024 9:57 am
Lloyd
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@irob2345

it looks like the CRT’s are available! It’s a Telefunken D5-100W 1.5” electrostatic deflection tube, a quick search bought up one on eBay but it was £75+p&p (ouch!), I’ll keep looking around and see what shows up. 

 
Posted : 14/04/2024 10:03 am
Lloyd
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@cathovisor

I have one of those tiny CRT viewfinder’s! Well, the guts of one, it had been ‘blown up’ by reverse polarity, but still worked to some extent, everything was on one surface mount IC, and surprisingly the IC was still available, so I replaced it and got it fully working. 

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that’s a pic of it before the IC replacement, it’s missing half the vertical scan!

 
Posted : 14/04/2024 10:23 am
slidertogrid
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Posted by: @cathovisor

Posted by: @slidertogrid

That was a bargain Lloyd! I had a friend at college in 1978 who worked for Sinclair he could buy returned MTV1 and later on MTV1B models very cheaply, Sinclair apparently had a lot of returns!

Doesn't surprise me in the slightest - Sinclair's production engineering was terrible. I went through three of the "Grey Watch" before I had one that worked properly; one jumped twenty seconds at the count of 20, so it would literally go 18 - 19 - 20 - 40 - 41 etc.

My Mate and his father worked for Sinclair for some time, My mate's dad used to repair returns and kits that customers had assembled only to find they didn't work, the "micro" matchbox radio etc.  By the time they were making the small TVs it was decided that it was simpler to send a replacement as there was such a backlog.  Hence the staff sales. I expect a lot were just scrapped!  He came in one day with a box the size of a tea chest, in it there were plastic trays with about 30 watches in each tray they "just needed batteries". I think they worked out about £1.50 each. He was a bit of a Del boy! 

 

 
Posted : 14/04/2024 12:30 pm
RichardFromMarple
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Poor quality control seemed to be a common Sinclair issue, supposedly Sir Clive used to get bags of rejected transistors from Plessey, then he & his family would sit around their kitchen table testing them with multimeters to find ones that were useable in some way!  Often the half decent ones were used in the kits.

 
Posted : 14/04/2024 3:33 pm
slidertogrid
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Sir Clive missed a trick there! He should have marketed a Transistor tester!  Admittedly things got better towards the end of the 70's.  I remember in around '79/80 the firm I worked for had some Sinclair digital multi-meters and they were fine. It was a shame that Sinclair couldn't make any money out of the computers that he developed but Alan Sugar could! 

As for the C5... Well... He was well ahead of his time there, but Lead acid Batteries and a Washing machine motor was never going to get far.. (Pun intended!) 😏 

 
Posted : 14/04/2024 5:14 pm
Lloyd
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My Brother has the modern equivalent of a C5, an electric bike!

 
Posted : 14/04/2024 7:03 pm
RichardFromMarple
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@lloyd I remember the Zike in the early 1990s, about 30 years too early!

 
Posted : 14/04/2024 9:15 pm
Lloyd reacted
helloekco
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I love these tiny CRTs, I have a thing for the Sony ones. I've accumulated about half a dozen of them in trying to get the nicest one possible in a particular colour.

They work really well, with the exception of the sensitivity not being good enough to be practical (which I remember from trying to use one on a train, back in the day). I imagine it's probably just a limitation of TV signals compared to e.g. AM radio.

 
Posted : 14/04/2024 9:23 pm
Lloyd reacted
Lloyd
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@helloekco

I also have a couple of the Sony ones, can’t remember the model numbers, but one is a really nice one with a metal front, picked it up at last years RetroTech for about £30, it still has its brown soft case too. The other is a small grey plastic one, pictures are good on them both. 

 
Posted : 14/04/2024 10:05 pm
helloekco reacted
Doz
 Doz
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I have one of these that gives a reasonable account of itself, and an FTV1, in it's box, that gives a picture with some linearity issues. I've also got a couple of Sears binocs, which is an american set, but seems to lock just fine on 625. They seem to have some sort of 'privacy' filter over the screen which limits the viewing angle. They produce a very reasonable picture. I must make a video about them. 

 

 
Posted : 15/04/2024 7:36 am
Lloyd reacted
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