The Exploding Radio Cassette Player

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Member: TVJon74

During the mid 1990’s work was a bit slow and to try and generate a bit more service work, contact was made with our local aerial installation company. We were already passing work to them and they agreed to take in repairs for us. These were usually dropped off to us in the evenings.

So I arrive at work one morning to find a radio cassette player had been left for repair, the job ticket said “dead” I picked up the unit, put it on the bench and gave it the once over. Everything seemed OK apart from the normal figure 8 mains connector. This had been removed and someone had fitted a fixed mains lead with the cable coming out through the hole where the original connector had been.

I picked up the cable and plugged it into the mains and switched it on. There was an almighty bang! A bright blue flash appeared through the vents followed by a cloud of smoke! When I picked myself up off the floor I unplugged the cable, swearing and thinking what the hell just happened! If it wasn’t dead before it certainly was now!

I removed the back cover to see the extent of the damage and to try and figure out what had happened. On inspection of the charred remains, this new mains lead was not a mains lead at all! It had been connected to what was left of the bridge rectifier on the DC side! After speaking to the customer I was told that this radio cassette player is used in a caravan and the customer had installed standard UK mains sockets to the caravan, all connected to a car battery and modified the radio cassette to work in this way. There was no mention of any this on the job ticket. Needless to say this item was a write off.

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3 years ago

I would likely have made the same mistake… although, if I had known the model in question, I might have inspected it first to see what was what. Certainly, I never modify anything to take a power input not equivalent to UK mains through a type G plug, but having seen some of the bodges I’ve seen, I wouldn’t now assume nobody would do that, but might have, in the past. I do, when someone asks if I can fix their kit, ask, if I spot anything even remotely unusual, if this has been modified in any way I need to know about, such as power type required, but on a “this was dropped off”, I am cautious just in case, these days.

3 years ago

I’ve heard of some people installing 12v DC internal supplies in houses, but at least they mostly fitted 2 pin plugs so it wouldn’t be mistaken for a mains supply.

3 years ago

Some friends of mine (when I was a bit younger) drove around to raves, festivals etc in a decommissioned Ambulance which had a 3 pin BS546 (round pin) socket in the back marked “12V DC” – apparently this was for a searchlight/torch carried in the vehicle that would have been used to illuminate the area at major incident scenes. Nowadays the cigarette lighter socket seems to be universally used for this purpose (I guess in previous decades it wasn’t as common and/or vehicles might still have had positive earth, so polarity couldn’t be guaranteed?)

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