My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fixing My Realistic Astronaut 8

About 10 years ago, I obtained a Radio Shack Realistic Astronaut 8 circa 1972 multiband receiver at an auction for $1. It had minor cosmetic wear and tear, but functioned like new after I cleaned all the switches and pots.

It had been my working-in-the-garage radio ever since and sits on top of the refrigerator in the back of my workshop.

It is still a mystery to me how it happened, but one day this past spring, the radio fell off the top of the refrigerator and onto the concrete floor.

After the fall, the radio had two problems.

1.   Its handle came apart, but I was able to put it back together easily.

2.   The bottom of the red pointer that moves across the dial became dislodged. Instead of moving freely in its groove, the bottom of the pointer now dragged along the clear plastic window of the radio dial. As a result, whenever I changed frequency, the top of the pointer moved along as it should, while the rest of the pointer followed along at a 15-degree angle. In addition, the drag caused the dial mechanism to move slowly and roughly, so I figured that eventually the dial mechanisim would fail.

I sought out instructions on how to disassemble the radio, so I could get the pointer back in its groove.

I searched the Internet for instructions, but found none, so I decided to fly solo and take the radio apart without help. There were no screws at the front of the radio where the damage had been done, so I had to start at the back of the radio and work my way toward the front from the inside.

The back of the radio came off easily, but when I saw the guts of the radio, the prospect of disassembling it all and reassembling it correctly looked very daunting. I studied the problem for awhile, loosened a few screws to see what that would do, but concluded that this was a mission impossible.

I reassembled what I had disassembled and powered up the radio to make sure it still worked. It still worked and I resigned myself to living with the out-of-groove pointer until the dial mechanism gave up the ghost.

Then I thought if the force of hitting the floor caused the pointer to slip out of the groove, maybe I could use force to get it back in the groove (assuming there was no other damage to the dial mechanism that I did not detect).

So I gave the front of the radio a good whack with my open hand and lo and behold, the pointer jumped back in its groove and the dial mechanism now works as Radio Shack had intended.  

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