The latest buzz on the Glowbugs mailing list is about the sale of a Weskit BN-1. This rig, apparently sold by Western Radio of Kearney, NE is a one- or two-tube “Novice transmitter/receiver.” It originally sold in kit form for $14.95, assembled and test $19.95.
Sheldon, KC0CW, actually has a very nice writeup, which includes a schematic, about this radio. In part, he writes:
The Weskit transmitter-receiver was made by Western Radio (a.k.a. Western Electronics) of Kearney, Nebraska, around the 1956/1957 time period. It is an extremely simple rig, using only a single 7 pin miniature type 3A5 tube. This dual triode tube, which typically serves as a push-pull audio output tube in battery powered portable receivers, performs the transmit function with one triode, and the receive functions with the other. The front panel as shown above, is made of thin sheet metal, with a rather attractive gray paint job with red screen printed markings. The sides, top, and bottom of the box are made of a plastic impregnated cardboard, while the back of the unit remains open.
The transmitter is a modified Pierce crystal controlled oscillator on the 80 or 40 meter amateur bands. The L-C tuned plate tank circuit is link coupled to the antenna, and a type 1843 incandescent lamp in the antenna circuit is used as a tuning indicator. After tuning, the lamp is to be replaced with a type 41 lamp to reduce resistive losses. Power input can be as much as 5 watts with 180 volt supply, however the instructions suggest plate supply voltages as low as 45 volts, with “nominal” operation at 90 volts, with about 1 to 1.5 watts input. Snap on clips are provided for connection to dry cell batteries for high voltage, and a single D-cell battery holder is provided for the filament supply. Switching from transmit to receive applies filament power to only the half of the tube which is in operation.
The receiver is a regenerative type. Regeneration is controlled by a potentiometer across the feedback winding of the tuning coil. Frequency coverage is claimed to be 3400 kc to 8000 kc in the manual, however dial calibration does not go below 3500 kc. Audio output is intended to be fed to high impedance headphones. An optional stage of audio amplification using a type 3V4 tube can be added for operation of a small speaker. A pre-punched hole in the chassis can be utilized for the purpose of mounting the additional tube.
As you can imagine, comments were mixed.
One guy commented, “What a cutsy-kewl rig; and it’s DC powered to boot!”
Another replied, “I remember seeing an ad for the bn-1 when I was a novice and taking offense at the word ‘novice’ emblazoned on the face of the poorest excuse for a lunchbox with knobs I had ever envisioned. I still think that abomination was designed and marketed as a joke. I just cannot imagine any sane ham buying, building, or even wanting something that crude. The folk that brought that thing to market were confusing the words amateur and fool.”
A third said, “The thing with such gizmos, like the one-transistor radios and such that were advertised in the same era magazines, is not to expect miracles for your money. That the ad was the size of a postage stamp should be a clue to any reasonable reader that you were not dealing with the National, Hammarlund, or Hallicrafter class. The thing does work, whether you like it or not. What’s not to work?
“A 1-watt transmitter and a 1 or 2 tube receiver. Granted, the
tuning rate is atrocious, but it was intended to just tune to the frequency of the crystal.
“I prefer to consider such gizmotron products as kind of a friendly joke. The buyer understands, somewhere in his head, not to expect miracles, but you can still hope for them. The company provides a not-expensive learning experience (and I don’t mean learning about being ripped off!! ) and makes a little money as well.”
It does kind of amaze me that someone would actually buy one of these things, but as the last guy says, you could get them to work, and if they weren’t stellar performers, they were cheap, so it was an inexpensive education.