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Cuban813/08/2015 13:19:48
3163 forum posts
1 photos

Someone must have been having a loft/garage clearout recently, as a number of 'classic' RCM&Es appeared in our club bunker. Quite a few from the mid to late 1960s and I have the February 1965 edition in front of me now.

Rather a slim volume costing half a crown (twelve and a half pence - a week's pocket money for me then), 96 pages smaller than A4 size, no colour as such, just a few small grainy half tone pictures, but some very good sketches of diy widgets in the 'Gadgets and Gimmickry' section.

Plenty of reeds, escapements, superhets, super-regens, and a few still familiar names like RipMax and Macgregor! The free plan was 'Wedgie', a single channel outboard powered motorboat, that looked like an oversized doorstop..........wonderfullaugh

What is apparent is the cost of the radio gear. Bearing in mind that an ordinary working man's wage was in the region of £15-£20 per week in 1965, the "Buy British, it really is better" and " developed by the country's best brains" ,RCS Competition 10 transmitter and reed receiver at £88 was quite an investment.

What about the RCS Tetraplex four channel, proportional outfit (including DEACS,servos, wiring, and charger) for £180!!........only for the well off professional I suppose.

Worryingly, once you'd possibly spent several months money on your gear, you could read on page 75 about the increasing menace of C.B.I or 'Citizens Band Interference'. I thought that was only an issue in the 1980s - not so apparently.

Edited By Cuban8 on 13/08/2015 13:20:32

John Privett13/08/2015 13:32:08
6130 forum posts
243 photos

I started r/c flying in the early/mid-70's. My first radio was a Futaba M6 which would have been something like £150 at the time. I could only afford it as my mother's cousin knew somebody who knew somebody who was "in the trade" (or something like that!) and was happy to get me the radio at "cost" price - still a very significant sum of money for me though!

Back then, few people had more than one model in flying condition at a time. Anyone who did have more than one model would usually move the radio from one to another when they wanted to fly something different!

I must admit I wasn't aware of any CB issues back in 1965 (though I'd only have been 7 at the time!), that sort of thing was certainly mentioned in the 70's though, and eventually gave rise to the provision of 35MHz for model control.

Former Member13/08/2015 14:56:25
8085 forum posts

[This posting has been removed]

Phil Green13/08/2015 16:01:21
1682 forum posts
349 photos

My Dad started me off with RC as a kid of maybe 10 with a succession of homebrew gear made from magazines like Practical Wireless and Radio Constructor, at first it was valve gear, followed by Terrytones, simpletones and the like, and eventually our first commercial RC set - an OS Pixie, by which time I'd be about 11, around 1966-ish.

That particular era of mid sixties to early seventies is my favourite, so many new ideas in such a short space of time, development was rapid and innovation was paramount. I have a small pile of 1965 to 1970s mags and love to peruse them cover to cover, adverts and all. This is why I enjoy recreating the gear from that period - single-channel, reeds, galloping-ghost, pulse proportional, and the very early true propo sets - its great to get them back down the field where they belong, especially the sets you couldnt possibly afford back then!



Edited By Phil Green on 13/08/2015 16:03:45

Cuban813/08/2015 16:21:29
3163 forum posts
1 photos

As with old newspapers, it's often the adverts that are the most fascinating. I guess that the 'old hands' on here will be able to clarify, but it appears that the radio gear fell into several types. Either fully proportional with servos as we would recognize now, sets with reed receivers that appear to be non-proportional, and button pushing sequential sets with escapements. I was only 8 at the time so all this was unknown to me.

An indication as why radio sets were so expensive can be found in an advert for electronic components. Ordinary signal transistors are priced around the 10/- mark (50p), diodes 2/6 - 15/- (12 1/2p - 75p) and power transistors all around the £1 mark. Not forgetting these are 1965 prices of course.

One final gem is the 69" span 'Senior Falcon' multi R/C kit. Billed as the "finest multi kit available". From Roland Scott Ltd of Bolton, it's priced at 238/- which if my recollection of pre-decimal coinage is correct is £11-18s or about half the average weekly wage.

Don Fry13/08/2015 16:52:48
4557 forum posts
54 photos

Re reversed servos, I seem to recall the sets came with 3 normal, and one reverse servo, but may be senile memory decay.

Former Member13/08/2015 20:38:32
8085 forum posts

[This posting has been removed]

Paul Marsh13/08/2015 20:41:24
4132 forum posts
1247 photos

You can get Spektrum 6ch receivers now for £20. crazy!

Suppose if I said I had 500 flying rc models, they would think I was lying, or a god!


Edited By Paul Marsh on 13/08/2015 20:42:05

John Privett13/08/2015 20:43:44
6130 forum posts
243 photos

I still have (but don't use!) the FD16M servos that came with my Futaba M6 set. Three red label servos and two black labelled. There might have been a sixth servo, it's not around now if it ever existed! The coloured labels indicated the reversed/standard rotation.

C8 - Fully proportional with servos are essentially what we use now, though now there's lots more "bells and whistles"! The reed sets were a non-proportional multi-channel system. Switches on the tx caused different audio tones (like musical notes) to be sent via the radio to the receiver. In the receiver was an electromagnet with a "comb" rather like what you'd see in a mechanical musical box. The audio tones were relayed to the electromagnet and this made one element of the comb vibrate - the one whose resonant frequency was the same as the audio tone being 'played'. The vibrating element would act as a switch to drive the relevant servo. The button-pushing sets you mentioned were single-channel, and I'll leave it to Phil to explain those - he knows way more about them than I (or almost anybody else) do!

Almost forgot to say - my M6 set came with 6 pairs of crystals too!

Edited By John Privett on 13/08/2015 20:44:42

jrman13/08/2015 21:25:17
433 forum posts
3 photos

My 1st proportional set was an Horizon Systems HS4D in 1972. A four channel set with 2 of the four servos being reversed. It also had two switchable crystals in the Tx & Rx and a buddy facility. Quite innovative for its time and it was made in Britain (Ampthill, Bedfordshire to be precise).

John Privett13/08/2015 21:25:55
6130 forum posts
243 photos
Posted by Tom Sharp 2 on 13/08/2015 21:04:03:

I looked through one issue and came across an advert for the first free flying electric helicopter. Up to that point they had been flying powered through an umbilical cord attached to a 12 volt car battery. I kid you not.

How would the Wunderkid heli flyers of today cope with that?

Well it would certainly make most 3D manoeuvres a little tricky! smile d

GONZO13/08/2015 23:08:19
1411 forum posts
14 photos

Burning old RCM&E magscrying 2 The boys will be round to see you late one night! I've got them all from issue1 until 2011 when I stoped. As has been mentioned the cost of radio gear (engines and planes as well) was significant. I prefer to use income as a gage of past to todays cost as it gives a feel of how expensive it felt (to the wallet) to make such purchases. I started work with the GPO(BT) in September '64, at 17, and a Technical Officers pay was about £1000/year. That grade now gets about £40,000/year so the mid 60's prices should be multiplied by 40 to get an idea of how much you would be paying in todays money. Although, it was even worse than this would suggest as you got to keep less of your wages back then as income tax was 33%, not 20% as now. Makes me laugh when people claim this hobby is expensive now days. Its so easy as well. Everything is plug and play, works and continues to do so unlike back then. Still got my Futaba DigiMax 4 Tx from the 70's but not the Rx and the 5 wire linear servos. Although, the UK Rx super-regen relay Rx(RCM&E design), single channel, I built in 62/63 is the oldest item I still have.

Phil Green14/08/2015 00:54:04
1682 forum posts
349 photos

Johns description of Reeds is spot on

Reeds transmitters

You can see a few in use in the various Ponty Retro RC event videos, here

Edited By Phil Green on 05/07/2020 10:17:19

Martin Harris - Moderator14/08/2015 01:00:10
9793 forum posts
264 photos

I make that at least 3 ex-GPO/PO/BT employees (Phil G, Gonzo and me) on this thread so there a pattern emerging?

I joined as an apprentice just post GPO in '72 and started RC flying around the end of my apprenticeship. As a T2A, my first proportional radio (2 channel Sanwa Mini) cost me over a week's wages - soon followed by a month's wages for a Sanwa 6 channel outfit (with 4 servos, receiver, NiCds and charger).

I remember changing radio gear between models at the field as all the airborne gear cost an arm and a leg then - and lessons learnt installing non-programmable radio gear are still useful in making efficient installations today.

Actually Percy, I did have a V-tail mixer...but it was made of plastic and was purely mechanical. Also, servo reversing was possible back then...but you needed a soldering iron to do it!

Edited By Martin Harris on 14/08/2015 01:06:15

Cuban814/08/2015 07:33:46
3163 forum posts
1 photos

The YouTube videos of vintage radio are excellent. In fact yesterday was the first time that I'd ever seen (and heard!) an escapement actually working in a model.

I had my first set of radio in 1978, a two channel Futaba, which was light years ahead of all the old gear and I don't recall seeing anything but fully proportional stuff in the model shops at that time or on the field.

Peter Miller14/08/2015 09:01:41
11771 forum posts
1416 photos
10 articles

I remember the first RCM&E coming out, I think 1961. I was in Aden. One member there had REP Octone. He fitted in in a Brooks Biplane. IT had a set of relays which were behind the wing. Needed a lot of lead unter the Taplin Twin engine. Never did get off the ground (not even with a hand launch!!) but taxied beautifully.

Fast forward to 1966 and a member in the club at RAF Laarbruch had Orbit reed gear. I can remember him sitting in the club room tuning the reeds and getting in a real strop over it.

My First radio was a MacGregor 4 channel set in the mid 70s. Servos cost £12 which was gettng on for half a weeks pay.

I bought a vintage model with that radio in it recently. Thatis it. two sticks and an on off switch. The sticks were so stiff that it took real effrot to move them. Don't think there was any tension adjustment.

GONZO14/08/2015 09:49:26
1411 forum posts
14 photos

First RCM&E April 1960 priced 2 shillings (10P) in monochrome(except cover) A5 format with little advertisement content. That would probably be x50 to put in todays money ie £5. Not that far off in reality. Announced in the Aeromodeller of late 1959 onwards of the impending publication. If I understand/guess the economics of magazine production(not that I really know) most if not all of the cost of production is paid for by the advertising. Thus, more advertising as today makes for a bigger more colourful picture ladden mag compared with the past.

Phil Green14/08/2015 10:02:58
1682 forum posts
349 photos
Posted by Cuban8 on 14/08/2015 07:33:46:

The YouTube videos of vintage radio are excellent.

Shaun has quite a few demo vids: **LINK**

John Privett14/08/2015 10:05:22
6130 forum posts
243 photos
Posted by Martin Harris on 14/08/2015 01:00:10:

I make that at least 3 ex-GPO/PO/BT employees (Phil G, Gonzo and me) on this thread so there a pattern emerging?


You can make that "at least 4".

I joined BT North Central Area (London) in 1986 1985 after 6 years in the civil service. I worked in software development for various parts of the company until I left in 2009.

Edited By John Privett on 14/08/2015 10:36:45

Phil Green14/08/2015 10:17:04
1682 forum posts
349 photos
Posted by Percy Verance on 13/08/2015 20:38:32:

I bought a set of Gem radio gear from Roland Scott's in 1972.

Awful werent they!

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