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Broadcast Turntables

Postby Blue Angel » 20 Aug 2010 16:16

Hi

In the sixties and seventies, several countries such as the US, Japan, Australia and others developed some very special turntables for broadcast use. The ubiquitous Garrard 301 from England and the all-conquering SP10 from Japan comes to mind.

In South Africa during the 70's, a certain 'Doc Viljoen' designed and built this equipment for the national broadcaster the South African Broadcast Corporation or SABC.

Towards the end of the vinyl era, the SABC purchased and commissioned Technics SP10's, AT arms and Revox electronics.

By all accounts, the 'Doc Viljoen' broadcast turntables were quietly de-commissioned and stored in probably dark and dusty storerooms, deep in the bowels of the national broadcaster's regional studios.

Two of these turntables were rescued in derelict state from certain destruction at a recycler by two farsighted local VE members.

I'm sure the members themselves will in due course comment on what it took to rebuild their prized Doc Viljoen broadcast turntables.

ba

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Postby Guest » 20 Aug 2010 21:55

Hi,

I'd put those under professional transcription turntables.

Just to separate them from the turntables the 12" arms were made for,
the ones that played 15" and 18" broadcast only records, before tape
was popular, and had on one side say a repeated popular radio series.

A lot of people think nowadays 12" arms must be better otherwise
they would never have made them, the truth is they had to be 12".

rgds, sreten.
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Postby Steerpike_jhb » 20 Aug 2010 23:23

B.A: nice that you are bringing these picture to the attention of the world!

Being one of the two owners of the "Dok Viljoens", as well as a 301 and 90% of an SP10, I can confidently report that the Dok Viljoen is to the other two as a Panzer is to a Lexus, or Jaguar.

A key design feature of these is their ability to 'instant start' at the push of a button. The heavy platter can be lifted and lowered by means of a solenoid around its main bearing. On top of the platter is a light aluminium disc - bright blue, that rests in that large bezel surronding the platter when the platter is lowered. Energising the solenoid raises the already rotating platter so it picks up the stationary disc and record, bringing it immediatly to playing speed.

The "Mark 3" as shown in Blue Angel's post was made around 1975, and was the last in the series. I think these didn't compete with tape, but would have been used for music programs (the SA Top 20, Forces Favourites, Hospital Time etc.).
Also, most commercials and jingles were on 10-inch discs, so each studio had around 4 to 6 of these installed. There must be plenty of them still out there somewhere!

There is a grainy picture of an earlier (Mark 1 or mark 2) here http://www.springbokradio.com/sitebuilder/images/docviljoen-251x198.jpg
which dates back to around 1950. The earlier ones were (so I'm told by a broadcaster) two speed only - 45 and 78.

I put some photos of mine in the gallery a while back when I got here:
(These pics were taken with an SVHS video camera! I can do a bit better now)
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Postby 1200y3 » 21 Aug 2010 00:07

Who wants a 301?
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Postby Steerpike_jhb » 21 Aug 2010 00:38

Interestingly, the two parts of the bearing - i.e., the platter shaft and the motor board sleeve - are each stamped with a matching serial number. So they were no doubt machined to exacting standards an carefully matched for optimum clearance.
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Postby mysticfred » 21 Aug 2010 05:34

Often wondered which decks the Pirate radio stations used off-shore in the 60's - the rolling of the ship never seemed to affect the music 8)


.
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Postby Blue Angel » 21 Aug 2010 09:14

mysticfred wrote:Often wondered which decks the Pirate radio stations used off-shore in the 60's - the rolling of the ship never seemed to affect the music 8)


.


Didn't they only play rock 'n roll? 8)

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Postby Steerpike_jhb » 21 Aug 2010 20:08

mysticfred wrote:Often wondered which decks the Pirate radio stations used off-shore in the 60's -


"The boat that rocked" was on TV about a month ago - losely based on "Radio North Sea International". When the ship was going down & everyone was waist deep in sea-water, all I could think was "I HOPE those turntables and tape recorders are only props".

They were using Maxell tape reels with the 2 square holes - I think those were a 1980s product, so no points for historical accuracy.
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Postby Steerpike_jhb » 29 Nov 2010 00:50

I've just finished making an arm & headshell for my 'Dok Viljoen'.
So it will shortly be singing again, around 37 years after its debut.

Straight was easier than the original Grace-sourced bent tube.

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The masking tape is just to remind me where to drill what - it's not a structural feature!
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Postby fleasbaby » 30 Nov 2010 04:56

These look fantastic...glad to see good relics of the old empire still circulating :)....
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Postby flavio81 » 30 Nov 2010 15:58

Steerpike_jhb wrote:There is a grainy picture of an earlier (Mark 1 or mark 2) here http://www.springbokradio.com/sitebuilder/images/docviljoen-251x198.jpg
which dates back to around 1950.


It has a Lenco arm!! The Lenco P77, IIRC.
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Postby cafe latte » 30 Nov 2010 23:48

1200y3 wrote:Who wants a 301?

Me if you have one you don't want? :D
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Postby Whitneyville » 01 Dec 2010 06:34

I was given an old Ampex (re-badged Recovox???) 18" transcription TT and assocaited equiptment by a low-power AM station in Sand Springs, OK, when they threw four of them away...I could have gotten all four, but at 300 lbs with their bases and all the tube equiptment for "DJ-ing" them, and for broadcasting, I thought one was enough. It will record lacquers at any speed from 10 to 100 RPM, with a constant groove pitch via a "tendency" drive motor on the tonearm. It uses a constant running drive motor and a cork and felt clutch system. Depress the platter or a "cue" button and the drive disengages. Release the platter or "cue-out" on the control panel, and the clutch engages, and comes up to speed in less than 2", "back-cueing". Of course it's mono only with an Astatic cartridge/cutterhead. It's built with the subtlity of a King Tiger tank, with a very long die-cast (zinc-alloy) curved tone-arm, all in very worn "Hammertone" light bown finish. I hook it up and run 80-odd feet of balanced cable from "the board" to my receiver for transcribing 78's to other media. It lives in the corner of my garage, covered with a plastic coated tarp. It has 150 ohm output impeadence and I use a very old Electro-Voice "Low-Z to Hi-Z" inline microphone transformer, and pad-down the ouput for 100mV to my receiver (line-in). My Yahoo! browser prevents me from up-loading photos of the beast without paying them for a photo storage/sharing site, but I downloaded Mozilla last night, and it may upload photos for me. I'll try soon.
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Postby Steerpike_jhb » 24 Dec 2010 02:07

fleasbaby wrote:These look fantastic


I'm glad you like!
Having listened to it, in its skeletal state, I am so impressed with its performance (and my own DIY arm.)

More details of everything I have done to it I have put here:
http://web.eject.co.za/s8nspawn/hifi/ak/mk3/dokvilj.htm
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Postby Rap » 24 Dec 2010 10:55

flavio81 wrote:
Steerpike_jhb wrote:There is a grainy picture of an earlier (Mark 1 or mark 2) here http://www.springbokradio.com/sitebuilder/images/docviljoen-251x198.jpg
which dates back to around 1950.


It has a Lenco arm!! The Lenco P77, IIRC.


Well spotted!
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