Sinclair

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#1
Sir ("uncle") Clive Sinclair "created":

fm radio, micromatic (radio), project 60 project 80 ic6 ic12 (audio), black (wrist)watch, executive oxford cambridge (calculators), mictovision (tv), zx80, zx81, spectrum, ql, tvpc newbrain (computers), in ear radio, c5, zike ......

(this list isn't exhaustive, I've missed some things out, and probably don't know about others!).

The "hi tech style" adverts for these things appeared in electronics magazines, national newspapers, sunday supplements, etc.

Most successful was the Spectrum, which sold in millions, at one point demand hugely exceeded supply, and "please wait 28 days for delivery" became a national joke!

So, "Sinclair memories", anyone?

(to see some of these things, go www.nvg.ntnu.no/sinclair/ ).
 

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#2
relevant to this forum, the pillow case satellite dish

and while Im not mocking Mr Sinclair ( he obviously is a marketing genius, even bringing out a flat dish in 1988), the marshmallow design was pig ugly, inefficient and worse to put up than other dishes of the time.
 
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#3
Wow, I'd forgotten all about that, but your mentioning it stirs faint memories!

Any pics/links ?
 

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#4
spiney said:
Wow, I'd forgotten all about that, but your mentioning it stirs faint memories!

Any pics/links ?
Thankfully, no. But Ill have a look round for any promo material
 
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#5
The thing about Sinclair stuff is, none of it worked as advertised (that's safe to say!), but much of it "worked" most of the time, providing you were careful!

I've still got a working Project 60, with Z30 amplifiers (advertised as 30 Watts RMS 0.003% THD, actually 10 and 0.1!). They're easy to "pop", and I've replaced the output trannies several times (so I don't switch it on often!).

Pre-amp originally used "trimmer pots" as main controls, which became noisy after a few weeks, and had to be replaced with "real" pots.

Best of all is the tuner, using phase lock demodulation, which as Uncle Clive correctly said, was used in receiving signals from spacecraft (unfortunately, he didn't include a cryogenic maser amplifier with his tuner!). Walking across the room often makes the tuner change channels (these were the early days of phaselock, done entirely with discrete components). Sometimes, just pointing at it is enough, a quite eerie effect (any more sensitive, and it would pick up brainwaves!).
 

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#6
spiney said:
Walking across the room often makes the tuner change channels (these were the early days of phaselock, done entirely with discrete components). Sometimes, just pointing at it is enough, a quite eerie effect (any more sensitive, and it would pick up brainwaves!).

Sounds like one of those "theramin" electronic instruments which you play by waving your arms about in front of it.
 
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#7
yeah, the Theremin, now there's a nice piece of retro tech!

(see http://www.oddmusic.com/theremin/ ).

I don't think that's quite what Uncle Clive intended, though.
 
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#8
I don't have a Theremin, but I do still have an early Stylophone!

(See www.stylophone.com) .

Very "Sinclair" (ie, max concept and min content!), except that it was actually quite robust, and didn't start falling to bits after a month.

This gadget was a work of genius. Just a 2 transistor multivibrator (hence minimal battery drain), with the time constant resistors selected by a stylus running over a printed "keyboard". The rest was marketing. Brilliant.
 

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#9
and Rolf Harris

Another genius
 
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#10
Yep, I don't know why they particularly chose Rolf Harris, to sell the things, but it seemed to work. Maybe his "extra leg" did the trick?
 

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#11
I've just spotted this on eBay (it's an old listing - so no bidding!) - hxxp://cgi.ebay.co.uk/RARE-COLLECTABLE-CAMBRIDGE-SKY-BSB-SATELLITE-AERIAL_W0QQitemZ5870325914QQcategoryZ29783QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

A local Chinese takeaway used to have one of these and I always wondered what exactly it was picking up (and how!*).

*I'm guessing it's similar to flat plate antenna technology but it's not flat!
 
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#12
Cripes, haven't heard Sir Clive's name for a while.
Remember the days of my ZX81 and the encyclopedia, sorry instruction book that came with it.
I've still got my Sinclair LED digital watch and it works perfectly.
The guy was definitely a genius if a bit eccentric.
Without people like him, the world would have been a duller place.:)
 

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#13
Skip Channel said:
*I'm guessing it's similar to flat plate antenna technology but it's not flat!
From (failing) memory, it was a parabolic reflector, with a transparent cover.
 

Skip Channel

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#14
I wonder where the LNB is! Is it an LNB in the "traditional" sense? There;d have to be a very small feed arm or am I missing something?
 
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#15

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#16
Beleive it ot not, ive still got a ZX81, ZX Spectrum 48k (rubber keyboard one) and a Spectrum +3 too all boxed and in perfect working order in the loft

on top of that there is loads... and i mean loads of sofware for them all, mostly games.

strange thing is, the spectrum was still going very strong until it was bought by Amstrad and owner Alan Sugar.
For someone who braggs on TV about being such a good business man, he couldnt keep a good ship afloat :(

i had a few mates round one friday night a few months ago, and i got the 48k speccy out and set it up on the 42" TV lol
was hilarious.. Jet Pack, Manic miner and Jet set willy, Skool daze, Pajamarama.... and as for match of the day ahahhaah.

when i eventually turned it off and put the Xbox on WOW!!!! just shows how far we have come :)
 
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#17
Yep, the Spectrum is still going strong (all that free software!), there's lots at : www.worldofspectrum.org/ Masses of stuff here, software, circuits info, old magazines online, etc ....

If you haven't actually got a Spectrum, then there's emulators for it on other computers.

I built one of the first ZX80 kits, and it worked 1st time (at "£99.99 plus postage", it was the cheapest way to get a working Z80 microprocessor, otherwise the "professional evaulation" kits costed £500+ ..... ).

Hmmmm ... how many other people still have a working Micromatic they built themselves?

see: http://hometown.aol.co.uk/peteroberts007/microradio/micro.htm .

also: www.nvg.ntnu.no/sinclair/audio/micromatic.htm .

It worked very well! Regenerative receivers are very sensitive, not every radio/tv has to be a superhet ....... !
 
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#18
...... a bit more about the Micromatic.

The just above link

(again: http://hometown.aol.co.uk/peteroberts007/microradio/micro.htm )

suggests it wasn't very sensitve. Not true!

If you look at the picture of it with back removed (great pics!), the black round component exactly in the middle is an inductor. You were supposed to bend this downwards - with your thumb - closer to the transistor, until howlround occurred on the strongest received signal, then "back off" slightly, which was the condition for max regenerative feedback and highest sensitivity. But, I suppose people who bought the ready made one wouldn't have known about that!

With such howlround, you were actually transmitting on the AM MW band, somewhat illegal!

The Micromatic's worst feature was using a trimmer as the tuning capacitor. This made the small size possible, but trimmer caps aren't supposed to be constantly adjusted, hence are fragile, and with much use the copper strip tended to snap off. I resoldered mine back on, several times, and eventually replaced the entire cap.

If you look at 2 Micromatic "clones" (ie, ripoffs!):

http://hometown.aol.co.uk/peteroberts007/microradio/microindex.htm .

it's noticable that the trimmer has been replaced by a "real" tuning capacitor. With good reason!

(the other tiny radios shown are more complicated, and may perform better, but don't retain the Micromatic's elegant simplicity).

Added: Sinclair was famous for cutting costs, often at expense of reliability! The project 60 pre-amp used entirely trimmers - instead of real potentiometers - which were "open", and very quickly became dirty and noisy. After a while, just changing the volume might possibly blow the power amp output trannies or damage a speaker! On mine, I replaced all the trimpots with proper ones.

Those 'orrible trimmer type pots easily visible in this picture:

www.nvg.ntnu.no/sinclair/audio/gallery/project60_range.jpg .
 
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#19
The general problem being, Uncle Clive was (and is!) undeniably eccentric, which tends to polarise opinions, so he gets classified either as a genius or an idiot.

After making lots of stuff for years in a sort-of smallish way, he suddenly hit the big time with The Spectrum, achieved instant fame, then very suddenly fell out of favour.

People who talk about Sir Clive often say something like: "how can somebody come up with all these ingenious designs, then always compromise them by saving a few pence with cheap components?"

I think that's a misunderstanding. Sir Clive is - perhaps - best characterised as a "great showman", who knows his audience very well indeed. His products were all "gadgets", being designed at a certain price, using clever advertising and a "high-tech" appearence (brushed aluminium panels, with the "Sinclair" logo), aimed at a specific group of purchasers.

For a "fairly balanced" view, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinclair_Research .
 
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#20
...... from the Micromatic, back to trf regenerative receivers in general (I'm in "rambling on forever" mode now!).

Here's the famous 1 valve HAC receiver, I can remember kits still being sold in the early 1970s. Note the reaction control .....

www.vintageradio.me.uk/radconnav/valvetrf/hackit0158/page1.jpg (copyright material!).
 
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