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  • Tom Bridge

As above I guess we all wonder what happens this year, fingers crossed I guess..

I've not spent much time on the workshop this last winter or so due to creatives block (and the workshop being very cold) if there is such a thing but for the past 2 weeks I have been kerf cutting which is done to bend sheet material, or even solid timber (slightly different requiring steaming to prevent snapping).

This is my first item I have (nearly) completed. I just need to finish it, oil or whatever and then it'll be done.

I was going to make a new Retrogram but decided it was still only a prototype and not 'finished' enough for a sale-worthy item so it became my AV amplifier stand.

As you can see, it looks nice but better when i've turned it round (it's back to front) and given its surface a coat of something!

I managed to get hold of some birch ply from the Rhondda which was an absolute bargain as at the moment if you bought an 8x4 foot sheet online it may well set you back £350!! I got the equivalent, although cut into usable sheets for £50!

I was in the workshop today trying to perfect the method, which requires a very accurate tablesaw setup to do nicely. As you can see in the below example the timber is cut in regular, parallel lines but not all the way through, thus allowing you to bend the timber, the 2 ply's that remain, into a curve.

This timber is solid ash and the strips are again mahogany.

Normally this is curved the other way so that the 'cuts' are on the inside (and quite often hidden from view) but I thought 'why do I not show the method and make it a feature'? So thats what I'm doing.

After slicing the sheet I then cut small angled wedge-strips and glue them into place, making a firm bend. I do this with a contrasting timber, mahogany in this instance then sanding and finishing. This almost looks then like many small dovetails and I think is an attractive look.

The accuracy of these angled strips is essential so that the 'end view' leaves no gaps. It can be most frustrating setting up my saw to repeat-cut strips. I worked out that for this AV unit I needed wedges cut at 80.2 degrees, on both sides in order to fill the gap...

I digress and will stop whittering away about the technical details of kerf cutting.

Today I've got through many peices of birch ply experimenting with the accuracy I can get and therefore had loads of breakages along the way...

When I get a 'snap' I bit my tongue and start again, no point winging about it, the damage is done! Just try and figure out why it happened and start again!

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  • Tom Bridge

Well, thats another month gone by and I've been slowly getting to grips with whats involved in mixing wood working and electronics..

I've been testing 3 different amplifiers to see which one is best for my systems and I may be at the end of my quest...except...I have a new amplifier to trial turning up tomorrow...and this may well be the one to use from now on.

The newest amplifier has built-in WiFi (as well as Bluetooth) which will enable people to play via Airplay on their iPhones. Not being part of the (slavery) of the Apple ecosystem (I'd happily leave it out), but it's not about me! So the Airplay will stay and I'm sure will become a selling point for all the orchard dwellers out there..The amplifiers will also have a dedicated remote and app for control from your device :)

For all users it will have spotify connect capability which means that if you have a Spotify account (free or not although I've still to confirm that it works with a 'free' account) you can 'send' your tunes from your device/pc/phone etc to the radiogram and it will play it for you.

Unlike bluetooth which is tethered from your phone meaning if your phone rings, so will the unit, using spotify connect stops that happening. You can leave the house and it keeps playing !

Likewise if you are in the car using spotify, you can elect to send the sounds to another of your devices, i.e. your Radiogram at home, even if you're not there!! Anyway I digress again (yes it happens).

Aparently this new amplifier wil also work with DLNA and UPnP protocols which I think means you can play music from any compatible pc, not sure about macs obvs...

Other online streams included are here (apparently Amazon music only in available in the US)

Its worth stating that for the speakers I am not buying new, I am recycling preloved units, hifi speakers for my builds. This is a great green option and speaker design is another massive learning curve and something that I do not have time for just now.

I source these 'donor' speakers from various places including Facebook marketplace, gumtree, ebay and others and thoroughly test before I install them. I am constantly on the hunt for qood quality speakers and have aquired some great pairs recently.

Well thats about enough of a technical blog for this month so next month I'll be less 'wires' !!

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Well, I know many of you wont have heard of a radiogram or stereogram so for those of you that haven't, let me educate you.

We had a (family?) Radiogram when I was a kid. It was a big box about 4foot 6 long, 2 foot tall and 18 inches deep and it played music. I have tried to find images of the particular version we had but had no success as yet, think it was a Fergusson..I digress..It had a built in Radio tuner, FM, LW and MW (Frequency modulation, Long wave and Medium wave) all there was available in those 1970's days, it also had a built in record player with 33 & 1/3 , 45 and 78 RPM speeds! (the 78rpm is

unheard of nowadays). It's best feature was a reel to reel take deck that was attached to a sliding shelf that slid out the unit when it was user, fantastic it was !!

It was something like this.

I have always loved tinkering with all things electronic. I remember taking apart my sisters record deck when I must've been 10 ish and shorting out the mains input supply, giving myself a real shock and melting the case in the process! That was the start I needed I guess. I have continued, through my whole life this far tinkering with 'wires and gadgets', even becoming an electrician for 15 years.

Thats the backstory to this anyway.

I want to make, and indeed am on my second version already, a modern take on the radiogram. A modern 'sound box' if you will, that can provide a really decent quality music with enough volume to fill a room for whatever reason you wish, party, movie or just cooking whilst dancing. I will use, as far as I can reclaimed and pre-loved speakers that I will source from various marketplaces and build a bespoke wooden unit to fit them. I will then provide a Class D stereo amplifier capable of making a great sound!

The amplifiers I will provide will have the facility of integrating bluetooth, wifi, airplay etc so you'll be able to integrate whatever platform you use be it Spotify, Tunein, amazon music etc. I will also be able to integrate a wireless charger for your phone and backlighting if you wish. You'll be able to integrate your Google Home or Amazon Alexa if you require.

My first version is still awiating its new amplifier and assoiciated gubbins and will be suitably shot and entered onto a new 'Modern day Radiograms' page on my website when completed. Until then here is a sneak preview.

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