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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Digging by Remote Control

I am a big fan of television...not the programming, no, the programming is like tag sale'ing, there's treasure in there somewhere, if you can find it. I am more enamored of the mechanics of TV.  How it's produced, transmitted, how it works.  My parents could always expect to find an old radio transmitter or TV on a table in my bedroom half dissected as I tried to discover what made it tick.  Junk piles would shutter as I walked by, my eyes scanning for something cool, something I could load on my wagon, or skate board, wheel home, and take apart.  I was genuinely fascinated by how things were put together, and got some thrill out of setting every screw and bolt, every wire, free.  It was the 70's and I was in a good era for electronics, only some of the components were solid state, integrated circuit boards and computer chips.  Certainly the things on the junk piles were a generation old and fell quickly to my set of tools and eager fingers.(Cue sound FX "Evil Scientist Laugh") 

So, it's should be no surprise that when I see something that represents an bygone era of technology,  I might just want to hang on to it. Which explains this:

 I found this, as I often do, in a box of assorted items.  Recognizing what it was, I couldn't toss it. I guess what I was most curious about was its age, based on style and design, and how it ran contrary to the technology. This has a photo-electric eye, which is meant to send a beam to the receiver where it would perform the desired function. I can't find anything to back this up, so it may be one of the other technologies (information I will link to later).  The next ones I found at another sale, because remote controls are like potato chips, "Betcha can't have just one!" 

So, Now I have what is more familiar to those of you that might remember these. The "Space Commander" TV remotes actually solved the problem created by the earlier "Electric Eye" models (possibly, the RCA model above, but I have no Model # markings to go by).  The problem was, that the "eye" style were so directional that it was easy to miss your target. Likely causing the remote to be sent like a missile at the TV.  The other problem was that any stray beam of light could cause the TV to respond in an undesirable fashion, "Ladies and gentlemen.... The Beatl--Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom----Ahhh! Change it back!" These space commanders used sound waves to change the channel, Volume, or power the set. Here's  a peek:

Those round things are similar to tuning forks, which when "hit" by the press of one of the buttons would make a sound similar to a "Ping". However, most Americans with their poor hearing could only describe this sound as a "click".  This is why you sometimes here the remote referred to as a clicker. Wikipedia has plenty more information, to see it PING here. One ping only mister.  Well, thanks for reading, but I have a remote chance of saving my marriage if I publish this post and go watch the Olympics with my wife.

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