Dynatron Radio
October 25, 2017 5:45 AM   Subscribe

The beautiful radios of the Dynatron company, founded in 1927 by the Hacker brothers, are preserved at the Dynatron Museum
posted by clawsoon (19 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Dynatron.... that sounds so futuristic!
posted by chavenet at 6:13 AM on October 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

The Dynatron Hackers sounds like it should be a team dedicated to something rather different than this. But those radios are indeed beautiful - absolutely love the sort of art deco feel of a lot of them (the '33 Ambassador 32A especially - gorgeous), really wish that kind of design language was still in vogue.

Also cool how well this goes with this recent post!
posted by Dysk at 6:19 AM on October 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

That's a really cool logo. Pre-Adobe graphic design.
posted by Bee'sWing at 6:20 AM on October 25, 2017

Pretty on the outside, yes, but I want to see more of what's on the inside.

posted by rlk at 6:26 AM on October 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ok, this is really cool and all, and I know this is just my stupid brain running out-of-control, but, when I first glanced at the 1930's models (primarily '35, 36, and '37), I kept seeing very subtle swastikas in the design of the front trim of some of the models.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:30 AM on October 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


They're British, so it should be "vaaaaaaalves" instead.
posted by Dysk at 6:31 AM on October 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

Dysk: Also cool how well this goes with this recent post!

darkstar's comment in that thread got me googling, and what should I stumble upon but this.
posted by clawsoon at 6:32 AM on October 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

The model names are as pretty as the radios.

The Hacker brothers Ron and Arthur were self taught, with no professional training. Their avid reading of technical information made them experts in the radio field.

I enjoy any story that starts this way. I firmly believe a person can make anything if they have the time, patience, and resources - which I do realize are not always low hurdles. It's so great when people decide they are going to learn to make a thing and then make it. When they are as successful as this it's an inspiration.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 6:45 AM on October 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

The model names are as pretty as the radios.

Tag yourself- I'm Ether Marquis. Or maybe All Wave Matador.

very subtle swastikas

I note there are no photos of the 1936 Dynatron Dictator. Unsurprisingly, they didn't reuse that model name.
posted by zamboni at 6:53 AM on October 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Dynatron Hackers: Best prog-metal band name.

Ether Knight, All Wave Toreador, Ether Prince: epic album trilogy
posted by ardgedee at 7:00 AM on October 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

All Wave Toreador is my favorite Stereolab album.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:08 AM on October 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Ether Knight, All Wave Toreador, Ether Prince: epic album trilogy

Yeah but then they pushed the release of Albatross too quickly at the label's insistence and that was the last we heard from them until their reunion tour in 2013 which gave us the questionably named, but surprisingly good Ether Minstrel double live release.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 7:08 AM on October 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm a huge fan of the aesthetic when they stopped referencing older furniture tropes and went all modern. Woody, but modern. My collection at home is mostly German, because the later period of German shortwave design is my inner aesthetic turned into furniture, but these are fantastic.
posted by sonascope at 7:09 AM on October 25, 2017

The art deco fretwork of early radios could be problematic - another British company, Pye, had a very distinctive sunburst design pre-war, which was reworked in various guises. When domestic radio production restarted after the war, the company updated its look but kept continuity - however, it was too close to the Japanese flag for comfort, and reputedly there was such an outcry from returning servicemen that models were withdrawn from sale and destroyed. This has made some models very rare and collectible - although some dispute the story and say the radios were just rubbish and had to be taken off the shelves because they didn't work well enough.

(On a similar theme, check out the ticket hall of Upminster Bridge tube station...)

Hacker continued after the war as a brand through the transistor era, and there are plenty of collectors for the later radios, which are also highly regarded for their solid, if uninspired aesthetic.

My personal favourite post-war Hacker, though, is the Hacker Mayflower. which came in two models - the RV14 and the later Mayflower II RV20. The earlier one is more rounded and has more veneer on the front, and looks a lot nicer; both have the rather nice front with no controls (they're all recessed on the sides), and sound terrific with a pair of EL84s in push-pull to a decent-sized speaker and an incredibly flat response. The RV14 high-gloss veneer case was produced by Schneider, whose founder, Chaim Schneider, was a genius Jewish emigre from Poland who'd been involved in developing innovative techniques for the wooden Mosquito fighter-bomber during the war and who went on to invent the fitted kitchen.

(The French weren't quite so restrained...)
posted by Devonian at 7:41 AM on October 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Well, another time travel thread. They show up with no apparent expertise, and as teens start this company, along with lingo, and their last name is hacker. But OK, no time travel, just beautiful goods, of a kind no longer available.
posted by Oyéah at 9:36 AM on October 25, 2017

Oyéah: just beautiful goods, of a kind no longer available.

It's odd to think that the beautiful wood cases were probably the cheaper part of the build, and the electronics inside were the expensive bits. How things have changed.
posted by clawsoon at 11:43 AM on October 25, 2017

Wow, that design aesthetic is so retro-cool. Could it be...
<meta name="GENERATOR" content="Microsoft FrontPage 4.0">
...oh hell yes!

I worked on FrontPage back in the day. #yourewelcome
posted by The Tensor at 11:49 AM on October 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

I tell you, as a long-time appreciator of old wireless (a kariometalinomechanologist, a classicist suggested) that these days, there is absolutely nothing stopping anyone with quite reasonable levels of competence, from designing some truly spiffing radio casework. . And some amazing radios - you can do unimaginable things with cheap SDR tech, but it's entirely limited to people who are happy with very technical stuff. A lot of radios between the 30s and the 60s had three knobs and tuning scales with three or four or five wavebands labelled with the names of local and international radio stations. You could see at a glance everything that was available, time of day and conditions permitting.

These days, the radio can know about the time of day and conditions, as well as where all the analogue and digital radio stations are, what ships and aircraft are in range and where, what satellites are visible and what they're doing, all the data stuff that's floating around... tie that to a beautiful UI and a crazy-graceful case design, and who wouldn't want to spend a couple of hours on a regular basis just exploring?

That spirit of early radio could be revived, even in - especially in - this internet age. Not everything needs to live in a smartphone. Other experiences are available.
posted by Devonian at 1:01 PM on October 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

As a kid, I was an avid collector of old magazines of the Popular Electronics, Mechanix Illustrated, and similar variety, and one of my favorite quirks of those old 1950s magazines were the advertisers that would sell you a TV or radio complete chassis so that you could build your own case or build fantastic mid-century in-wall installations. My next Raspberry Pi is getting a nice hand built wooden case instead of just dangling on wires, and I love the notion of being able to work from old aesthetics like these.
posted by sonascope at 6:45 AM on October 26, 2017

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