“LISTEN AS YOU DRIVE”
IMPRESSIONS OF PHILCO CAR RADIO.
THOUGH Wireless sets are being installed in increasing numbers on English cars, they are still not nearly so popular as they are in America. Apart from our conservatism towards anything new, there is the understandable doubt as to whether the set will receive any but the local station, whether the quality is up to the standard of indoor sets and finally, whether the set would prove distracting to the driver as he makes his way along the roads with their ever-growing volume of traffic. The writer takes both his motoring and his radio seriously, that is to say, concen
trates entirely on the road when driving fast, charm his passenger never so sweetly, while in the study he regards the loudspeaker with steadfast gaze and firm-set chin, determined that none Of the music whether serious or light shall escape him. It will be appreciated therefore, that he was by no Means biased in favour of car-radio when the test began. The set tested was installed in a ” 105 ” Talbot car fitted with a drop-head coupe body, and the trial began in the centre of London. Fearing possible distraction in the thick of the traffic, ” Philco ” was not switched on until the quieter neighbourhood of Kensington was reached. At first it was found that one’s attention tended to wander a little and traffic lights were missed. but this was overcome by turning down the volume control, which suited very well the Eddie Pola programme then being broadcast on the National wavelength. By the time the Great West Road was reached we were shaking the hips to the rhythm of a Cuban rumba, which fortunately did not seem to affect the steering, and had conceived the brilliant idea, not yet available on any car-radio, of a gramophone turntable and pick-up, furnished, perhaps, with some recordings by a regimental sergeantmajor suitable for putting on when addressing drivers who hug the crown of
the road and refuse to give way, and a collection of triumphal marches and American college cheers, to be used when a hated rival had been overtaken. We ye re , however, brought back to the serious business of the evening by the announcement of a Classical Concert. Fortunately this was not too heavy and proved as enjoyable as the foregoing item, a Vaughan] Williams Concerto coming over particularly well. The steering wheel of a sports car is not, of course, the place to wrestle with Mahler, n3r to wonder how Bartok manages to think of such peculiar noises !
It was now 930 and nearly sunset, and ve therefore stopped the car near Maidenhead in order to log the stations which could be received. 20 stations of definite programme value were identified. Seven of these were British, namely London and Northern National, and London. Midland, Western, Northern and Scottish Regionals. London Regional, of course, gave the best results, with Midland equally enjoyable with the volume control turned up a little more. From France the bag was Feciimp, Lyons and Lyon, Poste Parisien and Strasbourg and the Paris station was actually louder than London National. Germany gave us Cologne, Frankfort, Leipzig and Munich : Belgium. Brussels : Italy, Milan and Rome, which was particularly good, and Switzerland, Berominster. Finally, at the top of the scale vere Athlone and Vienna, particularly interesting as the test was made two days after the seizure of the broadcasting station, and the assassination of Dr. Dollfuss. Whatever the personal feelings of the actors, they sounded perfectly happy and natural in their sketch of a picnic in the Vienna Woods. This list of stations leaves no doubt as to the power of the Philco, and the controls are so simple that even the least skilled operator could repeat the results given above. A small control panel is clipped
to the steering column or in any other position within easy reach. It carries two knobs one of which rotates a dial graduated in kilocycles, and the other acts as on-and-off switch, and then with further rotation as a yi)ltime control, also switching on indirect lighting for the dial. The station control seemed a little stiff towards the top end of the scale, probably due to the fact that the owner generally confines himself to the two London stations, but the markings on the dials everywhere agreed closely with the frequency of the stations.
The set gave first class reproduction of the high and medium frequencies, with some falling-off in the bass. Such an arrangement is to be preferred to one giving bass response through spurious resonances, allowing as it does clear speech and good quality for all instruments, except the double-bass violin and the kettledrum, refinements which in any case would not be heard against the lowpitched hums which are made by a car On the move.
Car radio would scarcely be possible without automatic vol nine control to counteract the attenuation caused by bridges and high buildings, and only on one occasion, when passing under Taplow railway-bridge, did the volume drop noticeably. In the centre of London, of course, the high buildings caused an allround reduction in volume, countered simply by slight rotation of the. volume control. Suppressors fitted to the car electrical system have eliminated any interference from this source, though one hears crackles of short duration when passing neon signs or moving close alongside another car. Except when working all-Out the set is free from background noises, and the twenty stations mentioned above were without any interference of this kind.
The next point to be determined was the special bearing of car-radio on the sports car and its driver. We found that up to 50 mph., speech and music could be heard and appreciated quite clearly, but that above that speed the sound of the wind past the car tended to drown the music. Increasing the volume of the signals was unsatisfactory, for the last valve was obviously being overloaded, and began to distort, while the effect of such a loud signal was definitely distracting at speed. We therefore switched off the set and enjoyed half an hour’s fast driving, which was particularly pleasing behind the quiet-running engine and powerful headlights of the Talbot ” 105.” The evening’s experiences had shown us that though a wireless set was no benefit when a car is driven fast, for one needs to be all on the alert when matching one’s skill against a difficult road and sudden emergencies, it can be a most agreeable companion on long journeys undertaken over familiar roads where the car is humming along quietly at round the ” 50″ mark. On the return trip to London we kept the car bowling along at this speed, and with Harry Roy and his Band pounding out a cheerful beat, the fatigue of a long day’s work was forgotten
in the swing of the dance music. We ended up by trumpeting ” Tiger Rag” under the nose of a very lordly chauffeur who was held up with us by the Piccadilly traffic lights, and were appropriately played into the _garage by the midnight chimes of Big. Ben, quite satisfied that here was a first-class way of “banishing the blues” of long journeys on the road.
Some 30. members attended the first annual General Meeting of the Club at Hindhead, on Saturday, 23rd June, when Mr. C. E. Hart took the chair at 8.30 p.m.
A matter for congratulation was the favourable balance in hand at the end of the first year’s working, and it was decided to make therefrom a donation to charity. It is hoped to make a more generous distribution Of -prizes for events in the future, but the extent to which this will be possible will be dictated by the number of entries. The officers Of the Club (Lieut.-Commander C. H. J. Purkis, Hon. General Secretary and Treasurer ; A. P. Squire, Hon. Organising Secretary) were unanimously re-elected, and the constitution of the Committee will remain unchanged. The following dates were scheduled as The set tested had been in use for a year, and during this time had been installed in four cars, while the running costs were confined to replacing one valve. A six-valve superheterodyne circuit is used with L.T. from the car lighting system and H.T. from the same source through a convertor, the total consumption being about 5 amps. The total cost including
fixtures for the next 12 months, the nature of the events being left to the Committee : September 22nd, November 17th, January 5th or 12th, April 13th, and June 22nd.
At the conclusion of the meeting a ” Surprise Packet” mystery run, in which about 24 cars participated, followed a trail through 50 miles of Surrey and Sussex, to the unfortunate accompaniment of a violent thunderstorm, which, unpleasant as it was, could not spoil enjoyment of the various ” Surprises” arranged en route by Messrs. R. Moon, G. S. West and F. N. Wood, the organising sub-committee. By 1.30 a.m. all the entrants had arrived at the rendezvous between Holmbury St. Mary and Peaslake where a short informal hill-climb was staged to decide the award of the Fuller Trophy.
fitting, is sixteen guineas.
On open cars, as on the coupe tested, the aerial wire is sewn into the hood, and reception is not affected by its being folded down. The installation was made by Messrs. Pass and Joyce, of Hanover Square, London, W.1, who also supplied the car with its handsome and luxuriously upholstered drop-head coupe body. It fell to A. P. Squire (M.G. Midget J.2) who occupied the 200 yards for 22 seconds only, the runners-up being E. A. Streeter (Hillman Minx) whose time was 24i
• seconds, and R. J. Hughes (Morris Minor) 25 seconds.
When all the participants were assembled there was a brief, but .exciting hunt for a Treasure concealed on the precipitous slope bounding the lane and quarry where the cars were parked. W. Hancock proved the finder and was rewarded with cigarettes and chocolate.
A moonlight picnic should have brought the proceedings to a close, but weather conditions were so distressing that after a modicum of refreshment there was a general move for home.