Magic Eye Orange

Tom's Cyclops Magic Eye Tube Radio

It has been many moons since I worked with Magic Eye tubes and was astonished at how much they cost these days. It may be awhile before I do it again too. In addition to that expense is the cost of the necessary transformer for the higher voltage and the heater voltage required. But they are so very entertaining and add so much to a radio.

This was begun with an old schematic called The Cyclops that can be seen on Mike Peeble’s website. I did considerable work on the project before enlisting the aid of Mr. Schmarder who immediately advised me that what I had done so far was “all wrong…completely wrong!” Wow. Stunning! But Dave quickly generated a new schematic for the circuit and I was soon off and wiring again. In this one Dave encouraged me to include a little low voltage amp available direct from China which I did. And that thing does holler! It only needs 12vdc or less and I am giving it a little over 8. The transformer is a Hammond P-T262F6 which Dave says could have run an entire covey of these sets. Who knew? A dual gang 285pf variable capacitor was used for the main tuning and had to have over 1000pf in series to bring it down closer to 365pf. A common 365pf was used for the regen control and a small 8 ohm 1.5” X 2.5” speaker makes the noise. All three knobs were hand made of tiger maple and the main tuning knob has a gaboon ebony skirt.

Another guitar side was sacrificed for this art deco adventure but it seems to have really paid off. The shape is similar to something I saw in a listing of 1930’s radios and liked a lot. Getting it bent into those compound shapes without breaking was something else again. Like a few of my recent works this set includes a glass crystal tuning dial assembly operated via bevel gears to a knob on the front panel. And, of course, the tuning pointer is of my creation too. The cabinet itself is almost a foot long with the narrow section being 4” wide and the large oval end is 6”. The set stands almost 5” tall and it appeared to me at first to be absolutely cavernous! But by the time I had crammed all the guts into it I had to devise a new coil winding form to make my 3/16” thick HoneyComb coil with and it just barely did make the scene even at that skinny size!

I use many lacquer colorants in guitar making and I decided this radio had to be blue. After the first pass of the spray gun I knew it might be a mistake and when Dave passed right out I knew it was a no-go. Off with the blue and on with the orange which really actually goes very well with the padauk crystal bevel, tube cowling and speaker grill as well as those highly polished brass screws. So orange it has remained.

Tom's Cyclops Magic Eye Tube Radio side view
Tom's Cyclops Magic Eye Tube Radio side view
Tom's Cyclops Magic Eye Tube Radio back view