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Gizmos A - Z

Accoson Sphygmomanometer

Acoustic Coupler

Advance PP5 Stabilised PSU

Aibo ERS-111 Robotic Pet

Aiwa LX-110 Linear Turntable

Aiwa TP-32A Tape Recorder

Alcatel Minitel 1 Videotex

Aldis Folding Slide Viewer

Alpha-Tek Pocket Radio

Airlite 71 Aviation Headset

AKG K290 Surround 'Phones

Amerex Alpha One Spycorder

Amstrad NC100 Notepad

AN/PRC-6 Walkie Talkie

Astatic D-104 Desk Microphone

Apple Macintosh SE FDHD

Avia Electronic Watch

Aitron Wrist Radio

Aiwa TP-60R Tape Recorder

Amstrad CPC 464 Computer

AlphaTantel Prestel

Atari 2600 Video Game

Atari 600XL Home Computer

Audiotronic LSH 80 'Phones

AVO Multiminor

AVO Model 8 Multimeter

Bambino Challenger Radio

Bandai Solar LCD Game

Baygen Freeplay Lantern

Bellwood, Bond Spycorder

Benkson 79 Mini Tape Recorder

Betacom BF1 Pianotel Phone

Binatone Digivox Alarm

Binatone Long Ranger 6 CB

Binatone Mk6 Video Game

Bio Activity Translator

Biri-1 Radiation Monitor

Bowmar LED Digital Watch

Boots CRTV-50 TV,Tape, Radio

Brydex Ever Ready Lighter

BSB Squarial

BT Genie Phone

`BT Rhapsody Leather Phone

Cambridge Z88 Computer

Candlestick Telephone

Canon Ion RC-260 Camera

Cartex TX-160 Multiband Radio

Casio VL-Tone Keyboard

CD V-700 Geiger Counter

CD V-715 Survey Meter

CDV-717 Survey Meter

CD V-742 Pen Dosimeter

Channel Master 6546

Chinon 722-P Super 8 Cine

Citizen Soundwich Radio Watch

Citizen ST555 Pocket TV

Clairtone Mini Hi Fi Radio

CocaCola Keychain Camera

Coke Bottle AM Radio

Commodore 64 Home PC

Commodore PET 2001-N

Computer Novelty AM/FM Radio

Compact Marine SX-25

Concord F20 Sound Camera

Coomber 2241-7 CD Cassette

Craig 212 Tape Recorder

Craig TR-408 tape recorder

Dansette Richmond Radio

Daiya TV-X Junior  Viewer

Dancing Coke Can

Dawe Transistor Stroboflash

Diamond Rio Media Player

Dictograph Desk Phone

Direct Line Phones x2

Dokorder PR-4K Mini Tape

Eagle Ti.206 Intercom

Eagle T1-206 Intercom

Eagle International Loudhailer

Electrolysis Cell

Electron 52D Spycorder

Electronicraft Project Kit

Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart Radio

EMS Stammering Oscillator

Ericsson Ericofon Cobra Phone

Etalon Luxor Light Meter

Euromarine Radiofix Mk 5

Exactus Mini Add Calculator

Fairylight Morse Set

FEP Microphone & Earphone

Ferguson FC08 Camcorder

Ferguson FHSC 1 Door Cam

Fi-Cord 101 Tape Recorder

Fi-Cord 202 Tape Recorder

Fidelity HF42 Record Player

Fisher-Price 826 Cassette

Fleetwood Globe AM Radio

Franklin LF-390 Guitar Radio

Gaertner Pioneer Geiger Counter

GE 3-5805 AM CB Radio

GEC Transistomatic

GEC Voltmeter

General Radiological NE 029-02

Giant Light Bulbs

Giant Watch-Shaped  Radio

Gowlland Auriscope

GPO Headset No. 1

GPO Keysender No 5

GPO RAF Microphone No. 3

GPO Telephone Series 300

GPO Telephone Type 746

GPO 12B/1 Test Meter

GPO Trimphone

GPO Ring Microphone No 2

Gramdeck Tape Recorder

Grandstand Video Console

Grundig EN3 Dictation

Grundig Memorette

H&G Crystal Radio

Hacker Radio Hunter RP38A

Hacker Radio Mini Herald

Hanimex Disc Camera

Harvard Batalion Radio

Henica H-138 Radio Lighter

Hero HP-101 Intercom

Hitachi MP-EG-1A Camcorder

Hitachi WH-638 Radio

Hitachi VM-C1 Camcorder

HMV 2210 Tape Recorder

Homey HR-408 Recorder

Horstmann Pluslite Task Lamp

Ianero Polaris Spotlight

Ingersoll XK505 TV, Radio

International HP-1000 Radio

Internet Radio S-11

James Bond TV Watch

Jasa AM Wristwatch Radio

Juliette LT-44 Tape Recorder

Jupiter FC60 Radio

JVC GR-C1 Camcorder

JVC GX-N7E Video Camera



King Folding Binoculars

Kodak Brownie Starflash

Kodak 56X Instamatic

Kodak 100 Instamatic

Kodak EK2 'The Handle'

Kodak EK160 Instant Camera

Kodak Pony 135

Kvarts DRSB-01 Dosimeter

Kvarts DRSB-88 Dosimeter

Kvarts DRSB-90 Geiger Count

Kyoto S600 8-Track Player

Magnetic Core Memory 4kb

Maplin YU-13 Video Stabilizer

Marlboro Giant  AM Radio

Mattel Intellivision

Maxcom Cordless Phone

McArthur Microscope OU

Memo Call Tape Recorder

Micronta 22-195A Multimeter

Micronta 3001 Metal Detector

Microphax Case II Fiche

Midland 12-204 Tape Rccorder

Mini Com Walkie Talkies

Minolta 10P 16mm Camera

Minolta-16 II Sub Min Camera

Minolta XG-SE 35mm SLR

Minolta Weathermatic-A

Minox B Spy Camera

Mohawk Chief Tape Recorder

Motorola 5000X Bag Phone

Motorola 8500X ‘Brick’

Motorola Micro TAC Classic

MPMan MP-F20 MP3 Player

Music Man Talking Radio

Mystery Microphone

Nagra SN Tape Recorder

National Hyper BII Flashgun

National RQ-115 Recorder

NatWest 24 Hour Cashcard


Widget Of The Week

Smiths SR/D366 Automotive Instrument Tester, 1965?

These days when something goes wrong with your car’s engine or electrics one of the first tools most mechanics reach for is not a spanner or screwdriver, but an electronic box of tricks called an OBD scanner. OBD or On Board Diagnostics was developed in the early 90s and since then it has become an internationally agreed standard, adopted by virtually all major car manufacturers. It uses the vehicle’s computer or engine management system to log and report on faults and changes in performance. On most cars you will find a 16-pin OBD connector mounted close to the steering wheel, under or behind the dashboard.


These days with OBD scanners and code readers readily available on the web for under £20, just about anyone can play at being a car mechanic. Whilst a lot of the information they display will be meaningless to most people, there are plenty of websites that can help to decode and interpret fault codes. OBD scanners can’t necessarily fix faults, but knowledge is power and having advance warning of problems can save motorists a few bob on costly garage bills. 


Back in the BODs before OBDs (bad old days, before on-board diagnostics…), fault-finding was largely down to the knowledge and experience of skilled mechanics. However, in the 1960s there were stirrings of what was to come, in the shape of devices like this Smiths SR/D366 Automotive Electrical Instrument Tester. Obviously it is nowhere near as sophisticated as a modern OBD reader and as the name suggests it is mainly designed to test car instruments, but it was part of a growing trend in the automotive industry towards taking the guesswork out of fault detection and diagnosis.


The SR/D366’s basic test functions are for fuel and temperature gauges but as part of that, and before the checks are carried out, it can also be used to assess battery voltage and voltage stabiliser operation. It’s designed to work with the most common types of gauges manufactured by Smiths, and other companies. According to the instruction label inside the lid these include fuel gauges that use ‘Bi-metal’ or ‘Segment’ senders, and temperature gauges with ‘Thermal Segment’, ‘Semiconductor’ or ‘Bi-Metal’ sensors. The instruments under test are identified by code prefixes, and these are selected using the rotary switch on the right side of the top panel. The tester connects to the instrument or wiring using a pair of leads, terminated in crocodile clips. The operation of the instrument is then shown on the small meter, which appears to be based on the distinctive ‘quadrant’ family of gauges made by Smiths and fitted to many British cars built in 60s.


Under the bonnet, as it were, it is really simple and not too dissimilar to a regular multimeter. The circuit consists of a meter connected, via the selector switch, to a bank of 15 precision wire wound resistors. The instruction sheet is very easy to follow with advice on how to tell if the problem lies with the instrument under test, the wiring or the car’s voltage stabiliser. This is a really well made piece of kit, from Smiths Motor Accessory Division’s Service Department, located at 50 Oxgate Lane in London. It is housed in a smart little plywood box that is quite capable of standing up to the sort of rough treatment it would be expected to receive in a typical garage workshop.   


A large boot sale in Sussex was where I found this one. The stallholder started the haggling process at £5.00 and moments later a mutually acceptable £3.00 changed hands. It seems like an absolute bargain now, but at the time it was a bit of a gamble as the box and its fittings all looked a bit rough and there was no way of knowing if it worked or not. Luckily getting it into a presentable condition wasn’t too difficult, though it did entail a complete strip down, sanding the case and bringing the tired wood back to life with liberal applications of good quality wax polish. There was an accumulation of grime on the inside of the meter so this had to be taken apart, which again wasn’t too difficult. The meter uses a bimetal strip instead of a more common moving coil or moving magnet movement. When the strip is heated, by a current passing through a small coil wound around it, it flexes and a simple lever arrangement connects it to the needle. The pointer moves very slowly, and is unaffected by vibration, which is why it was the meter technology of choice for instruments like fuel gauges that would otherwise be jumping around every time the vehicle goes around a corner, or over a speed hump. The meter on this one was in good shape and the needle moved when connected to a bench power supply. There’s not much that can go wrong with a bunch of resistors and a rotary switch so it is safe to assume that it’s still in working order, but until I acquire a British made car from the 1960’s fitted with Smith’s instruments that will have to be taken as read.  


By the way, the manufacturing date of 1965 is only a semi-educated guess. There’s nothing about the SR/D366 in the history section of the Smith’s website, or indeed any references to it on the web, other than a tiny handful of archived sales listings on auction sites. The meter, however, is very clearly related to those shown fitted to vehicles in mid 1960’s catalogues and motoring magazines and is it reasonable to suppose that an instrument to test them would have been developed at around the same time.


What Happened To It?

Smiths dates back to the early 1850s as a family run business making watches and clocks. During the early years of the twentieth century Smiths expanded into parts and accessories for the emerging automotive industry then one thing led to another and by the start of World War One they were making aircraft instruments. At the start of the Second World War the Motor Accessories Division was split off from the rest of Smiths Industries and in 2000 the parent company merged with the TI Group. The Smiths success story continues and nowadays it has fingers in numerous pies concerned with electronics, interconnections, measurement and instrumentation.


The timeline for the SR/D366 is much less clear. It’s not too surprising, though, and given its specialist nature it is likely that relatively few of them were ever made. It may be relevant that this one has the number 143 written in pencil on the inside of the box. It was probably only ever marketed through trade catalogues and magazines but how much it originally cost remains a mystery. I’m not even going to guess, but it won’t have been cheap and as usual clarification and corrections are most welcome. I suspect it lasted from my estimated manufacturing date of the mid sixties to the late seventies or thereabouts. By then it would have become largely obsolete thanks to the demise of the UK car industry through fierce competition from overseas companies and the appearance of more flexible and sophisticated test instruments. Doubtless a few units have survived in the hands of collectors and restorers, but they don’t come onto the market very often, which again suggests that it could be quite a rare item. As far as I determine only couple have appeared on ebay in the last few years and they went for £50 and £70; the only other one I have seen mentioned was sold by a specialist auction house for £150, so you know what to do if you ever spot another one in the wild!     


First seen                       1965?

Original Price                 £?

Value Today                   £40 (0816)

Features                         Battery test, fuel gauge (segment/thermal), temp gauge (Bi-Metal/Semiconductor/Thermal), Voltage Stabiliser

Power req.                    n/a (powered by vehicle under test)

Dimensions:                  182 x 118 x 118mm

Weight:                         1.1kg

Made (assembled) in:    UK

Hen's Teeth (10 rarest):  8




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