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Accoson Sphygmomanometer

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Aiwa LX-110 Linear Turntable

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Kyoto S600 8-Track Player

La Pavoni Espresso Machine

Macarthys Surgical AM Radio

Magnetic Core Memory 4kb

Maplin YU-13 Video Stabilizer

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Mattel Intellivision

Maxcom Cordless Phone

McArthur Microscope OU

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Micronta 22-195A Multimeter

Micronta 3001 Metal Detector

Micronta S-100 Signal Injector

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Mystery Microphone



Widget Of The Week

Binatone Worldstar Multi Band Radio, 1976

Some sections of the consumer electronics market have often shown a fairly relaxed attitude towards technical specifications and feature descriptions. It started in earnest in the early sixties and lasted until the late eighties, when legislation was introduced. Throughout that period some pretty big whoppers appeared in promotional and advertising material. The claims made for this late 70s vintage Binatone Worldstar multi-band radio are quite ambitious and must have suckered a good few punters -- including me -- into thinking that it was a lot more sophisticated than it actually was. This model, also sold under a number of other names, was widely touted as a sophisticated 9-band ‘World Radio’, capable of pulling in transmissions from around the globe. At first glance it does have the air of an advanced communications receiver, more so when shown with the flip-up cover for the tuner scale in the open position, displaying a fancy looking time zone calculator and a world map.


Unfortunately, like so much about the Worldstar, this was cosmetic fluff, like those alleged 9 wave bands. On the tuning scale they are listed as AM Broadcast, Sport, B1 Marine, B2 Marine, LW Long wave, FM Music, VHF Aircraft, VHF High and VHF Weather. It all sounds rather exotic but in reality it has only 5 switchable wavebands, namely: Long Wave, Medium Wave, VHF FM and High Band VHF. At least four of the nine purported wavebands were unused in Europe but in any case, even in the US, the market it was originally designed for, it would still have been next to useless for the applications suggested by the waveband names. Incidentally the two so-called Marine bands, covering 200 to 300kHz, were almost exclusively used by the Loran directional beacons. It is highly unlikely that American mariners trust a basic radio like this for navigational purposes, except in the direst emergency.


Three of the five actual bands (AM, LW and FM) work well enough for receiving regular broadcast radio stations, and the VHF Aircraft can sometimes pick up brief snatches of Air Traffic Control and Pilot exchanges, though you would need to be fairly close to an airport or flight path. However, if you were a UK buyer expecting it to pick up anything to do with sport, maritime matters or the weather you would have been sadly disappointed. Other questionable features include the twin telescopic antennas; only one of them really does anything, the other is largely for show, as is the red LED attached to the tuning needle. This glows whenever a station is received, which is most of the time on a busy broadcast band. The sliding Squelch control – a useful feature on communications receivers for eliminating background hiss – is also a bit superfluous on this radio since the opportunities for it to pick up the sort of intermittent transmissions it is meant for would have been few and far between.


But let’s not get too carried away with the imaginative feature list and pretensions. As a largish mains portable radio it stacks up quite well. Don’t be fooled by the faux stitched leather case covering though, it’s all plastic. It is quite sturdily built, though, and there’s even room inside the battery compartment for the mains lead and a US or continental 2-pin plug (but not a bulky UK 3-pin plug). FM reception isn’t too bad either, and you can take it as read that this one works, though it wasn’t always so.


My first encounter with the Worldstar was probably soon after it went on sale, in the mid 1970s. I recall that at the time it was widely advertised in the national press, weekly publications like Exchange and Mart and specialist magazines. It definitely caught my eye but after reading the small print I must have figured out that it was all a bit of a sham. We met again some 40 years later when I spotted this one lurking in a box of junk under a wallpaper-pasting table at a local car boot sale. It appeared to be in reasonably good physical shape, though the top flap with the map was missing but I didn’t have the heart to haggle over the  £1.00 asking price. Even if it were a complete write-off it would have been worth it for the mains plug and any salvageable parts.


It cleaned up well but as expected it was a non-runner. Luckily it was the simplest of all faults, a mucky power switch. A few squirts of contact cleaner bought it back to life, and while I was at it, a few more squirts fixed the scratchy slider controls. Inside, the circuit board is typical of Hong Kong made radios of the time. It’s not a pretty sight with a rat’s nest of wires and loads of wax all over the place, meant to stop sensitive components, like coils and capacitors moving around and upsetting the tuning. Everything is quite well spaced, though and it looks like it should be relatively easy to fix should anything go wrong. I would quite like to find a new flip cover for this one but unfortunately it’s going to have to come from another Worldstar. For that to make economic sense it would need to be the only useful part on a complete basket case costing no more than 50 pence, so that’s not going to happen any time soon...


What Happened To It?

It feels like the Binatone brand has been around forever but the company, founded by the Lalvani brothers actually started trading in 1958. Initially Binatone was mostly involved with importing and distributing badged-up electronic products made in the Far East. From the 80s onwards they took a more hands-on approach to design and manufacture and nowadays they are focused on home entertainment and telecomms products and small electrical appliances. Binatone’s success was largely due to its ability to spot trends and react quickly by bringing affordably priced products to the market. These included first generation home video games, audio and video gadgets galore and the Worldstar, which was one of several similarly specified radios around at the time. It appears to have sold quite well, there’s usually a few on ebay, with prices ranging from £15 to £40, and the fact that most of them are still going strong confirms that they were solidly built. This one I’m valuing at only £15 because of the missing flap, and whilst it doesn’t actually do much except let you work out the time in other parts of the world, useless, it is one of the radio’s most visible features and it looks a bit lost without it.   


First seen:                           1976

Original Price:                    £25.00

Value Today:                      £15.00 (0817)

Features:                            5-Band (listed as 9): ‘. Frequency coverage: 150 – 300kHz, 540 – 1600kHz, 1.6 – 4.4MHz, 88-108MHz, 108 – 175MHz, 18 transistor superhet, rotary tuning, LED tuning indicator, 10cm speaker, twin telescope & single internal ferrite antennas, volume, tone & squelch sliders, earphone socket (3.5mm jack), hinged world time zone map and calculator

Power req.                        4 x 1.5 volt D cells and 240-volt AC mains

Dimensions:                      320 x 260 x 104mm

Weight:                             2.4kg

Made (assembled) in:       Hong Kong       

Hen's Teeth (10 rarest):     5



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