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About Me & This Site

My name is Byron Ake, and I live in a small town in central Massachusetts. I created this website both to help the general public rediscover the long-forgotten era of mechanically scanned television, and to display some of the projects that I have worked on.

I had absolutely no knowledge of mechanically scanned television until 2009 when I decided (somewhat randomly) to investigate how a Baird Televisor worked. I had heard of the Televisor many years earlier from a UK program called "The Secret Life of Machines" that I watched as reruns growing up in the 90's. Baird was mentioned, but very little information was given on his system compared to more contemporary CRT television. After conducting some research, I discovered the NBTVA, and wanted to try this method of receiving moving images that seemed too simple to be possible.

My first attempt was quickly thrown together using a 32-line disc pattern from the internet that I printed out, taped to some paperboard, then cut out. The holes were poked through with a tack or nail. I glued the disc onto the hub of a hand-held battery powered fan and used my finger to control the speed. I downloaded a few 32-line video clips from the 'net, and burned them to a CD to play on my stereo.

For the light source, I simply wired a white LED I had to a headphone cable without a resistor and stuck it behind some cloudy sticky tape. (Note: be very careful if you try this. This is NOT a recommend method and you could potentially damage your stereo if you wire it wrong. LEDs do not have a way to regulate their current [hence the resistor you always see with them], and they will burn out if they get to much power. Usually they will just stop working, but I have had an LED explode on me when overdriven!) Turn the volume all the way down, then slowly raise it until the led starts to flash. Make it just bright enough to get a picture. If the picture is inverted (black parts are white and white parts are black) then swap the leads.

After seeing my rather pathetic attempt produce bits of a recognizable image, I was hooked and graduated to a more typical attempt using a 12" record as a disc. I found an old stereo that I dedicated to this purpose and

Mechanical Television attempt

built my monitor vertically (like a record player) using orange LEDs harvested from some solar lights. A couple of low-value potentiometers and a carefully chosen "wall-wart" power supply rounded out the setup. Unfortunately, I was unable to get any pictures from this system because I found out later that the stereo was broken and only passed through the higher frequencies of the video signal. Shortly after that, I began work on my First Televisor.

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