January 20, 2018

Around fourteen years ago, my mother in law Carol bought me an old Westminster valve radio as a gift, in the hopes I could fix it. Sadly the electronics were dead, the tuning gang was rusted up, etc. The speaker driver had several holes in it, the cloth was torn … it was in a very bad way.

After fourteen years of intermittent work … the Westiamp is live, and currently playing success music. Amusingly, my estimate for this project when I started was “up to a year”. Ah, the optimism of youth.

Westiamp, door open Westiamp, door closed

The Westiamp is now running an S5 Electronics K-8LM mono valve amplifier that I assembled from a kitset, a new speaker driver, and a cheap Bluetooth audio adapter.

It’s a weird but pleasant experience to walk into the living room, connect to the Westiamp on my phone, open up Spotify … and get a 50s radio sound. It also suits the room it’s in, which is already visually warm with five large wooden bookshelves and an old wooden spice chest.

Looking back at my old blog posts, I found it surprising to observe the procession of ideas I had for controlling the thing, culminating in “actually I use my phone for music these days, I’ll just buy a bluetooth module” around a year ago. Technology has changed a lot since I started this project.

Thanks to everyone involved - Carol for buying it for me, Ande for putting up with the clutter for fourteen years (including bringing on the move from NZ!), Farnell (now Element14) for a few replacement parts, and S5 for the cool valve kit.