The Oscilloclock Lab

Some readers may be curious just where these crazy Oscilloclock devices are actually made. While the question of WHO makes them shall remain a mystery, let’s definitely take a close look through the mad scientist’s laboratory!

This panoramic view of the depths of the shop makes the place look huge, but in fact it is a tiny 8.2 square metres (88 square feet)!

The entire workshop “sits” on the floor and is self-supporting – almost nothing is screwed in to the walls.

Perhaps the kind reader might think this is the production of a master woodworker. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth! This was the very first piece of furniture I have ever built – and as you can see, it was quite a project…

Design

First and foremost, I used SketchUp to create an accurate scale model of the workshop. I modelled every piece of equipment I wished to eventually mount, and tested hundreds of layouts until coming to a final design. What an effort!

Here I’ve loaded it into an STL viewer so you can play with it:

Loading a nice 3D STL model for you to play with!
Sorry - there seems to be an error with WebGL!


 

Woodwork

Most of the workshop is made from pine. All pieces of wood were cut from slabs using a cheap and nasty hand-held circular saw, as I did not have easy access to a table saw at the time. This was painstaking!

The workbench surfaces are solid maple for hardness and longevity. Linseed oil was used as a finish, to keep things natural. Unfortunately, I have been rather lazy and have neglected to apply further coats since making the workshop!

Maple, Pine, and lots of linseed oil!

Drawers under the benches were crafted carefully to allow resident Oscilloclock artists to sit with plenty of leg room, and drawer slides were chosen with appropriate length such that the drawers open out far enough to access fully.

Cabinets were fitted with adjustable internal shelving, and lovely hinges that allow access to the full width of the shelf even when the door is only open 90 degrees.

Shelves were fitted above windows on one side of the room, mostly to store my extensive collection of 1940’s to 80’s Australian electronics magazines (Radio and Hobbies, Radio Television & Hobbies, and Electronics Australia). These shelves are the only pieces in the workshop that are actually screwed into the walls.

For the reference bookshelf, I cheated and used a standard flexible solution from the local hardware store. It looks reasonable enough…

Electrical

The shop has its own electric meter, a second-hand one rescued from the junk pile. This one is designed for a much higher current than the humble Oscilloclock lab usually consumes, but it spins fast enough if I turn on enough equipment!

The shop is equipped with no fewer than five different power supply lines, all at the resident frequency of 50Hz:

  • 100V – This may give away the lab’s country of residence…
  • 100V isolated – For testing “hot chassis” devices
  • 117V – Supplied by a massive, nasty 1500VA Variac
  • 200V – Straight from the local power company
  • 240V – Supplied by a massive hand-wound toroidal transformer

Earthed 100V, 117V, and 240V outlets are literally peppered around the workshop, mostly tucked away behind the shelves. Datacentre grade outlet boxes were employed for ultimate safety. The best part? All equipment is plugged in and ready to use at any instant in time!

Of course I also have a variable voltage, variable frequency AC power supply, which I use regularly when spinning up voltage into vintage gear, or when I need to evaluate power circuit performance at anywhere between 40 and 400Hz.

No shop should be without its own set of circuit breakers! Here we see two of the several dedicated switches. These employ earth leakage detection, of course.

Equipment

A quick flick through the Oscilloclock blog reveals beyond any doubt that I have an extreme passion for vintage electronics. Nowhere is this more visually expressed than in this homey workshop. Every piece of equipment functions, and every piece is actually used at least once a year!

But I shall leave the equipment show-and-tell for another post!


But WHY?

Well, for the fun of course! But in fact, this workshop was built exclusively for the design and construction of exquisite hand-crafted scope clocks. So don’t delay in checking out the fruits of the lab – visit the Gallery right now!

Robbie’s Place

What do you do on a mundane business trip to London?

Why, shopping, of course! But if you were the humble proprietor of Oscilloclock.com, you would do much more than that… You would seek to expand your vintage electronic empire!

And so it was that I found myself hunting old electronic devices on Portobello Road one fine Saturday morning. Unfortunately, the game there was far and few between; only two relatively mediocre valve radios, in even more mediocre shape, at far more than mediocre prices…

Fortunately, my colleague was going to save the day. “Pop out to Cambridge for a visit – I’ve seen a few antique shops here,” said he. And after the hour train journey and a wee but of walking, we stumbled onto a veritable gold mine – Robbie’s.

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