Consoles - At the SPARC Museum

Broadcast Boards in the SPARC collection (click on the description) - or - Return to the SPARC Broadcast News Page

The Studio's Console for SPARC broadcasts - a 1953 Northern Electric R5420 >
The CJAV McCurdy Board> McCurdy Remote Console on Display >
Ward Beck Audio Console >        Design resolution: 1024 X 768. Last update: 17 April, 2008

Other Broadcast Boards in the SPARC Collection. Click on a thumbnail. To return here, use your "Back" button. The models are.....

Left-to-right: Auditronics 218, RCA BC-7A, Ward Beck, Arrakis 500-SC, BE 10M250, McCurdy SS4300, McCurdy 'S' Series, McCurdy SS4360 Mono

Go back to the top

The Studio's 1953 Northern Electric Console"

The center-piece of our control room is a 1953-vintage control console, donated by CKNW, where it was used by Jack Cullen for many years. Our maintenance staff (me!) has given it some maintenance, upgrades, and top-to-bottom performance tests. We decided to do this before its return to the SPARC floor from an outing in our mobile studio van at the annual London Farm show.

These consoles were made in the Belleville, Ontario plant of Northern Electric (which company evolved into Northern Telecom, then Nortel). That factory is gone, but this console still lives on -- a reliable performer, being so over-built. The 1960 catalog price was $1806.

Restoration Work

Maintenance meant replacement of three open filter capacitors, several microphonic tubes, and partial disassembly for further cleaning of decades of cigarette smoke mixed with rum and coke. There appeared to be widely different gains among the five pre-amps -- this was discovered to be in the resistive mixing networks where values had drifted off by as much as 300 percent! I even discovered a factory wiring fault that's been there for nearly fifty years.

Upgrades meant the addition of more jackfield wiring, restoration of the original line-feed circuitry so that we can do 'classic' remotes (see our October 2001 newsletter), and making two of the pre-amps switchable between microphone and RIAA-phono equalization (two of our turntables are not using built-in pre-amps).

It looks better, sounds better, and is even more flexible than before.

A reader of this website contributed a picture of a very small version of this console, having only four mixer pots - two preamps, the line input, and a master.

Go back to the top

McCurdy Remote Console

A handsome broadcast item we've acquired from Channel 8 TV is a McCurdy PE1000 remote amplifier -- it dates to 1953/54, judging by the drawings. Guess what -- it's not solid-state! As you can see, it was well-cared for. It has six mixers, with each one having switching (at microphone-level!) to accommodate 11 mic inputs plus a four-line switchable input group. A built-in oscillator can be used to set levels with the studio (it was on when the picture was taken). An independent P.A. feed can be derived from any one mixer, or from the program output. The case is an attractive brown leather with matching front and rear covers. With all its transformers, it's heavy -- 44 pounds! The power supply, in a matching case, is even heavier! If you notice a similarity between this McCurdy and competitor Northern Electric's board pictured on this page, it's more than just the paint colour. In the McCurdy's parts list, the source for the knobs and key handles is -- 'N.E.'!

The remote runs flawlessly for us at our frequent "remotes", described on another page on this site devoted to that subject. Restoration work amounted mostly to some replacement of noisy tubes (premium 12AY7s), bad power supply filter capacitors, and changing out all the leaky 0.1 microfarad blocking capacitors that were causing the step attenuators to click with every step.

See the Broadcast News page called "Remotes" to see this board in action.

Go back to the top

BCTV Donates Ward Beck Audio Console

The museum had on display a large audio console, donated by channel 8 TV (was BCTV, now Global) in Burnaby, BC. Built in 1976 by Ward Beck Systems in Toronto, it first saw service in a mobile van for CFTO-TV's remote television broadcasts. Later it was moved to British Columbia, and later still, used in its mobile guise at BCTV's studio location. One of our museum members recalls using it for production of a Tom Jones TV special.

In brief, it had 22 input modules that could be directed into any combination of 6 submasters and 2 masters. Additional facilities included 6 limiter/compressors on the submasters, and busses for reverb send, foldback, and PA feed. The entire board had been upgraded to lend itself to stereo originations. A master channel 3 and 4 (unmetered) were retrofitted. Here is a scan of the photo that was bound into the manual.

It is truly an impressive piece of Canadian broadcast history. This was a large board, and was a display item only. It could have beed run again, but we needed a lot of hours to do this, because it came out of a control room where it was extensively wired to a large jackfield. To get each of the 22 inputs working would have required eight balanced jumpers per input to be added! There were jumpers to be added for the sub-master and masters too.

Go back to the top

In conclusion...

We hope to see many of our boards in service again, streaming SPARC programs to the internet. Also, "Remotes" are further explained in the October/2002 Newsletter, archived on the SPARC News page.

Go back to the top