RAN Technology

Alexancer Lewyt - inventor and entrepreneur


Historic 0 Comments 01/08/2021 

and maker of my AN/GRC-9

Posted By: Robert Nickels (ranickels)

Alexander M. Lewyt died in 1988 at the age of 79, a holder of patents on scores of inventions. His penchant for invention, he once said, was so strong that he had chronic insomnia from lying awake at night envisioning new products. When he learned of undertakers’ difficulty in fastening neckties on corpses, the teen-age Lewyt devised a new kind of bow tie that clipped on. He sold 50,000 of them. But he probably was best known for the compact Lewyt vacuum cleaner, which had no dust bag and was designed not to interfere with TV or radio reception. In the first eight years after the vacuum cleaner was introduced after World War II, Lewyt Corp. sold 2 million of them. During the war, Lewyt Corp. did a multimillion-dollar business making such things as radar antennas and popcorn poppers. Lewyt sold his interest in the company to Budd Co. in the 1950s.

I was curious about the oddly named Lewyt nameplate on my AN/GRC-9 because unlike well-known radio manufacturers such as Crosley, Tele King, and Hoffman Radio that built this set in the 1950s,  I'd never heard of Lewyt before.    While it's well known that many companies stepped out of their traditional businesses to build what was needed for the war effort, I was surprised to learn that my GRC-9 was built by a vacuum cleaner company!

But that's not quite true, since Alexander Lewyt's ideas included a range of electronics as well. The son of an Austrian immigrant who had a shop making coat hangers, he took over the business and expanded it to add products and space - including leasing 4 floors at 84 Broadway in Brooklyn in 1953, a stately building that still stands, although it boggles the mind to think of field radios being made there.

An interesting selling point of the Lewyt vacuum cleaner in addition to not requiring a disposable bag, was the "Video-Pak" which was evidently an AC line filter that "prevented Radio-TV interference".   Who remembers pleading with Mom not to run the vacuum while  cartoons or your favorite show was on?

Lewyt did well.  In the late 1950s, Alexander Lewyt was instrumental in establishing the North Shore Animal League, which became the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization. A director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lewyt had an art collection that included works by Bonnard, Cezanne, Degas, Gauguin, and Renoir.   He and his wife, French-born Elisabeth "Babette" formed a charitable foundation which is still active today, following her death in 2012.   Mr. Lewyt said he channeled his considerable energies into the North Shore Animal League because “my wife adores animals, and I adore my wife.”

I don't know about the vacuums but Mr. Lewyt built a good radio.   This 40 sec. clip is proof - one of the few authentic examples of a military radio in actual use in VietNam in 1964:    WATCH

Do it with Lewyt!

Click on the image title or on the image itself to open the full-sized image in a separate window.

   If, like me, you enjoy flipping through old issues of 73 magazine from the 60s, you're bound to have at least seen the ads for the Transcom SBT-3 three-band SSB tranceiver.  Being made in Escondido CA in the mid-60s, my guess has always been that engineers from other San Diego SSB compnanies such as Don Stoner, Les Earnshaw from Southcom, Herb Johnson, founder of Swan or Faust Gonsett may...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  01/16/2021 
  

Model FP-1 "FORESTPHONE"

The Amalgamated Wireless Ltd. (AustralAsia)
Category: Vintage Ham Radio
This short article about the AWA Forestphone was the last one put on the Midwest Classic Radio Net website by for former webmaster George K9GDT before he unfortunately became a Silent Key.  MCRN articleNow that a longer version has been published in Electric Radio magazine I thought I'd include it here as well.Throughout most of the 20th century AWA was Australia's leading electr...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  01/13/2021 
  

AN/GRC-9 Bias Battery replacement

Cheap and easy fix using coin cells
Category: Technical
The Korean-war vintage AN/GRC-9 is one of the most useful and fun military field radios for ham use, as with AM and CW modes and 2-12 MHz coverage and a VFO it's all ready to go on several ham bands.    The battery tube superhet receiver is also power-friendly and sensitive and stable enough to copy CW and SSB but has one annoying flaw - the 4 volt bias battery used by the audio...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  01/03/2021 
  

Beware of the LED Noisemaker!

MR-16 lamps have no home in the hamshack!
Category: Technical
Halogen type MR-16 lamps are commonly used in track lights and other spot lighting applications so what would be cooler than to drop in LED replacements!   A lot, as it turns out.   The LED replacements are HORRIBLE RFI emitters that totally trashed several ham bands when I unknowingly installed them.Halogen spot lights are 12 volt devices so it's long been common prac...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  01/02/2021 
  

Ham radio operators honor legacy of Mars Hill company

Hammarlund was an industry leader for generations
Category: Historic
Here's a link to a nice story in the Madison NC newspaper about area hams paying tribute to the former Hammarlund company that manufactured radios in Mars Hill NC for decades.   There are some neat historiic photos as wellThe paper has a paywall but it looks like you get 5 free articles:HAMMARLUND ARTICLE...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  12/12/2020 
  

Ham radio operators honor legacy of Mars Hill company

Hammarlund was an industry leader for generations
Category: Historic
Here's a nice story about how the hams around Mars Hill NC honored the legacy of the Hammarlund company that manufactured radios there for many years.  It's behind a paywall but it looks like you get 5 free articles:LINK to Hammarlund story...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  12/12/2020 
   In the days before sat phones, HF SSB was the only practical means of communication once you went beyond line-of-sight distance from civilization.   Forestry crews, scientific exploration teams, mariners, and oil and gas or pipeline workers were among those for home HF SSB was a lifeline.  Portable transceivers like the JRC JSB-20 were used when moving from one location to another a...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  12/12/2020 
   Like most people who received a catalog from International Crystal in the 60s, I was always intrigued by their assortment of PC board kits.   There were boards for every stage in a radio transmitter or receiver and they could be combined to make almost anything - from converters to complete radios.   But little did I know that International actually did just that when they went...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  12/01/2020 
    Not much more to be said - if you can't find it here you probably don't need to know!RADIO BOOKSMany are from non-US sources, some are in languages other than English.   Included are 23 volumes of Riders manuals, Beitmans most needed diagrams up til 1967, and much more.   Incredible resource!...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  11/02/2020 

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