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Discatron Revisited!

Discatron Revisited! cover

Remember when this little portable 45rpm vinyl player was essential equipment for us travelling Northern aficionados? Well, it's back! We have long believed that there is still a place for this brilliant little piece of 1960's technology and so we have bitten the bullet and commissioned a thousand units to be produced by an established manufacturer of retro record players. We have stayed true to the iconic design of the Discatron but have replaced all the internal components with modern technology, the most beneficial improvement being the sealed Lithium rechargeable battery along with an added mains lead, the old 1960's machines went through PP9 batteries at a rate of knots!

Where are we now?

We have a hand made working sample (see picture) which will allow us to test, test and test again - ensuring that we iron out any gremlins before full production commences although early opinion is that it is an extremely good first attempt and does everything that it should.

What next?

We have funded the project to this stage but will need to raise money to put the Discotron into full production, it is our intention to use a Crowd Funding source and we will be shooting the promotional video for that shortly. The retail cost of the new Discotron is still under discussion but will be realistic, we are trying to make it an affordable "must have".

Why tell us?

Well, we would love your opinion on what we are proposing, as the core type of customer we would welcome your thoughts, ideas, input and possibly expression of interest in purchasing one when they come on stream. We are not asking for money or firm commitment, just what you think about our idea. 

So, if you get a minute to reply we would love to hear from you.

Cheers

Pete and Paddy.

PS. The original Discatron on the left is from 1966. 

The new 2018 Discotron on the right is "naked" stainless steel at the moment but will be clothed in black, red or what do you suggest for a third colour?

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that's something i could leave to the grandkids...interested in helping with the crowd funding when you get it going.

good luck

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7 hours ago, Peter Johns said:

News/Article/Feature Highlight:

Coming Soon: The New and Improved Portable 45rpm Record Player.

View full article

What would the quality of the internal components and stylus be like would be my first question here.?

I know a lot of people who would want one of these things in a heartbeat provided that the build quality was of a decent standard.

Good luck with the project.:hatsoff2:

Edited by Soulsides

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I bought one in 1970 and probably pawned it in 1972.

I am looking at above image and don’t recall it looking like that.

It was square I think? No handle?

Please help!

I can recall slotting “A Quitter Never Wins” into It. Loved that record.

Edited by David Meikle
Final sentence added

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Morning David,

 

You are right, this is an original model produced by Discatron in Birmingham in the mid 60's, then Bush bought Discatron out and revised the design to a smaller square design which incorporated a cassette player on the top, this was called the Discassette. I also had this one. We reckoned that there was less requirement for the cassette player and wanted to be as true to the original model as possible. Thank you for your interest.

 

Pete and Paddy

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Hi Pete,

was I the last owner of your Discatron(s)? Remember one of them even had a cassette player on it?

Like David Meikle, I kinda remember them as more square than rectangular, but maybe there were 2 or 3 different versions / designs (Bush Discassette?)

Used to love taking this around, along with a box of records and a bag full of replacement batteries! ppl were always impressed (this would have been the mid-70's rather than the 60's, so most ppl wouldn't have seen one).

Good luck! Definitely interested.

Paul (Brown)

ps Happy New Year.

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33 minutes ago, Peter Johns said:

Morning David,

 

You are right, this is an original model produced by Discatron in Birmingham in the mid 60's, then Bush bought Discatron out and revised the design to a smaller square design which incorporated a cassette player on the top, this was called the Discassette. I also had this one. We reckoned that there was less requirement for the cassette player and wanted to be as true to the original model as possible. Thank you for your interest.

 

Pete and Paddy

Thanks guys.

Pretty sure mine never had a cassette facility in it and it was certainly called a discatron.

Can’t remember where I bought it but it would have been in Glasgow. Model wise, maybe it was post 1970? But no later than ‘72 IMO.

Like Paul, I recall it fascinating everyone.

In the pub next door to the Wheel I recall a guy playing a new import on Invictus by Chairmen of the Board. Everybody was excited by this new release and we were huddled around a discatron enjoying it big time.

I also recall leaving the back exit of the Wheel at 8am and some guys playing sounds on their discatron on their way to the Top20 Club.

These days were simple yet utterly brilliant. 

Edited by David Meikle

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16 hours ago, Soulsides said:

What would the quality of the internal components and stylus be like would be my first question here.?

I know a lot of people who would want one of these things in a heartbeat provided that the build quality was of a decent standard.

Good luck with the project.:hatsoff2:

Again good luck with the project....if current technology allows it would be nice to know that it wouldn't rip expensive records to threads.....the 60/70's version was notoroius for damaging the records...

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There are now a number of portable turntables on the market ranging in price, functionality, availability etc. Like others have said priority would be stylus quality as the cost of records today is crazy and damaging a Larry Clinton is not an option !!. The price point is also a critical factor with some portables in the tens of pounds and some at 1000+. Its the old cost / benefit analysis. I can see demand from both professional and casual record dealers, perhaps those people who don't want or can't afford decks, amps, speaker set up, those new to vinyl from the younger end, fashion retailers like Urban Outfitters who already stock players and vinyl etc etc.

There is a good strong and growing market, so best of luck

Andy

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Great idea and best of luck with it. As has been said above the stylus - and importantly the weight/pressure bringing it into contact with the records is the key for collectors. Also if you are using one for crate diving then the system that delivers the sound through headphones needs to acurately represent the true sound of the disc, not with added bass or any modern fangled unwanted sound suppresion, which I'm assuming you'd have on the loudspeakers side of things to give it a nice rich sound?

Side story - when my local Co-op store took on a batch of the Discassettes, presumably because they were not exactly selling profusely by then (probably 3 years after they first came out, so maybe they were end of line?) they retailed them at half the recommended price. I'd had the old kind before and sold it on, so bought a new one. I took it everywhere, and the young folk who were around then didn't know what they were and a few asked where they could get one. My entrepreneurial streak came to the fore and I invested in a spare which I took to a northern doo. I promptly sold it for the retail price, doubling my money, I did it again and again, taking 4 to a niter one night and I could have sold 20. By then my sales patter had grown as had the price. I told everybody that they'd stopped making them and these were the last few. 
I took orders for more, only to find that I'd emptied the Co-op of their stock. They echoed the line I'd been trotting out, that they couldn't get anymore and had bought the last batch made, so my money making venture died. I did manage to trade my last one for about treble it's retail price, but I was happy, I was paid in records :) So if you bought one of these at a venue sometime in the mid 70's, it was most likely that you bought it off me.
One final thought - I've a feeling I was walking past my local Co-op a couple of years later, and saw they'd got more in stock, I meant to go buy one, but forgot. Maybe they'd got hold of some more because previously they'd been good sellers (to me and probably nobody else :) )  I guess I'd moved on to other money making enterprises to feed my voracious record buying addiction by then.
Happy Days ! 

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3 hours ago, purist said:

Also if you are using one for crate diving then the system that delivers the sound through headphones needs to acurately represent the true sound of the disc, not with added bass or any modern fangled unwanted sound suppresion, which I'm assuming you'd have on the loudspeakers side of things to give it a nice rich sound?

 

This sounds like a great project. Given you're updating the technology could you incorporate Bluetooth so that the user can just hear the sound via Bluetooth headphones? Lots of settings where no matter how good the speakers are, us oldies with failing hearing might struggle to hear the record!

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Hi guys. What a memory jerker. I have just dug my original discotron out of the drawer same as yours on the left. It's still looks great and amazingly has two ever ready pp9 batteries in it and they haven't leaked. This machine played bubblegum breakthrough outside the torch, catacombs and especially va vas. Many trips over the pennines from Selby. 

Unfortunately it works no more. I have lots of other portables including earlier ones such as the amazing looker called The Fabulous Wondergram advertised as the worlds smallest record player. None sounded very good though until the sound Burger came along.  This was and imho is still the best portable. Mine still sounds great and with the new good value plug in mini speakers you can use it to listen to vinyl with mates rather than just through ear phones. 

So very interested in your initiative but as others have said you need to get the sound correct and with playing records vertically there is always the worry of damage. I would be def interested in buying one. Good luck. 

Paul Temple. 

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The main thing I remember about mine  (bought in '69) is that it slowly destroyed the precious 45s I was putting in it. 

In order to work in a vertical position, a certain degree of spring pressure seemed to be needed - this inevitably caused wear on the disc playing surface.

You could tell by just looking at the grooves to see how it was wearing out the discs!

Is the new design any different in that regard?

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Btw, mine looked like something like this, but without the "Penny" brand name.....

discatronred.jpg

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7 hours ago, soash said:

The main thing I remember about mine  (bought in '69) is that it slowly destroyed the precious 45s I was putting in it. 

In order to work in a vertical position, a certain degree of spring pressure seemed to be needed - this inevitably caused wear on the disc playing surface.

You could tell by just looking at the grooves to see how it was wearing out the discs!

Therein lies the dilemma with all portable turntables it would seem.

I've got a few Hip Hop  DJ mates who use the Numark PT01 decks for record digging and scratching purposes and one of the lads amongst them is an electronics Don when it comes to modding the PTO1's , adding  crossfaders and other small improvements to the decks but the fundamental problem is the same, tone arms and stylus quality are of a particularly poor standard on the Numarks. 

I personally wouldn't want to play any unknown vinyl that I'd found on one of those decks for that reason alone.

There is a fella named Jessie Dean  over in the U.S. who builds custom crossfaders and Carbon Fibre tone arms with gold contacts for these PT01's that enables you to mount good quality carts like the Shure MM-47's directly on to..but the tone arm alone will cost you at least $150 to start with, something which seems somewhat ridiculous for a cheaply made, plastic portable deck in my humble opinion. 

 

 

Edited by Soulsides

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Back in the day (60's), I DJed with vinyl, and also entertained myself at home with vinyl - that was the best that was around back then.

And I had the discatron thing to play stuff on the move - limited, of course, to how many 45s I could get in my BEA bag.....

Would I want to do the same now? I doubt it.

Surely, the best way to listen to vinyl "on the move" today, is simply to use a best quality deck to record the tracks into mp3 (or flac if you have the memory), and load them onto your smartphone or some Cloud service?

I have over 140,000 music tracks in digital form (far more than I could listen to in a lifetime :(), - 10,000 of them are Soul/Ska tracks - so now I am doing Mixcloud and Spotify to make them accessible to all.

Discatron was good in its day, but, for me, its day has gone:g:

 

 

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