Elmer G. Osterhoudt
and
The Modern Radio Laboratories Catalog 

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ANOTHER MRL No. 2?

 

 
 
There seems to be a clone of the No. 2 Crystal set in the book "FIRST RADIO BOOK FOR BOYS" by Alfred P. Morgan, Copyright 1941. The picture from Morgan's book is on the right.

Alfred P. Morgan wrote over 15 books on radio. He wrote books about electricity, electronics, chemistry, tropical fish, science, and tools. He wrote about motors, engines, and turbines. He even wrote a book about how to make your own 20 foot biplane glider. Would he copy Elmer's circuit into one of his own books?

 
Page 92
 
No, he didn't copy it. The Morgan circuit is different than the Osterhoudt circuit.
 
Here it has been "rewired" to turn it into a MRL No. 2. Which circuit works better?
 

 
All modern AM radios need a "BS" detector and switch!
 
 

MRL VARIOMETER

 
Here's another drawing that is ambiguous, as is the statement "has never been listed in CAT." How can it not be listed in the catalog if you're looking at it in the catalog? Obviously, it was only intended for the first catalog to list the variometer but the line stayed in for all the other catalogs. In this 1986 catalog entry, the word "PLASTIC" has been written over the word "Bakelite."
 
The catalog hints we should get DP-44. Here is the variometer in DP-44, drawn actual size in the publication. Unfortunately, Elmer's drawing shows it as viewed perfectly down from the top. It looks like two rectangles in a square inside a circle.

 
The square and the circle are cylinders!
 
 
 
The rectangles are coils!
 
Two different sizes.
 
The coupling between the coils is varied by turning the inside coil.
 

 
Another MRL masterpiece! How many of these would he have sold if he had put a picture of one in the catalog? If you scroll back up and look at DP-44 again, you'll see he has a picture of a "1920 - 1930 Low - Loss Variometer" next to his drawing. Why didn't he use a photo of his own variometer??

 


MRL TRANSISTOR AMPLIFIER

 

 
 
 
This is an unassembled kit from 1986.
 
The most interesting aspect of the kit is the box! Elmer made a wooden box, then covered it with wood grain Contact Paper. How long did that take? Why didn't he paint it with the same paint as the front panel?
 

 
Look at the front panel in the middle picture. We've just solved the mystery of "compo." It's Masonite!
 

 
In 1972 Elmer and Mabel lived in Reno, Nevada, 242 miles from where they lived in Redwood City, California. Later, they moved from Reno back to California.

 
Why would Elmer and Mabel move to Reno, Nevada? In 1984 I wrote to him and asked him if he was writing any more handbooks. He wrote back that years previous Mabel would sometimes go to Reno for a week. During that week he'd go into the shop at 6AM and write a handbook.

Apparently, there was some draw to Reno for Mabel, probably family, but who knows? So Elmer, who lived his whole life in the San Francisco Bay area, moved MRL to the dessert of Reno, Nevada.

I guess something didn't pan out and before you knew it, they were back in the Bay area. Every time they moved, they moved seven and a half tons of MRL with them.

 
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