Well, it’s time for another viewfinder hack! I’ve been after one of these for a while, this is from an early 1980’s era Sony Trinicon camera, and instead of the tiny ½” round CRT display, these have a 1.5″ square CRT – a Matsushita 40CB4. Luckily I managed to score a pair of these from eBay for very little money. Update: The second camera’s viewfinder module turned out to have a dead flyback transformer, but at least I have a good spare CRT & the rest of the support components. More to come later on the teardown of the camera itself.
The eyecup assembly with the magnifying lens & turning mirror is easy to remove, with clips & a single screw holding it onto the CRT holder sticking out of the side of the main casing.
Removing some screws around the case allows the top cover to be removed, revealing the electronics. There’s certainly more in here than the later camera viewfinders, in this unit there are two boards slotted together with a board-to-board interconnect at the bottom. The CRT is at the top of the photo, hiding inside the plastic housing & deflection yoke assembly.
Here’s the CRT & one of the control boards removed from the case, having been stripped of the heatshrink tube that held the final anode lead in place. Just like on larger CRTs, this viewfinder has the final anode on a cavity connector fused into the bell, instead of being led out to a pin on the base. This is probably due to the much higher anode voltage of 5kV, a big jump from the 2kV on the ½” round tubes.
Yup, it’s definitely the elusive 40CB4. Apparently these CRTs are still manufactured to this day for professional camera viewfinders, as the resolution of this small vacuum tube is still better than similarly sized modern tech such as LCDs or OLEDs. The phosphor used is type P4 – ZnS:Ag+(Zn,Cd)S:Ag, with an aluminized overcoat.
After the base connector & deflection yoke are removed from the tube, the very long neck can be seen, this long glass neck apparently giving better focus & resolution than the stubbier tubes.
The electron gun is the usual single unit as usually found in monochrome tubes.
The bottom board in the assembly has all the control circuitry for the CRT, including the HA11244 deflection IC, composite sync separator & vertical deflection drive circuit. There are also circuits here to display a video waveform on the CRT, along with iris & white balance markers.
The other board has the horizontal drive circuitry, along with the video input amplifier. Despite the attempt to miniaturize the entire assembly, these are still well packed boards. Some of the resistors & diodes are bussed together in custom SIL hybrid modules to save PCB space. Like all the other CRT viewfinders, these units are meant for viewing via a mirror – the horizontal deflection coil connections need to be reversed to show a correct image without the mirror. The Red & Blue wires to the yoke need to be swapped here.
The horizontal board on this unit also supports the flyback transformer, which is massive compared to the other viewfinder circuits. Biasing, focus & filament supplies for the CRT are also derived from this transformer, via auxiliary windings.
The boards slot together in the centre to form the fully operational circuit.
Out of the 3 plugs emerging from the cable feeding the viiewfinder, only this one is important, on the horizontal drive board. Black is ground, Brown +8.5v & red is composite video input. There’s also a resistor tied into the positive rail to the video input pin, which pulls it high to 8.5v – this is R1 right next to this connector. Desolder this 22K resistor to help protect anything feeding a signal into the unit, like a RPi, it’s not needed for normal operation.
As usual for a CRT post, the Fallout loading screen on the display. The picture quality isn’t as good as it should be, probably due to the noisy buck-converter I have rigged up for testing. If it doesn’t get better with a linear regulator, I’ll start replacing the 39 year old electrolytic capacitors. Current draw is 130mA at 7.5v. Schematics for this unit & the CRT datasheet are available below:
Here’s the CRT & it’s drive board removed from the main chassis. Nicely modular this unit, all the individual modules (radio, tape, TV), are separate. This is effectively a TV itself, all the tuner & IF section are onboard, unlike in other vintage units I’ve modified, where the tuner & IF has been on a separate board. There’s a 3-pin header bottom centre for the tuning potentiometer, and external antenna input jack. The internal coax for the built in antenna has been desoldered from the board here. here a the usual controls on the back for adjusting brightness, contrast & V Hold, all the other adjustments are trimmers on the PCB.
Unfortunately after 30+ years of storage, this didn’t work on first power up, neither of the oscillators for vertical or horizontal deflection would lock onto the incoming signal, but a couple of hours running seemed to improve things greatly. The numerous electrolytic capacitors in this unit were probably in need of some reforming after all this time, although out of all of them, only 21 are anything to do with the CRT itself.
Here’s the anode side of the unit, with the small flyback transformer. The rubber anode cap has become very hard with age, so I’ll replace this with a decent silicone one from another dead TV. The Horizontal Output Transistor (a 2SC2233 NPN type) & linearity coil are visible at the bottom right corner of the board. Unfortunately, the disgusting yellow glue has been used to secure some of the wiring & large electrolytics, this stuff tends to turn brown with age & become conductive, so it has to be removed. Doing this is a bit of a pain though. It’s still a little bit flexible in places, and rock hard in others. Soaking in acetone softens it up a little & makes it easier to detach from the components.
There’s little on the neck board apart from a few resistors, forming the limiting components for the video signal, and the focus divider of 1MΩ & 470KΩ feeding G3. No adjustable focus on this unit. There’s also a spark gap between the cathode line & ground, to limit the filament to cathode voltage. The flyback transformer is nestled into the heatsink used by the horizontal output transistor & a voltage regulator transistor.
The CRT is a Samsung Electron Devices 4ADC4, with a really wide deflection angle. It’s a fair bit shorter than the Chinese CRT I have which is just a little larger, with a neck tube very thin indeed for the overall tube size.
Unusually, while the filament voltage is derived from the flyback transformer as usual, it’s rectified into DC in this unit, passing through a 1Ω resistor before the filament connection. I measured 5.3v here. The glow from the filament is barely visible even in the dark.
The electron gun is the usual for a monochrome tube, with 7 pins on the seal end.
The electrodes here from left are Final Anode, G3 (Focus Grid), Accelerating Anode, G2 (Screen Grid), G1 (Control Grid). The cathode & filament are hidden inside G1. In operation there’s about 250v on G2, and about 80v on G3.
The chipset used here is all NEC, starting with a µPC1366C Video IF Processor, which receives the IF signal from the tuner module to the left. This IC outputs the standard composite signal, and a modulated sound signal.
This then splits off to a µPC1382C Sound IF Processor & Attenuator IC, which feeds the resulting sound through the two pin header at the right bottom edge of the board to the audio amplifier in the chassis.
The composite video signal is fed through a discrete video amplifier with a single 2SC2229 transistor before going to the CRT cathode.
The remaining IC is a µPC1379C Sync Signal Processor, containing the sync separator, this is generating the required waveforms to drive the CRT deflection systems from another tap off the composite video line.
From this chip I can assume the unit was built around 1986, since this is the only date code on any of the semiconductors. Besides these 3 ICs, the rest of the circuit is all discrete components, which are well-crammed into the small board space.
There are 5 trimmer potentiometers on the board here, I’ve managed to work out the functions of nearly all of them:
SVR1: IF Gain Adjust
SVR2: H. Hold
SVR3: V. Size
SVR4: B+ Voltage Adjust
SVR5: Tuner Frequency Alignment? It’s in series with the tuning potentiometer in the chassis.
The PCB bottom shows the curved track layout typical of a hand taped out board. The soldermask is starting to flake off in places due to age, and there a couple of bodge wires completing a few ground traces. Respinning a board in those days was an expensive deal! Surprisingly, after all this time I’ve found no significant drift in the fixed resistors, but the carbon track potentiometers are drifiting significantly – 10KΩ pots are measuring as low as 8KΩ out of circuit. These will have to be replaced with modern versions, since there are a couple in timing-sensitive places, like the vertical & horizontal oscillator circuits.
Here the anode cap has been replaced with a better silicone one from another TV. This should help keep the 6kV on the CRT from making an escape. This was an easy fix – pulling the contact fork out of the cap with it’s HT lead, desoldering the fork & refitting with the new cap in place.
Here I’ve replaced the important trimmers with new ones. Should help stabilize things a little.
Injecting a video signal is as easy as the other units. Pin 3 of the µPC1366C Video IF Processor is it’s output, so the track to Pin 3 is cut and a coax is soldered into place to feed in an external signal.
After hooking up a Raspberry Pi, we have display! Not bad after having stood idle for 30+ years.
Datasheets for the important ICs are available below:
Since I do festivals every year, along with a couple of other camping trips if the weather is good enough, I’ve been taking equipment with me for years in flight cases to make things more comfortable. Things like a large battery to power lights & device charging, an old Eberspacher diesel heater for the times when the weather isn’t great, and an inverter to run the pumps built into airbeds.
Red Diesel / Heating Oil is my fuel of choice for camping purposes, as it’s about the safest fuel around, unlike Butane/LPG it is not explosive, will not burn very readily unless it’s atomized properly & it’s very cheap. Paraffin is an alternative fuel, but it’s expensive in the UK, at about £12 per 5L.
The Hexamine-based tablet fuels the UK festivals promote is nasty stuff, and the resulting combustion products are nastier still. (Things like Hydrogen Cyanide, Formaldehyde, Ammonia, NOX). They also leave a sticky black grok on every cooking pot that’s damn near impossible to remove. Meths / Trangia stoves are perfectly usable, but the flame is totally invisible, and the flammability of alcohol has always made me nervous when you’ve got a small pot of the stuff boiling while it’s in operation in the middle of a campsite filled with sloshed festival goers. A single well-placed kick could start a massive fire.
Over the years the gear has evolved and grown in size, so I decided building everything into one unit on wheels would be the best way forward. I’ve been working on this for some time, so it’s time to get some of the details on the blog! Above you can see the system used for last year’s camping, the heater is separate, with a 25L drum of heating oil, the battery is underneath the flight case containing all the power components, and it’s currently charging All The Things.
Above is the new unit almost finished, the bottom frame is a standard eBay-grade 4-wheel trolley with a few modifications of my own, with a new top box built from 12mm hardwood marine plywood. This top is secured in place with coach bolts through the 25mm angle iron of the trolley base. The essential carbon monoxide detector is fitted at the corner.
The inside gets a bit busy with everything crammed in. The large Yuasa 200Ah lead-acid battery is at the far end, with it’s isolation switch. Right in the middle is the Eberspacher heater with it’s hot air ducting. I’ve fitted my usual 12/24v dual voltage system here, with the 24v rail generated from a large 1200W DC-DC converter.
The hot air duct for the heater is fed out through a standard vent in the front. Very handy for drying out after a wet day.
Here’s a closeup of the distribution bus bars, with both negative rails tied together in the centre to keep the positives as far away from each other as possible, to reduce the possibility of a short circuit between the two when working on the wiring. The EpEver Tracer 4210A MPPT Solar Charge Controller is on the left, tucked into the corner. This controller implements the main circuit protection for the battery, having a 40A limit. Individual circuits are separately fused where required. Solar input on this unit is going to be initially provided by a pair of 100W flexible panels in series for a 48v solar bus, the flexible panels are essential here as most of the festivals I attend do not allow glass of any kind onsite, not to mention the weight of rigid panels is a pain.
I’ve stuck with the 3-pin XLR plugs for power in this design, giving both the 12v rail, 24v rail & ground.
Tucked under the DC outputs are a pair of panel sockets for the 600W inverter. This cheapo Maplin unit is only usually used to pump up air beds, so I’m not expecting anyone to pull anything near max output, but a warning label always helps.
Behind the front panel is the hardwiring for the power sockets. The DC jacks are connected together using 2mm solid copper wire, bent into bus bars.The mains wiring underneath is a simple radial circuit straight from the inverter. The large cylinder on the left is a hydraulic pump from a BMW Z3, which runs a hydraulic cylinder for lifting the lid of the top box, used simply because I had one in the box of junk.
External fuelling is dealt with by a small gear pump, this is used to fuel up the Optimus Stove & Petromax Lantern. This is in fact a car windscreen wash pump, but it has coped well with pumping hydrocarbons, it currently has a small leak on the hose connections, but the seals are still entirely intact.
There’s a small remote relay module here, for switching the DC output for lighting & the heater from afar. Very useful when it’s dark, since there’s no need to fumble around looking for a light switch. A car-style fob on my keyring instead.
Since the Eberspacher 701 controller I have is an ex-BT version, it’s very limited in it’s on time, a separate timeswitch is fitted to control the heater automatically. Being able to return to a nice warm tent is always a bonus.
Just to the left can be seen the top ball joint for the hydraulic cylinder that lifts the top of the box.
The final large component is the battery charger. This unit will maintain the battery when the trolley isn’t being used.
On the left side is the old Atom motherbaord used to provide a 4G router system. This unit gets it’s internet feed from a UMTS dongle & provides a local WiFi network for high speed connectivity. The bottom of the hydraulic cylinder is visible in the bottom right corner.
Since the Eberspacher obviously needs fuel, a tank was required. In previous years I’ve used jerry cans for this purpose, but this trolley is supposed to have everything onboard, for less setup time. The tank is constructed from 3mm steel plate, MIG welded together at the seams to create a ~40L capacity. The filler neck is an eBay purchase in Stainless Steel. No photos of the tank being welded together, as I was aiming to beat sunset & it’s very difficult to operate a camera with welding gauntlets on 😉
The tank is the same width as the trolley frame, so some modification was required, having the wheels welded directly to the sides of the tank. This makes the track wider at the rear, increasing stability.
A quick view inside the tank through the level sender port shows the copper dip tubes for fuel supply to the heater, and an external fuel hose for my other fuel-powered camping gear. These tubes stop about 10mm from the bottom of the tank to stop any moisture or dirt from being drawn into the pumps.
The top of the tank is drilled for the fuel fittings & the level sender and has already been painted here. The 1mm base plate has yet to be painted.
Touching up the paint & fitting the sender is the last job for this part. The mesh bottom of the trolley has been replaced by a 1mm steel sheet to support the other parts, mainly the heater. Fuel lines are run in polyurethane tubing to the fuel pumps.
All the instruments & controls are on a single panel, with the Eberspacher thermostat, external fuelling port & pump switch, inverter control, the solar controller monitor panel, cover buttons, router controls, compressed air & fuel gauges.
As is usual behind instrument panels, there’s a rat’s nest of wiring. There’s still the pressure gauge to connect up for the compressed air system, and the nut on one of the router buttons is such a tight fit I’ve not managed to get it into place yet.
The support components for the Eberspacher heater are mounted underneath the baseplate, with the fuel dosing pump secured to a rail with a pair of cable ties, and some foam tape around to isolate the constant clicking noise these pumps create in operation. The large black cylinder is the combustion air intake silencer, with the stainless steel exhaust pipe to the left of that. Silencing these heaters is essential – they sound like a jet engine without anything to deaden the noise. Most of this is generated from the side-channel blower used in the burner.
Bolted to the underside are a pair of exhaust silencers, one is an Eberspacher brand, the other is Webasto, since the latter type are better at reducing the exhaust noise. Connections are sealed with commerical exhaust assembly paste, the usual clamps supplied do not do a good enough job of stopping exhaust leaks.
Next update to come when I get the parts in for the air compressor system.