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This is the excellent USB power pack I use when I travel.

2 x 2.1amp outputs. 8400mAh capacity.

Two digit Led display shows battery level


What SD CARD should I buy?

If you want an SD Card for your camera - these are the ones I use and recommend. 

I'd strongly recommend not to buy any SD cards off ebay - I've heard about too many issues with counterfeit cards - often sold on by unwitting resellers. My inbox regularly gets messages from people who bought a £150 camera then cheaped out and bought a £3 memory card on ebay - Then when it doesn't worth they blame the camera! It doesn't make any sense. Good memory is cheaper than it's ever been - see the links above.

A lot of HD cameras will not work properly with cards larger than 32GB (cards over 32GB are usually SDXC rather than the SDHC standard used by 32GB cards. SDXC cards use the ex-FAT system rather than FAT32 - in short they are a different standard). - so don't just buy the biggest card you can afford - read the specs in the manual to see what it accepts.


RECOMMENDED CARDS (for action cams - see dashcams below)

CLASS 10 UHS-1 CARDS (For HD Cameras)


U3 CARD (For 4K cameras)




The SD card in a dashcam is re-written over, more frequently than in other types of cameras. Some manufacturers void their guarantee if an SD card was used in a dashcam. So, no surprise, there are special High Endurance SD cards made just for's some.


VERY IMPORTANT. These links take you to the product, however Amazon have three different ways of selling. There's Amazon Direct - This means that you are only dealing with Amazon themselves, then there's other sellers that use Amazon's facilities - these show as Fulfilled By Amazon and finally there's Market Place sellers that advertise on Amazon, but operate independently.  I strongly recommend that you only use the first...the Amazon Direct - Sold By Amazon option. Even if it appears that you are paying a couple of £/$ more it is more than likely you are comparing the price of a real item against the price of a fake.

To give you an idea of the extent of the fake goods problem. In a 2016 survey by Apple - 90% of the 'Apple' chargers sold through Amazon - using the other the two methods..which includes the "Fulfilled by Amazon" option -  were found to be counterfeit....90%! 

« Retro Tech: Audio Timers | Main | Netgear Arlo Wireless Battery-Powered Camera System »

SAE Mk VI HiFi Tuner - as old as I am, but showing it less

When I first got into nixie tubes I bought a clock and a couple of years later picked up a nixie watch. I then went looking to see what other devices had been made that used the tubes.
Most commonly, nixies had been employed in scientific or industrial equipment, including multimeters and frequency counters. They were also to be found in in petrol pumps and the odd arcade machine, however my interests lie more in consumer electronics, where they didn’t get the chance to make as much of an impact. By the time consumer tech with digital displays had become affordable, nixie tubes had already been phased out in favour of segmented LED digital displays.
Nixies had briefly been used as a TV channel number indicator and in some in early electric calculators but of most interest to me was their inclusion in digital display radio tuners from the early 1970s.
The three models that spring to mind are the Revox A720, the Scott 433 and the SAE Mark 6. The Scott is particularly fascinating technology wise as it used programmable cards on which you could store preset stations. However the component that most appealed to me was the SAE as it also ticked another important retro box - Scope Displays. 
If you are into vintage HiFi, you’ll have seen that the Marantz 1970s receivers with oscilloscope displays are most sought after, commanding prices into the thousands on ebay. A slightly more affordable point of entry to scope displays is to get a Scope Radio Tuner, and again Marantz made a number of these models, that can usually be picked up for a few hundred pounds.
My HiFi has been in need of a tuner since I replaced my receiver with a new amplifier, so the SAE Mk6 with it’s nixies and scope would be ideal. The only problem is that they are very rare. Costing $1050 in 1971 (equivalent to $6240 today) they weren’t exactly a mass market item. On the flip side though, they were extremely well made, so if anyone still has one, it’s more than likely that it’s working.
So I’ve had an SAE MK6 in my Saved Searches on ebay for a few years…and a couple of months ago it finally got a hit. I snapped it up immediately (for a very reasonable price) and you can see it in the video below. 
There are a few things that attract me to vintage HiFi. The look is very important, to me many of these things are beautiful pieces of electronic art. However the most important feature is that vintage HiFi actually does something just as well, or often better than the modern equivalent.
Whilst I love the look of old computers, a Mac Classic from the 1990s is not very useful today where so much relies upon fast graphical internet access. Even my first iPad from 2010 is painfully slow to use nowadays. However I can buy a 1960s record player, and it will play a record that I bought last week. I can switch on a HiFi tuner that’s as old as I am, and listen to the same stereo FM radio stations as everyone else.
One analogy could be the classic car, they often look better than anything made today and can still perform the function they were originally designed for. However unlike most 1970s cars, HiFi equipment from that era can also out-perform its modern equivalent. 
If you were to spend £500 on modern HiFi equipment, you would be able to get a pretty reasonable system. However if you spend that same amount wisely assembling 1970s and 1980s HiFi components, you can put together something that could outperform a modern setup costing ten times as much. 
So if you are thinking of getting into vinyl, or setting up a system - just spend a while browsing around the HiFi components on ebay, you may be able to pick up a classic bargain. 

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Reader Comments (14)


I wondered how John Carpenter made his music for Escape From New York.
EFNY Theme

September 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCapt. Nemo

I definitely love older audio equipment, both from an aesthetic and quality standpoint, but I feel like there's no good way to integrate a classic amplifier into a modern home theater setup. Do you know of any devices that can take an HDMI signal and provide a video passthrough while also decoding its audio into 6 discrete outputs (for 5.1)? That plus an HDMI switcher would be perfect for a retro-modern home theater setup; the front channels could go through a vintage amp, and the center and rear channels could go through a few small modern amplifiers (LePai or the like). And no needing to upgrade a stereo every single time there's another new HDMI spec, if this mythical device's HDMI passthrough were just a passthrough...

Any ideas if anything like that exists or is likely to exist? I feel like the home theater market would never really support anything like that without it costing a small fortune (especially compared to just staying on the A/V Receiver upgrade treadmill).

September 2, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterfluffy

Good to se a (In Europe anyway) S.A.E. tuner in that fine working condition!
S.A.E. was a James Bongiorno company which later became G.A.S. Great American Sound, their most remembered product was their 'Ampzilla' power amplifier. They were sold with great success in Sweden. I had the smaller 'Grandson' which I'm still missing...

Speaking of high-end vintage tuners:
The Sequerra Model 1 is the Holy Grail, albeit no Nixie tubes: ;)
I have only seen one sample in Sweden, in the early 80'.s

September 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMatte

It looks like there was another one in Italy (until recently)

September 2, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Hi Mat,

Stunning video, great 70's tech, they dont make em liked they used to anymore...

Great stuff - love the comedy muppets at the end..

As always thanks for listening...


September 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDaz

That is a monstrosity of awesomeness. Well done, what an excellent find!

September 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

There are a couple of differences between US FM and European FM Radio stations.
A tuner made only for US FM frequencies will only tune in 0.2MHz steps, whereas European tuners will tune in 0.1Mhz steps, because of differing station separation rules.
This means unfortunately that European stations that end in an even number or zero cannot be tuned in properly on a US only receiver, which results in noise and distortion.
The other difference is pre-emphasis, US is 50 microseconds and Europe is 75 microseconds, this affects the bass/treble balance.
Nice receiver though,
Regards David.

September 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Well the Oscilloscope is probably there to properly set up your antenna. Back then it was not uncommon to have a motor on your radio antenna, particularly in the US. Such oscilloscopes allowed you to judge the amount of multipath signal. The idea is the less multipath you have the less distortion you have. Multipath signals will not result in echo, at least not in those frequency ranges. Usually you would have the output of the frequency demodulator on the X axis while you'd have the output of an extra AM demodulator on the Y axis. Ideally the amplitude should be flat, however in real life situations with multipath, different frequencies are attenuated differently. Usually your receiver will try its best to compensate for this, however particularly for bad signals this might not give satisfactory results.
Keep in mind that by that time the problem of receiving FM stations was pretty much solved, and every decent tuner would get you a "perfect" sound on a good signal. Working with bad signal is where it gets exciting as well as helping you to get a good signal.

BTW you can use the MPX output to connect it to an RDS decoder if you like. Those did at least exist as kits in the 1990s.

September 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChristian Berger

My father has the same exact mk6 FM unit with ixB preamp equalizer! The warmth, the sound, ... incredible!
Additionally, it's mated with full set of quadraphonic Image towers + Thiel towers as well. Makes my Klipsche setup feel cold in timbre in comparison listening to HD-MA, yet I love the metallic drive and distinct tones from them.

If you ever need a manual, schematic, for SAE products.
--> Ask Jim (same name different person).

Oh, and Cap't Nemo, you want an HDMI Audio Extractor. Below is a 7.1ch config, but thee are others for 2ch, 4ch, etc..
If you plan on playing HD-MA and want a current receiver to decode lossless audio, you want it to be capable for bitstream. LPCM will send decoded LPCM x.1ch. I use one in my car for a bit of a clarity boost enhancement.

November 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJames

Hi Mat... In most of your videos you mention that nicely build amps with VU Meters is getting more and more scarcer. I came across a Yamaha Stereo Amplifier that they produce now, with a very retro-look with VU Meters. Although the price tag is out of range for most of us, it's worth looking at...

I'll supply the link to Yamaha UK for you, so that you can have a look at it.

December 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMartin

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