CQ cartoon, July 2021

Lots of people ask me, “I just bought a vintage radio” or guitar amp or record player or hi-fi or whatever, and they want to know if they can just plug it in and turn it on. It depends on your tolerance for fire.

Old-time radios are full of capacitors (sometimes called “condensers”) — components that store a small electrical charge for brief periods of time. Nowadays, they’re made of mylar and synthetic material, but through the ’50s and early ’60s, many of them were made of wax paper. When one of them fails, you’re likely to notice it first with your nose.

If you don’t feel comfortable working on electronics, best to find someone to check out that classic Fender amp or Harmon-Kardon tuner before you plug it and damage it.

Denise is sporting her Kappa Delta letters here.

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