How to decode Technical Abbreviations

Technical abbreviations and how to decode them

AC                              alternating current

AF                              audio frequency (often called low
frequency in continental Europe).

AGC                             automatic gain control

aircheck                        recording of a radio programme with the
music removed (apart from the opening and close of records), so that
presenters can review their programmes without having to listen through
the records

airplane dial                   round dial on radio receivers (like the
old Zenith consoles had). Most times they have a vernier tuning knob and
span 300 degrees or so.

ANB                             Army-Navy-British (on headsets, etc.)

APC                             automatic picture control (to maintain
contrast level)

AVC                             automatic volume control (in radio,
effectively the  same as AGC)

AVO                             a particular make of multimeter (AVO
stands for amps, volts, ohms) but often applied to any          multimeter

AWG                             American Wire Gauge. Almost the same as
our SWG.

BA                              (humorous) boatanchor

BGM                             background music

boatanchor                      (humorous) Although there are different
interpretations of this term, generally any radio that is Œhollow state¹
or tube-type is liable to be considered a boatanchor.  Units produced
from WWII until the mid 1960s are probably the most     popular examples
of the genre.  The origin of the  term Œboatanchor¹ becomes self-evident
after carrying a DX100 (a classic anchor) to your car and noticing how
much longer your arms   have become. Boatanchors may be transmitters or
receivers... and no 'anchor' station is complete without an assortment of
like-aged station accessories like microphones, transmit/receive relays,
vintage SWR bridges and so on.

bottle                          (humorous) valve

bug, dead bug           (humorous) integrated circuit

cascade                 in cascade = in series

condenser                       older name for capacitor

CRT                             cathode ray tube (TV picture tube)

crystal triode                  early name for transistor

CTV                             colour television

DAT                             digital audio tape

DC                              direct current

DSP                             digital signal processing

DVM                             digital voltmeter

EHT                             extra high tension (measured in thousands
of volts)

elco                            Continental name for ELectrolytic
COndenser (capacitor)

FAQ                             frequently-asked question

firebottle                      (humorous) valve

Flower Power            (humorous) Germanium transistor, so-called
because of the common misprint in books arising from confusion during the
hippy (flower power) era with the flower Geranium

fluid state                     see Hollow State

freezing lotion         aerosol can of freezing liquid (useful for
identifying faulty capacitors and transistors)

GB                              grid bias, Gaumont-British

Griefkit                        (humorous) name applied to a certain
brand of do-it-yourself radio and electronics construction kits, popular
in the USA and Britain from the 1950s-1980s

HF                              high frequency (means what we call radio
frequency in continental Europe)

hollow state                    (humorous) thermionic, the opposite of
solid state

HT                              high tension (measured in hundreds of

ident                           short for station identification, either
visual  (television) or audio (radio and television)

i.p.s.                          inches per second (tape recording speed)

ISEP                            International Standard Equipment
Practice. A style of plug-in cards and racks popular in the 1960s and 70s.

LF                              low frequency (means what we call audio
frequency in continental Europe)

LO                              London (BBC/ITV telegraphic code), local

LOPT or LOPTX           line output transformer

LT                              low tension

NIB                             new in box (as new condition, in the
original box, but its sales history is unknown).

NOS                             new old stock, i.e. old stock which is
unused  and unsold

OB                              outside broadcast, called a 'remote' in
the USA

O/C or open                     open circuit

OT                              old-time, old-timer

OTR                             old-time radio

P as B                          programme as broadcast, i.e.  a recording
made 'live' at the time of broadcast, with nothing deleted

PCB                             printed circuit board or Poly Chlorinated
Biphenol, a hazardous substance

p&p                             postage and packing

PWB                             printed wiring board (alternative
expression for PCB)

Q                               abbreviation for capacitor or transistor
on circuit diagram

Rat Shack                       colloquial name for a nation-wide chain
of electronics hobby shops in the USA, often used semi-humorously

resistance                      older name for resistor

RS                              can stand for Radio Shack (Tandy) or RS
(Radiospares) when used as a prefix to part numbers. Check the context.

RTR                             ready to run or reel-to-reel

RTTY                            Radio teletype (teletypewriter traffic
sent by radio circuit rather than by wire)

sand-state                      solid-state or silicon (humorous)

SASE                            self-addressed, stamped envelope

S/C or short                    short circuit

s/h                             shipping and handling (i.e. postage and

shunt                           in shunt = in parallel

smoothing bomb          electrolytic capacitor (colloquial)

solid state                     device using semiconductor technology or

sustaining programme            unsponsored programme provided without
advertisements or idents by the network, which can then be re-broadcast
by other stations without the need to obliterate commercials or another
station¹s ident

SWG                             Standard Wire Gauge

three-wire fuse         (humorous) transistor (also known as solid state
electric fire)

tranny                          (colloquial) transformer or transistor

transcribed programme   recorded programme as opposed to a programme
transmitted live

transmission copy               the play-out copy of a programme which
was recorded prior to being transmitted

TTY                             teletype (often used as a synonym for

tube                            USA: (electronic) valve
                                UK: if used as an abbreviation, generally
means a CRT

tx                              transmitter, transmission, transmission

U                               Unit of height (1.75") in 19" equipment
rack practice. Panels are measured in number of U height.

U/S                             useless, unserviceable

vacuum state            see hollow state

vacuum tube                     valve

VF                              video frequency or voice frequency (i.e.
audio frequency) according to context

VOM                             volt-ohm meter, multimeter

VT                              valve, thermionic or valve, transistor
(abbreviation used  on circuit diagrams), or videotape

VTR                             video tape recorder

VTVM                            vacuum tube voltmeter, i.e. VVM

VVM                             valve voltmeter

x                               general cypher used for shortening words
(see examples below)

xistor                          transistor

xmtr                            transmitter

xtal                            crystal

Copyright © 1996 Andy Emmerson

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