Knight  OCEAN HOPPER
   

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Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
A Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper.
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
This is a regen radio that was sold as a kit by Allied Radio. The manual that matches the schematic of this particular model has a copyright of 1957. However, there was no cabinet for an Ocean Hopper available till 1958, and it was sold separately (the cabinet was included starting in 1959). Also, the pre-1957 Ocean Hoppers didn't have the holes for the screws on the side edges, so let's give this a date of 1959, since it has a cabinet.
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
In 1959 I was four years old. There are still some guys out there who can boast they built an Ocean Hopper when they were a kid, but I'm not one of them. The expert on Ocean Hoppers is Dave Ishmael WA6VVL. Dave was born in 1944.
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
The front panel is pristine because it's a reproduction. The panel it came with was in nice condition, but I swapped them because the reproduction was nicer. The reproduction panel was made by none other than Dave Ishmael around 1997, so whoever owned it took really good care of it. 
 
Ocean Hopper front panel
The original front panel has a small ding on the right side. We can't have that.
 
 
ding in steel panel
 
ding in steel panel
 
WHAT THE DICKENS?! This panel is heavy gauge steel! How do these things happen?
 
 Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
Rear view. On the left are headphones jacks. In the center are screws for an external speaker. The antenna connector is on the right. There is no space whatsoever between the chassis and the back of the cabinet.
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
This Ocean Hopper was given to me as a gift by Victor Rodriguez, a fellow fan of Elmer Osterhoudt and (the old) Modern Radio Laboratories. He purchased it on ebay from the widow of a man named Gerald Eppel of Willis Texas, who died on June 5, 2022 at the age of 79. Among other accomplishments, he was a manager at KORN radio and KORN TV in South Dakota in the 1960s. Apparently, he collected Ocean Hoppers, because his widow put a half dozen up for sale, along with various coils and other radio related items. This was the nicest one, and Vic bought it and sent it to me. It was really packed well, to protect it from the Post Office employees.

Since Gerald Eppel had so many of these, there is no way to determine who built this one. Maybe it was Gerald, maybe not. The reproduction front panel was also sold by Mrs. Eppel. Vic bought it and sent it along.
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
I believe this is a model 740. I found a partial manual online that has the same parts as this version, and it states "Model 740" at the top. My manual doesn't show a model number. Allied Radio added, removed or changed parts during the years the Ocean Hopper was sold. It would be interesting to know which version works the best.
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
This is a very basic receiver. It doesn't even have a volume control. However, with a complete set of coils it tunes from 165 kilocycles to 35 megacycles.
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
 
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
The ring holding the filter capacitor is split because it came from a different size capacitor.
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
It was incredibly clean! Even the tubes were clean. I tried to "clean" it and couldn't find much of anything to clean.
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
This number is etched into the back. What could it mean?
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
The underside before recapping. The blue filter capacitor and the silver capacitor (top, right of center) are replacements.
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
The underside after re-capping.

 
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
When the radio arrived I plugged a pair of headphones in and turned it on. I was expecting a loud hum due to the age of the filter capacitors. Instead, what I got was ear-splitting radio reception. The regen control would pop and crackle, which sounded like gunshots in the headphones. I don't mean it sounded like a gun sounds. I mean it sounded like somebody fired a gun in the room next to my head! The radio was so loud I quickly pulled off the headphones and turned it off. I was afraid for both my hearing and the headphones.

There is no volume control, but you can control the volume to a great extent with the regen control. However, with the regen control causing gunshot sounds in the headphones, this radio was unusable. I plugged a meter into the headphone jacks and the needle swung back and forth, sometimes pegging the 10 volts AC scale.
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
I wrote to the Antique Radio Forum and asked if anybody had an idea of what an Ocean Hopper was "supposed" to sound like. One guy wrote that the capacitors are turning into resistors, which seemed very likely. It was going to be recapped anyway, so it would be easy to see if this was the case. In fact, it was.

Note: A capacitor showing a resistance is considered to be "leaking." In 1961, 63% of all major television troubles (excluding vacuum tubes) were caused by bad capacitors. (Statistic is from Electronics World December, 1961.) If capacitors were going bad in 1961, what were the condition of these in 2022?
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
I couldn't just replace the capacitors with these yellow things.
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
BEFORE AFTER

To get a similar appearance to the original capacitors, it would take some arts and crafts.
 

Artzenkrafts

"Artzenkrafts" is my new fake German word. It's like the word "springenverk." You can use a fake German accent with a bunch of German sounding words to impress people. "Machen zie artzenkrafts! Schnell!!"
 
 
 
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
 
     
The first attempt involved printing the values, cutting out the strips of paper and rolling them into tubes. Then the tubes were stuffed with new capacitors and the ends were sealed with my new invention - Black Elmer's Glue-All. When I market the black glue I'll be rich! Rich, I tell you!! Vie vill machen der artzenkrafts mit schwarz Elmer's stickenstucken!
 
Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper
Unfortunately, they looked like rolled up paper tubes with black Elmer's Glue-All on the ends.
Ach! Sie gelookin aus klumpen von sheit. (More fake German.)
 
 

 
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