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Weltron Model 2001 "Space Ball" AM/FM/8 Track (1970s)

This page is dedicated to a nostalgic example of electronics from the 1970s that I am proud to own. Though I was not even alive during the 70s and don't have memories of such electronics, it is still fun for me to explore such devices and nostalgia. This thing is way kewl! A big big eternal thanks goes out to Joe Acker for giving me this unit for Christmas one year!

 

(By the way, I don't have all three units shown above; just the white one.)

A stellar example of 1970s "space-abilia," this Weltron radio/tape player has a unique, unmistakable profile. It's the size and shape of a bowling ball, with an overall otherworldly look. It has a carrying handle on top which pulls out. The twin speakers on the sides are 8-Ohm speakers made by Pioneer. At the back of each speaker grille is a jack for an extension speaker. A stereo headphone jack is placed under the console at bottom front.

At the bottom of the swiveling base is a giant rubber suction cup which, when placed on a smooth surface, adds to the weight-distribution quality of the unit by making it un-knock-overable. :-) To release the suction cup from the surface it is on, just pull up the tab (which you can just barely see on the back of the yellow unit in the picture above). A funky, although not too practical, touch is the chrome mounting ring on top. Yes, you could actually hang this radio from a chain on the ceiling! I don't really see the advantage of doing this though, unless you just want to make it harder to operate and need something to knock your head on when you walk by. The 13-pound weight of the unit (that's without batteries in it) would make for a pretty attractive bruise, headache, and possibly mild concussion if you were running or something. Sounds like fun!

The long horizontal slot is where you insert an 8-track stereo tape cartridge. The three slider controls to the upper left of the face of the unit are balance, tone, and volume, from left to right. The rightmost round knob is the tuner and other one selects AM, FM, or Tape mode. The square black pushbutton under the round knobs is the program selector for 8-track use. The round silver pushbutton at lower right is the power switch, and there is a small battery charge meter at the lower left. There are indicator lights for power on (which is red in color), current program being played on the 8-track (1, 2, 3, or 4 -- these are green), and FM stereo (which is amber in color). These are actual light bulbs, not LEDs! :-)

This set can run on AC power via an AC cord that comes with it, 8 "D" size batteries, or 12-volt DC power from a car's cigarette lighter. The battery pack and jacks for the other two power sources are accessible through a removable hatch in the back. There is a place for the AC cord to conveniently wind up on the inside of the hatch panel, for storage while using another type of power source.

The Weltron 2001 came in several colors (at least white, red, and yellow). The one I have is white. The white color is most common. Plastic of this type unfortunately normally tends to yellow with age. However, the one I have was stored well and is still a pure glossy white! A color other than white would probably raise the value of the unit a little.

Despite the wacky appearance, these units are durable and well-built. These units were quite popular in their time, and quite a few are still in circulation. When I got mine, the 8-track tape player didn't work, but thanks to a little soldering work, once I finally got to the tape mechanisms, I easily got it working again. The stereo sound from the 8-track tape player sounds awesome, by the way.

With 25 transistors and 13 diodes, this is a complicated radio, and isn't as easy to work on as most from the era. The electronics are packed tightly inside the rounded shell, spread among 4 or 5 circuit boards mounted in different positions so as to fit inside the spherical case, and the tape mechanisms are buried deep inside the chassis. Much removing of screws and metal plates and moving wires out of the way and trying to remember how everything goes back together is required to get to the tape mechanisms -- it's a hassle, but worth it. Here is what the entire chassis looks like out of its case:

Neat, huh? Its not-too-big size and compact controls make it easy to operate, even in the dark. And it has multiplexed FM stereo with Auto Fine-Tuning, which makes it easy to find and lock onto FM stations. The internal speakers are 8-Ohm speakers made by Pioneer. One thing I think is neat is the fully retractable telescoping antenna. When you pull it ALL the way out of its shaft, a swiveling-and-swinging base for the antenna comes out, making it adjustable to nearly any angle.

This unit appears briefly in the movie Boogie Nights. Watch for two of them on a display rack behind Buck, in the scene where Buck tries to sell a stereo system to a local guy. It also appears in the movie Now and Then, near the beginning, at the beginning of the first flashback to childhood. I can't quite remember whose room it was in, but you have to look for it -- it's in the background of one shot on a bookshelf.

Weltron sold a few other models, all of which have recently become collectibles. A rectangular-shaped radio/8-track set is fairly common, usually at lower prices than this unusual model. Model 2004 has the same spherical cabinet as the 2001, but with a cassette player instead of an 8-track tape player. The controls on the 2004 are a lot more crowded and it doesn't look like a "spaceman face" as the 2001 does.

Aren't you glad I educated you on this awesome little radio?


If you want to learn about more antique radios, go to antiqueradio.org!


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