Need help identifying an antique piece of electronics (Siemens Halske Substitution Box)

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Neil Brewer, Aug 18, 2015.

  1. Neil Brewer

    Thread Starter New Member

    Aug 18, 2015
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    Can anyone help me identify this piece of antique Siemens Halske hardware? My father gave it to me, and I can't find anything about it online.
    Any help would be appreciated, including which year it may have been produced and what it would have been used for.

    Thanks so much in advance!

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  2. AnalogKid

    Distinguished Member

    Aug 1, 2013
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    I'd love to see the inside; they built things...differently...back then. My guess is a capacitor substitution box, probably high voltage given the size.

    Fire off an email with photos to Siemens corporate. Maybe some in-house archivist can help, or even offer you something for it.

    ak
     
  3. ISB123

    Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2014
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    No idea what it could be but it looks like it was made around WWII.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2015
  4. Neil Brewer

    Thread Starter New Member

    Aug 18, 2015
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    Thanks for your tips and advice. I agree it certainly looks like WWII era, and I too would love to take a peek inside. There are nails on the bottom I don't want to disturb, but there are screws in the top. After a little more sleuthing, I may open it up and take a peek. If I do, I'll post pictures.

    AK, I like your idea of contacting Siemens and seeing if someone there might know more. I'll do that, and keep you posted.

    Thanks,
    Neil
     
  5. mcgyvr

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 15, 2009
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    capacitor decade box?
     
  6. alfacliff

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 13, 2013
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    it could be a resistor substitution box., the brass strips with the threaded holes to connect them was a methode used back during the telegraph days, around ww1 and before. might be a very low resistance box for a whetstone bridge.
     
  7. cornishlad

    Member

    Jul 31, 2013
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    I would guess more like ww1 era and suggest it 's a capacitor substitution box. The clue being the "Mikrofarad" label in the 3rd and 4th picture.
    Is there connectivity between the left hand block and the 4 front brass connections. If so there might be 1uf between left and right main terminal with all 4 keys in position..Just guessing..
    BTW the box almost certainly opens from the top by removing the large countersunk brass screws..
    EDIT: Siemens history goes back to 1847..I think it quite possible that the box is pre 1900.
    Another edit !! "starting in 1881 at the International Congress of Electricians in Paris, the name farad was officially used for the unit of electrical capacitance" Wikipedia
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2015
  8. Neil Brewer

    Thread Starter New Member

    Aug 18, 2015
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    Ah, nice findings cornishlad. Wow, this might very well be pre 1900, how cool!

    Anyone that is guessing "capacitor substitution box", I'm agreeing with. I spoke with an electrical engineer, and he immediately said, "oh, that's a capacitor substitution box, and here's why...", and then went on to explain things I don't understand.

    Conishlad, you asked about connectivity between the left blaock, and the 4 front blocks. No, there is no connection, but you can take one of the keys, and place it in the hole between the left block, and the top block. See that little key hole in the upper left area? After that, you could use the remaining keys to configure the remaining blocks however you want. Make sense?

    This weekend, I'll pop the top and give everyone a peek at the guts.

    I've still not heard back from Siemens. If I hear anything, I'll update this post.
     
  9. Neil Brewer

    Thread Starter New Member

    Aug 18, 2015
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    Sorry I haven't posted a picture of the insides just yet, but I did receive a response from the Siemens historian.
    And now, for the big reveal....... :)

    Dear Neil,

    replying to your enquiry of the 19th.
    This product was produced approximately 1913.
    It is a precision mica capacitor with 1 microfarad (0.1 + 0.2 + 0.2 + 0.5 = 1).

    I hope my answer is clear.

    With best regards,
    Hermann-Josef Moufang

    Siemens AG
    Communications and Government Affairs
    Siemens Historical Institute
     
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  10. tom_s

    Member

    Jun 27, 2014
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    there wasn't an offer for that? looks close to mint condition :)
     
  11. Neil Brewer

    Thread Starter New Member

    Aug 18, 2015
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    Not as of yet. I emailed them back, and asked if they would like to make an offer. If not, I guess I'll put it up on eBay.
    Does anyone know what a fair starting auction price would be?
     
  12. DerStrom8

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2011
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    It would help to know if it still works and the capacitors are within spec. Either way I think it'd be safe to start off at $30-40. It's vintage test equipment, and would make a great addition to a collection, or to a museum. Judging by the (presumably) ZIP code in your "location" I'm guessing you're in Kentucky? I would give the Kentucky Science Center a call and see if they'd be interested in having it. Never been there so I don't know what kind of exhibits they put together, but may be worth a go.
     
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  13. Neil Brewer

    Thread Starter New Member

    Aug 18, 2015
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    Yes, from central KY.
     
  14. KeepItSimpleStupid

    Well-Known Member

    Mar 4, 2014
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    Got here too late, but a precision capacitor box would have been my guess. Capacitors add when placed in parallel. Mica is pretty stable. I don;t think I would take it apart. It's probably still good.
     
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  15. AnalogKid

    Distinguished Member

    Aug 1, 2013
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    How big is it?
     
  16. Neil Brewer

    Thread Starter New Member

    Aug 18, 2015
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    @KeepItSImpleStupid : I am also thinking I don't want to take it apart anymore. I have visions of brittle wires or something breaking as soon as I open it.

    @AnalogKid : The dimensions are 6.5"x8.25"x4", and it weighs 7 pounds, 14 ounces (3.6 Kg)
     
  17. ian field

    Distinguished Member

    Oct 27, 2012
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    Its pretty unlikely component accuracy would be much of an issue on equipment made before WW1.

    There won't be many surviving examples in any condition, someone somewhere will want it in their collection - and pay to get it.
     
    Neil Brewer likes this.
  18. Neil Brewer

    Thread Starter New Member

    Aug 18, 2015
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