... A Rare Radio Speaker Mesh Confirms Alpha
A surprising discovery has been made by our staff regarding a small and previously unassuming element of the communicator prop, the microphone grill (or "mic grill" in hobby parlance), that 1) allows you to make ever-more accurate replicas, and 2) demonstrates yet again without any ambiguity the assured authenticity of the the found Wah-built Alpha hero:
It has been a popular notion that Wah obtained the pale gold-colored perforated diamond-embossed metal speaker mesh used in the mic grill from an early 1960's Universal 8 transistor radio (pictured at left <<), or perhaps something very similar. This is now confirmed to not be correct. He instead likely used a Coronet-Windsor 2-Transistor Boy's Radio (image at right, also a link to a larger version of the same pic >>).
How could we possibly know such a thing, given the hundreds of radios that had the diamond mesh? Because the speaker material in Wah's communicators is a different type than what is found on the Universal, Candle, Omegas, or for that matter 99.9% of all diamond-meshed vintage models. And what is this clear-cut difference that has eluded detection by all other prop experts for all these years? Simple actually, once you know to look for it. The hole spacing. Observe:
both pictures above, the embossed diamond pattern is at the same scale.
Only the density of the holes is different, with the Wah-used having
a slightly greater spacing between each. It has taken the HC staff
considerable time to identify, obtain and study samples of this unexpected
element. So tiny are these features in real life, the big question
is: can this difference be easily quantified? Answer - yes!
how to tell what you've got: 1)
Arrange the diamond pattern so it runs long-ways up/down, 2)
Find a hole anywhere that lands on an intersection of the diamond grooves
(or maybe centered on a diamond peak), and 3)
Count how many hole columns left or right
it takes for another hole to land on a similar intersection (or peak
if that's how you started). If it repeats
in 6 rows, it is the commonplace wrong stuff. If it repeats
in only 4, BINGO! You win. As demonstrated in a slice of
the picture above, "0" is a hole where the counting begins
and the "1" through "6" are the holes in adjacent
It cannot be imagined why this odd variant ever came into being from the vendors who supplied the stamped metal to radio manufacturers, and do be aware that there are yet more oddball hole arrangements and spacings out there, including one with an even greater hole-to-hole distance and another with parallel rows/columns instead of the usual staggered.
As to why Wah used such an uncommon radio speaker mesh, it must simply have been what he had by chance lying around to strip down. However, what this ultra-rare selection in 1966 granted us at HeroComm when it was first discovered during our 2007 Alpha blueprint efforts (the hero tracings didn't match a pre-drawn grill from a Universal) was to see yet one more absolutely unmistakable tell in Alpha that is unique to only true authentic Wah-built comms. To illustrate this, below are grill photos from four known originals with the "horizontal hole-count test" superimposed. Note how it works out perfectly in every case:
Our Parts page for the mic grill tells you how best go about finding a radio with this highly-uncommon mesh for your superior-accuracy replica.
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