RCA BN-2A Portable Radio Broadcast Console

RCA began producing portable consoles as far back as the early 1930s. The BN-2A came out after the war and was quite a nice little unit. It could handle four separate inputs (although inputs 3 and 4 shared a fader on the front panel) and would supply a signal to a standard 600-ohm telephone line. It doubled as a PA system. Unlike a lot of earlier portable consoles used for remote work—the brilliant Western Electric 22-series comes to mind—the BN-2A did not require a separate power supply. It was plug and play.

My mixer needs some work on the face plate. This plate is essentially a sheet of .060 alumininum that is held to the front of the chassis by the various screws, nuts, and other fasteners holding the knobs and stuff. So the first order of business is to remove the face plate and see what I have to work with. I removed all the knobs and switches, as well as the VU meter. The plate has a few extra holes and the three top holes for the binding posts on the upper left were drilled out to accept the 1/4-inch jacks formerly located on the right side of the cabinet. Also, someone drilled a hole between the power switch and the fuse holder so they could install a "power on" light. In the original configuration, there was no such light. The operator was meant to use the light in the VU meter to determine whether the unit was getting power.

I have been looking for replacement binding posts for years. Finally, I got the bright idea to check the Play Things of the Past web site. I couldn't tell from the single photo if the binding posts I needed were available so I sent an e-mail. The ever-helpful Gary got back to me soon after, asking for some mounting details. I sent the required information and he wrote back that he had a bunch of them (NOS, no less). Nice!

I decided to try making a new panel. The original had all the numbers, labels, and even the RCA "bug" etched into the aluminum. It's a fairly easy process to etch aluminum so I spent most of a day working on the artwork for a replacement panel. I have done quite a lot of graphics/typography in the past, so I was pretty well equipped. I even found that I had a version of the typeface that RCA originally used for the labels. Here's a reduced version of what I came up with:

Artwork for Replacement Face Plate

More to follow later...

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