Sunday, June 19, 2011



  1. Very interesting machine. Is the power supply spec written on the motor? I don't think it would be difficult to bring to life. Heck, take it to your local ham radio club and look for somebody old.

  2. Well, you've certainly convinced me to shut down my computing behemoth and do some writing on my Smith-Corona.

    But, I do love the look of that Electrite. Oozes old world feel, yet it has a touch of modern design bolted to the side. Two seemingly contradictory elements working together.

  3. @notagain: Here's everything the GE motor tells me:

    Model no. 30445
    Type SDA Frame 30B
    R.P.M. 4800 V. 110 CYC. 60/DC
    Form U No. GDFK X

    I had naively thought I could waltz into a Home Depot and waltz out with an AC-to-DC transformer. But no. I asked an expert for advice and he replied: "You would want to use an isolation transformer rated to handle the power required by the motor. I would guess that it would be rather low, possibly as low as 100 watts although this is only a guess. I also would assume that the 110 VDC does not need to be regulated. Now, if you take a one to one isolation transformer and rectify the output you are going to end up with more than 110 VDC. You are going to need the current draw of the motor to determine a series dropping resistor or voltage divider. Without knowing much about the motor, you would need to do some experimenting. I would use an AC Variac in front of the isolation transformer to start off at a much lower voltage applied to the motor. That way you could run the voltage up slowly until you get the 110 VDC at the motor. Once you get the proper operating voltage, you could measure the current draw. This would give you the information required to determine size and values of the series dropping resistor."

    Electrical language is like Sanskrit to me, so at this point I gave up. I will listen, though, if anyone would like to provide more advice.

  4. I really think you should try to get it to work. That way you can post a video of it in action because I really want to see how that guy functions.

  5. Hope you get it to work. But even if you don't, it is as you say, an elegant piece of industrial design. Stunning.

  6. Re: sufficiency - maybe we should look at it from the other side: we're all creatures in a web of interdependence. The idea of supreme individual freedom is nice, but contravenes the social contract at times. Likewise, the alternative lifestylers seeking pure off-grid independence often understate the degree of dependence on services or products that come from the greater world.

    Personally, I think there's freedom in a typewriter because it depends on fewer arbitrary connectivities than a computer. It's ready, now. Its net reliability is greater.

    And, maybe, because typewriters represent a limitation of sorts (or, a technological sufficiency), they foster a different kind of working relationship with different possibilities that come from focus, physical dynamics/ergonomics etc.

  7. Intriguing typewriter! On a detail, I like the "Electrite" decal design.

  8. Save the planet, stick with the clockwork, leave it off-grid :-) It reminds me strongly of my mother's old Singer sewing machine which was practically identical (except for colour)to my hand-cranked turn-of-the-century Singer. Wonder if they ever made a clockwork sewing machine?

  9. Could you run it off a car battery? My girlfriend figured out how to power a video projector with a pretty substantial power draw using jumper cables hooked to a DC to AC converter and a line filter/surge protector. Maybe absent the converter, the system could work for your motor? But don't do anything before asking your local go-to electrical guru.

  10. Hey Richard. I got enthused and asked my go-to electrical guy about the Electrite. He said that, because the motor says CYC 60, it's likely a universal motor and runs on AC or DC. So don't use a battery (it needs more volts than a battery can provide). Instead, his advice was this: "Tell him to plug it in."

    Dare ya!


    1. Your guy was right, Rob. And after a few more adventures, the Electrite is working.