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Here are some tips I've picked up from the Internet about the GE Phoenix radios.

Message: 12 (From the Repeaters mailing list at

Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2000 11:39:33 -0900

From: Steve

Subject: Re: GE Phoenix Problem!

One of the most common problems with the Phoenix S & SX was the On/Off switch. It caused many different symptoms. One of which was a howl in the audio. And several other problems that were seemingly unrelated. The switch would develop resistance across it that would cause low voltage to the radio that you would not see measuring at the power connector in the back.

This was not the case in the earlier crystal Phoenix which had a separate switch. That one had problems with the darn speaker in the top of the case. People had a tendency to use the radio as a coffee table and spill lots of liquids into the speaker. Not the fault of the radio of course but still a design that invited disaster though it did have better audio than it's successor because of the larger speaker.

Both versions had another major design flaw. The case top had a seam right behind the front panel that acted as a funnel into the radio for liquids. As people spilled liquids on them, the stuff would run right down into the radio. We finally cured this problem by making brackets that put the radio at about a 45 degree angle, but of course someone would then try to balance the cup on the edge!

One particular repair job comes to mind with some amusement. The Phoenix SX came in and the customer said it "Just stopped working". I pulled the top cover and was surprised to find what looked like another case under it. Same shape and molded just like the inside of the top cover, but a lovely brown color. I could find no screws or and other features in the apparent seamless cover! I scraped at it with a screwdriver and it started to flake off and powder up. The unmistakable aroma of chocolate wafted through the shop. It was dried HOT CHOCOLATE!! The driver of the vehicle had spilled SO MUCH hot chocolate into the thing it was completely POTTED with the stuff!! The only thing I could think to do was put it in the shower for a while and let it dissolve. After a thorough drying and replacement of the speaker and On/Off switch it went back to work. Don't know if I ever saw it again.

Another common problem in the Phoenix S & SX was the connectors that run through the casting to connect the two boards together. They also caused a large variety of symptoms.

In troubleshooting a Phoenix S or SX - go directly to the On/Off switch first and check voltage on either side. And the solder connections to it. It sometimes got stressed and broke the PC traces where the tabs were soldered in.

And that damn little screw that holds the knob on! The knob is mounted upside down in the radio and if you did not use some sort of sealer to keep it from backing out it would come loose and the knob then could freewheel. Over the years I have used fingernail polish, paint, silicon, and glyptol to hold this little pest in place. Whatever was at hand in a pinch. Do this and it will save problems in the future.

I remember when the local GE dealer first started selling the Phoenix S & SX. He touted them as the greatest thing since flush toilets. And at the same time refused to work on the Century IIs. Although in the long run, all the Phoenix crystal and Century II's I have maintained have long since outperformed (read outlasted) their newer synthesized offspring.

I still have a dozen or so Phoenix in the field, but have finally convinced the owners to upgrade as they fail. And then there will be more available. Or more parts for them!!

But one thing is for sure they will continue to be around for a long time. And just when you think you have seen the last of them, they will make like their namesake and rise again to give some other tech wonder and/or grief.

So ends my personal Flight Of The Phoenix story.

By the way, New London Technology, still had parts and radios last I checked.

Steve Tolley Wasilla Radio Wasilla, Alaska

You ought to see how a Phoenix works at -70 F!! NOT!!!


Except for portions owned by others, Copyright: Ray Vaughan, 2008