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Project with Purpose - Can a student bring this Classic 1980's NAD Amplifier 3020 back to life?

Updated: Feb 15

Our Chief Enthusiast Lenny mentor's students in between time doing a PhD and consulting in Complex Information Systems for the F35 Joint Strike Fighter. During a recent visit to Washington DC he discovered a colleague Andy had a much loved amplifier purchased in 1980 which was in need of some care and attention. It turns out that Andy brought this classic amplifier over from the UK after it had been stored for nearly 20 years and was destined to begin a new life in Virginia USA.

The amp didn't seem to be fully functional and had some broken inputs so it returned with Lenny to become another Project with Purpose. Once back in the UK it was brought to the Lab and allocated to Eli - one of our students.

Eli's mission was to breath life into Andy's prized possession and to refurbish it so that it could return to "The Blue Ridged Mountains of Virginia, on the trail of the lonesome pine.." yep that's where Andy lives.. Eli has never done anything vaguely like this before and as such, Eli had a tall mountain to climb which was daunting task. With Lenny's oversight, Eli and Lenny sat down and worked through planning each stage and breaking down the job into bite sized pieces, documenting all elements in a GitHub repository, taking lots of videos and photographs. Each stage was accompanied by a short theory lesson to describe how an amplifier works along with a set of procedures to make sure that Eli was following safe processes.

Along the way we identified that the RCA input connectors were worn and needed replacing.. the only issue was that they were unique to the 3020 and now out of production. So we came up with an idea which was to cut the tops off the old connectors and fit a new item into the remaining part with turned out to be a perfect fit and slotted into place beautifully.

With the new connectors in place, it was then time to address some of the problems which included lots of cleaning, replacing capacitors, cleaning switches, repairing some of the PCB board pads and getting rid of pops and crackles by using a deoxidant on the volume controls.

With all that done it was time to do some testing and to put it all back together ready for its long journey home to the USA.

So with another Purposeful Project complete, everyone is happy. Andy gets a lovely sounding amplifier which has provided Eli with a challenge which developed self confidence, problem solving skills, practical techniques such as soldering and some theory of electronics. Most of all it was fun and Eli got to put his mark on a much loved piece of equipment which will have a new story, one Eli made happen - with a little bit of help but very little hands on from Lenny.

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