That title won’t mean much to most of my friends, colleagues, or folks who stumble across this post.
It will, however, mean much to those who know what it is.
The cliff note version is straightforward. Amateur radio operators have been around since Tesla and Marconi discovered ways to transmit and receive noise. They didn’t call them that in those days, but I would argue they were two of the first. If you think about it, they were doing what we do today.
No FCC or regulatory board was selling them permission to transmit a signal. No Japanese or Chinese companies were marketing expensive radios or other products, gadgets, etc. There was only raw determination, a pioneering spirit, and scientific discovery.
When I got into the hobby, I built my first transmitter out of TV parts. That might sound impressive, and it was for a ten-year-old, but I built it from a schematic created by an engineer.
We stand on the shoulders of giants.
Many of those giants, in my world, were the attendees at an event called Hamarama. A convention of folks organized by caring individuals for those like-minded is impressive.
Unlike most conventions for different hobbies, ham radio conventions and activities have ‘non-pecuniary’ as the cornerstone of their existence. Their motive is not for profit.
Most have a servant’s heart.
When there is bad weather, and your TV personality reflects his brilliance by what the ‘storm chasers or spotters’ are seeing, those people are genuine heroes. They are ham radio folks performing volunteer service that is risky and costly. They do this to keep you safe. And still, the FCC charges them for the right to have a license to use that same radio. Something is very wrong with our system of government.
Think about that as you try to relate your hobby to this one.
Contrast this hobby with the hobby of writing as an example. I can speak to this as I am a writer and author and out to change how writers think of themselves.
Conventions for writers are ridiculously expensive. Maybe someone can tell me or justify why someone should spend $500 on a ticket to hear these authors. They do public speaking to promote their brand.
I know many of the authors that would speak at this event. The draw for the writers is simple, access to an agent. Whoopie.
I realize that the description is vague, but the conventions for radio operators have the same programs, speakers, and alike that assist those who want to learn more about their craft. A ticket to Hamarama in Ardmore, Oklahoma, is $8, $10 at the door. That money goes back to the convention center rented for the event.
The speakers at writer’s events do it for notoriety, and they have pecuniary interests. They want to sell their books.
I have slogged through the trenches of both hobbies. Being an autodidact, striving for perfection is my way of life.
Marconi, Tesla, and Mark Twain were autodidacts. You could add Bill Gates to the list.
During my last trip to Ardmore, I realized that many of those people I looked forward to seeing were no longer with us.
Time is precious and fleeting. Don’t let it slip away from you.
I take extreme delight in working with the feds and or Scotland Yard, tracing this kind of crap down to put the perpetrator in prison where they belong. Were you aware that the UK is so crime-free they don’t need an equivalent to the FBI? I digress.
After 40 years of fighting viruses, the evil that men do has become rather personal.
These time-wasting life-sucking jerks have cost me many hours of my life unraveling the gordian knots they weave, and it sickens me.
For me, this started with the Michael Angelo Virus before there was such a thing as Anti-Virus software. Can you imagine fighting a virus without the tools we have today? This was an extensive company network with hundreds of PCs in a token ring environment. I doubt we would have been successful if we had not had a Network General Sniffer (a packet analyzer).
The reason it sickens me is simple. Many people fall for this crap, and it costs them. There are scam artists everywhere. Retired people are one of the targets they love the most. They freak out, click, call, or what have you.
Once the hook is set, the odds are much better the criminal will get something for their efforts. Much like a worm on a hook, it only takes getting the bait in front of the fish.
One of the questions I am asked constantly is this. What is the best anti-virus software out there?
There was a day I could have answered that. It depends on which company is the most proactive at looking for the latest virus or threats. If they rest on their laurels, they can go from number one to (never again.)
Many of these schemes can be easily thwarted if the victim employs some critical thinking skills.
Here is the latest:
Look at this statement. Let’s use some critical thinking skills here.
Firstly right off the bat, you know you didn’t buy anything for $500. But wait, they didn’t charge tax. huh? If this was a legitimate invoice, it would most probably be a different number, not $499.99. It would be $541.24 for my tax rate.
The key is my tax rate. Tax rates are different per location. That would require the perpetrator to know where you were and then calculate the tax.
That is a huge red flag that just about any person should catch.
What else? Where is the hook?
Athur … What kind of name is that? King, I understand. Should it be Arthur perhaps?
The Hook is the 888 number a person will call if they are …’What the hell, this is mistake, I need to call them and…!”
No, it is a fishing scheme, much like the king in Nairobi who has tens of thousands of dollars he wants to give you, if you will give him a bank account number to send it to.
There are robbers who will steal your physical stuff. There are low life who will send out viruses and or phishing scams, and then there are the professionals who rob you blind. They are called politicians.
Think I am wrong?? Tell me good sir or madam, why would a politician spend $19 million dollars of their own money for a job that pays 150K a year? If you said they were altruistic, I have some ocean-front property…No wait, I have some soon to be desert that used to be the Mississippi River. Since it will be a desert it could easily be a transcontinental rail for a bullet train or, a toll road sponsored by the Saudis or perhaps China, to move freight the old fashion with truckers.
Nope, forget that, we won’t have diesel for them, as someone turned off the American oil spigot and wants you to vote for them again.
Did you know that even though trains are electric they have huge generators that power the gigantic motors. Care to guess what the generators use for energy.
Critical thinking is a lost art. It might have died with my generation.
Hope your day is great! The food or lack of food on your table might depend upon how you vote.
Like many of you, I suspect you might find you have more time on your hands these days. Yes, there is still work but, virtual work?
Human interaction distinguishes us from furry friends who now have more freedom than we do.
This summer, as I watched a squirrel eat the last of my peaches, it was not lost on me that I was on the inside looking out.
Sanity is not overrated.
I began the ‘two weeks to flatten the curve’ much like Tom T Hall did in his song ‘A Week in A County Jail.’
I scoffed at the toilette paper shortage reports and laughed at the nutcases who scrambled to buy masks; after we were told we didn’t need them.
After a month went by, and we were commanded to wear masks, I wasn’t so antagonistic toward the people in the store yelling at others who did not have a mask of some kind on.
Much like the Bologna and scrambled eggs fed to our singer, songwriter friend, single ply TP wasn’t that bad when you could find it.
It became apparent that the TV had to go.
Systematically, the different news feeds on my phone were also turned off or deleted one at a time.
Nature abhors a vacuum.
If I were not going to get my social addictions met via my usual methods and I had turned off the TV, what was my strategy for keeping sane to be?
While I am book smart, I am also one of those who can do whatever I put my mind to—not bragging, just a fact.
After catching up on a myriad of things I wanted to get done and with no reprieve from the pandemic insight, the next logical thing was to give Jeff Bezos more money.
Purchasing a 3D printer, much like waiting on the secret decoder ring from Ovaltine, the day arrived when Alexa announced there was movement at my front door.
By this stage of the game, I eagerly answered the door, speaking with salespeople, making friends with every kind of delivery person, and even social distancing with the landscapers who were not wild about talking with a customer. Whatever happened with the Jehovah’s Witness? I have time…
Opening the box was eerily reminiscent of my erector set from about the same time as the decoder ring.
Assembling this thing was not for the faint of heart.
Up to the challenge, I spent the next two hours watching videos, with each one telling the viewer something a little different. Armed with the basics and lots of ‘tinkering experience,’ the games began.
At this point in the story, I was reminded of the Internet back before graphical user interfaces. The only people who took advantage of the Internet were geeks. It was command-line driven, and like PCs as a whole, it was the interface that made it possible for Greg Shorthand to be placed alongside typewriters and stone tablets in the dustbin of history.
3D printers have been out for a while, and I waited for multiple reasons. Time to tinker with it, was one of the main reasons.
Like installing rev 0 or 1.0 of any software is an invitation for arrows, or at least scars on your back, the bleeding edge of any technology is usually fraught with disillusionment.
While there is no doubt in my mind that someone will create a 3D printer that anyone can pluck out of the box, turn it on, and print stuff, today is not that day.
I entertained this idea in the first place, as I restore old radios. Knobs, other hardware, and maybe even cases could be printed. Would they have the same value? No, but it would still be entertaining.
As of today about the only thing I have found this useful for is eating up lots of time, and making tchotchkes, or as I call them, dustables.
While this is a popular model printer, it is from 2018, which is ancient in dog years. We heard how they were looking for people with these things to make parts for face shields.
I find it humorous that one of the places you can use to create things is a place called ‘Tinkercad.’
After attempting some of the ‘highbrow’ cad software, Tinkercad is easy to use. If you get one of these printers, you had best like to tinker.
The two weeks to flatten the curve are now ten months. The curve appears alive and well.
With winter on our back doors and, of course, the holidays, I would encourage everyone to do something positive and not dwell on what you cannot control. Every subject that I loathed in school I went back and visited. Why? Why not. When I think of the information at our fingertips, and it is taken for granted, it boggles my mind.
Social media is rife with animus from people who I would never expect. Then you have the fact-checkers who blatantly post their obnoxious views on anything they don’t happen to like.
Yes, Facebook does not get much of my attention these days. I don’t need people telling me what to think; you don’t either.
I might look at resin printers next after I push the envelope with the filament variety.
I sincerely hope you have a Merry Christmas. If you are a 3D enthusiast, drop me a note. One can connect with communities, but why not connect with people who at least read what I write?
Yes, the Jailers wife got much prettier each day, and so it goes. -Best
Facebook garners little of my attention. The social noise from so many uninformed individuals spouting opinions as facts drive me to distraction. While social media is an adequate way to keep up with the goings-on of some people, it is hardly a substitute for a phone call or Zoom visit during these rather inauspicious times.
Other uses for the site are finding like-minded folks. Ham (amateur) radio has been a rather large part of my life since the early 70’s when I taught myself electronics at the ripe old age of eight.
Earning my first ticket in 1973 opened a whole new world for me. Geography soon became essential. I was talking with people in countries I did not know existed. Interestingly enough, some of the countries I ‘worked’ are no longer countries today. I spoke with a King of a country that is no more, how many can say that?
One of the groups on Facebook is a ham radio group. Seldom do I comment. Those people in that group are from a different time. The hobby is a leftover from earlier when we knew a language that few speak. The communication was megacycles and micro henrys. From Zeps to long wires and grid dip meters, we were something else.
More and more of my friends of this age are dying off from natural causes, and yes, COVID.
Amateur radio operators created much of the technology we enjoy today out of need. Necessity is the mother of invention.
For instance, yesterday was Navajo Code Talker Day. If you don’t know the history, please, inform yourself, it is fascinating. They helped us win the war. These people tearing down statues are clueless bastards.
If they are successful, there will be generations of clueless bastards that have no comprehension of why kneeling when the anthem is played is so distressing to those of us who know history.
Ham Radio has been dumbed down over the years. On this site, there was a young man who was studying for his test. He had the book open, took a picture of the page, and asked the group the question, ‘do I really need to know this stuff?’
The answer should have been an emphatic ‘YES.’
The responses were down hearting. They ranged from ’just learn the formulas’ to pointing him to a place where they teach to the test. The latter is why we are in the fix we are in today. We have taught to the test.
I pointed out that when the hobby began, we designed and built our equipment. There were no radio’s selling for thousands of dollars made in China, ready for you to plug in and talk.
Today on Amazon, there is a dual-band five-watt handy talkie for $20.00. Those were $600 until the Chinese got into the mix. This thing is full of whistles and bells, I have a few of them, just because.
While the CB craze in the ’70s set the stage for such radios, it took another twenty years before the FCC changed the rules, first removing the requirement for Morse code. The questions went from an essay type question or fill in the blank, to multiple guess.
Testing went from traveling downtown to the federal building to volunteers like me who can administer the test.
While we have smartphones that can facetime people anywhere in the world where there is cell service, I am asked, why the need for ham radio?
The answer is we provide communication when there is any disaster where commercial methods of communication are down. From hurricanes to earthquakes, we are there.
I responded to the person asking the question, telling him as much and relating to him that inside the transmitters and amplifiers are lethal voltages. If you use a screwdriver and have any curiosity about your equipment, what you don’t know can kill you. That is why multiple guess tests are not a good thing. They are great for the people who manufacture and sell radios, but not suitable for the hobby or the people who are responsible for the signal the radio emits.
If they don’t have to work for it, they don’t respect it. Just about any given night, you can find ‘operators’ most probably drunk, swearing like a sailor. Very much illegal and could land you in jail.
Case in point and this is a simple thing. I ordered an inrush current limiting device to keep the filaments of the tubes in my amplifier from getting all that current at an instant. How many times have you flipped on a light to have the bulb flash and go out?
The same could happen to the filaments in the tubes, which are considerably more expensive than a bulb.
The case of the device was not put on correctly. Because I know electronics and I know where this stuff is being made and by whom, I decided to open it up and peek at it before fixing the case properly.
The pictures are what I found. If those that learn to the test take that knowledge no further, they would not know what they are looking for. Also, they might not understand what is wrong with it.
If you are an Amateur Radio Operator and you are savvy with electronics, I would encourage you to remove the covers and peek inside before you plug it in. From cold solder joints to plugs not seated correctly, nothing surprises me.
This device you see is $90 plus tax and shipping.
Two MOV’s, one capacitor, one 10 ohm wire wound resistor, and a relay. Add two fuses and a case and outlet you have an inrush current protector. I would have liked an LED telling me that I have it on, or have power but nope.
If you look at the wire on the outlet, only a tad bit of the wire is connected to the outlet. The green or ground wire has a part of the wire super close to the hot lead of the 110. While the ground was wrapped backward, I left it as it was tight.
Whoever built this either did not care, was in a hurry, or child labor. Yes, they could have been tired or hungover or a host of other excuses. My point is this is not the first time I have had shoddy quality on ‘turn-key’ devices. Had I learned to the test, I would never know the difference unless it failed, and I had to get it repaired under warranty.
The good news is the design is robust and there are two fuses. The bad news is that outlet on the device might have been a source of heat, and intermittent connection through arcing and what have you. It also might have been a source for electrical noise in the receiver, if indeed it began to arc.
If you are going to get into the hobby of Ham Radio, step up and learn it. What you don’t know could kill you.
A friend of mine years ago was working on his amplifier late in the afternoon. He was tired but used to tinkering as many of us do. The high voltage in his amplifier was not where it belonged. Taking the high voltage leads lose from the rectifier assembly, he went to measure the voltage from the transformer without a load.
Again, like many of us do with low voltage, we grab the end of the wires and hold to the leads of the meter. Bad habit.
He did it with 3000 volts at an amp. That mistake blew both of his arms off and exploded his kidneys. The electricity shot out the bottoms of his feet, through his shoes while finding ground.
He lived for three days like that.
What you don’t know can kill you!
Working on things when you are tired can kill you. Bad habits can kill you. I keep one hand in my pocket whenever I am working on high voltage. I remove all jewelry when I am working on electronics, period.
I never re-load bullets when I am tired. I never drink and get on the radio, or send an e-mail to someone whom I have a disagreement with. 🙂 Words to live by.
I hope this story is helpful in some way to those of you who tinker with electronics.
Ok, it’s technically not an apple in the most real sense of the word. God or Eve or even the devil had little influence on this fruit. We are talking about an iPhone.
Let my experience with this device be a cost-saving measure for you.
With the lockdowns and subsequent lack of leaving the house, the phone, which usually lives on my person, hardly ever left the desk.
Since it never left the desk, it also never or hardly ever left the charger.
The physics that goes along with these batteries is somewhat elusive, but batteries are designed to be used. Said another way, unlike car batteries, these batteries in your laptop, cell phone, and tablets are designed to cycle on a larger scale than your car.
They are rated in how many times they can be ‘cycled.’
On my desk laid the iPhone plugged up to a constant source of energy. Monitoring the current from the power supply to the phone, I noticed no appreciable current draw but, something was happening.
Simultaneous events occurred during February and March. The phone seemed to split apart. Something inside the phone was expanding. It could only be the battery. Knowing that these batteries can be volatile, a new phone seemed to be in order. Repairing an old phone makes little sense by the time you find a place to take it and so on.
Another thousand dollar phone later seemed to be the right approach. Trying to leave the house presented a whole new challenge. The car battery was dead.
With all the electronic ‘stuff’ in cars today, there is about a 250 ma constant draw on the battery. If you don’t drive it weekly, put a trickle charger on the battery.
Here we juxtapose the two different technologies. Lead Acid batteries are designed to give you that current with a small amount of discharge in the process of starting the engine. Once started, the alternator puts the energy consumed, back into the battery. Hence one cycle is complete.
In Texas, anything over three years is considered a win. Heat is detrimental to lead-acid batteries.
Switch gears to the phone. The Lithium Polymer battery will provide the correct voltage and current until depleted. Translated, if you puncture a phone battery while trying to remove it while still charged, it very well might combust into flames.
The battery in my older iPhone expanded much like a balloon while living on my desk. Not having taken one of these phones apart before, I felt the proper thing to do would be to recycle it and forget it. (but It still worked.)
The longer it sat there with its screen popping off, and the more time I had to think about it, google became the go-to source of information.
$22 later, I had a new battery and the tools to change it on the way to my home.
While the procedure is not for the faint of heart, if you were to follow the directions to the letter, the odds are, you too could save your phone.
The older phone still provides a platform for Zoom, music, and yes videos. The newer phone now lives on an inductive charger, which, according to the manufacturer, will not overcharge your battery.
Since the older phone is repaired and looks great, I unplug it from the charger as I use it like one usually would. Even without actual ATT service, with wifi, there are many ways to use the phone as a phone still.
The trickiest part of the procedure is removing the old battery. It is glued to the phone. This is where you could create an explosive situation if you are not super careful. One tip I would offer is, drain the battery completely before you attempt a procedure like this.
How? Turn the phone on and listen to music until it is dead.
Regarding your car, make sure the trickle charger is rated at least an amp. The trickle charger I bought from one of those box stores used a little wall wart as the supply. It did not provide sufficient current to keep the battery charged and run whatever stand-by devices were drawing minuscule amounts of energy.
I now use a zero-point charger that shuts off when the power drain falls below a few milliamps. As the devices draw enough current to trigger the charger, a cycle is developed, keeping the car ready for when you need to escape from quarantine.
I hope you find this information of some value and that you stay safe during these trying times.
From the early 70’s I was tinkering with electronics. While my peers were playing ball or getting their hearts broken, I was getting shocked and talking to people all over the world.
Peering through the back of a radio or perhaps the TV, one would see all these glowing amber lights. Soon after my fascination with the front of the radiant dial on the old floor model radio piqued, I wanted to know how it worked.
Garage sales and discarded appliances became a source of amusement for me. Boxes of small parts from different devices soon lived in the closet, under my bed, and soon I had to pare down the collection. A borrowed receiver, some junk box parts, and a crystal as were the rules back then, I was on the air as a newly minted Novice Amateur Radio Operator. The glowing 6AQ5 tube was the final for a whopping 7 watts unmodulated Carrier wave controlled by the steady fist of what they used to call ‘brass pounders.’
Today, 47 years after the date, I still remember Morse code, but I must confess I have not pounded a key in eons.
Tubes gave way to transistors, which soon turned into integrated circuits. Now we have software-defined radio that minimalizes the power usage and, of course, exaggerates the complications if you need to troubleshoot it.
Time marches on.
A man once stipulated that we stand on the shoulders of giants, and the same is true of the law of accelerated return of advancement regarding technology.
Most teenagers today have more technology in their back pocket or on their wrist than we used to send a man to the moon. What they do with it remains to be seen but, the possibility of great things is within their grasp.
Licensing for the Amateur Radio Service is nothing like it was. One could argue that nobody builds anything anymore, so it does not need to be as difficult as it was back in 1973.
I still tinker, albeit minimally and mostly with antenna design and theory. All that said to get to the point of this blog.
When I purchased this switch box online, I knew what to expect. Never in a million years would I push any wattage through this thing.
In my office resides a desk, with several different apparatuses on it. From state of the art to antique, I still listen to and ‘mess’ with them on occasion. You see I always appreciate the glow from the dial light of old shortwave radios. I wanted a way to control the RF from my antenna to the different devices without messing with cables.
The name of this device is miss-leading, and I am confident if put to the test, they would call it a ‘name’ and say they never meant it to handle 1000 watts. With the wording CB in the advertisement, they could argue the illegality of using more than 12 watts PEP ergo ‘what were you doing with this thing?’
A smart person could take them to task, in that this thing would perform miserably at 27mhz.
Whoever designed it had a handle on DC but not AC. The integrity of the 50 ohms impedance is violated, making this a horrible device even for switching between receivers. Again I knew what to expect when I spent the $20. Why then did I buy it?
Real coaxial switches have the same essential components, they are just well thought out. If you look at the contact on the switch, you can tell that any kind of wattage would burn the connections and or arc over to the next. In its original construction, I would not even use it for low wattage use.
Below you can see how I modified it with coax and common grounds. One last modification is to add a ground lug to it, so I can ground the box to earth ground.
Enjoy your hobbies, and be very wary of crap from the Far East. While it is all made there, ‘for the most part,’ some companies have a reputation at stake, while some just want to sell cheap junk.
It would seem to me that creating an environment where your products have designed obsolescence is wrong on any number of levels.
“An aging relative thought he might like to read on a Kindle type device. I took my working IPad version 1 and reset it to its factory original specifications. I then made him an apple account on iTunes and attempted to download Netflix, Kindle and some other games he might enjoy.”
My plan had one major flaw that I had not anticipated. Not only do all apps require an IOS of a later date but, I cannot update to any more recent IOS that was on there because it is no longer available. The latest IOS will not support the iPad 1, and I suspect the iPad II may be close to becoming obsolete as well. Since this was my first iPad and I have moved onto the II, IPad Air, and the Pro, I no longer had the backup from that iPad version 1, making it now a paperweight.
Might I suggest that you make available the latest IOS for those devices and a cache of apps that will work with them? I realize that this might affect people buying new iPads and phones and such vs. keeping their old ones going a little longer but, each phone and each iPad was not cheap. While they may not be a primary device, they will still play a movie or music and serve some purpose vs. filling a landfill.
In the previous case mentioned, a tablet running Android IOS for $100 took care of everything that he needed. While I would have preferred that he was able to use my iPad 1, I was not about to drop $1000 for a tablet to read, play games and maybe watch Netflix on.
I still have my first iPhone and use it for music, the same is true with the 4S. These are great for plugging into your car. Even with the cellular service terminated, it will still function to dial 911 in a pinch. It of course also has your music which plays nicely through the stereo, replacing the iPod. The apps that I purchased at the time still work beautifully as well.
I must admit that I find it curious how the old updated iPhone 4s performs nicely compared to my 6S which has become slower and slower with every update. Is that my imagination? I think not.
The PC industry has been guilty of this for years, although one could blame it on programmers designing software on the latest and greatest hardware.
What we used to refer to as “tight code” is no longer necessary as programmers have terabytes of space, gigahertz of speed and of course gigs of memory to store that slack code in to.
Programming back in the day, was probably more of a challenge than it is today.
Whether the hardware drives the software industry or the other way around, it is the consumer that gets the short end of the stick.
Apple should have a place where one can obtain the latest IOS (or last available) for their particular device, and apps that were written for and worked with that version of the IOS.
While the tail rarely wags the dog, as we are learning with recent events, consumers, if rallied and coordinated, can wag the dog.
Batteries are a troublesome thing and can be a real source of irritation. Batteries used in devices like this keyboard, for instance, can be in there a long time before they need to be replaced. The Current draw is small so the battery could last years.
My mouse was recently acting squirrely so I decided to change the batteries. When I opened the battery cover the familiar white crystals of “leaked battery” were everywhere. Managing to clean the contacts I decided to change those in my keyboard as well. Also leaked everywhere but not near as easy to clean. Removing about 25 screws to separate the keyboard I was indeed able to clean the contacts and remove the crystals which had formed.
The batteries had a shelf life until 2023. They were indeed still working. I had another device that I had used at Christmas last year and put up with the batteries in it. Retrieving it from the closet I took pictures for you. Also still had power in them which was amazing but defective.
Duracell has been my go to battery for decades. Occasionally I get the other brand and it is a good thing that I did.
Another apparatus that I depend on is a lightening defector by Acurite.
As a radio enthusiast and a bit of an outdoor nut, I want to know if there is weather around. Here in Texas, we get some rather nasty cloud to ground lightning.
The backlight in the detector was dim so I decided to replace the batteries before the last storm.
Installing the new batteries the apparatus did not work.
Taking a closer look at the batteries it became apparent that the new version of Duracell AAA batteries has a smaller tit on the positive end. This means that it may very well not make contact with the battery contacts.
If you look carefully you can see that there is a gap of a few thousandths of an inch between the end of the battery and the terminal. This is a common type of connector in radio’s and other battery operated things.
If your device fails to work after replacing the batteries, check this!
If you happen to know anyone at Duracell you might forward this to them.
Houston you have a problem!
Save the landfills and your hard earned money, check the batteries and the connections.
I admit it; I am a gadget freak! Ever since I was a little guy and I heard an announcers voice come out of a radio, I was hooked.
There was indeed something magical about listening to a baseball game on the radio. We had this Zenith floor standing Radio with that magic green eye in the dial. Lights from the dial illumined the room as often you would find yourself transfixed on their voice and their description of the action on the field.
Those days are gone.
We have ample flat screen TV’s in super ultra 4 K extra high definition! Whatever all that means. Much like having a stereo that faithfully reproduces a square wave frequency from 20 to 20 KHz when the human hearing is good up to 12khz or 14Khz tops, one has to wonder. How many colors can my eye slash brain actually discern?
Satellite Radio offers some nostalgia for those of you who like Johnny Dollar or the Shadow knows. There are many more stations that one can listen to on road trips. The art of producing such a radio broadcast is probably all but lost today.
What you can hear on the radio itself, pales in comparison to what the radio used to provide.
AM radio is basically talk radio or news all day.
FM radio, of course, is everything from soup to nuts.
Portable radios of not too long ago, 70 years or so, were tube based. Two batteries were required, and of course, the longevity of the batteries was not that great.
The TR-1 was the first radio that was a joint effort between two companies.
Other companies jumped on the bandwagon with the advent of the transistor. Now you could build a portable radio and power it with inexpensive batteries. This device would fit into a shirt pocket or purse comfortably.
I have purchased two kits from eBay sources that are radio’s that mimic those of today.
One was a straight AM radio with a similar design to those of 60 years ago. There were no directions included with them that a non-Chinese writing, reading person, could make much sense of.
Building the device using the knowledge that I have, I was able to get it working satisfactorily. The AM FM radio kit that I bought was also lite on instructions and some parts.
Thankfully the parts missing were easily obtained from my supplies of parts.
This radio contained SMT (surface mount technology) which is always somewhat fun to “weld” as they say in their instructions. I don’t guess that there is a word for solder in Chinese.
I am always thrilled when I first power up a kit, and it works from the get-go. No smoke or other short circuits. Noise with modulation did indeed emanate from the speaker. Soon enough there was a ball game being broadcast which, caused me to pause for a moment.
After everything seemed to work as it should, I finished the assembly installing it into the case provided.
The difference between this radio and one of the 70’s was that there are three integrated circuits inside this radio.
One of them is the AM radio.
Another is the FM Radio
The third is the amplifier
Now give that some thought for a second. The significant parts of the radio were all on chips. The SMT chip is the FM radio. The eight-pin DIP is actually a stereo amplifier chip. The third which had I not looked carefully at resembles a transistor complete in a TO 92 case. Three legs only. That is the AM radio which is actually a several transistor AM radio.
All of the rest of the components are supporting components that they could not build inside the chips.
A handful of capacitors and a few resistors, switches and one variable capacitor.
The FM radio oddly enough does not track linearly as it should. At either end of the band the stations come in, but in the middle, there are “birdies” and dead space. This might very well be a design flaw in the circuitry. You can get all of the stations, but they are not where the pointer says they should be. After adjusting the trim cap on the variable capacitor, I was able to get stations to come in but again not where they belong.
The AM radio is another disappointment. Yes, it works, and I can get the stations to come in where they should however…. The strong stations swamp the weaker stations. I have two strong stations close to my house, so they indeed swamp the receiver. If you ever had a crystal radio, this is much like that only it has a speaker and power.
Some quick research on the AM chip, I learned that this is a flaw of the chip. One person has designed a circuit to lower the voltage to the semiconductor alone. This modification supposedly allows the AGC to act correctly inside the chip enabling the radio to have more selectivity.
I have ordered some of the AM chips. I plan to “play” with that design myself to see if indeed there is a way to build a radio with that chip that is satisfactory.
As a Ham Radio Enthusiast, when I see a complete dual band handheld radio with a flashlight and FM broadcast radio built in for under $50 dollars, one has to wonder how the major brands will compete with this.
In short the Chinese have multiple “kits” that are on eBay. I firmly believe that many of these kits were sub-assemblies for larger apparatuses that were discontinued. The market for DIY folks like myself is rife with such things as most of us don’t need instructions. If on the other hand, you are one of those “step one, step two, folks these kits may not be for you.
The lack of instructions requires that you bring to the table a wealth of experience. Knowing how to “weld,” solder is mandatory. Having some idea of what you are building so you can take precautions with static electricity and of course high voltages is also a good idea.
One of the “kits” on the way is a device modeled after the Tesla coil. There are high voltages present. If this turns out to be worth it, I will blog about it.
If it works as expected audio from some device should modulate the plasma.
Why, why not? It might modulate the gases inside CFL tubes or neon lights too!
Hope you enjoy the blogs and of course take advantage of your tinkering time.
The pushback I get on this one topic is phenomenal. Their IT people who know their boss better than I, always question the need for a disaster recovery audit in the first place.
“I Get it! To them, that is synonymous with taking your shoebox full of tax information to the IRS and asking them for an audit. Please let me suffer through an audit because I love pain!”
So who in their right mind would do it?
I can think of no better argument than Puerto Rico. That island was wiped off the map. They have no power grid left. They have no data communications and let’s face it; It will take years for them to recover.
I had customers there, but I bet that those businesses may no longer be viable.
They are requesting of all things truck drivers, among their many lists of needs. Why?
Their truck drivers were affected by the buss’s called Irma and then Maria.
I am speaking to the owners of businesses with this next sentence. “Folks, your IT guy that tells you that you don’t need an outside firm or audit, is setting you up for disaster.”
Objectivity is essential. You need an honest assessment by someone who does not have a dog in that fight.
If a team of rent-a-geeks cannot restore your company at a warm site, the DR plan that you think you have is worthless. It may satisfy the ISO folks or the other government or banking or insurance companies, but the sad truth is, in an actual Disaster your people may not be around to add their collective knowledge to the process.
One client did not even look at one I prepared for them. When I asked if he wanted to go over it he shook his head. “No, I just need something for the auditor to show that we have one.”
My reports go to you the customer, nowhere else. My recommendations are put forth in a clear, concise manner that you will not need your IT guy to explain to you. Read and understand my blogs on the topic and then ask the critical questions. If you hold your SA’s feet to the fire or your CIO’s feet to the fire, you will far better off than most of the firms I deal with.
One firms CIO that I worked with was not suited for desktop wizard much less the end all be all guru of all things technology. Now if numbers are what interested the CEO, this was his guy. He could pinch a nickel with the best of them. “Penny wise pound foolish,” should be on this man’s card.
It does not take an Irma or Maria to sink your business. It only takes a Ted or Bob or a fire of some small part in the computer room to decimate your company. Assume nothing! Do you have the right employees doing the job?
Pray for our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, and if you have the ability, you might consider donating something to some of the excellent organizations who are working so hard to bring some relief to those affected.
Having lived through Alicia, I would not wish that on my worst enemy.