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From the category archives:

News

FRRL Recognizes the Liberty Net

by WB4AIO on 29 November, 2010

The FRRL — a Web site whose acronym stands for “The Future of Radio and Radio’s Legacy” — has published an excellent article encouraging its readers to check out the Liberty Net. Here’s an excerpt, but do visit the FRRL site for a great array of radio-related features and videos (and much more):

I CAN AGREE WITH the sentiment below – so many amateur radio conversations are vacuous.   How about taking it up a notch and get amateurs into the national conversation on topics of the day?

A past president of the ARRL said that a renewed focus on technology will reawaken the relevance of Amateur Radio.  Will it?  Or will this just drive Amateur Radio into a smaller and smaller niche market on the margins of society?

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I’m Looking for Work

by WB4AIO on 30 July, 2010

Kevin Strom, WB4AIO

by Kevin Strom, WB4AIO

LIKE THIS SITE? Let me build one that’s just as nice for you or your organization. Since the government made me a fourth class citizen, it has become very difficult for me to support myself and my three children.

I am skilled in writing, editing, graphics, and publishing (both the print and Web varieties), and I have become quite expert at customizing WordPress to create online magazines, newspapers, and organizational Web sites. I’m also a skilled broadcast engineer. If you have any kind of paying work in these fields, no matter how small, please let me know. I’m eager to get started. Just click on the ‘contact’ link on this page.

If you don’t have any work for me now, but appreciate my past efforts, please consider making a donation.

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by Kevin Strom, WB4AIO

AN ELECTRONICS collector in Germany has created a series of videos showing us the actual hardware used in the at once ubiquitous and mysterious “spy numbers” stations emanating on shortwave from Cuba (even today) and from Eastern Bloc nations (during the Cold War).

Apparently the technology used by the ’80s consisted of digital voice samples on EEPROMs, and paper tape (of the same kind used in my high school computer lab circa 1972) for the actual encoded messages.

Back in 1989, some jokester put on a faux “spy numbers” station on 7425 kHz (and a few other frequencies) that sent messages read by an accented female announcer consisting of Mexican food items instead of Spanish numbers — “Attencion — taco… burrito… tamale… tamale… nacho… — final… final…” Hilarious.

Here are the six videos followed by the original author’s commentary:

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A scan of Harvey's signature from one of his many "care packages"

by Kevin Strom, WB4AIO

THANKS to Mike, ex-N3GVA, some precious audio files were recently rescued, and we once again have access to the recordings of W8MPB, Harvey Heinz, made during his final days with us in March, 1999. We also get to hear KE2LO, W9OAG, N8ECR and other voices which we sorely miss on 3950 these days.

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by Kevin Strom, WB4AIO

WHILE LOOKING for receivers on Ebay the other day (yes, I do dream about setting up an amateur radio station again some day), I noticed a nice Collins R-390A for sale.

Reading the advertiser’s copy, I was pleasantly surprised to see the receiver extolled as “sweet” for listening to “the Liberty Net Saturday evenings on 3950.”

Now that good reception of the Liberty Net is a selling point for receivers on Ebay, what’s next? Mention of Liberty Net capabilities in ads for the Flex 5000 and other transceivers? — mention of nulling and identification of would-be jammers of the Liberty Net in antenna ads in QST?

Seriously, though, the Liberty Net meme has saturated the ham-radiosphere and is making its way via SWL into the society at large. That’s a good thing.

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by Kevin Strom, WB4AIO

THANKS TO an anonymous listener and the Audio Vault at amfone.net, we now have a audio clip of my AM station, recorded while I was living in Rochester, Minnesota in 1996.

At the time I was running my highly modified Kenwood TS-440s on 75 meters into an Alpha 77D at about 300 Watts into a 150′ inverted L antenna that just barely fit into my small city lot. (All that gear is now gone — stolen from me along with nearly everything else I owned.)

The signal isn’t bad considering that it was presumably heard a thousand miles away on the East Coast. You can hear the recordist adjusting the bandwidth (sounds much better in the wide mode) during the segment. I’m discoursing on ‘AM-ology,’ a field which certainly deserves further study!

Listen to WB4AIO on 'AM-ology' (1996 from Rochester MN)

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Birdsong Radio

by WB4AIO on 24 February, 2010

by Kevin Strom, WB4AIO

YEARS AGO I joked that the next niche radio format to be attempted would be continuous bird calls. I never imagined that it could actually happen, but it has, and the results are quite pleasant.

Apparently one of the Digital Audio Broadcast channels in Great Britain (yes, they have real over-the-air digital radio in the UK, not the dysfunctional “HD Radio” that the media moguls forced on this country) started broadcasting ambient bird calls and other natural forest sounds about a year ago, and it developed quite a following. (I have no idea if the station’s creator, Quentin Howard, ever heard of my decades-old suggestion or not.)

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The AM-864U Broadcast Limiter

by WB4AIO on 23 February, 2010

The AM-864/U broadcast peak limiter

by Kevin Strom, WB4AIO

THE AM-864/U broadcast peak limiter, which I purchased “new surplus” from John Meshna and Company in about 1974, was my first foray into true broadcast audio processing for amateur radio. Like my TCS transmitter purchase from them, the unit was beautiful and flawless out of the box. It cost me $35. I sold it in the 90s (probably a mistake) for about $100. It now has acquired a “reputation” in the recording industry, and good ones sell for over a thousand dollars.

It’s 600 ohms transformer-coupled balanced in and out, with a simple all-vacuum-tube and all-balanced audio amplifier and peak rectification and gain reduction circuit. It was built in the 1950s by the Federal Television Corporation (some were built by other contractors, I am told) for use in AM and shortwave transmitters run by AFRTS, the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service. It came with a manual, the most hilarious aspect of which was its instructions on how to destroy it (“use axes, knives, machetes, flamethrowers, incendiary grenades” etc.) in case it fell into “enemy hands.”

AM-864/U destruction instructions, from the operator's manual (click for the full-size image). And yes, the "enemy us" typo is in the original!

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by Kevin Strom, WB4AIO

THE YEAR WAS 1973. It was my first hamfest. I was so young I didn’t have a driver’s license and my mother drove me to Gaithersburg that crisp October morning. I met WA3PUN, Ed Bolton, there. He was one of the AM amateur operators that I’d just started talking with on 75 meters. And I made my very first hamfest purchase — a shiny new-looking 1950s military surplus receiver, a Collins R-395, part of the PRD-1 direction finding set.

Now I notice, thanks to the Declan McCullagh photography site, that an R-395 that looks exactly like the one I bought and added to my Viking Valiant / BC-610 / DX-150A HF station is now enshrined as an exhibit in the National Cryptologic Museum in Laurel, Maryland. Time passes, and what was once just an old yet interesting receiver is now a notable part of history.

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My Wish List

by WB4AIO on 4 January, 2010

WB4AIO microphone logoby Kevin Strom, WB4AIO

AS I TRY to rebuild my life and recover from the false charges and politically-motivated prosecutions that have devastated my family, one of my dreams is to return to the amateur radio airwaves. Since all my money and all of my material possessions — including all of my radio gear — was stolen from me, I’ve just set up an Amazon Wish List which has the potential of helping that dream come true. My deepest thanks go out to those who have kindly helped me. I hope that my writings and my efforts to promote quality signals  and intelligent discussion on amateur radio have helped you too!

My Amazon Wish List

Paypal Donations

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