Out of the Past: WB4AIO on ‘AM-ology’

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)

The AM-864U Broadcast Limiter

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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Flex Radio Users Net

Power SDR screen shotsby Kevin Strom, WB4AIO

I’VE JUST DISCOVERED a new and worthwhile amateur radio net, meeting Saturday mornings on or around 3872 kHz in the AM mode. It’s the Flex Radio Users Net, devoted to discussions of the software-defined transceivers manufactured by Flex Radio Systems and related topics.

Flex Radio Users Net - 2 January 2010 - 3872 kHz

This week, the group was discussing both the theoretical and practical aspects of symmetrical versus asymmetrical modulation, modulation levels generally, and audio processing for HF amplitude  modulation transmission.

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Amateur Radio Audio Recordings

The TEAC-3340S, the model which was the main WB4AIO recording deck for many years, before it was stolen along with everything else I owned in 2006. Today I use Cool Edit Pro to make most of my recordings.

The TEAC A-3340S, the model which was the main WB4AIO recording deck for many years, before it was stolen (along with virtually everything else I owned) in 2006. Today I use Cool Edit Pro (a PC-based audio suite) to make most of my recordings.

by Kevin Strom, WB4AIO

I’VE JUST added two sections to 3950.net, one appearing in each sidebar, showcasing some interesting amateur radio audio recordings. Make sure that javascript is enabled in your browser for this site, and you’ll see a list of recordings with a small arrow on the left of each listing. Click on the title or the arrow, and a small player will open up, allowing nearly instant playback of the file. Click anywhere on the progress bar to skip around, and right-click the ‘download’ link which appears during streaming if you want to save the file to your hard drive.

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