By Jack Roland, CBRE, AMD and CBNT
K-LOVE/Air 1 EMF Colorado Engineering.
WHY did Radio Shack Fail?
See this short but sweet article: http://www.twice.com/blog/wolfs-lair/radioshack-s-raison-d-etre/55966
I will miss Radio Shack. Always loved it, I even worked there in my 20’s. Have still been visiting the store I worked at in Wheat Ridge back in the mid 80’s for years. I have bought countless parts there. I even still own the original Radio Shack Morse code brass key I bought in my teens when I was a novice (remember that?) ham operator. I bought the General Class Ham License study guide there when I first became a ham. Remember that? I have owned a model 1 and a color computer from Radio Shack. My first CB Radio (before I became a ham) was a Realistic TRC-24C. I still to this day am good friends with my boss at the time, Dana West (now KCØMYP) at the Lakeside store and later the 16th street mall stores here locally. So I definitely feel the loss in RS closing down. During the last week or so of the store near Lakeside in NW Denver I went and purchased a few things, including an antenna rotor for $6! They really wanted to liquidate inventory. I spent a while chatting with the manager, Travis, who I had struck up a bit of a friendship with, seeing him there for the past several years. The end of an era, but it has been a long time since Radio Shack was really “Radio Shack” anyway.
I had one of these way back when too.
Last month I wrote about ordering the Baofeng UV-5RV2+. It arrived and when I put it together with its 3800 mah battery the battery would charge up according to the battery charger, but didn’t power up the radio. Measuring voltage at the input terminals said there was the proper 8 volts there, but there was nothing at the top of the battery terminals where they connected to the radio. Well, bad battery then. So back it went, (by the way, Amazon’s return policies are GREAT) I ordered another, and this one was perfect! Man I am so satisfied with this one. Battery life is great! First charge lasted more than a week with some daily use. The audio reports are very good. For $46 you can’t beat this deal. I really like this radio a lot and recommend it. The accessories for the radio are all available at Amazon too.
The Baofeng UV-5rV2
Talking to Cris W5WCA, from the KLDV Site
I have been having a lot of fun in the Hamshack lately with the new Rigblaster Advantage from West Mountain Radio (of course ordered thru Amazon.com, what CAN’T you find there?). This unit is literally plug and play in so many respects. It is adaptable to most rigs these days immediately with great little pre-made circuit boards to make everything match up to your radio. In my case I have the Icom 746 that I am using as my main rig, and the Yaesu FT-757GX2 as the backup. So if I want to switch rigs sometime I have the included parts to do so. The package also includes a CD FULL of software for various digital modes and many other operating and test software too numerous to mention here. The instructions are easy to follow and the Rigblaster will operate in all Windows editions from XP on up and even Linux. They include drivers and more for that.
See all the details, specs and information on it at:
I have been operating PSK31 with the included “Hamscope” software by Glen, KD5HIO, the last evening before this writing I made a few contacts on JT-65 HF with an Ecuadorian and Russian station. Here are some screenshots:
The Rigblaster on top of the ICOM 746 transmitting at 15 watts or so
In QSO using JT65-HF with HC6PE in Ecuador
Using the Hamscope Software on BPSK31
The various softwares will setup to control the rig’s PTT and have logging capabilities too, then you can import those logs into whatever logging program you may be using. I am still using the DXLabs Suite software, and integration into my main station log is easy. The Rigblaster Advantage allows you to set the audio levels on the radio to be what you would normally use for voice over the microphone. Then you can use the controls on the Rigblaster to variate what levels you need to send to the rig for the correct amount of audio. And the BEST PART, all of the software is FREE.
Another project this winter was getting the HDSDR software working on the Dell Poweredge 2950 computer in the Hamshack. It has been snowing a lot in Denver too. So I have had some time for some projects. Last year I wrote about using the RTL-SDR dongle, HDSDR, and SDR Sharp software. It is very useful and versatile. Gives you a spectrum analyzer for 27 mHz and above, and with the “Ham It Up” converter, gives you AM broadcast and ham HF band capabilities too.
The RTL-SDR USB dongle and “Ham-it-up” Converter
The HDSDR Software, running off the RTL-SDR dongle and “Ham-it-up” Converter
The “S” Meter on the HDSDR software agrees with the “S” Meter on the Icom 746 too.
I have setup the antenna connections and the switches to where I can switch the SDR Dongle into the main antennas so I can get the best reception for the software. Really great to see the bands on the spectrum display across an entire band. Very versatile (AND FREE) software!
As I have written before, my start in things radio started way back when I was 12 or 13 getting my first walkie-talkies and listening to a GE AM/Shortwave radio that I still have to this day! (And it STILL WORKS! 😉 One of the most captivating and exciting things in discovering shortwave radio back then was listening to HCJB radio in Quito Ecuador. It is really a shame that the world has changed so much now that HCJB, VOA, the BBC and many others have gone the way of the internet. I have a good friend to this day who is a missionary with what was HCJB world radio, and I even in the 90’s got to hear MY voice coming over HCJB as I had done some voiceover work for him back then. Sent a reel to reel tape of audio work (before MP3 over email) to Curt Cole and he used the audio on HCJB’s broadcasts. That was one of my big thrills of my radio-life! At our last EMF Engineering Summit, EMF Engineer and friend Ron Marten and I were talking and he told me of work he had done at HCJB’s transmission site near Pifo as antenna’s and equipment were being dismantled so that a new airport could be built. (See this article at: http://mt-shortwave.blogspot.com/2009/08/hcjb-ecuador-cuts-back-on-pifo.html )
A sad end to a great shortwave broadcast history that began in 1931 using a 200 watt transmitter housed in a sheep shed and bringing the good news of Jesus Christ (HCJB stood for “Herald Jesus Christ’s Blessings, in Spanish “Hoy Cristo Jesus Bendice”) to many including tribes in South America via radio that had never heard the gospel. Check out the article on Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HCJB. I actually have some HCJB QSL cards too that I sent off for back then and they are part of my “treasured” QSL card collection. One of the cool things about the history of HCJB is that when Clarence Jones, the founder started looking for a place to broadcast the gospel to the world, he was told that anywhere around the Equator would be terrible for radio propagation. Guess The Lord had other plans though, and as HCJB grew, the reports from around the globe from listeners proved the times experts wrong. Actually the country of Ecuador turned out to be one of the BEST places to have a shortwave station. The story of how The Lord worked out all the details as HCJB started and grew is simply amazing! My friend Ron had some great pictures taken with some of the broadcast gear there and in front of the steerable “eggbeater” antenna which I thought I would include here. Thanks Ron for sharing!
Ron in front of the 500 KW transmitter controller
LOOK at those EIMAC TUBES!
Wouldn’t you love to have this in your backyard hooked up to an HF rig? So many of HCJB’s Engineers where also Ham Operators. They designed and built so many of the antenna and transmissions systems in use in the day.
Aerial drones are here to stay and fly now.
I have been having fun with my small quadcopter that I won at a video game show I attended with my kids. I will be posting some video from the machine and writing about it more in future articles. I guess just TOO MANY TOYS! J
The Cheerson CX-30 Quadcopter
Have you seen this? Thanks to Sam at EMF Engineering HQ for putting this out. The Deep Freeze in the NE part of the country. WOW!
Don’t forget the Monday Night Broadcast Engineering
IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING
At 7pm Mountain time for radio discussions, both
Broadcast engineering and amateur radio. The first and
3rd Mondays are also SBE NET nights. Details on how to
Join are at http://www.qsl.net/ke0vh/sbehamnet. I hope
You will be able to join us and share your engineering and
73’ & God be with you. See you next time! de KEØVH