Tag Archives: Mario Filippi (N2HUN)

Radio Wall Clocks: Mario’s eBay find

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi (N2HUN), who writes:

Hi Thomas,

These have been popping up on eBay, reasonable price, with face markings just like an old shortwave radio dial.

Click here to view Zenith wall clock.

Pretty nice gift for the SWL who has everything!

Click here to view Sparton wall clock.

Have a good day and weekend!

Thank you, Mario! Those are nice clocks and, as you say, rather affordable at $26.49 shipped! I like the fact they also include 24 hour markings.

Your message lead me down a path to search eBay for other radio wall clocks. There are hundreds out there! I found that searching with the term “ham radio wall clock” seemed to work best.

Guest Post: Remembering our Elmers

Photo: Mario Filippi (N2HUN)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi (N2HUN), for the following guest post:


‘Tis the Season to be Jolly and to Remember Our Elmers

by Mario Filippi (N2HUN)

At this time of year when we gather with friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances to share the bonhomie and joys of the holidays let us fondly remember those who brought us into this hobby, our dear Elmers, those individuals who’ve given of their time teaching us the basics of ham radio, answered our endless questions, inspired us by their shacks, guided us through the difficulties of radio theory and good operating practices and proctored us through our first examinations. If it weren’t for these selfless individuals, who followed a time-honored tradition of mentoring budding hams, the hobby would not continue on and most of us might have taken other paths and missed out on a life-long, very rewarding hobby.

To start the ball of reminiscences rolling, take a seat with me in the time machine of memories and go back to the early 1970’s, to the suburbs of White Plains, NY, the home of my Elmer, may he rest in peace, George Buchanan, WB2FVX (SK).

George held Novice classes once a week in the basement of his home where he tutored a gaggle of ham wannabes consisting of grammar school kids to those of advanced age, some of whom were old railroad telegraphers schooled in the use of sounders. We’d have an hour of lecture, followed by code practice, then the class would end with general socializing amongst the students as to what transpired along with our future plans for our “shacks.”

You know, George did not quit his day job to train us through our larval stages of the hobby; as a matter of fact he commuted to the city every day and still found the time once a week to start his 7:00 PM class for his eager students, and always had energy after a long day’s work to stand in front of his chalkboard and work out the numerous electronic calculations (OHM’s Law, parallel and series circuits of resistors and capacitors, antenna resonance and impedance ) and list important regulations that would be included in our FCC Novice exams. At the conclusion of the three month course, George sat through our Novice exams and mailed them off to the FCC Office in Gettysburg, PA. Back then it took a few months before you’d get your license and hold in your hand the fruits of your (and your Elmer’s) labors.

George has been a silent key for decades now, and he frequently comes to mind, especially during the holiday season, when thoughts of Christmases past and all of the pleasant memories of almost forty years in the hobby occupy my mind. Indeed, George and all the other Elmers out there, living and deceased, have bestowed upon us one of the greatest gifts of all – Amateur Radio.

Think back on your Elmer and do so with fondness and when the opportunity presents itself, take an inexperienced ham under your wing, guide them, inspire them, show them your shack, answer their questions, help them pick out a rig or accessory, have a QSO with them, help them with troubleshooting, accompany them to a hamfest, share the joys with them when they purchase a piece of equipment, and most of all, be there for them.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!


Thank you, Mario, for sharing these special memories with us! George was an ideal Elmer indeed–he had the ability to share his enthusiasm and passion with others and helped them obtain their license during a time when study materials were not so readily available (and the test was much more challenging!).

Thank you, Mario!

Guest Post: An Unusual Night for CB

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi (N2HUN) for the following guest post:


An Unusual Night for CB

by Mario Filippi (N2HUN)

December 2nd was an unusual night for CB (Citizen’s Band) radio, as the band was open late (0030 GMT) when I turned on the President Washington CB radio just to see who was on. First stop was Channel 19 (27.185 MHz), the trucker’s channel, where the QRM was high, due to the skip from the many truckers on the channel. Earlier in the day this channel was very quiet as was the rest of the band. The fact that Channel 19 was pinning the S meter after dark was a big hint that the band might be open. And it certainly was!

Uniden President Washington AM/SSB Base Station

Being a CB’er from back in the 70’s (call sign KBN-8387), this band was my first serious introduction to two-way radio communication, and after 40+ years it’s still an enjoyable experience to listen in to the local, and sometimes DX chatter. For the most part the CB band mimics 10 meters, basically open during the day (except when sunspot numbers are low) and closed at night. That’s the usual drill, but Mother Nature doesn’t always go by the playbook and sometimes the band is opened at the darnedest times, sometimes even after midnight!

So this evening around 8:30 EST the President Washington CB base station was fired up and CB operators were heard in Maine, Illinois, and as far as Wisconsin, definitely what would be considered out of the ordinary range of CB, which is generally several miles. Now FCC rules still state that it’s illegal to communicate over 155 miles but it’s a non-issue when the band’s open. For the most part, AM is used on most of the channels but you’ll find LSB activity on Channel 36 (27.365 MHz). And when the band gets busy and crowded, you’ll hear LSB QSOs from Channels 36 – 39 (27.365 – 27.395 MHz) as sidebanders spread out among the channels so that they can work each other through the QRM.

To get a better idea of what the CB band “looks” like during a band opening, a spectral scan of the band (26.965 – 27.405 MHz) would be useful. This can be achieved using an SDR dongle, such as the RTL-SDR.com version which is a diminutive broadband receiver with an analog to digital converter and covers from about 26 – 1670 MHz. Used in conjunction with an up-converter (from Nooelec), software such as SDR# (SDR Sharp) and a computer (Smartphone apps are available also) you’ll be able to put up a spectral scan of the band as well as hear what’s happening.

RTL-SDR.com dongle – a small broadband receiver covering all modes

Nooelec’s Ham It Up RF Upconverter expands dongle’s receiving range to the entire HF and MW band

As the old adage goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words” so tonight the SDR dongle, along with SDR# software was fired up to get an idea of how many stations were on during the opening. The antenna used was an S9 43 foot vertical, the same one I use for HF. Using the dongle, it’s an easy feat to visualize the entire CB band on the spectral scan, which is a plot of frequency (X axis) versus signal strength (Y axis). The top half of the screen is the spectral scan and the lower half is the “waterfall” which is a time lapse recording of the spectral scan.

Screenshot of CB Band (wide red stripe) during tonight’s opening.

Normally at this time of night a spectral scan of the CB band would be flat-lining, but as you can see there are plenty of stations conducting QSOs, with the stronger stations having higher peaks and more intense tracings on the waterfall. Seeing the entire CB band visually gives one lots of information such as what channels are active, how many stations are on, what stations might be running higher power (limit is 4 W AM, 12W PEP SSB output), whether outbanders are active or whether DX stations outside the US are partaking of the opening.

Over the years I’ve heard the CB band open beyond midnight and on a winter’s night during a snowstorm. Some openings have lasted for hours. Last year, using the mobile CB, operators from Europe, the Caribbean, and as far away as Australia were heard during my commute to work. At the opposite extreme some days all you’ll hear is ignition noise, hihi. It’s a lot like 10 meters and even a bit like 6 meters; you never know what surprises Mother Nature has in store. Spin the tuning dial over to the CB band and take a listen one of these days.


Thank you so much, Mario!

Only a few weeks ago, I noticed on my SDR’s wideband spectrum display that the 11 meter band was very active.  I started listening around and was absolutely amazed at how organized some of the nets were and how reliable skip was. Signals were blanketing all of the eastern US and even into the west. Sometimes I think there are openings on the 10 meter band, for example, but there are so few users there in comparison, no one notices. The CB frequencies are pretty much always active, when conditions are favorable for DX, everyone instantly notices!

Many might not realize that even their portable shortwave radio can tune the CB frequencies. Thank you again!

Radios With Rotatable AM Antennas?

The Panasonic RF-2200 sports a rotatable AM/MW antenna

The Panasonic RF-2200 sports a rotatable AM/MW antenna

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi (N2HUN), who writes:

With your broad knowledge of radios, wondering if you can add anything to this list of portable radios, past and present, that have 360 degree rotatable directional AM ferrite antennas. Reason is I am looking for an AM portable for the nightstand for nulling out unwanted AM stations while also doing a little DXing.

The list I have from data mining the ‘Net is:

New models with rotatable AM antennas:

  • CountyCom GP5/SSB,
  • Tecsun PL-360,
  • Grundig Satellite 750,

Older (vintage) models:

  • Panasonic RF-2200,
  • Panasonic RF-1150,
  • Panasonic RF-877,
  • Panasonic RF-1180
  • most RDF (Radio Direction Finder) radios that were used on boats

“Boom Box” variety:

  • Radio Shack 12- 795,
  • Emerson MBR-1,
  • Rhapsody RY-610.

[RDF radios] are kind of big, however Raytheon, Ray Jefferson, and Nova-Tech did have smaller model RDFs that could be considered table-tops).

The alternative is to build or buy a passive indoor antenna.

Maybe readers know of other models?

Thank you for your inquiry, Mario! I will do a little research of my own because you listed every model (and more) I could think of off the top of my head.

Post readers: Please comment with any models we could add to this list.

I will take all of the suggestions and make a master list to post here on the SWLing Post so it’ll be easier for others to research in the future. I’m pretty sure this question has come up before.

ShopGoodwill finds: Icom IC-R75 and JRC NRD-525

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Fillippi (N2HUN), who writes:

ShopGoodWill has an Icom R75 going off auction tomorrow:

icom-ic-r75-goodwill

http://www.shopgoodwill.com/auctions/ICOM-Communications-Receiver-34886788.html

Thanks for the tip, Mario!

As with most (if not all) ShopGoodwill.com auctions, this IC-R75 come with no warranty, is untested and sold “as-is.” I suppose you could receive it only to find that it doesn’t function–that is the risk with Goodwill over, say, eBay.

I’ve purchased from ShopGoodwill before knowing this and was very pleased my item worked.

Still, it’s most encouraging that the receiver comes complete with box, manual and power supply.  Those are all good signs. The current price is $378.78 at time of posting. Someone may get a good deal for a spare receiver.

While looking at the IC-R75 listing, the ShopGoodwill screen also pointed out a JRC NRD-525 with an auction end date of November 29.

japan-radio-company-jrc-nrd

Looks to be in good shape, but again, it’s being sold as-is in untested condition:

http://www.shopgoodwill.com/viewitem.asp?itemid=34929604

Again, thanks for the tip, Mario!