Start of the fall term School Club Roundup!

Many thanks to Ken Reitz (KS4ZR) who reminds us that the School Club Roundup started today:

[T]his is it! The start of the fall term SCR is today. Challenge yourself to work as many school clubs as possible and see if you don’t feel optimistic about the future of amateur radio.

Here are the SCR rules: http://www.arrl.org/school-club-roundup

Thanks, Ken! I’ll try to put some of the participating schools in the log this week!

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Should I let go of the CoCo 2?

We radio enthusiasts are a nostalgic bunch. Let’s just admit that and get it out of the way.

I’ve always found it difficult to let go of vintage radios, but over the past three years I have. I used to have well over a dozen boat anchors (heavy metal tube/valve radios) here at SWLing Post HQ. Today, I have three: my Scott Marine Model SLR-M, Signal Corps BC-348Q and Minerva Tropic Master (the Minerva being the lightweight of the bunch).

I found solace in donating some of my radios to museums and selling or giving them to friends who appreciate and will maintain them.

This radio played no small part in my life.

Outside of vintage radios, I have much less trouble selling or giving away my stuff; especially consumer electronics. I have very little attachment to those. I’ve never fallen in love with a phone, laptop, desktop or desktop PC.

Save my first personal computer, the TRS-80 Tandy Color Computer 2 (a.k.a. Coco 2).

I always tell people the two things from my childhood that had the most impact on my life were my Zenith Transoceanic shortwave radio and my Tandy Color Computer 2.

The shortwave radio kindled my interest in world news, languages, culture, music and traveling. And…well, it eventually lead to a lifelong passion in radio and, consequently, the SWLing Post.

Incidentally, The CoCo 2 taught me a skill that would also change my life.

Without knowing it at the time, the CoCo 2 taught me programming.

I couldn’t afford game cartridges as a kid, so I programmed my own simple CoCo 2 games with Family Computing magazine (remember them–?).

Each month, Family Computing featured a number of programs and games  you could input yourself. It was brilliant! My best friend, Junior, had a subscription to the magazine and would bring each issue over to the house and we’d type in lines and lines of code with the ultimate goal of playing a game or making our computers do something new.

Of course, 11 year old kids aren’t the best typists, so we’d always had to debug the code, following the error trail before the program would work. We’d also modify the code afterwards to see how it would change the program–it was amazing fun!

 

Keep in mind my CoCo 2 only had a whopping 16K of memory and all of it was volatile. Each time I’d turn the unit off, I’d lose everything I’d typed in. That is, until I could afford a tape recorder to save and load my programs (I still have it around here somewhere…).

Fast forward a dozen or so years…

In my first “real” job out of college, my manager noticed quickly that I could program and modify local copies of company databases so that my applications were more efficient and tailored to my job. The database system used a formula language that followed the same logic as the CoCo2’s Basic, so was pretty simple to pick up once I sorted out the commands and syntax. To be clear, I wasn’t hired for programming or IT skills, in fact it never came up in the interview as I was being hired for my French language skills.

 

Other than the Coco 2, I had no IT or computer studies in any formal setting–not in high school and not in college. Within three years at the company, I was promoted and sent to Europe to tie together and develop a number of database systems for the company’s various international sites. It was an dynamic, fun and rewarding career.

None of that would have ever happened had it not been for the CoCo 2.

So why am I considering selling the Coco 2?

Frankly, I never use it and don’t even have the adapter to plug it into any of my modern monitors. I’ve only been keeping it for sentimental reasons. I’ve been trying to let go of things I don’t use and this would certainly fall into this category.  I doubt it’s worth a lot…perhaps $20-$40? I’m not really sure.

Then again, I almost gave my Zenith Transoceanic away once and am very thankful now that I didn’t.

As I was about to put the CoCo 2 on eBay, I pressed pause and wrote this post instead.

What do you think?  Should I sell it or keep it? What would you do? 

Also, are there any other early PC enthusiasts out there? Please share your thoughts! While this isn’t a PC blog, I image this might be a common thread among us radio enthusiasts. Please comment!

And for fun, here’s a little poll to help sway me:


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Any favorite Soviet era radios?

A vintage radio from Kim Andre Elliott’s collection.

I was just chatting with my buddy Dave Cripe (NM0S) who recently snagged a cool Soviet-era vintage portable radio at ShopGoodwill.com.  It’s a beauty:

I’ve always been fascinated with Soviet and Eastern European designs from the 60s, 70s and 80s, but I’ll be the first to admit that I know little-to-nothing about them.

I’m curious if any readers could shed light on some of their favorites makes and models?  Are there any exceptional performers? Any that are highly valued?  If you have photos, consider sharing them as well. Please comment!

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Holger Czukay: another musician fascinated with shortwave

Holger Czukay

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor and resident shortwave music specialist, Justin Moore, for sharing the following from his blog, Sothis Medias:

Holger Czukay was another musician who was fascinated with the sounds of shortwave listening. He brought his love of radio and communications technology on board with him when he helped to found the influential krautrock band Can in 1968. Shortwave listening continued to inform Czukay’s musical practice in his solo and other collaborative works later in his career. It all got started when he worked at a radio shop as a teenager.

Holger had been born in the Free City of Danzig in 1938, the year before the outbreak of World War II. In the aftermath of the war his family was expelled from the city when the Allies dissolved its status as free city-state and made it become a part of Poland. Growing up in those bleak times his formal primary education was limited, but he made up for it when he found work at a radio repair shop. He had already developed an interest in music and one his ideas was to become a conductor, but fate had other plans for him. Working with the radios day in and day out he developed a fondness for broadcast radio. In particular he found unique aural qualities in the static and grainy washes of the radio waves coming in across the shortwave bands. At the shop he also became familiar with basic electrical repair work and rudimentary engineering. All of this would serve him well when building the studio for Can. In his work with the band he not only played bass and other instruments but acted as the chief audio engineer.

Click here to read the full article at Sothis Medias.

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Swan Island featured in philately magazine

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Stan (WA1LOU), who writes:

Besides being a radio aficionado, I also dabble in philately and subscribe to a couple of stamp magazines.

The cover of the October 15 issue of Linn’s Stamp News caught my eye displaying a QSL card from Swan Island (HR6SWA) (see attached). As it turns out, the magazine contains an extensive article about the history of Swan Island and its various  inhabitants (including the RF variety).

Being a philately magazine, the article concentrates on how mail was handled to and from the island, but its mention of the radio operations is interesting nonetheless. The article is well illustrated and includes a number of QSL cards from the various Swan radio operations.

I found the article interesting from both a radio and philately perspective.

And I’m sure glad I kept the envelope that delivered my Radio Americas QSL card!

I bet you are happy you kept that envelop, Stan!

Thank you for sharing this. While I’ve never been a stamp collector, I’ve always had a deep appreciation for stamps from around the world. I’m sure much of this has to do with being a radio listener and receiving QSL cards and listener material with all of those amazing stamps affixed.

We actually have a collection of articles about radio philately here on the SWLing PostClick here to read articles from our archive.

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