Category Archives: Nostalgia

The two-pocket listening post . . . for when “they” are after you

By Jock Elliott, KB2GOM

Man on the run thrillers, like The 39 Steps by John Buchan* and Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household hold a special fascination for me. Give me a yarn about someone being pursued by the bad guys, and I am enthralled. (Incidentally, there are a couple of good lists of these thrillers. Here and here).

Sometimes I like to play the mental game of: if I were that guy trying to stay ahead those who wished me evil intent, what radio(s) might I want with me?

The other day I realized I had the perfect combo, a pair of radios that cover a huge swath of spectrum, will fit in a couple of pockets (or one big pocket) and weigh just 14 ounces combined. Further, both will run off ordinary AA batteries, which are widely available.

Candidate number one is the C Crane Skywave SSB, which measures 3 inches by 4.75 inches by 1.1 inches. It receives AM, FM, shortwave (1711-29999 kHz), VHF aviation and NOAA weather radio with alerts. Because it receives single sideband (SSB) on HF frequencies, it can tune in aeronautical, marine and amateur radio stations that transmit in the SSB.

The Skywave SSB comes with a pair of ear buds that fit my ears well and offer pleasing audio. In addition, the SSB comes standard with an auxiliary wire antenna that can be deployed and clipped to the SSB’s whip antenna to boost signal-to-noise. Perhaps most useful for the man on the run, the SSB has excellent “signal seek” functions that can be used on any band. In fact, if you put the radio in SSB mode and activate the signal scan, it will search the ham bands and automatically switch from upper sideband to lower sideband as appropriate.

For the man on the run who can “hole up” for a while, I’ve tried clipping a 50-foot long wire to the SSB’s whip and antenna, and I was amazed at how well it can pull in faint ham signals. It’s the “little radio that could.” About the only thing that I wish I could change on the Skywave SSB is that it mutes between tuning steps when using the tuning knob.

But suppose our man on the run needs to monitor signals above the coverage of the Skywave SSB?  Candidate number two is the Icom R6. Measuring just 2.3 inches by 3.4 inches by 1.2 inches, the diminutive R6 covers from 100 kHz to 1309.995 MHz (less cellular and gaps) in AM, FM Narrow and FM wide modes (no SSB). It has 1300 alphanumeric memories, search-and-store capabilities, and rapid scanning of memory channels.

For high stealth, there is a setting that allows the R6 to use the wire that connects headphones or ear buds to the R6 as the antenna instead of the usual antenna. For a non-stealth application, using an aftermarket antenna like the Comet W100RX 25MHz-1300MHz Handheld Scanner Antenna, the R6T does a surprisingly good job of receiving shortwave stations. This antenna has markings on the side so that it can be set to the right length for various frequencies.

As you can see from the photo, the R6 has only a few buttons on its face and two on the side. Every button has multiple functions, and I found trying to program memory channels using the buttons to be a trial. As a result, I can highly recommend the RT Systems cable and programming software for setting up memory channels. In addition, some very useful notes for setting up and using the R6 can be found here: https://forums.radioreference.com/threads/icom-ic-r6-notes.442112/

Finally, I know that there are several tiny ham transceivers that might fill the bill, including the Yaesu VX-6R, although I am not aware of any that can receive single sideband. Besides, if you had the ability to transmit, “they” might be able to direction-find you . . . and we wouldn’t want that, would we?

*For sharp-eyed readers: yes, I know that The 39 Steps is set in a time before radio was widespread, but it is still one of my favorites.

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AWA: Radios and the the Disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan

Earhart and Noonan by the Lockheed L10 Electra at Darwin, Australia on June 28, 1937 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark (AE2EA), who shares the following video presentation by the Antique Wireless Association:

Radios and the the Disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan

Today, when GPS provides astounding levels of absolute position accuracy, it can be hard to appreciate the navigational challenges that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan experienced on their around the world flight in 1937. Radio played an important part in in their success, and possibly in their failure. AWA member Brian Harrison, KN4R, takes a deep dive into the role of radio in Earhart’s last flight, it’s possible role in her disappearance and how a group of dedicated researchers are recreating Earhart’s and Noonan’s original transmissions using the same type equipment to help solve the mystery of their disappearance, and possibly locate their Lockheed Electra 10E.

Click here to view on YouTube.

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A photo tour of the 2022 Shelby Hamfest

On Friday, September 2, 2022, I had just enough time in my schedule to visit the Shelby Hamfest for a couple of hours.

The Shelby Hamfest–referred to, locally, as “The Grand-Daddy of them All”–has long been regarded as one of the largest outdoor hamfests in the southeast US.

Shelby Photo Gallery

Weather was ideal for the hamfest: clear skies, sunshine and very dry. It was quite hot, though! Attendance was much lower than I’ve ever seen at the Shelby Hamfest in the past, but then again this was also my first Friday attending; typically I visit on Saturday which is historically the busiest day.

Continue reading

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Video: The Erres KY-418 radio set WWII era assembly line

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Adid, who writes:

The Erres KY-418 Radio set assembly line. You must watch this:

Click here to view on YouTube.

My heart goes to the poor guys who work under all that machinery noise with no ear plugs or with no mask when spray paint.

Everything is hand made in-house even the loudspeakers, coils or the rotary switches….

Just remember that WWII is on while it was made and I don’t think the KY-418 was a cheap radio…

Regards, Adi

Thank you for sharing this, Adid. You’re right: there were a few generations of folks who lost much of their hearing early on due to the constant noise on factory floors. 

That said, I’ve been enjoying these videos of early radio production lines. Thank you!

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Julian spots a Panasonic RF-3000A on eBay

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Julian, who writes:

Thomas,

I stumbled across this listing for a Panasonic RF-3000A so I thought I’d share it in case some SWLingers interested in or who collect vintage solid state radios are interested in the following listing for a Panasonic RF-3000A for US$125.00.

73
Julian

Click here to view on eBay.

Thank you for the tip, Julian! I don’t think I’ve ever seen this model of Panasonic before. At first blush, it looks like a Barlow Wadley.

Based on the description of the radio, it sounds like it might need a little work. I think a re-capping would be in order and I’m sure the pots and switches need an application of Deoxit.

Perhaps our resident Panasonic collectors will let us know if this radio is rare or common? I doubt it’s exceptionally rare since there have been 3 offers made on it in the past. Please comment!

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Video: Vintage SONY Japan Manufacturing Plants

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow, who writes:

[Check out this] YouTube video :

Vintage SONY JAPAN Manufacturing Plants: TRINITRON TV, Video Recorder, late 1960-1970s

Click here to view on YouTube.

This very interesting near 12 minute video shows Sony manufacturing plants.

At 2:10 you will see the CRF-150 / 160’s being manufactured.

Thank you so much for sharing this, Dave! This is chock-full of Sony nostalgia!

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Radio Waves: Radio Liberty Journalist Bugged, Invisible Battle, RNZ Shortwave After Tonga Eruption, Closing Analog FM in Spain to Save Energy, and Keeping Morse Code Alive

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!


Journalist Vitaly Portnikov was found to be “eavesdropped” at his home in Lviv, – Knyazhytskyi (Espeso)

Note this article has been translated in English. Original in Ukrainian found here.

The police promptly responded to the call, but the SBU for some reason delays its response to illegal actions People’s deputy Mykola Knyazhytskyi announced this on Facebook .

“In Lviv, journalist Vitaly Portnikov, who hosts programs on Espresso and Radio Svoboda, found a eavesdropping device at home. It is a voice recorder with the ability to record for a long time. The police were called. They arrived quickly. The SBU was called. They are not going. As a member of the Verkhovna Rada, I ask the SBU to come immediately and disrupt case. We don’t know who installed this device and for what purpose: our services, foreign services or criminality,” the politician said.

Image via Espreso

Vitaly Portnikov commented on the incident for “Espresso”:

“Today, while cleaning the apartment I lived in at the end of February, when the war started, I found a recording device under the bed. The device had an inventory number. I informed the law enforcement authorities about my discovery so that they could investigate this incident.”

The journalist added that he hoped for a high-quality investigation and clarification of all the circumstances of the case:

“After my statement, the investigators of the SBU of the Lviv region conducted an inspection of the premises and seized a device that is a device for listening and recording information. I hope that the relevant structures will conduct an examination and find out by whom and why this device was placed in my apartment.”

Vitaly Portnikov is a well-known Ukrainian journalist, publicist and political commentator. Cooperates with Radio Svoboda and Espresso. On the Espresso TV channel, he creates the programs “Political Club of Vitaly Portnikov” and “Saturday Political Club”. [Click here to read the full article at Espreso.]

The Invisible Battle of the Cold War Airwaves (Bureau of Lost Culture)

This Episode explore three stories of cold war era radio in the USSR: Soviet Radio Jammers, the Russian ‘Woodpecker’ and the Soviet Radio Hooligans

[Click here to listen to the podcast via PodBean.]

We meet with Russian broadcaster Vladimir Raevsky to talk about radio jamming in cold war era Soviet Union.

As East and West super powers square up to each with nuclear weapons, a parallel invisible war is being fought in the airwaves. Continue reading

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