Category Archives: Nostalgia

A close look at the Russian Woodpecker (Duga-3)

(Source: news.com.au via Ian P)

ON MAPS, this site was marked as a children’s playground. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

When the Chernobyl nuclear explosion happened in 1986, it shook the world in many ways. Not only did it put the now ghost town of Pripyat on the map for all the wrong reasons, it also exposed the world to what was really at this site in Ukraine — the dreaded Duga radar, also known as the Russian Woodpecker.

A Soviet engineering and scientific feat of its time, the Russian Woodpecker was an over-the-horizon radar system designed to provide early detection of an intercontinental ballistic missile attack.

[…]Air traffic controls, television and radio broadcasters would be irked by the mysterious pecking noises it emitted, hence its nickname, the Russian Woodpecker.

Built just outside the city of Pripyat, it was completely off limits and unknown to outsiders.
It was erected near Chernobyl due to its high power demands. On maps, it was marked as a summer camp for children hidden in the depths of the forest. Locals were told that the imposing skyscraper was a radio tower.[…]

Click here to read the full article…

Seventy years ago, Thor Heyerdahl packed a National NC-173 and made history

The National NC-173

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kris Partridge (G8AUU), who sent the following feedback a few days ago. Sorry for missing the boat, Kris!

Kris writes:

Just under two weeks ago I was watching a Norwegian film on Polish TV (no, don’t ask) and knowing how the sight of old radio’s in films is of interest to you and your readers I was going to write but travel and work, Passendale100 commemorations in Belgium, got in the way. The radio in question was a National NC-173 receiver. And the film Kon-Tiki.

There is much written about the exploits of the voyage and the operators of LI2B. I give as an example from PA7MDJ http://pa7mdj.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/the-kon-tiki-expedition-and-heroes-of.html?m=1 I leave it to PA7MDJ’s most excellent blog to tell more, he has some Nation Radio Company images from 1947 illustrating his piece and at the end there is a very extensive links listing.

But another reason for writing is that tomorrow, Monday, 07 August is the 70th anniversary of the end of the voyage as the raft landed on the reef. On the 67th anniversary the ARRL did an article on LI2B, why the 67th?

What happened on the 7th of August 1947, and in the 36 hours after, says much about the build quality of the National NC-173.

How many radios today would survive a dunking in seawater and after drying out still be working?

I’ve just been to my book shelves and after a small search found my copy of The Kon-Tiki Expedition published in 1950 given to me not too many years later.

You find LI2B in the book’s index twice. Once describing the operation of the radio ‘corner’ and a very QRP contact between the raft and Oslo Norway. 6 watts CW on 13990 kc. per second, the book being written in 1949 no kHz.

LI2B had been given permission to operate out of but adjacent to as well as in the 20 metre band. The second entry concerns what happen after the raft ends up on the reef and the radio shack and equipment got flooded.

They had been in contact before hitting the reef and there was a 36 hour window before the air search and rescue operations would begin. The drying out of the equipment took no little time and the writer describes how slowly the receiver came to life but no transmitter.

Finally they were able make contact, just before the 36 hrs ended,using a WW2 hand cranked resistance, the book says sabotage, transmitter.

Both the radio operators on the Kon-Tiki had been radio operators in the Norwegian resistance in WW2, only 2 years earlier.

If one puts LI2B into Google images quite an interesting assortment of radio related images are found (click here to view search), including QSL cards but the one I like best is this http://f6blk.net/photos/LI2Bshack_x1.jpg:

I’m sure I’ve seen an English language version, this one looks slightly cropped since the end of the ‘Earth’ wire is out of vision

Regards es 73 de

Kris G8AUU

How fascinating! Thanks so much for sharing this, Kris.

Again, apologies I didn’t get this posted prior to the 70th anniversary–I’m a tad behind (understatement alert) on email at the moment.

I have a particular affinity for The Kon-Tiki Expedition. I found a 1950s copy of the book while doing my undergraduate degree ages ago.

My 1950s copy of The Kon-Tiki Expedition in an archival cover.

The book played no small part in my fascination with anthropology–especially Heyerdahl’s version of “applied” anthropology. I went on to do my post grad work in anthropology at the London School of Economics. Indeed, I re-read that book before my finals to remind myself the significance of anthropology.

If you haven’t read The Kon-Tiki Expedition, I highly recommend you do so! Indeed, it’s about time I read it again.

I’m very curious how many SWLing Post readers have a National NC-173 sitting in their shack? Thor would tell you to take care of it, because it certainly took care of his crew!

Radio Fax: Christopher seeks more information about “Britain’s Number Two Short Wave Station”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Christopher Brennen, who writes:

I hope you’re keeping well. I stumbled across this site and thought you might be interested:

http://radiofax.org

I am a little too young to know anything about this; not only was I five / six when they first started but I also had no idea about shortwave radio at the time! 🙂

Do any of your readers know anything more about it (it is fairly detailed on this site, but perhaps someone reading was involved in some way?)

It seems to be a shortwave combination of the IBA Engineering Broadcasts for the trade that were shown on TV and something akin to the current InRadio (inrad.io).

Click here to view on YouTube.

Incidentally, the little IBA jingle at the start of that clip was also used – in a higher key – by Granada Television in the North West of England for some of their idents:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Granada was my ‘home’ ITV region so I’m very familiar with that jingle.

Thanks again for the SWLing Post!

Many thanks, Christopher!

I’m willing to bet SWLing Post readers can comment with more details about the Radio Fax service.

eBay seller posting a number of vintage Panasonic portables

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who shares a link to this eBay seller who has recently posted a number of vintage solid state radios from his collection. Many of the radios have BuyItNow prices and auction dates nine days out. Many of these are Panasonic models and only a couple have shortwave.

Still, Dan knew how to tug on my heart strings (and enable me!) by pointing out the Panasonic RF-1170. It has a BuyItNow price of $119.95 plus shipping, I love the bold design from that era of radio–plus I know the ‘1170 has brilliant audio. While the ‘1170 lacks shortwave, it does have AM/MW and a dedicated, rotatable ferrite bar antenna much like my RF-2200.

Please, someone buy it before I do!

National Panasonic RF-1170

Click here to view on eBay.

Here are a few other notable radios from this seller’s offerings. I’ve included links with each image. To see all of this seller’s offerings, check out his eBay store.

National Panasonic RF-951

Click here to view on eBay.

National Panasonic RF-1090

Click here to view on eBay.

National Panasonic RF-100

Click here to view on eBay.

Panasonic RF-3100

Click here to view on eBay.

Can you identify Elvis’ radio?

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Bud Glass, who writes:

I am attempting to find out more information about this particular radio [see above]. The photo is from around 1959–no idea how old the radio is.

Thanks, Bud. I did a little research and it appears this photo was taken of Elvis while he was traveling in Germany. The radio has a familiar design from the era with a large speaker and round, front-facing tuning dial. I can’t make out the manufacturer’s name in the image.

Post readers: Please comment if you can help Bud ID this portable radio!