Tag Archives: Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD)

Deke Duncan of Radio 77: Broadcasting to an audience of one

Photo by Ben Koorengevel

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD), who writes:

I’ve just finished reading “Sealand’s Caretakers”. Very fascinating.

In the article, they give a link to an article “This excerpt describes the fallout that came from a gang of international scam artists bootlegging Sealand passports.”

This article is titled: “The Plot Against the Principality of Sealand” and is hosted on narratively.com.

It’s another fascinating article about Sealand and well worth the read.

Narratively.com is a very interesting site with lots of well written articles. In perusing the site, I came across an article about Deke Duncan who ran Radio 77 from a backyard shed for an audience of one.

At the end of the article, you can listen to the “Radio 77” episode of Snap Judgement by Jeff Maysh.

BBC did a piece on it in 1974:

It’s a great story about someone’s love of radio.

For even more detail about Deke, check out this article.

Thank you so much for sharing this, Bill!

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Bill’s first DX contest using a Panasonic RF-2200 and a hombrew diode/loop radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD), who shares the following guest post:


My First DX Contest

by Bill Hemphill, WD9EQD

Being a recent new member of NJARC, this is my first time competing in this contest.  I have always been a big fan of BCB DXing and have recently got back into it – especially with the amateur radio bands being in such poor conditions.  The acquisition of a couple of Loop antennas plus two Panasonic RF-2200 radios have just enhanced my enjoyment.

For the contest, I used two completely different radios.  First was the RF-2200 and second was a spur of the moment creation.

The RF-2200 was its usual good performer. While the RF-2200 has a beautiful built-in rotating bar antenna, I enhanced it with the 27” Torus-Tuner Loop Antenna as made by K3FDY, Edmund Wawzinski.  I think I had picked this antenna up at one of NJARC’s swap meets.  So I wish to thank whoever it was that was nice enough to bring it and sell it at the meet.  I have really enjoyed using it.  With this setup, I was hoping that I might be able to pull in Denver, Salt Lake City and maybe even a Mexican station, but it was a complete bust on them.  But I did have a nice surprise in receiving the Cuban station Radio Enciclopedia on 530 in addition to the usual Radio Reloj time signal station.  Following is photo of it in operation:

Originally, I had thought that my second contest entry would be done with a 1962 Sony TR-910T three-band transistor radio.  This radio has a fairly wide dial along with a second fine-tuning knob which would be a big help.  I would have again used the 27” hula-hoop antenna.

But I made the nice mistake of running across Dave Schmarder’s Makearadio website:

http://makearadio.com/

Dave’s site is a wonderful resource for creating your own Crystal, Tube, and Solid State radios as well as Audio Amplifiers and Loop Antennas.  While going down the rabbit hole of his site, I ran across his Loop Crystal Set, #19 Crystal Radio:

http://makearadio.com/crystal/19.php

What grabbed my attention was the wood frame loop antenna which is similar to one I had acquired a couple of years ago at a ham fest:


It was a really nicely constructed, nice swivel base.

I replaced the tuning capacitor with one that has a 6:1 ratio.

At this point I started thinking that I could create something similar with my loop.

I randomly grabbed a diode from my parts box.  Not sure what the exact model is.  (I later found out that it was an IN-34 which is what I was hoping it was.)  Then quickly soldered the diode, a resistor and capacitor to a RCA plug:

I then proceeded to use some jumper cables and just clip it to the tuning capacitor on the antenna base:

The RCA plug was then the audio out (I hope) from the radio.

I quickly realized that I did not have a crystal headset or any headset that would reproduce any audio.  So I used an old Marantz cassette recorder to act as an amplifier.  Fed it into the mic jack and then tried to listen to the monitor out.  Bingo – I could pick up or local station on 1340 really weak.

So I then fed the audio from the Marantz into a Edirol digital recorder.  Now I was getting enough audio for the headphones plus could make  a recording of the audio.

At last I was receiving some signals.  To boost the audio some more I removed the resistor from the circuit.

I found out the I could only tune from about 530 to 1350.  I probably needed to clip the lead on one of the loop turns, but I really wanted to see how it would do at night.  I spent several hours and was just totally amazed at how well it performed and how good the audio was.  The hardest part was when there were very strong signals on the adjacent frequency.  What I found really interesting was that it was not linear in its tuning.  At the low end of the band the stations were more spread out than at the higher end.  This made tuning fairy easy at the low end and very touchy at the high end.  I was able to hear a couple of Chicago stations along with Atlanta and St. Louis.

Here’s photo of it in action:

I have created an audio file of the station ID’s heard with the diode/loop radio.  The audio file is on the Internet Archive at:

https://archive.org/details/bcbstationidsondioderadio

I had a lot of fun in the contest and especially enjoyed trying something really different with the diode/loop radio.  Now I have a whole year to try to think up something really creative for next year’s contest.


Absolutely brilliant, Bill! I’m so happy to see that your ham fest homebrew loop has served you so very well in a contest. I love how you pulled audio from your homebrew, make-shift diode radio as well–using your audio gear in a chain for amplification obviously worked very well.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Bill!

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Radio history videos are a serious benefit of Social Distancing!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD), who shares the following guest post:


Benefits to Social Distancing

I have discovered that there is a positive side effect of social distancing.  With so many organizations using Zoom and other video methods for their meeting, the volume of great videos to watch has drastically increased, with most of it residing on YouTube.  Also everyone is sharing video links that they have found with other.

For example, the New Jersey Antique Radio Club (NJARC) has, for some time, posted their monthly meetings on their YouTube channel.  They have very enjoyable presentations.  Last night was their virtual monthly meeting for June and they had a great talk by Prof. Joe Jesson on “What You Did Not Know About the RCA AR88.”

I am a fairly new member to NJARC and must recommend them to others.  They are a very active group and are currently having Zoom conferences weekly between the members.  They also host the RADIO TECHNOLOGY MUSEUM at the InfoAge Technology Center.

Link to NJARC:

http://www.njarc.org/

Link to NJARC YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/njarc/

Link to the Radio Technology Museum:

http://www.rtm.ar88.net/

Last week, I received an email from Mark  Erdle (AE2EA) referring to some videos by the Antique Wireless Museum which is hosted by the Antique Wireless Association (AWA).  From his email:

The Radios (and Filming) of “Across the Pacific”  presented by AWA member Brian Harrison.  Brian served as the radio consultant for the 3-hour PBS documentary “Across the Pacific”, which tells the story of the early days of Pan American Airways and of Hugo C. Leuteritz, a RCA radio engineer who helped make Pan Am’s expansion across the oceans possible with radio communication and navigation systems. Brian explains how he worked to insure that this documentary portrayed the pioneering work of Hugo Leuteritz as accurately as possible. Much of the early radio equipment that Pan American used was custom made for Pan Am, and is quite rare today, but Brian hunted it down.

 

In addition to Brian’s video, you can also see Tom Perera’s updated presentation of “Phil Weingarten’s Fabulous Fakes” which was originally presented at the 2007 AWA conference:

Link to AWA:  https://antiquewireless.org/homepage/

Link to AWA You-Tube Channel:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX55peBhzeX1qps_VYXdLBA

Here are some other videos that people have passed along to me that I have found enjoyable.  Most of these are radio-oriented and I have omitted the many cat videos:


Thank you for sharing these links and videos, Bill! I’ve been watching Phil Weingarten’s Fabulous Fakes this morning–what a fascinating bit of history!

Post readers: Have you discovered videos and sites while social distancing (a.k.a. Social DXing)? Please comment and share your links!

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Using Adobe on Android to read The Spectrum Monitor magazine

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill, who writes:

I was very happy to see your post about The Spectrum Monitor magazine. Like you, I am a big fan of it and have subscribed for several years and have purchased the archived years.

Usually, I am not a fan of digital magazines. They either are in special formats requiring special programs or even special versions of Acrobat. Like you, I was happy to see that it is in standard PDF format.

But that still brought up a problem. With my eyesight, I need to zoom in on the page to read it, even when using a 10” tablet and definitely if using a smaller screen such as my phone. Normally it means panning around the page, reading column one down and then going back to the top of the page to read the second or third column.

But there is some good news that many people may not be aware of. The Acrobat Reader app on the Android system allows for a mode called “Reading Mode”. What reading mode does is stack the columns up into a single column thus allowing for reading straight down – no more scrolling back to the top of the next column. And you can tap on the screen to enlarge the text and the text will reformat in a larger font to fit the margins of the screen.

I took some screen shots of TSM using Adobe Reader on my Android phone.

On the left is the complete page, on the right I have tapped on the page and while it enlarged it, I now need to scroll around to read it:

Following screen shot shows the “View Setting” Settings and “Page-by-Page” is the default setting.

What you want do is change this to “Reading Mode”:

Once you have selected “Reading Mode” you will find that the columns are now stacked vertically and you can read my just scrolling down. No more going back to the top for the next column. Also, taping on the text will enlarge it and reflow it to fit the device screen.

Left screen shot is after selecting “Reading Mode” and right is after tapping the screen to enlarge the text:

With Reading Mode, I find I can even read TSM on my Cell Phone Screen as well as my tablets.

Note: Reading Mode only works with PDF’s that have been created with this is mind. It obviously won’t work with PDF’s created from scans.

Unfortunately, while there is a “Read Mode” in Acrobat Reader DC for Windows, it does not stack the columns like the Android version does. I’m not sure if the Acrobat Reader for iPhone works the same way as Android.

Hope this is of help to others.

73
Bill Hemphill
WD9EQD
Smithville, NJ

Thank you so much, Bill, for sharing your tip! You make a really good point, too, that PDF publications give you the flexibility to change text size and adjust layout through Adobe Reader so that it’s quite easy to read even on a small device. I’m also a huge fan of PDF documents and wish other radio publications would consider adopting the PDF format instead of replying on proprietary readers and apps.

Click here to check out The Spectrum Monitor magazine. 

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Panasonic RD-9820 Antenna Coupler Operating Instructions

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD), who shares a PDF copy of the Panasonic RD-9820 Antenna Coupler we recently mentioned in a post. He notes that he can’t remember how he found this manual, but thought he’d share it.

Click here to download the RD-9820 manual as a PDF.

Thanks, Bill!

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Video: “Tribute to a Century of Broadcasting”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill (WD9EQD), who writes:

You probably have already seen this, but from The ARRL Letter, November 21, 2019:

Art Donahue, W1AWX, of Franklin, Massachusetts, has posted his “Tribute to a Century of Broadcasting” video in recognition of the centennial of formal radio broadcasts. The video features a complete scan of the AM broadcast band (530 – 1700 kHz), with station IDs for all 118 AM radio channels.

Following is ARRL Link:

Radio Amateur’s “Tribute to a Century of Broadcasting” Video Debuts on YouTube

Following is YouTube link to the video:

It was a lot of fun to watch the video, hear the on-air id checks, and compare what he heard to the list of stations that I have heard.

Thanks for sharing this, Bill–I missed reading about this in the newsletter.  This goes to show you that the AM dial is chock-full of stations here in North America. Those who complain that it’s “dead” simply aren’t listening.

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USB Charging Cubes and Cables: Bill’s tests prove that not all are created equal

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD), who shares the following guest post:


Power Cubes and USB Cables Multiply Like Rabbits

by Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD)

If your house is like mine, you have a box or drawer somewhere that has a tangle of 5V power cubes and cables.  This is what one of my drawers looks like:

And yes I do have two full drawers.

Every new toy I receive comes with another cable and a power cube.  With Christmas coming, we can all look forward to even more of them.

But I have learned  that not all power cubes or cables are created equally.  Earlier this year I realized that sometimes my tablets would take forever to charge and other times they seemed to re-charge a lot faster.  That got me wondering what was causing the difference. I found that switching power cubes or switching cables could make a difference.

I decided to try some experiments.  First I acquired a couple of Drok USB testers.  These are small, inline, digital USB voltage and amp testers.  They clearly show the amp draw and the voltage being furnished to the device being charged.

Second step was to gather up my power cubes and test them against a device that would load the cube close to it rated capacity.  I quickly found that ANY power cube I owned that was rated at less than 1 amp at 5 volt was not capable of providing anywhere near their rated capacity.  Some would drop all the way down to 4.11V at 0.47A. So I made the decision to throw away ANY power cube that was rated at less than 1 amp at 5 volts. That trimmed down the total number.

I proceeded to label each of the remaining power cubes from 1 to 10.  Following is list of the cubes with their power rating:

Note:  Power cubes 8, 9 & 10 have two USB ports.  I had purchased these so that I could charge two devices at once.  I had also thought of using them to power two Raspberry PI computers.

The following tablets were discharged down to less than 15% capacity:

  • Amazon Fire 10” HD Android Tablet
  • Amazon Fire 8” HD Android Tablet
  • Winbook 8” Windows 10 Tablet

Typically the Fire 10” and the Winbook will draw about 1.8 amps when charging.  The Fire 8” draws slightly less than one amp. So they would make great test subjects to exercise the capability of the power cubes and cables.

I tested several of my cables with the Winbook to make sure that the cable used for testing would provide the amps and voltage.  I then tested each of the power cubes using that cable with each of the tablets and got the following results:

Notes:

  1. All the cubes performed very well within their rated capacity.
  2. It’s interesting to see how the 1 amp rated cubes did with a higher draw.
  3. It’s clear that the cubes do NOT have limiting to their rated capacity.  I would have thought that the 1 amp cubes would have been limited to providing up to but not over that amount.
  4. Likewise, I would have thought that the tablets would limit amp draw when the voltage drops below 5 volts.

Next test was to see if the selection of cable makes a difference.  I randomly selected some cables and labeled them. I used one of the Anker power cubes since they perform the best.  The results were very interesting:

Notes:

  1. The cables were of various lengths from 12” to 36”.  Some of the short cables performed poorly and some of the long cables performed very well.  So cable length is not necessary an indication of how it will perform. You have to test it.
  2. All the cables performed well at 0.95 amps.  But some of them could not adequately handle higher loads.
  3. I had accidentally left the Winbook charging, so it was not at maximum charge during the cable tests.
  4. The cables in Red have been thrown away.

I have two special cables that I had purchased.  These were power splitter cables, single USB to two mini USB.  I had used these for a while running two Raspberry PI’s off of one power cube.  But they would reset every so often, so I thought that the splitter cable might not be providing power evenly between the two PI’s.  Time to test my theory.

Notes:

  1. The a & b denotes each of the legs of the spitters.
  2. It’s pretty obvious that the two legs do NOT provide the same capacity at the higher loads.
  3. These cables will also be tossed away.

Now for some fun testing.  I thought I would try to load the Anker Dual Port power cubes to see if they will provide their rated power on each port.

Very impressive.

And last, I have two Anker large capacity 5V battery packs:

Battery one – Anker Astro E7, Model A1210.  Capacity: 26800mAh. Rated: 4A@5V – 2A max per port.

Battery two – Anker Powercore Model A1277.  Capacity: 26800 mAh. Rated: 4A@5V – 2A max per port.

Update [18 Dec 2019]:  I had received a comment that I didn’t show the Anker Dual Port with both ports fully loaded.

I did another test – this time adding in my Pixel cell phone which draws about 1 amp when not fast charging.

Attached is photo showing the Anker power supply fully loaded:

(Fire 10 & Pixel on one port & Fire 8 and Winbook on the second port)

Port 1: 2.59A @ 5.03V

Port 2: 2.75A @ 5.01V

Pretty good for a cube only rated at 2.4A per port.

Conclusions:

  1. Don’t just select a random power cube from that drawer.  Be sure to select one that will provide both the required amp draw at a minimum of 5 volts.
  2. Likewise, don’t just select a random usb cable from that drawer.  Make sure the cable will carry the required current and voltage.
  3. The Anker products that I have (power cubes and batteries) produce the rated current and voltage.  I would highly recommend them.
  4. Where before  I had two drawers full of power cubes and cables; after throwing away about half of them, it has been consolidated into a single drawer.
  5. I may buy some more of the Anker power cubes.

Wow…thank you, Bill!

Your timing is impeccable. I’ve also been weeding out a number of USB power cubes from my own “drawer-o-plenty!” I had been simply looking at the rated amount on each cube and deciding which ones to keep–tossing all of the lower amperage ones. I think I may actually save a little time and simply invest in a few Anker Elite Dual-Port chargers (note this Amazon affiliate link supports the SWLing Post). At present, the white ones are $8.99 each. I especially like the fact that the plug folds and that it automatically switches between voltage standards (100-240 VAC) while travelling between countries.

Side note: I have also been very pleased with Anker’s customer support. I purchased some Soundcore Anker bluetooth earbuds in January–by November they started having issues maintaining a Bluetooth connection. I contacted Anker customer service and after a little troubleshooting, they dispatched a new replacement pair.

Although I know well that not all USB cables are created equally, I would have never guessed there would be much difference in terms of charging ability. Your tests certainly prove otherwise. I suppose I should not be surprised because most “free” USB cables that accompany consumer electronics are of the cheapest quality. I imagine many of the conductors/wires inside those cables are as thin as a hair, hence can’t handle the demands of devices like tablets and larger smart phones.

Again, Bill, thanks so much for sharing this excellent guest post!


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