Some of you may remember this from back in 2012:
Fast forward to November of last year. By this time I'd forgotten about the Utah light beams. Ron Jones, K7RJ, was kind enough to send me a wonder-filled bag of electronic parts. I have been slowly sorting them. All kinds of great stuff is in there, but I noticed a lot of stuff that you don't normally find in ham shacks -- lots of optical stuff, lots of LEDs and photo transistors, little transistors with lenses on the top. Cool stuff all, but not the kind of parts you'd use for a 40 meter CW rig. What the heck was Ron building? I wrote and asked. Here is his reply.
I’m like you, Bill, I’m a jack of all trades and master of none. I dabble in this and that. I always have a hand full of half finished projects on the bench.
The optical stuff probably fell on the floor when Clint (KA7OEI) and I were experimenting with “through the air light communication” a few years back. Clint in the real guru in that particular project. We made optical contacts over what we think is a world record – 173 miles! That meant packing in optical gear to the top of remote Utah mountains, but what a great time we had! We used a high power LED – NOT a laser. Lasers really suck for super long range communications. They are great for wide band across a parking lot, but not for voice communication over tens of miles (in our cast 173 miles) over the air. We did over 100 miles with a laser pointer – can you believe that? A $3.00 laser that you torture your dog with… 100 miles! But, that is a different topic. If you do say anything about the optical stuff, be sure to mention Clint, he really engineered the optical communication project.
By far, most important thing that we did with optical communication was on one of our short tests (only about 50 miles) when we broadcast one of the Solder Smoke episodes for anyone who cared to “look in” on our red beacon. I think Clint sent you a picture from his side of the path a few years ago.
If there are any parts in that pile of junk that you are particularly interested in, I may be able to find more data and/or circuit ideas I had. But, honestly, a lot of that is stuff that is as strange and wonderful to me as it is to you. Fun as heck to look at, but needs to be put in the “YAFP” pile (Yet another .. project).
Thanks for doing the podcast. It is always an inspiration for me to keep my soldering hot.
Very cool. So Ron had been at the other end of Clint's Red Light beam, the light beam that was carrying a SolderSmoke podcast across Salt Lake City. And it appears that some of the parts involved in that amazing project have ended up in my junk box. The Radio Gods like this sort of thing and may have been at work here. Thanks Ron.