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Thursday, December 3, 2009

SolderSmoke Book: Review, 10% off in December (HUMBUG is the code)

During the month of December, if you enter the promotional code HUMBUG when checking out at the Lulu web site, you will get 10% off.

For shipping from a printer in the U.S. (probably better for N. American buyers) Click here: SolderSmoke USA Version

For shipping from a printer in the UK, Spain, or the USA (probably better for UK and other European buyers)
Click here: SolderSmoke EU Version

Here is a recent review from the Big Apple:

This is a charming little book about ham radio. I know, I know, who uses the word charming and ham radio in the same sentence? Well, I did and I hope I never see the word used in this context again. But, that's the truth of it. Bill Meara is a charming guy and as might be expected, he wrote a charming book.

The book starts out by expressing the way many of us felt in our early years, filled with excitement and anticipation of the new and wondrous world of radio. And then, in the next breath, ponders how we, many of us mere children, ever survived the ordeal. Those were high voltage dangerous days before transistors! My favorite ‘early years’ story is about the power supply and the gift of the lightweight radio.

Many of the stories come from foreign countries where Bill has traveled as an employee of the United States government. These adventures give perspective to another important part of our hobby which is the camaraderie among hams and the things that are unique about us, no matter what part of the planet we come from. The stories from the Dominican Republic stand out in my mind. Particularly the Resistor Store and the Capacitor Store or if you wanted anything that involved winding wire you looked up a guy who hung around on a street corner. I think Bill was really impressed with the hams he met here. He writes with great excitement when describing some of these characters.

Not having an engineering background, Bill expresses, on several occasions, of being mystified by some popular explanations of electronic theory. Here I share common ground. I also had a problem with semiconductor theory and the common explanation of “hole flow”. As the author points out, it sometimes takes a library to understand these theories. Sometimes just one book doesn’t cut it. Bill’s explanation of semiconductor theory is as good as I’ve read anywhere. In fact, a lot of the technical asides were really excellent. I guess I didn’t expect them to be as in depth as they were.

Bill, the “Radio Fiend” also takes on a journey that requires him to get on the air with homebrew gear. The journey starts out with a failed direct conversion receiver and ends up years later with a DSB transceiver. I found this very interesting as well as entertaining.

SolderSmoke: A Global Adventure in Radio Electronics. is about us. I don’t think there is a ham alive that is not going to see himself within the words of this book.

Tom, ak2b

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