Podcasting since 2005! Listen to Latest SolderSmoke

Friday, July 1, 2011

Copthorne MacDonald and New Directions Radio

I mentioned in SolderSmoke 135 that somehow I feel myself becoming a bit of a hippie. I'm riding a bike to work. I now have a compost pile and a vegetable garden. I'm enthusiastically helping Billy fix his electric guitar... Mike, KC7IT, wrote in to let me know of an important ham-hippie connection that I'd been completely unaware of.

Starting around 1973, a fellow name Copthorne MacDonald (what a great name!) wrote a ham radio column for Mother Earth News. (Further evidence of my drift: I've recently been buying this magazine!) It is an interesting mix of radio technology (much of it homebrew and QRP) and what at the time was called "alternative lifestyles" (communes and all that). Lots of info about sustainable and eco-friendly living, solar power, etc. Here's a good example:

Copthorne MacDonald is the inventor of Slow Scan Television.

I really like Copthorne's writing and I was really pleased to find out that much of it has survived and is available on the internet. Mike KC7IT points us to more of the articles:

Cop's writing constitutes another treasure trove of ham radio literature for all of us!

I found an archive (infoark) that seems to have his "New Directions Radio" newsletters:

I was please to find that OM Copthorne is alive and well. He posted this on eham.net back in November:

« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2010, 11:01:41 AM »

Hello all. This is from Cop Macdonald, now VY2CM, his very self.

Many thanks to Benn Kobb AK4AV for alerting me to this page, and thanks for the supportive comments above from a number of you.

A brief summary. I'm not currently on the air, but as Benn noted I was at the 2009 Dayton Hamvention where I gave the talk he mentioned and received that year's Technical Excellence Award for the SSTV development work I did some 50+ years ago as an engineering student at the University of Kentucky. While doing some Googling for Hamvention info I discovered that in 2007 I had been inducted into CQ Magazine's Ham Radio Hall of Fame. Perhaps CQ, too, had trouble tracking me down, as this was news to me. If anyone is interested in the details of that initial SSTV system, the Kentucky Engineer article on the subject is online at http://www.copmacdonald.com/KYEngineeerSSTVArticle.pdf. The QST articles on that first gear appeared in the August and September 1958 issues, and are available online from the ARRL digital archives.

The Mother Earth News column ended in 1983 when the magazine changed hands for the second time. I continued to do much writing after that. A lot of it dealt with energy conservation and energy alternatives --- some examples at http://www.wisdompage.com/SEUhtmDOCS/conservation.htm. In the late 1980s I developed an interest in wisdom, and have written three books on aspects of that subject. Connected with this, in 1995 I started a website called The Wisdom Page to make wisdom-related resources available to people worldwide. It has become quite popular. Last month the site had 14417 visits by people from 149 countries who viewed or downloaded documents, podcasts, and videos some 36159 times. And if you Google the word wisdom, http://www.wisdompage.com
consistently comes up on the first page of the search returns — out of some 75 million+ pages containing the term. Anything else you might want to learn about my doings over the years is probably at http://www.wisdompage.com/aboutcop.html
Best wishes to you all. Cop

Thanks Cop!


  1. hahaha, "compost pile" and "vegetable garden". Yep, you're in Virginia now! I've also got a vegetable garden but you've 1-upped me on the compost!


    Happy 4th.

  2. What a blast from the past, Bill. Thanks for pointing out the archives of Cop's writings for Mother Earth News, some really interesting stuff there. I wonder if I still have my copy of the "Last Whole Earth Catalog" - as I recall it had articles in it about ham radio, too.

    This year, I have a compost pile but no veggie garden. Go figure.

  3. Una vez más...un tesoro! Another great find N2CQR. 73 rbb

  4. I was searching for information on Cop to share with a friend when I ran across his obituary from last month. Services were December 28.


Designer: Douglas Bowman | Dimodifikasi oleh Abdul Munir Original Posting Rounders 3 Column