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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Mike Rainey and Heavy Metal AM Phone

Michael Rainey AA1TJ wrote:  
I can tell you exactly what's going on here. I'd just received a license upgrade from "Novice" to "General." My new license granted radiotelephone privileges and I was eager to try them out.

In the early 1970's no self-respecting amateur radio operator would dream of using amplitude modulation (AM) on wavelengths above 10m. It wasn't illegal, rather, it was frowned upon due to bandwidth issues, among other things.
But in my excitement - and in the time-honored spirit of, "don't ask permission, ask forgiveness" - I tuned my clunky, Heathkit DX-100 to the 40m radiotelephone band and began calling CQ on AM. Everyone that I contacted was very polite, but to the man they all mentioned how "odd" it was to hear an AM signal on 40m. I eventually took the hint, but not before I'd figured out that yakking on a microphone wasn't my thing after all. Morse telegraphy was my first and enduring love.
I think Michael's next phone transmitter was that voice-powered rig that he used in an attempt to cross the Atlantic with the only power source being his vocal cords. But even there, he was using his voice to send Morse.  

C'mon back to radiotelephone Mike.  There is more to life than dots and dashes!


  1. In 1970 or 71, there were AMers on the East coast at least.

    In 1970 I bought a Hallicrafters S-120A receiver (that's the transistorized one) and it was complete junk. It overloaded from tv and FM broadcast stations, lacked sensitivity on the highest band, the ham bands were miniscule portions of the dial, and it couldn't receive SSB.

    But there were the AMers, I guess on 80M, nice strong signals, sharing a frequency. I don't know if there were many, but they were there every night. And they'd ramble on "forever" before letting someone else speak. I had the impression at the time that they were "young", maybe they just sounded young or maybe it was what they talked about. They didn't seem like they were grumpily sticking to the old, but "younger" hams doing AM because they liked it. And they kept it up for years.

    A few years later there was still a ham in Marblehead MA with a booming AM signal here in Montreal, on 2M.


    1. Wow, an S-120A! Bill, you think the S-38E stinks? Get a whiff of one of those putrid things!

      I had one years ago, and it was useless for the most casual broadcast listening. On top of everything Michael says, mine was so microphonic that it'd start squealing like Ned Beatty in Deliverance as soon as you turned the AF Gain off of zero. A truly awful radio!

      73 - Steve N8NM

  2. Many of those same guys are still on 75 Michael. WA1HLR was part of the young group that I listened to in the mid 70s. He is still modulating. FB.


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