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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

HF Bandsweep with the Hammarlund HQ-100 (video)

It has been a while since we last did a bandsweep.  Too long.  Here is one using my recently fixed up Hammarlund HQ-100.  Repair details are in recent videos. 

For this bandsweep we cover most of the HF band and even briefly dip down into the AM broadcast band: 

Demonstration of the Hammarlund HQ-100: Radio Marti, 40 meter AM, 40 Meter SSB, 40 meter FT-8, 40 meter CW with and without the Q multiplier, classical music on WRMI, WFAX 1220 kHz AM, WWV 20 MHz, CB!, 17 meter SSB, the 20 meter BS position, the effect of AVC and the Noise Limiter, SSB with the internal BFO and with the Q multiplier as BFO. CW with the internal BFO AND the Q multiplier. 

Be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Sticker Shock -- WYKSYCDS Stickers Spotted in NYC and in a Netherlands Pub! Awards!


I am awarding the coveted Brass Figlagee with Bronze Oak Leaf Palm to Dave W2DAB, to Lex PH2LB, to Jesse N5JHH, and of course to Pete Juliano, N6QW.  More awards are possible.  http://www.flicklives.com/index.php?pg=215&recno=2590 

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Repairing the Sony ICF SW1 Receiver -- Used for Numbers Station Reception? Why no replacement for C-625?

Ten years ago, my friend John gave me this tiny Sony receiver.  It wasn't working.   I tried to fix it but quickly discovered that the tiny size of the device made repair difficult.  All you needed to do was to swap out some leaking electrolytics, but they are surface mount electrolytics -- replacing them is not for the faint of heart.  Kits are available, but again, this is not easy. 

In 2020 I got one of the kits, but didn't try to use it until yesterday.   It only supplied six of the electrolytics.  In the video above, they discuss replacing seven electrolytics, including the one that seems to be placed in the round black holder. C-625.  Why didn't my kit include a replacement for that one?  Could it be that this capacitor was not one of the leaky SMD caps?  

Replacing these caps really wasn't easy. At one point I inadvertently removed not just the bad cap, but also a nearby surface mount resistor.  Luckily the schematic showed it to be 0 ohms.  That was easily replaced.  I lifted one of the pads on one of the other caps -- I just slid it back into place and hoped for the best. 

BTW, I just today discovered that this little receiver may have been used late in the Cold War by those who needed to receive messages from the infamous Numbers Stations: 


Friday, May 20, 2022

500 WYKSYCDS IBEW Stickers Arrive in Europe! Order yours today! Free!

Lex PH2LB in the Netherlands has gone the extra kilometer for the IBEW.  When he saw the stickers that had been placed in New York City, he asked for the design.  I sent him the files that  Jesse N5JHH (designer of the stickers) had sent to me.  Very quickly, Lex had 500 of these stickers printed up and ready to go (see above).  His shack now serves as a veritable beachhead in Europe for the IBEW and the CBLA.  Thank you Les!   

Les has even set up an on-line order form for those who seek to assist in the noble campaign to spread the word about our cause: 

Les is making the stickers available for free -- all you need to do is pay the postage. 

Please be sure to send us pictures of the stickers after they have been placed. 

And let's not forget that the quote on the sticker is from Pete Juliano, N6QW. 

Here is one that recently showed up in Blacksburg, Virginia (zoom in on the green utility box): 

And here is Lex's very interesting site, with his Knack Story:  https://www.ph2lb.nl/blog/index.php?page=history

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Frank Jones's Homebrew Rig -- as described by Michael Hopkins AB5L (SK)

"Frank is all homebrew. His receiver is unshielded outside, but built around a central square of aluminum that houses a Velvet Vernier dial thru the front panel and some tubes I did not recognize jutting horizontally on both sides of the box where coils also plug in. The transmitter is a multi-stage affair on a piece of particle board. The tubes are vertical here, and the bench was littered with brown Hammarlund coils labeled 5, 10, 20, and 80."   



Wednesday, May 18, 2022

W1VD's Boatanchor Receiver Tests

I've been trying to get more rigorous in my evaluation of receiver performance.   My HQ-100 is tuned to Radio Marti, and it sounds great.  But how great is it really?  And what about all the receivers and transceivers I have built?  How good are they?  

Our friend Dean KK4DAS is about to start the rehabilitation of his dad's old HQ-170A.   A search for that receiver led me to Jay Rusgrove's very interesting measurement and analysis of old tube type radios.  Jay's results appear in the links below.  More important is his very clear description of how the tests were done and what the results mean (link below). Also included is one link showing a discussion of Jay's work.  

Jay notes: 

The decision of which boat anchor receiver(s) to own is seldom based on performance alone. A combination of favored manufacturer, period of manufacture, features, collectability or even just 'looks' often rank higher on the priority list than receiver performance. Even if one were interested in performance specs much of the available information is subjective as few receivers manufactured prior to the mid 70s have undergone standardized testing. Hard data on minimum discernable signal (MDS), blocking and two-tone IMD dynamic range is interesting to some operators and important in an historical context as it shows the progression of receiver development.

Jay designed the very first real transmitter that I homebrewed (The VXO 6 Watter from QRP Classics). Jay has been mentioned many times in the SolderSmoke podcast and blog:    

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Troubleshooting and Fixing Old Faults in my Long-Suffering Hammarlund HQ-100 (Part 2) (video)

Work continues on my old Hammarlund HQ-100. I give background on the rig and explain the electrical trauma it likely suffered. Following Dave K8WPE's dictum that we can still learn a lot from old receivers, I dug into this one. I wanted to fix a long-standing S-Meter/AVC problem. This led me to an interesting troubleshoot, with at least one "waste of time" detour. Eventually I found the fault in one of the coils in the grid circuit of the RF amplifier. The coils had been smoked years ago, perhaps by a lightning strike. I came perilously close to permanently losing 10-30 MHz. But I figured out how to fix the smoked coil. So my S-Meter/AVC problem was fixed. I really like listening to this thing. There is still a lot of nice material on the SW bands. There are some very nice broadcasts in Spanish. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

You can see where the coil burned. Wire remained intact, but the insulation burned creating a Primary to Secondary connection.

I just very carefully lifted one of the coils way from the other, eliminating the unwanted connection.

Here's my homebrew "RC Printed Network" Z2 module. This was unnecessary -- the original was good. I put the original back in.

Electric Radio magazine recently ran a two part series on the HQ-100. I have ordered these issues of the magazine.

Tim Hunkin on Prototyping, Welding, and on Being a "Jack of all Trades"

I always like Tim Hunkin's videos, even when they are not directly related to radio electronics.  In this one we learn about his prototyping techniques -- this does seem similar to what many of us do when building rigs.  

I liked his explanation of welding, and of the dangers of the angle grinder (his precautions on this device were similar to those in a recent video by "Spirited Man" Van Neistat). 

Tim's final comment on how in the modern world we seem to have moved away from the notion of having one person skilled in many different areas -- we are now very specialized, so the "Jack of All Trades" is increasingly rare.   That's a shame.  Oh well, we can be Jacks of all Trades in our radio shacks. 

Thanks Tim! 

Monday, May 16, 2022

Some Links for the Michigan Mighty Mite and the Color Burst Liberation Army from Dave K8WPE

Dave K8WPE has been one of the podcast's best friends and one of its most loyal listeners.  Dave was recently going through some back issues of SolderSmoke.  This sparked a renewed interest in the Michigan Mighty Mite and the Color Burst Liberation Army.   Dave sent us some useful links on this subject.  (I had forgotten about the .io CBLA mailing list!)   Thanks for this Dave, and for all your support and friendship over the years.  


Guys and Gals

Please listen to some of these podcasts as they are very encouraging to any ham young or old that might want to build something, even as simple as a Michigan Mighty Mite transmitter. Here are references to the Michigan Mighty Mite.  The podcasts are listed below.

Check out podcasts # 166, 167, 168 in the Soldersmoke series for an in-depth discussion on this simple transmitter:

There are many YouTube videos also regarding this neat little transmitter and even companion receivers.

Another option is to build the Cricket (a full transceiver kit) from Four State QRP Club that is available for 20, 30 and 40 meters $34.70 shipped:   

Or the 80 enter one available from the designer (when the 4SQRP Club retires a kit the designer is free to continue to sell them himself) NM0S on eBay for $26.25 shipped:

If you build one of these kits John at 3rd Planet Solar in Gaylord has bags of crystals and a four position crystal switch kit for the Cricket and Pixie. Check him out at 

Please pass this on to your friends. Have fun. Build something.  Enjoy!  One person built the kit and framed it to put on the wall of his shack to PROVE that he could actually build an electronic gadget.  

Also there are many who use easily available color burst crystals from old TV sets and joined the Color Burst Liberation Army (CBLA). Check out 

Dave K8WPE since 1960

Sunday, May 15, 2022

"Dream It - Make It" -- Rich WB4TLM, Mrs. Filoramo, and C.F. Rockey W9SCH (aka The Rock)


Rich WB4TLM spotted my bog posts about famed QRPer C.F. Rockey W9SCH.  He followed up by sending me a link to the WB4TLM blog.   It is a lot of fun.  It describes his troubles in school and his subsequent participation in The Rock's electronics class. 

Rich's blog has some great inspirational quotes for ham radio homebrewers.  He is now teaching at Full Sail University. Their fabrication lab has a motto: "Dream it -- Make it."  And in a quote that made me think of my good friend Pete Juliano, Rich tells his internet-jaded students, "I've been there...done that... I can get you there faster." FB OM.  

Here is the link to Rich's blog:  http://richardarndt.com/about

Thanks Rich.  And thanks to Mrs. Filoramo and The Rock! 


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Mr. Carlson's Grand Receiver Restoration Project -- Your Input Sought (video)

Mr. Carlson (VE7ZWZ) is launching a series of videos on the restoration of some old boatanchor receivers.  I have been working on an old HQ-100, so this all resonates well with me. 

He asked for viewer input on which of these receivers he should work on first.  I voted for the SP-600 because I wanted to see how difficult it really is to change out the infamous Black Beauty capacitors.  My second choice was the R-390, but I warned Mr. Carlson that he might need a chassis crane for that one.  No kidding.  Really.   

I look forward to watching the series.  Thanks in advance Mr. Carlson. 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Who is JF3HZB? (The Creator of that Nice Digital VFO Dial) -- Some Links

Many of these sites are in Japanese.   Just look for the translate button on your browsers. 

 YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/uebo0222/videos

Web site:https://tj-lab.org/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/t_uebo

Blog: https://tj-lab.org/%e3%83%96%e3%83%ad%e3%82%b0/

Upgrades of the JF3HZB VFO: https://github.com/WA2FZW/It-s-Not-Just-Another-Digital-VFO-by-WA2FZW-VK3PE-and-G3ZQC

Discussion on Japan's "QRP Plaza."http://bbs7.sekkaku.net/bbs/?id=qrp&mode=sort&check=now&type=letter&open=1&view=1&reverse=off&inputform=1&search=JF3HZB

Old Smoke: SolderSmoke Podcast #166 October 4, 2014

Our friend and loyal long-term SolderSmoke listener Dave Wilcox K8WPE wrote to us, strongly suggesting that we repeat for our listeners SolderSmoke Podcast #166.  Dave wrote: 

I am listening to episode 166 and it is excellent for encouraging newbies who are thinking about starting home brewing.  Please repeat it for those who think the old episodes aren’t that valuable.  So repeat the same episode or redo it.  It’s GOLD!

I think Dave is onto something here.   If anyone else has a favorite podcast from our now VAST archive, please let me know and we will consider reposting it in this under the "Old Smoke" headline.    

Thanks Dave.  Here is #166.

SolderSmoke Podcast 166 is available for download: 


Bench Report:  Pete working on Direct Conversion Receivers.  
Bill on his 2B and on 20DSB rig, and an M0XPD/Kanga DDS kit, and a 140 watt amp. 

Start simple:  Build an oscillator. Make it oscillate!
Gather tools, simple test gear, and books. 
Try to understand what you build. 
Build a direct conversion receiver.  
Don't fear the toroids! 
Be patient.  This is not Plug and Play. 
Build a DSB transceiver. 
Little tips: 
Protect variable caps. 
Use heat sinks. 
Use reverse polarity protection. 
Don't breathe the solder smoke! Ventilate your bench.

China Radio International Mystery Solved.  
Book Recommendation:  "International QRP Collection" by Dobbs and Telenius-Lowe

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Electronics Manufacturing in New York City -- Limor Fried and Adafruit (video) -- "TRUST YOUR TECHNOLUST"

The Radio Gods seem to be directing my attention to my hometown: New York City.

I was recently in the city, observing the placement of various IBEW - WYKSYKDS stickers.  And as I work on my old Hammarlund HQ-100 I note that both the HQ-100 and I may have been produced on Manhattan island at about the same time (me definitely, but the HQ-100 may have been built in Mars Hill NC). 

This morning Jim W4JED reminded me that Limor Fried, MIT Engineer and founder of Adafruit,  is producing a lot of amazing electronics items right in NYC, on Manhattan Island, down in Chelsea.  Thanks Jim.  FB Limor!  

Watch the above video.  I really liked the sign Limor has above her workbench: 


 Indeed.  Back to the HQ-100. This IS a case of technolust.  I'm not quite satisfied with the alignment.  And it bugs me.  I technolust for perfect alignment.    (Steve Silverman -- I think we should add technolust to the SS lexicon.) 

Sunday, May 8, 2022

The JF3HZB Digital VFO Dial in the DJ7OO Direct Conversion Receiver (Who is JF3HZB?)

Pete was talking about this beautiful Digital VFO dial in the latest podcast.  In response, Klaus sent me an e-mail with links and the video above,  describing how he used the VFO dial in a very cool Direct Conversion receiver project.  TRGHS. 

Here is the web site (you can easily get the English translation by clicking on the UK flag link): 

Thank you Klaus!  And thanks to JF3HZB!  (Does anyone have more information on him?) 

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Video of SolderSmoke Podcast #237 (Audio in Previous Post)

SolderSmoke Podcast #237 is available: TV Show! No! W9YEI's 1939 TV. 1712 Rig. HQ-100. New SDR Rig and Book. JF3HZB's VFO Digital Dial. FIELD DAY! PSSST. MAILBAG

SolderSmoke podcast #237 is available:  http://soldersmoke.com/soldersmoke237.mp3

Travelogue -- New York City!  Stickers!
And about that trip to Los Angeles for the SolderSmoke Cable TV show... 

Well, it fit in well with SolderSmoke's UNFORGETTABLE appearance on the Oprah book club.
And TechieTatts? Daughter worried about listeners rushing to get tattoos -- A risk we were willing to take.


This episode is sponsored by PartsCandy.  GREAT test leads: https://www.ebay.com/usr/partscandy

Bill's Bench

Tracking down Johnny Anderson's 1939 or 1940 homebrew TV receiver.

Working with Joh DL6ID.
Jean Shepherd's January 1973 description.
FlickLives web site and Steve Glazer W2SG have lots of info on Shep and his friends.
Internet allows us to look at TV articles that were being published.
We've concluded: Probably 1939 or 1940, using an RCA 913 1 inch CRT tube. 

Lots of ideas from IRE Journal, QST, and Gernsback magazines.
Quite an achievement! Amazing how much pre-war TV progress there was.  

17-12 rig
All boxed up and working DX!
Figured out how to display both 17 and 12 on the same LED. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAmmFZyFu8w
Drain protector for speaker cover. Copper tape to cover horrible cabinet making.
I think I need a Hex Beam.

Hammarlund HQ-100
Needed some maintenance.
I started to look more closely at it.
Got the Q-Multiplier to work -- it really adds a lot on CW.
Makes me feel guilty about all the QF-1s...
Using the 100kc calibrator with a 455 kc crystal as a BFO,
keeping Q multiplier below oscillation point.
Moved the BFO switch to the front panel. Helps a lot.
Need to fix the S-meter AVC circuitry.
Much more sturdy than the S-38E.
S-38E 1957-61 $54.95 5 tubes.  AC/DC.
HQ-100 1956-60 $169  10 or 11 tubes.  Power supply,  regulator.
You get what you pay for.  

Pete's Bench

Jack Purdum and Al Peter's new SDR rig and book (featured on the SS blog Amazon ad).
JF3HZB's beautiful digi VFO.
Backpack antenna for Field Day?  
Pipsqueak Disaster -- Too simple?
Peashooter Eye Candy.
Build Something Different.


James W0JKG CBLA -- Others are building MMM too!
SM4WWG // J├Ârgen  Wonderful message.  Joined GQRP.  No longer "wrong."
Dennis WC8C Libraries for Max2870 board.
Jack NG2E  Progress on the Right to Repair movement. 
Jim K9JM  Someone cutting into our business with Solder candles!  
Chuck  WB9KZY Correctly identified the location of the IBEW sticker.  As did Dan Random.
Dave Bamford (who lives nearby) suitably impressed. 
Farhan wrote to us about a video on Don Lancaster.  Homebrew keyboards!  Yea!
Dean KK4DAS  QRP to the Field.  HB2HB 40 SSB   QRP  I feel virtuous.  
Todd K7TFC likes my ingenious use of the drain screen as the speaker protector on the 17-12 rig. 
Todd  had good thoughts on granular approach to homebrewing as seen in the Don Lancaster video.
Lex PH2LB HORRIFIED by my reverse polarity protection circuit.  This is a touchy subject! (as is WD-40!)
Rogier PA1ZZ sending great info on SWL and numbers stations.
Jesse N5JHH -- The guy who made the IBEW stickers -- Liked the NYC stickers. 
Steve N8NM has a new antenna article on his blog: https://n8nmsteve.blogspot.com/
Randy AB9GO Agrees -- Can't GIVE old 'scopes away. 
Dino SV1IRG Liked the 17-12 rig videos. 
Steve Hartley G0FUW Murphy's Law of Enclosures. 
Ralph AB1OP FB on the 17-12 Rig. 
Roberto XE1GXG --Our correspondent in Guadalajara. Petulant, irritable people on the computer scene.

Have some gear looking for a good home:   Tek 465 'scope from Jim AL7R W8NSA.   SBE Transceivers.  Windsor Signal Generator.  Let me know if you are interested and can either pick up or arrange shipping.  

John Anderson W9YEI Homebrew Hero

Friday, May 6, 2022

Working On My Old Hammarlund HQ-100 (Part 1)

I like this old receiver, with all its shortcomings.  I picked it up in the Dominican Republic in 1993 or 1994.  I've been using it on AM with my K2ZA DX-100.   It needed some contact cleaner, and I took the opportunity to work on a few of the circuits that were getting kind of decrepit. 

I came to a new understanding of -- and appreciation for -- the Q-multiplier.

While of similar vintage, this receiver is MUCH nicer than the Hallicrafters S-38E: 
S-38E 1957-61 $54.95 5 tubes.  AC/DC, kind of flimsy. 
HQ-100 1956-60 $169  10 or 11 tubes.  Power supply,  regulator,  much sturdier construction
You get what you pay for.   

 In Part II I'll show you how this thing sounds and what it is like to use it for SWL, CW, SSB and AM. 

Sunday, May 1, 2022

"When You Know Stuff, You Can Do Stuff" Where Is This?

Look closely!  IBEW!   WYKSYKDS! But where was this?  

Have any others like this been spotted? 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The Story of Television (Sarnoff's Version) -- 1956 Film

Of course, this has to be taken with a huge grain of salt.  "General" Sarnoff sits there and claims that Vladimir Zworkyin "invented" electronic television.  But Philo Farnsworth really did that.  Zworykin's claim to invention has about as much validity as Sarnoff's claim to having been a General!  

But still, there is a lot of interesting info amidst the RCA propaganda.  Again, it is really striking how far they had come before WWII put things on hold for four years.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Level UP EE Lab Builds a Superhet Receiver

I was really glad to have stumbled across Darren's YouTube channel: 

Heck, he has an S-38E on the shelf above his bench.  He is clearly one of us.  What is his callsign?  

This morning I watched the first and last of his 10 videos on his superhet receiver project.  Very cool.  Lots of good info in there.  And there is something for everyone:  Arduinos and Si5351s, along with a lot of standard analog circuitry.  The first episode appears above. 

The variable bandwidth filter looks very interesting. And there was a nice shout-out to Charlie Morris and one to Hans Summers. 

I really like his effort in episode 10 to measure Minimum Discernible Signal using commonly available test gear.  This helped me in my effort to get more rigorous and serious about receiver performance measurement.    

Darren has many other excellent projects on his YouTube channel.  My Hammarlund HQ-100 receiver started giving me trouble this week, and I was debating whether or not to fix the old thing.  Darren's channel provided the inspiration I needed.  It will be fixed!   

Please subscribe to Darren's channel.  And spread the word about his videos.  We definitely want him to make a lot more.  

Thanks Darren! 

Words of Wisdom on Which Tools to Buy

Also interesting are Van Neistat's thoughts on workshop design: 

Monday, April 25, 2022

75/20 - 17/12 Two Homebrew Rigs in Scrap-Wood Boxes


I moved the 17/12 Rig off the workbench and placed it (as planned) atop the Mythbuster rig.  Now I have four bands easily accessible.  In these pictures you can see all four bands being displayed on the San Jian Frequency Counters. 

I found a kitchen drain screen that is an ideal cover for the 3 inch speaker in the 17/12 rig. 

I reconfigured the Low Pass filters in the CCI .1 kilowatt amplifier.  I put a 12 meter LP filter in there in place of the 40 meter LP filter (that I haven't been using much). 

I have been working a lot of DX on both 17 and 12.   

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Back to the 1970's! Homebrew Keyboards! Don Lancaster's TV Typewriter

Even though it is outside my normal analog comfort zone, I really liked this video.  Farhan sent it to me, along with this note: 


As a kid, do you remember Don Lancaster's books? I learnt most of my digital electronics from him. I still have the 7 dollar video generator book on my shelf. He predates the Homebrew Computer Club. In fact, he is probably the reason for the HCC, because he put in the pieces that were used by others like the two Steves to build their own computers.
His most brilliant hack was to build a "TV typewriter" out of standard TTL parts that were just coming out in the surplus market. For $120, you could, if you build etched your own PCBs and managed to pry parts of fellow builder's dead fingers, build a circuit that, if you typed your name, it showed up on the TV screen! Never mind that dad wanted to get back to watching football or mom wanted the kitchen counter to be cleared out. Those days, parents had no appreciation for their kids being on TV, I guess.
In an earlier hack, he encouraged people through his articles in Radio Electronics to build their own Qwerty keyboard. With this in hand, you could, um .. um... well type something and sit back. There was nothing to connect it to. The fun thing was, there were no key switches available. You had to build those as well. Wind your own springs, make your own keytops, Once it was built, you could use a VOM to check that the ASCII bits corresponding to the key you held down would correctly show up on the 7 data lines. I guess the girls were surely impressed. You just needed to carry the power supply with +5, -5v, +12v, the keyboard itself, an ASCII chart and a VOM to school to show off.
Jokes apart, he kept building things and builds them to this day. His TTL cookbook and CMOS cookbooks were the goto books for almost all digital elecctronics hackers. It is a pity that no one acknowledges his knack. He has scanned in a few of his books on his 1990s www.tinaja.com.  Check  https://www.tinaja.com/ebooks/cmoscb.pdf
Why does it concern us? He is K3BYG, that's why.
- f


 So many things from the video resonated with me: 

-- The importance of building and testing, stage by stage.  The narrator admits "I might have screwed that up."

-- Homebrew keyboards!  Make your own keyboard springs you pathetic appliance operators! 

-- Wood box. 

-- Origins of ASCI

-- The scary 1970s.  Indeed.   I started High School in 1972. 

-- Schematic errors!   Oh the humanity!  Erratas. 

-- Appeals to the Digital Gods. (Not as powerful as The Radio Gods.)

-- A Gimmick Twin Lead. 

-- "So many different disciplines went into building this thing..." 

-- A taste of the home computing revolution of the 1970s. 

-- Farhan is right -- he was K3BYG.  But that call now seems to belong to someone else. 

Don Lancaster's unofficial autobiography: 


Clearly, Don Lancaster has The Knack! 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Looking at the World Through a 1 inch Cathode Ray Tube (the RCA 913) (videos)

Joh DL6ID sent me the above video.  We have been e-mailing each other about the W9YEI Television Receiver built in 1939 or so.  We have kind of concluded that the builder used an RCA 913 tube as the CRT.  This was an oscilloscope tube and was often described as looking like a metal 6L6 with a tiny screen on top.   This is kind of neat -- like using something from the old days to peer into the new world of video.  

We wondered about the image persistence of this tube.  Fortunately for us, we found several YouTube videos showing recent builds or repairs of oscilloscopes with RCA 913 tubes.  

Of course, Mr. Carlson has a video on one of these devices (and -- as expected -- has another in his junk box.  Mr. Carlson has at least two of everything.) 

Here are a few other videos showing RCA 913 tubes in action. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfN2mmEIfTE   (with Men at Work audio)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJF22Ra2kIM    (Summertime.... And the Livin' is Easy)

Here's a nice video from Tektronix on CRTs: 

Friday, April 22, 2022

1942 (?) RCA Film on Tubes, Radio, Research, and Television

Here is a very interesting video from RCA.   It was released in 1942,  but it looks to me as if it was produced BEFORE the Pearl Harbor attack and the U.S. entry into World War II.   There is no mention of the war nor of RCA's support for the war effort.  All films like this that were produced during the war have a lot of material about how the company was contributing to the war effort.  So I think this is really a pre-war film. 

Early in the film they link the origins of RCA Labs to a decrepit "radio shack" at Riverhead, Long Island (NY) in 1919.   Here is some background on this: 

In this film we see Vladimir Zworykin (boo, hiss) of TV fame (no mention of poor Philo Farnsworth),  and we also see Harold Beverage, the creator of the antenna that bears his name.   There is what must have been one of the first "electronic clocks."  

At the end, the segment on television is really interesting.   It is amazing how far they had gone with TV before the war.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Conclusions About W9YEI's Early (1940?) Homebrew Television Receiver

It may have looked something like this.  Recent build of the Scozarri receiver by Jack Neitz

Joh DL6ID and I have been exchanging e-mails in which we compare notes on the early homebrew television receiver of Johnny Anderson W9YEI.   In 1973 on WOR New York, Jean Shepherd described a very memorable demonstration of TV  conducted some three decades earlier by Anderson for teenage friends in Hammond, Indiana.  Shep provided a lot of detail, but some of his recollections seemed a bit off;  Shep was known for exaggerating or changing details to make a story better.   

We have arrived at some conclusions about this project (but if anyone has more info, please let us know): 


Yes, he did.  This was a homebrew project, not a kit build and not the use of a receiver built and loaned for test purposes by the transmitting station.  Anderson was an accomplished homebrewer whose basement, according to Shep, was filled with devices he had built.  A QSL card sent by him in 1938 shows him using a "9 tube superhet" as a receiver.  Shep describes Johnny -- over a period of perhaps six months -- gathering components  in Chicago's electronics parts market, and building something in his basement.  That sure sounds like a real homebrew project.  A TV receiver kit was available, but it was very expensive, and Shep would have immediately denounced it as a non-homebrew project.  Anderson homebrewed the receiver. 


Why would a ham build a TV receiver at a time in which there were only a few experimental transmitters on the air, and no possibility of using the receiver to "work" other amateur stations?  We tend to think of TV as a post-war commercial phenomenon.  But in fact there was a lot of "buzz" about TV in the 1930s.  Magazines were filled with TV articles, and with ads for courses that promised to prepare people for what seemed to many to be "the next big thing."  The World's Fair in Chicago in 1933 and 1934 featured a demonstration of television -- Anderson, who lived in a close-in Chicago suburb,  may have seen this demonstration.  Television must have seemed like a do-able but difficult technical challenge, and would  have attracted the interest of an advanced homebrewer like Anderson.    


Shepherd describes a demonstration of TV in which Anderson tuned into experimental transmissions of WBKB in Chicago.  WBKB's experimental transmitter W9XBK did not go on the air until August 1940.  And Anderson told Shep that he had been calling in reception reports for a month or six weeks.  That would push the date of the demonstration to September 1940 at the earliest.  In September 1940 Anderson was 22 years old, and Shep was 19. (Here is one area in which Shep's recall is questionable -- he claims that the event took place when he -- Shep -- was 16 or 17.  In fact he was older, but having the protagonists a bit younger made the story more intriguing.)   If we assume that it took Anderson six months or so to build the receiver,  that would push the start date of Anderson's build to around March 1940.  

There was another experimental station on the air in Chicago: Zenith Corporation had W9XZV doing experimental transmissions starting on February 2, 1939.  If Anderson had built the receiver a bit earlier, he could have been tuning into W9XVZ before W9XBK went on the air.  But I think it was more likely that he started building in early 1940.  I get the feeling that the Scozzari articles of October/November 1939 influenced his build.  


Shep, in extolling Anderson's advanced, self-taught knowledge of electronics tells us that Anderson was at his young age already reading the IRE Journal, the monthly publication of the Institute of Radio Engineers. Joh DL6ID notes that Shep said that this publication was being sent to Anderson, indicating that he had some form of subscription.  He may have also had access to back-issues in a Chicago library.  Anderson was a serious consumer of technical material. 

The IRE Journal had many articles about television, but they were highly theoretical.  Typical of this was the December 1933 issue.  Anderson probably also benefitted from more practical, build-related articles that appeared in publications like QST, Shortwave and Television,  and Radio and Television. 

In December 1937 QST began a series of articles on television my Marshall Wilder.  

In March 1938 CW Palmer launched a series of build articles on TV receivers in the Gernsback magazine "Shortwave and Television." See photo below. 

In October 1938 QST started a series of practical build articles on TV by J.B. Sherman.  This series provided circuit details on how to use three different sizes of RCA oscilloscope CRTs, including the small 1 inch 913 tube. 

In December 1938 QST continued with the television theme,  presenting the first in a series of build articles by C.C. Schumard. 

In October 1939 Peter Scozzari launched a good series of build articles in Radio and Television magazine.  See photo below. 


Many of the publications of the era carried projects using 2 or 3 inch CRTs.  But it appears that Anderson had a smaller, 1 inch oscilloscope CRT in his project.  In his 1973 broadcast, Shep repeatedly called the CRT "tiny" and refers to it as a 1 inch tube.  Shep said the image produced was green, indicating a tube built for oscilloscopes.  He may have used a 1 inch RCA 913 CRT Tube. See the Sherman article in the October 1938 QST


In the middle of all this, on September 13, 1938 radio pioneer Ross Hull was electrocuted while working on his homebrew television receiver. 

The Palmer Receiver

The Scozzari receiver -- Power supply on separate chassis

Previous SolderSmoke Daily News posts about this project: 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Young Jean Shepherd Gets Hung-Up On Ham Radio

Oh man, we've all been there:  OBSESSION with ham radio.  Shep went over the top and didn't sleep all weekend when his homebrew transmitter was finally neutralized and started to put out a decent signal on 40 meter CW.  

One of my favorite lines in this episode is about how, before the neutralization, the transmitter had had so many parasitics that it would continue to transmit for two hours AFTER Shep turned it off, "and all on the wrong frequencies."  

I found this while searching for other Shep references to Johnny Anderson, the guy who built the TV receiver.  Please let me know if you know of any other Shep references to Johnny. 

Here is the program.  Skip ahead to 20:50 



Sunday, April 17, 2022

Windsor (England) Signal Generator (from Slough) with a Very Cool Dial

Kilo Cycles!  Mega Cycles! Windsor - like in the castle!    Made in Slough, Buckinghamshire, England, the town that was the fictional site of the original (UK) version of the TV series "The Office." The dial and indicator turn nicely.

I would be willing to part with this piece of kit.   Please let me know if you are interested, how much you would offer, and how we could arrange shipment.  

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