Monday, 22 February 2016

Scanner Loggings - 19-21/2/2016

72.27500 - LES WALKDEN
77.65000 - TECS
78.31250 - LCC WORKS
78.47500 - FORESTRY TAS
78.55000 - GT COUNCIL
78.62500 - AMBO / MT BARROW
78.65000 - FIRE / TAMAR
78.70000 - AMBO / MT DISMAL
79.03750 - FIRE / LTON URBAN
79.06250 - AMBO / LTON
79.15000 - FORESTRY TAS
79.47500 - FORESTRY TAS
79.56250 - FIRE / NORTH EAST
79.60000 - FIRE
79.65000 - FIRE
79.66250 - FIRE / NORTH EAST
118.70000 - TOWER/LTON
123.45000 - AIR SIMP
123.80000 - FIA/NORTH
126.50000 - FIA/LTON
129.50000 - QANTAS
130.12500 - JETSTAR/HOBART
130.22500 - JETSTAR/LTON
147.00000 - VK7RAA 2M
158.00000 - TASRAIL SIMP
161.07500 - ARTEC
162.50000 - BORAL
163.05000 - REDLINE BUSES
163.43750 - TOX FREE
439.77500 - VK7RDR
462.25000 - KMART LTON
463.475 - DARCE PTY LTD
464.27500 - METRO (ABELS)
464.37500 - METRO (RSIDE)
467.17500 - TECS
471.30000 - BOAGS
472.22500 - BOAGS
473.10000 - TARGET LTON
474.12500 - WARREN J SPEERS
474.22500 - LCC MUSEUM
474.37500 - LCC PARKING
474.77500 - UNI SECURITY
476.42500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 01
476.45000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 02
476.47500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 03
476.50000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 04
476.52500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 05
476.55000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 06
476.60000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 08
476.62500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 09
476.65000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 10
476.70000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 12
476.72500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 13
476.77500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 15
476.80000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 16
476.82500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 17
476.85000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 18 (LTON TIP)
476.87500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 19
476.90000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 20
476.92500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 21
476.95000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 22
476.97500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 23
477.00000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 24
477.02500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 25
477.07500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 27
477.10000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 28
477.12500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 29
477.15000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 30
477.17500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 31
477.20000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 32
477.25000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 34
477.27500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 35
477.30000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 36
477.32500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 37
477.35000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 38
477.37500 - UHF CB CHANNEL 39
477.40000 - UHF CB CHANNEL 40
484.80000 - BOAGS
485.25000 - MW COMMS
488.55000 - MW COMMS
492.60000 - LTON COLLEGE
494.92500 - LCC SWIMMING

Unknown Signal on 463.475MHz

Recently I have changed over aerials and mounted this much higher off the ground, the result of this is that I am now getting a signal on 463.475MHz which I have never heard before. 

Link to ACMA database details for this:

Below is a video I have recorded of this.


Friday, 19 February 2016

How I got in to radio - Ben Longden

From Ben Longden
Freelance television news camera operator
Echuca, Victoria

For me it was as a young kid of about ten, learning morse from my Dad.  Then building crystal sets like he did in the PoW camp.  I wasn't bad at morse.. 30 words a minute.

A few years later we lived in Moree, where the then Overseas Telecommunications Commission  or OTC had a ground station where half  of the international phone calls came in and out of the country, and we lived in the OTC area of town, so I had radio techs all around me. It wasn't long before I was building radios, repairing transistor sets and building sound amplifiers and designing RIAA preamps for my stereos.

Later, moving to Parkes in NSW I bought my first scanner a few years after watching the Ed Asner TV drama about running a newspaper, and the chief photographer had a huge crystal scanner setup in his car. I bought a Tandy 20 channel set that was about A4 in size and 10cm high.... and dialled in the local frequencies, then shortly after got a job as a news photographer. Shortly after that, the local plods learnt not to say "we found a dead body" over the air, when it was usually an elderly person passing of natural causes...

While the Tandy is still used, I have gone through a handful of portables, and had small sets mounted in the cars.  Now with the introduction of expensive digital, its a portable set only. The funny thing is, over the years 99% of plod radios were with car rego checks and calls to domestics. Very rarely did we hear about something exciting. That came from the fire brigade.

In the early days of my news career, the fire station was 50m up the hill from the newspaper office, so once I heard the pager tones over the air, I walked up the hill to meet the fireys arriving at the station Usually it was the alarm at Woolies going off. This was in the days when each station looked after its own comms centre and calls. Of course this meant that you could seriously listen to the set, as the voice over the scanner was local, with news relevant to your area.

Now, with a centralised dispatch and comms centre,  you have to filter 99% of the radio noise out.  It is an huge task to do, and creates so much noise in an office where people are concentrating. The Country Fire Authority in Victoria have made my monitoring job a shipload easier with the introduction of their Fire Ready application.  They actually tell me where the fires are, and as they supply an audio feed from ESTA to Broadcastify, I can listen in on my smartphone.


Where do I see scanning in a few years?  Well, in a pickle really. Most govt emergency organisations do not like having their activities monitored. So the cops are going encrypted,  the Ambos and fireys are convinced that digital is better, totally forgetting the lessons of digital TV reception, and the SES is in for the ride as well, because they got told they had to. I had a chat with a highway patrol officer who said he couldn't wait for encryption, and I pointed out that drug  busts were conducted in such secrecy right up until the moment the meth lab doors were smashed that not even the local chief inspector was given the heads-up. No. its the hoon kids that annoy them, as the kids use scanners to monitor police to see if their skid meet is about to be raided.   I said to the officer that a bit of detective work would reveal where the skid meets were and when.. and that if they applied the same "no comms" rule they would have success.  I suggested they would have even more success if they covertly videoed the event, especially the gate to the skids,  as the cars would still have their rego plates on, as they had just come off the road. He agreed that 99% of the radio traffic was routine car and driver details... but this would reduce with the introduction of laptops in cars.

In Victoria, listening to the Ambos is boring.  The crew get the initial call, including address and details via their pager.  They use the crossband portables mostly to relay codes for arriving on scene etc.  Very rarely will you hear anything decent.

As for SES, well, the callout is the same as the CFA and ambulance; details via pager, and brief updates over the radio.

My boss at Nine News has a media arrangement with Victoria Police.  The media unit have a special syndicated feed listing callouts for various incidents, and this is available only to select media outlets, and is usually one PC per organisation. 
Hacking into this would be nice, but I cant see that being viable, as  any computer would leave a digital trail leading directly to the user who would then be in a deep pile of poo.

The future of emergency service scanning really is in being able to decode the pager transmissions in real time, and have them available as a PC or smartphone application, along with the applicable broadcastify type audio feed. Of course, the Department of Injustice who administer the emergency services in Victoria would disagree with that.

Then you have aviation.  Combine an evening sitting at the viewing area of your favourite international airport with Flight radar 24 on the tablet, and the scanner tuned into all the arrivals and departures frequencies and an evening can go in the blink of an eye.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

How I got in to radio - Tom Watson WZ8Q

Tom L Watson 15706 Stoney Fork Dr Houston, TX 77084 USA

When I was eight years old, my parents let me stay up past midnight to watch the original 1931 Boris Karloff Frankenstein movie on TV with my cousin, Marla. Marla was a couple of years older than me and the monster didn’t faze her much, but it scared the bejesus out of me. But even more spellbinding was the electrical storm with giant sparks flying everywhere that brought the monster to life.

Dad had seen that movie in the theater when he was a kid and when I described the electrical display he disappeared to his workshop for a minute and returned, handing me an old Model-T Ford ignition coil and a couple of 6-volt lantern batteries. The coil consisted of a small wooden box with two terminals on one side for the low-voltage DC input, two terminals on another side for the gazillion-volt output and a buzzer on top that interrupted current to the primary windings. This thing would jump sparks a good half inch. It was wonderful. I discovered that I could use it to set toilet paper on fire, light florescent tubes, make a small-scale Jacob's ladder, and I even tried to resurrect several dead bugs like Victor Frankenstein enlivened his creation, but I didn’t get as much as a twitch out of any of them.

While conducting these little experiments, however, I did notice that as sparks jumped the gap, I could hear them on any AM radio in the house. It didn't matter what station the radio was tuned to, I could still hear the sparks all up and down the AM broadcast band. What a powerful instrument this spark coil was! Of course I didn’t realize at the time that what I was doing had been illegal for 30 years. But one thing led to another and as I learned more, I became hooked on the mysteries of electricity and the science and history of radio.

A few years later, in high school, I worked as a disk jockey on a local radio station and continued that occupation through college and through my first month of marriage. Funny thing about being married: all of a sudden weenies and Fritos every night don’t cut it anymore. I had to find a better source of income, so I went to work for an oil company in a much less entertaining job, but for considerably more money. Money wins out when you’re married.
In 1980, I got the radio itch again and got a novice license. A friend of a friend gave me an old Heathkit DX-35 transmitter that someone had tried to modify for 6 meters. I never did get that thing to work. Along the way I got busy again with work and the novice license eventually expired.

Finally, in 2011, during a bout of unemployment, I passed the three amateur exams. Until I retire, though, I can't really justify a big HF transceiver, which is where my interest lies. I did acquire a $50 Baofeng UV-82 2m/70cm handheld and have had some fun with that. Even without operating, I've found plenty of interesting things to do. Ham fests, lectures, books and tons of online material on antennas, basic theory and endless other avenues. Ham radio covers a lot of territory.

In summary, I owe my lifelong fascination with electricity and radio to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Nikola Tesla, my dad, and to a bunch of creative folks in Hollywood., 713-444-9155

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

How I got in to radio - Paul

Over the past 18 years “hobbies” have been a major issue for me.

It all started in October 1999 when I brought a Tandy brand 100 channel handheld scanner that  covered from 66 MHz to 956 MHz, I used this almost nonstop from the day I had  it, after getting some good frequencies from my electronics teacher at college.  After using this radio for about 6 months I had saved up enough with a bit extra money from my 18th birthday to buy a brand new scanner, I got a Uniden UBC9000xlt base scanner in March 2000. 

I totally feel in love with scanner at this point and have never looked back since. I then got an external aerial installed and that greatly improved the number of frequencies I could hear and the quality of the signal. During March 2002 my beloved Tandy handheld got damaged by an accident at my work place while it was sitting on a bench. This meant I had to buy a new handheld scanner; I got a Uniden UBC3000xlt handheld. 

This was constantly with me whenever I was away from home and I have spent many nights listening to my scanners as major events have unfolded and spent many hours listening to what's going on around my city. Around October 2002 I got interested in being able to listen to the state-wide EDACS based radio system that the police and our power company use. After searching the internet I came across the Uniden UBC245xlt trunk tracker ii scanner. I put one on lay by hoping to be able to pay it off as a Christmas present for myself. 

As it happened 2 days before I was to pick it up, my car got broken in to at work (I left a door unlocked for 2 minutes while loading boxes) and my UBC3000xlt handheld got stolen. I pick up my new 245xlt in 2 days time and after a shaky start  programming it for the EDACS system, I was rewarded by getting it to work It is all ways with me and I loved it.  The way that it allows me to follow transmissions as they move frequencies is amazing and a real benefit after having to use a normal scanner to try and listen to it. Over the time I have had my scanners, my interest groups have changed many times, starting off with the Air band and emergency services, moving in to the business users and I liked listening to the EDACS system, and the fire service.

This lead me to UHF CB and then to me obtaining my amateur radio ticket (ex VK7FPGB) which I let lapse about 8 years ago due to a lack of time / equipment and a location suitable to do this. I also started the original “Launceston Scan” Yahoo group which grew to become the “Scanning Tasmania” website and forum which is still active today. It has been over four years since I was last a member of this forum and now have no connection to it at all.

In early 2008 I was getting a little bit sick of the radio scanning hobby and the issues associated with this, which in part lead me to try my hand at photography. Very soon after starting with this I found I had some talent and a passion for photography. In late 2008 I decided to get back in to radio scanning in a small way which then grew again and this lead to me focusing on this and photography taking a back seat. Over the next 5 years I changed and moved between both these hobbies plus I also tried my hand at creative writing, computer animation, programming and I also became heavy involved in the LEGO Technic hobby to the point where in early 2013 I ran a LEGO expo in Launceston called “Brixhibition” and following this I was elected the vice-president (North) of the Taz-brick Collectors Club.

By the middle of 2013 things had come to a head and after much soul searching I decided to leave all my other hobbies behind and just concentrate on the ultralight DXing hobby. Late in 2013 Gary DeBock offered to build for me a Tecsun PL-380 with this famous 7.5” Loopstick mod, when I received this in the mail my interest and passion for ultralight DXing really took off. In early 2014 I again returned to the LEGO Technic hobby, by late 2014 I had again sold off all my LEGO and this has been a really good decision on my part. I have also suffered from some health issues over the past 9 years and these mean that sometimes I am unable to get out and do things that I would like to do, ultralight DXing is a good reason to go out when I want to / can and it is also just as enjoyable if I am stuck at home too. Since the birth of our daughter in late 2014 I have found a new way to combine my ultralight DXing hobby with family life, often when I take her out for a walk I throw my ultralight DXing kit in the pram and take the chance to undertake some portable sessions when I am able to.

In late 2015 I again came back to the radio scanning hobby, this time with a new found focus and desire to enjoy it for what it is, a relaxing hobby which I enjoy. I run a blog related to this where I share my postings and this is something I really enjoy.

How I got in to radio - Zach Rutledge KM4SFZ

I've been a DXer and radio enthusiast of some sort for as long as I can remember.  I believe it was my father who got me interested in the hobby when he purchased a nice Panasonic portable radio from Long's Electronics in Birmingham, Alabama, back in the early 80's.  

Just with the built-in whip we were able to hear broadcasts from all over the world; back then there was still a lot of stations targeting the US, so there was always something interesting to hear… World news from the BBC and Radio Canada International, music from HCJB and tons more.

My love of shortwave has come and gone over the years.  For a while, I was much more interested in local AM and FM broadcasting, and while the "art of broadcasting" is still a love of mine (I'm not in the industry, though) I am once again enjoying shortwave DXing and exploring all that radio has to offer, especially utility and amateur radio broadcasts.

Another person who greatly influenced me was my great uncle Carroll, who was a ham and had a wonderful setup in the basement of his home, full of all kinds of electronics that, as a kid, I did not even begin to understand.  After his passing I decided to try for my own ham license and became one of the early "No Code Tech" ticket holders back in the mid 90's.  Although I was never all that active on the air, I've retained my license all these years "just in case" the bug bites again.  I never had an interest in HF ham ops until I got interested in digital modes, so I may be revisiting the idea of upgrading some time in the future.

With the decreasing sunspot cycle hurting HF and the trend of two way public safety communications migrating to trunked and encrypted broadcasts, and broadcast radio's ever forward march to consolidation and blandness, it seems like the radio hobby is doomed.  Indeed, I couldn't tell you the last time I was able to monitor any of my local town's police, or the last time I listened to local radio.  But I am still active on shortwave and expect to wring as much out of it as I possibly can as conditions go downhill this sunspot cycle.  I look at the reduction in targeted broadcasts to the US and the reduction of powerful broadcasters in general as more of a challenge to find the lower powered, harder to hear stuff.  I think the future of the hobby is safe, but it will migrate more towards SDR (software defined radios) for HF and public safety band hobbyists.  Although the world's media is available to anyone with a broadband internet connection, the magic of receiving audio from the ether is not something I see disappearing anytime soon.

How I got in to Radio - Steve in Central Vermont

I first became interested in listening to a scanner back in 2012. I was injured on the job and I was unable to continue to work out in the public sector. I started working from home and ended up spending several hours each day working on my computer and found myself quite bored listening to the radio during the day or watching Squawk Box on the CNBC business channel on t.v.

I know my grandfather used to listen to a police scanner and there are some in-laws, from my marriage, that listen to police scanners. I started doing research on the internet about scanners, how they work , and what I would be able to listen to and use in my area.
One thing led to another and I ended up requesting a Uniden BCT15X scanner for Christmas in 2012. Most of the frequencies in my area are still analog so this was the best base unit that would work for me since I was new to police scanning.

Once I got my scanner for Xmas, I had it up and running with FreeScan software in two days and was listening to an outside world that I had never heard before. It was new and exciting to listen, to not only police, but fire, EMS, sheriffs, ambulance calls, the whole works!!!

After those first few months of listening to my scanner, both inside my house, and moving it outdoors in the spring/summer when the weather warmed up to listen to it, was when I realized I was getting better reception from outside of my house, one level lower, than what I was getting from from inside my house, using the stock antenna that came with it.

It didn't take me long to realize I needed to erect an outdoor antenna. Now I was researching antennas and the best way to install one from my current housing set-up.
I decided on an ST2 antenna mounted on top of a 20' conduit pipe that was secured to a second chimney that wasn't getting used much, using a chimney mount set. I also purchased all the equipment for proper grounding, and tape sealers and conduit sealers, to keep the weather elements from destroying or eroding my connections.
In the summer of 2013 I had the antenna up and was now getting reception on my scanner from at least 80 miles away, as the crow flies, and some days I can hear further!

Of course, once somebody gets hooked to listening to scanners, rarely can they own just one! For my 2014 Christmas list, I requested a mobile unit, a Uniden BC125AT so I didn't have to unhook my base unit in order to listen to my scanner while I was sitting outside on my deck during the warmer weather relaxing or working around the house.

I couldn't be happier with my set-up and I'm quite happy listening to all the chatter that comes across the frequencies, and I continue to learn more about my scanners and this hobby every day. I also learn quite a bit from and other related Web sites too.

If there is anything that will change in the coming years as far as me listening to scanners, I can see myself purchasing a digital scanner, both a base and mobile unit, to continue to listen to the surrounding police and fire/EMS dispatches. I would guess that eventually, and I think there is already something in the works, that both the local police and State police, will be switching over to digital radios in the near future.

How I got in to radio - Tony

Name:  Tony
Callsign:  VK3JED (amateur) since 1989, formerly VGE610 on CB, until apparatus licensing was dropped for CB in 1994.

I have always been fascinated with radio.  As a kid of around 4, I remember listening to broadcast radio, wondering how they fitted the DJ and all those musicians into the speakers.  Later, I saw something magical in the idea of being able to pull voices out of the air, and even more so with 2 way radio, where people could communicate over reasonably long distances without any wires.  In my childhood years, Dad was probably the biggest influence (mostly unintentional, I think) influence on my radio hobby.  When he was in Civil Defence (what soon after became the SES), he brought home some walkie talkies home to try out (he got as far as the pub while the rest of the family stayed home on the other end of the link! :) ).  Dad also worked for the CFA in the property and maintenance section, and was issued with a car.  Although he was not issued with a radio, he would occasionally get a pool car when his was in for a service or repair, which usually had a radio, and we would listen to the Sunday morning radio tests.  His final influence was when I was 10, I got an electronics kit for Christmas. The two projects I spent the most time with were a crystal set and a miniature AM transmitter, which managed to transmit about 1-2 feet on 600 kHz.

When I hit my teens, my radio hobbies became fully self directed.  I took an interest in CB, though could not afford one, but I was able to monitor local CB activity using a toy walkie talkie, which had a superregenerative receiver that could receive all 40 channels (and later, on a beach trip, I found it worked on 27 MHz marine as well).  I discovered "FM bugs", those little broadcast FM transmitters that you could build, with a range of 20m - 1km, depending on which design one built and the antenna used.  At this age, I was getting more interested in connecting to people, but as a very nerdy teenager (though unlike most nerds, with a keen interest in sport - but that's another story! :) ) in a small town, I was socially isolated, and the phone didn't offer much assistance, because to phone beyond the local area meant STD charges.  Radio also offered a common interest.  At this time, I also became aware of amateur radio, which sounded like something I really wanted to get into.  Much of my information came from the back of a Dick Smith catalogue - the reference section was really good in the early 1980s.

When I was at uni, I dabbled in shortwave listening, picking up popular stations like Radio Moscow and VOA, but just listening really wasn't my thing.  Using two shortwave radios (one as a BFO, fine tuned by hand capacitance), I was able to receive SSB transmissions and listened to CFA HF tests and amateurs ragchewing on 80 and 40 metres.  Shortly afterwards, I bought my first CB - a 3 channel AM handheld from Tandy, and later on got onto UHF and SSB.  This realised my dream of connecting
to people outside my local area, and I became a regular on the local CB scene.  However, I also maintained my technical interest in radio and knew that I needed to get my amateur licence, so I could legally experiment with transmitters and use a wider range of frequencies and modes.

I studies for and obtained my amateur licence in early 1989, in those days it was a "combined" Limited and Novice ticket - a callsign which I hold to this day (now classed as Advanced).  On the amateur bands, my interests have been mostly on the higher frequencies (VHF and above), with HF being of interest for remote area communication.  While I've had some success as DXing in the early days, I'm more interested in technical experimentation and building relationships, and have a number of on air friends as a result.  As data, Internet and digital voice technologies have become commonplace on the amateur bands, I've found my place, because of my strong IT background - I have a better understanding of IP and Internet based communication than many amateurs.  I've run an IRLP node for many years and am planning on building a multimode digital voice repeater in the next year or so.  I'm a bit less active on the bands these days, as conflicting commitments -CFA, sport and domestic - compete for my air time, but I'm able to configure my systems remotely over the LAN, so development and testing goes on.  I've also built a customised remote base to give me more flexibility using my radios around the house and immediate area.

For me, predicting the future is always fraught with danger, because my life has a habit of taking unexpected turns.  However, what I do expect is to become more involved in the digital voice modes such as D-STAR, DMR, Fusion, P25 and FreeDV/Codec2.  I'm also keen to see if it's feasible to link HF DV nodes (running FreeDV) VHF via the Internet. This could be helpful remote area communication, while bypassing the problem of increasing electronic noise in urban areas.  Remote operation and text/voice integration are other aspects that suit my lifestyle, because of my other commitments.  I do maintain some interest in CB as well. 

These days, UHF has become more of a workhorse than a hobby, but I am considering putting a 27 MHz radio back on the air, to rekindle a connection with that aspect of the radio hobby. 
Whatever happens, I will maintain an interest in radio. in some form for the rest of my life.

How I got in to radio - muskrat39

Looking back:

As I sit here listening to Radio Australia, I have been reflecting back over a lifetime as a SWL. *I remember the first shortwave broadcast I heard. *It was in '63 and I was 13. *I was at a friends house, and he asked me if I wanted to hear overseas radio stations on his dad's radio. *I said sure, and he brought it out on the porch. *I was the biggest radio I had ever seen. * It had what I later learned was a slide rule dial with all the foreign cities printed on it, and a telescopic antenna that, with the radio on the porch floor, touched the ceiling. *I was unlike any thing I ever seen. *Now, just a little background here. *My father was a disabled veteran in a wheelchair. *He supplemented his pension with a TV and Radio repair business in our home. *So I literally grew up in a TV and radio shop. *I built my first radio, a crystal set, from scratch when I was 9, and a two transistor radio when I was 12, so I was no stranger to radios. *But this radio was different. *The name was familiar, Zenith, but there was another name, began with a t. *I wasn't sure how to pronounce it, trans something. *Anyhow we fired it up and tuned in a few stations. Most were in foreign languages, but there were English stations too, but with heavy accents. *One station was coming all the way from West Germany! *Well, I was hooked! *I had been bitten by the DX bug, and I would never be the same. *I had to have one of these cool radios. *I had previously been satisfied listening to Cousin Brucie at WABC in New York, *and Wolfman Jack in Del Rio on my home-built transistor radio. *But that was nothing. *That trans something or other would pick up stations in Europe, and Africa, and Russia! * I told my dad about the radio. *He got a National Geographic magazine out( he had been a member since the 40's) flipped through pages for a while, and showed me a picture. *There it was, sitting on a sandy beach next to a man and woman *in bathing suits in full color. *My dad asked if the radio looked like the one I had played with. *It was. *He said it was a Zenith Transoceanic. *I asked if I could have one for Christmas. *He said the radio hadn't been made for about ten years, and were very hard to find. *Even if I could find one, it would be too expensive. *He told me it was the most expensive radio made. *Disappointment was all over my face, and he could see it. * By the time Christmas came I was older. *I had turned 14 the month before. *I still listened to my 2 transistor home-built, but I dreamed of someday owning one of the unique radios that could pick up stations all the way across the ocean. *It was Christmas day and I knew pretty well what was under the tree. *No toys, after all I was fourteen! *No there would be a new sweater for school, and a new pair of pajamas, and that bigger box was obviously a new pair of shoes. *No Transoceanic for sure, but then Dad said there woundn't be didn't he? *But wait! *That box with new shoes was a bit heavy for just a pair of shoes. *Probably something packed in there with the shoes. *Dad sometimes did that to fool me since I had gotten pretty good at guessing my presents over the years. *Well I would just have to find out what was hidden with the shoes. *That would be the present I opened first. *I tore off the wrapping paper and opened the box. Inside there wasn't any shoes. *Instead it was a shiny new Elgin(yep, the watch company) radio with 14 transistors and a shortwave band! *My face must have been bright enough to light the entire room! *My own shortwave radio, wow! *I hugged my dad, and grandmother(Mom and Dad were divorced shortly after my brother was born), and thanked them for my wonderful new radio. *Several years later, after Dad had died, my grandmother told me just how special that Elgin really was. * After seeing how excited I had been after playing with the Transoceanic, he had tried to get me one. *He even put an ad in the paper for one. *He even had a guy bring one over for him to look at while I was in school. *But the old Transoceanic hadn't been well cared for. *It had a busted dial and cracked case. *He *didn't think the radio was worth buying. *He even offered to buy my friend's dad's radio, but it wasn't for sale. *Finally, as Christmas was approaching, Dad sent Grandma downtown to the appliance store to see if they had anything. *The salesman showed her the Elgin, and she told Dad about it. *It was expensive, $125, a lot of money in 1963. *But my dad got a loan at the bank and bought the radio. *He said he was afraid I might not like it, but it was all he could find. *He unknown to me, he paid on that radio for the next two years! *I can now imagine his relief when he saw how much I liked the Elgin. *Sure it only had one shortwave band, that covered 1.7 to 6.5 mic., and it only had a two foot whip antenna, but it was a shortwave radio! *Well, I made a log book, and started writing down the stations and times I heard them. * After a few months I had pretty much exhausted the capabilities of that two foot whip. *I was thirsty for more even more distant stations, like Australia, and Japan. *One day, while leafing through an Electronics Illustrated magazine in the school library, *I stumbled on an article for building a BCB loop antenna out of copper wire and wood. *It had an alligator clip to attach it to a portable radio. *Hmmm, if a loop of copper wire wrapped around a foot square frame would boost AM reception, then several loops of wire ought to boost shortwave reception. *Well, it was an idea worth exploring anyway. *I didn't have any wood, *but maybe a box would work. *I found a box in the shop I thought should work. *It was about 18" square, and about 4" deep. *I closed the box and taped it shut. *I took out my trusty Purina knife and cut small slits in each corner of the box about a half inch apart. *I ended up with nine slits on each corner. *Then I took the spool of magnet wire left over from when I built my crystal radio five years before, and started wrapping the wire in the slits around the box. After wrapping the wire around the box about eighteen times, two wraps in each slit, I taped the wire in place leaving about three feet loose. *I borrowed a clip lead from my dad's bench and cut it in half. *I then twisted the bare end to the magnet wire after removing some of the enamel. *I clipped the alligator clip to the antenna of the Elgin. *Would it work? *I tentatively fired up the radio and started tuning across my single shortwave band. *Did it work, boy did it ever! *I had gobs of stations I never had before! *For the next year my Elgin and I had a beautiful relationship together, and I spent many hours listening to Swiss Radio, Radio Moscow, Tirana Albania, Deutsche Welle , Radio Sofia, La Voz De Andes, among others. *But there were changes in my future, some good, some bad.

It was the summer of '65, a year I will never forget. *My *dad was closing the shop. *The month before, I graduated Junior High, and in a couple months I would be starting my freshman year at the High School on the other side of town. *Then it happened! *I was playing ball with the neighborhood kids in the empty field across the alley behind my house. *Suddenly there was sirens, and flashing lights. *They were stopping in front of the house! *I ran home as fast as I could with my brother a short distance behind me. * They were taking Dad out of the house on a stretcher, and my grandmother was crying! *She was incoherent and kept saying Rollin, my baby, my baby. * I told my brother to try and calm down Grandma while I called my Uncle. *Aunt Mary answered the phone and she immediately sensed something was wrong. *I asked if Uncle Nolan was home. *She said yes she would get him. *A few moments later my Uncle was on the phone and I told him they took Dad to the hospital. *He asked what happened but I had no idea. *He said he would be right over. *Thirty minutes later he was there. *Grandma was still a wreck, but my Uncle was able to get her to calm down enough to tell what happened. *She had been in the kitchen and heard a noise in the shop. *She went to the front of the house where the shop was and found my dad on the floor. *He had fallen out of his wheelchair and was unconscious on the floor. *She had managed to call an ambulance before the reality hit her and she totally lost it. *We had no car, so Uncle Nolan took us to the hospital. Dad was in in intensive care and was still unconscious. *The doctor was trying to be vague since my brother and I was standing there, but I was able to deduce they didn't think Dad was going to make it, and even if he did, he would never be the same. *He had had a heart attack. *We stayed at the hospital all night. *My Uncle tried to get us to go to the cafeteria to get something to eat, but we weren't hungry. * At nine o'clock the next morning Dad regained consciousness. *He was weak, but he was going to make it. *The next day they transfered him to the VA hospital on the other side of town. *Another week and he came home, but his paralysis was worse. *He had lost much of the use of his right arm. *His days as a TV repairman was over. *He sold most of his equipment, but he gave me his Jackson tube tester, and his VTVM he built when he took his NRI training after the war. *I still have them to this day. *After the shop closed, money was tight. *My brother and I both started taking contracts to mow lawns. *I had about twenty yards I was taking care of, and my brother had about the same. *All the money we made we gave to Dad to help out. *All through that summer we did yard work. *By the end of the day I was too tired to even think about my beloved Elgin. *I did turn it on sometimes on Sunday, but mostly just to catch the news on the BBC or Swiss Radio. *
** I started High school that fall, and one of the classes I signed up for was Basic Electricity and Electronics. *I already knew a lot of basics, but it was required in order to take Vocational Electronics next year. *Vocational electronics was a three year, three hour a day course that, when completed, was the equivalent of a two year tech school degree.
The electronics course was easy and I made straight A's, more than I can say about some of my other courses. *The lab had an extensive library of catalogs, and Radio Electronics and Popular Electronics magazines the the students could check out over night. *The lab also had a radio. *This one had a lot of knobs on it, a big meter, and a name I never heard of, Hammerlund. *It was a Hammerlund HQ-180. *The school had a 125' long wire on the roof, and it was connected to the Hammerlund. *My electronics class was the last class of the day, and I asked Mr. Davis if I could stay after class for a half hour and listen to the radio. *It was actually for the students in the morning vocational class to use on their breaks, but he said he would show me how to operate the radio. *He told me he would let me stay over a half hour each Fri. To listen to the radio. *I asked my dad if it was OK to stay over at school on Fridays. *He asked why and I told him my teacher was going to show how to operate the Hammerlund. *He said it was OK as long as I could still catch the last bus home. *That Friday I made the next step in my shortwave hobby. *I learned about a very advanced type of shortwave radio called a communications receiver. *The Hammerlund was fantastic! *Stations that faded in and out on the Elgin sounded like they were right in town on the Hammerlund. *There was so many more knobs to turn to bring the stations in. *There was a preselector, IF bandwidth knob and a band spread control. *Stations I could not separate with the Elgin, was a breeze with the Hammerlund. *Understand though, the Hammerlund wasn't a radio, it was a receiver, and boy did it receive! * Now I was looking at the ads in the magazines for communications receivers, and their were lot with more names I never heard of, like Lafayette, Hallicrafters, National, and Knight. *My head was being turned by several pretty new faces, and my Elgin was starting to look anemic. *I started reading Glenn Hauser's DX digest column in Popular Electronics regularly. *I wanted to hear some of the rare stations listed in his column, but my Elgin didn't have those frequencies. *I started looking through the catalogs from school, like the Allied Radio catalog, and the catalog from Lafayette Radio. *one day, as I was listening to the Hammerlund before I went home I was reading a ad in the Allied catalog for a Knight Star Roamer. *Mr. Davis came up behind me and saw what I was looking at. *I had already told him about my Elgin at home, and about the shop my dad used to have. *He asked me if I liked the radio I was looking at. *I told him yes, but it was way more than we could afford. *Even in kit form, the Star Roamer was $40, and a factory built one was over $75! *He said he had an old radio at home he didn't use any more. *He had purchased a newer radio, and if I wanted it, he would bring the old radio in next week. *He said he built it from a kit like the Star Roamer. *He told me I could take it home for a few days and check it out. *Well Monday came, and sure enough, when I got to my electronics class, the radio was there, sitting in front of the Hammerlund. *It said Heathkit on the front and had to be the ugliest radio I ever saw. *It was PINK, for crying out loud, with a red dial on a black background, and aqua blue panel on the right side. *It had chips of paint missing on the top and sides. *To be fair I guess it was supposed to be beige, but it sure looked pink to me. *I was speechless and believe me, that was a rarity in itself! *He asked me if I wanted to take it home. *Well, it did have three shortwave bands plus AM. *And there were seven knobs on the front, plus a rather small "S" meter. *Iater I would discover there was another switch on the back that would prove to be quite useful. *" I g-g-guuess so" I finally managed to stammer. *So he said to take it home til Friday. *If I didn't' like it I could bring it back then, and if I did, we could talk about it then. *Well, I took the ugly thing home and with much trepidation, hooked it up and turned it on. *The very first station I tuned in was Radio Cairo just outside of the 31 meter band. *Shortly after, I logged KOL Israel, and Vatican Radio. *All this on my cardboard loop antenna! *Under the Ant. Trim knob I found the model number of the receiver. *It was a GR-91. *I listened to the Heathkit the rest of the evening, and every night the rest of the week after finishing my homework. *I managed to find several more stations I never heard before, Turkey, Greece, Ghana, and AIR. *If only it wasn't so ugly! *Tomorrow would be Friday, time to decide. *I wanted the radio, but I knew we probably couldn't buy it. *Still I could listen to what Mr. Davis had to say, and as a bonus I would still have the radio over the weekend. *Finally it was time for electronics class. *Mr. Davis looked up at me when I came in. *It was obvious I didn't have the radio, but he said nothing. *After class, he came over, as I was gathering my stuff up to leave. *"How did you like it", he asked? *"It was great" I replied. *He said if I wanted it, I could buy it for $15. *He may as well have said $1500. *I didn't have $15, and I sure wasn't going to ask Dad for it. Then he said I didn't need to pay the money all at once, maybe just $5 a month, and I wouldn't need to make the first payment for a month. *By this time, the wheels in my head, were spinning. *Let's see, I got fifty cents a day for lunch. *If I just bought a frozen chocolate malt for lunch each day, that would give me a quarter a day, or $1.25 a week. *In a month, that was $5. *But I couldn't keep the money at home, because if my brother found it he would take it. *I asked If I could pay $1.25 a week, starting next week. *It was agreed. *We had a deal. *Well first things first. *I was going to have to paint that god-awful ugly pink radio. *I found a can of dark brown spray paint Dad had bought to touch up the cabinet of a portable TV he worked on before the shop closed. *I took the cover off the Heathkit and took it out in the back yard. *I set it on a couple of cement blocks and sprayed it from every angle possible. *I left it in the sun to dry, and after it was finally dry, put it back on the radio. *What an improvement! *Now it even kind of reminded me of that Transoceanic that started the whole thing. *The radio was working great and everything was going smoothly. *It had now been six weeks, and I had paid $7.50 on the radio. I had logged many new countries, Thailand, Hong Kong, Belgium, and more. *Then every thing came crashing down. *Valerie, the girl next door, who was a year behind me in school, had come over to play Monopoly on the porch with my brother and me as she often did. *My dad had come out to watch us play and enjoy the fall day. *Winter was around the corner, but today it was an unseasonably warm 65 degrees. *As we were playing, Valerie suddenly asked why I wasn't eating lunch at school anymore? *Like a panther, Dad was on it. *He wanted to know what she meant. *Realizing she had blundered, she tried to cover for me. *Well he is eating lunch, just not the same as I usually ate. *Too late! *Dad knew something was not right so he kept pumping her. *What did she mean? *What was I eating? *All this time I was sitting in abject misery. *Finally the story was out. *Valerie couldn't get home fast enough. *As for me, I was in deep doo doo. *Dad demanded to know what I was doing with my lunch money. *I told him the whole story. *He said what I had done behind his back was the same as lying. *I felt awful. *He told me to bring the radio downstairs. *I brought the radio down and he set it on the bench. *At this point I was wishing I had never seen the radio. *He asked how much I had paid on it. *I told him. *He asked If I had anything to show the money I had paid on it. *Yes, Mr. Davis gave me a receipt for each payment, showing the payment, total paid, and amount left. *Each receipt was signed by Mr. Davis with his address and phone number under his signature. *He called Mr. Davis, and they talked for about thirty minutes. *Well sort of talked. *Dad mostly said uh huh, I see, no, yes, I will deal with it. *That last statement *sounded ominous. *He hung up and told me to bring down my Elgin and my 2 transistor home-built. *What? *The Elgin was mine! *Not anymore! *I brought down my Elgin and my home-built and now they were sitting on the bench. *Here was the deal. *I was grounded. *For two entire months I was to come straight home. *I would not listen to radio at school, and Mr. Davis would make sure I didn't. *I was to return the radio tomorrow and consider the money I had paid on it as rent for using it. *Furthermore, I would spend everyday in my room with no visitors allowed. *I would not be allowed to have any radio, magazine, or book in my room except my schoolbooks. *I would eat my normal lunch at school and Valerie would let him know if I deviated. If after two months he thought I had learned my lesson I might get my Elgin back, maybe! * Did I understand? *"Yes, sir". * Now go to your room. *Grandma would call me when it was time for supper. *"Yes, sir". *I was miserable. *I didn't think things could get any worse. *I was wrong! *Next day I came downstairs to eat and go to school. *I picked up the radio and started for the door. *Dad told me to put the radio back down. *"Yes, sir". I did as I was told. *He then reached in his shirt pocket and handed me eight dollars. *I was to give the money to Mr. Davis. *I would bring him back the fifty cents and the receipt. *I was confused. * Did this mean I could keep the radio? *Yes, and no. *That was to be the rest of my punishment. *For the next two months, I would have to sit in my room knowing my radios were downstairs. *I would see them every day when leaving for school, and coming home. *I was never so much as to touch them or the radio at school. *I was not to read any magazines or catalogs at school or at home. *If after two months I had full filled my punishment without violating any of the conditions, I would get all my radios back, including the newly painted Heathkit. *It was the hardest two months of my life so far, and a lesson I would never forget.

1969, High School graduation. *The rest of my High School years were mostly uneventful with one major exception. *Last summer my 14 year old brother ran away. *He would not be heard from for the next three years. *We knew he had not been kidnapped because one of my other hobbies is collecting switchblades, and he had stolen my most prized one, a 5 1/2" blade pearl-handled Italian stiletto. *My date for the all-night senior party was Valerie. *She had had a crush on me since I was twelve, but I had never felt that way about her. *However, she was fun to be with, and didn't complain too much when I stepped on her toes when we danced. *Now I was a schoolboy no longer. *I was 18 and would be 19 in November. *My dad had been drawing Social Security on my brother and me, but that ended when we turned 18. *Now I had to find a full time job. *I got a job a month later, and after getting in the union thirty days after that, proceeded to take care of priorities. *I had agreed to pay my dad $35 a month for room and board. *The rest of my $100 a week paycheck was mine to do with what I liked. *First thing on the agenda was a car. *An older friend was being drafted and asked me if I wanted his car. *I bought it for $300. *It was a 1962 red Olds 88 two door coupe hardtop. *It had a 394 engine with a Pontiac 389 tri-power manifold and carbs. *Dual Cherry Bombs, and chrome reverse wheels with baby moons rounded out the package. *A looker and a runner, I could give a Chevelle a run for its money. *Now it was time for a new radio. *Last month I had read a review for a new Transoceanic. *My dad had been partly wrong when he told me the Transoceanic wasn't made anymore. *They had been making them all along, they just wasn't the quality of the old Transoceanics. *But that changed in 1969. *Zenith had introduced a new model, the Royal 7000. *I fairly drooled over the pictures. *I must have one! *There was only one store in town that sold Zenith. *It was the same appliance store that had sold the Elgin. *I went in and told the salesman I wanted a Transoceanic. *He smiled and took me to where one was on display. *But wait! *This radio didn't look like the one in the pictures. *I told him it wasn't what I wanted, and he said it was the only one he had. *I said the one I wanted had more knobs and an adjustable time zone map that flipped up. *We went back to his office and he handed me a pamphlet. *There it was! *He didn't carry it in stock, but could order it. *However, I had to pay it in full before he would order it. *It was $299. *I said I would be back. *Next day after work, I applied for a loan at the company credit union. *The loan was approved, and Fri. I ordered the radio. *I could hardly wait. *2 weeks later it was in, fresh from the factory. *I carefully opened the box and exhaled with a whoosh. *It was even more beautiful than the pictures in the magazine. *Closed, with it's black leatherette case trimmed with chrome, it looked like an expensive overnight bag. *Opened, it was a pure work of art. Fitted in chrome and brushed aluminum, with a color-coded 11 band rotary dial, flip up adjustable time zone map, flip out chart light, and drop down brushed aluminum cover that featured an azimuth dial and frequency charts. *It was the proud successor to a long line of prestigious radios. *Zenith's crowning achievement, it would be the best, as well as last model transoceanic made. *Yes, I know there was one more radio with the Transoceanic badge, but it wasn't a true Transoceanic. *In fact it was an insult to a proud name. *It was nothing but a cheap foreign-made multi-band portable with the Transoceanic name. *But this radio was the creme de la creme of the Transoceanics. *But looks isn't everything, now it was time to find out if the performance matched its looks. *I filled the battery compartment with nine D cells, extended the five foot whip,(yep, it touched the ceiling), and turned it on. *I tuned the radio to my favorite band, 31 meters, and slowly tuned across the dial. *Wow! *It was loaded with stations, but with the wide dial, it was easy to separate them. *All this on just a telescopic whip! *It was everything I expected it to be and more! *Finally I was the proud owner of a Transoceanic! *The next year I added several new stations to my logbook, *and it was with this radio, in 1970, that I logged the rarest station I would ever receive. *It was on a winter's night in 1970. *I was on the 19 meter band to tune to Radio Australia, which was one of my favorite stations, when I stumbled on a faint, barely readable signal just above the noise. *The station was in English and the signal was fairly steady, but weak. *I switched to narrow bandwidth, and increased the volume. *Finally after about twenty minutes I heard a station ID. *What? *I must have not heard right. *I stayed on the station and fifteen minutes later there it was again. *Yes, I had heard correctly. *"You are listening to the Windward Islands Broadcasting Service in Grenada, Windward Islands. *I could hardly believe my ears. *Here was a station I had been trying to catch for years. *It was listed as rare in Glenn Hauser's DX Digest, with a transmitter power of just 5 KW. *I continued to listen to the station until it finally faded out about two hours later. *Next night I tried to tune it again but it just wasn't there. *In fact, I tried many times over the years to find it, but I never heard it again. *Now winter was ending and spring was around the corner. *As much as I loved and enjoyed my Transoceanic, another new face was catching my eye. *This one had waist-length dark brown hair, hazel eyes a man could get lost in forever, and was named Linda. *On December 31, 1971, she became my wife.

The decade of the seventies is a difficult time in my life to write about. *While there are a few pleasant memories, there are also many bad ones. *Shortly before my marriage to Linda, I rented a small three room apartment close to the center of town, and about three blocks from the factory where I was working. *In march of 1971, my dad got a phone call from a hospital in Jacksonville Florida. *They wanted to know if he had a son named Rickey,(his real name). *It seems Rick had been injured in a surfing accident, and they needed permission to perform knee surgery, since Rick was still under 18. *Two months later he was home, with a decided limp he would keep the rest of his life. *He was also very changed. *Always a rebel, and even as young as 12, Rick had been involved with drinking and smoking weed. *Now he was a full-blown druggie. *His drugs of choice included purple microdots, (LSD), crystal meth, (speed), angel dust, (PCP), and even occasional skin popping, as well as alcohol and weed. *I had always known about Rick's grade school extracurricular activities, and I still wonder to this day if I had told then, if he would have later ran away. *But he was my brother, and I wasn't a rat. *Now I no longer knew Rick. *He told how he had lied about his age and joined the carnival that was in town the night he disappeared. *He stayed with the carnival until it ended up in Massachusetts. *He then left and hitch-hiked to Denver where he joined a hippie commune. *After a few months there, he drifted to San Fransisco, and got involved in the hippie movement there. *He was involved in the Berkeley riots in 1969, then drifted finally to Jacksonville, where he joined a group of hippies there. *He stayed home for a couple of years before he got in trouble for drugs, and fled to Texas. *This is where he was last heard from til 1976. *
** * * * * In June of 1971, my wife's 18 year old brother died. *Born a blue baby, the doctors said he just outgrew his heart. *He died on the evening of his 18th birthday. After this, things settled down a bit, and the three of us, me, Linda, and the Transoceanic, lived in marital bliss. *In Feb, 1972, I took a job in the office at the factory. *It was a decision I would bitterly regret. *While I still had the Elgin, I had sold the Heathkit to a neighborhood kid in a rummage sale for $5. 
** * * *On Dec. 5, 1976, while at church on a Sunday night, the church received a phone call, and an deacon motioned to me. *The call was for me. *It was my grandmother. *Dad was gone. *She had *went into the kitchen for a couple of minutes to fix a glass of tea. *When she returned, Dad had suffered his now third heart attack. *This was his last. *Dad was exactly 50 1/2 years old. *With me being the eldest son, the arrangements were up to me. *It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. *I tried to get ahold of Rick. *His last known location was Austin, so I called the Austin police and explained. *I gave them Rick's description and waited. *After two days and no reply, I decided to proceed with the funeral. * Dad was buried with full military honors in the VA cemetery. *One day later, *Rick knocked on my door. *The police had knocked on the door of the apartment house he was living at, while he was not home, causing a bit of uneasiness with his friends. *He called the police station, and got the message. *Then he hitch-hiked back to Indiana. *He was very upset I hadn't waited for him, but I had no clue the police had ever found him, or if he was even still in Texas. *From that time, until about three years ago, we had a very distant relationship, rarely contacting each other. * *A week later, my wife met me at the door when I got off work. *She had been dusting and upon replacing the Elgin back on the shelf, it slipped from her fingers. *I tried to comfort her and told her it was alright. *It wasn't. *The old Elgin had landed on the tuning knob, jamming and bending the gears. *I was forced to give the faithful old radio its last rites. * 
** * * In 1977 the guys at work were urging me to get a CB radio. *The CB craze had exploded with the hit song, Convoy, and the movie, Smokey and the Bandit. *One of the shops in town was run by a ham operator I knew. *I dropped in his shop to browse his radios, when a large, gunmetal gray radio on a shelf caught my eye. *I asked what it was and he told me it was a Hallicrafters SX-100. *I asked if I could see it. *It was very similar to the Hammarlund I had used at school. *About the same size, and with similar operating controls. *It was a knob-fiddler's dream. *I asked how much it was and he told me $175. *Then I made the second worse decision of my life. *My dad had always told me to sleep on an important decision before making it. *But I blurted out spontaneously, "Would you consider a trade?". He asked what I had to trade, and I said I had a Zenith Transoceanic. *He wanted to see it, so I went home, closed it up and drove back to the shop. *Fifteen minutes later I was lugging the monster radio to the car. *It seemed as I looked back one last time at my faithful Transoceanic, I heard a faint voice in my head. *"You'll be sorry", it said. *How prophetic those words would become. *I brought the huge Hallicrafters home and put on the night table where my Transoceanic had been. The big radio filled the night stand with no room left for the light, or clock. *My wife wasn't exactly thrilled with my new acquisition, especially when I started stringing wires around the bedroom. *Somehow, she didn't think it helped the decor. *The Hallicrafters worked well, and with 14 tubes, even doubled nicely as a space heater. *While this was all well and good in March, as the summer months rolled around, it became a bit of a problem, turning the bedroom into a sauna. *I had screwed a shelf to the wall above the bed for the light and clock. *After knocking the light off one night and hitting my wife in the head, things finally came to a boil. *She said either I choose her, or the radio. *Although the radio could probably do a pretty good job frying eggs, I didn't really relish the idea of a steady diet of eggs, so back to the shop I went with the Hallicrafters. *I tried to get my Transoceanic back, even offering an additional $200, but it wasn't for sale. Finally, he offered me a new CB and antenna in trade. *I asked which radio, and he offered the best one in his shop, a new Pearce Simpson Cheetah 23 channel ssb radio. *After tossing in a new Hustler HQ-27, and trunk mount,a deal was struck, and for the first time since Christmas, 1963, I was without a shortwave radio.

Well I now had a nice CB, and was starting to get involved a bit with it. *I was even picking up a little spending money doing mobile installations, and antenna adjustments. *I was already missing shortwave and had been looking at a revolutionary new radio called a Barlow Wadley XCR-30. *It used a here-to-fore unheard of tuning system developed by the British in WW2, called a Wadley Loop. *This was a highly stable and precise system, with tuning accuracy, that up to this time was only found in very expensive military radios. *The XCR-30 had very impressive specs, and I wanted one. Unfortunately, there was none to be found in my neck of the woods, and I was not comfortable with mail order with no return policy. *I knew I wanted a transistorized set, but I wanted one with better tuning accuracy. *With the appliance store now gone, it seemed I would have to make a trip to the Circle City 60 miles away. *Then one day in early November, we got our annual Sears Christmas catalog. *Now I had for a short time considered the Com Trek, but it wasn't what I wanted. *As I was browsing the catalog, I saw a new radio pictured under the Com Trek. *At first I started to pass it up, when something caught my eye. *What was that? *Uses the Wadley Loop system! *It was a Sears branded version of a new radio from a unknown new company, called Yaesu, the FRG-7(Frog 7). *After some research I ordered one. *It arrived toward the end of Nov. *I set it up and began to put it through its paces. *Wow! *It was everything that I had read about it. *Sensitive, tight, and very precise tuning. *With this radio I started logging new, controversial stations known as pirate radio. *I successfully logged Voice of the Voyager, Jolly Roger Radio, WFAT, Radio KAOS, and more. *The pirates were so close together on other radios, that they garbled each other. *But now, they could be separated, even as close as 3khz apart. *I used the Sears/Yaesu for several years. *It was everything I wanted, small footprint, easy to tune, and it didn't get hot. *What could be better? 
* * * **In Nov, 1979 we purchased a house in a nearby town. *Also in 1979 we got a new electronics store on the bypass on the edge of town. *It was called Radio Shack. *Most of their products didn't interest me yet, but in the spring of 1981, I was browsing the store and saw a radio on clearance. It was being discontinued and was 60% off. *Just $155 ! *It looked a lot like the Frog, but with a red digital readout. *Perfect! *Digital, and obviously using the Wadley Loop, what could be better? *I listed the Frog in the paper, and sold it the day the ad appeared. *I hurried to Radio Shack, and managed to get the last radio in the store. *A Realistic DX-300. *Basically a Frog with digital readout. *I set it up and tried it out. *While the sensitivity was on par with the Frog, selectivity was definitely not! * The front end was virtually nonexistent. *We had a local 10KW *AM radio station in town and it was all over the place on this radio. *Even worse powerhouses like WOR, VOA, and HCJB, splattered 10-15khz on both sides of their assigned frequencies. *There was a wide/narrow switch on the radio, but it was nothing more than a two position tone control. *There was one bandwidth for AM, and a slightly narrower one for ssb. *It was the worst radio I ever used, and would eventually turn out to be the second worse radio I ever owned. *Ironically, the worst one would turn out to be another offering from Radio Shack, but that is another story. *I learned how to use this radio by setting the mode to ssb to tune difficult stations. *I did the best I could with the radio, with an, as I now found out, pseudo-digital readout. *I would not be able to get another radio for some time. *
* * * I had been on salary at the factory for twelve years, but in 1982 the economy was in deep recession following the end of the Vietnam War. *Many companies were cutting back costs, and Anaconda was one of them. *There was a major paring of salary personnel and I was included. *In June I was out of work with no prospects. *In six months I was in trouble. I was four payments behind on my house, and they were going to begin foreclosure. *Then one day at the grocery store, I ran into an old friend I graduated with. *We got to talking, and it got around to me being out of work and losing my house. *He then told me he could fix it so I could keep my house. *How? * He said it was simple. *He was now a recruiter for the Army Reserve. *It seems there was/is a federal law that makes it against the law to foreclose on someone on active military duty. *I told him I took an Army physical when I was 19. *I had been classified 1y. *He said being drafted was different than volunteering and I could get in. I took an aptitude test and tested strong in electronics. *No surprise there. *I passed the physical and enlisted. *One month later I was on a plane to Ft. Jackson SC. *After processing, I was assigned to "Hollywood". This was an area of new brick barracks, as opposed to "Tank Hill", an area of WW2 era wood barracks. *I started basic training *at the age of 32. *I passed basic after about six weeks, and proceeded to Ft. Sill OK, to begin AIT. *My MOS was 31V, *radio systems operation and repair. *Next day I started radio school. *Now the basement level of the school was basic electronics and was supposed to take two weeks. *The first class was learning the resistor color code. *Now I learned the color code when I was 11! *We were set up in groups of two. *Each group had a perf board and a box of various resistors. *The instructor was showing how to identify the correct resistors, one at a time, to build the required circuit. *I was bored, and started reading ahead and building the circuit. *I was showing my partner which resistors to pick out. *As I was putting the circuit together, I felt a hand on my shoulder. *It was the other instructor, who mainly made sure everyone stayed awake. *He whispered, "Private King, come with me". He didn't sound like it was going to be pleasant. *He took me to an empty room and gave me a test paper and told me to bring it to him when I was finished. *He then sat down at a desk in the room. *Ten minutes *later I handed him the test. *He looked at my answerers and all were right. *He then took me to another class and whispered to the instructor there. *That instructor took another test out of his drawer, and I returned with the first instructor to the empty classroom. This test was about reading schematics, Ohm's Law, and other basics. *Again I finished the fifty questions in about ten minutes. *This continued for the rest of the day, til I came to the last class. *It was about using test instruments, like VTVMs, and scopes. This test was a piece of cake as well, and I got careless. *I forgot to re zero my VTVM when I changed scales, and missed a couple of questions. *As he was grading the test, I realized my error, and he knew that I knew what I did wrong. *Unfortunately, I was not allowed to test again that day. He sent me back to my barracks and told to report back to him tomorrow. *Next day, I took a new test, passed and was taken upstairs where I began the real radio school. *I had passed a two week course in two days, and if I hadn't of gotten careless would have done it in one. *In three more months I graduated radio school and was now able to repair several military radios, like the PRC 77, ANGRC 106, and the ANVC 242. *My favorite radio was the R-392, a mobile version of the rack-mount R-390a. *My house was not only caught up, but I was a few payments ahead. *I left AIT and went home. *Six months later I had a new job in an auto stamping plant. *Ninety days later I was in the UAW. *This time I would never leave the union. *I had learned a bitter lesson I would never forget.

In 1989, I was browsing the trader classifieds, and saw an ad for an used ICOM R-71a receiver. *This was a highly rated receiver I had been reading about for years. *I called, and the next day I was the new owner. *The radio was well taken care of, and looked new. *It was a major improvement over the DX-300, and in fact was the best radio I had owned up til then. *In March 1989, Linda, said we were getting a special package. *In August, it arrived, but it turned out to be them. *My son and daughter was born August 28. *I was discharged from the Army Reserve in 1988, but in 1990, after getting laid-off, I re-enlisted in the Air Force. *My AFSC was 30454, ground radio repair. *It was here I met my dream radio, the RACAL 6790GM. *This was one sweet radio! *The noise threshold, was near zero, yet sensitivity and selectivity was excellent. *I have never used a better radio. *In 1991, I volunteered for a six-month TDY in Honduras. *The public story was the US military was assisting the Hondurans by building a road from the mountains to LCieba, on the coast. The real reasons however were we we assisting the Honduran Army fight the Nicaraguan-backed Sandista rebels. *Also, Panama was becoming a bit unfriendly, and the US was moving our Central command base to Soto Cano. *We were upgrading the runways to handle C 5's, and B 52's. *There was frequent attacks on US convoys, and base infiltration of Honduran troops by the Sandistas. *I wanted a portable shortwave to take to Honduras. *Radio Shack was running a red tag on the DX-440, so I bought one. *I packed it in my foot locker, and a week later I was in Honduras. *I stepped off a C-130 at Soto Cano, was issued a M16, and 40 rounds. *I was to fire only if fired upon. *I was then assigned a hooch, and settled in. *Next day, I was given charge of HF support operations, for the satellite telecommunications trailer. *The HF station was a Harris transmitter, and the RACAL receiver. *The communications center was a 24/7 operation. *It was setup in eight-hour rotating shifts. *I monitored the station on my 440 when I was off duty. *I set up the schedule so I had duty every Saturday night. *On Saturdays, for four hours, from 2000 hours to midnight, I was in charge of setting up phone patches with MARS ham operators in the States. *Soldiers could call home and talk to their wives and families for a maximum of fifteen minutes. *At midnight, after every one was done, I talked to my family, but never more than the fifteen minutes. *I want to personally thank the MARS hams for their unselfish service. *They made long distance calls at their expense to bring some cheer to the men in uniform. *Their dedication is greatly appreciated. *I did several more TDY assignments between 1992 and 1994. *When President Clinton took office there was a huge military cut back. *My slot was eliminated. *I had three choices, hard-school a new AFSC, transfer, or take an early out. *I said bye, and was discharged. *In 1994 I got back in CB, and became a tech for a friend who ran a CB shop in his home. *In 1995, I got worried about the battery in my ICOM. *I had read an article in Popcom, that said if the battery died, so did the radio. *I know about the nonvolatile memory modules, but they cost almost a hundred dollars. *I saw an ICOM R-70 on EBay for $300. *I bought it and sold my R-71a. *The R-70 is the best kept secret of the ICOM receivers. *It has everything the R-71a has, except direct keyboard entry and memories. *It is the equal of the R-71a in performance, and it doesn't suffer from the volatile memory problem of the R-71a. *It was perfect! *In 1998 I purchased on clearance the absolutely worse radio I ever owned, a DX-394. *This radio was even worse than the 300. *I kept it for only three months before dumping it on Ebay. *In 1999 the plant closed. *I got a new job six months later, but in five years that plant closed as well. *I got a new job sixty miles away. *Working ten hours a day, and driving that far left little time for radio. *Also I was getting involved in satellite TV, and was even a moderator on several sat forums. *I wrote a how-to on using dish pro lnbfs with FTA satellite receivers. *I even had my own forum for a while. *My radios were stored for over ten years. *Then, a few weeks ago I got ahold of a Grundig 450 field radio that was broken. I repaired the radio and started listening to it. *I had forgotten how fun shortwave was. *While on Ebay, looking for a balun, I stumbled onto a Grundig 800 as is. *I researched the 800, and was impressed by the reviews, especially Jay Allen's. *It was his statement that the 800 was the first portable he had found worthy of replacing his Zenith Royal 7000, that did it for me. * Knowing quite well the capabilities of the 7000, I went back to EBay and won the 800. *The 800 arrived, and after a quick check I discovered the BFO was not functioning.* I repaired the radio and started putting it through its paces.* After now having used my 800 for over two weeks, I have concluded that it is almost on par, if not a tad better in some areas, than my R-70, which I dug, along with my 440, out of storage. *The 300 I left there. *I am enjoying my return to my old hobby, and contrary to what I have read have found it basically unchanged. *Oh sure, there are a few stations that were shortwave mainstays, that have gone dark, but most are still there. *Gone is CBC, and Swiss Radio, and Radio Netherlands. * LA Voz de Los Andes is no longer booming in, but Radio Moscow is still there, only now it is the Voice of Russia. *Deutsch Welle still broadcasts in English at about the same time as always, but not with as strong of signal, since the broadcast is beamed to Africa. *BBC can be found the same way. *Radio Habana Cuba is as loud as ever, and I swear, the man and woman announcers sound just like the ones on the station, forty years ago! *Radio Romania still booms in, and Cairo and Turkey are out there as well. *I even heard the old IS from RSA. *I am looking forward to many more years of shortwave listening. I resurrected my long wire in the attic, and dusted off my old 24 hour clock and set it for Zulu time. *My old log book is long gone, but I have started a new one. *Maybe, I will even hear Windward Islands. *And my antenna on my 800 touches the ceiling....

** * * * * * * * * * * * * * *The End

How I got in to radio - Dave Harries

Glad to help, Paul but apologies for the length of this reminiscence! 

I started DXing when I was fairly young. My interest in radio was sparked by a chance discovery back in 1992 (IIRC) when I was 10. I was on holiday in a town in England called MInehead. I had a radio with me but it was not a shortwave one: it only had FM, Medium Wave & Long Wave. One evening, for some reason, I randomly put it on MW and did some tuning around. In the course of this, amidst a variety of languages I had never previously heard, I came across a broadcast in English which was not in an English accent. It turned out, as I discovered at the close of transmission, to be the evening broadcast from YLE Radio Finland on 963khz: the closing announcement from YLE's evening transmission in English back then began with the words: "You are listening to Radio Finland, the overseas service of the Finnish broadcasting company YLE. Thank you for joining us today. For listeners in Northern Europe we are now available on 558khz....." - I am not sure why I remember that but for some reason I have never forgotten it!

Anyway the evening broadcast of YLE remained my regular listening throughout the holiday that year. The following year, 1993, I was again on holiday in Minehead. By this point I had a later bedtime and my younger brother, with whom I had shared a bedroom the previous year, was elsewhere in the cottage. So I went upstairs and put the radio on. I was glad to find YLE still on 963khz at the same time as before. This time, however, I decided to tune around a bit trying to find the local BBC station on what was then its only frequency of 1323khz. However I went too far toward the right-hand side of the dial and, while making my way back toward 1323khz, came across another broadcast in English - again not in an English accent - which turned out to be an evening transmission from RVI with "Brussels Calling" on 1512khz. For the rest of that holiday, and the two after that (1994 and 1995) I found myself always tuning in to YLE and RVI, both when on holiday and not, and I rarely forgot to listen in.

Back in the mid-to-late 1990s the Radio Times magazine used to print the SW frequencies of the BBC World Service (it doesn't now) and I think this may have been what encouraged me to look into shortwave listening. Either way I eventually replaced my 3-band stereo with a Roberts R809 4-band radio back in early 1996. I think it may have been a present for my 14th birthday. It came with a "starter guide" called "A guide to World Band Radio" which was a small, rectangular and thin publication with blue covers. That was my starting point and the frequencies were mostly still valid. So when the frequency changes came every 6 months I would make a note of the new frequencies and start tuning in.

I was slow on the uptake with QSLs: I didn't get my first until Radio Romania International sent me one for a transmission of 14th January 1997 (2100hrs UTC, 7195khz) which shows that fairly ugly (IMO) piece of communist-style architecture that makes up the radio building. I still have the card in question and it is one of the 17 QSLs I now have. The figure of 17 QSLs, however, does not count one I was sent by RVI (Brussels) which showed a joint of roast chicken on the front: This card is sadly missing although I think I know where it is. But I think that, had it not been for my chance discoveries of YLE and, later, RVI on mediumwave, my interest in radio may never have started at all. Thank you YLE & RVI!

As an aside I spent several years after the demise of YLE Radio Finland's shortwave service trying, with no success, to find out what the piece was that used to accompany the transmission's close down. I remembered it being a jazz piece with strings and that was about it. However I posted my query to a DXing forum and received an answer from a former (by then) employee of YLE: I forget his full name but I think his first name was Juhani and his last name began with an N. Anyway he was able to give me the full title of that piece and also the composer so here it is. How many people on this group remember hearing it?