Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Shortwave Radio CAN'T be Cancelled!


A few of my old vintage shortwave radios...

An old Zenith TransOceanic Shortwave Receiver

Prepare yourself for the future. This might be considered a “prepper” sort of thing…it’s long, but please take the time to read through it. I’m NOT a writer, so this might ramble a bit, but I hope you get the gist of it.

After learning that liberal politicians literally spent more of our US tax $$ today to have a hearing on the Hill to try and get all cable networks to remove Fox News, OAN, and Newsmax from their systems, I think it’s time for conservative networks to install plan “B”. The FCC, while they made a little noise about it, they didn’t take much of a stance against it. This is the SAME FCC that recently sent a Sunday message (when they almost NEVER do anything on Sunday!) to us amateur radio operators…essentially telling us to watch what we say and do about the presidential election, as we could loose our license for negative (in their eyes) actions.

So, I’ll roll into this with a story I’ve told many times over the years… As a ham, I learned many times in conversations with hams in East Germany, before the wall came down, they had to be careful about what they said on the radio for fear of loosing their license, or worse. They could only talk about things related to radio, propagation, antennas, etc…else things could be bad for them and their families. They could only watch state run TV, and had to even have a license to LISTEN to shortwave radio. The gov’t didn’t want them to be able to hear things against the wishes of their government. Sound familiar? I remember thinking, “that could never happen, here”. Well, we’re “here”. Today, liberal politicians were trying to remove conservative voices from the cable networks and airways. This isn’t a conspiracy theory, it actually happened in Washington DC today, Feb 24, 2021!!! It’s not enough that people can “spin the dial” if they don’t like what they hear, politicians are now trying to eliminate the possibility that you hear or see something "they" think is bad, or not what "they" want you to be programmed with.

OK, so those of you who don’t know what shortwave radio is, here’s a quickie course… The frequencies used by Shortwave radio stations are such that they can bounce around the world. Not just travel a short distance like the AM and FM stuff you listen to in your car, but it is WORLDWIDE! There’s some fading, and it varies from day to day, but, it CAN NOT be stopped at the borders, killed by this crazy "cancel culture", NOR blocked by the FCC. The shortwave broadcast system is very mature (running 70+ years), robust, and is very cheap to broadcast on. Lots of individuals buy air time for very little investment for private radio broadcasts. So, when the Cancel Culture or FCC says “no more Hannity, Levin, Carlson, J Seculow, Fox, OAN, Newsmax, etc"…you simply buy cheap airtime on a transmitter outside the USA, have it broadcast back into the USA (like Wolfman Jack did back in the day), and your market can still hear you. Just simulcast your network for pennies, back into the USA on shortwave, and cultivate that market. Some of you might remember or know of Alex Jones. Many say he’s a conspiracy theorist (he is entertaining, I think). No matter, when he was kicked off Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram (sound familiar?), he went to Shortwave radio, and now has a larger audience than ever..heard many nights from about 11p EST until 2am on 4.840 mHz, and daytimes from about 11AMest -3PM EST on 12.060 mHz.  

We can buy a great digital shortwave radio for under $30, and there’s a WORLD of things to hear. Literally. You get to hear news from a different perspective than what you do on the mainstream media, from other parts of the world who don’t “have a dog in this fight”. It would behoove these networks to get on there, NOW. Don’t wait. We think media blackouts or media control “can't happen here in the USA”…but it can. It does. It is.  And based on the crap in DC today, it stands a good chance that it will be even more biased and controlled in the near future. It has happened in many other places around the world, we’re not exempt. How about this, many countries have recognized the ability of shortwave to reach their sheeple on the inside, and have begun to make it illegal to LISTEN TO IT! Did you ever think it would be illegal to just hear something in the USA? Give it time, it could happen.

Please copy and email this to your favorite networks. Networks who ignore this will likely find themselves totally cut off from their base. Now is the time to get busy, tell your base to get a SW radio, and get busy before it’s too late. It won’t cost them much, and it’ll help us all in the future. I’m a nobody, but I think I can see in to the future on this one 

Go out and buy yourself a shortwave radio and be prepared. Meanwhile, you might find a totally new hobby and lots of enjoyment from listening to real radio signals from all around the world. You’ll get exposed to other cultures, music, and learn about global happenings before it’s watered down and filtered by the crap we call news media in the USA.

UPDATE: A few folks asked about Shortwave radios, where to get them, pricing, etc. Since I have mostly old boat anchors for receivers, I polled some of the shortwave listeners' groups on Facebook, and here's what I got for modern, readily available shortwave receivers. You can find these on Amazon, eBay, etc on the web:

Shortwave receivers...

- LCJ-258 : $19
A very basic starter SW radio. Has MP3 capability, rechargable battery

- Retekess TR608 : $19.99
Shortwave and aircraft band, digital for ease of tuning, with PLL for stability and and DSP noise cancellation, also has aircraft band,

- Tecsun R-9012 : $22
SW starter analog radio. Manual duning and dial, a little more tedious to tune to an exact frequency

- Tecsun PL-310ET : $48
Digital for ease of tuning, with PLL for stability and and DSP noise cancellation, also has aircraft band, external antenna and headphone connectors.

- Tecsun PL-360 : $51
Digital PLL Portable AM/FM Shortwave Radio with PLL & DSP,

- Radiowow R108 : $51
 Digital for ease of tuning, with PLL for stability and and DSP noise cancellation, 500 memory channels

- Tecsun R9700DX : $54
12-Band, Dual Conversion AM/FM Shortwave Radio. Analog dial is a little more difficult to find an exact frequency, but the dual conversion design makes the receiver much more selective, able to pick out signals when strong stations are almost on the same channel.

- TECSUN PL-660 : $129
Portable Digital PLL AM/FM, Longwave & Shortwave Radio with SSB (Single Side Band) Reception. The SSB mode is used by Hams and lots of military traffic.

- Tecsun PL880 : $189
Portable Digital PLL Dual Conversion AM/FM, Longwave & Shortwave Radio with SSB (Single Side Band) Reception. The SSB mode is used by Hams and lots of military traffic. Dual conversion makes the receiver much more selective, able to pick out signals when strong stations are almost on the same channel.

- Eton Elite : $400
Highly rated as a top end home SW station, lots of features, does about, PLL, DSP, dual conversion, AM/FM/LW/SW, SSB, 1000 channel memory, etc

Here's a few Shortwave groups on facebook...

Shortwave Radio Station Listening

Shortwave Listeners Club

Short Wave Listeners Around The World 

Shortwave Radio Listeners Appreciation Group


Saturday, February 6, 2021

Re-covering Ten-Tec Cabinet Sections

This is my first attempt at recovering a pair of Ten-Tec Century 21 case halves. Ten-Tec used a textured, self-adhesive vinyl covering on many of their earlier rigs. It would get nicked, torn, etc...and many folks would peel it off and paint. After a bit of searching, I found Wes W3KW, who had done this in the past. I couldn't find any photos of his completed project, but he kindly gave me the name of the material he used. I set out to search for a supplier, look through the different colors, textures, and sizes, etc.  I wanted to try and duplicate the original finish on one of my Century 21's, so here's what I did...

The original textured vinyl was about .008" thick, the stuff from REDODECO is .0065" thick, so it's very close. The texture matches pretty good, and it's self adhesive. I've built and covered a lot of RC airplanes over the years, so I figured that experience might help some. I covered them like I have model airplanes and the result is pretty good. Here's a few pics and explanations with the pics. The material was from Amazon, mfg part # SOLID11 by Redodeco, black textured, and the size of the roll is 15.8" x 79". It'll do a top and bottom of a Century 21, and have enough left over to do one more piece.

I'll start with a pic of the finished pieces...

This is the top case half. It had the covering ripped off of the front edge, and multiple nicks and tears. It was a shame to be in this condition, as the rig face and internals were extremely clean.

Using a plastic putty knife and box cutter, I got under the edges and peeled the old covering off. It was stuck on there pretty tight, but it finally surrendered and let go :-) It did leave a bit of adhesive behind, though...



Using Acetone, I removed the remaining adhesive. I used a soft foam backed sanding block with #180 grit to lightly sand over the aluminum to blend any dings or picks in the metal surface, and then a fine file around the edges. I was surprised to find the edges of the metal to be shape, just as they were when chopped off in the shear during manufacturing. I thought it best to remove those sharp edges so as to not cut the covering where it wraps around the edges.

I laid the radio cover on the paper side of the vinyl covering material and allowed an additional inch on each side, in addition to the amount required to wrap the lid. Then, I peeled back a small amount of the backing and started sticking it to the side. I reached under the part and pulled the backing off while keeping it pulled tight.



When rubbing the material down and working the air out, a bubble would randomly be caught. I perforated the bubble with a pin, and rubbed the covering down. The pin hole would disappear.



Here, I cut the material  up to the corner along the bottom edge (where my thumb is in the photo), and folded the material around the bottom edge and over the screw holes seen on the inside of the cover.



I rubbed the wrinkles out in the corners. The material will stretch and blend when pulled. The mfg says says that you can use a hair dryer or hot air gun to aid with stretching the material around corners, but I did this entire job with the material at room temperature.



I put a small piece of scrap in the corners so no metal would be see where the top and sides overlapped in corner.



Here's the finished top section. I used a sharp exacto blade to cut the screw openings.



Next, I covered the bottom in the same manner, then used an exacto blade to cut the openings for the speaker, finger hole for sidetone adjustment, case and feet screws. 

...and here's the finished product. Wow, it really turned out nice and was no more expensive than a can of spray paint...and faster than prep and painting as well. 


Sunday, December 20, 2020

32 Year Old Keyboard & Cleaning...

I know, I'm a tightwad... I also like old stuff :-) I have an old keyboard that I've used in the shack for years, on several computers. I keep using this old keyboard because I like it, it's small, and doesn't take up my space on the table. It's perfect for my application, and every other keyboard I have looks like a monster beside this thing. It's actually the removable keyboard from an old 1988 Compaq 286 portable computer. It uses some sort of goofy looking round connector that I found an adapter for many years ago, and the adapter uses a PS/2 style socket on the computer. 

The lighting in this photo wasn't good but it's the only thing I had of it before cleaning... If you click the photo you will get the idea of the stains and really looked bad under bright light. Over the years, this thing had become yellowed, dirtied from handling with dirty hands and fingers, etc. This is a non-smoking home, but it looked like it had been in one...yet it never had. I had tried Windex, a little bit of scrubbing bubbles, etc on it, but nothing seemed to work. I was afraid to get too serious on it with liquids. It just kept getting dirtier. My wife had one of those Mr. Clean magic erasers (you wet it, squeeze it out, and it does remarkable things!). I tested one corner of the keyboard and was amazed. 

I grabbed a small screwdriver and popped all of the buttons off of the board, used a little handi-vac to clean behind those, dampened a magic eraser, and got busy. I did it while listening to a shortwave radio show and it took about 2 hours, off and on. Here's the finished keyboard. It looks and works like new. I use it on 2 dual core machines via free software called "Mouse Without Borders". You can see more about that HERE


WB4IUY Portable 1996


I found this photo while going through a bunch of old pics... Back story: This is an old Atlas 210 radio and power supply, MFJ antenna tuner, paper  & watch for logging, a copy of my license, and a roll of wire. When travelling for work, I used to put all this in a gym bag and take it on the airplanes as carry-on luggage. I'd get the a hotel room the highest I could in the structure, and after dark, I'd deploy the antenna. I would tie a weight onto the end of my antenna wire, and slide the wire out the window and down the side of the building. I'd use other wire scattered around the room for counterpoise / rf ground, tune it up, and I was on the air. Very often I noticed a lot of interference on the TV systems...I don't know what that was :-)


Once, when boarding a commercial flight, i was pulled aside and asked to open and empty the bag. I opened the bag, explained it was portable radio gear, and said "I have a Federal License for this". When I showed them my license, they immediately and said " no problem, sir, carry on. :-) Those were the good ole' days, I doubt it that would work, today! 

I made a lot of great portable contacts on that setup, and I'm sure it helped keep me out of trouble while I was on the road for days at the timer. I miss that old Atlas. It wasn't really a great radio, but it sure was a load of fun! 


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Icom IC-211 PLL and Other Repairs...

 I've owned this Icom 211 for many years. I bought it from a friend back around 2008, and it's had a few issues over the last 13 years. To be fair, this is a mid-70's vintage rig, so some repairs are to be expected to a 45 year old radio :-)  

I leave this rig on 24/7, just so it's nice and stable when I get on 2m SSB. I came in the shack and realized it wouldn't transmit, and upon further inspection, I discovered it wouldn't receive, either. Oh well, off the table, and into the workshop it went. 

Once I got it on the bench, I realized the PLL wasn't locking up, so I began checking various voltages. I discovered the -9vdc supply was only about -7 volts, and by the time the -9vdc source made it to the PLL, it was only about -5.5vdc. I sub'd in a -9vdc source, and the rig fired up and ran. After a bit of poking around, I discovered a small choke that supplied 5vdc to the dc-to-dc converter that generates the -9vdc had failed and was only supplying about 3 volts to the converter. Once that was repaired, 5 vdc was supplied to the converter and it worked correctly. The 9vdc source was once again, as it should be. 

 The radio had been drifting more and more over the last year, and a quick thermal test with coolant and a heat gun revealed a small styrene capacitor in the PLL was failing, and once replace, it was solid and stable. Also, there was problems with the dial lights, and some noisy controls. 

On the bench, getting a good check-up.

I sampled the VCO to the freq counter via a .001 cap. Loading to the VCO wasn't too bad. 

This is where the 820pF styrene cap was located that caused all the drift...

This is the -9vdc dc-to-dc converter that caused the problem...

This is where I sampled the -9vdc that returned to the PLL...

While the radio was on the bench, I wanted to replace the meter lamps. I had some "warm white" LEDs to experiment with, from a string of LED Christmas lights. I discovered that 1000 ohms, 1/2 watt was about the right resistor value to bring the lamp to normal brilliance @ 20 mA or current, when powered from the 12vdc source. 

There's the Christmas lights I used. I'd break the clear part off, and the LED would slide right out. Easy to do, and you can buy a sting of these for $3-4 bucks. They're bright. You can see them in the meters of the radio, below. While the radio was on the workbench, it got a full alignment and is performing very well.