Bruce’s Bench 2010
December 5, 2010 – W1UJR Podcast Site Debuts
I just got the W1UJR Podcast site on-line, from which I’ll be hosting various audio and video files related to radio, and radio operators.
While radio is in and of itself primarily a auditory medium, it is the interactions with other hams which add the ever so rich dimensions to the amateur service.
Over the years I’ve been privileged to see meet some very interesting, very gracious and frankly some unforgettable folks. Many of these are now ‘silent keys’, having passed onto their reward.
I’ve tried to document this as much as possible, many brother hams have kindly sent over tapes and CD-ROMS, and I’ve been fortunate to capture many QSOs in my own library. Over this winter I’ll be working on getting the tape archives complied and converted so they can be listened to or even downloaded over the internet. Just click on the left menu tab on my home page, or click on photo below, for those who like thing diffcult – look for the site at the rather long and unmemorable –>>www.web.me.com/brucehowes/W1UJR/W1UJR_Ham_Radio_Podcast
November 21, 2010 – Johnson Viking Adventurer and Speech Amp/Modulator
I acquired this rig back at 1998 at the Rochester, NY ham fest. The ham fest was memorable to me for two reasons,first, we ran a AM Special Event Station, using a Collins KW-1 from the back of the truck, thanks to Tim WA1HLR, Bill K2LNU, Jerry N2QLS and Tom W2KBW, second because a fellow came up and asked if I’d like to buy a Johnson transmitter which he had found in the basement of a family member (grandfather?). I gladly said yes, and very nice little Johnson Adventurer was soon on the tailgate of the truck, in its original box! On went life and the little TX got stashed away when I moved
to Maine in 2001. I thought of that transmitter from time to time, and somewhere along the way picked up the matchingplug in modulator. Finally, tonight, after 12 years of waiting, that transmitter and modulator had its maiden voyage.
Along the way I found I had to replace the two electrolytic caps in the transmitter, and also replace the meter movement.The cheap Surrite meter left much to be desired, and Johnson offered a replacement meter, with improved dampening, but I don’t think I’ll be lucky to stumble across one of those. So with the aid of another Surrite meter, a 300ma job,I was able to fix mine for testing purposes. I’m still looking for one of these meters in the 200ma variety, should you have one, by all means please let me know. Interested in hearing from other Adventurer users out there, or even setting up a sked.
November 21, 2010 – Tesla Coil Plans – 1968 Popular Electronics “Do-it-yourself encyclopedia”
I first saw this article back when I was but a young JN, never built it, always have been fascinated with
the thought of building this coil, and Tesla coils in general since. For many years the book series was in
storage, now its safely in Maine, this may just come to pass! If you have built this coil, would greatly
like to hear from you! Thanks!
November 20, 2010 – Larry NE1S’s Homebrew Tesla Coil
Another of Larry’s amazing homebrew creations, a very strapping Tesla coil,
producing fully 3-4″ streamers! You can almost smell the ozone!
To give you an idea of just how fine a builder Larry is, see the
NE1S gift page www.w1ujr.net/gift_from_ne1s.htm.
November 16, 2010 – CQD – The Marconi Distress Call
I first saw this photo when visiting the Massie Station at the New England Museum of Wireless and Steam back in
October. I found it a most haunting image, imagine a lonely radio operator calling CQD being the last best hope
on a ship about to sink far out at sea. CQD is one of the first distress signals adopted for radio use. It was announced
on January 7, 1904, and became effective, for Marconi installations, beginning February 1, 1904.
Traditionally “CQ” was adopted as a “general call” for maritime radio use. However, there was no general emergency signal,
so the Marconi company added a “D” to CQ in order to create its own distress call. Thus, “CQD” is understood by wireless
operators to mean, “All stations: distress.” Contrary to popular belief, CQD does not stand for “Come Quick, Danger”,
“Come Quickly Distress”, or “Come Quick – Drowning!”.
By February 1904, the Marconi Wireless Company required all of its operators to use ‘CQD’ for a ship in distress, or requiring
URGENT assistance. In the early morning of January 23, 1909, whilst sailing into New York from Liverpool, RMS Republic collided
with the Italian liner SS Florida in fog off the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, United States. Radio Operator Jack Binns sent
the CQD distress signal by wireless transmission. His was the most famous use and rescue using wireless prior to the RMS Titanic.
A wonderful movie, “Rescue At Sea” was released by PBS about Republic/Florida collision, and both Binns and the new wireless
were the star, and I think you will find it well worth the watch should you stumble across it, see www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/rescue.
November 15, 2010 – Royal Order Of The Wouff Hong
Most hams know the story of the Wouff Hong, but in case you do not, you might want to take a look
at my Wouff Hong page at www.w1ujr.net/wouff-hong.htm. I’ll repeat the basics here:
Beginning in 1917, stories by an anonymous writer using the pseudonym “The Old Man”, or “T.O.M.” began to appear in the American Radio Relay League’s (ARRL) monthly publication QST. Titled the “Rotten Radio” series, seewww.w1ujr.net/rotten_radio_series.htm the author harshly assailed and exposed the poor operating practices of the day with caustic satire and humor. It was in one of these stories, entitled “Rotten QRM”, that T.O.M. blasted the gibberish he’d overheard in one particular QSO, citing as an example the words “wouff hong”, which apparently was either a concocted abbreviation, or someone’s poor attempt at sending.
At the time of the articles T.O.M. did not know what a Wouff-Hong was, but he later adopted it as a disciplinary object with which to both flail bad operating practices and inflict punishment on the perpetrators. It is said that in the following era he had, tongue in cheek, proposed its use as an instrument of torture and discipline, to maintain decency and order in the ham radio community.
November 9, 2010 – Borden Radio Company – Armstrong RX Kit
Somehow I had neglected to post this fun little kit on the 2009 Bruce’s Bench page, I’ve since updated it,
but you can also view it here. This was certainly a fun little project, easy build, and it works great!
The wooden base comes unfinished, but I painted it back for that “old time” look.
Probably the most challenging part of the entire build was neatly winding the coil, but after a few minutes of
practice, even that was enjoyable. Over the years I have built a number of the iconic Radio Shack “P-Box” kits
while growing, up, can’t find much in the way of entry level kits today. Have built the Elecraft K1, KX1 and K2 kits
and enjoyed very minute of it, but I really had a great time with this regen kit. Check out Lance’s company
and website, www.xtalman.com.
November 6, 2010 – Radio Art – A Collection Of Magazine And Catalog Covers
I’ve added a new page to the site, you can find it at www.w1ujr.net/radio_art.htm, focusing on the early magazine covers
and catalogs of the radio trade. In the early, some may say golden days of radio, both magazines and catalogs were full
of marvelous colored illustrations and artwork, often about the latest radio personality, discovery or circuit. Early issues
of Radio News in particular were known for their creative and often humorous covers. Over the years I’ve saved a number
of these images, both from my own collection, as well as from the internet. Unfortunately, due to the high acid content
in the paper used during that era, many of the covers are faded, and many of the colors have lost their former vibrancy.
Nevertheless I present these as a look back on the past, before the days of computers, when the proverbial mind’s eye
was the tool most illustrators drew upon.
November 1, 2010 – A Trip Downeast And Some Neat Finds
Added another Gross Eagle receiver to the collection of Gross gear, this one is not in too bad of shape, knobs
have been changed, and odd labels applied to the front, but otherwise quite interesting. Not even sure if I
am going to remove the labels, they are part of the set’s history. The best part was that I finally obtained
an original Gross instruction sheet for the Eagle, worn and weary as it is. A scan of this interesting
documentation below, and it can also be found on my Gross Radio page.
On the trip to Stonington, Maine last weekend, had an excellent sunset photo shot, and also ran across a fellow
selling “tube radios”, or so said the sign on his mailbox. A stop by netted me two nice horn speakers, a nice
Burns 205D American Electric with a flower pedal shaped horn, and super clean RCA UZ1375. Also found
a Edison cylinder record for my friend Larry, original carton, just the packaging looks neat!
For photo purposes I’ve placed the speakers next to the Gross rig.
October 1, 2010 – The Proper Way To Pack A Radio For Shipping
I’ve been meaning to post this for some time, ever since I received the Doerle set from
Greg Gore WA1KBQ a few months back. I’ve both send and received a large number of radio
items over the years, and I must say that Greg’s packing is second to none!
Sadly, folks often don’t pack items well enough to survive transport, then the
shipper, be it UPS, USPS or FedEx takes the heat for a inadequate packing job.
I once had a very nice Patterson PR-10 sent to me from the west coast, and all
the seller did was throw it in a box of Styrofoam peanuts for the trip!
For the Doerle set, Greg removed each tube and coil, wrapped it with bubble wrap,
and inserted crushed paper inside the chassis to prevent it from bending under compression
or weight of another package. Just a note here, bubble wrap and plenty of it is the best
packing I have seen. Unlike Styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap does not crush down,
and multiple layers of bubble wrap make an excellent cushion. The complete chassis
then encased with bubble wrap, individually wrapping the power plug to protect both it
and the set from damage. Finally he packed it in the “box within a box” approach,
with plenty of firm foam padding to properly protect the contents.
Sure it takes time, and cost money for materials to do this, but they aren’t
making 1930s era radio gear any more, and don’t we owe it to future generations
to be the caretakers of this gear?
September 25, 2010 – KG8FA Regen Set – Found After A 10 Year Hiatus!
As I’ve noted in earlier posts, I’ve really turned my focus to the very early regenerative receiver sets,
their simplicity of design and function just fascinates me, and also appeals to my minimalist nature.
It’s easy to imagine some young ham, huddled in the warmth of his parents attic, just finishing up
one of these sets, freshly built from the plans in Radio News, eagerly trying it out on a blustery winter night.
As the howls of the wind outside mix with the howls of the regen in the headphones, he’s fascinated, drawn deeply
into a world he never knew existed outside his small hometown. Voices with a foreign accent, snippets of music,
the sharp staccato clicks of a distant brother ham sending CW…oh those were the days….
In any case, some years, back, in the early days right after I got my ham ticket, I attended one
of the AWA Conferences in Rochester, NY. While prowling about the outside radio market, I came across a very
nicely constructed regen receiver, which I promptly bought, took home and played with for hours.
The set was built my Ralph Michelson KG8FA, and the construction is really top notch, and best of all, and this most
unusual for a homebrew design, Ralph did some very nice documentation on the set, supplying both the schematic and parts list.
The seller explained that he had bought it during the previous year’s AWA Auction but found he did not use it much.
I was soon to move out of NY for the state of Maine, about 90% of my radio items, including this neat little set,
were packed away in storage for the better part of nearly 10 years.
I was therefore delighted to come across this little set when I finally had my items moved up to
Maine. While unpacking boxes inside a 40′ shipping container, I had four items on my “must find”
list, and this little set was number one. Finding the set, I hurried home, plugged it and listened to the
melodious strains of shortwave broadcasts emanate from the set of vintage cans (headphones) which
I had placed on my head. Just as I remembered it.
Now that I have the set working, I’d really like to look up Ralph.
I understand that he often built sets to be entered into the AWA Auction, with the proceeds benefiting the organization.
I attempted to contact him using the email address listed on QRZ, but that address is no longer functional.
If you have any additional information on KG8FA, or own one of his other sets, by all means I’d enjoy hearing from you.
Aug 8, 2010 – The Doerle Electrified Signal Gripper
I’ve been fascinated with the regen sets for some time, and the Doerle series since I acquired the
little Doerle set at the Westford Radio Meet in February of this year. So it was with great delight
that I found a wonderful little Doerle set being offered recently on eBay. But this was no homemade
set, this appears to have actually been a kit offering from Hugo Gernsback’s legendry Radio Trading Company.
I have details more on my Doerle set page, but in the meantime I’ll let the seller, Greg Gore, tell the tale:
“If you have poured over Radio-Craft or Short-Wave Craft magazines from the 1930’s you have no doubt read of the
excitement, adventure and romance that was stirred then by these receivers in the hearts of practically anyone interested
in shortwave at the time. Radio Row’s Greenwich and Cortlandt Streets located in Manhattan’s southern tip were famous for
busy little short-wave shops and bargain stores then and Hugo Gernsback’s Radio Trading Company was perhaps the best
known of them all.”
May 8-9, 2010 – Reassembly of the Lafayette PB-46 RF Deck – Finally!
Where has the time gone? Disassembled this transmitter RF deck last September for
cleaning and service, and just now got around to putting it back together. Seems the
workflow on the old workbench has slowed down a bit, a combination of the nice
spring weather, and other projects. So have been a bit slow posting updates.
Thank goodness for digital photos, have learned to take countless digital shots
before the teardown, really helps with lead dress and placement during reassembly.
Unlike my previous efforts with the W1FPZ and Gross transmitters, I decided to clean and
service this rig, rather than teardown and refinish. Keeps the original “patina”, and frankly
was in such excellent shape it really didn’t need much. Seems the biggest challenge was with
the cambric insulation sleeves, its pretty fragile after nearly 80 years. If anyone has any of
the old time cambric insulation sleeves available, I sure could use a 6 feet or so.
There are two other decks to this rig, the modulator and the output network, both similar
size panels to this deck, but significantly less complex. Hope to get this up, working and
documented for the AWA Conference this fall. More about this rig can be found at on my
2009 Bruce’s Bench page, look around the September timeframe.
March 5-6, 2010 – Building The Pastime Projects 6V6 Rig
On the suggestion of my good friend Larry NE1S, I ordered a neat little transmitter kit
from the good folks at Pastime Projects. Glenn NN8G promptly shipped the kit and it was
soon in my hands and out on the workbench. I was quite impressed with the kit, which is
based on a QST article from December 1946, page 33 to 35. The article is entitled
“The Most Inexpensive Transmitter, A Complete Crystal Oscillator for $3.95,”
and was written by Byron Goodman, W1DX.
As far as the Pastime kit, Glenn’s documentation and drawings are excellent, and are written
so even a beginner would have little problem with assembly. A drill press is ideal to drill
and countersink the holes, but with some care, one could manage the woodwork with a hand drill.
The wooden slats and base, onto which the rig is built, are oak wood, and nicely finished.
The wood can be left as is, or as in my case finished with a wood stain. I’ll have more on my
Pastime TX page, and will continue to update with reports when I get it on the air.
I took my time on this one, drilling and staining the wooden chassis with a cherry finish.
All in all it took me about 4 nights to finish, at a very leisurely pace while listening to shortwave
broadcasts on the National HRO-50. I’d highly recommend this kit as fun and enjoyable way to get your
feet wet with building, or if you want to recreate a fun TX to use on the air! The price of the set is quite
reasonable, and Glenn even offers a companion power supply kit which can be used with the rig, or
with many other low power rigs. John Dilks K2TQN has an nice review of the kit on his excellent
website, located at http://www.eht.com/oldradio/arrl/2008-01/classic-xmtr-kit.htm.
March 20, 2010 – A Visit To W8MNQ – At The “Bottom of Lake Huron”
I traveled to “the bottom of Port Huron”, MI to meet my friend Bob W8MNQ.
Bob was a most genteel host, giving us the tour of his home, station, the Thomas Edison museum, and
Port Huron proper. We enjoyed lunch at the Thomas Edison Inn, just as a large – 1,004 feet, lake freighter
was making its way up the channel, quite a sight!
It was a most memorable day, and despite the cold and threatened snow, the fellowship
was very warm. Unfortunately, the goat that gave chocolate milk was not sighted during this visit.
We parted close to 5PM, and look forward to another visit with our friend from the bottom of the lake.
February 21, 2010 – Vintage QSL Cards From Westford
Neat set of cards, really got a kick out of the “Chair Warmers Club” card, a group of early handicapped hams,
W8SU has more information on this group at http://hamgallery.com/Tribute/CWC. The W9UA and W9BSP card
is from the famous station of Marshall and Loretta Ensor, for more info see http://www.ensorparkandmuseum.org.
W1CJD is “Gil” Gildersleeve, the famous artist of hundreds of QST cartoons, see http://oldqslcards.com/W1CJD.pdf.
I found the W8CFD card fascinating, appears to the photo show a young ham, along with the caption of
“”Believe It or Not” — That’s me over there….”. I looked up Wilven Hagerty of Honesdale, PA, not much found using
Google, seems the 81 passing years have largely erased the traces of this fellow. I found the W8ECA and W3HVD cards
quite interesting, I have soft spot for cards which appear to be homemade. The W8ECA card in particular looks like
someone colored it in with crayons! The other cards for areas near where I grew up – Walton and Norwich, NY
or cities where I once lived, Buffalo, NY.
February 19, 2010 – Doerle Regen Set From The Westford Meet
I picked up this set at the radio meet last Sunday in Boston…along with a wicked sinus cold.
Suspect its a reproduction, but looking for info. I know that Doerle was the name given to a
series of sets based on a design by gentlemen of that name from Oakland, CA. and that the
“Two~ER” appears to refer to his design using a pair of type 30 tubes. Clearly this a regen receiver,
but that’s about all I know. I did see this very same set at last years radio meet, its been kicking around for a while.
The front panel is metal, appears to be aluminum, and the chassis is a stained and varnished
wooden breadboard. The wooden breadboard is interesting, has labels on the wood, appear
to be painted or decal, listing connection points. The feed through bushings, where the wire go
from the top of the chassis to the bottom are hollow metal material, flared on the ends for retention.
The bus wire is square in cross section, and the insulated wire is of the older type with spaghetti
The front of the front panel is labeled as “Doerle TWO~ER”.
Below this, about 2/3 of the way down the panel, is a label which read “CHI-RAD”.
There is a sticker on the rear of the front panel listing:
Chicago Radio Apparatus Co.
415 S. Dearborn St., Dept. S-43
There is another label near of the bottom on the back of the front panel, but can not be read,
appears to have been partially removed, or perhaps the adhesive has come loose.
The set uses, or currently has installed, a pair of Westinghouse 230 tubes, one of which has a test label dated 1931.
The tube sockets are marked “Pacent” and seem to have some sort of adjustment mechanism?
I am thinking that this was some sort of kit offered by Chicago Radio, but don’t know the vintage.
Of course, it might be a very well built reproduction unit. I would be most interested in information about the origin of this set.
February 14, 2010 – Westford Radio Meet Photos
Lots and fun and fellowship once again at the annual Westford, MA radio meet. Almost as fun as the radio meet, was a great lunch at Mysore Indian Veggie Restaurant in Lowell, MA.
Excellent food, outstanding service, not a bad way to spend Valentine’s Day! Photos of the group below, along with
some of the eye candy at the show. In these days of dwinding radio meets, t was great to see the meet about
the same, or perhaps even larger than last year!
|The haul from Westford|
|Lots of wooden radios and books||Some interesting consoles|
|Main room||More main room|
|Wonderful Grebe watercolor ad||Neat sign|
|Ray Chase at his table||Ray W1RY at his table|
|Nice Grebe Syncrophase set||More wooden radios|
January 15, 2010 – Karas Harmonik Audio Xfomer Found
Thanks to the kindness of a brother ham, I found the perfect
xformer for my regen set kit. It tests good out of circuit, and even
came with the original box! What a pretty vintage radio part, currently
looking for more Karas items.
January 1, 2010 – Happy New Year
Think that those of us in the northeast, especially New England, can relate
to this poor fellow’s task! Appropriately titled “A Broadcast Engineer’s Christmas”.
Why is it that antennas always play better when they are installed in the middle of the deep winter!