In my 2nd grade classroom, where the teacher, Mrs. Jeffers, provided something besides the usual puzzles and games for spare-time play. There were wires, light bulbs in porcelain sockets, knife switches, motors, buzzers, tools...and #6 dry cell batteries. Several of the boys and I couldn't finish our work fast enough and would have gladly skipped recess to be able to wire up new contraptions that often didn't work, but fascinated us nonetheless....
My name is Bob (Robert) Nickels and by the time I'd moved into junior high, I'd graduated to a different kind of bulb - the vacuum tubes that made radio possible. I'll tell more of my story on the blog here, but suffice it to say I'm a lifelong radio and electronics nut and what started in Mrs. Jeffers classroom has provided me with endless challenges, opportunities, and a career in the electronics industry, (I am now retired from Honeywell), and have the time and ability to indulge myself in my hobby full-time. I've been a licensed amateur radio operator since age 15, hold an Amateur Extra class license (W9RAN) and have been active on many bands and modes over the years. But no matter where I've lived or what's been going on in my life, I've never lost the fascination with making things, fixing them when they don't work, and playing radio.
This site reflects my wide-ranging interests and perspectives, from historian to author, experimenter, and developer of my own products under my business and technology consulting umbrella, RAN Technology Inc. It will be an eclectic mix but I'll try to make it worth your time to hang around and see what's new, because I know I will run out of time long before I ever run out of projects and ideas that I want to pursue. And there comes a time when it's time to share the knowledge, experience, and toys that have been acquired with others.
An "only 50 cents per watt" transceiver
Go Mobile! That was an attractive marketing message to 1960s era hams who were enjoying the fun of operating SSB mobile, and WRL knew a low-cost rig that didn't have to be hauled back and forth to the car would be a winner. Heathkit and Swan had already proven that with their single (mono) bander transceivers, but what if you're heading out in the middle of th... READ MORE
After the conclusion of World War II, there were only about 300 radio amateurs in Japan. In the year 1952, the JARL reported that only 30 provisional licenses were granted. Realizing the value of ham radio in developing a technological workforce, Japan introduced its entry level Class 4 licence in 1959 - it would prove to be the world's most succ... READ MORE
Every radio aficionado can recognize at least three notes of music: G-E-C - the famous NBC chimes!In fact there is so much history about the chimes it deserves it's own website, and someone has put a great deal of effort into creating one: The NBC Chimes Museum A Celebration Of Old–Time Radio’s Most Famous SignatureCLICK HERE TO VISIT THE NBC CHIMES MUSEUMIt is wel... READ MORE
A long-sought addition, enabling my mid-60s UK ham station
For many years I have wanted to add this cute little AM transmitter to my collection, but since it was never sold in the US, the number that came up for sale were few and far between. And there was usually a buddy waiting in line, or a reluctance for UK sellers to bother with the hassle of shipping to their former colony when local buyers were close to hand.However I&... READ MORE
Great fun from https://christmas.musetechnical.com/
How many got their start in radio with a Christmas gift? And how many times did it come from the Sears or Mongomery Ward "Christmas Wishbook"?Mine did...the little crystal radio in the upper right? Didn't work very well but was really cool! The Remco Crystal radio was memorialized in this photo from about 1958 - age 7: T... READ MORE
or similar Airdux-type coils
The B&W 850 is a kilowatt-rated tank assembly that was used in the company's linear amplifiers and sold as a component for many years. Unfortunately most of the plastics available were not capable of surviving for 50-70 years and thus have deteriorated to the point they no longer support the coil turns properly and must be repaired. Here's a typical example from... READ MORE
SSB pioneer company from Manitowoc, WI
Lakeshore Industries of Manitowoc WI was an early follower of Wes Schum and Central Electronics to supply single sideband transmitters to early adopters of the new mode in the mid-1950s. Both companies used the phasing method developed by Don Norgaard at General Electric and made popular through articles in QST, CQ, and GE Ham News. Like most companies, Lakeshore sought to c... READ MORE
How a crystal company reduced the number of crystals needed
I have always been intrigued by the International Crystal CB radios which had a unique appearance with a channel selector that resembled a telephone dial. The high end "Executive" models were big and expensive and sported an aluminum trim ring that no other radio had. So I had to buy one to play with. It was cheap, like $25 and ... READ MORE
from Missoula Montana to the northwest
Hams, especially those who enjoy operating AM and QRP should be aware of the pioneering efforts of the US Forest Service to adopt and advance the radio art in the early decades of the 20th century.The history of radio in the USFS literally takes a book to cover, but an interesting example can be found in station KBCX, the Region 1 Radio Operations Center in Missoula Montana. It w... READ MORE
ESM-ELINT receiver from the 1960s
Working on various vintages of equipment gives one a better appreciation for what we have today. Example - this is a frequency counter from the "HF Manual Receiver" which was part of a wideband surveillance receiving system that extended from VLF to microwave frequencies using a bank of front-ends to cover the range. It was designed as "ESM":... READ MORE