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.
Vintage light aircraft radios repurposed
In the early days of aviation radio, transmissions originated from the ground using the longwave transmitter also used for homing, and pilots acknowledged by wagging their wings. It didn't take long to realize the benefits of having transmitting capability onboard the plane as well, and the first generation of aircraft radio used the low HF band. Given today's... READ MORE
I find the show-biz association of the founder of Allied Radio, Simon Wexler, to be rather fascinating. What started out as a supplier of crystal set parts led to a family that became a major force in the entertainment industry and in Chicago business...including many recognizable names:"Allied Radio (now known as Allied Electronics) is a company with a long history. On August 6, 1... READ MORE
Making crystals in midtown Manhattan during WWII
Hazard E. Reeves (1906-1986) may not be a household name, but his work is well known to every moviegoer. He was an American pioneer in sound and sound electronics, and introduced stereophonic sound for motion pictures. He met Fred Waller at the 1939 World's Fair and saw the potential of Waller's "Vitarama" system which he invested in and which soon became the mo... READ MORE
and the Globe Mobiline Six...
In his book "In Touch with Leo", the success and growing backlog of CB-100 orders is what drove Leo to his banker, Lou Ross, who asked him why he didn't anticipate the number of orders and required capital. Leo responded "Lou, never on God's green earth could I have believed such an influx of orders!". More funding was needed than the bank ... READ MORE
Do harmonics matter if there's no way for them to be heard?
In the 5 or so years I've been using the Epson oscillators I've looked at the spectral output many times. Without a doubt the harmonic output from the Epson oscillator is high as would be expected from a square wave device. The question to me has always been "does it matter"?PLL controlled digital oscillators have long been used as LOs in recei... READ MORE
aka "Razor Blade and Safety Pin Radio"...from the Boy's Fun Book
When I was a kid, my dad gave me a thin hardcover book called "Boys Fun Book - Things to Make and Do". It was printed during WWII on very thin paper as a wartime conservation measure, but was chock-full of interesting projects, ranging from hobbies and magic tricks to sports, puzzles, camping...and the chapter I was drawn to: "Unusual Radios You Can Build You... READ MORE
Modern-day solutions for RF part obsolescence
As anyone who likes building radios knows, it's getting harder and harder to buy RF components. One of the last casualties was the 3-section pi-wound RF chokes made by Hammond, a company that has done more than most to support the vintage radio and audio hobbies. The Toko variable inductors long favored by QRP enthuisiasts have become all but unavailable, and vari... READ MORE
A native of my town, Freeport IL
The following obituary appeared in the Freeport Journal-Standard on Febr. 9, 2019. I attended a lecture by Mr. Anderson in the late 1990s after moving to Freeport and working for Honeywell where despite being a supplier to DEC, few realized the local connection existed to the founder of what once was the second-largest computer company in the world. Mr. Anderso... READ MORE
“When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
A Heathkit HW-12 gave me a troubleshooting challenge the likes of which I've not seen before - or even heard of!A few days ago the transmitter wouldn't produce output, and in checking voltages and I measured -75 volts on the ALC line which should be -20. But it corrected itself and I figured it must have been a solder splash or something that cleared by itself. That theor... READ MORE