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.
Can you help solve the mystery?
Faust Gonsett started the Sideband Engineers (SBE) company in 1962 and introduced their first product, the SB-33 four-band transceiver with a two-page ad in 73 magazine for February 1963 that featured his mugshot on the left page and the introductory ad for the SB-33 on the right. He talks about how he came out of retirement to start this new company in response to many requests but do... READ MORE
SDR cures receive sensitivity problem
Well known radio repair guru and AM fan Jeff Covelli WA8SAJ of Cleveland OH wanted better receiving performance than his stock Nouveau 75 AM transceiver provided - and the VERSA-TR came to the rescue. Jeff decided he preferred having the board mounted in an enclosure with connectors and the photos show his approach. The VERSA-TR automatically switches the antenna from his S... READ MORE
A three-band self-contained SSB rig
Ernie Mason, W6IQY, of San Diego CA was a prolific designer and builder of SSB equipment over many years. Mostly self-taught in electronics through his ham radio experience, Ernie began working in IBM's Field Engineering organization where he rose into the management ranks, but defying the odds, was able to stay in at his adopted San Diego home town. H... READ MORE
Making my work area suit me rather than vice versa
Like most of those reading this, I've upgraded and added to my test equipment inventory over the years, starting with the Heathkit VTVM I built when I was 15 or so. There's no "right" piece of equipment, just personal preferences, and while I'd be the first to say my work habits are anything but "right" they are what they are, and I'm old enoug... READ MORE
Life on the (Radio) Range at Medicine Bow WY in the 1930s
Most vintage radio enthusiasts are aware of how intertwined the development of radio and aviation were. Many still enjoy using low frequency receivers and DX-ing the "beacon band" which was a key element of the first generation of aviation radio and navigation. Before there were radio beacons, pilots depended on visual beacons - the flashing (rotating) light... READ MORE
Founder and humble scribe for the Five Meter Liberation Army!
Michael Hopkins AB5L is fondly remembered by early denizens of the internet and specifically the "Boatanchors at the Porch" mail reflector. A truly unique individual, Michael made the internet a happier place through his eclectic interests (ranging from Tecraft converters to ferrets) and his wonderful imagination and storytelling ability. Through his writing, we le... READ MORE
Bev Becker WØWDC
This all started when I discovered a fantastic collection of vintage photo QSL cards on a Google+ site – I’d encourage every ham to spend some time looking through this amazing bit of history: https://plus.google.com/115747543308902188110The photos capture a wide range of ham gear and stations from the spark era through the 70’s, and nearly every picture trigger... READ MORE
CRC Hydrorforce Industrial Degreaser
I have no interest or affiliation with the company and discovered this product when I was looking for a good degreaser to clean my jukebox. IT IS THE BEST!I like data, so I put confidence in the test results that can be viewed in the infographic below.I also like RESULTS and this stuff delivers. Greasy dirt and grime are instantly dissolved and wipe away. You ca... READ MORE
AC power supply for the A54
Some pieces of vintage ham gear are not really unique, but are so rare as to almost never be seen. The Multi Elmac PS-500 power supply is an example, it was sold as an AC power supply for the A54 and A54H transmitters in the mid-50s. There's nothing special about it - just a big transformer with 5 volt rectifier, 6.3 volt filament, and 500 volt secondaries. Two nice chok... READ MORE
a new AM QRP transceiver from the 4SQRP group
Mini-review of the Nouveau 75 by W9RANI like it, warts and all!OK, maybe not quite that "mini"...here's a few of my impressions of this innovative kit from the 4 State QRP Group.I've been interested in amplitude modulation of a class E PA for some time and after Dave Cripe said to stay tuned for the next 4SQRP offering, I wasn't too surprised to see what it was, and bought on... READ MORE