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.
a great "first homebrew xmtr" project
Jay Miller KK5IM recently wrote an article in Electric Radio magazine about fulfilling his dream of building a homebrew "AM Kilowatt" transmitter (375 watts output by today's standards). His crystal-controlled exciter that drive the 813 was based on his Novice transmitter, which was built by his grand-uncle back in the 1960s when Novice class hams were l... READ MORE
Previously undocumented phenomenon
Micro SDR innovator Guido PE1NNZ has implemented polar modulation using an Arduino MCU and a class E PA. For more informartion on this fascinating project, join the discussion group at https://groups.io/g/ucxInitially, Guido's design implemented the polar or EER modulation scheme using modifications to the QCX CW transceiver hardware in the traditional way as described by Leonard K... READ MORE
a seldom-seen cutie from the golden age
I'm always intrigued by the odd and unusual ham gear that I remember seeing in catalogs as a kid but have seldom seen after hundreds of hamfests and uncountable for sale listings. One such is the Lysco mobile transmitter which was produced by the Lysco Manufacturing Company of 1401 Clinton St. Hoboken NJ between 1949 and 1953. Despite being a very cute and co... READ MORE
the result of experiments with high efficiency class E amplifiers
There is a lot of misunderstanding about how a Class E amplifier works. Including my own ;-) As the result of studying the literature and experimenting, I thought I'd share what I have learned.Below is an example of a test amplifier I used to optimize my 2 watt wspr transmitter boards. It can be visualized as two circuits - the amplifier itself a... READ MORE
from the Boy's Fun Book
Seeing this article on Hackaday about how a guy in China made a crystal set using the diode in a chip credit card for the detector reminded me of the Postcard Radio. It was a project in the WWII-era "Boys Fun Book" that I had as a kid and although I remember it well I had no reason to build one because who would want to mail a radio to someone else? I did ma... READ MORE
A nice crystal-controlled SSB oddball radio
What can I say, I like oddball radios! There was already a different version of this CAI SSB-125 on my shelf but it had the remote control head, and this one was cheap, well under $100 including shipping, and I'm easily amused. VIDEO DEMO HERECommunications Associates Inc. was a supplier of commercial, military, and marine radios based in Huntington Station, ... READ MORE
Made of command set parts!
The HW-16 had to be pushed aside while waiting for parts, creating an opening just big enough for the homebrew receiver I got recently via eBay for $18.50 - plus 2X that to ship it here. I like saving and restoring old homebrew gear just out of respect for the amount of time and effort our forefathers put into making things from scratch, and this receiver intrigued me, as the IF transf... READ MORE
Multi Elmac's first products
The Multi Elmac Company of Hazel Park and later, Oak Park MI is best know amongst hams for it's great mobile transmitters and receivers which were probably the most popular rigs of their type and are still often used on AM today. The Multi Elmac Net pays tribute to these little rigs by and typically a half-dozen or more are heard on the net weekly.But the company's origin... READ MORE
a lesser-known radio "first"
WHEN Frederick Wally stepped out of a little cubby-hole in one corner of the forward day coach on the Lackawanna Limited, west-bound, as it neared North Scranton, Pennsylvania, Tuesday, November 25, 1913, and pinned a sheet of paper on the wall, the passengers in the front seats, who had been casually wondering what caused the strange, crackling sounds that had been coming from the cubby-hole, pri... READ MORE
Dentron MLX-MINI gets some boots
The Dentron MLX-MINII thought it would be cool to use the Dentron MLX-MINI on the Saturday Vintage Sideband Net but it's a little marginal since the rule is "no tubes, go home!". However hybrid rigs are allowed, and Special Dispensation is given for rigs with Red LEDs. So I thought the MLX was double-qualifed - even more so after I realized t... READ MORE