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.
the story of W9XAM
Visitors to the Elgin National Historic area along the Fox River in Elgin Illinois may not realize they are at the site of a famous shortwave radio station - W9XAM - the time signal station operated by the Elgin Watch Company.Elgin was the only watch company maintaining an observatory that observed, recorded and broadcasted time from the stars correct to the hundredths of a second. Located a... READ MORE
Made in England and scarce even there
The Mosley CM-1 receiver is quite well known and not especially hard to find in the US even though it was the only radio produced by the company that has been well-known for antennas since 1939. Or is it...?A full-page ad (advert for you on the other side of the pond) appeared in the RSGB Bulletin in 1963 for a nice looking and very capable SSB transmitter called the "Commando II&... READ MORE
Producing electricity from flowing water
I'm not ready to publish a description of exactly HOW it works, but 20 minutes effort with scissors and tape produced a prototype Droplet Energy Generator that allows me to say for sure that IT WORKS!I duplicated the design shown in this video. I wrapped a scrap of plastic in aluminum foil, then applied a strip of double-sided tape and to that attached a piece of PTFE thread-... READ MORE
KØVTD and KØULQ (SK)
When I was first licensed in the 1960s in Nebraska, two groups of hams were commonly heard on the air before those with jobs got off work - other teens like me and the disabled hams. Some of my earliest Novice ham buddies were blind students at the Nebraska School for the Blind in Nebraska City, and there were many other visually-impaired hams, all of whom were exceptional operators, e... READ MORE
32V series, Vikings, etc
Old style mica capacitors were used in the pi-net matching sections of several vintage transmitters and the combination of age, heat, and high RF currents have made them likely failure items. My Collins 32V-2 transmitter was to the point where it would not properly load to full power on 75 meters so something had to be done. Mica capacitors are no longer made but fortunately new... READ MORE
Modify as needed
I found myself wanting to convert various frequencies to other frequencies and wanted a cheap and easy solution, so I designed a simple "universal converter" using the NE-602 and a programmable oscillator from Epson. I'd used the same combination in hundreds of "RANVerter" SDR Upconverter projects since my Dec. 2013 QST article and knew that while there were limitatio... READ MORE
It's always a challenge to hold PC boards during assemly and testing. After purchasing a magnetic holder from Amazon I realized I wanted more and could easily make as many as I wanted using inexpensive 3 mm hardware from eBay and some strong "fridge magnets". All that's needed is to epoxy a standoff to the magnet - both tapped and threaded ... READ MORE
Arduino code example
The Si5351 has been the biggest boon to homebrewers since the invention of the NE-602, especially now that quartz crystals are essentially obsolete. But it's redundant to run the output of the 5351 through a johnson counter to develop the quadrature signals required for QSD/QSE SDR front-ends when there are three clock outputs available and the IC allows for phase offsets. &nb... READ MORE
It's pretty well accepted that the Pacemaker was not EF Johnson's finest effort. In fact it was the first of several failed attempts by the King of the AM Transmitters to make the transition to SSB. In the end, it was the rise of CB popularity that kept the company viable, along with its component business, while their ham business gradually faced away. &... READ MORE
an unrivalled collection...
LTC William L. Howard amassed a collection and in fact realized his dream of creating a museum that showcased the Army's technical intelligence operations - and a lot more. The following excerpt was written by Col. Howard and Todd KA1KAQ:William L HowardI first got interested in radio while a Cub Scout back in 1954. I built the crystal radio set and the one tube set with help from an ama... READ MORE