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.
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
A company that was part of ham radio for over 50 years
The internet knows a lot about ham radio history, but not so much about a company that everyone recognizes: The American Elecronic Company - AMECO.AMECO - American Electronics Co.; New York 53, N.Y (1950s).Manufacturer of HAM radio equipment.Also: AMECO - Division of Aerotron Inc., Raleigh, North Carolina (1968).Also: AMECO - Ameco Equipment Corp.; 178 Herricks Road Mineola, L.I. New Y... READ MORE
VERSA-TR makes it easy to play radio
I like to play radio! As a SWL and novice, I'd imagine owning different transmitters and receivers and now that I actually DO own many of them, it's fun to "mix and match" to put them on the air. That's mainly why I developed the VERSA-TR, which is an RF-sensing T/R and muting switch, so I could easily change out transmitters and receivers ... READ MORE
Navajo Code Talkers in the battle for Iwo Jima
The Code Talkers used native languages to send military messages before World War II. Choctaw, for example, was successfully used during World War I. But the Marine Corps needed an “unbreakable” code for its island-hopping campaign in the Pacific. Navajo, which was unwritten and known by few outside the tribe, seemed to fit the Corps’ requirements. Twenty-nine Navajos were recrui... READ MORE
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