RAN Technology

Robert and Richard Santin - true ham heroes

Historic 0 Comments 03/21/2022 


Posted By: Robert Nickels (ranickels)

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, especially on CW where their fine-tuned hearing was an asset.

But another group of physically handicapped hams were often on 75 meters during the day, even forming their own 3PM net they called "The Dead End Net".    Two of the most memorable were twins Bob KØVTD and Rich KØULQ Santin of Fullerton, Nebraska who were afflicted with muscular dystrophy and confined to wheelchairs.   Their Swan 400 was often run in VOX mode where if you struck up a conversation with one, you would likely hear the other twin offering his comments as they were inseparable.    Both had severe physical limitations - only Bob had limited use of his arms, but they possessed keen minds that were kept sharp by devouring all the books they could obtain.  Rich had an almost photographic memory and would be heard telling hams where to measure and what to look for troubleshooting their rigs from memory after having studied the schematics.    Their knowledge of electronics resulted in local citizens bringing them items to repair and this led to their ambition to go into business for themselves.

Despite all the barriers they faced, the brothers started Santin Two-Way Communications and with the help of one young assistant and a specially-equipped van, they successfully competed for business throughout the state.   They were awarded a franchise by EF Johnson for their land-mobile radios - a connection no doubt that was fostered by the twin's ham radio background.   Their success brought national attention,  and in 1971 Robert and Richard Santin were awarded the honor of "Handicapped Americans of the Year".   They travelled to Washington DC for the ceremony and even met President Richard M. Nixon.   Governor James Exon awarded them the Nebraska Handicapped Employment award that year as well.  Their sister Marilyn also obtained a ham license and travelled all over the world as a teacher before passing away in 2003.

Their story of courage and determination needed to be told, and there probably aren't too many of us left who knew them as young men who despite being confined to wheelchairs, could run mental circles around many and towered over most hams technically.     The books that chronicled their lives that were published in the 70s have now been digitized so I can share their stories,  and I encourage everyone to read the pages below - click any image to expand it to full size in your browser for easier reading.     Then pause and reflect for a minute about how fortunate most of us are.

The terrible disease of Muscular Dystrophy is still with us, and Bob became the first to succumb in Nov. 1974.   His brother Rich lasted two more years, becoming a silent key in July of 1976.   I can still hear the voice of "K Zero Victor Tango Delta" as if he were sitting here, and Rich's technical guidance to some ham trying to fix a Galaxy or Swan just as clearly.    To say they made an impression on this young ham would be an understatement.   RIP Bob and Rich, and I hope others are inspired by your story.

    Most radio fans know the history of KDKA  but maybe not "the rest of the story".In November 1920 the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company began operation of a radio broadcasting station, KDKA, in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, often described as the "Pioneer Broadcasting Station of the World."  KDKA is generally considered to be the first commercially...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  09/09/2022 
   The microwave network constructed by AT&T Long Lines and other telecommunications companies in the past 50 years were engineering masterpieces using state-of-the-art technologies and some were designed to withstand nuclear attack during that Cold War era.     This is a non-hardened site on top of a mountain in upstate New York that existed long enough for graffiti taggers t...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  09/08/2022 

The Pioneer 530

made by JAARS for Wycliffe Bible Translators
Category: Vintage Ham Radio
In 1917 a missionary named William Cameron Townsend went to Guatemala to sell Spanish Bibles. But he was shocked when many people couldn’t understand the books. They spoke Cakchiquel, a language without a Bible.   He believed everyone should understand the Bible, so he started a linguistics school (the Summer Institute of Linguistics, known today as SIL) that trained people to do Bible ...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  07/02/2022 
    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
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  05/09/2022 

The Mosley Commando II

Made in England and scarce even there
Category: Vintage Ham Radio
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
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  04/15/2022 
   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
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  03/30/2022 
   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
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  03/19/2022 
   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
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  03/17/2022 
   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
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  03/09/2022 

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