Old radio broadcast equipment

Originally published at: Old radio broadcast equipment | Boing Boing


Come in handy after the rapture.

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do you ever watch the hainbach channel over at youtube? seems like he has some things going you’d probably like.


When you’re my age it’s not “old stuff”, it’s just stuff …


For some nice old British radio broadcasting kit the Old BBC Radio Broadcasting Equipment and Memories site is very comprehensive.

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My ex-FiL did HAM radio. Kinda neat stuff. Sort of like IRC before IRC.

Yeah, there are still a fair number of amateur radio operators using tube transmitters, up to 1,500 watts. Not as big as some of the commercial radio transmitters, but still powerful enough that operators are required by the FCC to do assessments of the RF output of their rigs to insure it doesn’t exceed the maximum permissible exposure limit for people in the vicinity of the equipment or antennas. The MPE limit varies by frequency.

The old tube gear can be heavy and bulky. There is a ham radio Facebook group specifically for tube powered “boat anchors”.

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Here’s Mr. Carlson demonstrating an old Gates AM broadcast transmitter. There are quite o few old AM BC transmitters still on the air, used by hams on bands close to the AM BC band . (Mr. Carlson is a ham and uses his on the air. ) If you listen around 3.885 Mhz you may hear one (even if it’s AM, it’s more likely to be old ham equipment than BC, but if you hear a wideband well modulated signal listen for a bit and you may hear what type of equipment you’re listening to, or just google the callsign you hear and you’ll probably see a personal page … )


I’m an AE, so I’m legally allowed to use a modified transmitter like the one in the video, or even to build one from scratch and use it . But in practical terms, I’m so not qualified to use big tube gear like that. HV still scares the crap out of me. Made me nervous just watching him give his tour of the inside of the cabinet even though it is obvious he’s expert in the equipment.


Yeah, that “inside tour” was a little hair raising; probably not a good idea :slight_smile: I’ve used tube gear (I had a Kenwood R599/T599 in the '80s) at the 100 watt level but transistorized equipment is much more friendly. That said, vacuum tubes for RF at the amateur level typically have better IMD performance than transistors so they’re still relevant.


If my in-laws hadn’t moved 1000 miles away from their only granddaughter, I would have looked forward to her maybe getting her license for it one day.

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Well, with HF and the right propagation it could work, some of the time, maybe. :slight_smile:

Prepers often ask in ham forums “I need to reliably communicate to my family, on the other side of this big remote mountain, 250 miles away. What walkie talkie do I need to buy?” Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. Even with base station HF gear and proper antennas for near vertical incidence skywave transmission, it’s still iffy. And ham radio isn’t persistent.

Ham radio is sufficiently inefficient and unreliable long distance communication that most hams talk to each other more on the internet about using their radios than they do using their radios. :smiley:


we’re already post rapture. god took bowie and prince, nobody else qualified

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When I first became interested in ham radio (the 1960s) that was actually a general motivator: the cost of phone calls was exorbitant at the time. My family even did cassette recordings back and forth in the mail just to hear familiar voices. I had people I wanted to talk to across the country (Canada) that were licensed or could be (my Dad knew Morse code and had the technical knowledge to pass the test) but I quickly discovered it wasn’t really practical even then. My brother in law living in Scarborough had a station, but with the antenna he could put up in a tiny backyard I never heard him on the other side of the Rockies :slight_smile: There have been times where ham systems were superior to the PSTN: late '60s to mid '80s for instance, with handheld FM ‘walkie talkies’ and repeaters with autopatch which effectively presaged cell networks.

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With digital modes like DMR and “hotspots” to patch DMR HTs through the internet to other “hotspots”, you can use ham as a really awkward, hard to program cell network with a very limited number of towers. I still like the opportunities ham has as a hobby, but for practical communications, cell phones are way better. And as far as emergencies go, I don’t trust any particular repeaters to but up. And definitely not digital radio modes that have to go through two “hotspots” and the internet.

But VHF plus a repeater gives excellent local area service. So… maybe a nice reminder that we live in society, and do better when we work together than when we try to be rugged individualists.

My grandparents used to go visit a ham in San Mateo to talk on HF to their daughter (my aunt) who was teaching in Okinawa in the 1970’s.

Ham radio training (free and high quality, with an impeccable testing and license system) also helped me prove that I knew radios for a job that required that (humanitarian aid logistics).

Thank you hams!

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And Ronnie Specter, dang that hurt bad.

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A few years ago where I live (Edmonton AB) there were some people who had set up a repeater with trunking over the internet to the Philippines so they could make calls into the PSTN there, seemed to work pretty well . Very illegal of course, with potential large fines, but at the time with LD costs it was feasible (this was the '90s to the early 'aughts) For emergencys, anything that takes out the PSTN would very likely affect many repeaters. I have an FT 817 and a couple end fed half wave antennas that would probably function as well as anything in that context (could do VHF and UHF repeaters if any were available, or point to point, and does HF as well ) but that sort of capability is not a motivator for me.

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That reminds me in a roundabout way of the DIY wireless computer network in Cuba.

IF THE LOGISTICAL effort of transporting a physical piece of hardware to millions of people so they can keep up with Silicon Valley sounds ambitious, it pales in comparison to the makeshift technical marvel that makes up Cuba’s other internet workaround. Named SNET, short for street network, it is a homebrewed intranet stretching across the capital and parts of the provinces that reproduces much of the consumer internet we know in the free world. With no fast, affordable access to Facebook, Instagram, or online audio streaming, the Cubans have simply created their own versions of these sites and services internally in a wholly separate network, and they are quickly rushing into the same minefield of acceptable-use policies, cyberbullying, pornography filtering, memes, and general online mayhem that Americans have been suffering for years.