Archive for the ‘Daily News’ Category

Echophone EC-1

While I still have the restoration of my Hammarlund HQ170 to finish, and a repair of the audio circuit on my Viking Ranger II to complete, as well as a rectifier repair on a Yaesu FT101E, I could not go past this little beauty. While I have older receivers (1935 and 1936), I have been wanting a receiver from the period of WWII now for some time. This little radio was known as the morale radio.

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The original EC-1 was the GI’s radio of World War 2 and it was manufactured by the Hallicrafters company under the brand name “Echophone Commercial.”  It began production toward the end of 1940 and continued in production all through the war.  This model radio was about the only commercial, non military radio that the government allowed to be manufactured during WW 2 and they did it for morale purposes, that is, to provide lonely, homesick and bored servicemen with entertainment.  These rugged little radios have good short wave circuits so the servicemen and women could listen to shows, music and war news no matter where they were in the world.  The EC-1 sold at a  “reasonable” price of about $20 (about a month’s pay).  Actually, for this quality of radio, $20 was a very low price and a lot of GIs got to own them either by buying them outright or receiving them as gifts.

The EC-1 radios were marketed to the GIs directly and through their families to be given as gifts.  Ads for the radios appeared in magazines with a rather over the top campaign featuring a Private (later corporal) Hogarth.  Hogarth was always shown as a hopeless nerd with coke-bottle glasses, but very popular with pretty girls who wanted to listen to his radio. I don’t think this nerdy girl could attract girls with a short wave radio, but those were innocent if heteronormative times.

I may have some modifications to do to the radio when it arrives, most notably for safety, unless the appropriate modifications were done in 1994 when this radio had a major service. Known as an all American 5, the 115V supply is delivered to the 5 valves in series, without a transformer or fuse. One side of the mains chord connects directly to the radio chassis which is isolated from the external box by rubber grommets only. Without a polarised plug to determine which is neutral and which is active, there is a 50% chance of connecting the chassis to the active. Life was cheap in the 1940s :-).

Categories: Daily News, HF, Vintage Radio

Back to the Drawing Board

February 26, 2017 2 comments

Today I finally got myself organised enough to begin work on another mag loop, in the hope that this one will work. I believe the steel framed high-rise building is to blame for my lack of reception but in a last ditch effort, I decided to make a new multi-turn loop out of some heliax that I had brought back from Queensland. Unfortunately the PVC support I made was not robust enough for the heavier than expected heliax- back to the drawing board

Categories: Daily News, HF, Uncategorized

Of Injury, Depression and Productivity

January 28, 2017 1 comment

I had planned for some time to attend Symphony in the Park at Parramatta with my lovely friend, but due to my leg injury from falling down the stairs, I could not attend. This put me in bad mood yesterday. I don’t suffer depression as much as I used to do, in fact I rarely have any symptoms at all nowadays, but occasional mild situational depression still arises. I notice it most not by how I feel, but by the state of my apartment which yesterday got quite messy. My productivity suffers badly at such times. Being one who is always doing something, depression for me is most noticeable by my complete lack of interest in anything, and lack of desire to do anything.

I attempted to turn things around yesterday by going over to the community garden and picking a big bunch of various basil. I also contemplated going to the local ham radio trash and treasure but feel my leg would rather I stayed home. Instead I will come up with some recipes today for the basil. I will clean up my apartment and, of interest to all of the readers of this blog, will begin an antenna project. More about that later


Categories: Daily News

YLs Unwelcome in VK Ham Radio

September 12, 2016 9 comments


Yesterday, I had the most awful experience I’ve ever had. It confirmed for me a number of things

  1. Women are not truly welcomed by many men in tech pursuits
  2. Strong women who speak up or dare have an opinion are doubly unwelcome
  3. Privilege is completely invisible to those who possess it
  4. Privilege is measured by the number of the following boxes you can tick.
  • white
  • male
  • educated
  • rich
  • heterosexual
  • cisgender
  • grew up in large city
  • ….and more

Unfortunately I can tick fewer of those boxes than many people. What is important about these boxes is that most are beyond our own control, we are born with or without them. Once we’re born without them we have a harder time ticking the others like education. Not being able to tick these boxes affects every part of our lives.

By contrast those born with privilege, never have to acknowledge it even exists, they are blind to it, but they have a choice when someone points it out to them. They can choose to be extremely vulgar aresholes like I encountered yesterday, or they can choose to analyse their behavior and modify it.

Some men in this country are so damaged by the societal construct of masculinity that I hold out little hope for any form of equity ever.

(VK = Australia. YL is shorthand for young lady, first used to speed up morse code conversations. Interestingly a woman becomes old (XYL) when she marries- assuming her country allows her to marry but that is another story. Men for some reason are OM old men always.)

Categories: Daily News Tags: ,

iMac Reboot

September 4, 2016 2 comments

My business used to have a stack of iMac’s but many of them had been sold off. Two were in storage in my old home town. Recently I was able to bring one of them back and almost simultaneously got offered another at a ridiculously low price. While I was retrieving the old iMac from storage I located two 3Gb drives that I had intended to put in the business iMacs as the hard drives were a bit small.

To cut a long story short the brilliant offer turned out to be a bit of a dud as the hard disk failed within 48 hrs so I robbed the RAM out of it to speed up the other. Finally this weekend I got a chance to see what I could do with the dead one.


After plugging in an ethernet cable, and replacing the RAM with some I had retrieved from storage,  I found that the machine would not boot, there was no chime and a black screen at start up and diagnostic LED4 was out. My years as technical troubleshooter soon came to the fore- what has changed? The RAM! Aha yes, I had accidentally put two different spec cards in it. A quick change and a slight reduction in overall memory later, I got 4 LEDs lit and a backlit screen.


Now to the hard disk problem. I hate the process of making bootable USBs but luckily I recalled I had a bootable USB with OSX Yosemite Installer on it. Once I restarted the machine with that baby in the slot, it came to life. A run of the diagnostics demonstrated a failed hard disk. So off came the front bezel and the LCD screen and in went a new HDD. Booting into off the installer, I got OSX Yosemite installed and then upgraded to OSX 10.11 El Capitan. Using the Time Machine backup from the other iMac I installed all my favourite applications and settings and … now? It Lives!


Categories: Daily News Tags: , ,

Of Slinky Springs, Apartment HF and ALARA

August 29, 2016 2 comments

The weekend just gone, I wanted to participate in the ALARA (Australian Ladies Amateur Radio Association) contest. I knew that with my poor antenna I was not going to make many contacts, so I set about building the optimum multi band apartment antenna.


I gathered together slinky toys, some chord and a few bits and pieces. A local ham sold me a short length of 300 ohm ladder line with which to feed the antenna and using a few bits an pieces, I assembled a 1:1 current balun to allow my unbalanced tuner (a Z11 Pro) to connect to the 300 ohm line. with this antenna I intended to overcome all of my antennas woes of the last few weeks.

With the antenna analyser I got the dipole resonant on 80 m and the tuner then allowed me to get a match on all bands including the WARC bands.

Unfortunately  the construction of my balcony with its aluminium framing makes the antenna deaf. A full 4 S points down on the tiny mobile whip. I am confident the antenna will perform well once I get it away from the building structure. I move out of this apartment in November and will be looking for a place more suited to antennas.

I will post more about the construction of the slinky dipole in a later post.

Categories: Daily News, HF, Home Brew Tags: , ,

80m Apartment HF- The Monster in My Bedroom

August 20, 2016 4 comments

I have been toiling away on a mag loop antenna for the 80m band. I needed it to be cheap, I also wanted to be able to use it on other bands later, with some modifications.

Since my balcony is not really big enough for a larger mag loop, I decided to make a loop that took up the entire wall of my bedroom which is my radio shack. The problem with this idea is that I suspect the building is one huge faraday cage. We will see when I am finished. If it turns out that it is a faraday cage, I will go to plan B which if it happens, you will see blogged here.

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To keep costs down I made the capacitor out of RG213 coaxial cable which has capacitance of about 1pF/cm thus my design required aprox 195 cm of cable. Tuning will be via a homemade trimmer capacitor consisting of two printed circuit board blanks attached to the end of the coaxial cable. By making this cable removable, I will be able to interchange various lengths to change bands.