Voice of Bruck News Service

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Vintage Bruck - Radio Stories

Faithful readers: My old computer died a little while back, so I bought a new one - pretty isn't it? I found it on Craig's List. Fortunately the old computer's demise was gradual enough that I was able to back up its contents. In the process of copying the old files to the new computer, I came across this little gem, which I think was for publication in my local ham radio club's newsletter in 2001. Either that or it was part of one of my earlier ventures into blogging, which at that time entailed spamming the radio club's mailing list with my drivel. At any rate, I think there's something here even for you muggles to enjoy, so without further ado...

Bruck's Travelogue

One frequently hears sirens from emergency vehicles wailing through the streets of Naples, Florida. On such an occasion this past January, young David turned to me and said, "You know what that means, don't you?"


"Another condo on the market!"

Having spent a short vacation in Naples each winter for the past three years, David knows the ropes. It doesn't take long to become inured to the local culture. The rapid turnover of the aging population of wealthy retirees produces a certain transient flavor in the city life. But frugal shoppers can turn this phenomenon to their advantage by availing themselves of the abundance of semi-used and reasonably-priced merchandise at the second-hand stores and consignment shops that have sprung up throughout the city to subsume the earthly belongings of those who "can't take it with them."

At one such shop, in addition to an inexpensive pair of computer speakers, I found two working handheld CB radios for $1 each. One had crystals for two channels (14 and 35, with an open socket for a third), and the other had a VFO to cover all 40. They each have a low and high power setting, and sockets for external antennas. On the downside, they each require 11 AA batteries, which I fortunately found on sale at the local Costco for $11 for a 48-pack. We haven't fully tested the range of these fantastic little radios, but we know that they work for at least a few blocks.

There are also some wonderful flea markets in southwest Florida, at one of which I procured a pair of tin snips (somebody borrowed mine - if it's you, I still want them back), a 10x loupe (magnifier for use in working on miniature electronics such as the diodes that prevent out-of-band transmissions), two wallets for $3 each, and a couple of 18" masonry bits. It occurred to me later that 18" wood bits would have been more useful. If you need to drill a hole in I-696, I think I can help you out. Young David bought a big rubber mallet for $5.

Okay, I know this isn't exactly ham radio, but I did want to share with you my brief forays into cheapskate nirvana. So, how is the ham radio scene in southwest Florida, you ask? If the activity on 2 meter FM phone is any indication, pretty dead. According to the ARRL repeater guide, there are four 2 meter repeaters in Naples, and I had no trouble accessing three of them with my 5W handheld with just the rubber duck antenna. Talking to "Paul," whose call escapes me, I learned that these three are clustered about a mile from my parents' condo, my main operating location. Paul is a retired radio engineer from the Naples area. Paul is an elmer to "Karen," or "Judy," whose name and call I also can't quite remember. I'll never forget those brief but meaningful moments spent chatting with Paul and Karen or Judy. I put out my callsign on the local repeaters on several other occasions, with no response. There was a repeater at 147.51 (!), but I could not determine the input frequency nor the PL tone, which it seemed to require. There was quite a lot of conversation on this repeater, some of it profane, and all of it devoid of callsigns. Perhaps some local CBers got ahold of some 2 meter equipment from Radio Shack. In any event, they didn't seem to be crowding any legitimate users off the band.

So, Bruck, what about your trip to the axis countries? Not much radio-related news to report there. I didn't bring any transmitters, and only had limited time to listen with my Grundig YB400, with which I always travel. There is an enormous electronics district in Osaka, but I could find nothing even remotely ham radio-related there, and despite the strong dollar, no real bargains, except the $2000 electric toilet seats. From Conrad's, my favorite electronics store in Cologne, Germany, I purchased a small SW/MW/LW/FM receiver for 20 DM (~$9 US). With its exceptionally broad selectivity, about 15-20Khz in my estimation, allowing me to listen to two or three SW stations simultaneously, I'd say I definitely got my money's worth.

Aside from the fact that it's still winter, it's good to be home.


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