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Radio Experimenter's GuideI was hunting around tonight for books about radio, and stumbled across this old book from the 1920s called The Radio Experimenter’s Guide, which is available for free as a pdf download here.  It has some great old circuits, pretty much all of which are very outdated.  All the same, if you’re into vintage technology like I am, this is a pretty cool book to look through, and many of the projects within are still possible to construct if you have a little gumption and creativity.  While you’re there be sure to check out Elements of Radio Servicing, by William Marcus and Alex Levy.  Thanks to Antique Radios for hosting these two great books and many more.  If you’re looking for some vintage construction tips,  this page has some info on how to make your own variometers, and information abounds on the internet for finding modern substitutions for vintage tubes.  If you put one of these projects together please send me pictures and I’ll post them here.

I ended up buying a used copy of Elements of Radio by William and Abraham Marcus.  From what I’ve read it is an excellent primer on the very basics of radio design and construction, and should be a neat and informative book to add to my collection.  I’ve been slowly reading through the Basic Electricity Navy training manual I bought a few weeks ago, and so far I’ve found it exceptionally effective at explaining some basic concepts that many other electronics primers I’ve read have either glossed over or skipped entirely.  For instance the concept of impedance matching was something I was very primitively familiar with; I basically knew it was something that had to be done or things wouldn’t work well, but didn’t understand the fundamental reasons why it was so important.

Medium-Wave Morse Transmitter

In other news, my most recent attempt at building a circuit has been a moderate non-success.  What I mean by that is that I was able to construct the circuit on a board with actual soldering involved, however I was unable to get it to work.  The project is a medium-wave morse code transmitter.  It uses a 555 timer and a basic Hartley oscillator to transmit an 800hz tone to a nearby AM radio tuned near 700khz.  I put this circuit together on a solderless breadboard last week, and got it to work for about 15 minutes before I stupidly tried to move the thing at which point it quit working forever more.  In trying to put together a more permanent version on real perfboard, I made the original coil basically unusable by accidentally trimming one of the feed wires too short.  I made a new coil in short order but I just don’t feel this one is as good as the first one, especially since I did at one point have the old one working.

I haven’t spent much time troubleshooting it.  I have verified that there is output from the 555, but as of right now I don’t have a good way of determining if oscillation is occurring or not, so I’ll need to build an RF probe before I can go much further.  It makes me wish I hadn’t missed out on an incredible oscilloscope deal on eBay earlier this week, but them’s the brakes as my old man would say.  What did happen in the course of this project is I got some much-needed practice in laying out components and soldering.  My layout here could certainly be better, but I think it’s pretty efficient given that it’s my first time ever attempting to put together anything this robust.

That’s all for this transmission.  Tune in next week when I’ll have a preliminary review of Elements of Radio, and various other musings.



Written by Josh Benson

October 19, 2010 at 22:23

Posted in Radio


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I keep having strange dreams involving travel by train or trying to avoid getting run over by a train.  What does this mean?

Written by Josh Benson

October 13, 2010 at 20:12

Posted in Uncategorized


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This time is too bright.

I long for the days before incandescence

Before flourescence

Gas lamps and firelight are hard on the eyes

But much easier on the soul

Mindfulness and a measured pace

Because everything is not clearly illumined

On the path ahead.

We have opened our minds with science

And poured blinding white light

Into every shaded crevice of our world

And our minds.

Nothing is left to mystery or suspense

It must all be divined at breakneck speed

The first to find is the first to profit

And yet somehow the light only reveals

More opportunities for falsehood.


I prefer not.

Ecstasy is

a worn leather chair,

a thick book,

a softly-played classic on the wireless,

a quinined-juniper distillation,

and the dim haze of gas lamps and firelight

filtered through the smoke of sin

and dust of authenticity

The better to see within, than without.

Written by Josh Benson

October 12, 2010 at 21:10

Posted in Poetry

“Sang Real” — Dredg

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Written by Josh Benson

October 12, 2010 at 20:04

Posted in Music

“To Autumn” — John Keats

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Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

A Day with Keats by W.J. Neatby, from Wikimedia Commons

"A Day with Keats" by W.J. Neatby

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.


Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find

Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;

Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,

Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook

Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;

And sometime like a gleaner thou dost keep

Steady thy laden head across a brook;

Or by a cider-press, with patient look,

Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.


Where are the songs of Spring?

Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too.

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

Among the river sallows, borne aloft

Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn:

Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,

And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Written by Josh Benson

October 10, 2010 at 18:52

Posted in Poetry