Both GE Superadios arrived, separately of course. The photos in the listings didn't include the battery compartment, so although both bodies looked in decent shape, and both antennas were present, I wasn't sure if I wouldn't be finding damage from battery leakage in one or both.

It turns out that the SR I did have battery damage. The terminals had corroded away. I didn't open the cabinet, so I don't know how much may extend into the interior of the radio, but the batteries were at the bottom and the radio looked, from the amount and distribution of the dirt and dust still on it, like it was stored upright. It still worked on AC from the cord, so that was encouraging.

The SR II looked slightly better. There are a couple of small blemishes in the speaker grill paint that can probably be touched up, and the chromed plastic tuning knob shows a couple of blemishes in the fine knurled lines around the circumference. Not bad for something over thirty years old!

As it happened, I decided to have both radios refurbished at the same time. I corresponded with Chuck, and he seems to think he can repair the battery terminals. That was important to me, because the interior of Saul Haul is an rf-dirty environment. In a better world, house current would come in two flavors: 110v AC for high power requirements, and low voltage DC for all the rest, like LED lighting.

Compounding the noise problem is the aluminum foil IR barrier on the roof decking, it's also an rf barrier. While FM radio from the local stations works pretty well everywhere in the house if the radio has an antenna, everything else struggles, to include cell phones.

So to do any sort of "band scanning," since it's forbidden to mount anything as hideous as an antenna on your house or in your yard (exceptions for satellite television because they have a better lobbyist), you have to go outside. Which, thanks to Mitzi's new screened enclosure, is a comfortable proposition these days!

I checked out the SR I on AC outside and it worked fine on FM. Since the cord is fairly short, and the only outlet is below the window that has my Ambient weather station in it, on AM it was also picking up noise from the weather station. I think, or hope. We'll know soon I guess. I guess I could have unplugged the weather station too. Oh well.

If you want to find out how well a radio works, one place to start is to see how well it receives local stations, which leads to the question, what are my local stations? You can find the answer at this web site. Enter your Zip Code and you'll get a list of AM and FM stations whose service areas should cover your location. They're in two tables, with FM displayed first. The lists are sorted by predicted signal strength at your location.

Select all the data in the first table (FM), launch a spreadsheet (I used Numbers), and paste the table into the spreadsheet. In Numbers, I created a second table for the AM stations. The links in the station call letters should come over. You can click on those and get data from the FCC about the station, which is pretty cool.

I tried using these tables on my iPad, sitting outside and discovered something I guess I already knew. The touch screen uses capacitance as the touch-sensing mechanism, and an antenna is nothing more than one element of a capacitor (both elements if you include ground). So my radios were picking up all kinds of noise from the iPad's screen.

So print your tables. But first, sort them in ascending or descending order by frequency. I didn't do that, I'd scan the dial, check the freq then look at the table, which involved a lot of visual scanning up and down the table. And the frequency scale on many old radios can be off by a little or a lot, so it helps to scan the radio up and down several kHz or MHz for closely spaced signals to figure out which one is which. You may be picking up signals not on the list, depending on the sensitivity of your radio, or propagation conditions.

If your radio can receive all the signals in the list, then it's at least a decent radio. If it can receive more, then it may be better than decent, or propagation conditions are better than usual. This is the fun of "playing radio!" Which is it? Do I have a "super radio," or is vhf ducting taking place?

Anyway, what I have to do now is go through and populate the lat and long position of all those stations and then calculate the line of sight distance to Saul Hall.

Next little experiment is to take something like this page at Wikipedia, a listing of all the 50kW radio stations in the United States, and see which ones I can receive. Read the legend carefully at the top of the page. Not all 50kW stations broadcast at that power level at night.

Anyway, something to look forward to when you're retired, right? Thanks for dropping by.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 05:25 Thursday, 23 March 2023