Woke up at 0200, tried to go back to sleep. Did some twitter. Tried to go back to sleep. At 0400 I figured I'd just as well get up.

Instead of getting on the interwebs, I grabbed a couple of radios and sat outside and listened to the frogs and the radios. I heard Chicago, New York, Louisville, Nashville and Boston for sure. Apparently someone syndicates old Art Bell shows? I should look that up. Better than religion and political rants. I'm rather surprised at how many of these armchair analysts are in close communication with "my gut." If "my gut" talked to me as much as it seems to talk to these guys, I'd have to look into bariatric surgery just to shut it up!


I got the Panasonic RF-2600 yesterday. Dusty as an Egyptian tomb, but otherwise looked okay. Battery compartment had a little alkaline dust in it, but no corrosion. Antenna was complete and pretty straight. Better than the 2200. Put some batteries in it and Oh Em Gee, this thing has been sitting for a long time! Volume control was scratchy and non-linear. Turned the radio off and just worked all the knobs and switches several times to try and shake loose some of the dust. Turned it back on and volume control was still non-linear but less scratchy. FM came in good, AM went deaf on me. Worked the band select switch and powered off and back on and got AM. Tuner works nice. Did the SW bands and it went deaf again when I switched the BFO on. Turned it off and cycled that switch a bunch of times. Came back to life. Got signals on all bands. Meter works.

Opened the cabinet to see if I could access the switches and pots easily for a little Deoxit, and it looked kind of intimidating. I'll see if the guy who re-caps these will do that for me.

I suspect it's a pretty good radio once it gets cleaned up. Bigger than the RF-2200 and it's missing the strap so I'll have to see if I can't rig something up.

Since I was outside and it was a beautiful day, I went and grabbed the 2200 and the B45 (both Panasonics) and strung a wire up. Sat and listened to hams working 20 meters on SSB on the 2200. Two guys who were neighbors up in West Virginia were talking with a couple of other guys from I don't know where. One of the WV guys has a brush disposal problem, looking to get the county in with a chipper. One of the other guys was cleaning his garage. Someone was going to go make a cheeseburger.

I'll tell you what, it's better than "talk radio!"

The 2200 has kind of a bad reputation for SSB, the BFO supposedly drifts and it takes some close attendance to keep it on freq. Maybe it's because of the re-cap, or maybe I just got lucky, but it seemed pretty stable on 20 meters for me. Takes a light touch to get it dialed in, but once it's there it was pretty solid for the 20 minutes or so that I listened to those guys. You do have to give it a few minutes after you switch it on for everything to settle down.

The B45 impressed me. It's got that gray industrial design that reminded me a lot of the Apple Powerbook Duos. Same vintage. I think I mentioned this radio lived nearly all of its life in Arizona, probably in the vinyl, faux-leather case. It looks brand new. Works pretty good too.

It's got a BFO with a "fine tuning" wheel. Also takes a light touch to get it dialed in, but also pretty stable when you've got it. Listened to a DX pileup with a guy out of Dubai, UAE on 20 meters running 1500 watts. Could've been next door. That's not as interesting to listen to, except to hear everyone trying to get a QSL (confirmed contact) with him. I suspect it takes a lot of patience on the part of everyone, with people stepping all over each other. Siri told me Dubai was 7600 miles away from where I was sitting, give or take.

Pretty cool, I think.

Saw this in NetNewsWire yesterday, The SHTF Scenario Happened! (SHTF - shit hits the fan for the acronym challenged). He makes some good points. With more frequent extreme weather events, wingnuts shooting up power stations, hackers and griefers and bears (oh my), might not be able to count on the internet all the time. Fort Lauderdale got 22 inches of rain in 8 hours yesterday (I think the actual numbers are worse than that, but that's close enough).

Not that I'm advocating becoming a "prepper." I think it's fairly inevitable that we're all going to become at least "prepper-curious" before too long. But if a local radio station has a generator, and I don't know if many do, they may be able to provide information in the event of a widespread outage and you might want to be able to hear it. (How they would get that information is another question!) So having a good, battery powered radio somewhere in your house is probably a wise idea.

Shortwave is kind of an anachronism, but I think it's likewise a good fallback. Might be useful to have a modern SW radio around and know how to use it. One that can do SSB can let you listen in on the amateur operators that may be up in a catastrophe, helping to coordinate communications and relief.

You don't have to buy dusty old radios and pay guys to fix them up. There are good ones on the market from brands like Sangean, Tecsun and Eton. Not cheap, but the prices go up and down so shop around. I've got a Sangean 909X2 and an Eton Elite Executive, both do SSB and air band, along with AM, FM and SW. CC Crane has the SkyWave 2, which does all the above plus weather band. It's a very tiny thing, so it has a tiny speaker. Figure on using earbuds, because that speaker is fatiguing. Also figure on using a wire clipped to that small whip. But it'll fit in a large pocket and weighs next to nothing, so if you're on the move it won't slow you down.

You can still buy scanners these days, but most police are on trunked systems and you're going to need a pretty sophisticated radio to listen to those ($$$), if they're not encrypted, which more and more are doing.

All the cool kids are doing SDR (software defined radio) these days. I confess I understand less about that than I do about other kinds of radios. Naturally, I have one. Well, two. The Mac is not a primary platform for SDR, but if you can run Windows, there's plenty of SDR software. But those radios either need a laptop, or a device with a screen, (some are self-contained) and there's a learning curve. May be a great hobby, but probably not your go-to for a SHTF scenario where you just want to get information fast.

Anyway, that was my (early) morning. Reminded me of staff duty, having the rev watch, in the ops center at 0400, reading traffic, preparing the morning surface ops brief. Radios going off in the background. No smell of coffee though, and I didn't hear frogs in the ops center. Can't say I miss it. Well, maybe a little. But that's a young man's game, and it's been a long time since I was young.

Have a good one.

Marmot out.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 05:23 Thursday, 13 April 2023