The Radio Boys and a Handbook

My father-in-law was kind enough to send me a couple of books when he learned about my ARRL Handbook collection.

The first book was a 1956 ARRL Handbook in reasonably decent condition (for a 65 year old book) owned at one point by a Stephen Ray Bird/KN0LES from Nebraska. Tucked away in the pages of the handbook are several papers with handwritten schematics and notes.

One of the papers is an ARRL pamphlet, a reprint from a 1956 QST article titled “Your Novice Accent And What To Do About It” written by Keith Williams/W6DTY. This presumably was something ARRL sent to new hams.

There was also a meeting reminder postcard for the Otoe Chapter of the Order of DeMolay, which perhaps was being used as a bookmark.

Flipping through the book, I can’t help but wonder what KN0LES was doing with the schematics. Was he sketching out circuits to build? Was he using them to study for upgrading his license (I believe KN0LES would have been a Novice class call sign at the time)? I’m perhaps a little more intrigued by these little bits of paper than I am with the handbook itself.

A quick Google search brings up the obituary of a Stephen Ray Bird who died in 2013 in Arizona, was originally from Nebraska, and was also an amateur radio operator (KS7R). An AE7Q lookup also shows he held the call sign K0LES, which leads me to believe that I am now in possession of an ARRL Handbook he once owned. From his obituary, it seems like he was a nice guy.


The other book is “The Radio Boys’ First Wireless” from 1922. It’s not in the greatest condition, but for an almost 100 year old book that has obviously been read quite a bit, it’s in not too bad shape.

Inside the front cover is some handwriting that indicates the book belonged to someone named Rex Buzzett and that this book was a birthday gift in 1923. On the back cover he appears to have written his name, where he lived (Apalachicola, FL), and a date of October 16, 1925.

A Google search brought up a Rex Buzzett Street in Apalachicola as well as a couple of memorial entries for a Julian Rex Buzzett also from Apalachicola FL. Julian Rex Buzzett served in the US Army and was sadly killed during D-Day at Utah Beach. Considering the uniqueness of the name and where they’re both from, I’m guessing this might be the same Rex Buzzett who owned this book. If so, he would have been 9 years old when he was given this book. I wonder if young Rex Buzzett enjoyed reading this book. Did he own others in the series? Julian Rex Buzzett was a first lieutenant and a combat engineer in the US Army. If they’re the same person, did reading about the Radio Boys’ adventures have an influence on him? What did he do before joining the army?

I hadn’t heard of the Radio Boys series until my father-in-law asked us a few years ago to look out for them at hamfests. So far we haven’t found any, so I haven’t had the chance to read any of them until now. Wikipedia tells me that the author, Allen Chapman, was a pseudonym and that the books were written by ghost writers. Interestingly enough, the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series of books (which I have heard of and were some of my favourites growing up) was also published by the Stratemeyer Syndicate that published this Radio Boys series.

This seems like it will be an interesting and fun book to read. The book has seen quite a lot use and I’ll have to be careful reading it. I’m very grateful to my father-in-law for sending this and the Handbook to me.

I made a thing

Power supply: Needs more work

The power supply that I thought was fixed is going to need a little more troubleshooting and work.

In its first load test this weekend powering the radio, the power supply was having issues maintaining voltage after transmitting a couple times.

Not sure what the issue might be.  Maybe something overheating perhaps.  Looks like I’ll have to open it up and dive back in.

2017 ARRL Auction time

Bidding for the 2017 ARRL Auction opened up yesterday. Didn’t see anything that made me go “I NEED THIS“, but there were still a few items that I thought were interesting enough to put bids on.

Seems like there’s a fair bit of bidding activity going on in the auction already after just a day. The ARRL Mystery Junque boxes are back (only 4 of them this year). One of them is already up to $155. Hope it’s got something good in it.

So far, the items I’ve decided to chase are a copy of Introduction to RF Design, a reproduction 1st edition ARRL handbook, and one of the Vibroplex keys. Nice things to add to the bookshelf and collection, but nothing that I’ll be disappointed over if I don’t win.

I always enjoy watching the activity in the ARRL auction. It’s interesting to see what items end up going for.

The new Top Bands

US amateur radio operators will soon have access to small slivers of the 630 m and 2200 m bands as secondary users. The 630 meter allocation goes from 472-479 kHz (a little bit below the US AM broadcast band, 530 – 1700 kHz) while the 2200 meter allocation goes from 135.7-137.8 kHz (not a heck of a lot).

Although the new allocation was announced several months ago, now access to the bands is only a form submission and 30 days away.

Before being allowed to operate, hams will be required to notify the Utilities Technology Council. Notification can be done online, and involves submitting name, contact info, call sign, lat/long of your antenna location(s) and the bands you’re planning on operating on. If you don’t hear anything back within 30 days, you’re supposedly good to go.

Even if you have no immediate plans to operate on the new bands, you might still want to notify the UTC in case you decide to operate there later. If there’s no objection to your notification, and a utility later wants to deploy or modify a PLC system near you, they’ll have to use a frequency range other than one you’ve indicated on your notification.

If an electric utility seeks to deploy a new or modified PLC system on a transmission line that is within one kilometer of a previously coordinated amateur station, the electric utility must employ a frequency in the 9-490 kHz range that has not been included in the amateur station’s notification, as ARRL suggests.  If the previously coordinated amateur station no longer operates in the band, the electric utility may deploy a PLC system in that band.

Now, how to build an antenna for 2200 m…