About K1KC

About K1KC

K1KC is just another one of thousands of folks who have found radio to have just a touch of ‘magic’ to it. After all these years of fooling with radio and electronics, there must be something magic about it. It sure has held my interest!

True, I like lots of knobs, dials and flashing lights, but I also like understanding how it works. I suppose it has been my goal since the 60’s to impress myself with all those knobs, dials and lights. Well, I guess I’m getting there after all.  Now what?

 

I’m no electrical genius but I grew up in a TV/Radio shop, studied electronics and data processing in school and in the military. I learned one or two things in the process.  What amazes me now is the rapidity with which amateur radio is evolving. There may have been a time in which you could know a good bit about most facets of amateur radio. If there was, well, that time is long gone!At one time I had the idea I was going to know all those things. Ha! How wrong I was. My solution was to concentrate on one area and become really good at it. Another bad joke. Seems that I have little or no control over where radio takes me.  Okay, I’ll go along for the ride. I’ve enjoyed it so far!

 

You might say radio runs in the family. My Grandfather built and serviced radios in the very early days…before there was television. My Father serviced radios and TV’s. My brother is into electronics and is a ham. My sister-in-law is a ham. My daughter learned at an early age how to use a two-way radio. (Remember that term?) All the hams I know are hams. (Ha, ha. Got you there!).

My folks had 11-meter radios back when 11-meters was a business band. I still remember our callsign. Prior to 1964 (I can’t remember exactly when) we got to try out some UHF transceivers, probably in the old Class B Citizens Radio Service (maybe 461 MHz). They were like large transistor radios with a telescoping antenna. My Father brought home a Transoceanic once. I wanted him to keep it but I guess it either belonged to the store or to a customer. I distinctly remember spending hours with my Grandfather’s shortwave receiver in a console. It must have had a turntable in the top section. SWL’ing was fun to me. Eventually I built one from a kit, along with a CW transmitter and a linear amp. How is it that I knew how to solder back then but don’t seem to be able to now? Another mystery of the Universe….

Oh how I loved to peruse the Allied catalog and others. What beautiful transmitters and receivers they featured! Yes, transmitters and receivers were two different pieces of equipment back then. Somewhere along the line….about 1968 or so, I picked up a shortwave receiver that was branded “Imperial” to the best of my recollection. Apparently that was a German Kuba. It had been mounted in a console but not when I obtained it. Well, I strung up miles of wire in the back yard, clotheslining my Mother in the process. All that wire brought in signals from all over the world into that SW receiver. I think that old radio was a wonderful piece of equipment. We slowly twisted those dials (“Small moves Ellie, small moves.”) seeking out whatever we could find. Those radios were plenty sensitive. Selectivity was produced by a steady, patient hand and a focused ear. Of course, back in the 60’s shortwave broadcasters were plentiful and SWL’s had a smorgasbord to choose from.

The Cold War was a reality in the 60’s and nowhere was it more evident than on the ‘shortwave’ bands. ‘Band’ was a common term as all the broadcasters referred to the ‘band’ they transmitted on more often than the actual frequency. There were well-established broadcasters…so well established that radio manufacturers printed the cities and countries of those broadcasters, on the dials of the radios. Stations from Communist Bloc countries liked nothing more than to have Americans write in with requests for QSL cards or in response to their English language broadcasts. See? Americans are listening to us! Radio Moscow was more hardcore and Radio Peking….well, they were DOWN on America.

And how about those ‘magic eye’ tubes to show you when you were tuned in perfectly? My Grandfather’s console SW radio had one. It WAS magic! Now I have a handheld radio not much larger than a pack of smokes that picks up everything from AM broadcast band to around the 30cm band. It transmits in analog and digital as well. Amazing, but it doesn’t have a magic eye tube. Too bad! Some of our old tape recorders had them though.

Yes, shortwave listening was fun. I don’t think it is as much fun anymore. It seems the number of broadcasters has dropped dramatically. One thing that has not changed: most of those broadcasters have an agenda. Oh well, you gotta take the bad with the good. I’ll never forget though, the hours and hours of fun I had making those small moves Ellie.