Early commercial radio stations valued listener reports, as they were the major means by which broadcasters could tell if and where their programming was being received. The reports helped station marketers develop demographics for the station in general, and for specific programming. Since telephone calls were a bit pricey at the time, the penny postcard — or applause cards as they became known — quickly became the preferred medium for listener reports.
I’m a sucker for cheap electronic parts, especially wireless stuff. Just recently, a catalog from one of my favorite parts distributors (All Electronics) came in the mail and was promoting some wireless modules: a transmitter (TX) and a receiver (RX) for just a few bucks each. I ordered immediately. Now that I had these wireless modules, I wasn’t sure what to do with them. I had no plan or goal in mind. So, I decided I would just experiment for fun. This article sums up what I did and what I learned.
Meet the SW-4U: A four-position ham radio antenna switch with PC control via a USB connection. The switch is controlled by an application program running on the PC that allows you to select any of four antennas, ground all for safety, and to power the switch on and off.
It isn’t easy being a ham operator inside city limits. Restrictions in where you can place antennas, power requirements which can disrupt communications and entertainment systems, and just the sheer amount of electrical noise to contend with can take the fun out of the hobby.
There are dozens of wireless or radio standards with different combinations of spectrum, modulation, and service. Some have survived and others have faded away. Some new standards have been added like 5G and 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6, but what standards or services have disappeared? Here’s my list of “forgotten” wireless technologies.
Proficiency in sending and receiving Morse code — while no longer required for licensure — is the best way to experience traditional ham radio. Today, there are dozens of freely accessible websites and free or inexpensive apps for Android and iOS tablets and phones that provide sophisticated and efficient Morse code training. However, one of my favorites is the Morserino-32: a feature-packed microcontroller-based send and receive trainer, available from Willi Kraml OE1WKL for $99.
Before I discovered ham radio, I was a shortwave listener. On the AM bands, there was Voice of America, Radio Moscow, and the daily time check on WWV. There was also the local clear channel AM broadcast station, WWL in New Orleans. Today, my daily routine includes downloading the latest podcasts before my run, asking Alexa for the forecast, and catching up on the latest news throughout the day through streaming audio.