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SolderSmoke – Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics

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Another good stumbled-upon and the power of serendipity combined with the global internet.

I ran across a couple of guys who started SolderSmoke.  This is a really great site, blog, and huge collection of audio podcasts where all sorts of subjects relevant to electronics, homebrew, and radio are discussed in a very high level of technical detail and professionally done.  So, you might want to take a listen to their extensive collection of technical mp3’s – all free to listen and download.

You can find the site here:
Scroll down for the Podcasts along with a content listing of each.

This is some really great listening for the more technical folks

The SolderSmoke blog is here:

There is also a book that is available on LuLu –—-global-adventures-in-wireless-electronics-%28european-edition%29/10898038

Here is a description of the book

SolderSmoke is the story of a secret, round-the-world, after-hours life in electronics. Bill Meara started out as a normal kid, but around the age of 12 he got interested in radio… To make matters worse, when he got older he became a diplomat. In all of the places he has lived, his hobby caused him to seek out like-minded radio fiends, to stay up late into the night working on strange projects, and to build embarrassingly large antennas above innocent foreign neighborhoods. SolderSmoke takes you into the world of an expatriate geek. It is a technical memoir filled with funny stories and with serious descriptions of Bill’s struggles to truly understand the theory behind the equipment that he built.

You can also preview a few pages from the book at the lulu site above.

Excellent website, blog, and podcasts from a European perspective.

This is probably the best collection of radio-related Podcasts I have found over the past year.

Written by frrl

October 3, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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Radio Archeology: Heathkit GR-54 General Coverage Communications Receiver

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Note: 03 Oct 2010 –
The eBay auction for an un-built kit of the radio pictured above ended with a winning bid of $1,378.57
(see it, and read more below)

Whenever I want to play with a new radio I look around the basement and see what’s down there.  With my recent acquisition of the Heathkit BR-2 Broadcast Receiver I wondered what else I had in the way of Heathkit receiver kits.  There is was – my Heathkit GR-54 General Coverage Communications Receiver.

The GR-54 was produced between 1966 and 1971.  It is all mode (AM/LSB/USB) single conversion Superheterodyne consisting of 6 tubes (6BH6 RF Amp, 6EA8 Osc Mixer, 6BA6 IF Amp, 6BA6 IF Amp, 12AT7 BFO Product Detector, 6HF8 AF Amp and diodes).  The price when this kit was produced was $85-$135.

I got a real deal on this one.  I paid $25 for it in good working condition.  And that included the manual.

Turns out, at the time of this writing, there is an original unbuilt Heathkit GR-54 on eBay – the bidding is now at $709.  Got that?  That is not a typo.  An unbuilt Heathkit is bid up to $709 with 16 hours remaining in the auction.  Don’t belive me?  Here, look.

Note: Click any picture on this page to enlarge

The seller posted some pictures of what is in the box.  I snagged these as I know that by the time some folks read this posting this item will be gone and it may be interesting to some to see what was in these kits.  You can get your own “unboxing” experience by proxy – maybe not.  The images are in the gallery at the bottom of this posting. 

The Value of Un-built Heath Kits – The value of History

I have seen unbuilt Heatkits going for $2,400 on eBay.  There is a ham radio operator that posts on that is in a state of utter amazement that these unbuilt Heathkits are going for so much money. 

For some, “history” is not worth much.  To others, history is valuable.  The ham radio operator in the state of amazement suggested that one should disassemble existing Heathkits and sell them as collections of parts.  Some people don’t get it – and there is no way you can ever explain it to them. 

The 25 people who bid up this unbuilt Heathkit GR-54 to $709 have a sort of appreciation for things that will ensure that the history of radio is remembered valued, and passed on to future generations.  I can only suspect that other people view history, perhaps, as a sequence of discrete events with no event, product, or idea with no more value than the next and all to be discarded when the moment passes.  (The more academic folks reading this posting can find out more about the the idea and value of history here, here, and read about the seminal work, The Idea of History by R. G. Collingwood)

Enough of that.  Back the GR-54 General Coverage Communications Receiver.  Mine at least – the one I bought for $25 – not the one that has been bid up to $700+ on Ebay.  ( I wonder what the winning bid will be?)

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by frrl

October 3, 2010 at 9:00 am

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