Saturday, February 02, 2008

Oh, and as far as the inner geek thing, I do have an R-390 receiver that I actually found in a dumpster. All I have to do with it is put a plug on the end of the electrical cord--for some reason somebody cut the plug off before pitching it in the dumpster--and hook it up to an antenna of some sort. I've already used window screens as antennas for receivers, so that's no big project, and attaching a new plug is easy. I'll have to rig up a speaker, too, but again, that's not a big deal.

The R-390, for what it's worth, was the absolute best AM receiver of its era. Suffer through an anecdote--I was in the National Cryptologic Museum a few years ago (there's the "inner geek" thing again), looking at one while a kind of loud and braggart sort of guy was showing a friend of his around and proceeded to lecture about how he had used this radio to do this and that. Only problem was that he called it something else (I forget), and the R-390 doesn't transmit. It only receives. I used the R-390 and have one in my basement, so I knew full well what I was looking at. I kept my mouth shut, but he reminded me of the guy I once listened to at a ski resort who was talking loudly on his cell phone and said "Let me pull off to the side of the slope" while he was sitting at a table eating a burger.

Things have changed with the advent of satellite communications, but there used to be a whole lot of neat stuff to listen to on the AM band--merchant ships and so on--and I'll bet there's still a lot going on.

Only problem is the R-390 weighs about as much as a small elephant, so just dropping it on the kitchen table for an evening of plying the AM spectrum isn't really an option. Not if I want to stay married.

I'll have to give this one some thought. Might be a good thing to work some of the Scouts through radio merit badge, though.

And this whole train of thought led me back to Morse Code. I've made two unpleasant discoveries in the last 30 days--neither playing clarinet nor listening to Morse Code are like the proverbial riding a bicycle. I used to good at both, and I currently am horrendous at both.

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