Monday, 18 February 2008

Radio Rambles

Working on some piece of technology in work the other day I was asked a question about making an aerial longer to get better reception on a radio, I explained about half wave dipoles and reasonant frequencies and the fella went away looking suitably confused.

And then my mind drifted back into the dim distant past again and my experiences with radio and things.

My father used to work on radio gear in planes including Lancasters and the like, my first bit of interest in the subject came about from the Admiralty Wireless Telegraphy handbooks which were antiquated to say the least with their talk of Leyden Jars (Capacitors) and spark gap transmitters.

I then became  interested in music and just started listening to stations, initially the Light Programme which then became Radio 1 and then I found Radio Luxembourg.

It was unusual to have a radio station with commercials and of course the signal faded in and out and sometimes disappeared. These days I know the reason why and of course Luxembourg is no more. Then one sleepless night, I stuck my headphones on and found a station playing Pink Floyd, the station was Radio Caroline although the name of the DJ escapes me.

Sometime later I became interested in CB radio and made up my own dipole in the house using the calculations from college. One day while driving round our town I started chatting with someone who became a good friend of mine till I lost contact with him, his handle was Station 22 and his name was Steve Williams. He had worked on some pirate radio stations and instead of using custom made CBs, he used modified receivers and transmitters to get on line.

We had some fun at peoples houses erecting long wire antennas which we were assured by the local CB community would never work and modifying receivers for extra channels etc.

Eventually we both sat the Radio Amateurs exam and got legitimate but the fun had gone out of it by this time and I have let my licence lapse.

Some years later while working in Fort William, I became involved with a local community radio channel which was only to broadcast for a few months. This was called Ski FM, during the day we retransmitted Moray Firth radio from Inverness. But during the evening we broadcast our own programmes, mainly using makeshift mixers, tape decks etc.

There were plans for a full-time station in the area, but I left before this came to fruition.

And that's about it at the moment, except that I may make a small repeater  the 48Mhz band which will relay the signal via the Internet. Do a search for 446 gateway on Google for some examples.

So I would just like to say thanks to the people that got me interested in radio in one form or another and still keep me interested.

Peter Williams of Llanelli Technical college, I can still sing the formula for working out the resonant frequency of a tuned circuit and for making electronics and learning interesting.

Steve Williams (Station 22) who lived and breathed radio.

Ray or The Red Dragon for getting me into CB in the first place.

Johnny Walker especially in his last week at Radio 1 before he went to the US and didn't give a damn what he played.

Kenny Everett for being a nutter

Alan Freeman for the Saturday Rock show (not arf).

Tommy Vance (TV on the radio) for the Friday Rock show.

Terry Wogan, for keeping me amused on my way into work and the delights of Janet and John.

Last but not least, the team of I'm Sorry I haven't a Clue on radio 4.