Showing posts with label shortwave. Show all posts
Showing posts with label shortwave. Show all posts

Saturday, December 17, 2016

1964 Personal Role Radio, new

If you suffer from geek allergies, now is your opportunity to move farther along the Internet Trail.

This post, however, will get us much closer to the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

What you see here is a brand-new Army "morale radio," right out of the box -- an R-1289 PRR receiver. Vendor: General Electric Company, Radio Receiver Department, Utica, New York, USA. Date of manufacture: September 1964.

The first wave of American troops in Vietnam would have gotten this from the quartermaster. I just got mine from eBay -- I was a little young to be sent to 'Nam in late 1964, being just 3½ years old at the time.

It's a strange thing, getting something that's 52 years old basically new out of the box. Call it a time capsule, which it is.

A TIME CAPSULE complete with an instruction manual, a schematic and an eight transistor radio in a moisture-proof canvas pouch. 

Moisture-proof is good for things being shipped to the jungle.

From what the Internet (and the eBay seller) tells me, this little GE model -- the P925 back in The World -- was the last of the military "morale radios," or "Personal Role Radio (PRR)" in Army speak. By 1964, after all, what young American didn't already have a transistor radio?

T.B. Player certainly did when he shipped out in '64.

This has been your Geek Minute on Revolution 21. We now return you to your modern, digitized programming.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I spy a numbers station

Rikki don't lose that number
You don't wanna call nobody else
Send it off in a letter to yourself
Rikki don't lose that number
It's the only one you own
You might use it if you feel better
When you get home
-- Steely Dan

Natasha callink Boris . . . Natasha callink Boris. . . . 

Important message for Boris!

Uno, dos, siete, cuatro, cuatro, seis, ocho, tres, nueve. . . . 

If you hear a strange station on shortwave that's just counting -- usually in Spanish -- it's a spy . . . somewhere . . . sending coded messages to other spies . . . somewhere.

I USED to pick up these stations all the time when I was a kid. They seemed incredibly mysterious back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

That's because they were. And are.

Still, it's somehow reassuring to know the cloak-and-dagger folks stiil do that voodoo that they do old school, though Natasha here has incorporated a dial up-style modem into her sleuthy transmissions to Boris Badenov . . . wherever he might be.

In this case -- now that advanced computing is available to the average listener -- I was fortunate enough to decode this particular message in just a couple of hours. Here is the transcript:

Attention: Agent Badenov. STOP.
Inform Comrade Putin that Operation Combover is more successful than we had hoped. STOP. Now calculate odds of Donald Trump securing Republican nomination at 74 percent. STOP. The American voter is much more stupid than previous intelligence indicated. STOP.
With luck in November, American hegemony will be finished. STOP. With very good fortune, we could turn this into a second American civil war. STOP.

Awaiting further instructions. STOP.
Signed, Natasha.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The new shortwave

Before during and after World War II, listening to shortwave radio -- dropping in on what was up a world away -- was all the rage.

If what was on the Omaha airwaves was just too boring. well, let's see whether Radio Moscow is worth a few socialistic laughs and giggles. Alternatively, you might find less ironic enjoyment from the BBC World Service or Radio Netherlands International.

AND IF THERE was a crisis somewhere on the globe, maybe you could pull in a broadcast from the thick of the action through the static as the signal came and went.

Shortwave radio was exotic. Shortwave radio was romantic. Shortwave radio helped you escape the ordinariness of your ordinary old American town.

It's a new century now, and what's left of the Omaha airwaves is more boring than anyone ever could have imagined in 1958. I'm serious, here. Radio nut that I am, I'm pining for those comparatively exciting days when KFAB was spinning vinyl like the Mills Brothers' "Cab Driver." Or maybe even some 101 Strings or Jerry Vale.

But there is escape today via Internet radio . . . the new shortwave. And, lo, manufacturers are starting to advertise 'Net radio the same way they sold us shortwave well over half a century ago.

I mean, listen to this from Tivoli Audio:
When Tivoli Audio CEO Tom DeVesto and his team of engineers set out to create the next generation of home audio, they began with a simple question: What would the ideal radio do? The new Tivoli Audio NetWorks radio is the answer to that question. Taking advantage of broadcasting over the Internet, NetWorks delivers crystal-clear reception of any radio station, near or far, with no need for a computer. NetWorks allows listeners to tune in to Italian Opera from Milan, rock music from New York City, or any specialty, niche radio station from any location in the world in its native language, and in real time.
BETTER YET, watch:

THE BIG DIFFERENCE between now and then, though, is that you didn't have to sell your daughters into white slavery to buy that RCA shortwave table radio way back there then. There are, of course, well-heeled folk today who wouldn't think twice about dropping anywhere from $599 to $750 on an Internet table radio.

I, however, am not one of them. Me, I got no frame of reference for that kind of thing.
I also got no daughters to sell into white slavery.

Running audio cables from my computer to my stereo will just have to suffice. Either that or firing up the old shortwave set atop the bookcase.