I’ve recently cleaned up an old Hacker Sovereign II, an early 1970s transistor radio which belonged to my wife’s grandfather. Surprisingly the radio was mostly working (AM section is silent) and I was amazed at the sound that boomed out of the radio on the first FM station it found! Superb. They certainly don’t build them as they once did…
Anyway I’ve had it in mind to find a replacement for the broken telescopic antenna before this radio is handed back to my wife for greenhouse duty – searching for a non-functional radio of the same type on eBay seemed to be the answer. Separately, I’ve also had it in mind to investigate acquiring an extension speaker for my Roberts iStream Revival which is a recent addition to the house. The Roberts is a thing of beauty and great for its size but is understandably limited when filling a large room with sound. It crossed my mind to combine the two needs. I thought about adding an aux-in facility to another Hacker and then discovered they came with them factory-fitted! I’ve just plugged the line-out from the Roberts into the “Input/Gram” socket on the Hacker by 3.5mm jack lead and the combination sounds great! The eBay hunt is on!
Am currently working on improving the audio streaming from my PC in the loft. I was pretty fixated on improving my use of VLC by tweaking options and codecs but am now trying alternative streaming programs. There are quite a few suggestions on DXZone:
One of my local contacts has success with IP Sound but I’m after a method where the receiver can be platform-independent as I’m using Linux on my main laptop at the moment. Hopefully there’s some joy to be found from the link above!
A busy month has just passed with us moving into our new home. While there are still a few boxes to unpack and plenty of jobs to do around the house there are some exciting amateur radio projects on the horizon.
I have it in mind to set up a small station here using antennas located in the loft. I’ve been avidly reading Steve Nichols’ (G0KYA) great book Stealth Antennas. An excellent book which has given me lots of ideas to try and projects of varying size to be attempted. The first thing to get going is a simple loop around the perimeter of the loft, coupled by my SG-211 Smartuner and coax fed down to the first-floor to my Elecraft K2.
The next project on the list is a general coverage receiver based on a SoftRock SDR kit and an ESI Juli@ 192 kHz soundcard. This will be run up in the loft and accessed in the house by VNC remote desktop and maybe VLC for audio streaming. That’s the plan anyway. SDR kit and soundcard are now on order, hopefully all the bits will be here in time for Christmas when I should find some time to make it happen. I imagine there will be plenty of EMI noise up in the loft so I should think magnetic loop antennas will be on the agenda next year.
A very quick post to test WordPress from my Android phone and to show another quick test made today – my new(ish) Samsung netbook in bright daylight running fldigi into my portable radio setup 🙂
Later edit- …and although my phone’s camera was struggling shooting into the Sun, the readability of the netbook’s screen was good when set to the higher brightness levels, even without a glare shield.
I’ve bought the netbook to replace my ageing IBM T41 laptop in this setup. The netbook lightens the portable kit by over 1kg, improves screen readability outdoors, is smaller and easier to pack AND is a faster machine. Obviously the keyboard is smaller than a normal-size laptop (and the IBMs do have good keyboards) but I knew this would be an area to pay attention to and I spent some time typing and comparing models in the computer shop – this Samsung NP NC-110 doesn’t compromise as much as some in the key layout and was the best for me to type on.
One other area of compromise is screen area – I’ve moved from 1024×768 on the IBM to 1024×600 on the netbook on a smaller screen (14″ has become 10″). I had thought I might end up using Ham Radio Deluxe on WinXP but the fairly busy interface is too crowded on the netbook screen – there may be some tweaking to be done. In the meantime, FLDigi (which I had been using on Linux) has a fairly minimal interface by default and looks good on the netbook. I’m still learning my way around the software so I don’t know if I’ll settle on this.