A huge collection of my 'Factoids' can be accessed from my 'Kirt's Cogitations'
table of contents.
Topical Smorgasbord, another manifestation of Factoids,
are be found on these pages:
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4 | 5
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11 | 12 |
13 | 14
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16 | 17 |
18 | 19
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21 | 22
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24 | 25 |
26 | 27
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29 | 30 |
31 | 32
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34 | 35 |
All pertain to topics that are related to the general engineering and science theme
of RF Cafe.
Hello. My name is Kirt, and I'm a
vintage wired and wireless communications publication addict. This affliction has
had a hold on me for going on two decades now. Call it my middle age crisis. At sixty
years old, there is no sign of abatement in enthusiasm. Nearly every day I still find
myself reading and commenting on articles and advertisements from mid-last-century magazines,
newspapers, and catalogs. Maybe I'm hopeless and will never be able to kick the habit.
I'm not alone, though, based on some of the feedback received from RF Cafe visitors.
for that reason and others, maybe, in truth, I've grown comfortable with my addiction.
While perusing a few vintage newspaper editions from the World War II era looking
for relevant stories, I ran across this November 1, 1940 (exactly 78 years ago) special
section in the Harrisburg Telegraph titled, "Radio Industry Marks 20th Anniversary."
It contains many stories ...
November 1, 2018
It is probably safe to say that most people, especially
today, believe that the United States was suddenly and unexpectedly thrust into involvement
World War II on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese navy launched a surprise
attack on Pearl Harbor. The fact is the U.S. was "unofficially" engaged for over a year
beforehand by "lending" both equipment and personnel to British, Russian, Chinese, French,
and other militaries as part of their effort to drive back invading German, Italian,
and Japanese Axis forces. World War II actually began in the Fall of1939 with Hitler's
invasion of Poland. Americans, being safely separated from the front lines by the Seven
Seas, knew little of and were concerned little about the goings on "Over There." Once
the call to arms was sounded with the Pearl Harbor attack, the country quickly and enthusiastically
converted to full wartime mode. Manufacturing plants ...
In all my years of repairing and restoring old
radios, I have never had the occasion to re-string a
dial cord. There are many variations on dial cord construction and diameter, but
there are even more variations in that way the path around the tuning shaft, tuning elements,
and indicator dials are implemented. Larger radios with lots of room in them are relatively
easy to re-string and usually take a fairly straightforward path, but smaller portable
multiband radios like my 1970's-vintage
Realistic Patrolman−50 are a bit of a challenge, as I found out recently. A Web search
on recommendations for how to replace dial cords results mostly in frustrated handymen
who have seemingly given up on the job. It is easy to understand why, especially on a
ridiculously complicated routing scheme. My only guess as to the need for the multiple
pulleys and specific number of wraps around each is because of the need to maintain very
solid contact while tuning four separate variable capacitors ...
Late in 2016, news outlets began reporting on
American and Canadian diplomats stationed at their respective embassies in Cuba complaining
of dizziness, nausea, headaches, ringing in the ears, and other seemingly sound-related
illnesses. Similar reports have come out of China as well. At the time, doctors and scientists
investigating the phenomenon thought maybe some sort of
sonic beam was being directed at the personnel. Certain people were affected while
others nearby experienced no such phenomena, leading researchers to believe that the
presumably sonic beams were highly concentrated and directional. Some of the targeted
personal were diagnosed as having suffered mild traumatic brain injury with likely damage
to the central nervous system ...
In 2010, I posted a short piece about where to
look on the Web to learn what upper management, board members, and large investors were
company stock trades. At the time, the MSN Money website had a tool where you could
enter a company's stock symbol and get a readout of who was buying and - more often that
not - selling stock. That web page is gone, but I found the same information on InsiderCow.com.
The dollar amounts are truly staggering to people like you (likely) and me (definitely).
Numbers reported are sale values, not profit to the stock holder. Many of the stocks
were issued as either grants or options, but even outright purchased stocks are included
as well. Regardless, prepare to have your jaw drop if you have never seen this type of
data before. Some of the more familiar technology companies have been selected for examples ...
While not quite the equivalent of an Elvis sighting,
I was utterly surprised to see an open
Shack store in the Ashtabula Towne Square Mall during a recent trip to Ohio. As you
can see in the photo, it is a shell of a store, with products on display only along the
walls. Do you remember the days when every shopping mall and plaza had a Radio Shack
crammed full of stereos, radios, calculators, antennas, computer accessories (and the
TRS-80), toys, and of course a huge portion of the store dedicated to electronic project
components? I had a "Battery Club" card for a couple decades, and a current catalog was
always on my bookshelf. If, as the old saying goes, "Misery loves company," then the
good folks at the Ashtabula Radio Shack can at least take some solace ...
Old Farmer's Almanac (OFA) has been on my annual need-to-buy list for as long as
I can remember. It is chock full of useful data for sunrise and sunset times*, high and
low tide times, crop planting days, first and last frost days, and significant astronomical
events. There are stories of interest on topics ranging from canning your garden's harvest
to how to view a solar eclipse. - often from noted authors, but also from lay people.
I also enjoy the monthly "on this day" type tidbits and the homey short story relating
to the time of year. After 225 years of continuous publication, it still features the
hole in the upper left corner to facilitate handily hanging it on the wall of your shed
-- or outhouse. I gave a 1961 edition of the Old Farmer's Almanac found on eBay to Melanie
as a birthday present this year ...
Electronic Counter was found in a second-hand shop sitting in with a bunch of random
electronic gear. The "HP" on the front panel piqued my attention, so I carried it to
the counter and asked the nice lady to plug it in, figuring if the front panel lit up
and none of the smoke that makes electronics work leaked out, I'd buy it. It did, it
didn't, and I did, respectively. The outside condition is pretty good, with most of the
scratches being on the top and bottom. Some oxidation is present on the bare aluminum
chassis components, but a little ...
If you grew up in the era of rooftop television
antennas, then there is a good chance you are familiar with the electromechanical antenna
pointing systems that were often installed as well. Alliance, Channel Master, Cornell
Dubilier, Radio Shack, RCA, Winegard, and others made low cost, light-duty
for television antennas. Ham radio antenna rotators were/are more robust in order
to handle higher weight and wind loads. Many television antennas also cover the FM radio
band (88-108 MHz), allowing them to do double duty. Being an unapologetic technology
renaissance man, I recently purchased (on eBay) a vintage Alliance Model U−100 Tenna−Rotor
that was unused in the original ...
The manned space program has unarguably provided
mankind with many new and innovative tools, medicines, electronics, materials, physics,
materials, appliances, and mathematics. Know officially as "spinoffs," products like
the portable heart defibrillator unit, the portable vacuum cleaner, freeze-drying food
processors, powdered lubricants, memory foam, quartz clocks and battery-powered tools.
inventions have not found an application in your basement or garage, however, because
their purpose is too specialized. Take, for instance, the ZeRT, or Zero Reaction Tool ...
You might have noticed that since last November
the engineering and science themed daily RF Cafe header images have been much larger
than those which graced the pages in the past. The change was motivated mainly by a desire
to make them more viewable on the tiny screens of mobile phones. It also gave me the
opportunity to include more information. In the process, I took the occasion of being
on each daily
and technology history page to check on the validity of the long ago included hyperlinks
to pages which validated dates of events. Use Wikipedia was avoided because of the joke-worthy
reputation it had for bogus ...
To be or not to be - that is the question: Whether
'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous bi-annual clock
shifts, or to take up arms against a sea of contradicting justifications for and against
its existence for DST, and by opposing, end it. Twice each year, a majority of the western
world is subject to a manmade disruption in circadian and habitual cycles with an inane
one-hour clock change on and off of "Daylight
Saving(s) Time" (DST). Some historians claim that Benjamin Franklin joked about DST
in the 18th century, but it was New Zealander George Hudson who proposed the modern day
Have you ever started a relatively simple investigation
into a trivial matter, only to find yourself going down the metaphorical "rabbit hole"
even after finding the original answer? Such was the case for me when someone sent me
an e-mail with a signature that included his
amateur radio call sign. The first three characters, KB3, matched mine and that got
me wondering on what date his call sign was granted compared to mine. Let us say for
example* the writer's call sign was KB3PGM and mine is (actually) KB3UON. I looked them
up in the FCC's ULS self-serve license ...
If, as the saying goes, "Misery loves company,"
then you will appreciate the following. Whilst perusing the December 2017 issue of NASA's
Motion Design supplement to their Tech Briefs publication, I ran across
the image to the right in an article titled, "Trends in Hydraulic Filtration"
(areas of interest are quite diverse here at RF Cafe).
After reading the caption stating that the holes were "fire holes," the first thing that
came to mind was
Sure enough, upon going back and reading more of the story (provided by Argo-Hytos),
I found ...
Another era, sadly, has come to an end. H. Ward
Silver (aka Ward Silver, NØAX) has announced the end of
his monthly column, "Hands-On
Radio," in QST magazine. The title of each column was enumerated as "Experiment
#nnn," followed by the subject. To wit, "Experiment #179 Maxwell's Equations - The Wave
Emerges" is Mr. Silver's final column, appearing in the December 2017 QST.
"Hands-On Radio" topics ranged in intensity from relatively simple discussion on calculating
power dissipation in resistors, capacitors, and inductors to more heady treatises on
subjects like electromagnetic fields within coaxial cable and waveguide to Maxwell's
equations. Mathematics, too ...
of my favorite old-time radio personalities, Paul Harvey, had a trademarked feature titled
The Rest of the Story. For those of you not familiar with the format, Mr. Harvey would
begin his story talking about particular life aspects of a person that, while remarkable,
usually had no connection with the person's eventual claim to fame. The listener's challenge
was to guess who the person was before it was revealed at the very end, followed by,
"... now you know --- the rest [emphasis] of the story." As far as I know the story of
FM radio inventor
Armstrong was never a subject, although it certainly met the criterion. I've already
let the figurative cat out of the bag, so you already know my subject ...
From May 9th through the 11th in the year of our
Lord 1958, the very first "Jamboree on the Air" (JOTA) was held by the Boy Scouts of America
(BSA). The American Radio Relay League (ARRL), in conjunction with the BSA, is promoting
this year's 60th anniversary event occurring from October 20-22. As you might imagine,
quite a lot has changed over 59 years in terms of equipment, but the basics in terms
of encouraging and assisting the next generation of licensed Hams remains as always the
primary goal of organizers. The Boy Scouts, of course, join in for the fun and learning
experience. Jamboree on the Air events, held in October, do not coincide with the National
Scout Jamboree, held in July ...
Nikola Tesla was born in 1856 in Smiljan, Austrian
Empire, and died in 1943 in New York City. His life is so amply documented far and wide
that regurgitating the information in books and blog posts would be a waste. Most of
what you find there is second-hand, having gone through the filter of an author's preferences.
I like to search for stories on various topics in their original publications; e.g.,
scanned newspaper and magazine archives. A hunt for early stories on Nikola Tesla turned
up many 19th century examples from the Newspapers.com website. It is interesting that
back in the day, men like Nikola and Edison were referred regularly to as "electricians."
The oldest article I found on Nikola Tesla appeared in the July 1, 1889 edition of
The Pittsburgh Dispatch, titled "The Electric Fiend" ...
It's finally here - the
North American Solar Eclipse of 2017! The amateur astronomy community has been anticipating
and preparing for the event for a couple years. Astronomy magazine dedicated
the entire August issue to providing detailed information on viewing suggestions along
the entire path. Traffic from the Pacific Coast of Oregon to the Atlantic Coast of South
Carolina will probably be a challenge as people vie for positions as close to the centerline
as possible. Those who manage optimal locations will see about 2 minutes and 40 seconds
of total darkness. Others within the 68-mile-wide path of totality will see from a fraction
of a second up to the full extent. According to a calculator on the Vox website, we will
only see a 76.2% eclipse, which will barely darken our skies ...
Hmmm.... let us see what made the front page of
the July 1, 1948 edition of Murray Hill, New Jersey's, The Madison Eagle newspaper: "Man
Found Dead, Wedged in Drain on Park Edge," "Lawyer Fined $50 on Zone Charge," and Sandra
Dean Stevenson had been born two weeks earlier. Oh, also included was "Invention
Replaces Vacuum Tube" and "Local Man Invents New Device in Electronics for Bell Lab;
Could Revolutionize Radio." Page 10 ran, "Bell Laboratory Releases Data on Newly Invented
Transistor." It is widely known that Drs. Brattain, Shockley, and Bardeen formerly announced
on December 23, 1947, within the walls of Bell Labs ...
We have all been treated to a seemingly endless
series of headlines portending rising ocean levels and the ensuing drowning of costal
cities due to
in the polar regions. This phenomenon ostensibly is brought on by the exponential increase
in carbon emissions from developing third-world countries as well as established first-world
countries in the post World War II era ... or was it post Vietnam, or maybe post
Gulf War? The reference keeps changing, but it definitely began occurring since at least
1990, right? There is a problem, though. In the early and mid 1970s climate scientists
began warning us of an approaching ...
For some inexplicable reason, it seems that of
the many articles I read dealing with antenna and feedline efficiencies, rarely is the
receive side of the equation addressed. Yes, transmit power is expensive and there
is a legitimate reason to reduce losses when converting power amplifier output to in-the-air
power, especially for DX operations. However, it doesn't do much good to launch the full
permissible 1,500 watts PEP and make a contact on the other side of the world if your
system cannot receive a reply because of the excessive line loss and/or mismatch loss
between your antenna and your receiver. Antennas and feedlines are reciprocal elements
so if ...
Friends, former employees, and fellow lovers of
all things electronic, we are gathered here today to remember and honor our lifelong
friend and enabler of our hobby and passion,
Radio Shack -
once a Tandy company, as we are familiar with it. Radio Shack has lingered in failing
health for a decade, all the time keeping a brave face on its dwindling number of stores.
Caretakers attempted a variety of infusions and transplants in an attempt to save the
American stalwart electronics retailer. Alas, a confluence of poor management ...
For Mother's Day this year, the kids and I got
Melanie a 23andMe DNA testing kit. She has spent a fair amount of time over the years
researching the family lineage which, in case you care, traces back primarily to Germany
and Switzerland. Along with some of the online ancestry websites, she searched the U.S.
Census database for immigration and early American household information (number of people,
ages, names, occupations, etc.) The entire
Census form consisted of a single page seeking basic information on whether you own
or rent, value of the home, live on a farm or not, color or race, ...
Long-time RF Cafe visitor and occasional contributor
Gary Steinhour, KF6U, recently sent me a note saying he had acquired a very used
amateur radio transmitter and was in the process of restoring it. Gary's first transmitter
as a freshly minted Ham over 50 years ago was a DX-60, so this was an effort to satisfy
a nostalgic emotional attachment. The project is complete now, and boy does it look nice!
Gary provides a brief account here ...
If you have ever seen the result of a lightning
strike on electronic equipment, then you know how devastating it can be - often total
destruction that includes molten metal. Woe be unto any human operator who happens to
be in contact with it at the time of the strike. Unprotected antennas are begging for
contact. Shortly after leaving a company where I worked on a Tx/Rx system for a phased
array weather radar I got word that the indoor equipment rack took a major hit because
the guy who maintained the site forgot to reconnect a
rod system cable after moving it during ...