Monday, April 19, 2010

Where's Lafayette Radio when you need it?

Wired had another great article, this time about the extreme makeover of Radio Shack. In junior high I built a bunch of these P-Box kits (here's a nice picture).

Speaking of kits, I still have a screwdriver that says Lafayette Radio. I built this KT-135 regenerative shortwave receiver (tubes!) -- painful to the ears :)

I never made any Heathkit stuff, but several things from SWTPC. Cool stuff, but was cutting edge (a lot of ICs) and components got pretty hot. For high school electronics class I built this 198/A preamp (the pushbuttons never worked right, even after I replaced them, and the sometimes you got a weird high pitched oscillation when you were going from one button to the next) and the 540 power amp. Each amp (it was stereo :) had an IC with a weird looking heat sink that made it look like something from The War of the Worlds. The top cases of both the preamp and amp were vinyl covered wood. I was always afraid of getting shocked :)

PAiA was more famous for synthesizer and guitar effects boxes, but I built at least one of their things, I think a wireless mic. I'm pretty sure that both PAiA and SWTPC had Theremin kits.

Another blast from the past: Robert Tinney cover art from Byte. I received the Koenigsberg one as a college graduation present. Other famous covers are for artificial intelligence and for Smalltalk.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Anthrax, Ham radio, and liquor

Occasionally a phrase will amuse me, I'm not sure why. I try to use those phrases in titles of blog posts, but I couldn't figure out what I could say under this post's rubric, other than link to an article explaining it. The phrase is the refrain from a song by Clutch (whom I know next to nothing about):
“Anthrax, ham radio, and liquor” from “50,000 Unstoppable Watts”
“We rehearse very close to the Fort Detrick Army base,” Fallon explains. “That’s where the Army does some real neat-o stuff with chemical weapons. Around the neighborhood are a lot of ham antennas, probably relics from civil defense. On my way home one evening, I stopped by the beer store there in Frederick because the ones around my neighborhood are terrible. Thus: Anthrax, ham radio, and liquor.”
Here are some of my favorite blog post titles:
  • "Man does not whiter at the thought of dancing. But it is generally to be avoided." April 2009
  • "I've always wanted to be someone, but I should have been more specific." May 2008
  • "In most men there lurks a lesser man, and his presence smells in the sun", April 2008 and ""There is a degree of mercy beyond which any man is rude to inquire", also April 2008
  • "We have merely nodded to fear. Now we must shake its filthy hand." March 2008.