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Surfin’: Going Galena

11/11/2011

By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

This week, your Surfin’ Contributing Editor did not have the remotest idea that he'd be building a do-it-yourself radio next week.

You know how one thing leads to another.

On Sunday, as I parked my car in the yard and as I exited said Subaru, I pushed the lock button on the remote control and nothing happened.

My first thought was that the battery in the remote had finally expired after 4.5 years of daily use. But I proved that diagnosis wrong when I pushed the unlock button on the remote and the Subaru chirped in response.

I took the remote into the workshop, disassembled it and quickly found the problem. The switch that controlled the lock function was no longer attached to the remote’s circuit board.

To fix the problem, all I had to do was solder the switch to the board. But easier said than done.

The switch was about the size of a match head. I had neither the tools nor eyes to solder it in place.

As the weekend wound down and the prospect of going back to work became more real, it occurred to me that I work in a very high tech salt mine that has the tools necessary to fix my remote. All I had to do was talk a young set of eyes into making the fix.

As luck would have it, not only is the top technician at the salt mine a big Red Sox fan, but he is Polish-American, too (his surname makes mine look like Smith). So bright and early Monday morning, I imposed myself on my fellow Polish Red Sox fan, and in no time, he graciously soldered the switch back in place.

I reassembled the remote, took it to the nearest window that was line-of-sight of my Subaru, pushed the lock button and one chirp later, successfully tested the lock function.

Monday evening, as I was pouring over the new issues of QST and Make, I reflected on my recent remote control episode and suddenly got the urge to build a tube receiver with old-fashioned point-to-point wiring, just like the good old day when I attempted to build a Heathkit HR-10B.

I opened my laptop, Googled “build a tube radio,” and Dave’s Homemade Radios came up at the top of the heap. “Dave” is Dave Schmarder, N2DS, and he has a wonderful website full of do-it-yourself radio projects including crystal radios, tube radios, solid state radios, amplifiers and loop antennas.

Each project has enough information that any technically oriented ham (isn’t that redundant? -- it should be) can duplicate the project. There are a slew of tube radio projects to choose from, but after checking out the bigger slew of crystal radio projects, I am getting the urge to go galena.

Until next time, keep on surfin’!

Editor’s note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, likes the unusual in radio. To contact Stan, send e-mail or add comments to the WA1LOU blog.



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