In my 2nd grade classroom, where the teacher, Mrs. Jeffers, provided something besides the usual puzzles and games for spare-time play. There were wires, light bulbs in porcelain sockets, knife switches, motors, buzzers, tools...and #6 dry cell batteries. Several of the boys and I couldn't finish our work fast enough and would have gladly skipped recess to be able to wire up new contraptions that often didn't work, but fascinated us nonetheless....
My name is Bob (Robert) Nickels and by the time I'd moved into junior high, I'd graduated to a different kind of bulb - the vacuum tubes that made radio possible. I'll tell more of my story on the blog here, but suffice it to say I'm a lifelong radio and electronics nut and what started in Mrs. Jeffers classroom has provided me with endless challenges, opportunities, and a career in the electronics industry, (I am now retired from Honeywell), and have the time and ability to indulge myself in my hobby full-time. I've been a licensed amateur radio operator since age 15, hold an Amateur Extra class license (W9RAN) and have been active on many bands and modes over the years. But no matter where I've lived or what's been going on in my life, I've never lost the fascination with making things, fixing them when they don't work, and playing radio.
This site reflects my wide-ranging interests and perspectives, from historian to author, experimenter, and developer of my own products under my business and technology consulting umbrella, RAN Technology Inc. It will be an eclectic mix but I'll try to make it worth your time to hang around and see what's new, because I know I will run out of time long before I ever run out of projects and ideas that I want to pursue. And there comes a time when it's time to share the knowledge, experience, and toys that have been acquired with others.
A glimpse of the future from 1957
Like most hams, I remembered seeing the FPM-200 at an astronomical price in the 1962 Allied Radio catalog and wondering just how rich would a person have to be to own one? For my 11 year old self, such things may as well have been on another planet, but well...things change.I'd seen only one FPM-200 sold (to a guy ahead of me at a hamfest) and in the pre-eBay era most rare ra... READ MORE
The Forgotten Impedance
Why do we use 50 ohm cables? If you're like most hams the answer is: "I dunno!"In fact, it's a compromise (like most things in life) - between lowest loss when handling power and voltage breakdown, as Belden engineer Steve Lampen explains hereA pdf copy can be found below as well. And now you know!... READ MORE
DIY version by "RAN Crystals"
Crystal sockets were popular for pluging in ... crystals, of all things! But they were also used for other purposes, such as the antenna relay connection on some EF Johnson transmitters. If you want to connect a VFO to a transmitter with just a crystal socket, for example, you're going to have to either carve up an old FT-243 type crystal or if you want to outboar... READ MORE
Honoring the legacy of a small town radio station owner
Many successful career people are grateful for mentoring they received on the way to the top. But few have honored a memory as passionately as has been done by Beth Mann. She's the owner of Ham Broadcasting which owns five stations in western Kentucky but the story is about her mentor, the late DJ Everett III who started WKDZ in Cadiz Kentucky in 1966. Everett worked as... READ MORE
another obscure Elmac returns to the air
Bob Heil's favorite radio is the Moseley CM-1 which the developer, John Clemmons, told Carl Moseley stood for Clemens Manufacturing number 1. "No", Mr. Moseley said, "That stands for Carl Moseley number 1!"As that may be, there's yet another CM-1 receiver and it was made by the Multi Products Company of Oak Park, Michigan.As wikipedia states: "CON... READ MORE
a great "first homebrew xmtr" project
Jay Miller KK5IM recently wrote an article in Electric Radio magazine about fulfilling his dream of building a homebrew "AM Kilowatt" transmitter (375 watts output by today's standards). His crystal-controlled exciter that drive the 813 was based on his Novice transmitter, which was built by his grand-uncle back in the 1960s when Novice class hams were l... READ MORE
Previously undocumented phenomenon
Micro SDR innovator Guido PE1NNZ has implemented polar modulation using an Arduino MCU and a class E PA. For more informartion on this fascinating project, join the discussion group at https://groups.io/g/ucxInitially, Guido's design implemented the polar or EER modulation scheme using modifications to the QCX CW transceiver hardware in the traditional way as described by Leonard K... READ MORE
a seldom-seen cutie from the golden age
I'm always intrigued by the odd and unusual ham gear that I remember seeing in catalogs as a kid but have seldom seen after hundreds of hamfests and uncountable for sale listings. One such is the Lysco mobile transmitter which was produced by the Lysco Manufacturing Company of 1401 Clinton St. Hoboken NJ between 1949 and 1953. Despite being a very cute and co... READ MORE
the result of experiments with high efficiency class E amplifiers
There is a lot of misunderstanding about how a Class E amplifier works. As the result of studying the literature and experimenting, I thought I'd share what I have learned over the past several years. Below is an example of a test amplifier I used to optimize my 2 watt wspr transmitter boards. It can be visualized as two circuits - the... READ MORE